Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline is magical, with tranquil islands and sleepy coastal villages steeped in centuries of Swahili culture. Travel back in time to the days when the East African coast was the seat of sultans and a linchpin in a far-flung trading network extending to Persia, India and beyond. Relax on powdery beaches backed by palms and the occasional baobab; take in gentle, pastel-hued sunrises; immerse yourself in languid coastal rhythms; and sit beneath the billowing sails of a wooden dhow, listening to the creaking of its rigging.
More than almost any other destination, Tanzania is the land of safaris. Wildebeest stampede across the plains. Hippos jostle for space in muddy waterways. Elephants wander along seasonal migration routes and chimpanzees swing through the treetops. Throughout the country, there are unparalleled opportunities to experience this natural wealth: take a boat safari down the Rufiji River past snoozing crocodiles in Selous Game Reserve; watch giraffes silhouetted against ancient baobab trees in Ruaha National Park; sit motionless as waterbirds peck in the shallows around Rubondo Island; and hold your breath while a lion pads in front of your vehicle in Ngorongoro Crater.
Sending its shadow across Tanzania’s northern plains, Mt Kilimanjaro beckons visitors with its graceful, forested flanks and stately snow-capped summit. It is Africa’s highest peak and one of the world’s highest free-standing mountains. It is also home to the Chagga people, and to a wealth of birds and wildlife. Climbers by the thousands venture here to challenge themselves on its muddy slopes, rocky trails and slippery scree. The rewards: the thrill of standing at the top of Africa; magnificent views of Kilimanjaro’s ice fields; and witnessing the sunrise illuminating the plains far below.
Serengeti National Park
Wander through Stone Town’s winding alleyways, with their carved doors and latticework balconies and you’ll easily lose yourself in centuries of history. Each twist and turn brings something new, be it a school full of children chanting verses from the Quran, an abandoned Persian bathhouse, or a coffee vendor with his long-spouted pot fastened over coals. While the best part of Stone Town is simply letting it unfold before you, it’s also worth putting in an effort to see and experience some of its major features
Mt Kilimanjaro National Park
Lushoto is also the heartland of the Wasambaa people (the name ‘Usambara’ is a corruption of Wasambaa or Washambala, meaning ‘scattered’). Local culture is strong. In Muheza and parts of the Tanga region closer to the coast, Swahili is used almost exclusively. Here however, Sambaa is the language of choice for most residents.