Tanzania is a tourist hotspot, but there still are many secret treasures that are yet to be explored. Unaltered by tourism, these unique places expose you to wonders you could only dream of, a breath of fresh air from the bustling crowds that can be found in the more famous parks.
Hidden away from the crowds of tourist in the sparsely visited southern parts of Tanzania lies the biggest game reserve in Africa, the Selous Game Reserve. It is the definition of ‘hidden gems’, with its beautiful landscape, dotted with plains, forests, mountains and a river twisting between the trees and rocks, stretching as far as the eye can see.
Not only is this reserve one of the few places where you can get a hot air balloon safari, but also offers boat safaris for a close view of the crocodiles and hippos or walking safaris to see the rare puku antelope up close.
It is truly a shame how few visitors this land gets, especially considering the predator concentration and the vast herds of elephants that trail the horizon. The wildlife coming from both east and west, creating a wide mix of animals and birds to watch.
It is difficult to traverse, no doubt about that, but the fruits of the endeavor are sweet and plentiful.
The only national park of Tanzania that reaches its pearly white coastline, where the land, sea and sun meet over soft sandy shores. Radiant coral reefs and ocean breezes come from the Indian Ocean to wash over the vibrant green forests which house incredible creatures like elephants and turtles on the sandy beaches or prides of lions and crocodiles along the Wami River.
Although quite a bit smaller and overshadowed by its neighboring reserve, this national park is definitely worth a visit, especially with the added bonus of there being little to no crowds.
Snugly tucked away in the southern tip of Africa’s second largest lake, Lake Victoria, is the criminally underrated forested Rubondo Island. Despite being on the northern side of Tanzania, Rubondo National Park has few tourists that head on into its lush green trees filled with creatures like chimpanzees swinging around the canopy and sitatungas grazing on the soft grass.
Mafia Island, often overshadowed by the Zanzibar Archipelago, is the perfect holiday getaway. Peaceful waves and clear skies look down to a secret place that has managed to remain majorly untouched by tourism and maintained its cultural and natural environment.
Snorkeling and diving in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean open up your eyes to the marvels of the sea, from regular gentle whale sharks to sea turtles looking to make nests on the sandy shores.
As dazzling as the jewels on a king’s crown, Kitulo Plateau National Park’s rolling fields shine just as brightly and just as colourful, if not more. The botanical spectacles of this land resting high up in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania is unheard of. The vast diversity of plants blooming during the rains from November to April, painting the canvas called Earth in a vibrant array colours, give it a nickname by locals as Bustani ya Mungu – The Garden of God – and from botanists as the Serengeti of Flowers. The lack of big game is made up by the spectacular views and many bird and butterfly species living in the fields or migrating through the colored landscape.
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is number two in the list of African National Parks regarding its large amount of biodiversity. Hike trails lead you through the thicket of beautiful trees, leaves creating an arching overhang and soft grass decorating the rich soil. It contains majestic mountains, dotted with various habitats, stretching skywards and the wonderous Sanje Waterfalls.
A little bit off the beaten road, this national park offers the perfect opportunity to get up close to the wildlife in the vast landscape, which is quite similar to the Serengeti.
Not only does this place stay hidden, safe from the side effects of tourism, but the lions here also tend to try climbing up some of the baobab trees in the savannah! There are so many animals to see such as elephants, impalas, wildebeest, baboons and many more.
Appropriately named after the Mahale Mountain ranges which stand tall and imposing over the land, this underrated national park is the only one in which both chimpanzees and lions live in a shared habitat.
The options hear are plenty, from hiking up to the tips of the mountains or going on a ground level walking safari to chilling on the beaches or snorkelling to find some of the hundreds of endemic fish species.
Also known as “The Green Island” or “Al Jazeera Al Khadra” in Arabic, Pemba is a remote island where the seas are clear of tourists crowding along the reefs and has open spaces to explore underwater and on land to your heart’s content.
With friendly faces and calm breezes, what other option would be better than this humble yet stunning abode?
Explore these underrated safari destinations in Tanzania. Don’t worry if you’re solo, because Tanzania is ideal for solo travelers. Here’s why!