Tanzania

Tanzia

Introduction The Republic of Tanzania is one of the East African countries bordered by Uganda and Kenya to the north, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda to the west and the Indian ocean to the east. The modern day African Great Lakes state of Tanzania dates formally from 1964 when it was formed out of the union of the much larger mainland territory of Tanganyika and the coastal archipelago of Zanzibar. Tanganyika was a colony and part of German East Africa from the 1880s to 1919 when under the League of Nations and became a British mandate. It served as a British military outpost during World War II providing financial help, munitions and soldiers. Tanganyika later became a United Nations Trust Territory in 1947 under British administration, a status it kept until its independence in December 1961. However the Island of Zanzibar thrived as a trading hub successively controlled by the Portuguese, the Sultan of Oman and then as a British protectorate by the end of the 19th century. Julius Nyerere the independent leader for Tanganyika ruled the country for decades while Abeid Amaan Karume governed Zanzibar as its president and vice president of the United Republic of Tanzania. Following Nyerere’s retirement in 1985, various political and economic reforms began. Julius Nyerere was succeeded in office by President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. Some of the oldest human settlements have been unearthed in Tanzania. The oldest human fossils were found in and around Olduvai Gorge in Northern Tanzania, an area referred to as The Cradle of Mankind. It is believed to be the birth place of humanity. Fossils in this area include the Paranthropus bones thought to be over 2million years old, and the oldest known footprints of the immediate ancestors of humans, the Laetoli footprints estimated to be about 3.6million years old. Tanzania was populated by hunter-gatherer communities about 10,000 years who spoke Khoisan. They were later joined by Cushitic-speaking people who came from the north about 5,000 years ago who introduced basic techniques of agriculture, food production and later cattle farming. Bantu speaking people began arriving about 2000 years ago from western Africa in Series of migrations. They further developed iron working skills, introduced different ideas of social and political organization. Nilotic pastoralists later arrived and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century. Currently, Tanzania’s population is comprised of 1200 ethnic groups for example Alagwa, Akie, Barabaig, Bemba, Burunge, Hadimu, Gorowa, Ikoma, Hatya and many more and religious groups where Christianity is the largest with substantial Muslims and animist minorities. Tanzania is therefore the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa. Swahili is the country’s national language while English is used in foreign trade, in foreign coats, diplomacy and as a medium of instruction in schools and other tertiary institutions. Today, Tanzania is a constitutional presidential Republic with the federal capital located in Dodoma while Dar-el-Salaam which is the country’s former capital retains most of the government’s offices and is the country’s largest city and leading commercial center. Tanzania is a one-party state with the Democratic socialist Chama Cha Mapenduzi party in power. This country has not experienced major internal strife since independence and is seen as one of the safest and most politically stable State in the continent. Tanzania is generally mountainous known for housing Africa’s highest mountain known as Mountain Kilimanjaro in the northeastern region which is densely forested. Three of Africa’s great Lakes are partly with in Tanzania namely Lake Victoria which is Africa’s largest lake situated in the north, Lake Tanganyika which is Africa’s deepest Lake situated in the west and Lake Malawi lying in the south. Tanzania as well houses Africa’s second highest uninterrupted waterfall known as the Kalambo falls located on the Kalambo River at the Zambian border. Weather and climate Tanzania is located in the tropics therefore, it has a tropical climate. However Tanzania is just south of the equator and the climate varies due to its huge size. Generally, Tanzania’s main rainy season or the long rains last from March, April to May which are heavier tropical down-pours that are more predictable besides the coast and on the Islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures may reach up to 30 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius in the months of November and February which are the hottest in Tanzania. The long dry season lasts through June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual even on the Islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location though it is usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather. There is another rainy season with short rains during November to December which are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable. After these short rains, it then dries up for a few months namely January and February which is Tanzania’s short dry season before starting to fall again in March. Why Tanzania is a popular tourist destination Tanzania is a popular tourist destination not only in Africa but also the entire world because this country offers beautiful landscapes, amazing cultural experiences, beaches and wildlife encounters that are second to none. From the breathtaking wildebeest migration in the Serengeti National Park to the exotic beaches of Zanzibar, this country has it all. Tanzania is a home to many of Africa’s best and biggest National Parks, varied and unique landscapes from rock formations, grasslands and woodlands to mountain peaks that offer