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Tanzania: Exploring Africa’s Lost Cities


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Throughout the entirety of Africa’s 54 counties, there are bound to be a few cities that slip through the traveller’s fingers when they’re making their way around the Sahara, down the Horn, or following the path of the Chambeshi or Zambezi. Tanzania is often overlooked by tourists – but actually provides some of the best chances of exploring ancient sites in the whole the continent.

Why Do We Love Exploring?

There is a universal appeal of exploring ancient sites and uncovering secrets long hidden by the past. The trend is prevalent across a range of media, from the big screen with Indiana Jones and Lara Croft and their enduring legacies. Plus, the smaller screen with Relic Hunter, Time Team, and the armada of archaeological shows. The iPhone game Temple Run took advantage of the excitement that comes from exploring ancient sites by focusing the game around escaping from a temple with the treasure. Ancient exploration is represented in slot games too, with Gonzo’s Quest available on Casino Cruise framing the traditional slot gameplay with imagery and motifs of exploring tombs. The undersea exploration game Subnautica even makes an entire mode on allowing players to explore the ocean floor.

Exploring Tanzania

Tanzania, with its rich heritage, is therefore perfect for exploring ancient sites, while also being able to be immersed in modern culture. The opportunities for exploration in Tanzania make it a prime spot for tourists, travellers, and adventurers the world over.

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Songo Mnara

The island of Songo Mnara off the Swahili Coast of southern Tanzania is a haven of exploring the past. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was occupied between the 14th and 16th Centuries and was built out of rough coral and mortar to be one of the many trading towns in the Indian Ocean. Remnants to explore are evidence of old mosques, cemeteries, and many housing blocks. As it was used in trade, there are likely hidden treasures scattered about the island waiting to be discovered.


Dubbed ‘Africa’s Atlantis’, Rhapta was a lost Roman city discovered in 2016 to be just off Tanzania’s Mafia Island. The 1st Century trading post was mentioned in the 50AD publication Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Alan Sutton, diver in search of an old Portuguese fort, found walls stretching more than 4km. Along with 5m oblong blocks of cement, Sutton deduced that he may have uncovered the Lost City. At low tide, the walls are reportedly visible. For undersea explorers, or those with an interest in discovering the hidden nature of the past, this site is perfect.

Olduvai Gorge Museum

The Olduvai Gorge Museum located in northern Tanzania in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers tourists an opportunity to connect with the past in a more controlled way. The same ability to explore is present, but is more guided through exhibitions and information passed on by the museum. The museum’s purpose is to detail facts about the Olduvai Gorge and the Laetoli fossil sites, which were a long extinct hominin ancestor found in the region.

Tanzania offers an abundance of exploration and provides some of the strongest links to the past and our ancestors, dating back to the turn of the very first century documented. A visit to Africa to explore wouldn’t be complete without a stop off in Tanzania.




Written by How Africa

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