TANZANIA

Wildebeest Migration

Activities

The activities listed here are some of the best Tanzania has to offer. Ujuzi African Travel is committed to customizing a travel package that meets your travel interests and fulfills your vacation dreams. If a particular activity isn't listed here that you'd like to do, let us know and we'll incorporate it into your itinerary.



Beach Safari

Mafia Island

Mafia Island has one of east Africa's most interesting and diverse ecosystems, with the variety of species in its coral reef habitats rivaled only by the number of species found in rainforests. Four species of turtles live in Mafia's waters, with two of those species using the island for nesting grounds. Mafia's incredible, pristine dive sites have remained a well-kept secret of diving aficionados and beach recluses for years, but now the island is fast becoming a preferred destination for both beginning and experienced divers.

Zanzibar Archipelago

Zanzibar is a collection of islands off the coast of Tanzania set in the Indian Ocean. Languishing on one of the many beautiful, unspoiled beaches of Zanzibar for a few days is an excellent way to relax after many dusty days of game drives. Enjoy Scuba diving on rich coral reefs in the Indian Ocean or swimming with dolphins. Off the northeastern coast of Zanzibar is Mnemba Island - an idyllic private island featuring breathtaking scenery and rich marine diversity.

But the island is not just about the beach. Zanzibar is also known as the "Spice Island" due to the delicious variety of spices grown there, and tours of the spice farms are bound to stimulate your mind and your senses. Stone Town, the island's capital, is a World Heritage Site, and boasts bustling marketplaces, breathtaking mosques, and magnificent Arab residences.


Boat Launches/Cruises

Arusha National Park

One of the favorite activities within the Park is canoeing on the small lake. Here is the only place in Tanzania where you can get close to buffalo without being charged! Giraffes, bushbucks, waterbucks, and a 600 species strong bird community are all observable from your canoe, plus there is the background scenery: the amazing ability to view Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro from the same spot. The scenic canoe ride lasts approximately 3 hours.

Mafia Island

Mafia Island is a popular destination for visitors to relax after their safari. The island's secluded beaches offer privacy and comfort for discerning travelers. Enjoy boat excursions to nearby islands to access beautiful, deserted beaches. Or, if a trip through history is more to your liking, take a boat to Chloe Island to view its Arabian ruins from the oldest settlement in the archipelago; or go to Juani, one of the largest and most characteristic islands in the archipelago, where you'll find the ruins of the legendary ancient city of Kua, whose decline is yet unexplained by archaeological and historical research. During the months of March and November the migrating whale sharks pass by the island of Mafia. Full and half day dives to swim with these giant, but gentle creatures are available.

Mahale Mountains National Park

While Mahale Mountains National Park is a famous chimpanzee tracking destination, a cruise on Lake Tanganyika in the park is also a must for bird lovers: at least 230 bird species have been recorded. Lake Tanganyika is the world's largest, longest, second-deepest lake, and the waters seem almost impossibly clear. About 250 species of fish live in the lake, and most of these are endemic, living nowhere else in the world.

Selous Game Reserve

The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife area in Africa. A cruise along its Lake Tagalala is an exciting chance to see game such as waterbuck, reedbuck, and bushbuck along the shores, but the waters are home to the ferocious tiger fish and catfish, the latter is equipped with a primitive set of lungs, allowing it to migrate from one landlocked pool to another. But Lake Tagalala isn't the only source of water fun -- Rufigi River and its tributaries cover the greatest catchment area in East Africa. Sailing or rafting down the river is a superb method of seeing game, especially during the dry season between June and October. Crocodiles, hippo, and an array of grazing antelope can be seen.

Zanzibar Archipelago

Most visitors are stunned by the proliferation of bird life and find this one of the most extraordinary and beautiful boat rides ever experienced. For an hour or two one can travel up or down on this great wide channel, level with the flood plains. Overhead there is a mass of birds circling in the sky and hundreds more perched on the riverbanks. You may also see large flocks of less common species such as glossy ibis and pratincoles, innumerable waders. Crocodiles, great and small, are plentiful and further upstream the river widens into a lake filled by a staggering number of hippo, literally hundreds of them.


