Tanzania

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Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south.

Population: 48,261,942 people
Area: 947,300 km2
Highest point: 5,895 m
Coastline: 1,424 km
Life expectancy: 60.76 years
GDP per capita: $1,600
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About Tanzania

History

This is probably one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found dating back over two million years. More recently, Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably Cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived, and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century.

Travellers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and Western India have visited the East African coast since early in the first millennium CE. Islam was practised on the Swahili coast as early as the eighth or ninth century CE.

In the late 19th century, Imperial Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania (minus Zanzibar), Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into German East Africa. The post-World War I accords and the League of Nations charter designated the area a British Mandate, except for a small area in the northwest, which was ceded to Belgium and later became Rwanda and Burundi). British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful (compared with neighbouring Kenya, for instance) transition to independence. In 1954, Julius Nyerere transformed an organization into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Nyerere became Minister of British-administered Tanganyika in 1960 and continued as Prime Minister when Tanganyika became officially independent in 1961. After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighboring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the island merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania on 26 April 1964.

From the late 1970s, Tanzania's economy took a turn for the worse. Tanzania also aligned with China, seeking Chinese aid. The Chinese were quick to comply, but with the condition that all projects be completed by imported Chinese labor. From the mid 1980s, the regime financed itself by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and underwent some reforms. From the mid 1980s Tanzania's GDP per capita has grown and poverty has been reduced.

Climate

Tanzania's weather varies from humid and hot in low lying areas, such as Dar es Salaam, to hot during the day and cool at night in Arusha. There are no discernible seasons, such as winter and summer -- only the dry and wet seasons. Tanzania has two rainy seasons: The short rains from late-October to late-December, a.k.a. the Mango Rains, and the long rains from March to May.

Many popular resorts and tourist attractions on Zanzibar and Mafia Island Marine Park close during the long rains season, and many trails in the national parks are impassable during this period. For that reason, in most cases tours are restricted to the main roads in the parks. Travelers should plan their trip accordingly.

During the dry season, temperatures can easily soar to above 35°C in Dar. You should seek shelter from the sun during the midday heat and use copious amounts of sunblock, SPF 30+.

Best times to visit are:

  • June to August: This is the tail-end of the long rainy season and the weather is at its best at this time of year -- bearable during the day and cool in the evening. However, this is not necessarily the best time of year for safaris, as water is plentiful in the parks and animals are not forced to congregate in a few locations to rehydrate, as they do in the middle of the dry season right after Christmas.
  • January to February: This is the best time to visit the Serengeti. It is usually at this time that huge herds of Wildebeest, Zebra and Buffalo migrate to better grazing areas. At this period you could observe some of the 1.5 million Wildebeest that inhabit the Serengeti undertake their epic journey. Be advised this is most likely the hottest time of year in Tanzania, when even the locals complain about the heat. You've been warned!

Geography

A large central plateau makes up most of the mainland, at between 900 m and 1800 m. The mountain ranges of the Eastern Arc and the Southern and Northern Highlands cut across the country to form part of the Great Rift Valley.

A land of geographical extremes, Tanzania houses the highest peak (Mount Kilimanjaro), the lowest point (the lake bed of Lake Tanganyika), and a portion of the largest lake (Lake Victoria, shared with Uganda and Kenya) on the African continent.

Activities

  • There are loads of National Parks for those wanting to watch Tanzania's wildlife. You can gain entry for around $100 US and benefit from a tour (and perhaps a night's accommodation). The better parks, though packed with tourists, are found in the north of the country. Ruaha National Park is the best in the south (locals actually say this is the best park, especially if you want to see wild animals as opposed to semi-tame ones in the northern parks). Don't just be sucked into the tourist circuit in the north; the south offers great parks and towns (base yourself out of Iringa), and you will feel less of a tourist and more of a guest if you travel this way.
  • Scuba diving in and around Pemba and Zanzibar is another good experience.
  • You can also visit numerous historical Slave Trade sites located in Bagamoyo, which could make for an interesting, if a little depressing, excursion.
  • Beaches: Did you know that Tanzania has some of the best, most unspoiled beaches in the world? They are stunning, with their white sand, palm trees, and cool Indian Ocean water!
  • Kayak the beautiful coastal waters with a tour operator.
  • Tanzania has two of the best Stone Age sites in the world: Isimila Gorge (near Iringa) and the earliest known examples of human art among the rock paintings, near Kolo, north of Dodoma -- some of which are reckoned to be around 30,000 years old.
  • Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania's main attractions. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. Many visitors come to Tanzania to summit this great mountain. The main peak is estimated to be 5895m high making it a real challenge for mountaineers.
  • Kilimanjaro Travel (Camping Safaris), Boma Road, Rindi Lane,  +255784559111. Camping safaris in Tanzania is most loved safari tours in Tanzania. Camping safaris is on several travel categories like luxury mobile camps, luxury tented camps. There is also most affordable and comfortable basic camping safaris. Basic camping safaris is also known as budget camping safaris.

