History & Heritage

Tanzania has a diversity of cultures and great world historical discoveries which all together made a great history of our nation. Our historical places gives people a clear picture about our culture, traditional tools and art work. Scattered around Tanzania our attracting historical sites includes the following:-

  • Engaruka Ruins
  • Ismila Stone Age Site
  • Kaole Ruins
  • Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings
  • Mikindani
  • Olduvai Gorge
  • Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings
  • Tanzania Museums
  • Other Sites
    • Amboni Caves
    • Changuu Island [prison Island]
    • Kidichi Persian Baths
    • Mangapwani Slave Chambers
    • Maruhubi Palace Ruins
    • Mbweni Palace Ruins
    • Stone Town
    • The House of Wonders
    • The Old Arab Fort

Engaruka Ruins

Engaruka ruins are located in the Great Rift Valley in northern tourism circuit of Tanzania. Engaruka is located about 63 kilometers north of Mto wa Mbu, towards the road to Oldoinyo Lengai and Lake Natron. These ruins are lying at the foot of the rift valley escarpment and are one among the most important archaeological sites in Tanzania.

An Iron Age farmer community [around 15th century], several thousand people had involved in irrigation and cultivation system, involving a stone-block canal channelling water from the crater highlands or a wide steep slope to stone lined cultivation terraces.

Key attractions while visiting the ruins include the following:-

  • Ancient historical ruins with abandoned remnants of the developed irrigation system, old graves, old irrigation canals, and terraces and house walls towards the ruin site
  • Birds and Animals, cattle graze by Maasai along with herds of zebras and birds

Location & Getting There

Located about 63 Kilometers from Mto wa Mbu. The ruins are accessible only by road.

What to do

  • Site seeing
  • Bird watching
  • Walking Safaris
  • People and Culture (Maasai) – Cultural Bomas

When to go

  • Dry season [July – October] for large mammals
  • Wet season [November – June]

Isimila Stone Age

Isimila Stone Age site located in Iringa, the Southern Highland Tourism Circuit of Tanzania became famous after the discovery of Stone Age Tools and Fossilized Bones discovered in 1951.

Key attractions while visiting the Isimila Stone Age include the following:-

  • Forest Reserve in the mountains within tea plantations
  • Rich collections of Stone Age tools
  • Scenic beauty of the place brought by existence of spectacular sandstone pillars that are carved out by an extinct river

Location & Getting There

Located about 15 Kilometres from Iringa town in the Southern Highland Tourism Circuit. The ruins are accessible only by road.

What to do

  • Site seeing
  • Collection of stone tools
  • Hiking
  • People and Culture – Cultural Bomas

When to go

  • Dry season [July – October] for large mammals
  • Wet season [November – June]

Kaole Ruins

Kaole ruins include coral mosques and Shirazi-style pillared tombs, are the oldest in Tanzania and East Africa. Date back to the 13th century, are the ruins of a Arab town which was declined after the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century. The tombs at Kaole were built from coral stones and stone pillars and believed that are the graves of local rulers who were known then as Diwanis and other well known Sheikhs who have lived along the coastal area.

Key attractions while visiting the Kaole Ruins include the following features:-

  • Ancient Mosques ruins consisting ancient mosques
  • 30 Ancient tombs ruins

Location & Getting There

Located about 5 Kilometres South East of Bagamoyo town in the Eastern Tourism Circuit.
Accessibility is by road and or walking from Bagamoyo through the beach via Akola village and mangrove swamps

What to do

  • Site seeing
  • Hiking
  • People and Culture – Swahili

When to go

  • Dry season [July – October] for large mammals
  • Wet season [November – June]

Kondoa Irangi Rock Paintings

Kondoa Irangi Hills located in the central Tourism Circuit of Tanzania contains one of the world’s finest collections of prehistoric rock paintings with an estimated 1,600 individual paintings within two hundred different sites. The painted images represent both hunter-gatherers and agro-pastoralist ways of life, depicting the changing lifestyles over the past two thousand years. This is the latest Tanzania’s World heritage site.

