Tanzania


If Kenya is blessed with the heart of Africa Tanzania is blessed with its very soul.

The massive and overpowering volcano Mount Kilimanjaro welcomes visitors into the country and what a glorious greeting it is. The highest mountain in Africa, snow clad and awe inspiring stands guard over the most incredible wildlife spectacles in the world. lake Natron, lake Manyara, Ngorongoro caldera, the endless Serengeti plains, Selous and Ruaha and the oceanic wonders Zanzibar contain a truly amazing repertoire of wildlife, second to none in the world. The diversity of Kenya does compare in beauty with this utter brazen display of wildlife but not in size. For sheer size of wilderness zones Tanzania beats Kenya by a large margin.

Home to the Olduvai Gorge, the most famous palaeoanthropological discovery of the century, Tanzania is blessed with an impressive array of archeological and historical heritage sites. Mid-Pleistocene sites are found in the southwest of Tanzania, while the later Quaternary sites of Mdutu, Eysi and Ngaloba have all yielded significant fossil evidence for dating the evolution of Homo Sapiens which has proven that anatomically, modern humans evolved in East Africa.

Where there are Homo Sapiens we have caves and rock paintings and the country has many examples of prehistoric ‘rock art’, some dating back about 50,000 years. Though much of the area remains unexplored more than five hundred such sites have been found in the central highlands alone. A string of early Iron Age sites in the Kagera region of northwest Tanzania, provides evidence that its inhabitants had developed complex metallurgical skills, involving the production of carbon steel, almost 2,000 years before such skills were evolved in the West. It is also believed that this region supplied the metal for the infamous Maasai spears which helped them rule the area for so long. Numerous medieval ruins of significant historical importance from later years can be seen scattered along Tanzania’s and stunning long coastline.

In a country where almost a quarter of the country’s total land area is protected, either as national parks, reserves or conservation areas; game viewing in the immense wilderness of Tanzania is a surreal experience. From the vast plains of the Serengeti in the north, to the chimpanzee sanctuaries of Gombe and Mahale in the west and the lesser-known ‘jewels’ of Ruaha and the Selous in the south, Tanzania’s biodiversity is breathtaking and is best understood when broken down into circuits.

The Northern Circuit

The ‘northern circuit’ consists of the Serengeti, Tanzania’s oldest and most famous national park, and the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), which includes the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, the largest unbroken caldera in the world. For its hseer and stark beauty we have added Lake Natron to this circuit and use it on our expeditions. Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Manyara and Tarangire National Parks form extended biospheres and are best visited in conjunction with the Northern Circuit. The adventurous few, time on hand, should try an overland trip through the Usambara and Pare mountains, and Mkomazi Game Reserve. The plantlife here is remarkable and the montane forests are listed as one of the eleven most important zones of biological diversity in the world.

 

The Western Circuit

Lakes Victoria and Tangayika, Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains national parks form The Western Circuit. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest and the world’s second largest freshwater lake. Lake Tanganyika is the longest fresh water lake in the world (677km), and the second deepest (1433m), with over 250 species of fish. Its great age, isolation and stability have made it a marvellous evolutionary storehouse. Nearly all of the lake’s cichlids are unique as are some species of crabs, molluscs and crustaceans. All these make it a truly remarkable biological habitat. Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains national parks are among the few remaining natural habitats for chimpanzees in the world. They are also home to various other primates, big game and birds.

The Southern Circuit

Vast tracts of land remain unexplored and unexploited in southern Tanzania and these include the enormous Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s largest, which occupies an area of approximately 50,000 sq. km. The southern parks’ unspoilt loveliness, with big game that still behaves with the uncertainty of old is due to the relative inaccessibility of the region with the four-wheel drive vehicle being the best way to get around the region. Other national parks in the area are Katavi, Ruaha and Mikumi national parks and though all four are well stocked game sighting is a challenge because of the sheer size of the parks and the dense habitat.

Lake Nyasa (also known as lake Malawi) northern shores are home to the Nyakusa people whose huts and villages have remained unchanged for centuries. The Kisi, another Lake Nyasa people, are famed for their pottery.

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