Tanzania General Information

Tanzan5With such a perfect Location, perched on the edge of the African continent, and facing the Indian Ocean, Tanzania’s weather and climate leaves nothing to be desired. Warm and sunny days are followed by cool and balmy nights, and whether you’re on safari on the Serengeti plains or enjoying the tropical beaches of Zanzibar, the temperatures are always welcoming and gentle. Consult Weather and Climate to find out when the best times to visit are, and learn more about the monsoon winds and seasonal rains.
But sun-filled and beautiful days are not all that Tanzania has to offer. On the contrary, the country’s borders hold a vast number of people and tribes whose varied cultures and traditions make up the rich tapestry that is Tanzanian culture. Read on to learn more about the Masaai culture and the customs of the Swahili Coast.
Although Tanzania is a country rich in culture and traditions, its history is also one of treasured heritage and pride. From the early days of mankind’s history, man has called the land of Tanzania home – its verdant mountains, its scrub-land plains. Find out more about our country’s rich history, from the arrival of merchants and traders on the Swahili Coast to the peaceful political climate that exists today.

Tanzan1Tanzanians enjoy a climate of freedom and peace in our daily lives, and value community and togetherness very highly. Religion is an expression of community and culture, and one that binds us all as citizens to our country and to the people around us. Tanzanians practice Christianity, Islam, and traditional African religions in tolerance and understanding.
Religion defines our community and our sense of identity, but culturally, we are all Tanzanians. Our culture and our traditions can be seen in everything we surround ourselves with and the handicrafts that are the specialties of our country. Visitors to Tanzania will find the section on Shopping immensely useful in helping them decide what to bring back for their friends and loved ones from our amazing country.

 

 

 

Visa & Passports
Citizens of the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and most countries in the EU, need a tourist visa to enter Tanzania. Application details and forms can be found on Tanzanian Embassy web sites. US citizens can apply here. Tanzanian embassies issue single ($50) and double ($100) entry visas (handy if you’re planning to cross over to Kenya or Malawi for a few days). They do not issue visas for more than two entries.
Tanzanian tourist visas are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. So while planning ahead for visas is a good thing, make sure the visa is still valid for the length of time you plan to travel in Tanzania.
You can obtain a visa at all airports in Tanzania as well as at the border crossings, but it is advised to get a visa beforehand. In order to get a visa you have to have proof that you plan to leave Tanzania within 3 months of your arrival.
As with all visa matters — contact your local Tanzanian Embassy for the latest information.

Health & Immunizations

Immunizations
No immunizations are required by law to enter Tanzania if you are travelling directly from Europe or the US. If you are travelling from a country where Yellow Fever is present you will need to prove you have had the inoculation. Several vaccinations are highly recommended when traveling to Tanzania, they include: Yellow Fever; Typhoid; Hepatitis; Diphtheria. It is also recommended that you are up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations. Rabies is also prevalent and if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in Tanzania, it may be worth getting the rabies shots before you go. Contact a travel clinic at least 3 months before you plan to travel. Here’s a list of travel clinics for US residents. More on vaccinations for travelers to Africa …

Malaria
There’s a risk of catching malaria pretty much everywhere you travel in Tanzania. While it’s true that areas of high altitude like the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are relatively malaria-free, you will usually be passing through areas where malaria is prevalent in order to get there. Tanzania is home to the chloroquine-resistant strain of malaria as well as several others. Make sure your doctor or travel clinic knows you are traveling to Tanzania (don’t just say Africa) so s/he can prescribe the right anti-malarial medication. Tips on how to avoid malaria will also help.

