Tanzania normally evokes images of Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. This is of course to be expected as these are outrageously amazing places to visit, but what of the the country where they are situated and the history that has formed the frenetic culture that awaits.
The Olduvai Gorge was where prehistoric remains have been found, dating back several million years. It should not be surprising that it was some time later that indictions of contact with other continents emerged. Trading with seems to have begun with Arabia and India, although the 15th century Portugeuse arrival rather shook relations with former. French slavers took over the weakened Portugeuse mantle in the 18th Century and contact with the interior remained mainly through African caravans until the 19th century. Arab traders were braver, with some settling near Lake Taganjika and although land was not annexed, some local chiefs were defeated when hostile. Missionaries arrived in the 19th century as did geographic explorers and the famous Livingstone who was attempting to put an end to the horrors of the slave trade. The end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries saw colonial invasion that was not to end until Tanzania gained independence in 1964. In addition to strong local cultures, there have been Arabian, Indian, German and British influences in the region. These are far from vestigal as can seen in the layout of Stone Town on Zanzibar or even the shape of the country itself.
As mentioned above, Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest free standing peak looms over the north of the country. Easily accessible from Moshi or Arusha, those with funds to pay the park fees can have an amazing time moving from tropical to near arctic like weather. Immense concentrations of large animals roam the Serengeti National Park while the Ngorongoro crater allows quick viewing of the big five checklist on a single day safari. Over the water from Dar es Salaam is the island of Zanzibar where diving and swimming with the dolphins are especially popular. Although losing its status as country capital to Dodoma, Dar with its bustle and dangers after dark could make a particularly exciting trip if the gardens and market are too sedate.
If all this has failed to capture your imagination, think for a moment of the experience of gazing out over expansive tracts of land that have not been ruined by the encroachment of destructive people. The bumpy, muddy roads will remind you that it is nature that is still very much in charge here, not people. This alone is reason enough to learn more about Tanzania.