Camping safaris is widely used for wildlife safaris and vacation holidays. Camping safaris can be planned for photographic safaris, ecotourism, budget Tanzania safaris, bird watching, walking safaris and responsible travel.


Food

  • Produce is often of very high quality. Meat and milk can prove difficult for western taste and diets, so be sure that all meat is cooked through. At hotels, you won't have any trouble, but if you venture into small villages, make sure that all water is filtered or boiled before drinking and all fruits and vegetables are peeled before eating.
  • Local dishes include Mtori - cooked beef and bananas - and Mchicha, a vegetable stew with meat or fish in it.
  • If there is anything that can be called Tanzania's national dish, then Ugali would most likely win out. A polenta-style dish made with corn flour, it accompanies cooked meat and a variety of stews, and it's eaten with your hands. Recipes vary from village to village, and everyone has their own way of making it. Many foreigners find it bland and unappealing, but it's worth a try, and some upscale establishments serve it.
  • Chai Maziwa (chai with milk) is a local favorite and well worth trying if you can handle the large amounts of sugar added to this drink.
  • Street food is also cheap and plentiful. Barbecued maize on the cob is very nice, as are the chipped potatoes (fries), cooked over a roaring fire.
  • Mandazi is a sweet doughnut-styled food that is mostly made fresh each morning. Great with coffee in the morning, it makes an ideal snack.
  • Tanzania's large South Asian community ensures that a great variety of restaurants offer cuisine from all parts of that region of the globe. All eateries near Hindu temples (particularly in Dar) are a good bet. Just watch where the local Indians go to eat, and you won't be disappointed. Most of the food is cooked in large amounts of Ghee, clarified butter, which can be hard for some people to digest.
  • Chips Mayai (chips cooked in an omelet) are served at nearly every African food stand in Tanzania and are considered a Tanzanian specialty. They're quite good with pili pili (hot sauce).
  • Northern Tanzania has a number of great coffee plantations. Although coffee does not have the same popularity in Tanzania as it has in Ethiopia, with a bit of searching you can find a decent cup of java, instead of the instant "Africa" coffee that is served in most restaurants. All large hotels in Dar make good coffee. If you want to brew your own cup, Msumbi Coffee Shop, +255 22 260 0380, Sea Cliff Village, sells Tanzanian coffee beans ground or whole, roasted on the premises.

Drinks

  • Bottled water is cheap and widely available throughout the country. You shouldn't drink the tap water unless you have no other option, and it must either be filtered with a high quality filter and purifier or brought to a boil before consumption. Recent tests on tap water have found it contaminated with e-coli bacteria.
  • Konyagi is a wonderful gin-like beverage, sold only in Tanzania.
  • Domestic beers are Kilimanjaro, Serengeti and Safari, which are western-style and very good. Imports include Tusker, Stella Artois, and Castle.
  • Locally produced banana-beer is also available at times, but questionably safe to drink. Traditionally, you will drink this out of a hollowed gourd. First drink the guests, who then pass it to the elders. In some parts of Tanzania, fermented bamboo juice (Pombe) is the common tipple.
  • Passion fruit, mango, and orange juices are available in many restaurants, and excellent when the fruits are in season.
  • Soft drinks are widely available; Stoney Tangawizi (ginger ale - tangawizi means 'ginger', in Swahili) is one of the most popular.
  • Other popular beverages are Orange Fanta, Bitter Lemon, Soda Water, Tonic Water, and Lassi (a sweet or salty yogurt drink).