Cultural Activities

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is a hiker's dream, but in the foothills of the great mountain are a number of enjoyable cultural sights.

The Kibo Art Gallery

Originally called Nyumba ya Sanaa, the gallery was started in Marangu and run by the world-renowned Tanzanian artist Elimo Njau, owner of Paa ya Paa Centre in Nairobi. It contains his religion-inspired paintings, and his collection of carvings and sculptures by other artists. The gallery is built at Njau's birthplace, next to the graves of his mother and father. The caretakers are Makonde carvers of repute and you are welcome to watch them create various ebony figurines and animals.

Underground Caves

These caves were dug by the Chagga tribe to hide women, children, and livestock during wars with the Maasai. The caves are relatively safe and run underground for nearly a mile -- they were built long to camouflage the smoke from the cooking fires. Go with a guided tour and hear tales of exciting tribal legends.

Traditional Chagga Homesteads

Constructed entirely out of straw grass, some of these houses are more than 100 years old and offer an interesting snapshot of life in the past. Visitors can walk through the small farms and hear historic lectures about the cultivation of coffee, bananas, and livestock care. The local guide not only gives you some insight into the traditional lifestyle and culture of the Chagga, but the guide fee benefits the local community.

Blacksmiths of Mamba

Visit these artisans and watch them work with metal, allowing you to discover the ancient methods used in making farming tools and Maasai weaponry.

Softwoods Carvers

The Chagga carvers use softwood to create a variety of items both for decoration and home use. You can visit Mzee Rodrick Minja who has passed down this art to his sons. In Mamba, there is a woodcarving school with a skilled teacher who is one of the oldest active members in his community.

Datoga Blacksmiths

The Datoga are pastoralists and skilled blacksmiths near Lake Eyasi who have managed to hold on to their way of life despite outside pressures. They do metal work over open fires, transforming rough metal into useful objects using just hot coals, bellows, and a few tools. They craft arrowheads, spears, knives and jewelry for themselves and to sell to other tribes, such as the Hadzabe. Bracelets made by the blacksmiths are worn by Datoga women for decoration and musicmaking – the women hit them together to create a percussive background for singing.

Bagamoyo

Bagamoyo was the most important trading port of the east central coast of Africa in the late 19th century. Its port was the penultimate stop of slave and ivory caravans that travelled on foot all the way from Lake Tanganyika. Once the caravans reached Bagamoyo, the slaves and ivory were shipped by dhow to Zanzibar, where they were then dispatched all over the world. After Dr. David Livingstone observed the activities and called slavery "the open sore of the world," missionaries established a mission in Bagamoyo in 1868 and made it their mission to ransom as many slaves as possible. Today, there are several places of interest to tour, such as the Kaole Ruins, the Roman Catholic historical museum, and the chapel which housed Dr Livingstone's body before it was shipped to Westminster Abbey in London. Today Bagamoyo is also a center for dhow sailboat building, and examples of this work can be observed.

Ol'duvai Gorge

In 1931, Louis Leakey, a Kenyan pre-historian, led his first, and poorly funded, expedition to Olduvai. The party found an Acheulean hand-axe (an early two-faced tool with a rounded cutting edge). The find encouraged further excavation, but results were disappointing until 1959, when Mary Leakey spotted an exposed skull at the archeological site where the first Acheulean hand-axe had been found in 1931. The skull was named Zinjanthropus and was popularly known as the Nutcracker Man because of his large back teeth. Among scientists it was known as Zinj, the name the earliest Arab traders gave to the East African coastline. Zinjanthropus was a member of the pre-hominid line and the find did more to create controversy in the scientific community than it did to resolve the question as to the origins of humans.

Today, there is a small museum located at the site and lecture tours are given to visitors. Digs for further finding are an ongoing process in conjunction with scientists from around the world and the University of Dar es Salaam.

Laetoli Footprints

Team members led by paleontologist Mary Leakey stumbled upon animal tracks cemented in the volcanic ash in 1976, but it wasn't until 1978 that Paul Abell joined Leakey's team and found the 88 ft long footprint trail referred to now as "The Laetoli Footprints," which includes about 70 early human footprints.

