Travel to Tanzania
Tanzania is a well-known East African country that’s famous for its exotic and wilderness areas. Here, you can find the mecca of all safaris in the world which is also known as the Serengeti National Park. If you’re the type of person who loves wildlife, then Tanzania is the ultimate destination for you.
The country is known for being home to the big five – elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. Tanzania is also a major player in the Great Migration – a spectacular sight to see and one of the major attractions of Tanzania national parks.
Another major highlight in Tanzania is Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. Mountain climbers from around the world flock to Tanzania to conquer this majestic mountain. Tanzania is a hiker’s dream, from navigating the volcanic slopes of Ol Doinyo Lengai at night, to scaling Mount Meru. The Arusha National Park’s lack of dangerous wildlife makes it the ideal place for walking safaris.
Tanzania is also home to the iconic Maasai Mara tribe. A popular attraction is to go jump-dancing with Maasai warriors. Mainland Tanzania is also a stone’s throw away from the island paradise of Zanzibar, making it the ultimate destination is combine a safari and beach holiday in one.
If you’re interested in joining a tour in Tanzania, we recommend considering the options available with Contiki, G Adventures or Intrepid Travel.
Visa Requirements for Tanzania
Tanzania is one of those countries that are not that strict when it comes to letting foreigners in.
You can, in fact, obtain a single-entry and transit visa upon your arrival at any port of entry. But if you prefer not to go through the hassle of getting a visa on the spot (waiting times can be long depending on when you arrive), you could simply apply for a tourist visa at a Tanzanian embassy in your country of origin. You can also apply for the e-visa for Tanzania on this website.
Tanzania visa requirements include:
- Six months of passport validity
- One blank passport pages
- Yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from a yellow fever endemic country
- You would need to declare at least USD 10,000 for both entrance and exit from Tanzania
For more information, you may visit Tanzania’s official embassy website here.
Important Cultural Information
The Tanzania culture is not to be considered any different from most African countries. You should know, however, that upon visiting the country, you will meet a diverse mix of ethnicities. The largest ethnic group residing in the country is the Sukuma. Followed by the Chagga, Haya, and Nymawezi. What’s nice about this place is that even though it is inhabited by people of different racial and ethnic origins, they have managed to keep a sense of peace and harmony altogether.
As visitors to Tanzania, it’s important that you keep the same level of respect and politeness. These are two virtues that Tanzanian people highly value. Although it has a subtle way of dealing with national culture, people of Tanzania have high regards when it comes to their country and building a strong code of respect and courtesy.
When asking for directions, it’s best that you greet the person first. It’s also important that you keep your cool at all times as they highly value the control of one’s temper and emotions in public. You should know that Tanzania is also a modest country, so a public display of affection from young men and women aren’t allowed.
In this country, men can hold each other’s hands without malice as people see it as a sign of friendship. Women, on the other hand, cannot be seen smoking or getting drunk in public places. One of the most important things to do in Zanzibar is that you should dress modestly as a sign of respect to the Muslim culture.
Banking & Money in Tanzania
The official currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh). This is the currency that’s widely accepted in all stores across the country.
You can exchange cash at the banks in Tanzania or foreign exchange bureaus. You will see the majority of these banks and bureaus in towns and cities. If you want to get the best deal out of your money, then it’s best that you have your currency exchanged at forex bureaus. The transactions in this place are usually quicker and they have longer working hours than banks. The only downside is that you won’t be able to see forex bureaus in smaller towns. You can also go to the NBC bank to exchange your currency.
Make sure that you have either a Visa or a MasterCard. These are needed when you withdraw money at the ATMs. Visa, however, is more widely accepted than MasterCard. These two cards are also required when you are paying at Tanzania national parks.
You won’t have any problems withdrawing from an ATM. All machines that are internationally linked will allow you to withdraw Tanzanian shillings straight from your Visa or MasterCard. You will just have to inform your local bank beforehand to let them know where you are traveling.
Medical Emergency Information
112 is the main emergency contact number in Tanzania. This will get you in touch with the ambulances, police and fire departments. There are reports however that this number does not always work in regions outside of Dar es Salaam.
To be safe, you should have travel insurance for Tanzania. Make sure to get good travel insurance for Tanzania beforehand. Compare options with both WorldNomads and SafetyWing.
Wi-Fi and Internet in Tanzania
When traveling in Tanzania, you shouldn’t have any problems dealing with the Wi-Fi and internet. There are a lot of internet cafes in major towns that you can visit if you would want to work with an internet connection. You can also find a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots all over the place, with the exception of the rural areas.
Fast connections are extremely rare to have. Wi-Fi and Internet hotspots are also available in most Zanzibar all-inclusive resorts for a minimal fee. Some of the best hotels in Zanzibar will not charge you for Wi-Fi. Make sure to set-up a VPN (like ExpressVPN) before using public Wi-Fi spots.
