Tanzania is now one of the top travel destinations in Africa due to its great variety of landscapes, wildlife and cultural experiences… ranging from the glaciers on top of Mt Kilimanjaro, the sweeping grasslands and wonderful wildlife of the Serengeti to the pristine beaches of Zanzibar.
Many parts of Tanzania still remain largely ‘untouched’- 25% of the land area is protected with 13 National Parks, 15 Game reserves and 63 other game controlled areas. These parts harbour a great diversity of mammalian and bird species- many of which are endangered and only found in Tanzania. The environment of Tanzania has managed to remain predominantly unchanged due to the way of life of many of the indigenous people who live in harmony with the variety of fauna and flora. The ‘Africa’ of your dreams still exists here in Tanzania.
There are only two types of season in Tanzania- rainy or dry! The long rains occur from the beginning of April until the end of June and the short rains are in November. Some of the best wildlife viewing is done just after the end of the rainy season, at the beginning of July as food is plentiful and the landscape is transformed from dry and dusty to luscious and green.
Temperatures vary across the country depending on your elevation (down to -20⁰C/-4⁰F on top of Kilimanjaro) but the normal temperatures range from 16-32⁰C/60-90⁰F so it is always fairly mild. During the rainy seasons you may need to bring a jumper and some long pants but otherwise you will normally find yourself nice and toasty!
In Tanzania we have more than 120 tribal languages but the official language spoken everywhere is Swahili. Here are a few useful phrases to get you started:
Mambo? (What’s up?)…. Poa (everything’s cool)
Habari? (How are you?)… Nzuri (good).
Shin’gapi? (How much?)
Ni naomba….. (Can I please have…..)
Ni naenda…….(I am going….)
Asante sana… (Thank you very much)
Don’t worry about taking intense Swahili classes before your arrival- you will find that in most areas, other than the really rural places, you will be able to get by communicating in English (at most secondary schools they are required to talk only English)!
The currency used throughout the country is the Tanzanian shilling (tsh). The exchange rate normally hovers between 1500-1600 tsh for the 1 USD. If you wish to bring a currency with you it is easy (in all major towns and cities) to find a bureau de change that will change US dollars, British pounds and the Euro. We also recommend bringing some USD with you as most tourist operations (including park entrance fees, visas etc.) are done in this currency. Make sure that the notes you bring are from no more than 7 years ago as many notes were forged before this time and will not be accepted here!
Depending on your budget and time-schedule, there are a few different options for getting around Tanzania to see all this magnificent country has to offer.
Air travel: Many different airlines now fly within Tanzania and then to other East African countries. These include Precision Air, Air Tanzania and Fastjet, to name a few. The major airports are in Dar Es Salaam (JK Nyerere airport) and Kilimanjaro International Airport (between Arusha and Moshi) but there are also many small airports around many of the 25 regions of Tanzania, including on Zanzibar. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information if you are wishing to book flights.
Bus travel: If you have a longer time schedule and a lower budget you might wish to travel the local way- getting to take in the varied landscapes of the country along the way! There are large and fast(ish) bus services between the major cities departing every day. The roads in the east of the company (for example between Dar Es Salaam and Arusha/Moshi) are really good now but if you want to get a bit more off the tourist track and get to the East or South of the country you may be experiencing some bumpy and long rides on largely unmade roads… Either way, we’re happy to help you arrange your plans if you wish to travel this often fun and interesting way!
By sea: For most tourists the only bit of ‘sea-travel’ they may do will be the crossing to Zanzibar Island. There are many different ferry companies doing this journey several times per day. For the more adventurous you may head over East to explore Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.
You tend to have 3-4 options for getting around; taxis, bajaj (tuk-tuk), boda boda (motorbike taxi) or dala dala (local minibus)… in that price order.
Passport and Visa… and immunizations!
All tourists visiting Tanzania are required to get a 3 month tourist visa. At the moment they cost between 50-100USD, depending on your nationality. We recommend getting your visa at your local embassy before travelling but you are also able to purchase it at the airport upon arrival.
At the airport you may also be required to show a certificate proving you have been immunized against yellow fever. For the other vaccinations and anti-malarials we recommend a visit to your travel doctor to get all the current information.
Tanzania’s people are known to be some of the friendliest in East Africa… You will find big smiles and warm welcomes from everyone here. Although there are more than 120 different tribal cultures found here there is little conflict in this very peaceful nation. The two main religions in the country are Islam and Christianity- you will find the coast to be mostly Islamic (or 98% in Zanzibar!) whereas inland is predominantly Christian.