The early humans that left these prints were bipedal and had big toes in line with the rest of their foot. This means that these early human feet were more human-like than ape-like, as apes have highly divergent big toes that help them climb and grasp materials like a thumb does. The footprints also show that the gait of these early humans was "heel-strike" (the heel of the foot hits first) followed by "toe-off" (the toes push off at the end of the stride)—the way modern humans walk. For those interested in archeology, a visit is worthwhile. The park service is in the process of preserving the area for future generations.

Shifting Sands

There is the volcanic ash dune of Shifting Sands situated near Olduvai Gorge. These crescent-shaped mounds are a remarkable phenomenon. Technically they are known as barkan, and they result if there is sufficient dust on the ground and a unidirectional wind to blow it. The dust collects around a stone, and this collection accumulates more. The process continues, with the mound growing all the time, and then it begins to move. The crescents have their two sharp arms pointing the way the wind is going, and the whole shape is beautifully symmetrical.

Zanzibar

Zanzibar is an unusual mix of Africa, conservative Muslim, and coastal glamour. The most interesting cultural part of Zanzibar Town, on the western side of the island, is Stone Town. Its name may be unimaginative, but Stone Town is an enticing place to wander away a languid afternoon. Meander through the narrow alleyways and let your jaw drop at the town's unique architecture that fuses Arabic, Indian, European, and African influences.

Spice tours are also available. The island still produces cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, jackfruit, vanilla, and lemongrass.


Fishing

Lake Victoria/Speke Bay

Speke Bay, part of Lake Victoria, is a beautiful place for fishing. The beach is an excellent place to fish for Tilapia, go out in a boat on the sparkling waters to catch Nile perch. Visitors to Speke Bay can join local fishermen in a day of fishing on the lake, using traditional methods and listening to the fishing songs of old: about home, about fish, about life.

Mafia Island

Mafia Island is truly one of the world's greatest fishing grounds. The most famous fish is the dorado; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle holds a 60-plus-year-old record for the largest dorado caught. There is also big-game fishing, light inshore sport fishing, and bottom fishing from fully equipped boats. Reef, channel, and fly-fishing is good all year round, with game-fishing season lasting from August to March. The billfish run is December to March, and July to November is best for dog-toothed and yellowfish tuna. Feel free to bring your own equipment if you're a particularly keen fisherman.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Sport fishing on the fresh waters of Lake Tanganyika is possible under special licenses available to visitors. Generally, fishing is not permitted within a mile of Lake Tanganyika's shores, although those areas are full of crocodiles anyway, although those crocodiles are rumored to be so full of delicious fish from the lake that they don't attack humans. The clear waters host more than 350 different species of fish, many of which are endemic, and the lake is well known for aquarium fish exports and excellent angling. Catches include the goliath tigerfish and Nile perch.

Selous Game Reserve

The fishing is excellent in Selous. Untouched waters -- both the lakes and the rivers -- are full of fish. On the banks of the Rufiji River one can fish for both catfish and tiger fish, depending on the time of year. At Lake Manze, fishing usually takes place on the calm waters of the lake. There is also fishing on the channel which connects Lake Maze with the Rufiji. Both the catfish and the tiger fish are powerful fish that may challenge even experienced fisherman. The average tiger fish catch is approximately 11 to 22 pounds, with the average catfish catch is 10-20 pounds.

Zanzibar Archipelago

Shared charter boats are available to take you on half or full day big game fishing excursions. The boats are equipped with all supplies necessary for a day on the water. Depending on season varieties of catch include billfish, marlin, broadbill, sailfish, tuna, and lesser game fish of giant trevally, kingfish, dorado, wahoo, and barracuda.


Game drives

Arusha National Park

The closest national park to Arusha, northern Tanzania's safari capital, Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, offering the opportunity to explore a diversity of habitats within a few hours.

The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turaco and trogons. It is the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black and white colobus monkeys are easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide, marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.

Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 30 miles away. But it is Kilimanjaro's unassuming cousin, Mt. Meru, the fifth highest in Africa at 14,990 ft, that dominates the park's horizon. Its peaks and eastern slopes are protected within the national park. Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.

Katavi National Park

Tanzania's third largest national park, it lies in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.

The bulk of Katavi supports a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled brachystegia woodland, home to substantial but elusive populations of the localized eland, sable, and roan antelopes. But the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad waterbirds, and they also support Tanzania's densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile.

It is during the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi truly puts its wildlife populations on display. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala, and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.

Katavi's hippos provide the most singular wildlife spectacle. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, so does male rivalry heat up -- bloody territorial fights are an everyday occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park has amazing birdlife, elephants, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, and baboons (the highest density anywhere in Africa). For a special treat, try a night game drive at Lake Manyara. The drive lasts approximately 2.5 hours and gives you the opportunity to view the nocturnal wildlife inhabiting the park.

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Conservation Area/World Heritage Site (2,045,200 acres) which protects wildlife habitat as well as the rights of local Maasai who graze their livestock on about 75 percent of the area. Ngorongoro Crater, 12 miles wide, is the world's largest intact caldera. Before the cataclysmic collapse of its cone 2 million years ago, this volcanic mountain may have been taller than Kilimanjaro. Its rim, which averages 7,600 feet elevation, is cloaked in moist montane forest and grassland, hosting elephants, golden-winged and eastern double-collared sunbirds, stonechats and Jackson's widowbird. From lodges and campsites on the rim, visitors are driven down to the crater floor for a 6-hour survey. At 5,600 feet elevation, the crater floor is primarily grassland, with patches of spring-fed marshes, freshwater ponds, a salt lake, and small forests. Harboring 20,000 large animals, it is a virtual Noah's Ark (without giraffes). Great effort has gone into saving the black rhino here, and several dozen are resident and counted from the air every night. Buffalos, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and hartebeests graze the grassland, while elephants roam the wooded areas, and hippos gather in marshes and ponds. Lions, spotted hyenas, and golden and black-backed jackals are easy to find, but servals and cheetahs are sighted rarely. Resident ostriches, crowned cranes, and kori bustards are joined seasonally by migrant flocks of white and Abdim's storks. The conservation area also includes two other voluminous craters, six peaks that top 10,000 feet and the southeastern corner of the vast Serengeti Plains.

Ruaha National Park

The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness. A line of zebras parade across the runway in the giraffe's wake. In the distance, beneath a bulbous baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha's 10,000 elephants, the largest population of any East African national park, form a protective huddle around their young.

Second only to Katavi in its aura of untrammeled wilderness, but far more accessible, Ruaha protects a vast tract of the rugged, semi-arid bush country that characterizes central Tanzania. Its lifeblood is the Great Ruaha River, which courses along the eastern boundary in a flooded torrent during the height of the rains, but dwindling thereafter to a scattering of precious pools surrounded by sand and rock.

A fine network of game-viewing roads follows the Great Ruaha and its seasonal tributaries, where, during the dry season, impala, waterbuck, and other antelopes risk their lives for a sip of life-sustaining water. And the risk is considerable: not only from the prides of 20-plus lions that lord over the savannah, but also from the cheetahs that stalk the open grassland and the leopards that lurk in tangled riverine thickets. Both striped and spotted hyena, and several packs of the highly endangered African wild dog boost this impressive array of large predators.

Ruaha's high diversity of antelope is a function of its location, which is transitional to the acacia savannah of East Africa and woodland belt of Southern Africa. Grant's gazelle and lesser kudu occur here alongside the sable and roan antelope, and one of East Africa's largest populations of greater kudu, the park emblem, is distinguished by the male's magnificent corkscrew horns.

A similar duality is noted in the checklist of 450 birds. The crested barbet, an attractive yellow-and-black bird whose persistent trilling is a characteristic sound of the southern bush, occurs in Ruaha alongside central Tanzanian endemics such as the yellow-collared lovebird and ashy starling.

