Tanzania’s hidden Travel Destination Gems.
For any traveller, the unknown and least unexplored spots provide exciting opportunities. We have listed some of the most amazing yet underrated travel spots that go unlisted on hotel and travel itineraries in Tanzania. Here are Tanzania’s best-kept secrets you will fall in love with;
1. Udzungwa National Park
This park with a breathtaking landscape is home to rare animal species like the Iringa Red Colobus and the Sanje Crested Mangabey which are only found in the park. The Udzungwa Park has the second largest biodiversity of a national park in Africa. For hiking enthusiasts, the park has several trails ranging from short 20min strolls to 5-day expeditions. Sanje Waterfalls is the most popular hiking trail, and it offers the chance to spot monkeys, swim in plunge pools at the end of the trail a spectacular view of the forest. The park also has diverse wildlife including the revered big five. The Udzungwa Mountains have 400 hundred bird species from green-headed oriole to the forest partridge making the park attractive for bird watching. The park is located in Kidayi which is 350 km from Dar es Salaam by road.
2. Rubondo Island National Park
The park is the largest island national park in Africa. Rubondo Island is located in the southern part of Lake Victoria and is 26km in length, which is like your distance from Mbezi Beach to the Julius Nyerere Airport. In the island, you can enjoy boating safaris while drinking in the majestic scenery, elephants, small gangs of chimpanzees and over 430 bird species can be found swimming and around the lake, The Island can be accessed by plane from mainland Tanzania or by park boat from two different locations. One of the options is in Kasenda, Geita or from Nkome, Geita.The best time to visit the island is during the dry seasons between June and October. For bird watchers, December is the best time to visit in order to catch the popular migration of bird species visiting the island.
3. Mafia Island
Mafia Island is home to the first Marine Park in Tanzania. What makes this island a dream travel destination is the range of nature and outdoor activities tourists you can enjoy. The southernmost and least known island in Tanzania has some of the best scuba diving sites and is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks. History enthusiasts will be thrilled to visit the Kua Ruins in Mafia and explore its rich Swahili architectural history. The ruins date back to the 13th and 15th centuries built by the Shirazi Sultans from the city-state of Kilwa. The incredible marine life is not all the island can offer, animals like monkeys, antelopes as well as wild pigs, bush babies and hippos are part of this beautiful island. The rare animals such as Comores flying foxes which is a species found only in Mafia, Madagascar and the Comoros and other species is the rare Dugong, the most threatened mammal in Africa is believed to survive in Mafia. The best time to visit the island is from July to October when the island experiences excellent weather. To get to Mafia, one will need to get on the plane which takes about 35 minutes from Dar es Salaam, 45 minutes from Zanzibar and Selous Game Reserve.
4. Kitulo National Park
The Kitulo Plateau is also known as Bustani ya Mungu. Botanists call it the Serengeti of Flowers. The Plateau is the only place of its kind in Africa where wild flowers, birds and grass eating animals live together in harmony.The Plateau is found between the stony peaks of the Kipengere, Livingstone and Poroto Mountains in Southern Highlands of Tanzania. The park makes hiking memorable because of the 350 species of wildflowers that are around for six months of the year from November to April. For birdwatchers, the park is home to the rare Denham’s bustard, Mountain Marsh Widow, endangered Blue Swallow. To top to its natural attractions and uniqueness, Kitulo Plateau is the natural resting site for intercontinental migrating birds during periods of the year on their way to Europe. It is only in this park where migrating Storks rest while flying from Cape Town in South Africa to Northern Europe. With Open walking safaris through the grasslands watching birds and wildflowers, hiking on the nearby ranges during the day, being able to see fantastic views of Lake Nyasa and its beautiful Matema Beach down the mountains.
5. Mahale Mountains National Park
This national park is a beautiful remote location in the far west of the country on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and home to the best chimpanzee viewing in Africa. The park is named after the Mahale Mountain ranges that are near the park. What’s unique about the park is that it is the only park where Lions and Chimpanzees co-exist. The only way to experience the park is by boat since there are no other forms of infrastructure. While visiting Mahale Mountains National Park, one can to enjoy diverse outdoor activities including; tracking wild chimpanzees, mountain climbing, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking and relaxing on sandy beaches of Lake Tanganyika.The walking safaris will show you the beautiful, lowland forest with close encounters with birds and animals. Hiking the highest peak in the Mahale Mountains ridge, Mt. Nkungwe, is one of the most thrilling activities you can be able to enjoy in the park, it takes 2-3 days to reach the summit, and the best time for climbing is during the dry season (May – October). While on top of the mountain you can view the beautiful ‘fishing fire’, as the kerosene lamps carried by small fishing boats light up across the Lake. The Lake contains more than 250 species of fish found nowhere else on Earth, many of which can be viewed by snorkelling in the shallows along Mahale’s shoreline. To visit the park you may need to fly Precision Air which has scheduled daily flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma which take about 3 hours.Alternatively, to travel by Road from Arusha which is the best route to take, it takes 2 or 3 days to reach Kigoma car or by rail from Dar es Salaam leaves 2-3 times per week, it should take you about three days and two nights.
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