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    Top 10 things to do in Tanzania with limited time

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    12 minutes read
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    What is the Landscape and Wildlife Like in Tanzania

    Tanzania is a country with endless beauty and abundant, rich wildlife. The landscape has breathtaking savannahs, sun-soaked islands, and towering mountains.

    Tanzania is also home to some of Africa’s most well-known national parks and natural attractions, such as Mount Kilimanjaro. Although the most popular things to do in the country are safaris and wildlife-related adventures, there are other exciting things that you can do in the country while you’re here.

    Most visitors pass through Dar es Salaam and head to wilderness areas and other safari destinations. For those who are up for a swim, the Zanzibar beaches are worth visiting with their white sand beaches and stunning turquoise water.

    Since Tanzania has many things to offer, you can only do some with limited time. To help you with this dilemma, we’ve listed the Top 10 Things To Do in Tanzania in a limited Time.

    Best things to do & see in Tanzania with limited time

    Tanzania with limited time

    Tanzania, a major holiday destination, is rich in culture, history, and natural resources. Visiting Tanzania, you will be enveloped in many unique experiences, from exploring diverse wildlife sanctuaries to relaxing on beautiful beaches. This incredible location offers numerous tourist spots that promise excitement and adventure, such as:

    Some things you can do include trekking, sightseeing, swimming, and much more! Furthermore, when it comes to great experiences and views, you can opt to visit the following popular spots in Tanzania:

    Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

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    Mount Kilimanjaro is an iconic image of Tanzania. The mountain is Africa’s highest peak, which is 5,895 meters high. The hill is unique as it has five distinct climate zones—which are:

    • Savannah (800 to 1,600m)
    • Rainforest (1,800 to 2,800m)
    • Heather and Moorland (2,800 to 4,000m)
    • Alpine Desert (4,000 to 5,000m)
    • Arctic (5,000 to 5,895m)

    More than 30,000 trekkers visit Tanzania to conquer the highest free-standing mountain in the world and see its rare, magnificent beauty. Unlike the other national parks in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park isn’t visited primarily for its wildlife but for its remarkable and beautiful snow-capped mountain.

    On top of that, it brings great pride to trekkers who conquer one of the 7 Summits of the world. If you plan to climb Kilimanjaro, do it during the dry season to have the best scenery views.

    Serengeti National Park

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    Serengeti National Park is a vast plain consisting of 1.5 million hectares of Savannah and is famous for the annual wildebeest migration, which consists of over a million wildebeest.

    On top of that, you can also view the Big Five here— the elephant, cape buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino. Approximately 500 bird species have been recorded at the Serengeti National Park.

    In addition, it’s home to 1,500 exotic wild animals, such as:

    •  Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)
    • Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx)
    • Bactrian Camel (Camelus ferus bactrianus)
    • Bison (Bison bison)
    • Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra)
    • Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)

    The above is only a small fraction of a large number of rare animals in the Serengeti National Park. Moreover, it’s the second-largest National park in Tanzania with tens of thousands of tourists every year.

    The best time to visit the Serengeti National Park for wildlife viewing is January to February or June to September. These are the driest months and offer a much better experience in viewing the incredible wildlife in the park.

    The Zanzibar beaches: White sand paradise

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    Love to plunge yourself into seawater? Then, take advantage of the opportunity to experience the Zanzibar beaches!

    The beaches are stunning with their turquoise water and white-sand beaches. The beaches are beautiful and peaceful, making it an excellent getaway for a quiet, relaxing, and short vacation.

    Zanzibar Island, locally known as Unguja, is a great holiday destination in Tanzania as it’s known for its breathtaking beaches, which are part of the Zanzibar archipelago. This archipelago consists of two islands—the Zanzibar and Pemba.

    In the heart of Zanzibar, the historical city of Stone Town is recognized for its old Arabian Townhouses, busy port, and narrow alleyways. Explore Stone Town, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

    Lake Manyara National Park

    Tanzania - lake manyara national park 1 - top 10 things to do in tanzania with limited time

    You can visit Lake Manyara, National Park, with your limited time in Tanzania. It’s composed of woodland, forest, swamps, and grasslands.

