SATURDAY January 22, 2022
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Travellers across the world have voted three national parks in Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit among 25 best sites for outdoor enthusiasts.
The travellers picked Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and Tarangire national parks in their reviews to the Trip Advisor, the world’s largest platform in the industry.
The Travellers’ Annual Choice Award based on the quality of millions of reviews, opinions and ratings collected by Tripadvisor makes Tanzania one of the best tourism destinations worldwide.
“Serengeti is the top destination of outdoor enthusiasts in Africa, and the third in the World for 2022,” the Trip Advisor announces on the online platform.
Mr William Mwakilema, the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Conservation Commissioner, who was appointed barely a fortnight ago, hails the travellers for what he terms as ‘the vote of confidence’ to the destination.
“We’ve been spending sleepless nights in conserving the national parks, thank God our struggles have not been wasted, as consumers are beginning to acknowledge them,” Mr Mwakilema said.
The Assistant Conservation Commissioner In-Charge of Business Portfolio of the conservation agency, Ms Beatrice Kessy, also could not hide her joy at the travellers’ “fair recognition” of the beauty of the East African natural-resource rich country.
With roughly 1.5 million tourists visiting Tanzania a year, tourism fetches the country $2.5 billion, equivalent to about 17.6 per cent of its GDP, making the industry a leading foreign currency recipient.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not spared the industry which creates 600,000 direct jobs and over one million indirect ones.
Nonetheless, the industry has of late been witnessing an influx of tourists following the WHO recommended COVID-19 protocols and national recovery plans in place.
The name Serengeti is coined from a Maasai word siringet meaning endless plains. The park abounds with attractions, chief among them include the great wildebeest migration, the big five, unique bird collections, endangered species and the highest concentration of carnivores and herbivores.
The life time experience in the park is seeing over 1.3 million wildebeests moving in a pattern each year along with zebra, gazelles, elands and impalas as they seek fresh pasture and water.
Their predators, specifically all the big African cats, namely lions, cheetahs, leopards and spotted hyenas, are not left behind in the 1,000-kilometre-long circular trek, which besides the Serengeti National Park’s 1.5-million-hectare savannah also covers the neighbouring Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
Serengeti, the World Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, is also home to the critically endangered black rhino and the African hunting dog, let alone over 530 species of birds, including those migrating from other parts of the world.
The rich plants and insects’ life attract botanists and entomologists during rain seasons when the national park burst in wild flowers and butterflies.
Other tourists prefer engaging in hot air balloons, game driving, filming and photographing safaris, walking safaris, bush meals and cultural tourism to mention but a few.
The park is endowed with a diverse variety of attraction ranging from terrestrial wilderness to permanent glaciers on the mountain peak.
The country’s leading tourist destination, according to Ms Kessy, attracts about 50,000 mountain hikers from across the world each year.
How snow exists a stone’s throw away from equator, one wonders just as it was difficult to believe Johan Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann, the first Europeans to spot the scenic view then.
Kilimanjaro National Park actually is the custodian of the Africa’s highest roof and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain with two dominant volcanoes.
In addition to Kibo situated at 5,895 metres above sea level and Mawenzi at 5,149 metres above sea level, one extinct volcano is situated at 3,962 metres above sea level at Shira.
A wide band of montane forest encircling the foothills between 1,800 and 2,800 metres above sea level are home to jumbos, leopards and buffalos.
As a tourist scales the mountain in between six and seven days, he sees moorlands followed by an alpine desert before he is greeted by the ice and snow at Uhuru Peak.
UNESCO declared the 1,712-square-kilometre park a World Heritage Site in 1987 and a Natural Wonder of Africa in 2013.
Dubbed ‘The Paradise of Elephants’ and named after the river that crosses and takes up its 2,850 square kilometres, Tarangire National Park has something to offer everyone.
Large groups of elephants drilling the Tarangire riverbed during dry seasons, savanna landscape, termite mounds, baobabs and over 550 bird species, including endemic ones, are among attractions that pull visitors at the park.
A tourist aboard a four-wheel drive also easily spots elands, giraffes, lions, buffalos, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, waterbucks, black-faced vervet monkeys, common dwarf mongoose and pythons.
Swamps scattered around the park have never failed a bird watcher, as they accommodate hundreds of species as well as their breeding spotsΩ