Most interesting wonders of Tanzania
Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Tanzania.
Rock formations and geomorphological sites
- Daraja la Mungu (Bridge of God) – Mbeya. Spectacular natural bridge over Kiwira River.
- Isimila sandstone formations (Korongo) – Iringa. Group of tall and often – thin – sandstone pillars forming a unique landscape. Pillars are up to 10 m tall. In this site have been found numerous Acheulian stone tools (some 300 thousand years old) and remnants of prehistoric animals.
- The Shifting Sands of Serengeti – Arusha. Black parabolic dune, contrasting with the color of surrounding plains. This dune has formed from the volcanic ash of Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and moves some 10 – 20 m every year.
- Amboni Caves – Tanga. Group of caves, largely unexplored, the largest known cave rooms are up to 30 m high. It is possible that in the future here will be discovered very long caves.
- Matumbi Caves – Lindi. Network of limestone caves, longest caves in Tanzania. The largest cave – Nangoma – is sacred site to local people, it is 7.5 km long. Other larger caves are Mpatawa Cave (1 km), Namaingo Caves (2.4 km).
- Mount Kilimanjaro – Kilimanjaro. Largest free standing volcanic mass in the world, highest mountain in Africa, 5,895 m high. Volcano rises 4,877 m above the surrounding plain. Summit has permanent glacier, which is quickly disappearing. Mount Kilimanjaro includes several unique ecosystems, such as the highest cloud forests in Africa at 4,100 m height and stands of Dendrosenecio plants.
- Ol Doinyo Lengai – Arusha. The only known carbonatite volcano in the world (except for the neighboring Kerimasi volcano). Volcano produces natrocarbonatite lava with nearly unique minerals – nyerereite and gregoryite. Lava flows at very low temperature at 500 – 600 °C. Carbonates react with moisture of atmosphere and quickly turn white, creating unique volcanic landscape. Here in a steep cone has been observed formation of a new, nearly unique lava cave with enormous stalactites made of fragile natrocarbonatite.
- Chemka Hot Springs – Kilimanjaro. Powerful thermal spring, beloved place for swimming.
- Maji Moto springs – Arusha. Powerful thermal spring which forms a deep blue pond in the desert-like environment.
- Kihansi Falls – Morogoro. Waterfall with several cascades, total height up to 280 m. Tallest cascade is in the middle. Stream is weakened and often interrupted by Kihansi dam upstreams. At the base of falls lived endemic species of amphibian – Kihansi Spray Toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis), it has been eliminated in nature by the dam.
- Sanje Falls – Morogoro. Gorgeous, 170 m tall waterfall in the rainforest of Udzungwa Mountains.
- Mahenge gemstone finds – Morogoro. Find of some of the best spinels in the world, with unusual neon glow. Other gemstones are found here as well.
- Merelani Hills – Arusha. The only rich find of tanzanite – unusual, deep blue gemstone.
- Tunduru gemstone finds – Ruvuma. In this area are found rare and very valuable gemstones, such as some of the best alexandrites, spinels, padparadschas, taafeites and others. Even one of the few specimens of musgravite has been found here.
- Umba River Valley – Tanga. Here are found the world’s best rhodolites – a purplish garnet, mixture of almandine and pyrope, here are found also unique sapphires in any color imaginable, spessartines.
- Dendrosenecio woodlands on Mt. Kilimanjaro – Kilimanjaro. Just below the snow line of Mt. Kilimanjaro are located stands of highly unusual, up to 10 meters high plants which are endemic to Mt. Kilimanjaro: two species of Dendrosenecio.
- Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park – Zanzibar South. Largest remaining rainforest in Zanzibar, with many rare and endemic species and subspecies, found only on Zanzibar Island, such as Zanzibar servaline genet (Genetta servalina archeri) and, possibly the legendary Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi).
- Lake Natron flamingo colony – Arusha. Largest colony of lesser flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) in the world, major part of c. 2,5 million birds stay in this lake.
- Mlinga Forest Reserve – Tanga. 1,069 m high summit in East Usambara Mountains, covered with unique ecosystem. The only grove of the tree Podocarpus latifolius in the world, 9 species of plants are found only here. Sacred site to local Washambaa people.
- Ngorongoro Crater – Arusha. Largest volcanic caldera in the world, up to 610 m deep and 260 km² large. Area of exceptional concentration of wild animals, with 25,000 large animals living in the crater.
- Pugu Hills Forest – Pwani. One of most diverse and best preserved East African coastal forests, with a high number of endemic species in spite of its small size – some 10 km². Forest has one of the highest liana densities in the world. Trees here grow on one of world’s largest kaolinite finds.
- South Nguru Mountains – Morogoro. These mountain are covered with pristine forest and are exceptionally rich with amphibians and reptiles – 92 known species in total. More than 10 of these species live only in this forest.
- Udzungwa Mountains – Iringa, Morogoro. Mountains with high number of endemic species, including Iringa Red Colobus, Sanje Crested Mangabey, Grey-face Sengi. Hundreds of plant species are found only here.
Other natural landmarks
- Big Tree in Zanzibar (Mtini) – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. Giant fig tree in the Stone Town, popular meeting place.
- Entandrophragma excelsum on Kilimanjaro (Mtini) – Kilimanjaro. 81.5 m tall tree, the tallest known tree in Africa.
- Tendaguru Formation – Lindi. Deposits of Late Jurassic sediments, rich with interesting remnants of fauna, such as several mammals, many species of dinosaurs.
Man made landmarks
Early human finds
- Laetoli footprints – Arusha. Unique find of human ancestor footprints in volcanic ash. Footprints were left some 3.6 million years ago by a pair of extinct human ancestors, most possibly Australopithecus afarensis. A proof of comparatively early bipedalism of human ancestors.
