7 Must Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Tanzania
Updated: Mar 31
I shared in brief my love for Tanzania in my first post last week. It’s really a beautiful country with amazing attractions and great people as well. Within this blog I will be focusing on some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania that are a must-visit. Firstly… what are they?
Well, simply put, they are landmarks that have been selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for their importance in preserving the interests of humanity. These sites are of cultural, historical and scientific significance.
So just how many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there in Tanzania? Seven; highlighted below.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area
First on my list is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Located west of Arusha, the area is named after the Ngorongoro Crater; a large volcanic caldera. This crater is really the jewel of the area being the world’s only inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. It’s truly a spectacular site. That and the way the nomadic Maasai pastoralists coexist with the wildlife in the area is something you’d want to see for yourself. You will also appreciate the presence of globally threatened species. From the Ngorongoro conservation area you can also see the annual wildebeest migration.
The Serengeti National Park
Speaking of the wildebeest migration, this next UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania is where all that magic happens. The Serengeti National Park lies in the northwestern part of Tanzania. It borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Every year over two million animals including wildebeests, zebras and gazelles move across the Serengeti and Mara ecosystems in search of pasture and water. Believe me, if there’s a safari activity you should participate in, this is it. It’s the World Cup of Wildlife for a reason. I’m glad I’ve been able to witness this Wonder of the World and you should add it to your bucket list too because it’s indescribable.
The Selous Game Reserve
This is another one I highly recommend you visit. The Selous Game Reserve made it to the UNESCO list because of its diversity when it comes to the animal species present. It is a large sanctuary, one of the largest protected areas in the continent in fact, that is fortunately undisturbed by human impact. In it you can see elephants, black rhinoceroses, crocodiles, giraffes and hippos, among many other species in large numbers. This protected area also has a variety of habitats inclusive of the Miombo Woodlands, open grasslands, swamps and riverine forests.
The Kilimanjaro National Park
Mount Kilimanjaro is the largest peak in Africa and it only makes sense that the National Park in the area is part of the selected UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania, where it is located. The Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park includes the whole mountain as well as the natural forest that used to be part of the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve. As much as this heritage site was not exactly inscribed for its biodiversity when it comes to wildlife, the wild animal species are still an important part of the property. You will definitely appreciate watching them.
The Stone Town of Zanzibar
The Stone Town of Zanzibar is also known as Mji Kongwe. It is one of the remaining Swahili coastal trading towns. In terms of urban fabric and townscape, it remains intact with its fine buildings reflecting culture. This culture is a blend of the African, Arab, Indian and European way of life. You will appreciate it especially if you are so much into learning about the history of different people because while it merged all these foreign cultures, it still retained its indigenous elements. As such, it today stands as a unique urban cultural unit.
The Kondoa Rock Art Sites
The Kondoa Rock Art Sites were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of a number of factors. First, the natural rock shelters. It is not clear how many they are exactly but the number is estimated to be between 150 and 450 rock shelters, caves, as well as overhanging cliff faces. Second, the fact that these sites are found right on the steep eastern slopes in a spectacular area with fractured geological formations made the sites deserving of a spot. These formations allowed for the beautiful display of paintings and I highly recommend the area if you are a lover of art. At Kondoa you will find a collection of paintings that is an embodiment of the hunters and gatherers who lived in the area over many millennia.
The Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara
Finally there’s the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara which are remains of two East African ports that were very much admired by European explorers back in the day. They are found in two small islands near the coast. I recommend these areas because when you are at the sites, you get to learn more about the trade between the 13th to the 16th century. This trade involved Kilwa merchants who dealt in gold, silver, perfumes, crockery that’s Arabian in nature, pearls, Chinese porcelain as well as Persian earthenware. It’s worth noting that much of the Indian Ocean trade passed through this heritage site long ago.
There you go guys. If someone asks you how many UNESCO World Heritage Sites there are in the beautiful Tanzania, you know what to say. Fancy visiting any of them? Just send me a message.