From Heights To Beaches: An Inspiring Tanzanian Travel Tale

Two elephants standing in long green grass

4.58min read

Published 28 October 2021


Travel is so deep within our fibre as Travel Experts at Flight Centre that the quote “Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” by Ibu Battu is something that we can certainly relate to.

We understand that we have created stories that have lived with us from our experiences, especially travelling ones. If we could write a book with our stories you’d feel what we feel and you would want to experience our experience, too.

Each country that we visit is more than just a tourist site for us, it’s stories to be savoured and relived again and again in our individual hearts and minds. Each destination is different and because we are different in how we experience things, each trip is therefore, different. Even if you are visiting for another time, the story will be different from the first and…

Mount Kilimanjaro with snow on top

that’s what makes travelling incredibly exciting!

Read on to experience what travelling to Tanzania might feel like for you as you go from heights to beaches within this incredible country.

Many months ago, the night was especially dark. You lay in bed, your eyes closed. Yes, everything was pitch. Suddenly, in your mind’s eye, the blinding light of a headlamp sliced the black and illuminated the icy crystal white snow. That vision would not leave you. You had to do it. You had to climb Kilimanjaro.

Every night you would see it. You were there, ascending the 2000 foot vertical Western Breach - One of the hardest and most technical routes. You would see yourself in eerie, dead stillness trekking a few feet behind your porter. Your travel companion was a few feet behind you. You were following a set of footprints.

Your steps were crunching on the refrozen snow in time with those ahead and behind. You knew that you were not alone. Yet in that darkness, you understood the isolation.
Your heart was pounding loudly, your laboured breath pained your lungs and you were so cold that you felt delusional. It was this burning vision that brought you here. It was what got you through the below-freezing night. It had you fighting for air that just wasn’t there.

It was the fire in your soul that brought you to the snows on the Equator of Africa.

The cold sun finally pierces the sky above the summit. As the dawn fills with mist from fast evaporating slippery sleet, you can now see why this particular place is so dangerous.
Jagged rocks left from the extinct volcano have been sharpened by the receding glacier into massive daggers, layered like broken roof tiles, and held in place by the deep freeze of the coldest hours. Soon they would be loose. It was a good thing that you climbed at night because the climb that never seemed to end - abruptly did! After 6 hours you had breached the wall into the Kibo Crater.

Now you found yourself on what seemed like another planet and made your way to the distant glacier.

You knew of its imposing 35 degree solid blazing white cliffs that crashed precipitously onto the inky soft sulfuric sands. Pure white against jet black.
Another juxtaposition.

Your thoughts are profound, and yet you have never felt so wild and free! Last night you were fighting for your life and here you are exhilarated and fully alive! Only an extreme adventurer can understand the intoxication.

Within a day, you will have descended the stark barren moonscape into the dense jungle vegetation at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Within hours you will be sweating as you attend to the frostbite on your toe. That was more than a tough hike.

A cliff over stunning blue water with small boats floating

Now, all that’s on your mind is recovering on the tropical sands of Zanzibar.

Soon you are on hardly-inhabited coconut beaches and swimming in turquoise waters. Here, on the thatched porch you will watch the waves gently lap the shore. Your bare feet are crossed and resting on a chair as you sit casually at an angle to the table. Droplets condense on the glass of your colourful, cold drink.

The rustic resort bar is playing local reggae-style music. The walls are made of woven palm fronds. Fresh seafood is brought to your table by a waiter with a massive smile. A family is splashing in the pool just out of sight.

The intensity of the climb has made way for a very light-hearted, chilled island vibe.

You can easily arrange regular day trips around Stone Town. Visiting the museums and taking in the well-preserved cultural heritage gives one a tremendous perspective of the country as a whole. Starkly contrasting the grand colonial buildings of the past, a walk around the chaotically friendly and busy African markets will ground you in present-day Zanzibar.

You will want to purchase a few bags of coffee, known as some of the best in the world, to remind you of the smells between the narrow stalls.

Perhaps you will head to some outlying islands such as Mafia Island. It is known for its resident population of hundreds of Whale Sharks. These are the largest species of any fish and are known to reach more than 40 feet in length. You would think that creatures of this enormity would scare you or pose a threat, but tourists come specifically to the area for the experience of swimming with these plankton-eating gentle giants. They have grown accustomed to boats and snorkelers and it is a regular occurrence to spend time with many individual Whale Sharks, including juveniles, on one expedition.

There are certainly many marine wonders around Tanzania.

You can navigate mangrove-lined islands and sparsely vegetated rocky outcrops in a small motorised wooden boat. Sandbanks become desert islands at low tide and endless white beaches are the norm. The diverse coral reefs offer a multitude of snorkelling and diving opportunities. Because these areas have very few visitors, the islands are yours to explore and often you will know that your little boat crew are only people for miles.

If you are a water lover looking for another extreme, then Blue Lagoon is a little hidden treasure. A tiny rocky island cradles a freshwater lake like an emerald gem. Millions of stingless jellyfish live in those waters. A swim of a lifetime is your reward for fighting your natural fear instinct and taking the plunge into a pulsating pool of harmless tentacles.
On populated islands, Tuk-tuks with wind-visors crisscrossed with duct tape will get you around. You will fill up at the petrol station - at least, that’s what the sign at the wooden table says - and fuel will be funnelled from a plastic container by a happy teen. Things are very rustic, natural and laid-back.

Tanzania is also a prime safari destination.

There are several large conservation grounds and a multitude of smaller ones, each with very unique landscapes and ecosystems. The Selous Game Reserve is found on a river catchment area where water-based species are plentiful. For a completely different wildlife experience, there are the Baobab-dotted plains of Tarangire National Park. The Serengeti is most likely on your bucket list and definitely one not to miss.

Every encounter with nature will be unique. Nothing can fully prepare you for the thrill of the experience itself as you witness nature playing out its majesty before you. The backdrop of mind-blowing landscapes will have you holding your breath in complete awe. Your story will be your very own to tell as no moment in the African bush is ever the same.

Tanzania is an immensely beautiful and fascinating playground.

Wherever your imagination can take you, it is here that you will find the experience. Some adventures will keep you dreaming for months. Anything is possible. Everything is on offer. From hot soups on an icy rock face to chilled drinks on tropical sands, or desolate extremes to teeming wildlife on open plains. Once-in-a-lifetime moments that can be caught in incredible photo opportunities.

You, too, might find yourself awake at night, as you plan your trip. In the heights and depths, and everything in between, there is a thrill and magic that speaks to one’s soul … and we undoubtedly encourage you to seek it out.

Flight Centre

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