    Two-thirds of Lake Manyara is composed of water, hosting thousands of flamingos and various bird species. The highlight of this tour is seeing the large populations of hippos, elephants, and tree-climbing lions.

    At Lake Manyara, you can see animals at a closer range than at other national parks. This is also the home to the world’s largest baboon concentrations.

    Some activities to enjoy at Lake Manyara are:

    Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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    The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is found between Lake Manyara and the Serengeti. It’s home to the famous volcanic crater, the Ngorongoro Crater, one of Tanzania’s best wildlife viewing areas.

    The vast volcanic crater provides a perpetual water supply, drawing thousands of animals to stay in the area rather than choosing to migrate. Most tourists visit here to see large animals and birds.

    On the crater floor, you can see thousands of various animals, such as:

    • Thompson’s gazelles
    • Elephants
    • Rhinos
    • Lions
    • Zebras
    • Wildebeest

    The bird watching here is fantastic, particularly around Lake Magadi—which usually attracts several flocks of flamingos to the shallow waters. Moreover, you can also witness families of hippos submerging themselves during the day and grazing in the evening at the nearby grasslands.

    The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s biggest and oldest intact caldera, formed approximately three million years ago. Before it exploded and collapsed, it is said to have been one of the tallest mountains in the world.

    Katavi National Park

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    The Katavi National Park is settled in an unspoiled wilderness of a remote region. It highlights an enormous floodplain divided by the Katuma River and several other seasonal lakes.

    These lakes support huge groups of crocodiles, hippos, and over 400 bird species. Another spectacle worth seeing is the hundreds of hippos trying to squeeze themselves into a pool of water during the dry season.

    During the dry season, the Katavi National Park is full of life, consisting of troops of lions, giraffes, impala, and reedbuck, which can all be seen near the streams and pools. Thousands of buffaloes and elephants meet in the park during the floodwater recession.

    Tarangire National Park

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    The Tarangire National Park is another must-see in Tanzania during your limited time. It was established in 1970 and is a fantastic site for wildlife viewing.

    The best time to visit here is during the dry season (July to September), when the animals are pooled along the river. The Tarangire National Park has one of the highest concentrations of migratory wildlife every dry season.

    • Impala
    • Wildebeest
    • Buffalo
    •  Zebra
    •  Gazelle
    • Hartebeest

    Furthermore, the park is well-known for its large elephant populations and birdlife species. At this park, you’ll have a great time watching over 300 species of birds, including:

    • Herons
    • Buzzards
    • Kites
    • Vultures
    • Eagles
    • Falcons

    The Stone town

    Tanzania - the stone town - top 10 things to do in tanzania with limited time

    When you visit Tanzania, there will never be a dull moment. This is because there are a lot of places to visit outside of national parks, like Stone Town.

    The stone town consists of splendid old Arabian homes lining the winding alleys and narrow streets. These homes were built in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the Swahili significant trading towns throughout the Indian Ocean.

    It’s also the oldest functioning Swahili city, and most landmarks have been restored to their former glory. Most historic buildings are now tourist attractions, and some have become museums.

    Some of the highlights of visiting this place are:

    • The Old Dispensary
    • People’s Palace
    • Forodhani Gardens
    • Hamamni Persian Baths
    • The Old Fort

    Arusha National Park

    Tanzania - arusha national park 1 - top 10 things to do in tanzania with limited time

    The Arusha National Park is smaller than most parks in Tanzania. However, it has a range of habitats, including Ngurdoto Crater, Momella Lakes, and Mount Meru.

    This park is also famous for various wildlife, such as:

    • Colobus Monkeys
    • Zebra
    • Warthog
    • Herds of Buffalo

    The Momella lakes of Arusha Park are also home to many migrant and resident waterbirds. It’s also the location of Mount Meru, one of Africa’s most stunning volcanoes.

