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Tanzania

TANZANIA TRAVEL GUIDE

Tanzania is an adventurous traveller's dream, whether you're on an organized safari, or for the particularly adventurous, self-driving, or taking public transportation. If you take your time and truly explore the country, you'll experience all kinds of different climates, sights, and cultures. Take a step back in time and roam around the old streets of Stone Town and relax on the powdery beaches around Zanzibar; scuba the clear waters around Mafia island; or climb Africa’s mightiest mountain – all 5,895m of it. In 2009 we hiked the Rongai route to summit Kilimanjaro after which we had a well-deserved break in Zanzibar. 


More than anything you will find that it is the Tanzanian people – with their characteristic warmth and politeness, and the dignity and beauty of their cultures – that make visiting Tanzania so memorable. Chances are you'll want to come back for more, to which most Tanzanians will say ‘karibu tena’ (welcome again).

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  • Currency: The official currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSH). Tanzania is still largely a cash-based society and you need to make sure that you can withdraw cash from ATM's (cheapest way) or take a major currency along to exchange. ATMs are available in the larger towns, though may not always be in service. Credit card facilities are available at some hotels, though not always. Current conversion rate here.
  • Electricity: 220-240V AC electricity. Power outlets are mostly round three-prong sockets (type D) and two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin (type G).
  • Safety: Most tourists in Tanzania take a safari or tour, and in this case, you will be accompanied by guides or camp guards most of the time and they will do everything to keep you safe in Tanzania. With that being said, petty crimes are common so always keep a close eye on your belongings and never walk alone at night. Caution should always be exercised, particularly around the main tourist areas. While Tanzania has an impressive selection of tropical diseases on offer, you’re unlikely to succumb to most of the possible health hazards as long as you stay up-to-date with your vaccinations and take basic preventive measures. The main exception to this is malaria, which is a considerable risk throughout much of the country. Never travel at night as road accidents are especially common during this time, and choose buses or private transport over minibusses to minimize your risk. Whatever you do, don’t travel without travel insurance! We would suggest checking out World Nomads or SafetyWing, for travel insurance as they have the best coverage for active travellers.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT TANZANIA

Along the coast and in the offshore islands of Tanzania, the average temperature ranges between 27°C and 29°C, while in the central, northern, and western parts temperatures range between 20°C and 30°C. Temperatures are higher between December and March, and coolest between June and July. The long rains begin in March and end in May, while the short rains begin in October and continue to early December. In general, annual rainfall varies from 550 mm in the central part of the country up to 3690 mm in some parts of south-western highlands.

 

Winter (June-September) is the coolest period, with hotels and lodges in popular areas are full, with high-season prices - particularly July and August. Animal-spotting is easiest, as the foliage is sparse and animals congregate around dwindling water sources. The Great Migration across the Serengeti is actually a fairly continuous rotation, but the most dramatic river crossings usually happen in June or July – though the exact timing is not predictable.

 

The low season is also the main rainy season (March-May) and not necessarily a bad time to visit, though some outlying roads may become impassable. It seldom rains all day, every day and landscapes are lush and green however, some hotels close, and others offer low season discounts.

 

If you want to ascend Kilimanjaro you should consider the drier months, however, it is possible to do it all year round. That said, whatever you do, do not underestimate this mountain!

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TANZANIA WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Along the coast and in the off shore islands of Tanzania, the average temperature ranges between 27°C and 29°C, while in the central, northern and western parts temperatures range between 20°C and 30°C. Temperatures are higher between December and March, and coolest between June and July. The long rains begin in March and end in May, while the short rains begin in October and continues to early December. In general, annual rainfall varies from 550 mm in the central part of the country up to 3690 mm in some parts of south-western highlands.

Tanzania

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

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BEST TIME FOR

SNOW SPORT IN TANZANIA

There are no ski resorts in Tanzania, but it is technically possible to ski on Mount Kilimanjaro, one of Africa’s highest mountains, if you are a professional and make the necessary arrangements beforehand.

HIKING & CYCLING IN TANZANIA

You can enjoy outdoor activities in Tanzania throughout the year. The best time for game viewing in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire are from June to October, but these are also the busiest months. The best weather conditions in which to climb Mount Kilimanjaro are between July and October or January and March.

