Tanzania tours concentrate primarily on cultural and wildlife safaris in some of the most famous game reserves and national parks in the world. Often, these safaris will include some of the equally famous parks and reserves in neighboring Kenya to the north.
Some people who have limited time will fly into the country for little more than Tanzania Serengeti tours and a couple nights at the awe-inspiring natural wonder of Ngorongoro Crater. These are the two places in Tanzania that should not be missed if you're visiting from about mid-October to early June. During the months of June through October (the dry season), people with limited time will forgo Tanzania Serengeti tours for the other must-see place in East Africa such as Kenya's Maasai Mara. The Mara is the northern tip of the Serengeti ecosystem, and is where the bulk of the herds of plains animals migrate during the dry season. Either option will take approximately seven to ten days, the minimum time recommended for a safari if you are coming from as far away as the United States. Flights to East Africa from the US can be fairly expensive, and the travel time is usually a minimum of two days. It does not make a lot of sense to spend that much time and money to get there and spend such a short time. Embarking on a limited-time safari like this will be the most expensive, as it pretty much requires internal flights to get everywhere.
A good percentage of visitors will embark on Tanzania safari tours lasting at least two weeks, and more often three weeks, doing what is called the northern circuit. These are generally Kenya and Tanzania safari tours in vehicles, primarily four-wheel drive Land Cruiser type vehicles in Tanzania and Nissan type minibuses in Kenya. These vehicles have been specially modified for safaris. They boast dual fuel tanks for driving long distances between fuel stops and pop-up roof hatches so visitors can stand up while on game drives. They usually seat eight or nine people, but most operators will allow no more than six in order to provide each participant with a window seat.
Almost all Tanzania Serengeti tours will make a stop at the Seronera Visitors Center, centrally located in the park. Here, there is an interesting self-guided walk explaining the Serengeti ecosystem and a small theater where wildlife videos are shown by a park ranger who is also available for questions. Other Tanzania safari tours might focus on cultural interaction, often with East Africa's most well-known indigenous people, the Maasai people. Some safaris will visit a women's cooperative or a typical Maasai village. Others might take two or three days to set out on a walking and camping expedition with Maasai warriors. The town of Karatu near Ngorongoro Crater is a center for the Iraqw tribe, and some Tanzania safaris will stop here to learn more about this less-known tribe.
Gameviewing drives in remote bush country are not the only Tanzania tours these vehicles provide. Unless they break up their safari with flights, safari participants are generally with the same vehicle and driver/guide for the duration of their time in the country, even transfers from the airport on arrival. There are tours of the rapidly growing and bustling city of Arusha that might include a stop at the Cultural Heritage Center, or a shopping venue that is far more than the typical roadside shop. The array of handcrafts available here is staggering, including typical trinkets and other souvenirs as well as beadwork, exquisite carvings, ceremonial masks, fabric, musical instruments, and other items that are of museum quality. Antique and specialty buyers from around the world come here to purchase items for their galleries. There is also a fabulous art gallery with fine art pieces by artists from all over Tanzania and other African countries. There are also Arusha tours that explore the evolution of the semi-precious gemstone Tanzanite (found nowhere else but the northern part of Tanzania) from mining to cutting and polishing and ultimately setting in jewelry. While it is not exactly a tour, a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, highest peak on the continent, is always accompanied by experienced professional guides.
More Tanzania tours are available on the exotic spice island of Zanzibar, with a Swahili culture dating to the sixteenth century. Most visitors will book walking tours of the island's major community of Stone Town, with its striking Omani and Arab architecture, moving slave trading market, colorful open air markets, and romantic fishing dhows. Another standard tour will visit a spice plantation, where a knowledgeable guide will point out the spices for which the island is famous—nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, saffron, lemongrass, cloves, and much more. You can get a hands-on experience of exactly how the spices are cultivated and harvest, explaining why they are so expensive.
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