If you’re looking for an epic Tanzania itinerary, then you’ve come to the right place. I LOVE Tanzania.
For me, it has everything you could want – amazing safaris, beautiful scenery, stunning beaches, lots of culture, great food, fun nightlife and lots of things to do! Tanzania is always an adventure and a Tanzania safari should be top of everyone’s Africa bucket list.
My ideal Tanzania itinerary would start up north around Arusha or Moshi and then end down on the beaches of Zanzibar. You could do it in reverse, although ending on the beaches makes more sense to me!
To see all of the ‘highlights’ on the itinerary below you would need at least 2 weeks, maybe a few more days if you can stretch to it. If you also wanted to climb Kilimanjaro you’d be looking at 3+ weeks.
This list isn’t exhaustive and Tanzania is huge so you could easily spend 4 – 6 weeks or more (a Tanzania visa usually lasts for 90 days) in the country and visit a lot more places than I have listed here, but this itinerary is a good place to start to help you maximise your time in Tanzania.
If you are wondering about how to get around Tanzania, then have a read of this post. Need to know how to get your Tanzania visa? Or, to experience Tanzania just like I do, come on one of my Tanzania group tours!
The Ultimate Tanzania Itinerary (Plus Things To See & Do)
If you only have 2 Weeks:
- Arusha: 1 – 2 Days
- Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater: 3 – 4 Days
- Moshi: 1 – 2 Days
- Lushoto: 2 Days
- Bagamoyo: 2 – 3 Days
- Zanzibar: 3 – 7 Days
If you have longer you could add-in:
- Lake Natron: 3 Days
- Mwanza & Lake Victoria: 3 – 4 Days
- Lake Manyara: 1 – 2 Days
- Tarangire: 1 – 2 Days
- Lake Chala: 1 – 2 Days
- Lake Eyasi: 2 – 3 Days
- Mambo: 2 -3 Days (or more)
- Pangani: 2 – 3 Days
- Saadani National Park: 2 – 3 Days
- Dar es Salaam: 1 – 2 Days
- Ruaha National Park: 2 – 3 Days
- Mahale Mount Mountains National Park: 3 Days
There are so many unique places to visit and things to do in Tanzania! You’re going to love it!
Arusha is a bustling city which often serves as the starting point for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks.
Many people just stay a night or two here before moving on, but if you have time, I’d suggest staying at least a few days. Arusha has a lot of charm of its own and is a great place to experience Tanzanian life. It also has a fun party scene which is probably one of the reasons it’s popular with lots of young volunteers (Moshi is the same).
The city also lies at the base of Mount Meru which is a bit smaller than Kilimanjaro at 4,562m but is still a very challenging and rewarding hike.
Be sure to visit the great Masai Market whilst you are there and pick up some souvenirs and for a bit of R&R, head to the pool at the Mount Meru Hotel, the place to see and be seen. You can also visit some of the places closer to Moshi from here too.
Things To Do in Arusha:
- Climb Mount Meru.
- Book a Northern Circuit safari, if you haven’t already.
- Swim and chill at the Mount Meru Hotel.
- Party at the bars and clubs.
- Eat chips mayai (chip omelette) and chicken from one of the street vendors.
- Get clothes made at one of the local tailors.
- Go shopping at the Maasai Market.
- Eat nyama choma at Khan’s BBQ (I love the Mr Khan’s – it’s run by 3 brothers).
Time Needed: 1 – 2 days. More if you plan to climb Mount Meru.
Lake Manyara is a great stopover on the way to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
The landscape of Lake Manyara is quite different to that of the Serengeti, more jungle-like, and it’s a great place to see flamingoes, elephants and it’s known for the tree-climbing lions (although lions are starting to climb trees elsewhere now too).
If you are staying at one of the camps or lodges outside the park, be sure to stop at the viewpoint (as you can see above). It’s popular with locals and especially beautiful at sunset.
We also went for a beer in one of the bars in the local village which is always fun and not something everyone will experience on safari, so just ask your guide. Usually, they’ll be happy to take you and don’t forget to buy them a beer.
Things To Do in Lake Manyara:
- Go on safari.
- Visit the viewpoint.