BEACH OPTIONS IN TANZANIA

The best beaches of Tanzania can be found on the Island of Zanzibar. They can be enjoyed throughout the year, although it can be rather rainy from March to May. The best time is the dry months from June to October.

SURFING IN TANZANIA

Tanzania offers fantastic surfing off the reefs on the northern tip of Zanzibar. Although it is possible to surf of the coast of Tanzania, you often need a boat to take you out to a suitable surf spot. 


The best spots closest to Dar es Salaam are: Oyster’s Bay at Coco Beach, Sea Cliff, Bongoyo Island, Sinda Islands and Kasa Beach. Much more accessible are the surf spots of Nungwi Beach and Dongwe Doughnuts on Zanzibar! You will find the best swell from June to September.

KITESURF IN TANZANIA

You can find beautiful wind and kitesurfing conditions on the Island of Zanzibar from mid June until mid October and again from the end of December until mid March. The best times for stronger and more consistent winds are from mid June until mid September and again from the end of December until the end of February.

BEST TIME FOR

There are no ski resorts in Tanzania, but it is technically possible to ski on Mount Kilimanjaro, one of Africa’s highest mountains, if you are a professional and make the necessary arrangements beforehand.

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN TANZANIA

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Travel Safety

HEALTH RISKS IN TANZANIA

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Tanzania

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

TANZANIA TRAVEL COSTS

Tanzania is not exactly a budget destination, but it is still possible to travel affordably. If you want to save money on accommodation, camping where possible would be the cheapest option with the odd stay in a backpacker sprinkled in. Camping in Tanzania can mean anything from very basic open plots in national parks to luxurious tented lodges costing upwards of $100 per night. Similarly, guesthouses and hotels range from budget flophouses to top-end resorts, and in essence, you tend to get what you pay for.

Food can either be unbelievably cheap or incredibly expensive in Tanzania. If you stick to local food and staples you can get by for $1-5 per meal and you will find seafood and fresh fruit to be extremely affordable.

Cost & Spending

TANZANIA TRAVEL TIPS

Getting Around Tanzania

The fastest and safest way is to fly around Tanzania and the best choice if you can afford it. Even the major roads are in extremely poor condition, and drivers are not known for their patience or great driving skills. (Road accidents in Tanzania claim more lives than any other cause of death). Established domestic flights link Dar es Salaam with Moshi (near Kilimanjaro) and a number of other airports including Zanzibar; smaller airlines serve game parks and remote towns. Ferries traverse the larger lakes and serve Zanzibar and Pemba from Dar es Salaam. That said, busses are the most common way to travel around in Tanzania for locals. Although most of the 'local' buses are fairly basic, you will find 1st class air-con buses on the Dar Es Salaam-Moshi-Arusha route.

 

Unless you have your own overland vehicle and/or are familiar with driving on poor roads in Africa, it’s relatively unusual for fly-in travellers to tour mainland Tanzania by car. Self-driving in Tanzania is rare and really for the brave-hearted only. More common is to focus on a specific region of the country and arrange local transport through your tour or safari operator. Skyscanner.com is a fantastic tool for finding great flight deals. Also, check Momondo for flight comparisons or car rental deals.

 

There are a few small group adventure tours we can recommend if you want to take in more of the region, including:

ACTIVE SAFARI & ZANZIBAR EXPERIENCE - This 13-day G Adventures tour takes you from canoeing through beautiful lakes, hiking through craters, and spotting wildlife in Serengeti National Park to flying to the idyllic island of Zanzibar for some well-earned downtime on its sandy beaches. Search all G Adventures Tanzanian group tours here.

Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF TANZANIA

Although famous for its wildlife safaris, there is much, much more to see and do that just animal spotting, with diving, snorkelling, kitesurfing, cycling, hiking and trekking just some of the highlights.

Highlights
What To See & Do
Travel Map

Explore The Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro means “the gift of life”, and indeed, with the lush and green jungle along the rim, the name is a perfect fit for this beautiful place. Although it can be pricey (mainly due to high park fees) we recommend you to spend a day here, as the place is pretty small and animals like zebras, elephants, wildebeests, and possibly even rhinos, can easily be spotted, as there aren’t a lot of places to hide.

