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Arusha,  the  gateway  to  the  world  famous  game  sanctuaries  of  Serengeti,  Ngorongoro,  Tarangire  and  Lake  Manyara,  is  one  of  the  oldest  towns  in  Tanzania.  From a tiny German garrison in 1900, Arusha has grown to become the tourist capital of Tanzania with a population of about 400,000 people. At 1390 metres above sea level, Arusha enjoys a very agreeable climate throughout the year. Positioned at the centre of Africa between the Cape and Cairo on the Great North Road, Arusha is the administrative seat of the East African Community made up of Tanzania, Kenya Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Arusha offers an excellent opportunity for authentic souvenirs shopping, including the bold Makonde carvings, and the colourful Tinga Tinga works and batiks. Tanzanite, the native gemstone of Arusha, and one of the most beautiful and exciting gems to come from Africa,  is  sold  in  all  gemstone  shops  in  town  alongside  other  locally  mined  stones  like  Ruby,  Rhodolite  and Tourmaline. Tanzanite was first discovered in 1967, some 40 kilometres to the southeast of Arusha at Mererani. To date Mererani remains the only commercially viable source for Tanzanite in the world. Tanzanite was named after Tanzania.

With an area of 542 sq. km, Arusha National Park is one of the smaller and most beautiful National Parks in Tanzania. Situated only 37 km from Arusha town, the park is very popular for day trips. The Ngurdoto Crater, Momela Lakes, the highland montane forest, and the rugged Mount Meru (4566 m above sea level) are the four distinctive features of the park. Mt. Kilimanjaro, towering at 5895 m to the east, is visible on clear days from many locations in the park. One of the unique attractions of the park is the opportunity to combine game drives and a nature walk in the many places where visitors can leave their safari vehicles and walk in the fresh air. The most common animals found in this park are the Abyssinian black and white colobus monkeys, the velvet monkeys, the red forest duikers, hippos, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, bushbucks and sometimes the leopard. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park including Eurasian migrants, which can be seen between October and April. Mount Meru 4566 m can be scaled in three to four days, with overnight accommodation in alpine huts on your way up and down

As wide as all the world, great, high and unbelievably white in the sun was the square top of Mount Kilimanjaro”, wrote Ernest Hemingway of this highest mountain in Africa towering 5895 metres above sea level. Situated near the town of Moshi in northern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro rises from the dry plains, through a wide belt of forest and high alpine heath to an almost bare desert and finally the snow-capped summit, Uhuru Peak, just 3 degrees south of the Equator. One of the world’s highest free standing mountains, Mt. Kilimanjaro is composed of three extinct volcanoes: Kibo 5895 m (19340 ft.), Mawenzi 5149 m (16896 ft.), and Shira 3962 m (13000 ft.).The ascent of Kilimanjaro can be done from six routes: Mweka, Umbwe, Shira, Rongai, Machame, and the Marangu Route which is the easier one and most popular. Depending on which route one wants to use, the climb of Kilimanjaro can take between four nights to six nights on the mountain. The two most popular routes are Marangu and Machame. On the Marangu Route, accommodation is in alpine huts while on Machame Route it is camping throughout. While expert guides and porters will accompany you on your climb, no technical equipment is required on these routes

Bordering   Kenya’s   Tsavo   West   National   Park   in  north-eastern  Tanzania,  Mkomazi,  which  was  commissioned  as  a  Game  Reserve  in  1951,  was  gazetted  a  National  Park  in  2008.  Located  to  the  east  of  Pare  Mountains  near  Same  town,  about  190kms   from   Arusha,   Mkomazi   National   Park,   with  an  area  of  3276  sq.  km,  lies  along  the  edge  of  a  semi-arid  savanna  arc  that  stretches  into  Kenya’s  Tsavo  West,  falling  into  the  Mkomazi-Tsavo  Ecosystem,  which  is  the  second  largest  trans-boundary   ecosystem   in   East   Africa   after   the  famous  Serengeti–Masai  Mara.  As  a  national  park,  Mkomazi  has  the  potential  to  develop  into  a  glorious  sanctuary  where  visitors  will  have  the  opportunity  to  explore  more  of  the  Tanzania’s  hidden natural treasures. Umba  River  on  Mkomazi’s  south  eastern  border  and other water holes keep the park teeming with small and large mammals, including silver backed jackal,   lion,   cheetah,   leopard,   giraffe,   buffalo,   elephant  and  zebra,  with  the  rare  gerenuk,  lesser  kudu  and  fringe-eared  Oryx  easily  sighted.  There  is  a  sanctuary  for  the  endangered  black  rhino  and  another  one  for  the  wild  dog  created  within  the  national  park  to  protect  these  rare  species.  The   Mkomazi   Rhino   Sanctuary   has   attained   international  renown  for  rehabilitating  rhino,  and  it  offers  viewing  and  educational  opportunities  for  visitors.  Mkomazi  is  a  fascinating  destination  for  bird  watchers,  boasting  more  than  450  avian  species    including    some    Eurasian    migratory    species.  Quite   a   few   activities   can   be   conducted   in   Mkomazi, including game drives, walking safaris, mountain hikes and bird watching.  Mkomazi  can be  visited  throughout  the  year,  with  late  June  to  early  September  best  for  large  mammal  and  bird  watching, Mkomazi National Park smoothly fits into the Arusha – Usambara – Tanga – Pangani -Saadani – Dar es Salaam / Zanzibar circuit, or maybe visited as a single destination from Arusha or after Kilimanjaro climbing.

