As a whole, Tanzania is most famous for its incredible national parks, game reserves and beaches. However, there is also plenty for the true adventurer or thrill seeker looking to do something just that little bit different from the norm!
1. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbing Kilimanjaro is high on the list of many an adventure seeker – and with good reason! Standing at 5,895 meters (19,340 feet) above sea level, ‘Kili’ is the highest standalone mountain in the world, while also being the loftiest point on the African Continent.
Four days is the absolute minimum time necessary to summit this dormant volcano. However, five-, six- or even seven-day expeditions are highly recommended, as this allows climbers to acclimatise to the high altitude with the tried-and-tested method of ‘climb high and sleep low’ – this sees individuals hike to a point beyond their rest camp, before descending back to the lower altitude for the night.
The fact that only 66 per cent of people who undertake this climb are ultimately successful in their summit attempts is indicative that this enterprise is not for the faint hearted!
2. Hiking from the Ngorongoro Crater to Lake Natron
‘Epic’ would be the word that best describes the three-day adventure that takes hikers through some of the most remote and picturesque areas of northern Tanzania.
Starting in the Ngorongoro Highlands, the trip begins with a day of trekking around and into the Empakai Crater, before moving on through the Maasai Heartland towards Lake Natron. This route ensures that those who undertake the journey see a side of Tanzania that very few tourists ever do! With numerous craters and extinct volcanoes dotting the landscape, this area arguably provides some of the most dramatic scenery anywhere in the Great Rift Valley. Add to this the truly authentic cultural interactions that are commonplace every day, and you have a wonderfully unique experience!
3. Climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai
Translated from Ma’a, Ol Doinyo Lengai means ‘Mountain of God’, which is apt seeing as this steep volcano is still very active! Climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai guarantees thrill seekers their fix along with a serious workout! A summit push for Lengai typically starts at around 1am – this early start means that climbers don’t have to suffer through the heat of the day on what is an exceptionally barren piece of Planet Earth. Furthermore, summiting at sunrise, with a seemingly endless view over the Great Rift Valley, is pretty special!
While a summit attempt will ‘only’ take about 6 hours or so, people looking at the possibility of climbing the volcano should not be seduced by the idea that this is a straightforward hike. Much of the climb is at a 45-degree angle – and the additional factor of loose scree slopes makes Lengai an exceptionally tough proposition.
4. Paying a visit to the Hadzabe
The Hadzabe are the last of the true hunter–gatherers on the African Continent. Up until recently, they very much preferred not to allow visitors into their nomadic communities. However, this has changed over the last decade or so, and it’s now possible to get a fantastic insight into how these people live and survive!
While paying a visit is very much an adventurous off-the-beaten-track activity, it is one that is also highly suitable for families. A typical day with the tribe consists of various activities – from foraging to making straw works by hand, and even going on a traditional hunt should you want to join the men as they set out in search of food.
There were initial concerns that the tribe’s decision to open up their communities to outsiders would not benefit their way of life. In fact, much the opposite has been true, with the Hadzabe proving well able to keep hold of their unique identity while sharing it with those curious enough to pay a visit.
5. Climbing Mount Meru
Mt. Meru is very much the little brother of Kilimanjaro! This ensures that it is not nearly as busy when it comes to the number of climbers you are likely to meet en route.
Climbers start their trek in Arusha National Park, which means that the first few hours of this trip are very much a walking safari, with plenty of plains game being seen as you slowly make your way to the steeper parts of the mountain. Mt. Meru is actually considerably steeper than Kilimanjaro, so a good degree of fitness is essential when making a summit attempt! However, as it stands at just 4,565 meters (14,977 feet) above sea level, the altitude does not pose a problem – ultimately it is an easier climb than Kilimanjaro.
Once climbers have descended, they can also make their way to a lovely waterfall and rock pool to cool down and relax after a very physically strenuous few days!