The paintings are believed to have been created by the ancestors of the Sandawe and Hadzabe tribes, the current bushman of Tanzania, and containing caves paintings which are believed that are more than 1,500 years back.

Key attractions while visiting the Kondoa Irangi Hills of the Rock Painting include the following features:-

  • Paintings show symbols of simplified human figures [symbolize hunter’s gatherers and arts people] involved in hunting, music instruments, crossing rivers, and animals such as elephants, giraffes and antelopes
  • Daily rituals activities are currently going on Kondoa rock art site as are still used by local communities for weather divinations [rain making] and traditional healing rituals
  • 150 shelters decorated

Location & Getting There

Located between Singida and Kondoa in the Central Tourism Circuit of Tanzania.
Accessibility is by road, the Kondoa rock paintings about 20 kilometers north of Kondoa, 9 kilometers off the Kondoa – Arusha highway, and about 275 km southwest of Arusha [Northern Circuit].

What to do

  • Site seeing
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • People and Culture – Swahili

When to go

  • Dry season [July – October] for large mammals
  • Wet season [November – June]

Olduvai Gorge

The Olduvai Gorge located in the northern tourism circuit of Tanzania at the border of the Ngorongoro conservation area and the Serengeti National Park was discovered in 1930s by Mary and Louis Leakey when searching for earliest stone tools in east Africa. In 1959 Mary found remains Zinjanthropus boisei, stone tools and flakes at the site, and the first specimen of Homo habilis, a jaw fragment in 1960 by Louis Leakey’s son Jonathan. Based on findings at Olduvai Gorge, and other places in Tanzania, scientists concluded that modern humans made their first appearance in Tanzania, East Africa.

Key attractions while visiting the Olduvai Gorge include the following features:-

  • Historical discoveries remains of Zinjanthropus boisei, Stone tools and the first specimen of Homo habilis, a jaw fragment
  • Ancient historical remains of stone tools, animal bones, early hominid, and fossilized footprints preserved in volcanic rock dated back to 3.6 million years old
  • Shifting sand originated from volcanic ash of the Mount Oldonyo Lengai volcanic eruption

Location & Getting There

Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge is located in in the Northern Tourism Circuit of Tanzania.

Accessibility by Road:
From Dar es Salaam to Arusha and Moshi towns, from Arusha to Ngorongoro crater [4 hours drive], and from Lake Manyara [2 hours drive]

Accessibility by Air:
Scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) and Arusha Airport.

What to do

  • Site seeing
  • Game driving
  • People and Culture

When to go

  • Dry season [July – October] for large mammals
  • Wet season [November – June]

Tanzania Museums

National Museum

The National Museum established in 1934 is located in Shabban Robert Street in Dar es Salaam, just next to the botanical gardens. Among many things you will find here includes a display of one among the cars of the King and lots of the dedication of Tanzania history. Its most famous exhibits include some bones of Paranthropusboisei that were among the findings of Louis Leakey at Olduvai. The museum also has a large section dedicated to the Shirazi city-state of Kilwa. More historical miscellaneous material is related to the German and British rule, and ancient Chinese pottery.

The museum also has ethnographic collections on Tanzanian cultures. Its purpose is to preserve and show exhibits about the history and natural environment of Tanzania.

The National Museum of Tanzania is a consortium of five Tanzanian museums namely the Village Museum in Dar es Salaam, the National History Museum and the Arusha Declaration Museum in Arusha, and the Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Memorial Museum in Butiama.

MwalimuNyerere Museum Centre

The Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Memorial Museum established in 1999 is located in Butiama, where Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere was born and was buried. The museum display items related to Nyerere’s personal and political life before and after independence.