But the best way for you to have internet access is to get a local SIM card from a mobile service provider. For SIM cards for mobile phones, it’s easy to get one at the airport, gas stations, newsstands, and grocery stores. There are five network providers operating in the country: Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, Zantel, and Halotel. Vodacom has the widest coverage in the country, while Zantel has the best coverage for Zanzibar. Airtel is best if you are going to be spending a lot of time in the Serengeti.
Arrival in Tanzania
There are three possible ways that you can arrive from your point of origin to Tanzania: by airplane, ferries or land.
If you are traveling by air, you would have at least three landing spots in the country. Majority of the airlines, however, fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar es Salaam). The other international airports in Tanzania would be Kilimanjaro International Airport and Zanzibar International Airport.
Some of the airlines that arrive and depart from these airports are the following:
- Air Italy
- Air Tanzania
- As-Salaam Air
- Coastal Aviation
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Flightlink Limited
- Kenya Airways
- Oman Air
- Precision Air
- Qatar Airways
- Turkish Airlines
There are also some seasonal airlines traveling in this country like TUI flying from Belgium and the Netherlands, Neos, Nordwind Airlines, and Condor among any others.
You can also search for flights to Tanzania on Expedia.
If you are taking a ferry ride from Zambia on the MV Liemba, you will arrive at Kigoma as your port of entry. For overland crossovers, there’s a bus service to and from neighboring countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. You can of course also do a self-drive from neighboring countries into Tanzania.
Areas of Tanzania
Tanzania is not only a beautiful country. It’s also a huge place, as well. There are a lot of regions in Tanzania. A Tanzania safari isn’t just something that you can’t miss visiting as it is one of the reasons what makes the country unique. In total, there are about twenty regions that you can choose to travel to.
Here’s the majority of the tourist areas that you can visit in the country.
Dodoma is the capital city of Tanzania. It’s not much of a tourist destination, with little appeal for travelers. You could visit some tourist attractions such as Nyerere Square, Gaddafi Mosque, University of Dodoma, Bunge Tanzania Parliament Buildings and the Dodoma Four Ways. Since Dodoma is a self-made capital city, there’s really not much to see as it is only the main area for government proceedings.
Zanzibar is probably the heart of tourism in the country of Tanzania.
The Zanzibar accommodations are, by far, the best in the country as it is really aimed towards tourists. Here you can find Zanzibar resorts and exotic beaches.
You will also have the time of your life visiting famous spice plantations and getting to know about its history and diverse culture Unguja, which is the main island in Zanzibar, is also known to be the home of many endangered species.
You should also look out for red colobus monkeys and green turtles when traveling in this area.
The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical region which is exclusively found in Tanzania. The name of the place speaks for itself. It is basically an ecosystem that has been kept untouched despite the modern advancements in the country.
Serengeti, which translates to “endless plains” in the Maasai language, is still true until today. Here you can come in close contact with the wildlife living in this place.
There are many Serengeti Safari tours that you can join to make sure that you get to experience the best of this beautiful area. You can also visit the official park of the place which is the Serengeti National Park.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is on most mountain climbers’ bucket lists. If you are planning on climbing the peak of its mountain, you would have to train hard as the climate conditions in this place can get pretty drastic.
Known to be the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is a dominant volcano with three volcanic cones which are Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira.
Transportation in Tanzania
The bus is the most common form of public transport in Tanzania. Nearly all buses go in and out of Dar es Salaam.
One of the most popular modes of transportation in Tanzania is with mini buses or dalla-dalla. You can simply hop on and hop off from one place to another. You can also hire a taxi, which usually have white plates and ‘gari la abiria’ (passenger vehicle) as its signs. There are also a few local tour operators which have a fleet of cars for hire, usually from the various international airports.
When taking the train, you would have to know that the ride is fairly slow but scenic. Delays are also very common.
Accommodations in Tanzania
Since Tanzania is a country known to host tourists, you can expect that there will be a lot of accommodation choices on offer. In fact, accommodation in Tanzania is so diverse that you can actually try whatever budget you have on hand.
Tented and mobile camps aren’t new in this place. It’s actually considered to be a part of the adventure. If you’re looking forward to getting a feel of the Tanzania safari that the area is famous for, then it’s recommended that you take time off from the comfortable living brought about by hotels and try tented camps and mobile camps.
Lodges, which are considered to be larger and permanent compared to mobile and tented camps, are also the go-to accommodation for that Tanzanian safari feel. Lodges in Tanzania can range from budget three-star to five-star luxury, most with their own restaurants, swimming pools and safari amenities.
Zanzibar beach resorts are the best way to go when you are in the area of Zanzibar. However, since it’s a popular place for tourists to visit, bookings can get pretty tight! You would need to book your stay in advance to ensure that you have a place to stay. Search for accommodation and book online at Booking.com and Expedia.
