Why Tanzania is the Ultimate Destination

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“Elephants- Serengeti National Park Safari” by David Berkowitz. Photo via CC Commons.

How Spain will lead me to Tanzania

If you could only visit one more country before you die, what would it be? For me, Tanzania is the ultimate destination. Before I explain, let me back up:

After visiting Spain three years back, something cracked open within me. I’d dreamed of going to Europe, specifically the city of Barcelona, since my high school days. It wasn’t until I was 33 that I would finally see the continent. I was fed up with lusting over destinations, feeling like I’d never realize these dreams.

Instead of pursuing my passions, I was listening to what others said about places. It’s too expensive. Women aren’t respected there. I’ve heard it’s dangerous. Don’t go alone. Here’s a bit of advice that is true in most aspects of life: The naysayers are usually wrong.

One Californian winter, I sat in my childhood bedroom, prolonging wrapping Christmas gifts by looking through old travel photos. I felt that familiar, yet rare, spark that changes your life. At that moment, I promised myself that, no matter what it took- even if I had to sleep on benches and eat bread the entire time- I would explore the following countries:

  1. Iceland
  2. India
  3. Tanzania

Three very distinct countries, continents, cultures. But these places each called me for different reasons. At the time of writing, I have spent five weeks in Iceland and a month in India. Tanzania is the last on the list.

If it weren’t for Spain, for realizing that I can make things happen, I might not have come this far. Nearly twenty countries later, I could still be immersed in nostalgia and wondering what life is like in Western Europe. Fortunately, that is not the case.

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“Market” in Dar es Salaam by Martjn Munneke. Photo via CC Commons.

Africa the Continent

(Don’t get me started on people lumping 54 distinct countries into one generic “country.”)

“I’m going to Africa, mama,” I told my mom over Skype. I sat in my friend’s spare room in Madrid, staring at my laptop screen and waiting for her response. Then came her laughter (nervousness or disbelief?).

“No, you’re not,” she said, a lightness in her voice.

“Yes, I am.”

“Ok, mi’ja… How are you going to get there?”

“By ferry.” More laughter. “I’m headed to Morocco after I visit Tarifa, at the tip of Spain.” Crickets. If I know my mom well- and I do- she was running the world map through her head, or at least Googling the geographic proximity of Europe and Africa on her iPhone.

“Ohhhh, mi’ja…” She understood I wasn’t kidding. Her voice changed from carefree to insanely worried in one nanosecond. “Are you sure you want to go? There’s no one to go with you?”

There was nothing to worry about, I explained to her. I was going alone, but I’d be safe, and I’d only be in Tangier (mainly to see where William S. Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch) and Marrakech for a few days, then back to Spain for TBEX.

I loved the chaos and hustle in Tangier, the taste of whisky (Morrocan mint tea), and the views of the ocean. But I knew that this was just an introduction to the continent of Africa. There was still so much more to see, to learn, to explore. Three years later, after spending over a month in Egypt, I feel much more strongly about this conviction.

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“mt. kilimanjaro” by Yoni Lerner. Photo via CC Commons.

Tanzania: The Ultimate Destination

My curiosity about Africa came about around the time that I became obsessed with Spain. After reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in high school, I delved into his other works, learning about the time he spent in Africa. But I wouldn’t get serious about it until a decade later during my Master’s program- after realizing the extent to which imperialism had devastated both Latin America and its eastern continental neighbor.

While I’ve now been to Morocco and Egypt, I’ve only touched the surface of Northern Africa. Two out of 54 countries means I still know practically nothing. Far too many years have passed that I’ve yearned to discover more southern regions of the continent.

My next trip to Africa will be to Tanzania. While I’d love to see other neighboring countries, such as Uganda, Mozambique, and Madagascar, Tanzania is the ultimate destination. After watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” episode on this country almost four years back, something just clicked. (Fellow vegans, please try to ignore the meat porn.)

Tanzania has been a stable (war-free) country for over 29 years- longer than most in Africa, and the rest of the world. As Bren on the Road details, its rich culture is paralleled with a vast diversity of landscapes- from the relaxed beaches of Zanzibar to the hectic streets of the previous capital, Dar es Salaam.

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“Harvesting” in Paje, Zanzibar South, by imke.sta. Photo via CC Commons.

What to Do in Tanzania?

Doubtlessly, people who have visited or lived in this country could write a book on this subject. For me, while I love to research a country’s history, dynamics, and culture, I also am a spontaneous creature. The best locations and events seem to come up on a whim, while crossing paths with a friendly local or meeting a well-traveled backpacker on her way out of the country.

Admittedly, I have so much research to do before I head to Tanzania. I’m still hoping that I’ll be able to get there this autumn, but with relocating to South America, it will be a bit tricky. Nonetheless, here’s my wishlist (so far) of what to do in Tanzania:

Have you been to Tanzania? What was your experience and what am I missing from my wishlist? Reply in the comments below!

