Fun things to do in Tanzania

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    The Ngorongoro Crater

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 3, 2005

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    Another unmissable place in Tanzania is the Ngorongoro Crater - known as the 8th natural wonder of the world. Mind you, this is no overstatement! The view from the crater rim into the crater is nothing short of jaw dropping, and the experience in the crater itself - with so much wildlife at such a close range is a unique experience.

    The Ngorongoro crater is a 20 km wide caldera (collapsed volcano), forming a natural animal amphitheater enclosed by a circular unbroken wall 610m high. Within this wall are a variety of ecosystems : lakes, forest, swamps, grasslands - as well as numerous, interesting inhabitants like elephants, thompson gazelle, lion, hyena, zebra, wilderbeest, buffalo, flamingos etc etc. The star attraction though are the very rare Black Rhinos - the Ngorongoro crater is your best bet to see one in Tanzania. Although the walls are steep, the animals are free to go in and out of the crater - but it seems that they prefer staying in on quite a permanent basis, making this a rewarding spot year round.

    The view of the Ngorongoro crater from its rim
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    Serengeti National Park

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 3, 2005

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    The Serengeti National park is continuous with the famous Masai Mara in Kenya, and is much larger, occupying 14,763 sq km. This is the largest in Tanzania and is one of the most famous National Parks in Africa.

    This park, with its endless golden plains should be a highlight to any visit in Tanzania. As if the vast landscapes weren't enough to take your breath away, wait till you see the wildlife ... thousands and thousands of animals dot this expanse on land - most of them wilderbeest and zebras, moving along the savannah in search of fresh grass. This multitude of herbivores obviously supports plenty of predators - this is one of the best places to see the big cats - mainly the lions, cheetahs and the elusive leopard. One can also easily spot other animals such as the elephants, Thompson Gazelles, Impalas, giraffes, warthogs, hippos, hyenas as well as plenty of birds.

    One of the primary reasons for visiting this park is to view the wildebeest migration, which takes place at certain periods of the year at different places in the park. For example to the crossing over the river to the Masai Mara takes place between May and July. In February the wilderbeests start calving.

    The best period for wildlife viewing in general is between December and May - With January and February being the best (and most crowded with tourists as well). I went there in March, when the tourists were dwindling due to the impending rainy season - I got nice weather, saw plenty of animals and saw few tourists around - great!

    To truly begin to appreciate the park, even considering its vastness and its remoteness plan to spend at least 2 nights there. Accomodation varies from luxurious lodges to basic campsites.

    An experience that cannot be missed by those who afford to spare no expense is the baloon safari. It costs $300 for half an hour - and you can get an arial view of the landscapes and the animals.

    This park is simply unmissable. I think the safari in the Serengeti was the best thing I ever did in my life!

    The serengeti is the best place to see the cheetah
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    Northern Circuit Safari

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 3, 2005

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    As the name implies, the Northern Circuit safari encompasses visits to the Northern Parks of Tanzania. There are 5 main parks in this area which are the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha Parks. All of them have their different characteristics which render them unique but the most stunning would be the Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

    Distances here are vast, so short visits to all of these parks will literally drain you. Aim for 3-4 parks for a one week safari (maximum). Fortunately for us travellers, a road with tarmac (which is a rare comodity in Tanzania) is being built to connect all these parks. Currently the road stretches from Arusha to Ngorongoro - the rest is all a dirt road, but it is not as pot-holed as one would think.

    To choose which parks to visit if you are on a limited time would really depend on the season. I will list the best season to visit each park in the tips I have created dedicated to each individual park.

    Safari - wonderful scenery and plenty of animals
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    Lions in the Ngorongoro crater

    by SanguiniA Updated Jun 28, 2005

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    My most incredible experience with the lions was undoubtedly in the Ngorongoro crater. There is a particularly 'tame' pride of lions that have started exploiting the shade provided by 4WD - to the delights of the tourists!

