The UNESCO Heritage Sites in Tanzania You Probably Didn’t Know About

When planning an adventure of a lifetime, people always try to seek magic. Something out of the ordinary and yet still not missing out on the must-dos. As we seek such worldly treasures, one of the best places to start (or end) any trip is to explore UNESCO heritage sites – certified amazing and incredibly fascinating in its own way. Luckily, Africa is home to a bamboozle of UNESCO sites, and one of the countries with the most number of UNESCO heritage sites in Tanzania.

But, what is UNESCO?

UNESCO is an organization of the United Nations. It stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, established in 1945. Post-WWII, a consortium of countries gathered together, determined to evade any more world wars and promote cultural as well as natural preservation worldwide.  Hence, UNESCO.

What is a World Heritage Site?

Based on the UNESCO website, a World Heritage Site is “having a cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. These sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.”

UNESCO sites in Tanzania

Endowed with an amazing array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Tanzania hosts 7:

UNESCO Heritage Sites - Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro is famed for its phenomenal beauty, being home of the world’s largest inactive caldera and over 25,000 mammals including the Big Five and some endangered species. But apart from its outstanding natural attributes, Ngorongoro is also an important part of learning about human evolution. Fossil evidences and hominids were found all over the conservation area, especially on Olduvai Gorge. In fact, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is where some of the earliest hominid traces were found, reaching back almost 4 million years!

Suggested Safari: 4 Days Tanzania Safari

UNESCO Heritage Sites - great wildebeest migration river crossing

Serengeti National Park

Unsurprisingly one of the World Heritage Sites, Serengeti National Park is world-renowned for being the host of the largest and longest unaltered overland migration in the world: The Great Wildebeest Migration. During this time, the 60,000 square kilometer park welcomes the largest herds of grazing animals in the world including over 2 million wildebeests, 900,000 Thomson’s gazelles, and 300,000 zebras. Not to mention the predators that tag along: lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, Nile crocodiles. This animal migration is in no doubt one of the most impressive natural events in the world.

Considered to be of outstanding universal value, Serengeti National Park is also recognized for its remarkable biological diversity with at least four globally threatened or endangered animal species: black rhinoceros, elephant, wild dog, and cheetah. The park is also regarded as one of the most productive ecosystems on earth.

Suggested Safari: 3 Days Amazing Serengeti Safari

UNESCO Heritage Sites - Mountt Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro National Park

A natural heritage site since 1987, Kilimanjaro National Park is acknowledged as the home of Africa’s highest peak, the world’s highest free-standing mountain and one of the world’s largest volcanoes: Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a beacon of biodiversity and the ecological necessity for thousands of animal species as well as rare and endangered plants, not to mention the human communities living around its base.

Kilimanjaro National Park is also one of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks in all the world. Known by many as “every man’s Everest,” Kilimanjaro welcomes trekkers from all over the world. If you want to explore this snow-capped beaut, you can choose from different routes/tours here: Kilimanjaro Treks.

UNESCO Heritage Sites - Stone Town Zanzibar

Stone Town

A renowned coastal trading town in Zanzibar, Stone Town features picturesque architecture, vibrant trading scene and rich history in every stone wall. It is famous for its outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization as well as its dazzling architecture – from the Stone Town ornate wooden doors to the narrow streets and quirky markets to the fascinating ancient buildings. Historically, Stone Town was a base for Middle Eastern traders who came to East Africa in search of spices, ivory, and slaves. Today, the town boasts of a great blend of Arab, European, African, and Indian cultures.

Recommended tour: 9 Days Tanzania and Zanzibar Stone Town and Spicy Island

UNESCO Heritage Sites - Selous game reserve landscape

Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve is the oldest and largest (50,000 square kilometers) game reserve in Africa. Its name translates to heaps of wildlife and heaps of adventure and truly, it does. Located in Southern Tanzania, you will find fewer visitors than northern safari circuits but equal amount of wildlife and beauty including incredible flora and fauna and 440 bird species.

Thanks to Selous’ impressive ildlife including globally significant populations of African elephants, wild hunting dogs and black rhinoceros, which are believed to be some of the last in Tanzania, it is recognized as a World Heritage Site and one of the most untouched ecosystems in Tanzania. The reserve also includes one of the world’s largest known populations of hippos and buffalos.

UNESCO Heritage Sites - kilwa kisiwani mosque arches

Kilwa Kisiwani

Kilwa Kisiwani is like a place straight out of a storybook. It has been recognized by UNESCO for its architectural and historical significance featuring a myriad of amazing Omani architecture such as labyrinthine pathways, grand palaces and mosques, forts and even an ancient prison.

Kilwa Kisiwani is an off-the-beaten-track attraction but people still travel to this Heritage Site because its charm never palls. To get here, travelers should start at Kilwa Masoko, a port town about 300 kilometers away from Dar es Salaam. Once there, head to the beach and catch a dhow to the island.

UNESCO Heritage Sites - songo mnara ruins

Songo Mnara

Sitting about 8 kilometers south of Kilwa Kisiwani is a strikingly rustic place called Songo Mnara. It is protected by UNESCO for its historical and architectural significance. The island features palaces, mosques, graveyards, ancient houses and public squares that are believed to date from the 14th and 15th centuries as well as archaeological spots and a variety of artifacts.


Tanzania in no doubt a country filled with wonder. It contains some of the most spectacular natural places on earth and if this is something you want to incorporate in your next African adventure, get in touch with us and we’ll help you realize your dream vacation.


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