 

Safari in the Serengeti

The major attraction of the Serengeti is the wildebeest migration, which occurs continuously between the Serengeti and Masai Mara of Kenya. Though pricing is generally through the roof, it is possible to do it more affordably by hiring a safari guide and a proper vehicle and save money on accommodation by staying on the outskirts of the Serengeti in the conservation areas for some of the trip. Or go during the low season (January, February, April)!

 

Trekking

Throughout Tanzania, almost all trekking can be done without technical gear, by anyone who is of reasonable fitness. However, most organized excursions into wildlife areas – and all trekking or hiking in national parks – require being accompanied by a registered guide or a ranger. Treks on Kilimanjaro and in the Crater Highlands are expensive but most other treks in Tanzania can be done on a reasonable budget with a bit of effort, and a few are even cheap in comparison.

 

Kite-Surfing

Tanzania's center for kite-surfing is at Paje, on Zanzibar Island's east coast. You will also find some kite shops and operators on the mainland, in the stretch between Dar es Salaam and Pangani. Kite surfing is a highly seasonal activity and best during the monsoon winds, but December to January and June to October tend to be good times throughout. For more detail see the kitesurfing section above.

 

Explore Stone Town and the beaches of Zanzibar

The Zanzibar archipelago is considered semi-autonomous and truly a melting pot of African and Indian influences. Made up of many small islands and two larger, main islands, Unguja and Pemba, Zanzibar is the heart of Swahili culture and tradition. During the day, white sand, aquamarine waters, and picturesque sailboats sum up Zanzibar. Unguja, the main tourist island, is home to Zanzibar’s evocative capital Stone Town, a World Heritage city.

Tanzania
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN TANZANIA

Tanzania offers a variety of eating options, from small sidewalk stalls to modern Western restaurants. Especially along the coastal areas the seaside ambience, selection of exotic spices and mix of flavours will enhance each meal. From fresh-grilled fish to savoury-spiced coconut curries, Zanzibari food is an eclectic mix of Arabic, Indian, Asian and African flavours. Nightlife often centres around the joy of eating and socialising, never too far from a sea breeze.


Although much of Tanzania's population subsists on ugali (the main maize flour porridge staple) there are some treats to be found. Local specialities you should look out for:


Uji, a thin, sweet porridge made from bean, millet or other flour is a start for many Tanzanians and you will see ladies stirring the bubbling pots of it on street corners in the early morning. For another morning treat in the southeast of the country you should try Vitambua – small rice cakes resembling tiny, thick pancakes.


On Zanzibar Island, Mkate wa Kumimina, is a local bread made from a batter similar to that used for making Vitambua. Another Zanzibari treat is Urojo, a soup made with kachori (spicy potatoes), mango, limes, coconut, cassava chips, salad and sometimes pili-pili (hot pepper).


If there is anything that can be called Tanzania's national dish, then Ugali would most likely be the winner. A polenta-style porridge dish made with cassava or maize flour (usually accompanied by cooked meat or stew), it's eaten with your hands. Many foreigners find it bland and unappealing, but it's worth a try, and even some upscale establishments serve it. In general, good ugali should be neither too dry nor too sticky. It’s usually served with a stew-like sauce containing meat, fish, beans or greens. Rice and Ndizi (cooked plantains) are other staples, and chips are ubiquitous.


Mishikaki (marinated, grilled meat kebabs) and Nyama Choma (roasted meat) are widely available. Along the coast and near lakes, you will find an abundance of seafood, often grilled or cooked in coconut milk or curry-style.

WHAT TO EAT IN TANZANIA

Tanzania offers a variety of eating options, from small sidewalk stalls to modern Western restaurants. Especially along the coastal areas the seaside ambience, selection of exotic spices and mix of flavours will enhance each meal. From fresh-grilled fish to savoury-spiced coconut curries, Zanzibari food is an eclectic mix of Arabic, Indian, Asian and African flavours. Nightlife often centres around the joy of eating and socialising, never too far from a sea breeze.


Although much of Tanzania's population subsists on ugali (the main maize flour porridge staple) there are some treats to be found. Local specialities you should look out for:


Uji, a thin, sweet porridge made from bean, millet or other flour is a start for many Tanzanians and you will see ladies stirring the bubbling pots of it on street corners in the early morning. For another morning treat in the southeast of the country you should try Vitambua – small rice cakes resembling tiny, thick pancakes.


