Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and 13th largest in Africa. Located within the African Great Lakes region it includes the ‘Spice Islands’ of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia and contains Africa’s highest point – Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano. Tanzania borders Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The country assumed its present form in 1964 after a merger between the mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar, which became independent in 1963.
Few destinations in Africa can rival Tanzania’s diversity of wildlife, cultures and landscapes. From the classic savannah destinations of the Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater to the beaches and coral reefs of Zanzibar and the tropical coast, a Tanzanian safari holiday delivers one epic experience after another. This is all before discovering the off-the-beaten-track experiences such as chimpanzee trekking in the magisterial rainforests of Mahale and Gombe or game viewing in the super-remote Selous Game Reserve.
Tanzania is renowned for offering some of the best game viewing and safari experiences in all of Africa. Famous for the iconic Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Plains, the country also boasts some less-visited fascinating parks and reserves, including the Selous, Ruaha, Mahale and Katavi. Approximately 38% of Tanzania’s landmass is designated as National Parks and Game Reserves in order to protect the wildlife within the area. These areas have excellent concentrations of game and the Big Five, which can easily be seen over the course of a couple of days’ safari.
The Serengeti Plains, along with Kenya’s adjoining Maasai Mara, is home to one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world - the Great Migration - also known as the annual migration or the wildebeest migration. One million wildebeest, 200 000 zebra and 400 000 gazelle move throughout the southern and eastern plains of the Serengeti in an indistinct clockwise direction between the patches of fresh green grass as they follow the rains. The herds are followed by prides of lion, as well as spotted hyena, striped hyena, golden jackal, side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal.
It’s not just the wildlife that enchants. Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline is also magical, with tranquil islands and sleepy coastal villages steeped in centuries of Swahili culture. The Zanzibar Archipelago consists of several islands lying off the coast of East Africa offering powdery white beaches, turquoise waters and pastel-hued sunrises.
The tropical climate varies significantly within Tanzania. Coastal areas are hot and humid, while the north-western highlands are cool and temperate, with temperatures ranging between 10-20 °C during cold and hot seasons. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20°C. There are two rainy seasons: the short rains are generally from October to December, while the long rains last from March to June. The central plateau tends to be dry and arid throughout the year. Tanzania is a destination which can be visited year-round, although the best time for travelling is outside of the rainy season between June and October, when temperatures stay well below their summer peaks. Beach-side locations like Zanzibar are good to visit during the hotter months of December to January, when ocean breezes make the high temperatures bearable, although humidity can still be high. December to January is the most popular time for beach holidays, especially for those travelling from Europe wanting some winter sunshine, and hotels can book up early, especially for the Christmas and New Year period.