Tarangire National Park lies 120 km south of Arusha, along The Great North Road highway, and is very popular for day trips from the town. Tarangire offers a wide variety of wildlife in its area of 2,850 sq. km. As in all ecosystems, the vegetation and the types of animals you find are closely correlated.  The  principal  features  of  the  park  are  the  flood  plains  and  the  grassland,  mainly  comprising  of  various  types of acacia trees, and a few scattered baobabs, tamarind and the sausage trees. The Tarangire River, after which the park is named, provides the only permanent water for wildlife in the area. When the Maasai Steppes dry up with the end  of  the  long  rains  in  June,  migratory  animals  return  to  the  Tarangire  River,  making  Tarangire  National  Park  second  only  to  Ngorongoro  in  the  concentration  of  wildlife.  This  period  stretches  between  June  and  October  and  it  is  the  best  season  for  game  viewing  in  Tarangire.  The  most  common animals found in the park include zebras, wildebeest,  lions,  leopards,  waterbucks,  giraffe,  elephants,  gazelles,  impala,  gerenuk,  lesser  kudu  and  the  beautiful  fringe-eared  Oryx.  You  may  be  lucky  to  spot  the  tree-climbing  python,  for  which  the  park  is  famous,  or  the  greater  kudu  and  the  roan antelope which are rare species in Northern Tanzania.   Over   550   bird   species   have   been   recorded in the Park.

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Located 125 km west of Arusha town, nestling by the wall of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in East Africa. The park has a large variety of habitats, making it possible to support a wealth of wildlife in its small area. The main habitats include the  shallow  soda  lake  itself  which  occupies  77%  of  the  National  Park  total  area  of  330  sq.  Km, the ground water forest, open grassland, acacia woodland and the rift wall. The most famous spectacle in the park is the tree-climbing lions, which are occasionally seen along branches of acacia trees. Other animals  found  in  the  park  include  buffalo,  elephants,  leopards,  baboons,  impala,  giraffes,  zebra,  wildebeest,  ostrich  and  hippos.  Popularly  referred  to  as  an  ornithologist’s  paradise,  Lake  Manyara  National Park contains over 400 bird species found in most savanna and river habitats in East Africa. Common water birds to be seen here are pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese, hammerkops and the migratory  flamingos,  which  arrive  in  hundreds  of  thousands  creating  one  of  Africa’s  great  natural  sights over the soda lake.

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A UNESCO protected World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is situated some 190 km. west of Arusha, between Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks. Covering approximately 8,292 square km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area consists of the Ngorongoro Crater itself, the Olduvai Gorge and Ndutu, the Empakai crater and the Oldonyo Lengai Mountain. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a pioneering experiment in multi-purpose land use where people (the Maasai), their livestock and wildlife coexist and share the same protected habitat. Wild animals are protected as in the National Parks. The craters of Ngorongoro and Empakai are reserved exclusively for wildlife, while the rest of the Conservation Area is shared by wildlife, people and livestock. The Maasai, the main residents of Ngorongoro, are pastoralists who move widely with their herds of cattle, sheep, goat and donkeys in search of pasture and water. In recent years the Maasai have been encouraged to work on the land and supplement their traditional diet of milk and meat.

World  Heritage  Site  and  recently  proclaimed  a  World  Wide  Wonder,  Serengeti  National  Park  is  undoubtedly  one  of  the  most  famous  wildlife  sanctuaries in the world. Covering an area of 14,763 sq. km, Serengeti National Park is the largest National Park in Tanzania. The park is located some 320 km to the northwest of Arusha, lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenya/ Tanzania border, and extending almost to Lake Victoria to the west. Aptly named “endless plains” by the Maasai people, you immediately experience this vastness as you enter the south eastern plains of the park from Ngorongoro. Declared  a  protected  area  in  1921  and  gazetted  as  a  National  park  in  1951  Serengeti  is  the  oldest  National Park in Tanzania, The principal features of the  Serengeti  are  the  short  and  long  grass  plains  in the south and east, the acacia Savannah in the central areas, the hilly and densely wooded areas in  the  north  and  the  extensive  woodland  in  the  west.  There is a variety of scenery, which include the plains, lakes, hills and the rock outcrops called kopjes. The main game drive areas in the Serengeti are the Seronera Valley, the Western Corridor, and Lobo or northern Serengeti.  The  Seronera  valley  in   central   Serengeti,   endowed   with   permanent   surface  water,  attract  a  large  concentration  of  wildlife throughout the year. Common animals that can  be  seen  here  are  lions,  buffaloes,  impalas,  hippos,  waterbucks,  elephants,  cheetahs  and  the  leopard. From  December  to  April,  south eastern  Serengeti  plains  provide  the  best  opportunities  for  game viewing as hundreds of thousands of the migratory animals  are  concentrated  in  this  part  attracted  by  the  short  palatable  grass.  Between  May  and  July,  when  drought  sets  in,  Serengeti  is  the  site  of  one  of  the  most  breath-taking  events  in  the  animal  kingdom  –  the  migration  of  thousands  of  wildebeest  heading  southwest,  north  or  west  in  search  of  water  and  greener  pastures.  The  Lobo  area remains rich in wildlife during the dry months of  August  to  November  when  most  of  the  game  has moved from the grass plains in the south. This s  also  true  of  the  Western  Corridor  towards  Lake  Victoria  when  the  migration  usually  lingers  in  the  area  between  June  and  July.  Serengeti provides sanctuary to the highest concentration of plains animals in the world. Survey estimates indicate an animal population of over 4 million including 3,000 lions, 1,600,000 wildebeest, 300,000 Thomson‘s and Grant‘s gazelle, 500,000 zebras.  There are over 400 species of birds in the Serengeti