Shopping

Currency

Money

The currency of Tanzania is known as the Tanzanian Shilling (TSH, /=). There are 5 notes and 6 coins:

  • Notes - 10000 (Red); 5000 (Violet); 2000 (Brown); 1000 (Blue), and 500 (Green) denominations.
  • Coins - 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 denominations.

Notes and coins vary in size and color. In descending size order, 10000 is the largest note, and 500 is the smallest.

In April 2011, one US dollar was worth about 1504 Tsh. [18] Note that Tanzanian currency exchangers usually have a different exchange rate for different US$ denominations, larger and newer bills having a better exchange rate than older and smaller bills. The difference in exchange rate between $1/$5 bills and $50/$100 bills may exceed ten percent. Older US $100 notes are no longer accepted in Tanzania, and any note older than 2003 will most likely be refused everywhere. Also, it's best to avoid attempting to exchange notes with pen marks or any writing on them. Finally, be advised that if you withdraw a large amount of money, in the range of $400 US, you'll have to carry over 40 notes around!

The 10000 and 5000 notes can be difficult to break when shopping in small shops, a.k.a. dukas. In Tanzania, it's usually the customer's responsibility to provide exact change. But if they do agree to provide change, you could be left with several 1000 and 500 notes of very poor quality. However, you won't have such problems in the large hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners.

In general, stores, restaurants, and hotels in Tanzania expect payment in Tsh. Exceptions include payment for travel visas, entry fees to national parks (which must be paid in US dollars by non-residents), and payments for safaris and Kilimanjaro treks, which are generally priced in US dollars (though payment will be also accepted in other currencies). On Zanzibar, prices are generally in US dollars (including the ferry fare from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar), and non-residents are required to pay for hotels with foreign currency (although the hotel will change Tsh for you).

Most hotels will exchange US dollars, Euros and British Pounds for Tanzanian Shillings. Other currencies, such as Canadian or Australian dollars, may be accepted but at rates far below the going rate. ATMs are mostly located in the city center and on the Msasani Peninsula. For those wishing to withdraw money from bank accounts back home, in general, Barclay's, Standard Charter, "'Exim"', CRDB and NBC ATMs work with PLUS and Cirrus compatible cards. Additionally, if you have a PIN code for your credit card, almost all Tanzanian banks with ATMs will allow cash advances on credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. If the ATM reports your home balance in TSh, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you're a "shillionaire".

Traveler's Checks have become virtually impossible to cash in almost all banks in Tanzania. For some odd reason, banks will only accept those TCs they have issued. Only hotels will accept checks from their guests, but at a far lesser rate than hard currency -- usually at the same rate they give for US$1/$5 notes. Since ATMs are much more prevalent, using credit cards and withdrawals from your personal accounts is much easier and less time consuming.

Credit Cards can only be used in large hotels, resorts, and with certain travel agents. In short, Tanzania is still a cash society.

Shopping

There are many markets in tourist cities that sell standard "African" goods. Beaded jewelry, carved soapstone, and Masai blankets make interesting gifts. Be aware that most "ebony" wood is fake (shoe polish) - the exception being in the far south-east of the country, where the Makonde tribe of Tanzania and Northern Mozambique create masks and other carvings from ebony and mpingo wood. Be prepared to bargain for everything. Masks are not typical of most East African groups, and the ones you find in the markets are either imported from West Africa or are strange things made just for tourists, with the exception of the Makonde masks.

Tinga Tinga paintings, named after the painter who originated that style, are for sale everywhere. Their distinctive style and colors make for attractive souvenirs. A standard size painting can be had for TS 5,000 - 10,000. There is a Tinga Tinga school in Dar es Salaam, where you can purchase paintings from the artists themselves.

Air freight

If you happen to buy too many goodies during your travels, it is possible to send them home air freight. Many airlines will allow you to check additional parcels when you fly, for a fee, which probably makes the most sense if you're going straight home. But if you're continuing on, air freight might be the way to go. Note that many listed rates do not include 20% VAT, or a "fuel surcharge", 13.5% as of December 2008.

