This is a vacation that will definitely be straight out of National Geographic.
Africa doesn’t figure very high on the radar of the Indian traveller going abroad. Kenya (notwithstanding its current troubles) has over the last decade made remarkable strides in attracting Indian tourists, but the rest of Africa still remains the dark continent in this respect.
But now Kenya’s southern neighbour, Tanzania, is making an aggressive pitch for its case as a tourist destination, and with good reason.
Air Tanzania is soon expected to connect Mumbai to Dar-es-Salaam, and that will give you access to over 15 national parks and 32 game reserves. The Tourism Board of Tanzania calculates that for a five-day stay, you will have to spend about Rs 80,000 per head, all-inclusive.
Here is a quick guide to some of the locales you can include in your itinerary.
You must start by spending some time in the bustling port city of Dar-es-Salaam, which is famous for its markets and is also home to a large ethnic Indian community.
The country gets its name from the massive Lake Tanganyika, which is the world’s second deepest freshwater lake. Take a ferry ride across the lake on the MV Liemba, a converted World War I German Navy gunboat. The lake also has a thriving fishing community.
Ngorongoro Crater, one of the “Wonders of the World”, is the enormous crater of an extinct volcano. Today it is a grassland teeming with wildlife. Within the crater rim, large herds of zebra and wildebeest graze, and prides of lions laze in the sun. Here you can also interact with nomadic Maasai tribesmen.
The Serengeti National Park, spanning 14,763 square kilometres, is where you can find the quintessential image of Africa’s wildlife. The annual wildebeest migration is the biggest attraction here and is the best opportunity to view vast numbers of wildlife at close quarters.
Mt Kilimanjaro, at Tanzania’s northern border, is a rare sight. On its peak you can see snow and ice — so close to the Equator!
A five-day hike in this neighbourhood can take you through everything from tropical jungle to alpine grasslands and glaciers. Incidentally, however, it is easier to reach the peak from Kenya.
The list of places to visit doesn’t end here. You’ll tear your hair out choosing between Ruaha National Park (famous for having the highest population of elephants), the historic islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, Lake Manyara National Park (famous for its hot spring-fed ecosystem and tree-climbing lions), Mafia Island (a white-sand beach resort) and Mt Meru (a challenging hike).