Serengeti National Park

The world famous Serengeti National Park (the largest in Tanzania) occupies about 9150 sq miles. The name Serengeti means "endless plains" and is derived from the Maasai word "siringiti." The park lies in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenya/Tanzanian border, extending almost to Lake Victoria. It encompasses the main part of the Serengeti ecosystem.

The most famous features of the Serengeti are the spectacular concentration of animals found nowhere else in the world, as well as the annual wildebeest migration. This spectacle sees more than 1 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson's gazelles trek to new grazing grounds. The brief population explosion of wildebeest produces over 8,000 calves a day before the migration begins.

As in all ecosystems, the vegetation and types of animals are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the short and long grass open plains in the southeast, the acacia savannah in the central area, the hilly, more densely wooded northern section, and the extensive woodland and black clay plains, dominated by the central ranges of mountains in the western corridor.

Selous Game Reserve

The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife area in Africa. A United Nations World Heritage Site, this pristine, uninhabited area is larger than Switzerland. Only in the Serengeti will visitors see a greater concentration of wildlife. Yet Selous boasts Tanzania's largest population of elephant as well as large numbers of buffalo, hippo, and wild dog. Other species commonly seen are lion, bushbuck, impala, giraffe, eland, baboon, zebra, and greater kudu.

The topography of the park varies from rolling savannah woodland, grassland plains, and rocky outcrops cut by the Rufigi River and its tributaries, which together cover the greatest catchment area in East Africa. The Rufigi provides the lifeblood of the Selous and sailing or rafting down the river is a superb method of seeing game, especially during the dry season between June and October. Crocodiles, hippo, and an array of grazing antelope can be seen.

Linked to the Rufigi is Lake Tagalala, where waterbuck, reedbuck, and bushbuck gather at the water's edge. In the long grassland, safari enthusiasts may get a chance to see rare sable antelope, greater kudu, or lion.

The waters of the Kilombero Game Controlled Area are home to the ferocious tiger fish and catfish, the latter equipped with a primitive set of lungs which allows it to migrate from one landlocked pool to another.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is the most southern of the accessible parks of Northern Tanzania. Named after River Tarangire, the park covers an area of 1600 sq miles. Much of the park is open grassy savannah, dotted with splendid Baobab trees, but there are also areas of swamp in the south. The park is spectacular in the dry season when many of the migratory wildlife species return to the permanent waters of the river. With the onset of the rains they migrate again for better pastures. This annual phenomenon takes place from June to September. Tarangire possesses the second-highest concentration of wildlife during the dry season. It is one of the few protected areas in Tanzania that ensures a year-round water source for the park's most exceptional resource - the Tarangire River. The park is known for its river valley, wetlands, gently rolling hills, rocky out crops, acacia woodlands, and baobab trees. It is the only national park in Tanzania's northern section where one can view a large concentration of elephants all year round.


Hot Air Balloon Safari

Your hot air balloon safari begins early: you and balloon will take off at dawn, rising as the sun rises and floating in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon -- sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times the pilot will ascend to 1000 ft or more to better see the enormity and wonderful panorama of the Serengeti. As the balloon lands enjoy a champagne toast to your majestic ride. Then proceed to a table under the shade of a classic umbrella tree, where you will enjoy a traditional English breakfast.


Primate tracking

Gombe Stream National Park

Follow in Jane Goodall's footsteps to this extraordinary park. This is home to the Jane Goodall Institute. You'll hear the chimps long before you see them. A series of hoots and shrieks rising to a crescendo of piercing whoops sounds like a major primate battle is about to begin. But it's only the members of the clan identifying one another, recognizing one another, and finally greeting one another.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Chimpanzee tracking is the main reason to visit Mahale. The tracking is best done in the mornings. The treks will start from the point where they were last seen the day previously and, once the chimpanzees are found, enjoy a full hour of actual viewing time. As an added bonus, you'll almost certainly see olive baboons, vervet monkeys, blue and red-tailed colobus monkeys, and many exciting birds. More than 230 bird species have been recorded here, so look out for crowned eagles, the noisy trumpeter hornbills, and the crested guinea fowls with their black punk hairdos.