    We stopped near a 4WD whose shade was occupied by 6 lions sprawled on one another. As soon as we arrived this 4WD left - and guess whose window got a really near view of the lions!? At a moment inches separated my face from a male lion - and having a family sleeping against my door of the 4WD was awesome!!

    For some really cool closeups of the lions near our 4WD take a peek at my Ngorongoro Crater travelogue

    This is better than aircon!
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    Kibondo - on the way to Lake Tanganyika

    by elsadran Updated Oct 14, 2014

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    At the border of Rwanda and Tanzania I took the bus to Kigoma thinking that I could reach my destination on the same day. The first bus left me at a small village , Nyakanazi, where locals welcomed me with some bananas! They were very sweet and curious to know who I was....
    I had to wait for the next bus, which was actually a dilapidated van..
    After a long time on a bumpy road which seemed endless to me the van broke down as it was expected.... The next bus that picked us up, hopefully would take me to my destination , as I thought and my adventure would end.. Anyway, English was not spoken in the bus so I gave up getting any more information...
    To my despair the bus stopped at a small village, Kibondo, and I was left speechless in the bus while everybody else were getting off. Some locals helped me find a hotel, cheap and basic as there was no other choice.
    Kibondo is a very traditional village on the way to Kigoma. No other tourist was in sight so I was the “honored” guest of the village and an “extraordinary sight” for the villagers who passed by my hotel just to see me, greet me or exchange a few words. They all seemed so friendly and open-hearted.
    The hotel ( Pongezi Guest House-$2.5/2 e, for a single/no bath- $3/2.5 euros, for a double) was not only basic but as I was the only woman and the common bathroom was just a hole in the wet floor, it was very uncomfortable. I was praying I wouldn't need to go to the toilet during the night. But it was also difficult during the day...as you had to carry buckets of water to the bathroom, where there was nothing to hang your things and the floor was always wet and not clean looking...
    I remember I liked the music coming from a small shop selling CDs among a thousand other things. It was a kind of music that I can describe as a mixture of reggae, African and Argentinian music. Nice!
    Despite the inconvenience, the friendly attitude of the local people made me feel at home and left me with a nice memory.
    There was also an acrobatic group there at the time, who were touring the country, and were organizing a performance in the large central square, which gave a great excitement to the village spirit.
    The next day, after having survived the previous night, I had to wait for more than 2 hours for a bus to Kigoma. Another disaster , as the buses were coming full, the tickets already sold out, and nobody speaking English... I finally found a “bodyguard” who protected me against the aggressive ticket sellers who tried to convince me there was no regular bus and persuade me to buy their tickets in their old, slow and unsafe vans. Finally I found someone who could speak English so he took me to the bus office and asked the ticket seller to find a seat for me and make sure I would be seated when the next bus departed. It was a real fight to get into the bus and sit down. But we made it...Hurray!!
    We passed another village, Kisulu, and arrived at Kigoma late in the evening. All the way the passengers were very nice to me , talking and sharing their opinions about how the world is and how it should really be....They even took me to a hotel by taxi and wouldn't take any money!
    At the end of the day I felt happy and relaxed despite the difficult journey....

    Kibondo
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    Cheetahs

    by SanguiniA Updated Jul 1, 2005

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    The Serengeti is the best place in the Northern Circuit to view the graceful cheetahs. They are more shy than the other animals - but staying quiet and at a respectable distance is a great way to observe them without frightening them.

    Cheetahs are tricky to find unless you are with an experienced guide. In a safari the knowledge of the guide is really crucial!

    Fleeting Cheetahs -  Yes they are incredibly fast!
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    The Hippo Pool - Serengeti

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 3, 2005

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    During the safari you are usually never allowed out of the 4WD - it is a bad idea with all the foul-tempered animals around.

    Ironically, one of the very few places we were 'let out' of the car by our guide was near the hippos - the most dangerous animals in Africa. The guide wasn't mad though! There is a rocky outcrop over the pool too high for the hippos to reach so we were perfectly safe.

