Both South Africa and Tanzania are coastal paradises in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region which is an international intergovernmental organization comprised of fifteen countries in southern Africa. The SADC was established with the signing of the Declaration and Treaty of the SADC on August 17, 1992 in Windhoek, Namibia and the main objectives of the SADC were to achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth. In order to capitalize on these objectives, the region prioritized tourism in the region as a means of promoting its goals of economic development. With some of the best natural attractions created by nature such as caves, waterfalls, seashores and any other scenic views that were not created by mankind and manmade attractions which are products of history and culture created for tourism purposes, in the form of galleries, statutes, castles. Both South Africa and Tanzania are blessed with attractions which are similar in some ways but their atmospheres and uniqueness set them apart.
One would expect that being that the countries are in the same region and close to each other they should essentially be similar to each other but studies have proven that these countries offer different and unique experiences to tourists. Tanzania is home to the Mount Kilimanjaro in the north eastern Tanzania near the border with Kenya. At 5,892 meters above sea level, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest free standing mountain.
Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania
A world heritage site formed over a million years ago mount Kilimanjaro’s highest peak on kibo is one of the seven summits of the world though its positioned close to the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro is famous for its snow-capped peak looming over the plains of the savannah. Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time, although the best period is during the dry season June to October with easily accessible accommodation facilities such as the new Dodoma Hotel, the Royal Village Hotel and Reef one resort. The mountain has become a major tourist attraction of mountaineers and trekkers from around the world.
Unlike the Kilimanjaro which was formed by volcanic movement along the rift valley, south Africa’s Cape Town Table Mountain is home to the richest, yet smallest floral kingdom on earth. The 57 square kilometer area is home to more than 1470 floral species many of them endemic to the area. The vegetation is mainly endangered peninsula sandstone fynbos. The mountain is also home to daisies (rock hyrax), porcupines, mongooses, snakes, tortoises, and a rare amphibian called the Table Mountain Ghost Frog.
Table Mountain Cape town South Africa
The easiest option for getting up the mountain is the cableway, the journey up the mountain takes about five minutes through the cable-cars and the cars rotate through 360 degrees during the trip giving you spectacular views of the mountain below offering a different experience to the Mount Kilimanjaro. While the cableway is convenient and fun a much richer experience can be gained by hiking up or down yourself through a prominent gorge up the center of the main table, which is one of the most popular routes up the mountain. While quite steep, the ascent is pretty straightforward and usually takes between one and three hours depending on personal fitness levels. Five dams at the top make for great picnic spots and curio shops where you can stock up on snacks and a restaurant.
Serengeti National Park Tanzania
Both countries are homes to two of the most iconic safari destinations in the SADC. The Serengeti National Park lies in the Mara region along the northern border of Tanzania with Kenya. Its 14 763 square kilometer area is two thirds that of the 19 633 square kilometers of the Kruger national park which lies in the north of South Africa across the provinces Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Needing 8hours by car from Arusha to the Serengeti, its nearest airports are at Dar-es-Salam in the east and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Wildlife viewing is spectacular across vast plains where large herds of animals can be observed from the edge of the ngorongaro crater with acacia trees dotted across its grassy floor. It is at the Serengeti that the term big 5 was first coined, with the annual migration of huge herds of wildebeest producing one of the most amazing sights imaginable. The Serengeti is ideally suited for 4×4 Safari-style exploring. With an abundance of wildlife equal to that of Kruger. In the southern Serengeti, cheetahs are common, while in central Kruger there are fewer. Kruger is best for greater kudu, sable and bushbuck, while Serengeti is better for the world’s largest antelope the Eland. The Kruger is accessible from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, taking 5 hours by car. There are smaller airstrips in and around the park making it easily and more accessible compared to the Serengeti.
Kruger National Park South Africa
Wildlife viewing is ideal at waterholes and river pools during the southern winter to spring months from July to October The northern parts consist of thicker bush with big trees including the Baobab and elephants are in abundance. Kruger is also Big Five country and often offers surprise crossings of herds of Elephants, Buffaloes and buck. The main roads of the park are tarred and all secondary roads are well maintained gravel roads and requires no 4×4 unlike the Serengeti. The Kruger’s better booking system, large amounts of literature and better sign posting makes it easier for tourists to plan their own day outings compared to the Serengeti’s booking system, literature and signposting within the park not being as good as Kruger. The prices in the Serengeti tends to be higher than the Kruger. Almost all the accommodation in the Serengeti is over US$300 per person per night, while accommodation in Kruger starts from US$50.
Despite the splendid natural attractions in South Africa and Tanzania, the countries are home to some manmade ancient oldest surviving architectures in the SADC and the world. The Castle of Good Hope in the city of cape town is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa and has been the center of civilian, political and military life in the Cape since 1666. Today, the Castle stands not only as a reminder of Cape Town’s colonial past, but as a beacon of the city’s future. Popular with locals and visitors alike, art and photography exhibitions are often hosted within its walls, as are some of the city’s premier commercial events. The Castle was built by soldiers, volunteers, slaves and Khoi undergoing punishment. The building housed everything from a church, bakery and living quarters, to various workshops, shops and prison cells, among other facilities and in 1936 the Castle of Good Hope was declared a national monument.
The Castle of Good Hope Cape town South Africa
Similar to the Castle Of Goodhope, the Stone Town is one of the oldest living Swahili towns of East Africa. Its unique winding, narrow streets are adorned with beautiful buildings. Established by Arab slave and spice traders in the early 19th century, Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar. Right on the Indian Ocean and is estimated that around 600,000 slaves were sold through Zanzibar between 1830 – 1863. Unlike the Castle of Goodhope which is a single structure the Stone Town contains architectural features, buildings and sights, which provides a wonderful ‘sense of place’. Some of the main buildings are featured, including the House of Wonders (1883), Palace Museum, mosque and Anglican cathedral as well as the Omani Fort of 1701.
Most of these principal buildings are located along the breezy waterfront, where traditional wooden dhows can be seen sailing past or bobbing around in the harbor. The Stone Town offers a lot for exploration and is becoming increasingly popular as a visitor destination which has earned it the status of a world heritage site. Tours through the stone town are available through the traditional sailboats used along the east coast of Africa and the town is home to some best hotels that have been renovated traditional Swahili style such as the Mashariki palace Hotel which is a wonderfully refurbished historic home now hotel with excellent service in the heart of Stone Town and the Zanzibar Coffee House which is one of the oldest buildings in Zanzibar in the heart of Stone Town.
If you are still thinking about escaping your daily life routines to a tropical island paradise, you have to make sure you visit because South Africa and Tanzania both have distinct and vibrant natural and manmade attractions and culture that must experienced.