Geography to Tanzania
Immediately south of the equator, between the Indian Ocean in the east and the lakes of the Central African Rift in the west, lies the United Republic of Tanzania, which, with an area of 945,100 km², is around two and a half times the size of Germany. In addition to the mainland, the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and some smaller islands in the Indian Ocean are also part of the national territory of Tanzania. Tanzania borders in the north-west on Kenya, in the north on Uganda and Lake Victoria, in the east on Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Lake Tanganyika, as well as in the south-west on Zambia and in the far south on Malawi or Lake Malawi and Mozambique. In the east of Tanzania is the Indian Ocean with the two flat coral islands Zanzibar and Pemba, which are located in front of the northern section of the coast.
Inland, individual mountain ranges join the coast with the Usambara Mountains (2460 m) and the Uluguru Mountains (2650 m). The heartland forms the highlands with an average altitude of 1000 to 1500 m above sea level. The Central African Rift delimits the highlands to the west and northwest, and Lake Tanganyika forms the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the north, Tanzania, along with Kenya and Uganda, has a share of Lake Victoria. The border to neighboring Malawi is formed by Lake Malawi, which is also part of the rift system. At 5895 m, the Kibo summit in the Kilimanjaro massif is the highest point in the country.
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Flora and fauna in Tanzania
Tanzania is known for its great variety of animal and plant species as well as for its pronounced variety of different landscape structures. Much of the country is forest area (35%), so-called miombo forests. In the east, on the other hand, there are large areas of rainforest, which accommodate most of Tanzania’s endemic plant and animal species. Most of the country is covered by savannahs and extensive bushland. The large plateaus of the country, which make up the landscape of Tanzania, are covered by savannah. The most prominent plateau is the central plateau, which extends to 1200 m in the north and west of the country. In the north of Tanzania, two of the four highest mountains on the continent, the 4566 m high Mount Meru and the 5895 m high, Year-round snow-covered Mount Kilimanjaro – also known as the “roof of Africa”. Since Tanzania borders many African countries, some of the country’s borders are formed by rivers and lakes. Another very interesting region of the country is the Serengeti, one of the most famous national parks in Africa, in the north-west of the country. This incredibly diverse landscape is also home to a uniquely large number of different animal species. Above all, well-known wild animals such as lions, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, elephants, antelopes and many more can be discovered in the wild all over the country. The Serengeti area in particular is one of Africa’s most complex and least disturbed ecosystems. Far away from human civilization, the largest cohesive population of wild animals lives here. Tanzania is home to around 4 million wild animals and there are countless species of birds and reptiles – including ostriches, herons, flamingos, pelicans and cormorants, birds of prey, crocodiles, snakes and lizards. Tanzania also has a large number of endangered species such as leatherback turtles, blue whales and Columbus monkeys.
National parks and nature conservation in Tanzania
The protection of the country’s flora and fauna is very important in Tanzania. There are 12 national parks and around 14 reserves in Tanzania. There are also some protected marine reserves on the country’s coastal regions. The various protected areas are managed by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAP).
Serengeti National Park:
The most famous and oldest among the African national parks is the Serengeti National Park and is located in the north-west of Tanzania. With an area of around 14,763 km2, it extends over around a third of the actual Serengeti and is home to an incredibly high number of different animals. The park has been part of the world natural heritage since 1981, as well as the 23.051 km2 biosphere reserve. The Serengeti became famous for the “Great Migration”, the seasonal migration of the herds of animals. During the small rainy season in October and November, over a million wildebeest and around 200,000 zebras set off from the hills in the north to the plains in the south, only to retreat north after the big rainy season in April, May and June. The infinitely wide steppes offer the ideal place for a car safari through the wilderness of Africa. The observation of the fauna of this fascinating region is also possible from above, with a baloon safari.
Ruaha National Park:
The Ruaha National Park is located in the heart of Tanzania and is the second largest national park in the country. Because of its special location in the transition zone between the East African acacia savannah and the Miam forest belt of southern Africa, it is home to many different animals. Above all the antelope is strongly represented there, so there are so many different species of antelope in the park as almost nowhere else in Tanzania. The park is particularly well-known for the fact that it is home to the largest elephant population in all of East Africa with around 10,000 animals.
Arusha National Park:
The Arusha National Park is characterized by a very lively, hilly and green landscape and is pretty much the opposite of what visitors associate with Tanzania. Infinitely wide plains and dry savannahs can hardly be found in the park. The Arusha National Park is home to over 600 birds, from forest and mountain birds, to marsh and water birds, to savanna birds. In addition, numerous mammals such as zebras, buffalos, elephants, water and bushbucks, hippos, large families of monkeys and huge herds of giraffes live in the Pak. While lions are never sighted in the park, leopards and hyenas can be spotted at certain times of the day. A specialty of the Arusha National Park are walking safaris or canoe safaris, these are only allowed in a very few national parks. The fifth highest mountain in Africa, Mount Meru is at home in the Arusha National Park and easy hikes on the foothills of the mountain are rewarded with unforgettable views. When the weather is optimal and the cloud cover is dissolving, the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro are visible in the distance.
Tarangire National Park:
The Tarangire National Park is pretty much what Africa imagines the landscape to be. Endless flat savannah landscapes, hilly bushland and the huge wildlife population offer an impression of vastness and wilderness in one. A special feature of the Tarangire National Park is the large elephant population, which, along with the Ruaha National Park, is one of the largest in Tanzania. The Tarangire takes its name from the Tarangire River, which meanders through the entire park from north to south. In most places, the river has dried up in the dry months, but the water continues to flow underground. Herds of up to 300 elephants like to take the opportunity and dig their trunks deep in the sand to get to the water. The water holes attract crowds of zebras, wildebeests, buffalo, Antelopes and many other wildlife. Towards the end of the dry months, many animals move from the surrounding areas to the Tarangire River to ensure their survival, as this is water year-round. The northern part of the Tarangire is known for its baob trees, which are nice to look at and offer great photo opportunities along with the whole landscape. Predators such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas are rarely seen in Tarangire National Park.
Ngorongoro Conversation Area:
The Ngorongoro Crater is a collapse crater that was created by the collapse of a volcano. It is the largest in the world: 20 km long, 600 m deep and free of water. Between 25,000 and 30,000 animals and the live in the crater. The Big Five: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopard, are at home in the crater. The savannah landscape in the crater changes to a green mountain landscape on the edge of the crater. The Ngorongoro Crater offers a different, impressive landscape in every season. In 1979 the Ngorongoro Nature Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The view from the crater rim into the crater is breathtaking.
Lake Manyara National Park:
After a short drive down, it goes through dense forest and a very winding road into Lake Manyara National Park. One of the special features of Lake Manyara National Park is the breathtaking landscapes. Dense green groundwater forest, streams and waterfalls, grass-covered savannah and swamp areas lead to Lake Manyara. With varied vegetation and year-round water, the park provides the basis for a species-rich fauna. Over 400 different species of birds can be seen over the lake and the surrounding grassy landscape offers an ideal home for elephants, zebras, rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes, wildebeests and many other animals. Lions can be spotted time and again on the high treetops in the forest.