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Tanzania - Off the beaten track

Two Maasai gentlemen from northwestern Tanzania

Makonde Plateau

Few travellers visit the southeastern part of Tanzania adjacent to the Mozambique border, but this is where the famous makonde carvings originally came from (they've since been copied by artisans all over East Africa). It's also a beautiful part of the country. Getting there involves a series of bus journeys and overnight stays in the towns en route, but there's no shortage of transport. The first leg is a bus from Mbeya to Njombe, one of the highest and coldest parts of the country. Then it's on to the rowdy town of Songea, and beyond to the remote towns of Tunduru and Masai, on the Makonde Plateau itself. There's also a regular ferry between Dar es Salaam and Mtwara, near the plateau.


Although it gets just as much sunlight, Pemba has long been overshadowed by Zanzibar, its larger and more politically powerful neighbour to the south. The two are only separated by about 50km (31mi) of water, and yet relatively few travellers venture across to Pemba. Those who do will not be disappointed; the land is verdant and hilly, while the water has some of the best diving in the archipelago. Oddly, the island smells good too, with cloves continuing to be the mainstay of the island's economy. And if all that sun and saltwater doesn't do the trick, Pemba has been long renowned for its voodoo and traditional healers.

Selous Game Reserve

At 54,600 sq km (21,294 sq mi), this huge, rarely visited slab of wilderness is said to be the world's largest game reserve. Largely untouched by people, estimates suggest it contains the world's largest concentration of elephant, buffalo, crocodile, hippo and hunting dog, as well as plenty of lion, rhino and antelope and thousands of dazzling bird species. One of the reserve's main features is the huge Rufiji River. In the northern end of the reserve is the lodge area of Stiegler's Gorge, which is spanned by a cable car. The most convenient way to get to Selous is to fly direct from Dar es Salaam. By land, there are no buses and hitching is virtually impossible - but the TAZARA line train goes as far as Fuga, on the edge of the reserve.

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