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ARUSHA :: NGORONGORO CRATER :: SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK :: TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK :: ZANZIBAR (STONE TOWN) :: ZANZIBAR BEACH
Situated in the shadows of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley, Arusha is the safari capital of Tanzania and one of the country's most prosperous international towns. Its wonderful central location makes it a starting point and hub for visitors preparing to explore the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire and Arusha National Parks, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Despite its proximity to the equator, Arusha's elevation of 4,593 feet keeps temperatures and humidity relatively low.
Situated within Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area and with high concentrations of wildlife, Ngorongoro Crater is one of East Africa's most visited destinations. At more than 12 miles wide and 2,000 feet deep, it's technically a caldera—the largest in the world. Sunrise and sunset are incredible here, as is the game viewing, with large populations of lion, elephant, hippo, buffalo, flamingo, and black rhino. Local Maasai, who have grazing rights, may also stroll into view as they tend their cattle.
Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park, Serengeti is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous for its massive annual migration of zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest. Year-round, the park is home to Africa's most fascinating animals: small groups of giraffe, solitary cheetah, thousands of eland, topi, and impala, and the "Big 5"-lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino. All three African jackal species also live here, along with spotted hyena, aardwolf, the elusive serval cat, and over 500 species of birds.
With the Tarangire River flowing through it as a permanent water source, Tanzania's Tarangire National Park offers great game viewing year round. Among the iconic baobab and acacia tree sentries that dot the vast savannah are huge numbers of elephants as well as oryx, giraffe, zebra, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wildebeest, warthog, buffalo, python, African wild dog, baboon, and bat-eared fox. Over 500 species of birds can be seen here, too, including the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world's largest bird; and the colorful yellow-collared lovebird.
Due to its strategic location along the East African coast, Stone Town was once a principal trading town and has African, Indian, European, and Arabic influences. It was also one of the main slave-trading ports. The prosperity created from its importance in the sea trade led to the construction of grand houses and mosques, which have remained virtually unchanged over the past 200 years. Wandering through its labyrinths of narrow alleys in search of these old buildings is part of the fun. Look especially for the carved, wooden doors, which once reflected the wealth of the buildings' owners. Be sure to check out the bustling Darajani Market, a traditional food market where you can buy spices.
Nestled between fishing villages, the beaches of Zanzibar are known as some of the best in the world. Lined with coconut palms and the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, these white-sand beaches are a great place to relax in the sun and take a break from sightseeing. Due to the warm waters, abundant marine life, and generally good visibility, scuba diving is a popular activity. Another enjoyable activity is cruising around the islands in a dhow, a traditional wooden sailing boat.
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