Karibu means welcome in Swahili. And there is no better place to enjoy an enriching cultural and wildlife experience than Tanzania. The magical names trip of the tongue – Kilimanjaro, Laetoli, Ngorongoro, Olduvai, Serengeti and Zanzibar ! Burton, Livingstone, Selous, Speke and Stanley !
These days Tanzania’s new and enlarged national parks mean it is the only country in the world to protect more than 25% of its land so game viewing experiences are widely regarded as the best in Africa. It is the place to see seemingly endless herds of wildebeest and zebra trekking across the plains on their annual
migration – followed by lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. It is elephant country, boasting some of the largest populations in the world, While at Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks, it is home to groups of chimpanzees now so rarely seen in the wild.
Both the Tanzania mainland and, of course, Zanibar boast beautiful beaches – hundreds of miles of palm-fringed sands overlooking the Indian Ocean. Its cities are relaxed and friendly. Its huge lakes, Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa, are bountiful with fish. Its mountains are massive and mysterious and include Mount Meru, Ol Doinyo Lengai and the Usambaras in addition, of course, to Mount Kilimanjaro – the ‘Roof of Africa’, the tallest free- standing mountain in the world and recently nominated as a candidate for one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Yet this, the largest country in East Africa, is untouched by the holiday- making hordes of mass tourism.
It was in Tanzania that Stanley uttered those famous words – “Dr Livingstone I presume” – when he tracked down the Scottish missionary and explorer after a long trek into the interior. Indeed Tanzania was a magnet for several Victorian explorers who made epic journeys of discovery in search of the source of the Nile. Today’s visitors are able to explore Tanzania, and see its remarkable seven UNESCO World
Heritage sites, with none of the hardship but all of the adventure of those early pioneers. It was on December 9, 1961 that the Tanzania mainland, or Tanganyika as it was then known, achieved independence from Great Britain. December 9, 2011 therefore marks the 50th anniversary of this historic occasion.
It is with good reason that Tanzania has been called the “cradle of mankind” for it was here, in 1960, that Dr Louis Leakey and his wife Mary discovered the fossilised remains of homo habilis, or “handy man”, calculated to be 1.75 million years old. Since then, in 1976, hominin footprints found at Laetoli have been been dated back an incredible 3.5 million years.
Tanzania was originally occupied by various African tribes, particularly the Masai with their proud traditions. Arab merchants visited the coast some 2,000 years ago and settled in Zanzibar around the eighth century establishing trade routes into the interior. The inter- marriage of Arabs and local people created a new race with their own language – Kiswahili, or Swahili whose word for a journey – safari – has become the international description of a trip into the wild. The Portuguese established temporary settlements in the 16th century but in 17th century were supplanted by the Omanis who
developed the infamous slave trade. The scramble for Africa by the European powers at the end of the 19th century led to occupation of the mainland by Germany although Zanzibar became a British protectorate. After World War I, Germany was forced to surrender its territory to the British.
Tanganyika, as the mainland was then known, achieved independence from Great Britain 50 years ago in 1961. Zanzibar becaming independent two years later and shortly afterwards joining the mainland to become the United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania covers 937,062 sq km making it the largest country in Eastern Africa. Just south of the equator, it borders Kenya and Uganda to the north; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south It is therefore a ideal centre from which to explore eastern, central and southern Africa.
The Great Rift Valley, the vast fault-line that runs down the spine of Africa, has created many fascinating topographical features in Tanzania including the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Tangayika, and Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s tallest mountain. The central plateau is a huge expanse of savannah and sparse woodland and while the interior is largely arid the 800 kilometre coastline, and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia, are lush and palm-fringed.
The coastal areas are hot and humid with an average day time temperature of 30°C. Sea breezes make the climate very pleasant from June to September. The central plateau experiences hot days and cool nights. The hilly country between the coast and the northern highlands has a pleasant climate from January to September, with temperatures averaging around 20°C. Temperatures vary around Kilimanjaro according to the season registering a low 15°C during May
to August rising to 22°C during December to March. For the whole country the hottest months are from October to February. The main, long rainy season is from mid-March to late May.
Agriculture plays a vital part in the economy of Tanzania and tourists will see evidence of this as they are driven past huge coffee, tea and cotton plantations and witness the processing of cashew nuts, sisal, cloves and other spices.
The country also has large mineral deposits that include gold, diamonds and a wide variety of other gemstones.
Of particular interest is tanzanite, a brilliant gemstone found only in Tanzania. It is mined in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and is one thousand times rarer than diamonds. Geological research indicates that this source will be depleted in the next 10 to 20 years and that the chances of finding tanzanite in any other part of the world are ‘less than one in a million’.
Source: Tanzania Tourist Board
Me encanta coger el coche y perderme durante horas por carreteras secundarias. Karateka en excedencia, escritor de obras amenas y en ocasiones, desternillantes. Informático 3 en 1 -diseñador, programador, administrador de red-. Padre, marido, taxista familiar. Criptomaníaco convencido.