One Week in Northern Tanzania

Beginning in Arusha, visit the two spectacular northern parks of Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Then shop for tanzanite in Arusha, stay at Karatu for a bumpy village bike ride, and bite into sweet red bananas in Mto Wa Mbu Village.

Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never failing to enthrall you. However the crater is just a small part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which offers a whole range of attractions for the adventurous traveler. Superb accommodations—from excellent campsites to luxury lodges—ensure that you can relax at the end of each day in style. Everything about the Ngorongoro experience is designed to make your visit a real authentic and memorable African journey. Set in the nothern Tanzania, sharing part of the Serengeti plains to the northwest and with the towns of Arusha, Moshi and Mount Kilimanjaro to the east, Ngorongoro forms part of the unique Serengeti ecosystem. The terrain embraces several distinct habitats from open grassland to mountain forest, and from scrub bushland to highland heath. The area contains sites of international paleontological and archaeological importance. Around 25,000 animals live in the crater throughout the year.
Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania
The Mto Wa Mbu village, literally translated as the River of Mosquitos, is located along the arid, dusty highway toward Lake Manyara, past the ubiquitous baobab-dotted savannah, herds of grazing cattle patiently watched by Maasai Herdsmen and towards the dramatic backdrop of the lush and fertile Ngorongoro Crater highlands and shimmering Lake Manyara. Its a great place to sample a red banana. In my opinion bananas oughtn’t to be red, so I felt I should try one of these unnatural-looking fruit. I stopped by one of the battered and wonky wooden stalls lining the road, and was initially besieged by women offering me yellow bananas. I pointed to the small bunch of red bananas in a plastic bucket and headed back to my car, intrigued. I can tell you that they taste like banana, with a hint of raspberry and that they are absolutely delicious.
3rd Floor, Blue Plaza, India Street, India St, Arusha, Tanzania
Tanzanite: “1,000 times rarer than diamonds” and unique to Tanzania. There are many shops selling these brilliant blue gemstones in Arusha, but the Tanzanite Experience also offers you the chance to learn bit a more about its history and how it was formed. Buying tanzanite here ensures that you get the best quality and that it has been properly graded and certified. Prices are reasonable too, and there is a dazzling array of stones and jewelry to choose from, ethically sourced directly from their own mine, the world’s largest supplier of tanzanite. It’s an excellent way to spend an hour in Arusha, and spend some cash!
Olduvai Gorge sits in the Great Rift Valley between Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania. Named after the Maasai word for the sisal plant (oldupai) which is prolific in this area, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site owing to the fact that it contains, among a plethora other fossils, hominid remains from 2.5 million years ago. The visitor center and museum is founded upon the camp of Mary Leakey, who excavated the paleoanthropological artifacts during the 1970s, and it was here that she found fossilized human footprints left an incredible 3 million years ago, proving the theory that we may all be African in our earliest origins. This fascinating site is not just for those interested in archaeology or geology, it is a beautiful place to peruse the dramatic, almost lunar landscape, indulge in some exotic bird-watching, and enjoy a spot of lunch.
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