Most countries have secret wonders that are only found after spending time there. Luckily, I’ve spent the last 8 months living in Tanzania, so I’ve got the inside scoop for you. Though there are plenty of great places to visit that are well known, like Zanzibar, Serengeti, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, it would be in your best interest to also consider some of these enticing but little known options.
Tucked up in the lush Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania, Lushoto is a place I would visit again and again. It’s a quiet area, with small villages scattered here and there. Foreigners aren’t very common, so kids get really excited to wave and talk to you. Hiking the trails through the mountains is unforgettable – there are waterfalls, terraced farm fields, and huts selling sugar cane beer.
The area was heavily influenced by Germany, which left behind a railway, delicious cheese, and some beautiful plantations which are now used as hotels. The best place to go is Irente View Point to look at the view of the valley or to stay the night. Between the fresh mountain air and thick green forests, Lushoto should definitely be on the agenda.
This large city abuts the immense Lake Victoria in Northwestern Tanzania. You can now fly there directly from Dar es Salaam, making the trip very easy. There’s a lot to do on the banks of the famous lake: you can relax on the rocky coast line, enjoy the views, take a ferry or dinner cruise, fish for tilapia or nile perch, or go on a lake safari. Visiting Saanane Island Wildlife Sanctuary and Rubondo Island National Park are other options.
Mwanza is also home to Tanzania’s largest ethnic group, the Wasukuma. As the city is not on the main traveler thoroughfare, you’re bound to get a much stronger cultural feel. For a truly Tanzanian experience, Mwanza is a great place to go.
Located south of the famous Zanzibar, Mafia Island is undiscovered as of yet as a tourist attraction. The tourism industry is just picking up, so it’s best to visit now before it’s crawling with expensive resorts and loads of tourists.
There are lots of activities to choose from while staying in Mafia:
- scuba dive in one of the most biodiverse aquatic ecosystems
- explore the ruins and villages of Chole Island
- go fishing or take a ride on a dhow boat
- go snorkeling with the massive whale sharks
Whether you’re on a romantic getaway, vacation with your family, or backpacking around Africa, Mafia Island is not somewhere you want to miss.
Tarangire National Park
Often overshadowed by Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater in the north, Tarangire is a lesser known but still breathtaking place to visit and go on safari. It’s a huge park, with lodges, tented camps, and campsites to stay in. The scenic backdrop is staggering – rolling hills in the distance, golden plains in the foreground. There’s even a section called the Little Serengeti for it’s flat grassiness. In other areas, the baobab trees reign. These gigantic structures are scattered throughout the park
However, it’s the animals that make any safari exciting, and Tarangire doesn’t disappoint. It’s home to loads of zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, wildebeest, ostriches, and birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of a lion, the king of the Big Five safari animals. What the park is most famous for is their abundance of elephants. You can see herds everywhere, just strolling along. Really a majestic sight!
Have you been to any of these four sites?