    On top of that, it’s also the second-highest mountain in Tanzania. Its summit is reached through a narrow ridge that provides exceptional views of the volcanic cone—thousands of feet below the crater.

    The ascent is difficult due to the mountain’s steepness, but the trails pass through a giant heather zone, moorland, parkland, and forest—offering diverse experiences from beginning to end.

    Ruaha National Park

    Tanzania - ruaha national park 2 - top 10 things to do in tanzania with limited time

    The Ruaha National Park is home to immense herds of gazelle and buffalo. Furthermore, it’s home to some of Tanzania’s largest concentrations of elephants.

    This park became the largest park in Tanzania in 2008, giving grand wildlife viewing on the banks. On top of that, the river provides more electricity to the country through a hydraulic dam located at Kidato.

    It’s best to note that this park isn’t as accessible as other parks in Tanzania. As a result, the landscape of this place is almost untouched.

    Here, you can watch over 400 bird species that aren’t common in northern Tanzania. There are also panoramic canyons and spectacular trees that are fascinating and picture-worthy.

    Conclusion

    While there is so much to do and see in Tanzania, it’s impossible to do everything in one trip. We recommend staying as long as possible and working with an itinerary with all the best things to do. 

    We understand that it can take time to choose what to do and where to go, so we highly recommend getting in touch with Easy Travel, where our team of Tanzania specialists can assist you in crafting your dream itinerary. Your dream safari awaits!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What is the best way to see the Serengeti if I only have one day?

    If you’re limited to just one day in the Serengeti, booking a full-day game drive with an early start is best. Many tour operators offer packages that maximize wildlife viewing opportunities during the peak hours of dawn and dusk.

    These tours can start from a nearby town or include flights directly into the park. Although more than a day is needed to cover the vastness of the Serengeti, experienced guides will take you to areas where you’ll likely see a concentration of wildlife. Ensure your camera is ready, as the park is home to the Big Five, and you might witness unique interactions in the wild.

    2. Can Mount Kilimanjaro be visited without climbing to the summit?

    Mount Kilimanjaro can be appreciated without summiting. Day hikes allow visitors to trek through the rainforest to the first base camp, Mandara Hut, and enjoy spectacular views.

    An alternative is the Marangu Route, which entails a short hike to the stunning viewpoint at Marangu waterfalls and coffee plantations, offering a taste of the mountain’s ecology without the multi-day commitment. These excursions provide insights into the local Chagga culture, and you can still experience the beauty of Kilimanjaro’s lower slopes.

    3. Are there any cultural experiences that can be had in a short visit to Tanzania?

    Indeed, for a cultural experience, a short visit to a Maasai village can be arranged. These visits offer an immersive glimpse into the Maasai way of life, including traditional dances, crafts, and a tour of their homesteads (Manyattas).

    In Zanzibar, a Spice Farm tour teaches about the island’s trade history and allows you to taste fresh spices from the source. For those interested in historical architecture and urban culture, a guided walk through Stone Town’s labyrinthine alleys introduces centuries-old buildings and vibrant markets.

    4. What kind of wildlife can I expect to see during a short visit to Tanzania?

    Even with a brief safari in parks like Serengeti, Tarangire, or Ngorongoro, you can encounter an impressive range of wildlife. Expect to see several members of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo), especially in the Ngorongoro Crater.

    Smaller parks like Arusha National Park offer a chance to see giraffes, zebras, and the colobus monkey, among other species. Birds are plentiful, and you might spot some of Tanzania’s fascinating birdlife, including flamingos at Lake Manyara.

    5. What is the quickest way to experience Zanzibar's beaches?

    The fastest way to experience the beaches of Zanzibar is to take a flight to the island and then a taxi to the nearest beach resort. Many resorts and hotels offer day-use packages to enjoy white sandy beaches, swim in the turquoise waters, and indulge in fresh seafood.

    Beachfront activities like snorkeling can be arranged on short notice, giving you a glimpse into the vibrant marine life of the Indian Ocean’s coral reefs.