  • DHL. Offers quite pricey service (e.g. about $300 for a 10kg package to the US) but is conveniently located in Dar city center, as well as in a bunch of other cities (see web site). Will deliver direct to the recipient in most countries.
  • KLM (go to the old terminal at DAR airport). Offers slightly more reasonable rates than DHL (e.g. about $100 for a 10kg package to the US) but requires a trip to the airport and about 1 hour of paperwork & waiting. You must pay cash, in US dollars, plus some fees in shillings. Customs will want to go through the package, so bring something to (re)seal it. You can first go to the KLM freight office (look for the sign), then to the cargo building further down the same road, or call ahead and be met at cargo. If you just arrive at cargo you will be swarmed by freight forwarders - to find the KLM staff, look for the KLM logo (e.g. on a lanyard) or call ahead to Sameer (+255.714.474.617) who is quite helpful. Note that, despite what you might be told, someone will need to go to the destination airport to pick up the package - it will not be delivered to an address by KLM. Storage charges will accrue if it's left for very long.
  • EMS. EMS is a branch of the Tanzanian postal service, and is the cheapest way to send packages. It's available at most larger town post offices. But shipping time can be quite long, and delivery is not always reliable. Also there are size/weight restrictions. Packages will be transferred to the local postal service at destination, which usually provides direct delivery.
  • FEDEX. FEDEX currently have offices in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, and like DHL, they are also pricey.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Tanzania on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Tanzania

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Dar es Salaam was founded in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar on the site of the village of Mzizima. Mzizima's history dates back to the time when the Barawa people started to settle and cultivate the area around Mbwa Maji, Magogoni, Mjimwema, Gezaulole and Kibonde Maji Mbagara. Present day Dar es ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Azania Front Lutheran Church
  • Askari Monument
  • Atiman House
  • St Joseph\'s Cathedral
  • Kivukoni Fish Market
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Arusha is a city of approximately 400,000 people in Northeast Tanzania, East Africa. It is regarded as the gateway to the popular Northern Safari Circuit.

Interesting places:

  • Arusha National Park
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Zanzibar is semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, consisting of Zanzibar Island (locally, Unguja), Pemba Island, and many smaller islands. Zanzibar island is approximately 90km long and 30km wide. In 1896, Zanzibar was the location of the world's shortest war — they surrendered to the British ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • House of Wonders
  • Old Fort
  • Anglican Cathedral
  • Slave Market
  • Forodhani Gardens
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Nungwi is a charming litte village at the northern tip of Zanzibar.

Interesting places:

  • Nungwi Beach
  • Mnarani Natural Aquarium
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Interesting places:

  • Mapenzi Beach
  • Kiwengwa Beach
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Interesting places:

  • Jambiani Beach
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Matemwe is a village on the East Coast of Zanzibar.

Interesting places:

  • Mnemba Island
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Paje is a village in Zanzibar in Tanzania. It is on the east coast of Zanzibar (or actually Unguga) island.

Interesting places:

  • Paje Beach
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The Selous Game Reserve is Tanzania. With 54,600 km² it is the biggest game reserve in Africa.

Interesting places:

  • Selous Game Reserve
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Serengeti National Park is a large conservation area located in the north of Tanzania. The park flows over into neighboring Kenya where it's known as the Masai Mara.

Interesting places:

  • Serengeti National Park
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Karatu is a city in Northeast Tanzania, East Africa.

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Interesting places:

  • Kizimkazi Beach
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Tarangire National Park is in Tanzania.

Interesting places:

  • Tarangire National Park
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Mwanza is a city in Northwest Tanzania on the southern edge of Lake Victoria. Your main reason for coming here would likely be en route to Rwanda or Uganda. The city also received some international attention after the controversial documentary Darwin's Nightmare, which is about the trade in the Nile Perch, ... (read more)

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Kendwa is a village in Zanzibar.

Interesting places:

  • Kendwa Beach
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Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a park in the Northwest Tanzania. It contains an old volcano that has collapsed and formed a crater (caldera). The steep sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wildlife.

Interesting places:

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania must be one of the Indian Ocean's best hidden gems. With white sandy beaches, dazzling aquamarine waters and refreshingly few tourists, Mafia is often described as Zanzibar 30 years ago. A laid-back eco-alternative with no tarmac roads, few hotels, no shops, no ATMs ... (read more)

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Located in Central Tanzania, Dodoma is the official political capital of Tanzania.

