When it comes to all-around great safari destinations, the East African country of Tanzania is right up there. But it’s not only a vacation spot for wildlife fans; it boasts some superb Indian Ocean beaches and islands, too. In fact, Tanzania is one of the ultimate places to head to if you’re looking for a combined bush and beach experience.
Tanzania features some of Africa’s best-known national parks and game reserves, including the legendary Serengeti, which millions of wildebeest cross every year as part of the great migration. Then there’s the ‘lost world’ of the Ngorongoro Crater, an extinct volcano which shelters endangered species.
If you’re more interested in human history than natural history, a visit to Olduvai Gorge is essential. Here, you can literally walk in the footsteps of our ancestors: it’s where some of the most important early human fossils and tools have been found.
To truly get away from it all, head to southern Tanzania. The vast wilderness areas of Ruaha and the Selous receive relatively few tourists, so they feel authentically wild and remote. If elephants are your thing, seeing them alongside the iconic baobab trees of Tarangire is an unforgettable experience.
Not far off the coast of Tanzania lies the Spice Island of Zanzibar. The maze of alleyways and carved wooden doors that make up the capital, Stone Town, are unmissable, while the island also has important cultural locations (including the house that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ singer Freddie Mercury grew up in).
Zanzibar also has outstanding beaches and offers experiences from spice tours to trips to former slave prisons. Some of the smaller islands feature mysterious ruins half-lost in vegetation, and there is outstanding reef diving to be had.
While the Great Wildebeest Migration gets a lot of the attention, you might find that it’s better to visit Tanzania at off-peak times. You won’t see the huge herds, but the year-round game-viewing of resident wildlife is also excellent.
Gateway cities: Kilimanjaro, Dar Es Salaam
Best time to travel: Year-round; November to June for the migration (locations vary)
Highlights: Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Selous, Rubondo, Ruaha, Zanzibar