Safety & Terrorism

Safety
Tanzanians are well known for their friendly, laid-back attitude. In most cases you will be humbled by their hospitality despite the fact that most people are a lot poorer than you. As you travel in the touristy areas, you will probably attract your fair share of souvenir hawkers and beggars. Remember that these are poor people who are trying to earn money to feed their families. If you aren’t interested then say so, but try and remain polite.
Terrorism
In 1998 a terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam left 11 dead and 86 injured. The US, UK and Australian governments are all warning that more attacks may occur specifically in Zanzibar and/or Dar es Salaam. Vigilance is required, but there’s no need to avoid visiting these places — people are still visiting New York and London after all. For more information on terrorism check with your Foreign Office or Department of State for the latest warnings and developments.

Roads
Roads in Tanzania are pretty bad. Potholes, road blocks, goats and people tend to get in the way of vehicles and the rainy season completely wipes out half the country’s roads. Avoid driving a car or riding a bus at night because that’s when most accidents happen. If you are renting a car, keep the doors and windows locked while driving in the major cities. Carjackings occur fairly regularly but may not end in violence as long as you comply with demands made.

When to go to Tanzania
The rainy seasons in Tanzania are from March to May and November to December. Roads become washed out and some parks even have to close. But, the rainy season is the perfect time to get good deals on safaris and enjoy a quieter experience without the crowds.The best months to climb Kilimanjaro are January, February and September when it is warm and dry.The best time to see the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebras is February to March when they have their young. The dry season (June to November) in general is the best time to go on safari in Tanzania since the animals congregate around the water holes and river banks.The best time to enjoy the beaches of Zanzibar and Pemba is between July and October when there are less tourists escaping the European winter and there’s little chance of rain.

Money Matters

Currency
The Tanzanian unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSh). Bills range from 1 shilling to 10,000 shillings. The exchange rates fluctuate, the latest rates can be found here.

Exchanging Money
The easiest foreign currency to exchange in Tanzania is the US dollar, in either cash or traveler check form. While you get better rates at banks and foreign exchange bureaus for the larger bills, keeping a stack of small bills is handy for tips. Most of the high-end hotels and wildlife parks accept US dollars but it can sometimes be a bit cheaper if you pay fees and accommodation in Tanzanian shillings. ATM’s can be found in all the major cities, but my Lonely Planet Guide warns that some machines enjoy eating cards, so use at your own risk. Major credit cards are only accepted at the more expensive restaurants and hotels.

Travel

Getting to and from Tanzania by air: If you’re planning to visit Northern Tanzania, the best airport to arrive at is Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). KLM has daily flights from Amsterdam. Ethiopian and Kenya Airways also fly into KIA. If you’re planning to visit Zanzibar, southern and western Tanzania, you’ll want to fly to the capital Dar es Salaam. European carriers that fly into Dar es Salaam include British Airways, KLM and Swissair (which codeshares with Delta). Regional flights to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and parts of northern Tanzania regularly fly from Nairobi (Kenya Airways, Air Kenya) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines). Air Tanzania has several flights per week from Dar es Salaam to Entebbe (Uganda), the Comoros Islands and Johannesburg.

Getting Around in Tanzania:
By Air
To get from northern Tanzania to the capital Dar es Salaam, or to fly to Zanzibar, there are several scheduled flights you can take. Precision Air offers routes between all the major Tanzanian towns, as does the national airline, Air Tanzania. Regional Air Services offers flights to Grumeti (Serengeti), Manyara, Sasakwa, Seronera, Dar es Salaam, Arusha and more. For quick flights to Zanzibar from around Tanzania, check out ZanAir.

By Train
Two railway lines have passenger services in Tanzania. Tazara trains run between Dar es Salaam and Mbeya (handy to get to the border of Malawi and Zambia). The Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) runs the other railway line and you can travel from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma and Mwanza; and also along the Kaliua-Mpanda and Manyoni-Singida Branch Lines. See TRC’s passenger-train schedules to find out when the trains run. There are several classes to choose from, depending how squashed you like to be on long train rides, choose your class accordingly. For 1st and 2nd class berths, book at least a few days in advance.

