There is a lot to consider when going to Africa for the first time. One of them is which country you should visit first. I decided to go to Tanzania because there are a lot of unique things to see. There is a lot of things that should be on your Tanzania bucket list. I loved the trip, even though it was just two weeks, it was a trip of a lifetime. Here is my bucket list for Tanzania, hopefully, it would give you an idea of what to see when visiting this amazing country.
Tanzania bucket list
Tanzania is full of wildlife. Most of the people would head to the north, close to the border with Kenya. Mainly because there is a lot of wildlife there and the parks there are just gorgeous. One of the most popular national parks there is Ngorongoro. Nature there is just surreal and you can see so many wildlife and yet you won’t have enough. A lot of people believe that Ngorongoro inspired people who made Lion King. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised. You can see how the animal kingdom here as well.
At the same time, Ngorongoro is one of the parks where you can see the whole big 5 if you are lucky. Although rhinos are rare, you can still spot them here as well.
Besides that, Ngorongoro is truly a crater, which means that you can see here all the nature from the hill as well. If your guide doesn’t mind waking up early, you can see here a sunrise over the crater where lions are still a little bit active in the morning. You can also visit the most famous lake in the Ngorongoro crater where you can see hippos resting during the day.
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Another famous park in northern Tanzania. Serengeti is also known as a cat park. It is a place, where you will see lions, cheetahs or leopards. Even though cheetahs aren’t part of the big 5 animals, they are rather rare in the wild but in Serengeti, you can see them nice and clear.
Serengeti is also popular for watching migration when they are coming from wetlands in the spring. A lot of wildebeests, buffalos, and zebras, running wildly just around you. At the same time, from all the parks it is easiest to spot rhinos in this park.
Unlike other parks, Tarangire isn’t as known as other parks. If there is such a thing as off the beaten safari park, Tarangire is it. Every safari park in Tanzania is a little bit different. This one is remarkable for the number of baobab trees that you can see here.
In short, you might not see lions here and leopards are also hard to spot here as well. But you won’t miss local herds of elephants, ostriches or massive amounts of zebras and giraffes. Most of the time they are just enjoying hiding in the shadow of baobabs. You can also spot here various numbers of big birds like secretary birds and a lot of other ones.
Yep, you can most definitely climb to the roof of Africa from here. It is one of the most unique things to do in Tanzania. I didn’t do that, because you need about a week to complete it, but it is something that is still on my list. Besides, Kilimanjaro is also just beautiful to look at.
Most of the time you would need at least a week for climbing Kilimanjaro. There are several routes to do it but in all of them, you would need a guide. It is one of the few places in Africa, where you might feel cold even in the middle of summer due to high altitude. The hiking part could be also a pretty hard thing to do so you need to be well prepared for this hike. And yes, it seems hard but it is something that should be on your bucket list for Tanzania if you are true mountain lover. Climbing the highest peak of Afrika is a must!
Waterfalls under the mount Kilimanjaro
Visiting a waterfall certainly isn’t something unique to do, but here in Tanzania, you can even swim in them. And even better, you have to hike through plantages to get there, which might be a little bit difficult, but overall it is a great adventure and it is one of the best things to do.
There are two main waterfalls around Mount Kilimanjaro. The higher one is called the Materuni waterfall. It is the waterfall where you can not only hike in but also swim in the waterfall. But be aware that the water comes from the glacier on Kilimanjaro, which means that it is really cold most of the time. In summer during the dry season, it is probably very refreshing but otherwise, it might not be so pleasant.
The other waterfall is called Marangu because it is close to Marangu villages. It is half as tall as Materuni is, but nature around is beautiful nevertheless. You will also see a lot of plantages around and see the proper life on an African farm.
Perhaps one of the best things about visiting these waterfalls is that if you visit it, you are most likely to use the cultural tourism that people are organizing here. And that way you would help their community. Most of the time would villagers offer you to see their coffee plantages or see how they make banana beer.
Visiting Masai village
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From all the tribes in Africa are Massai’s perhaps the best-known ones. You would hear about them in books and different movies. Up till today, they have been mostly known as the inhabitants of the area filled with wildlife. You can also distinguish them by diverse dresses from other tribes. Even though Tanzanian people tend to modernize and generally go with a trend of dressing like any other people you know in Europe, Maasais stand by their traditions with dressing and hunting in the wild.
A lot of people would visit their villages to see how they live up until now. And yes, it is something mainly made for tourists. But it is worth knowing that a lot of Maasais still live like this up till now. And by that, I mean in little huts where they would have to hunt animals. They also have their traditional way of lighting up the fire and a special school for Maasai children. Part of it is of course part of the act but otherwise, it is really interesting to see their rituals that are still surviving even up till now.