    The hippo pool in the serengeti is amazing! To get so close to these huge beasts and hear all their noise and see so many of them huddled together was a great experience!

    Hippo Bull asserting authority at the Hippo Pool
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    Lake Magadi - Ngorongoro Crater

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 3, 2005

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    The centerpiece of the Ngorongoro Crater is Lake Magadi. This lake is literally tinted pink with the thousands of flamingos that live here. The colour of the lake against the crater wall is magnificent - hearing the strange noises of the flamingos in the background was fun!

    Lake Magadi
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    Lions in the Serengeti National Park

    by SanguiniA Updated Jul 1, 2005

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    One of the highlight activities in the Serengeti is to look for the big cats. The most easily seen are the savannah royalty themselves - the Lions! There are plenty of prides - and plenty for them to eat as well! They don't really mind the presence of vehicles, but it is not a good idea to keep following them if they leave - it stresses them.

    We did not manage to see the lions hunt, but I consider myself lucky to at least see them feast on a freshly caught zebra.

    Lions eating zebra
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    Ngorongoro Crater

    by Myndo Updated Jan 5, 2005

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    The Ngorongoro Crater is actually not a crater, but a caldera. This means: the ground of this area broke in due to vulcanic activity. It is the 6th biggest Caldera in the world.

    The rim lies on 2280-2440 m.ü.m. (meters over sea level), that is quite high, actually.
    This has several effects: No mosquitoes here (too high), also it is several degrees cooler. So cool that you will need a sweater in the evening.
    Also the air is more humid, so a lot of trees are growing here and it tends to be misty in the morning. In the crater the weather is always better.

    All the accomodations in this Ntl park are located on the rim. The view down is fantastic.

    The Park is only 384 km2 small, but a lot of animals stay in the park because the rim is too steep.

    Inside this is really a freeland zoo. Lots of animals together.
    Here you can find Waterbuck, Oryx, Lion, Cheetah, Hyena, Hunting dogs, Buffalo, Gazelle, Hippopotamus, Zebra, Gnu, Giraffae, Warthogs etc..

    What is special here is, that you will see the Maasai looking after their cows right in this "Conservation Area" next to the lions and all...

    For more info, have a look at my Ngorongoro pages

    Ngorongoro Crater
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    Maasai

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 3, 2005

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    You cannot go to Tanzania and not see and admire a Maasai. These are a native tribe (to East Africa - along the Great Rift Valley) that worship and entirely depend upon cattle (they eat their meat and drink their milk and blood). They wear colourful costumes and can be seen wandering around with their cattle with a certain charisma.

    On the way to the Serengeti I went to visit a Maasai village. They sang and danced for us, invited us into their huts (made out of cow dung [what else??]), dressed me in their clothes and jewelry - and in the Tanzanian fashion - demanded $25. Such an experience is priceless anyway, so I was happy to oblige. Where they will be able to spend the dollars (and for what) I don't know. I hope they don't feed the dollar bills to the cows!

    The village also had a small school, and the kids were in cute green uniforms. There was a language and spelling lesson going on and the lesson was being conducted in a relaxed, serene atmosphere.

    Their way of life and the hardships they have to survive are remarkable. They are nomads, and move where the water is, always depending on decisions made for their cattle's welfare. The boys go through various phases of life - but at some point in time they are sent away from the village to fend for themselves for some. They can be seen wearing black with their faces painted in white designs and they can occasionally be seen dancing along the roads. Only this hardship period can they be circumcised, and brutally scarred with knives to become warriors. If a man is not a warrior, he is completely worthless, and it is not clear to me what happens to such men. Polygamy is a way of life - and the men usually arrange marriages with much younger women. The woman has to satisfy the husband, tend to the children and also some cattle as well as build a cow-dung house from scratch every time they move. Each tribe has a chief and a group of elders to make decisions for the whole village.

