Tanzania boasts some of Africa’s most iconic “must-see” places – the Serengeti with the Great Migration of Wildebeest, the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater which forms a natural enclosure that traps high densities of African megafauna including predators, Olduvai Gorge, Lake Victoria (Africa’s largest lake), the Great Rift Valley and of course the continent’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro (which rises to 19300 feet). Visiting these sites, which are all in the north of the country where a comfortable tourism infrastructure makes travel a delight, will generate not only lots of mammals including several cat species (big and small), but also hundreds of dazzling bird species such as brightly-colored barbets, bee-eaters, rollers, kingfishers, turacos and a stack of raptors, Secretaybird, vultures, storks and other large birds. In addition to all this, northern Tanzania also has some extremely range-restricted birds that world listers have to in fact visit this country for. Rufous-tailed Weaver and Ashy Starling are two birds easy to find here, inexplicably not crossing the nearby Kenyan border. Two diminutive parrots, Fischer’s and Yellow-collared Lovebirds, as well as quite a number of other species such as Red-throated Tit and the bizarrely beautiful Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, only lurk here in arid northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. Karamoja Apalis is best sought in the Serengeti, if you don’t make the expedition to remote northern Uganda to see the other dot on the map where it actually occurs.
But there is a lot more to Tanzania than just the well-known north. Serious world birders have no choice but to venture off the beaten track and to visit the Eastern Arc Mountains such as the Usambaras, the Ulugurus and the Udzungwas. Here, there are a lot of Tanzanian endemics such as the rare Usambara Weaver, the single-mountain endemic Udzungwa Forest Partridge, as well as a lot of species that also get into remote northern Mozambique or Malawi, such as the Critically Endangered Long-billed Forest Warbler.
Finally, Pemba Island, a more remote version of famous Zanzibar, has four endemic birds but they are easy to find – on my recent trip there we found them between 4 and 7 pm on the first afternoon on the island. Contributor: Chris Lotz/Birding Ecotours.
Aardwolf, Cape hyrax, African Brush tailed porcupine, Giant pangolin, Bat-eared fox, Thompson's gazelle, Sable antelope