Tribal Visits

Baragaig

The Barabaig are a formerly semi-nomadic tribe which now tends to a variety of livestock -- goats, donkeys, and chickens, but their culture and economy revolve around their cattle. Every part and product of their animals are used, including the dung, is ingested, worn or used in rituals. The women are easily recognized by their dress. Skirts are cured goatskins with tassels, and yellow and orange beading. The Barabaig are known for being stubbornly traditional to their way of life, and few are even known to be able to speak Kiswahili.

Karatu (Wairaqw)

The Wairaqw are subsistence farmers who keep a few animals - goats, chicken, and cows. Enjoy the chance to speak to local people, listen to tribal storytellers, meet traditional healers, greet school children and other such interactions.

Lake Eyasi (Datoga and Hadzabe)

Small groups of Hadzabe Bushmen live around Lake Eyasi. Their language resembles the click languages of other Bushmen further south in the Kalahari. Their small population was seriously threatened, in particular during the 1960s, when Julius Nyerere tried to introduce his ujamaa policy. The tribe resisted the forcible settlement policies of Julius Nyerere and now most of their children have never seen a doctor or school. The bush provides for all their needs and is a classroom for their offspring.

They are often willing for visitors to come and see their simple bush homes where the tree canopy alone or a cave provides them with shelter. They live entirely off the bush and from bow hunting, generally small antelopes and baboons; although in rainy seasons gazelles and antelopes come down from the Ngorongoro or Serengeti to their lush bush lands offering them richer pickings.

Maasai (throughout the country)

The Maasai are an indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. Due to their distinctive customs and dress and residence near the many game parks of East Africa, they are among the most well known African ethnic groups internationally. They speak Maa, and are also educated in the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania: Swahili and English.

Traditional Maasai lifestyle centers on their cattle, which constitutes the primary source of food. The measure of a man's wealth is in terms of cattle and children. A herd of 50 cattle is respectable, and the more children the better. A man who has plenty of one but not the other is considered to be poor. A Maasai myth relates that God gave them all the cattle on earth, leading to the belief that rustling cattle from other tribes is a matter of taking back what is rightfully theirs, a practice that has become much less common.

Being nomadic and semi-nomadic, their housing is constructed by the women of the tribe. The structural framework is formed of timber poles fixed directly into the ground and interwoven with a lattice of smaller branches, which is then plastered with a mix of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and urine, and ash.


Walking/Hiking

Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park

Being the highest mountain on the African Continent, Kilimanjaro is well known for mountain climbing. Towering 19,340 feet in the air, Mount Kilimanjaro is– -- quite literally -- the "roof" of Africa. The tallest point on the continent, Kili's Uhuru Peak is not only one of the Seven Summits that all professional climbers seek to conquer, it is one that thousands of amateur hikers experience each year as well. Hikes to the summit can last from 5 to as many days as you want to devote to the climb. The better-known routes up Kili include Marangu, Machame, Shira, Mweka, Umbwe and Rongai. All but Marangu require that you camp in designated campsites on the mountain. Marangu has communal mountain huts provided by the park service.

You don't have to climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro to enjoy it. There are eco–friendly walks through the lush slopes, short hikes to beautiful waterfalls.

Waterfalls:
The Marangu area boasts of seven waterfalls formed from the three major rivers -- Una, Moonjo and Kongwe -- which emanate from the mountain. Visits to at least three cascades take the whole day, but you hike through picturesque valleys on meandering village paths.

Mandara Hut:
The hike to Mandara Hut, the first rest point on the Kilimanjaro climb, takes a total of 6 to 7 hours. Located within the National Park, Mandara Hut is an easy destination for most everyone, and the hike gives visitors a firsthand experience of a tropical rain forest. Plan a picnic lunch at Mandara, then walk to the Maundi crater nearby for a unique photographic opportunity. On the way down, you can visit a spectacular waterfall within the National Park.

Arusha National Park (Ngurdoto crater and Mt. Meru)

Arusha National Park is the only National Park within the northern zone where walking is allowed within the park's boundary. There are several areas within the Park where walking is available, including Ngurdoto Crater, a sunken caldera surrounded by forest and a swamp like area at the floor. An armed ranger must accompany the walks. For birders a trip to the Momella Lakes, of which there are five, is a must: these waters support flamingo, Egyptian geese, and other waterfowl. Groups of hippo inhabit the small Momella Lake.