- Mumba Rock Shelter – Arusha. Nine meters deep layer of sediments in this cave contains valuable archaeological remains from the Middle Paleolithic (31,000 years ago) and Late Neolithic.
- Oldupai Gorge (Olduvai Gorge) – Arusha. World’s most important source of information about the development of early humans. Homo habilis lived here some 1.9 million years ago, Homo erectus – 1.2 million years ago, Homo sapiens – 17,000 years ago. Here have been discovered some of the oldest stone tools in the world, signs of hunting.
- Gong Rock – Shinyanga, Serengeti plains. Enormous stone block, covered with rounded depressions. According to the tales of locals, stone is used to summon people across Serengeti plains.
- Kondoa Rock Art Sites – Dodoma. Group of caves and rock shelters which contain some 150 – 450 panels of rock art, scattered over rather large area. Paintings are up to 1,500 years old. Most paintings show unusually elongated people, animals, hunting, many drawings have high artistic quality. Rituals and traditions of local people are still linked to some of these caves.
Ancient settlements of local people
- Engaruka – Arusha. Ruins of settlement, which flourished in the 15th – 18th centuries. Engaruka has elaborate irrigation system with stone laid terraces, stone channels for water. Site contains also remnants of older settlements.
- Songo Mnara – Lindi. Ruins of abandoned Swahili stone town near Kilwa, inhabited in the 14th – 16th centuries AD. Contains ruins of some 33 dwellings, five mosques and possible palace complex.
Arab and Persian trade towns
- Kilwa Kisiwani – Lindi. Ruins of medieval trade city, founded in the 9th century AD and became important trading port which flourished in the 15th century AD. Abandoned since the 1840s.
- Kua – Pwani. Ruins of abandoned Muslim town on small island. This town was established by Persians in the 10th century AD, abandoned in the 19th century. Contains ruins of two medieval mosques.
- Kwale – Pwani. Small island, covered with traces of older buildings. In the 19th century the island was covered with buildings. Below the buildings are found remnants of much older settlement which existed in the 3rd – 15th century AD.
- Qanbalu (Quanbalu) – Pemba South. Ruins of the oldest known Muslim town in Africa, could be founded as early as in the 8th century AD. Most of the visible ruins are from the 13th – 14th centuries. Declined in the 16th century.
- Tongoni Ruins – Tanga. Small fishing village with remnants of distant past. It was developed as a trade town since the 15th century AD. Contains ruins of Islamic buildings, graves.
- Bagamoyo – Pwani. Former capital of the German East Africa, founded at the end of the 18th century AD. Town contains historical buildings and ruins. South from the city center are located ruins of Kaole – medieval trade city, founded around the 13th century AD, includes ruins of the oldest known East African mosque.
- Stone Town of Zanzibar (Mji Mkongwe) – Zanzibar Urban / West. A historical trade town, developed since the 1830ies, when stone houses started to replace the wooden houses of fishermen. Soon developed a unique city, blending local, European, Moorish, Arab, Indian and Persian elements. Houses have numerous interesting architecture and design elements.
- House of Wonders – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. One of the sultan’s palaces in Zanzibar, largest and tallest building in the Stone Town. Constructed in 1833 and reconstructed in 1897. The architecture has significant European influence. Now turned into museum.
- Palace Museum – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. Massive, ornate palace of sultan, built in the late 19th century. Now it serves as a museum.
- Palace of Husuni Kubwa – Lindi. Ruins of medieval palace in the abandoned Kilwa city. Palace was built for the sultan of Kilwa in the 13th – 14th century AD. It included an octagonal swimming pool.
- Great Mosque of Kilwa – Lindi. Ruins of the largest coral stone mosque in the abandoned Kilwa city. Constructed mostly in the 11th – 13th centuries and was much admired by travelers of the time.
- Malindi Mosque – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. Oldest mosque in Zanzibar, built in the 15th century, has unusual architectural features.
- St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Zanzibar – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. Impressive cathedral in Neo-Romanesque style, built in 1893 – 1898.
Other man made landmarks
- Lake Ngozi – Mbeya. Enormous and picturesque crater lake. Locals consider this place to be magical, with many mysteries. According to local legends here lives a lake monster which comes out from the water in sunny days.
- Old Dispensary – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. Very ornate building, constructed in 1887 – 1894 as charitable hospital for the poor.
- Tippu Tip’s House – Zanzibar Urban / West, Stone Town. The massive private house of the infamous slave trader Tippu Tip, built in the 19th century. Very ornate building, now in poor condition.
- Ukerewe albinos – Mwanza. The largest island in Victoria Lake. On the island lives large population of albino Africans which have been abandoned here in early childhood by their families.
Described wonders of Tanzania
This large country is very diverse, has unforgettable scenery and many world famous landmarks. Highlights of Tanzania are:
- Unique ecosystems. The better known Serengeti plains are too large to be included here, but Tanzania has other amazing ecosystems such as the giant groundsels of Mount Kilimanjaro and the islands of unique tropical forests in the mountains, such as the forests in Usambara Mountains.
- Early human finds. World’s most important site for the exploration of the origin of humans is located in Tanzania – Oldupai Gorge contains remains of extinct early human species, very old stone tools.
- Historical trading towns. In Tanzania are found ruins and even living towns which hold the heritage of medieval Muslim and later European trading posts. The best known and most interesting one is Stone Town of Zanzibar.
The amazing Dendrosenecio woodlands near the top of Kilimanjaro mountain belong to the most unusual woodlands in the world. The breathtaking landscape here is adorned with alien looking plants – giant groundsels and lobelias.
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