It might not feel like that but overall, Africa can be kind of cold. So hot springs are something to visit. And good news, Tanzania has one very magical hot springs called Kikuletwa. The one that I visited had crystal clear water and was surrounded by a lot of trees. It feels like being in the middle of the jungle. Overall, it looks very surreal and it was like in a movie.
There weren’t too many people and yet there were utilities like toilets and places to eat. And even though it looks magical, one would say that the place is really well known, but there is rarely a lot of people. Most of the time, there are just a couple of locals and around ten tourists. The place is great, especially for any relaxation. You can swim here all round the lagoon or jump to water on a rope, feeling like a Tarzan.
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Lake Chala is also one of the unique things to do in Tanzania. It is on the edge of Mount Kilimanjaro region and the whole lake is basically in a crater. The lake is right on the border with Kenya.
Going to that area you get a great view of the lake, you can bike around it. And if you are into bird watching, then this is a trip for you. Except for the birds you might find here Nile crocodiles and for that very reason, it is not allowed to swim in the lake. But you might still enjoy it just from watching it. It is nice to see the crater. Lake Challa is also in the northern part of Tanzania.
Jozani forest is in Zanzibar. And what is so unique about it? Well, it has very rare red Columbus monkeys. Currently, this is the only place where they live. The great thing about them is the fact that they are not afraid of people. Meaning that you can go close to them. They live together with another kind of monkeys so it is very easy to spot them both. And here in this forest, you are sure that you will see them.
At the same time, the Jozani forest is a relatively unique environment, where you can see a mangrove forest as well. There is a lot of animals in that place and monkeys are only one of them. There are also a lot of crabs and fishes that you can see around the mangrove forest. At the same time it is really easy to visit this place, it is only half an hour from the capital of Zanzibar or the beaches on the eastern coast of the island.
White sand beaches in Zanzibar
Zanzibar has amazing beaches. There are all white, the sea is nice and clean. You can even get to some water activities like kiting or beach volleyball or snorkeling. There are also a lot of restaurants on the beach, so it is easy to eat there as well. Generally, Zanzibar beaches are the right thing for relaxation and enjoying yourself for a little bit.
And believe me, there is a lot of beaches all around the island. The only tricky thing about it is the fact that you cannot bathe in them all the time. Meaning that when there is low tide, it is hard to go swimming because the sea can be a kilometer away from the place where it normally is. This means that there are some places where you cannot bathe in the morning and others where you cannot bathe in the evening. There are only a couple of beaches, where it is possible to do it all day around.
Zanzibar City is quite an amazing place to see. It is the biggest city in Zanzibar. You can visit there the very famous Stone town. Stone town is very special though. Build-in past centuries, the streets are really hard to navigate through. Which is something that makes it even more fun. You can see the classical building that was made centuries ago and is still filled with street vendors and little side markets.
Overall you can visit there also Freddie Mercury house and the Slave market with a heartbreaking history. But also enjoy the local atmosphere of the very old and exotic city. In the evening, you can see here various markets and get local street food, which is delicious! Besides that, Stone town has a lot of colonial houses and palaces, so it is a nice place to visit even if just for a day.
Prison island is part of Zanzibar slave trade history. But it is still nice to see, especially if you are into history. Here you will get to see a place where the slaves were quarantined and waited here for the market itself. It is really scary when you can see that this happened only 150 years back. Now it is vacant and starting to crumble. But it is a good reminder of this heartbreaking past.
If you are not a history geek, there is also a lot of turtles there to visit as well. The turtles are something that was left behind by slave owners and now there are about hundreds of turtles there. It is quite a strange place, but very interesting.
What to pack for Tanzania
Bug repellent – In African countries, it is more needed than a lot of other places. Even if you are vaccinated or taking malaria pills, you still might get sick from Dengue fever and other diseases.
Vaccination report – Countries like Tanzania will very often ask you for proof that you have been vaccinated. There is a special document for it, that your doctor has to fill out when he vaccinates you. It is necessary to bring it with you.
Warm clothes – Especially if you are planning to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need warm clothes to get some shelter from the cold in the mountains.
Swimsuit – Whether you are planning to visit hot springs in northern Tanzania or want to enjoy the beach in Zanzibar at least one swimsuit is a must.
Binoculars – If you are going to safari, binoculars are a must. The animals won’t always walk around you like models, so you have to help your self a little bit.
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