Interesting places:

  • Dodoma Cathedral
  • Simba Hill
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Morogoro is a city in the Central Tanzania region of Tanzania.

Interesting places:

  • Mahale Mountains National Park
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Stone Town is the main city on Zanzibar. It is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European ... (read more)

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Lake Manyara National Park is in Northeast Tanzania of Tanzania.

Interesting places:

  • Lake Manyara National Park
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Interesting places:

  • Maji Matak Atifu Viewpoint
  • Rubondo Island National Park
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Kigoma is a city in Tanzania. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Capital of the Western Region. Main railway terminus on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Important harbour. Population of 130,142 (2002). The city has little infrastructure. Its roads are still mostly unpaved, electricity and ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Gombe Stream National Park
panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Tanzania

Tanzania is a country with great national parks, where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna. Tanzania is home to several national parks and game reserves. Safaris in Tanzania can be put into two categories, the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire) and the Southern Circuit (Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha). This is certainly an oversimplification and does not include other interesting but harder to reach parks such as Katavi and Gombe, just to name two. For tourist, the two first groupings are more accessible as several tour companies offer a variety a packages for these.

Price

The cost of a safari can range from the basics (fly-tents, self-catering and guides with vehicles) to smaller parks like Manyara and Tarangire, to luxury lodges and tented camps in the Serengeti which can cost anywhere from US$250 to US$1,500 per person per night. You can use your own vehicle, provided it's a 4x4 with adequate clearance. There is a benefit to hiring a guide and a vehicle as safari vehicles are equipped with open rooftops which provide a much better vantage point for animal viewing. Also, many park will require that you hire a certified guide before you enter the park, even if you're using your own vehicle. Guides can cost around US$35 a day plus tip. Guides are good to have since they know the park and can help you locate some of the more sought after animals such as lions, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs and hyenas.

Park fees for Manyara and Tarangire are as of July 2008 US$35 per person and US$10,- for vehicle/driver fees. For Ngorongoro there is a US$200 vehicle fee as well, a $50 per person park fee as well as a $10,- vehicle/driver fee. For the Serengeti it's US$100 per person with and a $10,- vehicle/driver fee. These fees are valid for 24 hours. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can return in the morning the next day and not pay again.

Some of the more popular safari companies are Warrior Trails, Ranger tours & Leopard tours. Other popular companies rated by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators include Ajabu Adventures, Bush2Beach Safaris, Bushmen Expeditions, Fay Safaris and Tanzania Tour Company. Serena and Sopa are popular lodging spots and have facilities throughout the Northern Circuit. However, don't discount using smaller tours and lesser known lodging facilities which are just as good if not better than the larger tours and lodges.

For better prices and some of the most beautiful parks avoiding the traffic jams of safari vehicles, head for the southern circuit, particularly Ruaha National Park where fees are still only $20 per person and the range of wildlife is much greater and the scenery spectacular. Iringa is a great place to base yourself to explore this area and sort out your safari trips.

  • Wildlife Viewing:

*When visiting wildlife parks be sure to stay as close to the viewing areas (center of the parks) as possible and leave as soon as you can in the morning as animals are typically most active soon after sunrise.

  • Islands:
  • Mountains:

For any of these tours looking online you will find reputable companies such as Worldlink Travel and tours, who are reasonably priced and make the trip enjoyable and stress free.

House of Wonders - Zanzibar Town

Azania Front Lutheran Church - Dar es Salaam

Nungwi Beach - Nungwi

Kendwa Beach - Kendwa

Mapenzi Beach - Kiwengwa

Paje Beach - Paje

Dodoma Cathedral - Dodoma

Kilimanjaro National Park - Moshi

Ngorongoro Conservation Area - Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Kizimkazi Beach - Kizimkazi

Arusha National Park - Arusha

Lake Manyara National Park - Lake Manyara National Park

Ruaha National Park - Iringa

Serengeti National Park - Serengeti National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park - Morogoro

Gombe Stream National Park - Kigoma

Tarangire National Park - Tarangire National Park

Selous Game Reserve - Selous Game Reserve

Rubondo Island National Park - Rubondo Island

Old Fort - Zanzibar Town

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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