Tanzania

TANZANIA

EXPLORE THE COAST

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mount meru

15. MOUNT MERU

The entrance gates of Arusha National Park open into a shadowy montane forest inhabited by colorful turacos, blue monkeys, and the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkeys. In the midst of the forests stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose slopes are dotted with buffaloes, zebras, warthogs, and giraffes. On the other side are the grassy hills that enclose the Momela Lakes supporting a wide range of resident and migratory birds, including the pink flamingo. The shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes.

But it is the conical shaped Mount Meru that dominates the park’s horizon. Meru is a volcanic mountain reaching a height of 4, 566m above sea level and is the fifth highest in Africa. The peaks and the eastern slopes of Meru are protected within the park. The mountain offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, Mount Kilimanjaro, but is itself a rewarding hiking destination that passes through wooded savannah and mountain forests inhabited by mammals and birds. Three to four days is the recommended time for climbing the mountain. The best time to climb it is from June to February, although it may rain in November. The best views of Kilimanjaro from Meru are between December and February.

About Mt Meru
second highest mountain in Tanzania, at 4566metre (14,979feet).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Arusha.

Getting there
About one hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport.

What to do
usual trekking routes to the summit

When to go
Clearest and warmest conditions from December to February, but also dry (and colder) from July-September.

Accommodation
Huts and campsites on the mountain.
Several hotels and campsites outside the park in the village.

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16. MOUNT KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK

Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa. Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet). Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates. And their memories.

But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias. Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.

About Kilimanjaro National Park
Size: 1668 sq km 641 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.

Getting there
128 km (80 miles) from Arusha.
About one hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport.

What to do
Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more-demanding mountaineering routes.
Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches.
Trout fishing.
Visit the beautiful Chala crater lake on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.

When to go
Clearest and warmest conditions from December to February, but also dry (and colder) from July-September.

Accommodation
Huts and campsites on the mountain.
Several hotels and campsites outside the park in the village of Marangu and town of Moshi.

Porters and guides accompany each group. The Kilimanjaro Central Control Unit has a reliable, equipped rescue team on the Marangu route. Equipment such as sleeping bags, mountain boots, thick sweaters, balaclava, gloves and so on are required, but we can arrange to have this equipment rented and ready for you to use. Kilimanjaro is not just a mountain to conquer, but also changing scenes and landscapes to enjoy, and rich in a wide variety of birdlife, flora and fauna.

Mount Kilimanjaro climbing Routes

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ROUTE

DESCRIPTION

Marangu Route TH330  Kilimanjaro Conquest
Out of the 6 routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, this is the most popular. It is the most gentle to the top, and goes via Mandara Hut, Horombo Hut, Kibo Hut, and on to Uhuru Peak through Gillmans Point.
Machame Route TH331
The next most popular route. Considered probably the most beautiful route up the mountain, but definitely not the easiest.
Umbwe Route
Relatively shory, steep and scenic route, going via Umbwe, 1st Bivouac, 2nd Bivouac, Barranco Hut Lava Tower Hut and Shira Hut.
Shira Plateau Route
Great Western Breach Route to Kibo Crater
Very steep and recommended only for physically very fit persons and experienced mountaineers.
Rongai Route
Very steep and a direct route to the summit.

Kilimanjaro Climb is an experience of a lifetime, highly recommended to the adventurous traveller willing to forego some of lifes luxuries for a few days. The Marangu Route walking expedition can be undertaken without past mountaineering experience.

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serengeti

18. SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

A million wildebeest… each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north; replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again. Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat. But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.
As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterises the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust.

Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focussed unswervingly on its next meal.

About Serengeti
Size: 14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).
Location: 335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.

Getting there
Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza.
Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do
Hot air balloon safaris, walking safari, picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators.  Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks.

Visit neighbouring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s flamingos.

When to go
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October.

