While the sun, safari and adventure options are more likely to appeal to the majority of tourists, Tanzania also offers something extra for the special interest enthusiast.
Archaeologists will be in their element when visiting the world-famous Olduvia Gorge and nearby Laetoli, the Isimila Stone Age Site, the Kondoa Irangi rockpaintings, the site of the Tendunguru dinosaur excavation and historical sites at Kaole, Kilwa and on the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba.
For birdwatchers the country is a paradise, with over 1,000 species to be seen in their varying habitats. Flamingos, pelicans and storks flock in abundance to the lakes as do various goose and duck types. Wheeling high in the clear blue skies are the birds of prey including eagles – amongst them the Tawny and the African Fish Eagle – as well as kites, falcons, hawks and buzzards. The Sacred and Hadada ibises are other treats for ornithologists, while all visitors will warm to the comical gait of the Secretary Bird. Kori bustards, the heaviest flying bird, giant ostrich and weaver birds are other fascinating species. Watching, and swimming with wild dolphins, in the waters around Zanzibar and Pemba, can be an exciting and educational experience. However, care must be taken to avoid disturbing the animals.
For flower lovers the country is a veritable wonderland, its ever-changing topography reflected in a plethora of different shrubs, flowers, succulents and trees. Indeed the variety of ecosystems in Tanzania is considered to be wider than in any other African country with the Kitulo Plateau the ‘Gem in the Crown’.
Africa is home to over 3,500 species of butterfly and a far greater variety of moth. Many of these can be found in Tanzania and some are, in fact, endemic to Tanzania such as the extremely rare Urania ripheus or Sunset Moth. Lepidopterists will find the Kitulo, Mahale, Mkomazi and Udzungwa National Parks; the Ngorongoro Conservation Area; and the Usambara Mountains, particularly rewarding.
Rail enthusiasts will want to travel on the Great Uhuru Railway, which goes through some of the most stunning scenery in East Africa. It runs from Dar es Salaam, through Mikumu National Park and the Selous Game Reserve, to Mbeya and then to Zambia. Herds of animals can be seen from the carriages.
The Tanzania coastline offers a rich array of coral reefs, mangrove forests, estuaries, beaches and sea grass beds that provide breeding grounds for its five species of turtle – green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley.
Whale sharks, the largest shark and the largest fish in the world, which can reach lengths of up to 14m and weigh up to 15 tons frequent the Tanzania coastline. Humpback and sperm whales may also be seen off Mafia and in the Zanzibar Channel.