amazing opportunities for sightseeing. Tanzania’s iconic tourist attractions and activities Serengeti National Park This National Park is arguably Tanzania’s most popular tourist attraction and among Africa’s best tourist destinations. The Serengeti plains is part of the wider ecosystem made up of Samiyu and Mara regions in Kenya. The Park’s Vegetation cover consists of savannah grasslands, acacia trees, woodlands, shrubs and small forested regions which are all habitats to countless wildlife with in the National Park. This National Park hosts one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles known as the wildebeest migration that involves millions of wildebeests, thousands of zebras and gazelles moving from the Serengeti plains crossing the Mara River to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Drama is witnessed as they undergo great challenges while crossing crocodile infested Rivers and lion territories. Serengeti National Park is a home to several other mammals for example large herds of elephants, cape buffaloes, elands, impalas, giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, lions, leopards, wild dogs, ostriches and many more that can easily spotted during game drives. There several other activities that one can indulge in such as hot air balloon safaris to have an aerial view of Serengeti’s endless plains. Ngorongoro Conservation Area The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is situated adjacent to Serengeti National Park 178 kilometers away from Arusha city. This Conservation area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the top 10 world’s natural wonders. The Ngorongoro Conservation area is famous for its large volcanic caldera which acts as a natural enclosure that keeps most of the Africa’s wildlife together. This caldera as well provides constant water supply throughout the year to the Park’s animals that prohibits them from migrating like those in Serengeti. Wildlife to lookout for includes lions, buffaloes, leopards, black rhinos, elephants, zebras, elands, gazelles, spotted hyenas, hippopotamuses, jackals to mention but a few. Ruaha National Park Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s largest National Park situated in the country’s western region in Iringa. Ruaha National Park covers an area of around 13,000square kilometers and its part of the wider ecosystem that is made up of Usangu Game Reserve, Rungwa Game Reserve and many other small protected areas. This National Park is named after River Ruaha where various animals gather to drink water along the River’s banks and thus offering amazing wildlife views. Animals that can be sought after in Ruaha National Park include large prides of lions, wild dogs, elephants, giraffes, impalas, cheetahs, leopards, jackals, zebras, bat-eared foxes to mention but a few. Mountains of Tanzania          Mountain Kilimanjaro; Mountain Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest Mountain standing at 5,895 meters above sea level. It is as well the highest free-standing Mountain on earth meaning it isn’t part of a Mountain range. Mountain Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s most visited tourism spots estimated to receive about 40,000 mountain hikers every year. While hiking Mountain Kilimanjaro, there are five routes used to get to its summit known as the Uhuru summit namely Machame, Rongai, Lemosho, Shirea and Marangu. Each route offers a totally different experience or challenge with Marangu being the most straight forward and popular route.           Mount Meru; Mountain Meru is Tanzania’s second highest mountain standing at 4,565 meters above sea level. This Mountain is situated in Arusha National Park though it used to be an attraction of its own. Mountain Meru is an active strato-volcano with its most recent eruption in 1910 evidenced by its craters and volcanic cones that are seen close to the summit. Mountain Kilimanjaro offers steeper and more challenging hikes or climbs compared to Mountain Kilimanjaro. Getting to its summit, one has to go through a narrow ridge where some of the beautiful scenic views are captured. Tanzania’s museums Making a trip Tanzania’s Museums is the best way one can learn about Tanzania’s fascinating history and culture. The National Museum of Tanzania situated in Dar-es-Salaam is the country’s most important museum built in 1940 and later expanded in 1963. This museum shows everything from vintage cars, Africa’s finest art crafts, ancient rock paintings, footprints of the earliest man dating back to million years ago, discoveries from the Olduvai Gorge and many more. Other museums include Makumbusho Village Museum, Arusha declaration museum, princess Salme museum, Iriga Boma, Freddie Mercury museum, Olduvai Gorge museum, People’s Palace museum, Bujora cultural center and Sukuma museum, Chuma Art Gallery, Chagga museum, House of Wonders to mention but a few. Mahale Mountains National Park Mahale Mountains National Park is named after the Mahale Mountains found close to the shores of Lake Tanganyika with Nkugwe as its highest standing at 2,473 meters above sea level. This National Park is a haven to the country’s primates for example over 1000 chimpanzees, yellow baboons, colobus monkeys to mention but a few. Chimpanzee trekking is arguably the Park’s popular tourist activity. Other activities include hiking, Lake Shore activities along Lake Tanganyika, walking safaris, bird watching to mention but a few. Lake Manyara National Park Lake Manyara National Park is situated close to Arusha and most of its area cover is made up of water and forests with Lake Manyara as the Park’s key feature. This alkaline lake one of Tanzania’s key birding spots. Lake Manyara National Park is a haven to over 400 bird species of which most of them