Exploring Tanzania: The Land of Natural Wonders

13/01/16

Tall tree in Tanzania with mountains in background and stormy sky

National parks, beaches and mountains, Tanzania is a nature lover’s paradise.

It is an ideal destination for a two-centre holiday where you can combine a week on the beach in Zanzibar or increasingly popular honeymoon spot Pemba, with a week of safari and adventure, trekking or wildlife spotting in the numerous world-renowned national parks.

Here are some of our suggestions for the best way to spend a 2-week vacation enjoying the highlights of this fascinating country full of natural wonders:

1).  Safari

No trip to Tanzania is complete without going on safari. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a deep volcanic crater, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it has 264 square meters of vast forest and grassland with the crater walls towering up to 600m! It is a great place to spot an abundance of wildlife, including huge flocks of flamingos in Lake Magadi during rainy season, hippos around Ngoitoktok springs, and herds of elephants in the Lereal forest. You also have the chance to see lions, wildebeests, zebras and even the endangered rhino – all of which reside in the crater. The Serengeti is also a hugely popular animal-spotting destination. It is the best place to observe the annual wildebeest migration; an extraordinary sight where 1.5 million wildebeests migrate across the vast Savanna. The area has a high concentration of wildlife and you have the opportunity to spot packs of lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, giraffes, gazelles, impalas and buffaloes.

1.1 Jan 2016 - Ngorongoro Conservation Area

2).  Beaches

The most famous sunspot in Tanzania is undoubtedly the island of Zanzibar – it is a small island with a strong history. It formed a big part in the slave trade before slavery was abolished back in 1873 and was under Arab control until 1964, when the African majority overthrew the ruling Arab elite. Although a relatively new tourist hot spot, tourism is the island’s biggest industry; with white sandy beaches, clear blue seas, thriving coral reefs and cheap prices, it is not hard to see why visitors have begun to flock here. The capital of the island is Stone Town, where you can comfortably spend a night or two before departing for a nearby beach resort. The village of Nungwi, in the north of the island, is a popular spot for tourists – here a variety of bars, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses line the white sandy beach, where you can swim in the ocean all year round.

A newly developing, more secluded sunshine destination is the island of Pemba. Located approximately 30 miles east of mainland Tanzania it is becoming an increasingly popular spot for honeymooning couples and those seeking a quieter holiday than what is to be found on neighbouring Zanzibar. The coast of Pemba is largely lined with mangroves and marshland however there are still a number of pristine beach spots to be found and some of the best diving/snorkelling opportunities in Tanzania lie off the coast here.

1.1 Jan 2016 - Zanzibar
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

3).  Trekking and mountains

Tanzania is a mountainous country with no less than 120 peaks, including the highest in Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro. Many people embark on the popular Kilimanjaro climb – which we will discuss in greater detail later this month – however, there are plenty of other exciting, shorter trekking opportunities to keep you occupied. Mount Meru is often considered a good warm up hike for those planning to climb Kilimanjaro; it is technically more difficult than Kilimanjaro, but takes just 4 days and reaches an altitude of 4500m. On the trek there is also the possibility of some wildlife spotting, with giraffes, elephants, buffaloes and monkeys all to be seen along the way.

Alternatively, try the 2-night climb to Mwanihana Peak (2080m) in the Udzungwa Mountains. This 3-day trek will give you the opportunity to spot many different species of birds and plenty of monkeys. You will need to hire a guide and bring your own camping equipment and supplies. This is well off the beaten track so is great for those with a sense of adventure who want to experience trekking in remote untouched regions.

1.1 Jan 2016 - Mount Meru
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Health concerns whilst holidaying in Tanzania

Although tourism is booming in Tanzania, it is still considered a developing country. It’s important to consider your health concerns before visiting a country with limited medical facilities to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.

There are a number of vaccinations that are highly recommended before visiting Tanzania. Firstly, you should ensure your Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) vaccinations are up to date – this is given to children in the UK as part of the childhood vaccination schedule, but as an adult, it should be updated every 10 years. Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations are also vital, as these diseases are spread by contaminated food and water, and most parts of Africa have limited access to clean water and good sanitation.

There is great confusion with regard to the Yellow Fever vaccination requirements in Tanzania; the country generally has a very low risk of Yellow Fever, however Customs are widely known to request to see a proof of vaccination certificate in order to enter the country. This certificate has also been requested for visitors travelling to the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. As a traveller, you can choose to have the vaccine for peace of mind. Alternatively, you can visit the Yellow Fever page on the World Health Organization website, print the information and try your luck at presenting Customs Officials with it as proof that there is no risk of Yellow Fever in Tanzania. The vaccine itself is live and can cause side effects, so we, as health professionals, prefer to give it to those who are in absolute need of protection. If you have pre-existing medical conditions that mean that vaccination might not be safe for you, we are able to issue a medical exemption certificate instead.

Tanzania has a high risk of Rabies and the vaccination course might be a good idea to some travellers, particularly those doing work with animals or those taking part in animal-based activities such as Safaris. Rabies is spread via the bite of infected animals (potentially any mammal, though most commonly dogs). The vaccination course involves 3 vaccinations to be given over the course of 1 month. While you still need to get medical treatment if you are bitten, the Rabies vaccination course significantly reduces the medical treatment you need and gives you extra time to access help. Furthermore, it is one of the most effective vaccines out there; no one has ever died from Rabies who has received the vaccination course.

There is also a risk of Hepatitis B throughout the country. This is contracted via blood and bodily fluids, so could be contracted if you were put into hospital and they used unsterile equipment, for example. If you are considering taking part in adventurous activities that pose risk of injury/accident, it may be a good idea to do the Hepatitis B vaccination course (3 vaccines given over 1 month).

Cholera is present throughout Tanzania, and whilst most travellers will not be at risk, those doing volunteer work in slums, refugee camps and in poor, deprived areas, may come into contact with the disease. The vaccination is a course of 2 Cholera drinks given at least 1 week apart.

Tanzania has a high risk of Malaria throughout the country (including the islands) and preventative medication should always be taken. There are 3 different types of malarial that work in Tanzania, all of which are prescription only. The type that is most suitable for you will depend on your past medical history, current medication and personal factors, so it is vital to book an appointment with a health professional to discuss your options.

Safety precautions

Tanzania is still a very poor nation and has a high rate of crime. Always check current risks on the Foreign and Commonwealth website: www.fco.gov.uk.

Theft and robbery is common so it is important to carry the bare minimum with you and do not display any valuable items, such as jewellery or mobile phones.

Phone us or use our online booking system to book your free consultation with one of our specialist nurses. We can assess your personal trip requirements to ensure you have all you need to have a safe and healthy visit to Africa!

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