Lying just south of the equator, Tanzania, East Africa’s largest country, is an endlessly fascinating place to visit. Filling the brochures are several world-famous attractions: Zanzibar, with its idyllic palm-fringed Indian Ocean beaches, pristine coral reefs and historic Stone Town; the almost six-kilometre-high Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, which can be climbed in a week; and a glorious spread of wildlife sanctuaries that cover one third of the country, and include Ngorongoro Crater, and the dusty Serengeti plains – the classic Africa of elephants, antelopes, lions, leopards and cheetahs. Add to this Tanzania’s rich ethnic diversity, rainforest hikes, and arguably the continent’s best diving and snorkelling, and you have a holiday of a lifetime.
For all these headline grabbers, Tanzania’s richest asset is its people. Welcoming, unassuming and relaxed, they’ll treat you with uncommon warmth and courtesy. Unusually for Africa, Tanzanians have a strong and peaceful sense of dual identity: as proud of their nation as they are of their tribe. Although most ditched their traditional modes of life decades ago, a handful resist, the most famous of which are the Maasai – whose fiercely proud, red-robed spear-carrying warriors are a leitmotif for East Africa. Yet there are almost 130 other tribes, all with rich traditions, histories, customs, beliefs and music – some of which you’ll be able to experience first-hand via Tanzania’s award-winning cultural-tom programmes.