things to do in tanzania

Meet the Maasai in Tanzania. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Africa Dreaming: 5 Unforgettable Experiences to Have in Tanzania

If spotting a rare rhino on Africa’s endless plains has been a lifelong dream, then Tanzania, one of the best wildlife-viewing destinations in the world, should be on your must-see list.

While a visit to the Serengeti during the great migration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Tanzania has so much more to offer beyond safaris, including some of the world’s best scuba diving off Zanzibar, the traditional Maasai tribe and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain — Mount Kilimanjaro.

If you’re seeking the trip of a lifetime, here are our top picks for unforgettable experiences in Tanzania.

Stand on the Roof of Africa: Kilimanjaro

things to do in tanzania
Hike up Kilimanjaro. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tanzania is the destination for another lifelong dream for some: climbing Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro. The world’s tallest freestanding mountain, Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano that has five unique climates to hike through, including a rainforest, alpine desert and an arctic zone that includes the remains of the spectacular Furtwängler Glacier at the summit.

While it certainly isn’t an easy feat to trek 19,341 feet to Africa’s highest peak, if climbed pole-pole (Swahili for “slow-slow”), Kilimanjaro is an accessible challenge for even those that aren’t an Ironman or Ironwoman.

WHOA, Women High on Adventure, leads Kilimanjaro climbs on International Women’s Day every year and full-moon women-only treks to Kilimanjaro. What could be more memorable than reaching the roof of Africa under the glow of a full moon?

Witness the Great Migration

things to do in tanzania
Get up close to a wildebeest. (Photo: Getty Images)

One of the most unforgettable wildlife wonders to witness is the yearly migration of giant herds of grazers — more than 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras — to greener pastures. The great migration is an ongoing event throughout the year as the herds move in a circular path across the seemingly never-ending plains of Serengeti in northern Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Meet the Maasai

Any visit to Tanzania wouldn’t be complete without meeting its traditional people — the Maasai, a semi-nomadic warrior tribe known for herding cattle and their courageous lion hunting.

See what life is like in a Maasai village and put your tourism dollars toward good on a G Adventures tour supporting their Planeterra-supported sustainable Clean Cookstove Project. The Maasai’s lives are centered around cooking with wood and coal in their bomas (traditional mud huts), and breathing indoor smoke from open-fire stoves has serious health risks, including cancer, emphysema, blindness and burns.

See the impact of these sustainable clean-burning stoves on the health and daily lives of the Maasai, especially the women. And if you’re lucky, you might even learn how to get some air with the warrior tribe during their signature adamu, or jumping mating dance.

A G Adventures National Geographic Journeys Tanzania Safari includes an exclusive talk with the Maasai women that have been trained as stove engineers for the Clean Cookstove project. After a guided tour of their Maasai village, watch — or even get your hands dirty by helping — the Stove Team build a stove in a home.

Search for Wildlife Underwater off Zanzibar

things to do in tanzania
Go below the sea in Zanzibar. (Photo: Getty Images)

After you have looked for the Big 5 in the Tanzania bush, head to the white-sand beaches of Zanzibar to search for life under the sea. With some of the most diverse reefs in the world, the Zanzibar Archipelago is a scuba diver’s paradise.

Unguja Island, the largest island and the most developed, is colloquially referred to as Zanzibar and draws in most of the tourists. But Zanzibar’s neighboring Mafia Island is a diver’s dream, a quieter escape with unspoiled beaches and some of the richest and most diverse reefs in the world. Mafia Island Marine Park holds more than 50 genera of coral and 400 species of fish.

Sleep Next to the Animals in the Serengeti

If you want to get close to the wildlife in Tanzania, you can sleep right next to the animals (well, at a safe distance). Camping in the Serengeti lets you wake up every morning among the zebras and giraffes and fall asleep every night under a blanket of stars.

Depending on your comfort level, choose between private camps and lodges within the Serengeti bounds, or for the more adventurous, sleep in a tent in public campgrounds.