Dar  es  Salaam,  meaning  The  Haven  of  Peace  in  Arabic,  has  one  of  the  best  deep  natural  harbours  in  the  world.  From  a  small  Swahili  town  in  the  middle  of  the  19th  century,  Dar  es  Salaam  has  grown  into  a  large  metropolitan  centre  with  a  population  of  over  3,500,000  dwellers.  The  city  population  represents  the  over  120  tribes  of  Tanzania  with  their  different  cultural  backgrounds  coming  together,  alongside  the  oriental  civilizations  from  the  far  and  middle  east,  and  the  Europeans  including  early  Portuguese  visitors  in  the  16th  Century,  the  Germans  and  later  the  British.  All  cultures  at  one  time  or  another  passed  through  Dar  es  Salaam.  It  is  necessary  to  visit  Dar  es  Salaam  to  appreciate  the  secret  of  letting  different  cultures live together in absolute harmony. Being  the  commercial  capital  of  Tanzania,  Dar  es  Salaam  is  also  the  main  gateway  to  the  nature  reserves  of  southern  Tanzania,  which  include  the  Selous  Game  Reserve  and  the  National Parks of Mikumi, Ruaha and Udzungwa Mountains, Saadani and Kitulo. It also serves as a convenient connection for travel to the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba both by sea and air. A city tour of Dar es Salaam will take you to the National Museum, Nyerere Cultural Centre, the Village Museum, Mwenge Wood Carvings Market, and the Magogoni Fish Market, among other interesting spots.

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The  Selous  Game  Reserve,  with  an  area  of  about  55,000  sq.  Km, is the largest well-watered wildlife sanctuary in Africa, and one of the largest protected areas in the world. Its size is simply stunning, bigger than Switzerland, uninhabited and little touched by human interference.  It  is  perhaps  the  most  pristine  wilderness still remaining in Africa, with a wide variety of wildlife habitats, including open grasslands, Acacia and  miombo  woodlands,  swamps  and  riverine  forests  in  the  many  tributaries  of  the  mighty  Rufiji  River which flows through the reserve. Due to its unique ecological importance, it was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1982. Its wildlife is spectacular, with some of its mammal and reptile populations the largest in Africa, namely buffaloes, elephants, hippos, wild dogs and crocodiles. Other wildlife include the wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, zebra, eland, the greater kudu,  sable  antelopes,  giraffe,  baboon,  the  vervet  and  blue  monkeys,  and  the  black  and  white  colobus  monkey  which  can  be  seen  in  certain  riverine  forests moving from tree to tree in family groups. There is a large population of predators including lions, leopards, cheetah and the spotted hyena, and about 440 species of birds in the Selous, of both resident and migratory birds. Named  after  Captain  Frederick  Courtney  Selous,  a  legendary  19th  century  naturalist, explorer and hunter, Selous Game Reserve was founded in 1905. Selous  is  situated  in  the  southern  part  of  Tanzania,  bordered  by  Mikumi  National  Park  to  the  northwest  and  by  Udzungwa  Mountains  National  Park  and  Kibasira  Swamp  to  the  west.  The  greater  part  of  northern  Selous  is  reserved  for  photographic  safaris,  and  it  is  one  of  the  most  beautiful  and  game rich areas in the whole ecosystem. The Selous wilderness meets the kind of dream visitors have of Africa of the early European explorers like Dr. Livingstone and Henry Stanley. The Reserve offers a wider variety of game viewing opportunities to the visitor, including the thrilling experience of a foot safari through game inhabited bushes in the company of an armed ranger. The many waterways in the Reserve provide an excellent natural setting for boat safaris, both for game viewing and bird watching. This is in addition to the game drives in 4X4 motor vehicles which, combined  with  boat  and  walking  safaris,  offer  an  exciting  and  richer  game  viewing itinerary unique to the Selous Game Reserve. The best time to visit the Selous is from June to October.  During the long rains, between March and May, some parts of the Selous become impassable and are temporarily closed for game drives.

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