Adventure, beauty, culture, history—if you're seeking a trip that will awaken your senses, quench your thirst for discovery and excite your spirit, there is one destination that has it all. Tanzania is often noted for its popular national parks, but aside from fantastic safari opportunities, the East African country offers so much more. Here's Holbrook's bucket list of the top ten things to do in Tanzania.
1. Witness the "Great Migration" of wildebeest, zebras and antelopes.
Between the months of July and October, millions of these animals will trek across the Serengeti plains to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve in search of food and water. By camping or taking a safari at this time, you can see massive herds of them cross the Grumeti River or be chased by anxious predators.
2. Learn about the history, culture and lifestyle of the Maasai people.
In East Africa's North Rift Valley, the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe resides in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. These people, known to be fierce warriors and cattle herders, are the only humans permitted to live alongside the wildlife of the region. Besides hearing their stories, seeing their distinctive dress and touring their huts, you can experience first-hand their way of life through traditional dance, daily chores and community rituals.
3. See the Serengeti from the skies.
If going on a safari and taking a hot air balloon ride have long been items on your bucket list, embarking on a "balloon safari" could be a way to knock out two birds with one stone. This popular excursion allows you to soar over the scenic savanna and watch the abundant wildlife below undisturbed as you sail into auburn sunsets.
4. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Tanzania may first be known for its vast wildlife viewing opportunities, but another adventure that attracts thrillseekers is the chance to go to a different kind of national park and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Standing at nearly 6,000 meters tall, the snow-capped stratovolcano attracts thousands of visitors each year, and it can take up to nine days to reach the top.
5. Spot "The Big Five" game animals in Ngorongoro Crater.
The Earth's largest unbroken caldera is home to large concentrations of lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos, among several other animals. This natural spectacle is the best spot to catch a glimpse of the endangered Black Rhino and thousands of basking flamingos.
6. Visit one of the most important paleoanthropological destinations in the world.
Dating back millions of years, Oldupai Gorge has yielded hundreds of fossils, stone tools and archaeological discoveries that have led people to believe humans evolved in Africa. This is where the earliest evidence of human ancestry existence can be found, and the excavation sites are preserved for public viewing.
7. Experience the paradise of Zanzibar.
On the eastern coast of Tanzania exists a semi-autonomous archipelago in the Indian Ocean with rich history of Moorish influences and crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town, sample the Portuguese flavors of local cuisine or be captivated by the native wildlife, such as the Red Colobus Monkey.
8. Snap photos of unusual and endemic birds.
You can see more than just ostriches and flamingos in this aviary gem of East Africa. With more than 1,000 exotic bird species, this country is home to a large portion of the world's avifauna, some of which can't be found anywhere else.
9. Find majestic creatures in Tarangire National Park.
Amid towering baobab trees, the sixth-largest national park in Tanzania boasts dense populations of elephants, sometimes congregating in herds of up to 300 during the late summer through fall months.
10. Observe the unusual tree-climbing lions in Lake Manyara National Park.
While this park is also an excellent viewing source for flamingos, zebras and more, it is one of two places in the world, other than Uganda, where the distinctive behavior of tree-climbing lions can be found. Whether you want to climb the continent's tallest peak or watch it shrink to the size of a pebble on a hot air balloon safari, any time spent in Tanzania will make you feel on top of the world.