- Go on a cultural or coffee tour in Mto Wa Mbu.
- Walk high on the Lake Manyara Treetop Walkway.
- Visit the Maasai.
- Go canoeing.
Time Needed: 1 – 2 days.
Tarangire National Park
Next to Lake Manyara lies Tarangire National Park and you can easily stay in one and visit the other. I’d maybe suggest staying around Lake Manyara for the views.
Tarangire has the largest population of elephants in Tanzania.
Things To Do in Tarangire National Park:
- Go on safari.
- And see above for the activities to do around Lake Manyara(they’re really close to each other).
Time Needed: 1 – 2 days.
The Serengeti is definitely a contender for the best safari in Africa and it’s the reason many people choose to come to Tanzania in the first place.
Vast and open this national park is teeming with all the wildlife you can imagine and stretches for miles and miles. The name ‘Serengeti’ actually means ‘endless plains’ in the Maasai language.
I’ve been to the Serengeti around 6 – 7 times and it’s the place where I’ve seen the most leopards, with about an 80% success rate so far.
You can fly into the Serengeti from Arusha, however, it’s drivable in a day, with most safaris reaching the park by early afternoon (if you don’t stop at Lake Manyara or Tarangire on the way), allowing you to do a safari on the way into the park.
For those on a budget, camping is a great option and there are a number of campsites right inside the park. These campsites are often frequented by hyenas, buffalo, zebra and even the occasional lion at night, so it’s always an adventure to stay there.
For the Serengeti, I would always suggest going with a safari company, rather than self-driving, as it’s so big that you will likely get lost on your own and not see half as much as you would with an experienced safari guide. You can also see the wildebeest migration if you visit at the right time of year.
Tanzania safari tours are plentiful, so shop around to get the most competitive quotes and read lots of reviews! I was once quoted $700 higher from one safari company than another for the exact same tour.
Things To Do in the Serengeti:
- Go on safari.
- Take a hot air balloon ride.
- Camp out in the wild.
Time Needed: 2 – 5 days.
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most stunning safari destinations in all of Africa.
The crater was formed when a gigantic volcano (which is thought to have been bigger than Kilimanjaro) exploded and then collapsed, creating the epic landscape we see today.
A safari here never disappoints and it’s one of the best places in the world to see the endangered black rhino.
It’s important to get into the crater as early as possible, as this is when the animals are most active and when you are likely to see the most. I’ve seen standoffs between lions and buffalo and the craziest sight was watching seven hyenas chase a wildebeest whilst she was giving birth.
Most people visit the Ngorongoro Crater on the way back from the Serengeti as they are right next to each other, so you can easily do both together. For me, one day in the crater is usually enough, but if you want to give yourself a better chance of seeing some action then two days might be better.
Things To Do in the Ngorongoro Crater:
- Go on safari.
- See the wildebeest calving & migration.
Time Needed: 1 – 2 days.
Moshi usually serves as the starting point for any Kilimanjaro expedition and is a great place to spend a couple of days before and after your climb.
It’s a lovely town, a bit less hectic than Arusha and with Kilimanjaro as the backdrop, it’s beautiful too.
There are plenty of great day trips to take from Moshi (you can also do these from Arusha too – but they’re a bit closer to Moshi), including a trip to Materuni village for a coffee tour and see the Materuni Waterfalls (one of my favourite places in Tanzania)and experience the hospitality of the Chagga people.
Another favourite of mine is the Chemka Hot Springs (also known as Kikuletwa Hot Springs) a popular picnic and swimming spot for both locals and tourists. This is a great place to spend an afternoon.
You’ll also be able to visit Maasai villages in the region between Moshi and Arusha. I prefer visiting the villages here to those in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Things To Do in Moshi:
- Climb Kilimanjaro.
- Visit the Maasai tribe.
- Swim at the Kikuletwa Hot Springs.
- Take a coffee and waterfall tour in Materuni village.
- Eat pizza at IndoItaliano.
- Visit a Women’s Co-Operative.
Time Needed: 2 – 3 days. More if you plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest mountain in Africa. Plus, it’s damn beautiful so it’s no wonder that it is one of the reasons that thousands of people travel to Tanzania every year.
