If you’re an adventurer at heart (or even a couch potato with ambition), Tanzania is a country full of opportunities to get your pulse racing.
Its landscape and climate is purpose-built for adventure, and we’ve found nine outdoor activities to launch you out of your comfort zone.
1. Not just Kilimanjaro
Think Tanzania and you’ll think Kilimanjaro. Yes, Kilimanjaro is a challenge – at least a 6-day zigzag hike through four different terrains where you’ll be gazing down on blankets of cloud and terrifying gorges. It’s tough and not everybody can do it. But Tanzania’s mountains are more than just Kilimanjaro.
Her sister mountain, Mount Meru, is just as amazing. Meru is a slightly steeper climb but you get the same awesome views and challenging terrain and it’s certainly worth a trek.
And if you’re a volcano fan (and who isn’t?), head further north to Oldoinyo Lengai, the “Mountain of God”, an active volcano which produces an unusual lava (carbonatite rather than silicate) that creates an especially rich landscape that’s a pit stop for the wildebeest during their Great Migration. From the top you can see the saltwater flats of Lake Natron and up to Kenya beyond.
2. Bird’s eye view
If trudging up a mountain and not washing for a week doesn’t grab you, then how about floating high above the magnificent landscape of the Serengeti in the apricot skies of an African dawn?
With no power lines or fences, ballooning over the Serengeti is a safe and spectacular adventure that is utterly hypnotic. It’s a strange environment but compelling – the silence and stillness except for the gentle creaking of the basket, then suddenly the whooosh of flame as you rise higher!
3. Surfin’ Zanzibar
Surfing in Tanzania? Yep – Tanzania has loads of fantastic beaches all down its east coast and over the water in Zanzibar and Pemba Island. It’s only a short flight to Zanzibar so nip over to Jambiani, a picturesque fishing village shallow waters and enclosed lagoon, perfect for beginner kite surfers.
4. Bicycle safari
Tanzania by bicycle is an unforgettable challenge but totally doable even if you’re not bike fit. It’s an adventure around the rocky paths of the Arusha National Park, but more gentle on the trails around Lake Manyara.
You’ll enjoy cycling through herds of zebra and wildebeest as you keep your eye out for giraffe. Your bike will have a bell to warn small animals that wander across your path. Don’t worry about predators; so far there have been no reports of cyclists as lunch.
5. Quad biking
If a bicycle safari grabs your attention but you don’t want to make an effort, then try quad biking. The terrain around the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika is especially good to bike along and you’ll have the opportunity to stop at pretty villages along the way for a bite to eat and a chat with the locals.
6. Diving & snorkeling
The Indian Ocean laps around the white sand beaches of Zanzibar and it’s famous for its clarity and for the breadth of varieties of rainbow-hued fish. This means they are perfect for snorkeling and diving and, if you’d like to learn to dive, there are many reputable dive schools to choose from.
Experienced divers should head north of Zanzibar to lush Pemba Island. Its offshore coral reef and the dive walls of the Pemba Channel make it one of the best dives in East Africa. Even more exclusive is Mafia Island, a jewel within a marine park with an amazingly diverse ecosystem – estuarine, marine, mangrove and coral reef. A trip to Mafia Island will give you the opportunity to dive with wonderfully gentle whale sharks.
7. Horseback safari
The freedom of cantering along sun-bleached paths or across rolling countryside is one of the joys of Tanzania. Horseback riding is available widely and you can pick from a short ride to a full day or even a horseback safari in some of the smaller parks like Arusha and Lake Natron.
Away from the revving engines and crowded trails of jeep safaris, you’ll enjoy the peace and serenity to really take in your surroundings. Beginners and more experienced riders alike are catered for.
8. Chimp spotting
The Mahale Mountains near to Lake Tanganyika is the perfect habitat for chimpanzees, which thrive in the region. Take a chimp spotting trek and you’ll get up close and personal to wild chimpanzees.
They’re used to people (‘habituated’) but not tame by any means and they carry on with their normal day-to-day lives of foraging, squabbling, playing and sleeping while you watch. And on the way you’ll likely meet with a yellow baboon or two.
9. Wildlife safari
For some, this is the ultimate outdoor adventure and you can go as wild or as sophisticated as you like. The variety of wildlife in Tanzania is breathtaking, and you’ll already have heard of the Serengeti, and the unique topography of the Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage Site.
There are other, less well known parks too, such as Arusha National Park, but whichever you choose, you’ll have an adventure to remember.
Tanzania is a country built for adventure. The hardest part is choosing which adventure you’d like.
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