Ngorongoro (Olmoti and Empakaai Craters)

Guided hikes are offered along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and last approximately 2 to 3 hours. From this area you will be able to see the floor of the Crater at several viewpoints along the way. Nearby, but a 40-minute drive away, is the Olmoti Crater. Here you may hike down to the center of the sunken calderas with a guide. The Munge River waterfall can be seen from the rim of the Olmoti Crater. Further along the track is Empakaii Crater. It's thick-forested walls plunge down to a deep lake and grasslands. A walk around the rim of Empakaii is 20 miles by foot.

Rubondo Island National Park

Rubondo Island is tucked in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria, the world's second-largest lake, an inland sea sprawling between Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. With 9 smaller islands under its wing, Rubondo protects precious fish breeding grounds. Walking and hiking are the only ways to see this unique island because only two cars are allowed on the island, and both are for official use only. But a hike through this water wonderland gives you ample opportunity to see sitatunga (the most elusive of antelopes), a wide variety of birdlife, and a number of indigenous mammal species such as hippo, vervet monkey, genet and mongoose.

Rubondo also has several introduced species: chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus, elephant, African grey parrots, and giraffe, all of which benefit from Rubondo's inaccessibility. The population of African grey parrots was introduced in 2000 when 37 of these intelligent, colorful birds were confiscated at Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi; they had been illegally captured in Cameroon and destined Far East pet markets. Rubondo Island was considered the best option as a new habitat, not in the least because it abounds with fig trees, a good source of food for the parrots.

Similarly, the island's chimpanzees were rescued from Zoos and circuses in the early 1960s. Their introduction to the wild on Rubondo between 1965 and 1973 was the very first attempt to rehabilitate captive chimps. Although they remain secretive, they and their wild off- spring have thrived.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains are home to some of Africa's last remaining wild chimpanzees: a population of roughly 800 (only 60 individuals forming what is known as "M group"), habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s.

Tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience. The guide's eyes pick out last night's nests - shadowy clumps high in a gallery of trees crowding the sky. Scraps of half-eaten fruit and fresh dung become valuable clues, leading deeper into the forest. Butterflies flit in the dappled sunlight. Then suddenly you are in their midst: preening each other's glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabbling noisily, or bounding into the trees to swing effortlessly between the vines.

The area is also known as Nkungwe, after the park's largest mountain, held sacred by the local Tongwe people, and at 8,069 ft, it is the highest of the six prominent points that make up the Mahale Range.

And while chimpanzees are the star attraction, the slopes support a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and a kaleidoscopic array of colorful forest birds.

The best months to go are between July and November when the animals are concentrated around shrinking water holes.

Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania's national parks: a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its chimpanzees -- habituated to human visitors -- were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioral research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world. Visitors still regularly see the matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, who was only three years old when Goodall first set foot in Gombe.

Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots, and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters. Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp's eyes, assessing you in return - a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers.

The most visible of Gombe's other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons, under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys - the latter regularly hunted by chimps -- stick to the forest canopy.

The park's 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter's twinspots that hop tamely around the visitors' center.

Udzungwa National Park

Mountain climbing and hiking are the major activities at Udzungwa. There are currently 10 tourist trails in the eastern and western part of the park. The eastern trails lead to the waterfalls: Sanje, Price Bernhard, Njokamoni, and Sonjo. The western trails lead to the cave, Ibito valley and Ng'ung'umbi swamp. The Park has the second highest bird diversity in Africa so for birders this is a paradise.

Selous Game Reserve

The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife area in Africa. A United Nations World Heritage Site, this pristine, uninhabited area is larger than Switzerland. Only in the Serengeti will visitors see a greater concentration of wildlife. Yet Selous boasts Tanzania's largest population of elephant as well as large numbers of buffalo, hippo, and wild dog. Other species commonly seen are lion, bushbuck, impala, giraffe, eland, baboon, zebra, and greater kudu.