Accommodation
Four lodges, six luxury tented camps and camp sites scattered through the park; one new lodge will be opened next season (Bilila Lodge); one luxury camp, a lodge and two tented camps just outside

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19. NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera, lies within the area. Land in the conservation area is multi-use: it is unique, as it is the only conservation area in Tanzania providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. Land use is controlled to prevent negative effects on the wildlife population. For example, cultivation is prohibited at all but subsistence levels. The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem and, to the north-west, it adjoins the Serengeti National Park and is contiguous with the southern Serengeti plains, these plains also extend to the north into unprotected Loliondo division and are kept open to wildlife through transhumance pastoralism practiced by Maasai. The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater and the lesser known Empakai. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The annual ungulate migration passes through the NCA, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June. This movement changes seasonally with the rains, but the migration will traverse almost the entire plains in search of food. The NCA has a healthy resident population of most species of wildlife: in particular, the Ndutu Lake area to the west has strong cheetah and lion populations.

Wildlife

A population of approximately 25,000 large animals, largely ungulates along with reputedly the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa, lives in the crater. Large animals in the crater include the black rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus, which is very uncommon in the area. There also are many other ungulates: the wildebeest  the zebra, the eland, and Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles. The crater has the densest known population of lions, numbering 62 in 2001. On the crater rim are leopards, elephants ,mountain reedbuck, and buffalo . In the middle of the crater there is a large lake inhabited by hundreds of flamingoes and from a distance, they appear as a pink border of the lake.

In summer, enormous numbers of Serengeti migrants pass through the plains of the reserve, including 1.7 million wildebeest, 260,000 zebra, and 470,000 gazelles. Waterbuck occur mainly near Lerai Forest; servals occur widely in the crater and on the plains to the west. Common in the reserve are lions, hartebeest, spotted hyenas and jackals. Cheetahs, although common in the reserve, are scarce in the crater itself. The African Wild Dog has recently disappeared from the crater and may have declined elsewhere in the Conservation Area as well, as well as throughout Tanzania.

Ngorongoro Crater

The main feature of the NCA is the Ngorongoro Crater, a large, unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera. The crater, which formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself some two to three million years ago, is 610 m (2,000 ft) deep and its floor covers 260 km2 (100 sq mi). Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from fifteen to nineteen thousand feet (4500 to 5800 metres) high. Animal populations in the crater include most of the species found in East Africa, but there are no impalas (Aepyceros melampus), topis (Damaliscus lunatus), oribis (Ourebia oribi), giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis), or crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus).

The major water source in the crater is the Ngoitokitok Spring, near the eastern crater wall. There is a picnic site here open to tourists and a huge swamp fed by the spring, and the area is inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, lions, and many others. Many other small springs can be found around the crater’s floor, and these are important water supplies for the animals and local Masaai, especially during times of drought. Aside from herds of zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest, the crater is home to the “big five” of rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. The crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25 000 animals within the crater.

 Olduvai Gorge

The conservation area also protects Olduvai Gorge, situated in the plains area. It is considered to be the seat of humanity after the discovery of the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo habilis as well as early hominidae, such as Paranthropus boisei. The Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches along eastern Africa. Olduvai is in the eastern Serengeti Plains in northern Tanzania and is about 30 miles long. It lies in the rain shadow of the Ngorongoro highlands and is the driest part of the region. The gorge is named after ‘Oldupaai’, the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant, Sansevieria ehrenbergii.

It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and research there has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. Excavation work there was pioneered by Mary and Louis Leakey in the 1950s and is continued today by their family. Some believe that millions of years ago, the site was that of a large lake, the shores of which were covered with successive deposits of volcanic ash. Around 500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which began to cut down into the sediments, revealing seven main layers in the walls of the gorge.

Getting there
Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza.
Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do
Picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators. Visit neighbouring Serebgeti National Park, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s flamingos, Lake Manyara National Park.

When to go
To follow the wildebeest migration, December- June. To see predators, June-October.

