Coastal Region of Tanzania
The Coastal Region of Tanzania covers 800 kilometers of mainland coast. Much of the white beaches, coconut groves and mangrove swamps have remained untouched by tourists.The Coast has farming and fishing villages along the shoreline with coral reefs and lagoons nearby. This area has an interesting history with some of the remains of Persian and Omani kingdoms and mosques that still stand from as far back as the 12th C. The ruins of Kilwa and the reminders of the slave trade in Bagamoyo are highlights of this part of Tanzania.
Saadani National Park
Saadani National Park is the only national park in East Africa with some Indian Ocean beachfront. It is also the newest national park in Tanzania. The beach area attracts many animals, especially in the early morning.Plenty of wildlife can be found within Saadani National Park including giraffe, buffalo, warthog, common waterbuck, reedbuck, hartebeest, wildebeest, red duiker, greater kudu, eland, sable antelope, yellow baboon and vervet monkey. Herds of 30 or more elephants have been seen along with prides of lions.The Wami River to the south has an extensive variety of bird life, common sightings include fish eagles, hammerkops, kingfishers and the lesser flamingoes. The range of bush, river and sea birds is vast.Saadani National Park has a green turtle breeding beach to the north, and a local lodge has started its own turtle hatchery.Saadani village, once a major port, has a collection of ruins as testament to its 19th C heyday. One of the notable sights are the ruined walls of an Arab built fort that was used as a holding cell for slaves and then a customs house during the German colonial times. Visitors can take part in a cultural program offered in the village to learn about local life and the history of the area.Relaxing on the beach and bird watching are the main activities in Saadani National Park but other ways to pass the time include boat trips along the Wami River or wildlife drives or walks.
Pangani is a small Swahili outpost with a long history as an Arab settlement and a slave-trading center. Pangani history and culture dates back to the 15th C. The town began as a coastal dhow port but then became a station on the caravan route from Lake Tanganyika for exporting slaves and ivory. Pangani became a large, prosperous port, sisal plantations were set up while missionaries and explorers began their journeys to the interior from here. By the end of the 19th C, Tanga and Dar es Salaam became the hot spots while Pangani waned.The oldest building is the Old Boma, built in 1810. Slaves were buried alive in the pillars to ensure strong foundations. Originally built as the home of a wealthy Omani trader, the intricate Arab carved doors and foundation still remain. The Germans gave the building a unique appearance by adding a distinctive European style roof.Tours of Pangani include historical monuments such as the original slave depot, with intact whipping posts and the slave market where Arabs traded slaves to India and Arabia, the Freedom Grounds, Islamic and German graves, ancient mosques, buildings from the German colonial period and traditional houses.
Tanga is Tanzania's second largest seaport and was once the starting point for trade caravans entering the interior of East Africa. Tanga was the site of defeat of British and Indian troops by a German force in 1914. The Germans were aided by millions of angry bees whose hives had been destroyed by gunfire.Major exports from the port of Tanga include sisal, coffee, tea, and cotton. The Germans introduced sisal to the area. Tanzania soon became the world's leading producer, although the market collapsed in the 1970s. The Tanga Ropeworks allows visitors to view rope and twin made from sisal.The Germans also built up the town to assist with the construction of the railway line. Tanga is an important railroad terminus, connecting much of the northern Tanzanian interior with the Indian Ocean.Colonial area architecture is featured throughout the town in buildings such as the Old Court House, the Bombo Hospital, the Tanga Library and the Clocktower.
Amboni Caves are the most extensive limestone caves in East Africa. The caves were formed during the Jurassic Period, over 150 million years ago, and lie mostly underground.There are ten caves systems in total, although only one is used for guided tours. The Amboni Caves are home to thousands of bats and their exit at sunset each evening is a popular event. The caves are also believed to house various spirits and they hold great religious significance for many of the local tribes. A ceremonial cavern is located within the Amboni Caves, filled with offerings like obsidian blades and pottery. Fertility offerings are also made at one of the shrines.
Amani Nature Reserve
The Amani Nature Reserve is located off the regular safari circuit, which makes for quiet settings and a relaxed atmosphere. The Germans established an agricultural research institute in 1898 as well as extensive botanical gardens in 1902. The Amani Institute cleared large areas of the forest and introduced many new species of plants. The Amani Botanical Garden is one of the largest botanical gardens in Africa with over 460 plant species.Guided walks on well-established routes allow visitors to view the diverse plant and animal life. Most of the trails in the Amani Nature Reserve are available for hiking and a few can be used for driving tours.Of the 350 species of birds living in the East Usambara Forest, many are rare and endangered. Three bird species found strictly in the Amani Nature Reserve are the Usambara alethe, Naduk eagle owl and the Usambara weaver.
Kilwa Kivinje, Tanzania
Kilwa Kivinje is an historical slave-trading center that prospered during the 18th and 19th C. Located on the southern caravan route, the town exported thousands of slaves during the 1860's - most were sent to the United States. Kilwa Kivinje flourished as a lucrative port for the ivory and slave trade. The town also grew as residents from Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara arrived.Kilwa Kivinje was the site of the German's southern administrative headquarters in the late 19th C. The old Boma and German market hall are from this colonial period.An old mosque, various houses and a cemetery with tombs and pillars are all worth visiting. The streets of Kilwa Kivinje also give visitors a taste of coastal life with children playing in the streets and women sorting trays of dagga for drying. The dhow port is still bustling with brightly painted boats.
Lindi is a seaside town that was an important port for traders and travelers during the early days. Lindi was best know for trading in ivory, beeswax, mangrove poles and rock salt, which is still mined today The town of Lindi was initially settled by Shirazi migrants. The 19th C was a period of Omani Arab influence although little remains except for a round tower on the beach.The colonial Germans chose Lindi as the administrative headquarters. The Custom House and store for the German East Africa Company were built close to the remains of a fort. Many of the buildings from the colonial period have fallen into partial ruin although the police station is still in use.Lindi was also home to an Asian community, who traded in grain, sisal and cashew nuts, and there are several examples of Asian-inspired architecture.
Tendaguru is a remote geological site located northwest of Lindi. The site is considered one of the greatest palaeontological finds in history dating from the Late Jurassic period. A German mining engineer uncovered fossil remains in 1907 while prospecting in the region. More than a dozen different dinosaur species were discovered including the Brachiosaurus, the largest known dinosaur in the world, between 1909 and 1913.Many bones still remain and fragments can be seen at previous dig sites.The Natural History museums in London and Berlin have complete dinosaur skeletons from Tendaguru.
Kilondoni is the main town on Mafia Island with classic Swahili buildings featuring carved doors and a small market. The relaxed atmosphere of Kilondoni has been maintained to keep the feel of the old Swahili coast. The shoreline is a highlight for visitors as they watch the construction of traditional boats. The boats, weighing as much as 100 tons, are built with timbers prepared by hand and the frames are made from naturally v-shaped branches of trees. These huge jahazis are increasingly rare except on the beach at Kilondoni where three or four of these great giants are still in service.Kilondoni shows evidence of its past connections through the architecture found throughout the town as well as the carved doors, also found throughout the ports on the Indian Ocean.