    Maasai Women
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    Lake Manyara Ntl Park

    by Myndo Updated Jan 5, 2005

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    Located at the side of Lake Manyara, this Park is the greenest of the surroundings. It actually has so many trees that you could have difficulties spotting the (many) animals - especially after having been in the Serengeti (only flat and grass).

    This park has a lot of birds: Flamingoes and Pelicans etc. Most of them are breeding at the rim of the soda lake, but you are not allowed to drive closer. So: bring good binoculars.

    Also the famous tree-lions live here. Uncommon to other lions they are climbing up the trees. Why they do it is not known, maybe its cooler up there or they can see better.
    You must be very lucky to spot one of them.

    Easier to see are the elefants - or you would think so... until you almost drive into one on the road....

    If you want to have more info, visite my Lake Manyara pages

    Pelicans at Manyara
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    Serengeti Ntl Park

    by Myndo Updated Jan 5, 2005

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    "Serengeti" means in the Maasai language: Endless Plain.
    - And thats what it is. Grass-land wherever you look, wide and flat as a pan, only interrupted by smaller stone-hills and some single trees.

    The trees are a good place to look for the animals. It gets really hot here at day and a lot of animals are looking for the shadow these trees provide.
    Also look for higher spots, they make good look-outs for the many lions you can find in this park.

    You will se a lot of animals here, as many lions as you wish to see. If you have a good guide he will find you a spot where you can even watch a lion hunt.

    The Serengeti Ntl park is quite big (thanks to the efforts of Professor Grzimek and son: remember "Serengeti must not die"?) and it covers an area that the animals are wandering around. 14763 km2
    It hosts the biggest concentration on free living nig mammals on the earth. Gnus, Gazellae, Zebras, Impaslas, Topis, Buffaloes, Girraffae, Lions, Elefants...
    (the Gnus, Zebras and Gazellae are wandering -migrating clockwise through the park through the year)

    So, take your time for this wonderful place on earth. Have patience if the animals do not just "present" themselves and never stop looking and watching. It is also a good idea to stay in one place a little longer...

    For more info and pics, have a look at my Serengeti Ntl Park pages

    Elefants in Serengeti
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    Safari in Tanzania

