We stayed at the Crystal Resort in Zanzibar and booked a snorkeling trip and then after the we ate on a small atoll, which disappears at high tide. The color of the water was spectacular and the clarity of it allowed us to see many different types of fish, starfish, ... Here we could a beautiful orange starfish eating a sea urchin. We also saw the famous Dolly from the movie Finding Nemo, also Nemo's long suffering father. The fantastic image of the beach near the resort and locals' fishing boats. Be careful if you walk barefoot along the beach be very careful not to step on sea urchins, beautiful but very dangerous for your feet.
The Serengeti park offers the classic African scenery of wide rolling plains with acacia trees and large herds of grazing ungulates.
We stayed at a mobile camp which follows the wildebeest migration, and in September this was close to the Kenyan border and the Mara River which divides Kenya from Tanzania. We were lucky enough to see a crossing on our way from the airstrip to camp. The wildebeest can take many hours to make the life and death decision to plunge into this river in order to find fresh grazing.
We also had the the bittersweet experience of seeing a black rhino mother and calf grazing in the soft evening light, knowing that these magnificent animals could become extinct.
Our camp was close to a hyena den, so as we left for the morning game drives we would meet the pack returning from hunting. It was a great opportunity to observe the social interactions within the clan.
As if that wasn't enough we had one of the few female guides operating in the Serengeti. Vicky was extremely knowledgeable and always trying to find us something interesting. She certainly succeeded when we got to watch a cheetah catch a gazelle for her cub on the way back to the airstrip.
Nungwi beach is located at the northern tip of Zanzibar and has over 20 dive spots and some really wonderful beach areas for relaxing. Nungwi itself is a village that has been famous for its shipbuilding (the ever-present dhows) for over 500 years. The fish auction on the beach is open to all who want to come by to purchase or just look on. I'd also suggest a visit to the lighthouse where there's a small aquarium filled with turtles. The variety of restaurants and bars offering affordable local food is outstanding.
The official language of Nungwi is Swahili and I'd recommend visiting the town to check out the tropical fruit markets and the local schools. The kids get really excited and always want to sing and play with you. If you're a woman, make sure to dress in long sarongs or something not too provocative as the local women are very conservative and don't take too kindly to overt shows of immodesty. As long as you dress respectfully, they're all quite friendly.
Lake Manyara is a small Tanzanian park that is famous for its variety of birds and its climbing lions. During the dry season the lake is away from the main tracks so it is rather complicated to go bird watching, but on the contrary it is easier to see the animals. The most common animals are hippos, elephants, giraffes and buffalo. Despite being famous for its lions, spotted cats is not easy to see. If this is the first park you visit you will find it interesting. but if you have visited others, as we had, you will see it like a oath to get to another park.
While the Ngorongoro National Park is known for its wildlife, its scenery really impressed me. From the hotels, found on the edge of the crater, there are impressive views, as well as from within the crater itself. The good thing about this park is that, being a crater, the animals don't tend to leave the surroundings, therefore you are almost guaranteed to catch a glimpse of nature. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. It is about 20 kilometers in diameter and 600 feet high. The Maasai have permission to go to pasture with their flocks, although it's a reserve, they must enter and exit the crater daily.
It's a good start to contact Tanzania safaris. Not as well known as Serengeti or Ngorongoro, but certainly a good place to see huge elephants or giraffes. In our experience, we wished we could have seen some big cats.
The capital of the Isle of Spice is a must for anyone visiting Zanzibar. It is a city with many attractions: On the one hand, we have architecture with multiple influences, from the Portuguese of the founders of the city, through the Arabs from their slave masters, to Swahili influences which you can see in most of its current population. Stone Town is particularly famous for the elaborate detail of many of its mansions, which testify to the rich period when the island was an independent kingdom. All around there is a feeling of decadence that makes it a kind of Havana from the east coast of Africa. You can get around the whole city in a matter of days but once you have done that you will want to stay a little longer. You can get here through the Zanzibar airport or you can take the ferry from Dar es Salaam.
