Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in the Northern Circuit of Tanzania, arguably one of the most productive eco-travel and general tour and safari destinations in Africa. It makes absolute sense when planning a trip to East Africa specifically to climb Mt Kilimanjaro to opt for one of the many local, or indeed regional safari options
Consider a wildlife safari, a beach safari or simply a curry and seafood safari
It is the opinion of both Kilimanjaro climb club experts, Bob Holdsworth & Peter Baxter, that one of the best curry restaurants in East Africa is situated just outside Moshi. Moshi is the small town (getting bigger every day) at the base of Kilimanjaro from where most of the commercial climbs kick off. El Rancho – please don’t ask how an Indian restaurant ended up with the name El Rancho – is a short taxi ride from downtown Moshi and is absolutely the hottest spot for a cool curry, or the coolest spot for a hot curry…either way
Check out the Indo/Italian resturant too…any taxi driver will take you there. This is a more popular spot where you can get a pizza if you want, but more importantly some of the best East African variants of Indian food anywhere in town (who is going to come to East Africa to eat pizza? You might be surprised)
The national parks and wildlife safari option
A short hop out of Moshi, and right on the edge of the Arusha metropolitan zone, is the Arusha National Park. This is a little bit of an entry level safari option, but it does have the advantage of offering a glimpse at all the major bio-zones of the region. It is set against the slopes of Mount Meru and includes a fairly typical African montane forest environment, a short belt of plains-like habitat, woodland and wetland. It also has the advantage of having few predators so getting out and walking is an option
Two of the regions smaller safari destinations are Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks
Lake Manyara has a more orthodox feel with a wide frontage along the lakeshore itself – with an associated mass of waterfowl and season flamingo flocks – but also with all the big stuff including elephant, lion, leopard, giraffe and buffalo.
A little further inland is Tarangire National Park. Another typical African safari destination with good populations of all the main wildlife species that one would expect of an East Africa safari. Look out also for great birding options and an excellent resident population of elephants
Serengeti and Ngorongoro are the crown jewels of Tanzania
These two names resonate with justified distinction across the spectrum of global environment travel destinations. No East African safari would be quite complete without a few days spent here. Ngorongoro Crater forms part of the leading edge of the Great Rift Valley while the ashes of the great eruptions of times past laid down the ash plains that have since come to signify the Serengeti.
Ngorongoro Crater can be seen sometimes as a little canned. It is heavily visited, but at the same time it is well protected and managed, and, as well as extraordinary natural beauty, it is a fertile environment for all the main local species, with largely resident populations that guarantee spectacular sightings.
A Serengeti journey is a bit more of an ‘open plains and thundering hooves’ kind of safari experience. If you are lucky you will see all of the Big Five, and perhaps even sections of the Great Migration. This is largely a phenomenon of massive wildebeest movement, but it also involves other species such as zebra, although on a much smaller scale. Serengeti is a large and varied bio-region and the eco-travel and safari options here are almost limitless.
No need to rough it, Tanzania has some of the best safari lodges and wilderness camps in Africa
From Zanzibar to Lake Victoria, you can expect a camping safari experience in Tanzania with a difference. In recent years competing lodges, camps and luxury hotels have endeavored to outdo one another in standards of service, accommodation and appointment. Prices are not cheap – East African is not a cheap destination across the board – but standards are very high. East African luxury safari lodges and camps come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have in common excellent décor, great cuisine and stellar standards of safari guiding and support personnel.
If safari-in-style is not your style then look elsewhere. Tanzania in particular promotes low impact high yield tourism, and limited effort is put into providing facilities for budget travelers…
However you can rough it on the coast with heaps of luxury, backpacker or camping options
While not exactly a surf safari, the East Africa coast does offer some of the best tropical diving in the world – think Mafia Island – and a plethora of cultural destinations – think Zanzibar – that showcase the unique fusion of Africa, Arabia, India and colonial Europe. The coast is also a seafood aficionados paradise and a home for lazy-dogs who come to Africa to ignore high adventure and lie on the beach soaking up the sun, or those who need recovery time after climbing the big mountain. There is plenty of sun and sand here, and heaps to eat and drink to take the edge off the rigors of enjoying it all.
So when you think Kilimanjaro, think Kilimanjaro safari, because a visit to this unique corner of the world is about so much more than just climbing Mount Kilimanjaro!