Lifestyle & Travel

Dec 31, 2015

One of Africa's Jewels

Tanzania is one of Africa's hidden jewels. Worldwide renowned wildlife reserves and sanctuaries are huge tourism attractions of this African nation, but there's so much more to do in Tanzania than you might think.

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World Heritage Sites

Among African countries, Tanzania's tally of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites is exceeded only by Ethiopia and South Africa. Five of these - Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro, Selous, Serengeti and Zanzibar Stone Town - are household names, but two lesser-known sites on this prestigious global roll call deserve greater recognition.

Kilwa Kisiwani, an offshore island south of Dar es Salaam, supports the haunting ruins of the most important of the Swahili city-states that flourished as a result of the medieval gold trade between Africa and Arabia - indeed, the 14th century globetrotter Ibn Buttata called Kilwa 'one of the most beautiful and well-constructed towns in the world'.

The Kondoa Rock Art Site, inscribed as recently as 2006, consists of 150-plus painted rock shelters in the vicinity of Kolo in the central Rift Valley. Some of these exquisitely crafted panels are thousands of years old, and several can be visited as an extension to the Northern TZ safari circuit.

National Parks

The Tanganyika National Parks Ordinance CAP [412] of 1959 established the organization now known as Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), and Serengeti became the first National Park. Conservation in Tanzania is governed by the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974, which allows the Government to establish protected areas and outlines how these are to be organized and managed.

National Parks represent the highest level of resource protection that can be provided. By February 2008, TANAPA had grown to 16 national parks, with plans to expand existing parks. Conservation of eco-systems in all areas designated as national parks is the core business of the organization.

Nature-based or wildlife tourism is the main source of income that is ploughed back for management, regulation, and fulfilment of all organizational mandates in the national parks.

The primary role of Tanzania' national parks is conservation. The 16 national parks, many of which form the core of a much larger protected ecosystem, have been set aside to preserve the country's rich natural heritage, and to provide secure breeding grounds where its fauna and flora can thrive, safe from the conflicting interests of a growing human population.

The existing park system protects a number of internationally recognized bastions of biodiversity and World Heritage sites, thereby redressing the balance for those areas of the country affected by deforestation, agriculture and urbanization. The gazetting of Saadani and Kitulo National Parks in 2002 expanded this network to include coastal and montane habitats formerly accorded a lower level of protection.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) is also currently acquiring further land to expand certain parks, and to raise the status of traditional migration corridors connecting protected areas.

By choosing to visit Tanzania you are supporting a developing country's extraordinary investment in the future. In spite of population pressures, Tanzania has dedicated more than 46,348.9 square kilometres to national parks. Including other reserves, conservation areas and marine parks, Tanzania has accorded some form of formal protection to more than one-third of its territory – a far higher proportion than most of the world's wealthier nations.

Lakes and Rivers

The lakes of Tanzania are varied in what they offer to the potential visitors. On soda lakes like Lake Manyara and Lake Natron, wildlife gather on the desolate salt flats and shimmering views reminds of one of a lunar landscape which at sunset descends into shades of various pastels.

Towns and industries take full advantage of the freshwater lakes in the region, the largest of which is Lake Victoria to the northwest of the country. Fishing has long been a mainstay of residents who live around the natural resources, and transport across Tanzania's many African borders is also an economically profitable activity. Because of the easy supply of freshwater irrigation, Tanzanians also farm the areas around freshwater lakes extensively, and both subsistence and cash crops are grown around their shores. Visitors to the freshwater lakes can embark on fishing trips, hikes, swim and enjoy the rich bird and fish life that surrounds the water. In many populated areas, cultural tourism programs are also popular.

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