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mkomazi

20. MKOMAZI NATIONAL PARK

Set below the verdant slopes of the spectacular Usambara and Pare Eastern Arc Mountain ranges and overseen by iconic snow – capped peak of Kilimanjaro, Mkomazi a virgin breathtaking beauty exhibiting unique natural treasures and immense sense of space – adds to the fulfillment of high visitor enjoyment expectations – a much needed bridge between northern circuit and coastal attractions. Everyday, thousands of people pass within a few kilometers of Mkomazi on one of Tanzania’s busiest highways. These and northern circuit safari – goers are now most welcome to discover the treasures of this wedge of hilly semi – arid savannah – home of large herds of giraffe, eland, hartebeest, zebra, buffalo and elephant. Mkomazi is a vital refuge for two highly endangered species, the charismatic black rhino and sociable African wild dog, both of which were successfully reintroduced in the 1990s. Nomadic by nature, wild dog might be seen almost anywhere in the park, but black rhino are restricted to a fenced sanctuary, ensuring their safe keeping for future generations enjoyment and prosperity.

Mkomazi supports several dry – country specialists species that are rare elsewhere in Tanzania; these include the spectacular fringe – eared oryx, with its long back – sweeping horns, and the handsome spiral – horned lesser kudu. Oddest of all is the gerenuk, a gazelle distinguished by its slender neck, bizarre alien – like head, and habit of standing tall on its hind legs stretch for acacia leaves that other browsers cannot reach. A game reserve since 1951, this new National Park takes its name from Pare tribe’s word for “scoop of water”, referring to little water. It is a fantastic destination for birdwatchers, with more than 450 avian species recorded, among them dry – country endemics such as the cobalt – chested vulturine guineafowl, other large ground birds such as ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird, ground hornbill and some migratory species including Eurasian roller.

About the Mkomazi National Park
Size: 3,245 sq km (1,240 sq miles)

Location: Northern Tanzania split between Kilimanjaro and Tanga administrative regions. The park also borders Tsavo west National Park in Kenya. The Zange entrance gate lies 112 km (69 miles) from Moshi, 550 km (341 miles) from Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere International Airport – Dar es Salaam, 142 km (88.7 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport, 120 km (75 miles) from Kilimanjaro National Park – the roof of Africa and 6 km (3.7 miles) from the town of Same.

How to get there
By road, Mkomazi is easily accessible via Same, which lies on the surfaced highway connecting Arusha to Dar es Salaam. The Park is also easily accessible on special arrangement through Njiro, Kivingo and Umba gates. Park can also be easily accessed from nearby/close existing tourist attractions in Eastern Arc Mountains, Coast and Kilimanjaro Mountain. Charter flights are available to Kisima airstrip.

What to do
Game drives, camping, site seeing, bird watching, walking safari, and hiking (uphill). Learn more about conservation and rhinoceros at Mkomazi rhino sanctuary.

When to go
Late June – early September is best for large mammal and bird watching. Scenic beauty is at its peak March – June.

Accommodation
One semi – permanent tented camp near the Park headquarters. Few designated basic campsites where one must bring his/her camping gears and food. There are several small hotels and guest houses in Same town

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21. LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK

Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy. Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.

Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.  Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.

About Lake Manyara National Park
Size: 330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high.
Location: In northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.

Getting there
By road, charter or scheduled flight from Arusha, en route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do
Game drives, night game drives, canoeing when the water levels is sufficiently high.
Cultural tours, picnicking, bush lunch/dinner, mountain bike tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.

When to go
Dry season (July-October) for large mammals;
Wet season (November-June) for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing.

Accommodation
One luxury treehouse-style camp, public bandas and campsites inside the park.
One luxury tented camp and three lodges perched on the Rift Wall outside the park overlooking the lake.
Several guesthouses and campsites in nearby Mto wa Mbu.

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arusha national park
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22. ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK

The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours. The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog. Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue.

Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.

But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern footslopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right. Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.

About Arusha National Park
Size: 552 sq km 212 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town..

Getting there
An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha. Approximately 60 km (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.
NOTE: Mountain Climbing Permits duration time is 12 HOURS.

What to do
Forest walks, numerous picnic sites;
three- or four-day Mt Meru climb – good acclimatisation for Kilimanjaro.

When to go
To climb Mt Meru, June-February although it may rain in November.
Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.

Accommodation
Two lodges, two rest houses, camp sites, two mountain huts inside the park; more lodges at Usa River outside the park and many hotels and hostels in Arusha town.

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