are water associated bird types like the pink-pelican, pink-hued flamingos and many more. This National Park is also known for its diverse habitat where different bird species can be spotted along with a variety of animal types for example buffaloes, elephants, klipspringers, zebras, baboons, tree climbing lions, waterbucks, warthogs to mention but a few. Tanzania’s coastal islands Tanzania is a perfect destination for beach holidays due to its sandy beaches, azure seas and various tropical islands off the coast which include; Zanzibar Island; this is also known as Africa’s tropical paradise that offers a few of the world’s beautiful beaches. Along the Zanzibar Island you find a variety of white sandy beaches dotted with palm trees and surrounded by clear waters of the Indian Ocean. The Zanzibar Island as well houses the historic town of Stone town which is the cultural heart of Zanzibar. Chumbe Island Coral Park; this is located a few kilometers southwest of Zanzibar near the Stone Town. The Chumbe Island Coral Park is Tanzania’s award winning private nature reserve that includes a Coral reef sanctuary and a forest Reserve. Tanzania’s other beautiful Islands include Fanjove private Island, Mafia Island, Mnemba Island, Pemba Island, Unguja Island, Latham Island and many more that remain unspoiled by Tourism. Other tourist attraction in Tanzania include Arusha National Park, Gombe stream National Park, Singita Grumeti National Reserve, Lake Natron, Katavi National Park, Lake Victoria, Selous Game Reserve historical and religious buildings, Tanzania’s cultural tribes like the Masai people to mention but a few. Below are Tanzania’s iconic tourist activities; Wildlife/Game viewing Tanzania is among Africa’s most popular safari destinations with over 22 National Parks that harbor the big five, several other mammals and a variety of bird species. Animals to be looked out for during game drives include the lions, African elephants, rhinos, giraffes, leopards, cape buffaloes, cheetahs, wild dogs, jackals, warthogs, wildebeests, zebras, waterbucks, sitatungas, bushbucks, hippopotamuses to mention but a few. Tanzania is also a place where one can witness one of the world’s seven natural wonders known as the wildebeest migration that involves millions of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and many other grazers crossing to Masai Mara of Kenya. Here drama is witnessed as millions of animals cross through the crocodile infested Mara River while other land predators wait to feast on the lazy ones and newly born wildebeests, gazelles and zebras. Mountain hiking/climbing One of Tanzania’s best tourist activities is Mountain climbing and hiking to the country’s mountains for example Mountain Kilimanjaro which is Africa’s highest, Mountain Meru and many other hills. Hiking to the top of Mountain Kilimanjaro, one is able to enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the Furtwangler glaciers. There are seven routes that lead to the mountain’s summit known as the Uhuru peak which include Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Rongai, Umbwe, Shira and the Northern circuit. The Machame route is the most spectacular path and provides an extra day to adjust to the elevation. Hiking Mountain Kilimanjaro takes between 5 to 9 days to reach the summit and then descend back to the finishing point. The other mountain that is commonly hiked is Mountain Meru which is the second highest mountain in the country. Bird watching Tanzania is known to harbor over 1,156 bird species of which 29 bird species are endemic to the region, others introduced by humans as well as migratory bird species and thus making this country one of a few Africa’s birding spots. Tanzania’s National Parks are made up of a variety of landscapes including savannah grasslands, mountainous and moorlands, bush and shrubs with large Rivers running through them. These host an incredible array of bird species that include the giant kingfishers, blue-fly catcher, double-toothed barbet, Gabon Nightjar, Bare-faced go away bird, secretary bird, vultures, eagles and hawks, ground hornbill, red-throated tit, lesser and greater flamingoes to mention but a few. Tanzania’s best birding spots include Lake Manyara, Lake Natron, Serengeti National Park, Ngoro Ngoro crater, Ruaha National Park, Rubondo Island National Park, Lake Eyasi, Arusha National Park, Mountain Kilimanjaro, Usambara Mountains, Lake Victoria to mention but a few. Hot air balloon safaris Hot air balloon safaris in Tanzania offer a unique and awe-inspiring way to explore the stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife of this beautiful country. Drifting gently and flying above the country’s endless plains, savannahs and iconic National Parks, one is treated to breathtaking panoramic views and splendid wildlife sightings. From the majestic Serengeti National Park to the picturesque Tarangire National Park, hot air balloon safaris in this country offer a magical and unforgettable adventure that leaves one with memories to treasure for a lifetime. Aqua-Lung dive in Zanzibar and beach exploration Zanzibar is indeed a heaven on earth due to its gorgeous white sandy beaches and Turquoise Ocean. This is a perfect destination for snorkeling since it offers the best diving on the entire East African coast. Zanzibar as well offers some of the world’s stunning beaches that are good for relaxation and holiday makers while the Stone Town offers a sense of old Arabia. Zanzibar’s beaches include the Matemwa, Jambiani, Nungwi, Paje to mention but a few. Other tourist activities in Tanzania include nature walks or walking safaris, cycling, chimpanzee trekking, sport fishing, canopy walk in Lake Manyara National Park, cultural tours and visits to mention but a few. Safety and