The Arusha Declaration Museum

The Arusha Declaration Museum locared in Arusha along Kaloleni road was opened since 1977. The museum displays documents on the colonial history of Tanzania, the fight for independence, and the Arusha Declaration where the first Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere outlined his political vision.

National Natural History Museum

The museum was opened in 1987 with the exhibits depicting human evolution to include findings from the famous Olduvai Gorge and the Laetoli footprints and an exhibition on entomology presenting some insects of economic importance. The museum is located at the end of the Boma road neighboring the Arusha International Conference Center, the Arusha Municipal Council. The boma is believed to be founded by the Germans in about 1900, for administration and communication purposes during the Germans colonial era in Tanganyika.

Olduvai Gorge Museum

The Olduvai Gorge Museum is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania on the edge of Olduvai Gorge. The museum was founded by Mary Leakey in the late 1970 and is now under the jurisdiction of the Tanzanian government’s Department of Cultural Antiquities. It is a museum dedicated to the appreciation and understanding of the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli fossil sites.

Palace Museum, Zanzibar

The Sultan’s Palace in Arabic asBeit el-Sahel, is one of the main historical buildings of Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania. It is a 3-story building with merlon-decorated white walls, located in Mizingani Road, on the seafront.

The palace was built in late 19th century to serve as a residence for the Sultan’s family. It was later become a museum about the Zanzibari royal family and history since 1994.

Other Historical Sites

Tanzania is a country with an extraordinary history to an abundance of historical sites. Below are some of the most significant historical sites in Tanzania that are well worth visit during holiday vacation safaris in Tanzania. Key attractions while visiting are detailed as follows:-

Amboni CavesLocated about 8 km north of Tanga in the Northern Tourism Circuit, the Amboni caves were formed naturally in series and are believed to be formed during the Jurassic Age some 150 million years ago. These caves are the most extensive cave system in East Africa estimated to extend over an area of 234 square kilometres and the area was under water some 20 million years ago.

Changuu IslandLocated in Zanzibar, Changuu Island which is also known as Prison Island was owned and used by Arab for ‘rebellious’ slaves. Later was converted into being a prison after being sold to one of a British general in 1893, and a a quarantine station for East Africa in colonial times, and now a historical site with opportunities for snorkelling, wind surfing and sailing grounds.

Kidichi Persian BathsLocated north-east of Zanzibar town about 15km, were built by Sultan Seyyid Said in 1850 for his wife and decorated in a Persian style. These sites are on the highest point of Zanzibar island.

Mangapwani Slave ChambersLocated north of Zanzibar Town, Mangapwani Slave Chambers are large man-made slave cave with a narrow entrance and a pool of fresh water at its lowest point. The Slave Cave was used to hold and hide slaves.

Maruhubi Palace RuinsLocated about 4km north of Zanzibar town, Maruhubi Palace Ruins were built in 1882 by Sultan Barghash for his harem of 99 women. Completely destroyed by fire in 1899, the remains are the pillars and aqueducts which brought water to the palace from the nearby springs.

Mbweni Palace RuinsEstablished and built in 1871 to rescue slaves by the Universities Mission to Central Africa, was a holiday resort of Sultan Seyyid Barghash and a excellent breezing position. In 1882, St John’s Church was built in the same place to release slaves. There is a fine carved door and a tower.

The House of WondersThe House of Wonders built in 1883 is a large square shaped building, surrounded by tiers of pillars and balconies, and topped by a large clock tower. It was a ceremonial palace for Sultan Barghash and was the first in Zanzibar to have electric light and an electric lift. It wa named by the local people “Beit el Ajaib”, meaning the House of Wonders.

The Old Arab FortThe Old Arab Fort is an architectural wonder built by the Omani Arabs in 1710. The Fort was used as a prison for war criminals, later as army barracks, and as the depot and workshop for the Bububu railway line. In 1949, its courtyard was constructed to become a “ladies’ tennis club” and later renovated to a “theatre and cultural centre”.