    by elsadran Updated Oct 14, 2014

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    1st day
    We started early on the first day. They took my big bag to keep it in the office and I got on the van where I met my co-travelers. They all welcomed me with a smile, which I later learned was not so genuine. Because they had resented at the idea of having one more passenger in a private tour. This happened because it was difficult to find a group to join and the office had asked them to accept me. However a couple of hours later, after a little talking and laughing we all became a nice company and there was no further annoyance.
    We headed to Tarangire National Park. We passed a Maasai village on the way and we could see them all dressed in their unique red and dark purple clothes. We could have stopped to have a close view but nobody in the bus agreed to pay the 80$ they asked for. This applies to all Maasai villages in the parks, too. Anyway we had the chances to see them in other places and talked to them. They usually approach you to sell some hand made – as they say- handicrafts Or to change dollars they get from tourists to local currency.
    Tarangire is a small park but the wild life is as interesting as in other parks. Its main feature are the black elephants that are roaming in herds looking for food, taking their bath in small pools of water, feeding their babies, and caressing their sweetheart.....! As it was our first day we were very excited at every sight of wild life and stood up to take a photo of everything that moved...ha
    We saw a lot of different kinds of antelopes, like beautiful impalas, small and shy dik-dik, and reedbucks and bushbacks. We saw colorful birds, ostriches, baboons, monkeys, giraffes and lions resting in the shade of the tall african trees.
    We stopped for lunch and went on to visit very interesting points in the heart of African scenery. We slept in a camping site, Panorama, with the most amazing views on the valley below and lake Manyara.
    2nd day – On the way to Serengeti we passed through Ngorongoro. It was a long way but really exciting! In Serengeti the driver took us to the most interesting places where we would have a chance to see the most. It was amazing ! Millions of different animals were roaming in separate herds, crossing their routes at a dangerous risk of life and death. Miraculously they don't attack each other , at least during the day, as they protect themselves by the same kind being together and taking care of each other. The big predators usually look for food in the early morning and they stay calm during daytime.
    A lot of zebras in their amazing striped costume walked gracefully in twos or more, impalas, topis (another kind of antelopes), gnus, thousands of them, vultures, lions, …..
    I was really impressed by the unique shape of the African acacias against the frugal savanna scenery. Very atmospheric!!!
    Finally, tired but satisfied we arrived at Seronera Public campsite, in Serengeti, a great misfortune for us, as it didn't have any electricity and no water available at the time, but the delectable candle-lit dinner that our expert chef served us was compensating enough.
    3rd day—We went back to Ngorongoro and our exploration of the Serengeti wild life. Giraffes, baboon families with their playful offspring, lions, elephants, hippopotamuses, majestic crowned cranes, other big birds, buffaloes, dik-dik, impalas, wildebeests.
    Late in the afternoon we ended up in Simbaa campsite, which is located on high grounds and was bitterly cold and extremely humid at night. But we woke up gazing at a stunning sunrise which made us forget our miserable night.
    4th day-- We visited the Ngorongoro crater , a really impressive place where the concentration of wild life is truly unbelievable. Millions of wildebeests, zebras, ostriches, wild boars, hyenas, and a pink lot of flamingos in the lake in the background.…. we followed a pride of lions preying for their “breakfast”. They were lionesses walking in a line with a glorious confidence. They were not the least disturbed by the presence of tourists.
    Later we visited the beautiful lake of the crater and went to sleep at Panorama campsite. I relaxed at the small terrace gazing at the stunning views on Manyara lake.
    5th day – We visited Lake Manyara with the scenic landscape and the wonderful flamingos. The scenery starts with lush vegetated grounds with baboons, monkeys and the famous tree-climbing lions. Although the guide told us that all lions climb on the trees as long as the trees are strong enough to hold their weight... At the plain there were giraffes, wildebeests, buffaloes and zebras, elephants...
    Lake Manyara attracts many species of other big birds like cormorants, storks and pelicans.

    For more photos view my Travelogue Safari 1

    Ngorongoro Crater Serengeti Tarangire Ngorongoro Ngorongoro Crater
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    Ngorongoro Crater

    by toonsarah Written Apr 22, 2009

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    This was my favourite of our three safari locations. It had everything going for it – a fantastic luxury lodge in a spectacular setting, plenty of wildlife to photograph and the opportunity to see something of local culture by visiting a Maasai village.

    The Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera – 610 metres deep, 20 kilometres across and 260 square kilometres in area. It was formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself some two to three million years ago. The crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25,000 animals within the crater, and the protected environment and plentiful water and food available on the Crater floor throughout the year means that many of them never leave (resulting in serious in-breeding among the lions, for instance). This “captive” wildlife means that great sightings are guaranteed year round.

    We spent one whole day driving in the crater and during that time saw:
    ~ hippos
    ~ rhinos (a mother and baby)
    ~ lions (a pride of five asleep under a tree)
    ~ cheetah family (parents and three cubs)
    ~ gazelles (both Grants and Thompsons)
    ~ zebra
    ~ wildebeest
    ~ buffalo
    ~ hyena
    ~ warthogs
    Birds seen included:
    ~ flamingos
    ~ crested cranes
    ~ bustard
    ~ black kites
    ~ sacred ibis
    ~ marabou stork
    ~ ostrich

    See my separate Ngorongoro page for more about the animals we saw, the wonderful lodge where we stayed, and our other experiences in this area.

    Maasai woman and child Ngorongoro Crater (by Chris) Sleeping lion (by Chris)
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Tanzania Things to Do

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