security Tanzania is relatively a safe country to visit which is even safer if your safari is booked with an organized tour operator. Most crimes in Tanzania occur in the cities for example petty theft and pickpocketing which can generally be avoided by following simple safety precautions. However it is advisable to inquire with your hotel whether the area is safe to walk and if not kindly arrange a taxi through your hotel or tour operator. It is also advisable to take a little cash with you, never to display any valuables and catch a taxi after the dark. On occasions demonstrations and political rallies across the country have turned violent resulting in fatalities and death. Police usually uses live bullets and tear gas for crowd control. Therefore if you are around areas where these demonstrations are taking place, be aware of what is happening around you and move away if there are signs of such riots and demonstrations. Getting around Tanzania There are several means of transport that one can use to travel around Tanzania depending on your budget, distance to be covered and time constraints. These include the following; By road; there are several means of transport one can opt to use while traveling by road and these include;
  • By Bus; buses are the best and cheapest way to travel if one is on a budget. Large buses and dala-dala (mini-buses) travel across the country and link major towns, and longer routes link Dar es Salaam with Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. The most reasonably efficient and comfortable buses are operated by Scandinavian express and Royal coach that always run dedicated routes between Dar es Salaam and Arusha.
  • By Taxi, tuk-tuk and motorcycles (boda-bodas); these are easily found along the streets and outside the hotels. Tuk-tuks can be used over short distances in the beach resorts along the coast. Motorcycles locally known as boda-bodas are a cheap and fun way to travel over short distances though you need to hang on tightly and have a helmet for your safety. Travelling with all these, prices should be negotiated before you set off.
  • Private car hire; one can hire out a four wheel drive vehicle with an experienced driver from travel agents to be taken around the country. This is a popular way for independent travelers to reach the north or western coasts of Zanzibar from Stone Town.
By Plane; this is an expensive option however if you can afford it, getting around Tanzania by plane is the quickest and most comfortable option. There are a few domestic airlines that link the most popular safari destinations and provide services to the coast. Some of the more upmarket safari lodges have their own airstrips and use small planes operated by private air charter companies to ferry their guests in which is the best option to long drives on dusty roads. Airlines that operate chartered flights in Tanzania include Air Tanzania that operates flights between Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza, Precision Air that links major cities and flies between Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Bukoba,   Kigoma, Tabora, Lindi, Mtwara, Arusha, Zanzibar, Seronera and Grumeti in Serengeti National Park. the others are Air Excel that links Tanzania’s National Parks with the Coast and flies between Arusha, Dar es Salaam and several airstrips in Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park and Zanzibar, Zan Air, Regional Air, Zantas Air, Kilimanjaro Air safaris to mention but a few. By Train; there are two railways that cross Tanzania and offer three to four services per week. Trains usually get over crowded with not only people but sucks of fresh foods, vegetables and livestock. Theft is common here and if you insist to travel by rail, you should opt for first class and always lock your door and not forgetting to leave your possessions unguarded. The two Railways include the Tazara (Tanzania-Zambia Railway) that runs from Dar es Salaam through the south of the country to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia and the Tanzania Railway Corporation’s Central Line that runs from Dar es Salaam across the middle of the country to Tabora where it splits into two lines that end in Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika and Mwanza on Lake Victoria. Visas and flights Before thinking of entering Tanzania, one has to apply for an electronic visa (e-visa) online that was introduced and implemented by the United Republic of Tanzania in November 2018. This enables individuals from different nationalities to apply for their visas online without having to first visit the Tanzania Embassy or obtain the visa on arrival. A tourist visa can as well be applied for which enables one entry into the East African countries namely Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. Its validity is 90 days for single entry and multiple entries valid for 1year. The other visa types include the Transit visa that is valid for 7dys and the Business visa that is valid for 90days. Several Airlines operate to and away from Tanzania and one can easily book a flight by applying for a flight ticket directly with the Airlines or through travel agents. Tanzania has to over 27 Airports with Julius Nyerere International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport and Tanga Airport standing out as the most common entry points into the country. Airlines operating in Tanzania include Fly Dubai, Air Tanzania, Precision Air, Kenya Airways, Oman Air, Ethiopian Airways, Rwanda Air Ltd, Turkish Airlines, Uganda Airlines, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Airlines, South African Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Air Seychelles to mention but a few.
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