Central Tanzania also covers the western frontier land and is a remote expanse. The central route from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma in the west has various landscapes and is sparsely populated.The Central Railway line follows the old caravan and slave routes from the coastal region to Lake Tanganyika.This region of Tanzania is the home of Jane Goodall's chimpanzee research station. The considerable chimpanzee population makes it the ideal setting for watching fascinating creatures. The few national parks offer the opportunity to experience the wild, untouched land.
Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe Stream National Park was created to protect the thousands of chimpanzees. Gombe Stream is the smallest national park in Tanzania and is famous for the work of Jane Goodall. Guided walks take visitors into the forest to observe the many members of the monkey family. Many species of primates and mammals live in Gombe Stream National Park. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the tropical forest. Some of the bird life found in the park includes barbets, starlings, sunbirds, crowned eagle, kingfishers and the palm-nut vulture.Hiking and swimming are other popular activities; a trail leads in to the forest to a waterfall in the valley.Jan Goodall, a British researcher, arrived in 1960 to study the wild chimpanzees. The behavioral research program is the longest running study of its kind in the world. Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, is still seen regularly by visitors.
Kigoma is a small town in a tropical setting overlooking Lake Tanganyika. Kigoma is the main port on Lake Tanganyika and the main railway stop in the west of Tanzania for the Central Railway line.In 1915, Kigoma became the main trading base in the region and it was to have been the hub of a large trading empire. Kigoma was very important to the Germans and signs of this can be found in the stately railway station, Kaiser House (the seat of government), and other German government buildings and houses.One of the highlights of a visit to Kigoma is the steamer Liemba, considered the oldest operational passenger vessel in the world. Originally built in Germany in 1913, the Liemba was shipped to Kigoma and reassembled. The Liemba has steamed the lake from end to end for about 85 years and in 1993 she was refitted with diesel.
Arab slave traders founded Tabora in 1852 but was captured in 1891, when the Germans realized how prosperous the town was, and it became an administrative center of German East Africa. From 1852 to 1891, Tabora was the Arab's slaving capital of East Africa - over 500,000 caravans passed through the town annually. Ivory and humans were bartered for guns, beads and cloth.The town of Tabora grew even larger with the construction of the Central Railway line and many European explorers including Burtone, Speke and Livingstone used the town as a base for their journeys.The main attraction in Tabora is the Kwihara Museum, an Arabic-style house where Dr Livingstone stayed in 1872. The museum is dedicated to Livingstone and contains his memorabilia including letters, maps, pictures and a diary. Information about other early missionaries and explorers is also displayed.
Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is located in a remote location offering unspoiled wilderness. A predominant feature in Katavi is the enormous floodplain, the plains are split by the Katuma River and several seasonal lakes. The lakes support enormous groups of hippos, crocodiles and over 400 species of birds. One of the spectacles in Katavi is the hippos at the end of the dry season when as many as 200 try to squeeze into a pool of water. The male rivalry heats up causing territorial fights.The dry season brings Katavi National Park to life, herds of impala, reedbuck, lions, zebras and giraffes can be seen at the remaining pools and streams. An estimated 4,000 elephants and several herds of buffaloes in the thousands also converge on the park when the floodwaters retreat.
Ujiji is one of Africa's oldest market towns, it was a slave trade town settled by the Arabs. Ujiji is famous for being the location of the meeting between Henry Morton Stanley and Dr David Livingstone. The two men met on November 10th, 1871 and a plaque commemorating their meeting is set in a walled compound marking the spot.Ujiji was a prominent settlement until the railway was built in Kigoma and still boasts a thriving dhow-building industry. The boats are constructed the same as they were generations ago without the use of power tools.The residents are mainly Muslim and the houses are typical Swahili coastal style. The post office is a solid structure from the German period.The local Livingstone Museum contains pictures by local artists of the Livingstone-Stanley meeting as well as drawings and books.
Dodoma is the official national capital of Tanzania and the seat of government in the country. Dodoma was a small settlement until the arrival of the Central Line railway and the Germans, who used the town as a trading and commercial center.Much smaller and less developed than Dar es Salaam, Dodoma offers an area of rich agriculture and pleasant scenery. The cattle market each Saturday is an important event for many local residents and an interesting sight for tourists.Lion Rock overlooks Dodoma and makes for a pleasant hike from the town to the top of the rock.A variety of religious architecture can be found in the Anglican Church, Lutheran Cathedral, Ismaili Mosque and Catholic Cathedral.
Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings
Between Dodoma and Arusha on the Great North Road are the Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings. These rock paintings are considered some of the finest examples in the world and serve as a reminder of ancient man in Tanzania.The ancient art depicts the animals and customs of the people at the time. The most important group of paintings are about 30,000 years old, from the pre-agriculturalist period. Red pigment was used to create streaky and silhouette drawings.The Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings feature a variety of patterns, human and animal figures such as elephants, giraffe and eland as well as hunting scenes. The paintings are easily accessible and vary in size, style and quality.Mary Leakey documented over 100 sites in the 1950s and published a book that illustrated the art of Kondoa-Irangi.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale Mountains National Park is half way up Lake Tanganyika and set in the Mahale Mountains. Mahale is another chimpanzee sanctuary established in 1985 because of the population of 800 chimpanzees. A Japanese-sponsored primate research program has been running since 1965. Other wildlife often spotted in the park includes roan antelopes, buffaloes, zebras and some lions. Birds often found within the park are fish eagles, kestrels, kingfishers, barbets and starlings.Mahale Mountains National Park provides stunning scenery at the lakeshore with white sand beaches and clear water. The Mahale Mountains range is home to Nkungwe, the largest mountain in the park, which also held sacred by the local Tongwe people.
Located at the foot of the Uluguru Mountains, Morogoro is a center for farming and missionary work. The Uluguru Mountains are noted for the ancient forests, estimated to be 25 million years old. The Mountains with impressive summits provide a dominant backdrop to Morogoro. Three birds found only in the Uluguru Mountains are the Loveridge sunbird, the black cap shrike and Mrs Moreau's warbler.The local market in Morogoro provides a colorful atmosphere that offers abundant fruits and vegetables, before they are transported to Dar es Salaam, and textiles at reasonable prices.Morogoro is an excellent base for tourists heading to Mikumi National Park or Selous Game Reserve.