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24 thoughts on “Why Tanzania is the Ultimate Destination

  1. Tara Barnes says:

    How are you doing girl? Tanzania is on my list, too! I’ve had a passion for Africa since I was young. At 13 I went on my first ever solo trip to South Africa (I raised the money myself to go on a volunteer mission). I’ve been dying to get back ever since. I’m hoping to start of in Morocco in late summer or fall and see where to go from there. I saw some other stuff on Tanzania recently, and it’s definitely been added to my (always growing) list of countries in Africa I want to visit. Peace Out & Adventure on, chica!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Hey! I’m doing well; how are you? That’s so awesome that you raised your own money and went at 13 to South Africa. Bad ass! I never even got on a plane until I was like 19. Haha. Are you going to Morocco in the summer or fall of this year? And my god, yes, Tanzania is at the top of my list- but there are SO many other countries in Africa I’d love to see! Happy travels to you, too! Xoxo.

      Like

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Thanks, Danila! Yes, Tanzania is definitely a dream destination. When I hopped on a ferry, that was actually from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Nonetheless, it was a great time! 🙂

      Like

  2. Ghia Lorenzo says:

    Ohh wow, thanks for sharing this post. Cheers to more adventure and happy travels. And yes, I think it is worth to visit Tanzania as I read what Tanzania can offer like enjoying the beach and climb a coconut tree to enjoy a freshly picked coconut or go hiking at Mt.Kilimanjaro. I love the pictures in this post thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Janine Thomas says:

    Isn’t it funny, but when something is on your doorstep it is never quite as appealing. Tanzania is a short flight away for me and I could go to Zanzibar for a weekend, but I have always been drawn further afield. I have visited 10 African countries and as you point out they are all so different. I don’t understand how people just lump the whole of Africa together either.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Wow. What I wouldn’t give to head to Zanzibar for the weekend! It’s so true what you say, Janine. I’m originally from California and still haven’t been to Yosemite and so many other places. I guess we’re always drawn to what’s different. In regard to lumping all of Africa together, I truly think it’s due to ignorance/naivete. Those people are certainly missing out!

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  4. Kavita Favelle says:

    I love Tanzania, and have taken a couple of wonderful safari holidays there, plus several to neighbouring Kenya. Both are so amazing, with such diverse and stunning natural landscapes and populations of wildlife. I’m not a beach person, but am still tempted by a visit to Zanzibar for the colourful culture there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      So glad to hear that, Kavita! Kenya is also super high on my list. My plan is to arrive in Tanzania and from there head to Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and hopefully a few other neighboring countries. What safari companies would you recommend, and what time of year did you go? Yes, from the looks of it, Zanzibar offers a ton aside from the beaches. 🙂

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  5. Aleah says:

    I’ve just published a post on Tanzania! I agree it’s the ultimate destination even for solo travelers. It’s great that you’ve managed to tick off your bucket list one at a time. Iceland is in mine too. Hope you’ll get to go to Tanzania soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Do you have a link to your post, Aleah? I’d love to read it and get more ideas. Yes, I’m quite proud of myself for making shit happen! Haha. Ooooh, you’ll love Iceland. I went in the winter and really want to go back in the summer to see the puffins and take in the midnight sun. I hope we both get to our dream destinations soon! 😀

      Like

  6. travellingslacker says:

    What a magnificent country and magnificent wildlife! Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of my dreams. Dunno if I will ever make it but glad to see these glimpses in this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Yes, the wildlife is one of the biggest reasons why I want to see Tanzania and its neighboring countries. I’m sure you’ll make it to Tanzania and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro if you set your mind to it. Believe me, over the years I’ve visited plenty of places I never before thought possible. Let me know when you get there!

      Like

  7. Ami Bhat says:

    I love your spirit. The never say no attitude.Definitely is taking you places. Tanzania is high on my list too… More so as my mom was born there and I need to relate to her stories. Reading about it here has got to wondering why I am taking so long. Will be taking a leaf out of your book for this

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cristina Luisa says:

      Aw, thank you, Ami. 🙂 Saying “yes” often gets us much further (and farther!) in life. I agree; seeing places where we have roots means so much. I hope you get to Tanzania and are able to relate to your mom’s stories. Sounds like your trip there is much more important than mine. 🙂

      Like

  8. Medha Verma says:

    Tanzania was my first African country and I know exactly why you loved it because so did I! I know what you mean by putting 54 countries in one continent, I mean, I haven’t even touched the surface by going to just one. I couldn’t get to Kili but I went to Zanzibar and it was lovely but I felt like I did not do justice to the country so I plan to go back! Not only to Tanzania, I want to visit Kenya, South Africa, Nairobi (and I so want to do an African safari too!). Thanks for this inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cristina Luisa says:

    That’s awesome, Medha! Normally I hear of people (like me) visiting Morocco first. Glad to hear that you loved it and want to go back. What would you say is the ideal amount of time to spend there? I really want to get to Kenya and South Africa, too (can’t say I know much about Nairobi)! The safari is definitely a dream. Hopefully you can visit again soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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