ON THE (WAY TO THE) COAST
The coastal areas, especially the beach places of Tanzania, are recommendable for the ones looking for some relaxing time after a safari. You can reach several coastal cities by plane from Arusha. If you would like to do some more activities or wish to visit historical sites and other parks, there are plenty of choices on the (way to the) coast waiting for you. Those can either be combined as a one way route by car or by flying from Arusha and arranged transport on site.
Mkomazi National Park
Mkomazi is more than two times bigger than London and it borders Tsavo West National Park in Kenya to the north, which makes it the 2nd largest ecosystem between the two countries after Serengeti and Maasai Mara. Mkomazi has only been designated National Park in 2008, since when sanctuaries for two endangered species of Black Rhinoceros and African Wild Dog have been launched. This along with some other rare species like the lesser kudu, oryx and gerenuk make the park well worth a visit. While on the way to Usambara mountains or the Indian Ocean from Arusha region you will get to Mkomazi National Park after about a three and half to four hour drive from Arusha.
Split in a west and east part, the Usambara mountains are located in the north-eastern part of Tanzania, only about 150 km away from the northern coastal city of Tanga. The highest peak is 2.327 meters and a part of the mountains is still covered with rainforest, which offers a nice scenery for a hiking tour. On the way chameleons, beautiful eucalyptus trees and maybe one of the endemic species to the Usambara Mountains can be spotted, the most famous of them being the African or Usambara violet. As the German and later the British colonists liked to settle in the region, there are still remains of the time to be seen.
Tanga and Pangani
Tanga is a city with approximately 300.000 inhabitants with main industries being coffee, tea, sisal and cotton. You can visit a tea or coffee farm, Amboni caves (big limestone caves), Tongoni ruins which include a mosque and tombs from the 15th century. Pangani is a nice beach location which will favor the ones looking for a quiet place to relax. Both sites can be reach from Usambara mountains after about three hours.
Saadani National Park
Saadani National Park is the only park located at the shore of the Indian ocean in East Africa. With a size of only 200 square kilometers which is less than the city of Los Angeles and its location about 130 km North of Dar Es Salaam, it is an ideal place to visit in combination with a beach holiday. Among common East African wildlife, the more special attractions are crocodiles, colobus monkeys and sable antelopes. In Saadani you can do a nature walk together with a park ranger as well as a boat safari on Wami river.
This small town is located about 70 km north of Dar Es Salaam on the coast of the Indian Ocean with beautiful beaches as a nice and less crowded alternative to the island of Zanzibar. While today it is mainly a town of fishermen and building place for dhows (local boats), it played a significant role in the history of Tanzania. You can visit the ruins of Kaole dating back to the 13th or 14th century which include a mosque and cemetery from the time. In the early 19th century Bagamoyo was an important trading point for ivory and slaves. The Old Fort dates back to 1856 and it is believed slaves were kept in the Fort before being shipped to Zanzibar to be sold on the slave markets there. Bagamoyo became later the first capital of the colony German East Africa, with the German Boma (government office), colonial cemetery and one of the first schools in East Africa among others.
Dar Es Salaam
Although Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam constitutes the economical center of the country. The word is derived from Arabic and means “house of peace” which seems fitting taken the fact that not only people from all of more than 120 Tanzanian tribes, but also from middle east, Europe and Asia live peacefully together here. Dar Es Salaam has one of the best deep sea natural harbors, which is also one of the main reasons for its rapid growth from a small town in the 19th century to East Africa’s biggest coastal city with an estimated population of 5.5 million people. Besides visiting the National Museum, a fish market or Mwenge Wood Carvings Market, you can enjoy hanging out at one of the beaches of Dar Es Salaam in Kigamboni or Msasani. The city is also point of departure for the Southern National reserves as well as the islands of Zanzibar.
The Zanzibar archipelago consists of several small islands and two major islands namely Pemba which is smaller than Unguja. Pemba is less crowded and more difficult to reach. The beautiful beaches and astonishing underwater world make it a great destination for divers and snorkelers. Unguja is home to the main city of Zanzibar which is named just like the archipelago or “Stone town” because of its coral stone buildings in the old part of the city. Sites in Stone town include the Old Fort, the House of Wonders, the Palace museum, churches and the Old Dispensary. After a day of sightseeing you can enjoy a snack or dinner from one of the street food stands at Forodhani Gardens. On Unguja you can also visit Jozani forest, learn something about spices, dive and snorkel at one of the great sites or simply enjoy some relaxing time at one of the nice beaches.