By Julianne Wilhelm
Have you ever been at a loss over what kind of travel you want to go on? You want something relaxing, right? However, once-in-a-lifetime adventure is a must. You want to go somewhere nice and warm, but wait, some cool, crisp air would be refreshing, too. The answer to all of these travel decisions lies just off the Indian Ocean, Tanzania, a place where you can gaze upon far-stretched savannahs teeming with wild wildebeests and leering lions. Or, you can strap on your climbing gear and head for Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain standing at 19 thousand feet above sea level.
The beauty of Tanzania is that it is a place still bustling with wildlife that is quite unaware of any other civilization.
TIMING: If timing is right, one of the most majestic occurrences can be seen between the months of May and June, The Great Migration, which is one of the, “Ten Natural Travel wonders of the World.” The annual migration takes place across the Serengeti-Mara where over 200,000 zebra and 500,000 gazelle herd amongst one and a half million wildebeests. Typically, the herds head north-west towards the grass plains of the Serengeti and the Grumeti River. This waterway is the first obstacle for the herds as hundreds of crocodiles wait in the Grumeti for their chance to attack the weakest mammals. The herds will eventually cross the Kenyan border into the Masai Mara.
MUST SEES: If timing isn’t right to catch The Great Migration, check out the Arusha National Park. Although it is one of the smallest, the park is known as the most beautiful and diverse wildlife preserve in Tanzania. Its main features are the Ngurdoto volcanic crater, the out-stretched Momela Lakes to the east, and the exquisite Mt. Meru to the west. Animal life is abundant throughout the park’s Serengeti, including zebras, giraffes, hippos, elephants, hyenas, leopards, and many other species. Travelers can arrive at the park in their own vehicles and follow the many self-guided roads and tracks leading to the main Serengeti viewing points. They can also park their vehicle and continue on foot through the plains or climb Mt. Meru, the second tallest mountain behind Mt. Kilimanjaro.
HIKING: For those up for the challenge, Mount Kilimanjaro has been the dream of travelers and adventure-seekers all over the world. Known as one the, “Seven Natural Wonders of the World,” Mt. Kilimanjaro is home to three smaller volcanos; Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. The highest peak, Kibo, is a dormant volcano but could erupt again. The last major eruption was estimated to have occurred between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. Several collapses and landslides have happened in the past, creating the area known as the, Western Breach. If that slight detail doesn’t send you running… there are professional guides who can take you up the mountain through different routes depending on your athletic lifestyle.
BEACHES: If after all of that adventure, you’re ready for the, “relaxation” part of your trip, head over to one of Tanzania’s most popular isles, Zanzibar. The ancient island was once ruled by sultans and slave traders but is now a hotspot in the Indian Ocean. With sandy beaches, diverse rain forests, and boldly colored coral reefs, Zanzibar has become one of the most exotic places to travel for its ideal scenery. Although developers have been swarming the island attempting to open up restaurants and hotels, Zanzibar has been able to keep its succulent, secluded charm.
FOOD: When you’re ready for a traditional Tanzanian cuisine, Monsoon Restaurant is located on Zanzibar, offering savory Swahili cooking, prepared by Zanzibar-native chefs. The inside is decorated with a North African vibe, furnished with low tables and floor-cushions while you dine on local favorites such as the Swahili fish cake platter with mango-pineapple salsa. If you’re looking for a view of the crystal clear Indian Ocean or Fordhani Gardens, take a seat on the veranda where you can gaze across the horizon. On weekends, you can hear Matona’s Taraab Group play music on numerous Tanzanian instruments. Make sure to check out the daily specials for dishes prepared with locally-grown produce!
Safe Travels Everyone!!