The summit of Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. This does not mean it is an easy task, but it is possible for people with little or no experience to scale it. The climb itself is not very difficult except the final stretch when it's very steep and exhausting because of the lack of oxygen. We did the Rongai route, a route considered "easy" that is longer than usual with better acclimatization. In my judgment there are also other advantages: it is a busy route and above all, you see more parts of the mountain as you climb the north face but you go down the Marangu route and you do not miss anything that you would see on traditional routes. Going up is more or less easy until the last part but the latter is extremely hard. You have to start at midnight to reach the summit at sunrise and the temperatures drop to 10-20 degrees below zero. If you can stand the five hours it takes you to reach Gilman's point (5695 meters, the "pre-summit") I advise you to continue even if you think you can't go on. The part just before the summit becomes flatter and flatter and you see the sun come out and realize that it was all worth it. In an hour and a half, you plant your feet on Uhuru peak (5895 meters) and you feel like the strongest person in the world, if only for just a moment. The descent is much faster than you may think.
Everyone spoke to me about the Indian Ocean beaches. Even though I'm not a beach person, I recognize that they're right. The sand so fine and white, it seems like flour. And the water has colors impossible to describe. This long beach serves all types of people as a road: Masai who serve as security guards at hotels, children coming and going from school to their homes, women going to market ..... Just sit and watch them pass by... And enjoy being aware that they live moments for you to remember. Another thing: the rise and fall of tide is spectacular. Beware: these photos do not do the place justice ....
If Stone Town is famous for anything, its the gates that adorn many of its historic homes. They are beautiful and are scattered throughout the old city and their through their delicate precious wood carvings you can see evidence of a prosperous past. Unfortunately, this prosperity comes from the days when Stone Town was the center of a lucrative slave trade. Once slavery was abolished in the British territories, prosperity vanished and all that was left in its place was the beautiful gates.
In onlyone day, (essential to have a travel guide), you can see the huge variety of spices that we usually use, but in their natural environment: cloves, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, pepper, ..... and other exotic plants like heart fruit, breadfruit, cassava or others more common like coconut, pineapple and bananas. For explanations of all of these, you join a pleasant walk ... and transfers by jeep, which in those dirt tracks, is an experience.
Another island paradise, Mnemba is situated on the north coast of Zanzibar close to Nungwi where I lived 4 months. We went diving in this area as it was very rich in coral and marine species. Around this island are there several dive sites and it is very easy to see dolphins. On this island you can relax with just nature, but you can practice a number of water sports such as snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, kayaking, among others.
Lake Eyasi is one of the most interesting landscapes the plains of northern Tanzania has to offer, mainly because it is a lake that, for the majority of the year, is almost virtually dry. There is nothing abnormal in this, and the local vegetation have adapted to these circumstances. For the visitor, what is certain is that setting foot on the bed of a completely dry lake is not a common experience. Around the lake you can find some great examples of baobabs, one of the most striking trees that grow in this area of the world.
The best place to buy khangas (sarongs) as a souvenir and they're good value (always haggle!). Originally purchases and sales were made only by men; women were hidden. Even today, on the sale of fish, women have a side glance that is respectful. Important: Do not take pictures of anyone ve does not want to be photographed, as it is considered (not surprisingly) a lack of respect. It is recommended to not be very scrupulous not with the blood, nor the odors, nor the flies .......
The truth is that it is worth paying the $10 per person to be taken into the town. This place is really "ready" for tourism, there are a plethora of fascinating markets for you to buy gifts and souvenirs, but more importantly you will have the opportunity of seeing the houses and the lifestyle of the natives, who are all very friendly and hospitable and will often invite you into one of their huts to sit down and have a chat.
A walk in the early morning at Jambiani beach can be magical. The turquoise blue sea, the sun glinting on the white sands or simply 2 sisters holding hands looking for shells all make for a beautiful morning.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, along the Serengeti, is one of the most beautiful places in Tanzania. The world's largest volcanic caldera supports an ecosystem with the highest density of wildlife on the African continent which makes this a unique place. In just 300 squared kilometres you will find giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, antelopes, hyenas, zebras, lions, leopards, cheetahs to name but a few. Being able to see the big five here is not too difficult a task. In addition to its splendid landscapes, what struck us was to discover how in such a small place such a superb ecosystem has been created. This scene of incredible beauty gave us an unforgettable memory of Tanzania. A word of advice - avoid visiting the park during the months of December to April, as it is the lag period in the wet season and the crater roads are impassable.
The Anglican cathedral was constructed on a former slave market where they were auctioned daily to the highest bidder. At present, entrance permits a visit to the cathedral where in the basement one will see the "cells" of slaves. Although in English, the meaning is well understood, (and what is not understood, only imagine seeing the place) On the outside, the memorial against slavery is nicer.