What to Eat and Drink in Tanzania
There are a lot of places you can eat Tanzanian food at across the country. The cuisine of this area usually has grains, rice, spices, fruits, meats, and fish in them.
Some of the food and drinks that you should try when visiting Tanzania include:
- Nyama Choma or barbecued meat
- Ugali or meal porridge
- Wali wa Nazi
- Mchuzi wa Kamba or prawn curry with tomatoes
- Duckling Dar es Salaam
- Chai or Tanzanian tea
Zanzibar is also known as the ‘spice island’, famous for its cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, and cardamom. It’s well worth doing a spice tour in Zanzibar where you can walk through a spice plantation and learn about the countries colonial roots.
The food will depend on which region you are at. You can try traditional Tanzanian food at the following restaurants:
- Mediterraneo Restaurant at Dar es Salaam
- The Rock Restaurant Zanzibar at Michamvi
- Indotaliano Restaurant
- Rodizio Brazilian Grill at Dar es Salaam
- Akemi Revolving Restaurant at Dar es Salaam
Things to Do and See in Tanzania
There are a lot of things you can do and places to visit in Tanzania. Especially if you’re the type of person who’s more in touch with your adventurous side, you really won’t run out of things to do in this place!
First up you can climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Of course, that’s just every mountain climber’s dream. It’s only once in a lifetime that you will be able to say that you have reached the peak of the highest mountain in Africa.
Spend the day at Serengeti National Park. The park itself is known for its annual wildebeest migration and a lot of exotic and wild animals in the place. Here, you can see lions, elephants, and rhinos running in the wild!
Visit conservation areas. Since Tanzania is known to be a wildlife ecosystem, there’s a lot of conservation areas that you can see and visit. One of which is the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Here, you can see volcanic caldera and gorges. There are also a lot of national parks you can visit, too! You really won’t run out of parks to visit in this country. Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Park are two of the most commonly flocked tourist places.
Explore Tanzania beaches. Tanzania is not only known for its dry and grasslands, but it’s also known for its exotic beaches. One of which is the Mnemba Island. Here, you have clear waters, which are just perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling, and other water activities.
Again, Tanzania is not just about the natural scenery. It also has a lot of history engraved in its roots as well. If you would want to see first-hand where fossils of early humans have been discovered, visit Olduvai Gorge. It’s a renowned site which is now open to tourists. It is where the remains of early humans from approximately two million years ago were excavated.
These are just some places and activities that you could go visit and do in Tanzania. But whatever it is you are looking for, given the diverse culture of the country, there’s always a place in Tanzania that could cater to your needs.
Shopping in Tanzania
When it comes to shopping places in Tanzania, you will also never run out of places that you can go buy your souvenirs from.
Whether you like local handmade crafts or high-end brands, there’s always a market that you can visit to get your finds from. You can buy from several art galleries such as at the Mama Africa Giftshop, Chuma Art Workshop, and at The Beautiful Eyes. If you are looking for more local finds, however, then the best place for you to do your shopping is at the flea markets and street markets. The most famous ones in the country are the Darajani Bazaar, Kivukoni Fish Market, and Masai Central Market.
For more unique finds, there are several specialty stores. The Tanzanite Dream is located in Dar es Salaam wherein you can buy authentic jewelry. The Shanga and Shanga Foundation in Arusha is a specialty store that sells woven fabric, handmade beads, paintings, and blow glass. The Coins Shop located in Stone Town is also where tourists usually visit.
Nightlife in Tanzania is fairly limited. Though, Dar es Salaam does have a few nightclubs, cinemas and cabaret venues. Nightlife is generally located around the top tourist hotels and restaurants.
Along the coast and on Zanzibar, most hotels and beach barsa will feature live music and dance floors on the beach. You will often find traditional tribal dancers and drummers performing at the safari lodges and beach resorts. Zanzibar’s more northern beaches have also started hosting more rowdy full-moon parties.
Here’s all you need to know about Zanzibar nightlife.
Safety Tips for Tanzania
Since the country is not that foreign to visitors from other countries, Tanzania can definitely be considered as a safe and hassle-free country.
Although it’s still best that you take extra precautions such as avoiding isolated areas and taking taxis from only established hotels and taxi companies. Since safari trips are common in the country, you shouldn’t pay money for the trek in advance. All transactions for your tours and trips should be done inside the company’s office.
Traveling to Tanzania will be one of the most memorable times in your life. It’s not everyday that you can actually get to come in close contact with animals from the wild. Tanzania is not only a beautiful country, but it’s also a huge one filled with diverse animals and culture.
From climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and going on safari in the Serengenti to city hopping in Dar es Salam and chilling on the beach in Zanzibar. The are many other Tanzania national parks to explore while on safari along with loads of things to do in Zanzibar. The best Tanzania holiday will include time in the national parks as well as time on the beaches in Zanzibar.