On Zanzibar Island, Mkate wa Kumimina, is a local bread made from a batter similar to that used for making Vitambua. Another Zanzibari treat is Urojo, a soup made with kachori (spicy potatoes), mango, limes, coconut, cassava chips, salad and sometimes pili-pili (hot pepper).


If there is anything that can be called Tanzania's national dish, then Ugali would most likely be the winner. A polenta-style porridge dish made with cassava or maize flour (usually accompanied by cooked meat or stew), it's eaten with your hands. Many foreigners find it bland and unappealing, but it's worth a try, and even some upscale establishments serve it. In general, good ugali should be neither too dry nor too sticky. It’s usually served with a stew-like sauce containing meat, fish, beans or greens. Rice and Ndizi (cooked plantains) are other staples, and chips are ubiquitous.


Mishikaki (marinated, grilled meat kebabs) and Nyama Choma (roasted meat) are widely available. Along the coast and near lakes, you will find an abundance of seafood, often grilled or cooked in coconut milk or curry-style.

LGBTQ IN TANZANIA

Tanzania

WHERE TO STAY IN TANZANIA

For your first visit to Tanzania, choosing the right base is crucial to experiencing the country's incredible wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. Here's a breakdown of top areas and accommodations in Tanzania:


Where to Stay in Arusha:

Arusha serves as the gateway to Tanzania's northern safari circuit, including iconic destinations like Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, making it an ideal starting point for wildlife enthusiasts.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at the Arusha Tourist Inn Hotel for affordable rooms and a central location near Arusha's markets and transportation hubs.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Mount Meru Hotel provides comfortable accommodations with scenic views of Mount Meru and easy access to Arusha's safari companies and cultural attractions.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of the Arusha Serena Hotel, featuring upscale rooms, multiple dining options, and lush gardens.

Best Value Tip: Visit Arusha during the shoulder seasons (March to May and October to November) for better accommodation rates and fewer tourists, while still enjoying excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.


Where to Stay in Zanzibar Town:

Zanzibar Island offers pristine beaches, historic Stone Town, and vibrant spice markets, making it a perfect blend of relaxation and cultural exploration for beach lovers and history buffs.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at the Lost & Found Zanzibar Hostel for affordable dorm beds and a central location near Zanzibar's beaches and nightlife spots.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Maru Maru Hotel provides comfortable accommodations with Swahili-style decor and easy access to Stone Town's historic sites and restaurants.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, featuring upscale rooms, a spa, and beachfront dining options.

Best Value Tip: Explore Zanzibar's spice farms and local villages for authentic experiences and affordable souvenirs, especially during guided tours that include transportation and meals.


Where to Stay in the Serengeti National Park:

Serengeti National Park is famous for its annual wildebeest migration, abundant wildlife, and vast savannah landscapes, offering a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience for nature enthusiasts.

  • Budget Accommodation: Consider staying at the Seronera Campsite for affordable camping facilities and a central location near Serengeti's prime wildlife viewing areas.

  • Mid-range Accommodation: The Serengeti Serena Wildlife Lodge provides comfortable accommodations with panoramic views of the Serengeti plains and easy access to game drives and guided walks.

  • Luxury Accommodation: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, featuring upscale rooms, a spa, and guided safaris led by expert rangers.

Best Value Tip: Book safari tours during the off-peak seasons (April to May and November to December) for better rates and fewer crowds, while still enjoying excellent wildlife sightings.


By choosing a base in Arusha, Zanzibar Island, or Serengeti National Park, you'll have access to Tanzania's diverse attractions while enjoying a range of accommodation options to suit your budget and preferences. Consider combining multiple destinations for a comprehensive Tanzanian experience and booking safari tours with reputable operators for unforgettable wildlife encounters.

These accommodations offer a range of options to suit different budgets and preferences, providing convenient access to the attractions and activities available in each area. Be sure to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred accommodation.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.


If you are on a shoestring budget, camping is possible as there are quite several campsites across Tanzania. Expect to pay $5 - $10 for a spot at campsites with basic amenities. You will find campsites situated in or near most major towns, near many of the national parks and in some rather scenic locations along a few of the main highways. You should expect to pay more than double the above rate for camping inside a national park and there will be additional park fees. Camping is not permitted on Zanzibar, and you should rather not camp away from established sites. Visiting during the rainy season (February – May) may result in lower-priced accommodation options.

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