The climb usually takes between 6 to 8 days, so if you’ve only got a couple of weeks, this will take up a big portion of your trip, as you’ll need to spend a day in Moshi before the climb (at least) too. But it’s worth it.
I’ve submitted Kilimanjaro twice, by the Machame & Lemosho routes and it’s definitely one of the best things I have ever done in my life. You can find all my Kilimanjaro advice here.
Time Needed: 5 – 9 days.
The Usambara Mountains
Relatively untouched by tourism, the Usambara Mountains are an incredible stop on your Tanzanian itinerary.
The drive through the mountains is spectacular (if a little ropey on the way up to Lushoto especially) and you will find the best views in all of Tanzania and I’d also say the friendliest people in the country here.
Most people stop in Lushoto in the West Usambaras, however, if you have more time, I would definitely suggest to head further into the mountains to Mambo, a small village in the far north of the mountains (you have to go through Lushoto to get to the other villages as there’s no direct road, unfortunately) where the views are even more spectacular and on a clear day you can even see all the way to Kilimanjaro.
Things To Do in the Usambara Mountains:
- Take a hike, you can do either 1-day hike near to where you stay or multi-day hikes between Lushoto and Mambo.
- Visit a church.
- Go shopping at a local market.
- Visiting the Amani Nature Reserve.
- Eat all the cheeses at Irente Farm.
- Take in the epic views from the Irente or Mambo viewpoints.
- Visit the Mazumbai Forest Reserve.
If you want to get a true Swahili experience without the hordes of tourists, then head to Bagamoyo, a historical fishing town about an hour and 45 minutes north of Dar es Salaam. I volunteered here for a while back in the day and it’s one of my favourite places in Africa.
Bagamoyo has a chilled out vibe and is a great place to spend a few days, visiting the historical sites, eating fresh seafood and just being. It’s hard to describe how special this place is, but I will try with a post coming soon!
Tourism is slowly coming to Bagamoyo, so go sooner rather than later. Now you can even get a direct ferry from Bagamoyo to Zanzibar. Book through Firefly hostel.
Things To Do in Bagamoyo:
- Visit the Bagamoyo Art Market.
- Hang out at Firefly.
- Help with a beach cleanup.
- Do some yoga.
- Taking a cycling tour of the old town and learn about the Slave Trade.
- Visit the fish market (go very early in the morning or late afternoon).
- Taking a Swahili cooking class.
- Go to an event at the Bagamoyo College of Arts.
- Visit the Kaole Ruins.
- Chill on the beach.
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam is a big, busy African city isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is kind of cool and also a great jumping-off point for travel over to Zanzibar (by ferry or plane) or to the neighbouring countries of Zambia and Malawi.
If you’re planning to take the ferry, have a read of my Guide to Taking the Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar Ferry which explains what you need to do and how you need to do it!
Plus it also has an international airport so it’s a good place to start or end your Tanzania trip.
Things To Do in Dar es Salaam:
- Visit the Fish Market.
- Take a trip to Bongoyo Island.
- Hang out on Coco Beach.
- Try the local street food.
- Go shopping at Kariakoo Market.
- Visit the Mwenge Wood Carvers Village.
- Learn about Tanzanian culture at the Village Museum.
- Go shopping for fabric on Uhuru Street.
It’s no secret that I love Zanzibar. For me, it has a bit of everything. History, a mix of cultures, beautiful beaches, amazing food and lots of stuff to do!
When I go to Zanzibar, I usually move around to different places as staying in one place and exploring the island from there doesn’t make much sense to me. I’ll start with a day or two in Stone Town, then move to the beaches in the north (usually Kendwa) and then the beaches in the south-east (usually Jambiani or Paje) – or vice versa.
Things To Do in Zanzibar:
- Explore historical Stone Town. Read my The Best Things to Do in Stone Town, Zanzibar post for ideas.
- Learn about the Slave Trade.
- Relax on the beaches.
- Go shopping.
- Eat at the Forodhani Gardens food market.
- Party at the beach bars.
- Take a trip on a traditional dhow.
READ MORE: 40 Amazing Things To Do in Zanzibar
Read More About Tanzania & Zanzibar…
Tanzania Group Tours
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