    6. How can I see Tanzanian culture on a short timetable?

    Visiting a cultural heritage center or a local museum can quickly provide a comprehensive understanding of Tanzanian culture. In Arusha, the Cultural Heritage Centre offers an array of Tanzanian art and crafts and historical artifacts.

    Meanwhile, in Dar es Salaam, the Village Museum showcases traditional dwellings and lifestyles of various Tanzanian tribes with live dance and music performances.

    7. Can I do a hot air balloon safari if my time is limited?

    A hot air balloon safari is an excellent way to see the vast landscapes and wildlife if you need more time. Typically offered in the Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks, these safaris begin early in the morning and last for about an hour, followed by a champagne breakfast. It provides a breathtaking and serene overview of the plains and is a time-efficient way to experience the wilderness from a unique aerial perspective.

    8. What are some of the best day trips from Dar es Salaam?

    A few excellent day trips from Dar es Salaam include visiting the Mbudya or Bongoyo Islands, which offer beautiful beaches and snorkeling opportunities. 

    A day trip to Mikumi National Park for wildlife enthusiasts can provide a safari-like experience. Alternatively, exploring the historical town of Bagamoyo gives insight into Tanzania’s past, with its well-preserved colonial-era buildings and slave trade history.

    9. What short activities are recommended for families visiting Tanzania?

    Families will have fun at the Giraffe Centre near Arusha or the Mwalimu Nyerere Cultural Center in Dar es Salaam. They have cool things to see and do.

    In Zanzibar, you can go on boat trips to see dolphins or watch the sun go down. These are great for all ages. You can also walk high up in the trees at Lake Manyara. It’s a fun and safe adventure for kids and grown-ups.

    10. If I'm interested in Tanzanian art, what quick stops should I make?

    If you like art, visit the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society in Dar es Salaam. You can see and buy bright paintings there. Visit the Stone Town Art Gallery in Zanzibar to see art from the island’s artists.

    Want to see wood carving? Check out the Makonde workshops from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo. They show how to carve wood the old way.

    11. Can I visit a Tanzanian market if I only have a couple of hours?

    Yes, places like the Maasai Market in Arusha or the Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam are great to visit. They have lots of different things to buy in a small area.

    If you only have a few hours, you can still see and buy many local items. Markets are busy and exciting. A guide can show you around quickly and tell you about what you see.

    12. What options do I have for a tranquil outdoor experience near the cities?

    Parks near cities offer quiet outdoor time. Visit Arusha National Park or the Botanical Gardens in Dar es Salaam. You can see plants and animals there.

    Take a canoe on Momella Lake in Arusha Park. You’ll see animals and a pretty view of Mount Meru. Calm beaches are just outside Dar es Salaam, like those at Kigamboni Peninsula. It’s a beautiful place to relax.

    13. Is a spice tour in Zanzibar possible in half a day?

    Yes, a spice tour in Zanzibar is short and fun. You’ll see where spices grow and learn their history. Tours often show you how to use them in cooking, too.

    And you can buy fresh spices to keep. Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper are essential in Zanzibar’s and the world’s history.

    14. What can I do if I’m in Tanzania on a business trip and only have evenings free?

    In the evenings, you can enjoy the excellent local cuisine at one of the country’s many restaurants or explore the night markets that offer a different perspective on Tanzanian life. In larger cities like Dar es Salaam, you might catch live music or a cultural performance that usually occurs later in the day.

    For a relaxing evening, many hotels offer sundowner cocktails with incredible views. Private cultural events or dinners can sometimes be arranged through your hotel.

    15. Can I attend a traditional Tanzanian ceremony or festival on a short visit?

    While attending a traditional ceremony depends on timing and local events, festivals such as the Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar or the Serengeti Cultural Festival often have dates set well in advance. If your visit coincides with such events, they are an excellent way to experience local music, dance, and customs. Check the cultural events calendar or ask your accommodation hosts if any local ceremonies are open to visitors.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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