By Bus
There are plenty of options to travel by bus in Tanzania. The biggest express bus operator is Scandinavia Express Services which has routes between major cities and towns throughout the country. Other major express bus companies in Tanzania include Dar Express, Royal and Akamba. For basic schedules, costs and trip time see this handy guide from Encounter Tanzania. Local buses run between smaller towns as well as large towns but they are often slow and very crowded.

Renting a Car
All the major car rental agencies and plenty of local ones can provide you with a 4WD (4×4) vehicle in Tanzania. Most rental agencies do not offer unlimited mileage, so you’ll have to be careful when calculating your costs. The roads in Tanzania aren’t very good especially during the rainy season and gas (petrol) is expensive. Driving is on the left side of the road and you’ll most likely need an international driving license as well as a major credit card to rent a car. Driving at night is not advised. If you’re driving in the major cities beware that carjackings are becoming more commonplace. If you’re planning a self-drive safari in Tanzania then the Northern circuit is a lot easier to navigate than the western or southern wildlife parks. The road from Arusha to the Serengeti takes you to Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. It’s in reasonable condition, although getting to your campsite may not be as easy once you’re within the park gates.


 

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Tanzania Guided Tours

  • Diving and Snorkeling: Tanzania offers divers world-class reefs and plentiful schools of tropical fish just offshore of popular beaches and secluded locations. Dive courses are offered at many of the hotels and lodges on the mainland coast as well as Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia islands, and is a rewarding skill to learn while on holiday, but the surface swimmer need not despair – most of the reefs are accessible to snorkelers and equipment is easily rented from dive shops and lodges.
  • Safari Options: Trips can be tailor made according to your travel preferences, the time of year, and what you want to see, so don’t hesitate to let your operator know exactly what you want. While the quality of safaris can vary according to what you’re paying, all visitors should expect the best of their safari team, from competent, well-informed guides to good food and comfortable accommodation.
  • Deep-sea Fishing: The deep waters of the Indian Ocean along Tanzania’s coast are rich in big-game fish, from marlin and tuna to swordfish and biting barracudas. All the same, the waters of Tanzania are only just beginning to gain the world-wide fame of the Kenyan coast, so the waters are less populated and fishing at its most pristine. In the Zanzibar Archipelago, resorts and lodges along the northern and eastern parts of Unguja and the island of Pemba offer fishing charters that venture into deep waters. Fishing is becoming a popular alternative to snorkeling and dive trips along the reefs, and boats take clients out into the Pemba Channel and surrounding waters.
  • Inland Fishing: Fishing is an economic mainstay of many parts of rural Tanzania and quickly becoming a popular activity for visitors along the country’s rivers and lakes. Although not permitted in national parks, fly and lake fishing in remote areas is a rewarding and peaceful way to experience the beauty of African scenery and enjoy the country at a leisurely pace. Fly fishing along the many rivers and large streams Tanzania is another rewarding experience for sportsmen wanting to experience remote areas at a leisurely pace.
  • Mountain Climbing: Tanzania’s numerous parks and reserves offer many climbing options for the avid explorer. The most frequent expeditions are obviously to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, but there are other destinations such as the Crater Highlands. Trekking companies will happily put together an itinerary that suits your preferencesand our ‘things to bring’ section will help make sure that you adequately prepared. It is advisable, especially when climbing at higher altitudes, to take things slowly and allow your body to acclimatize.
  • Ballooning: At this time, only the Serengeti National Park has a company that operates hot-air balloon safaris. Especially during the months of the Great Migration, this is often the highlight of visitors’ trips to Tanzania. The journey takes a little over an hour and sets off before dawn, flying low over the plains as the sun comes up and turns the grasslands from blue to gold. After landing, guests have a champagne breakfast complete with crystal glasses and white linen tablecloths in the middle of the African bush, as zebra and antelope graze nearby. Although expensive, the experience is well worth the treat.
  • Zanzibar: Zanzibar offers a wide selection of great excursions! Visit the historical Stone Town, slaves house and various historical sites in Zanzaibars’ capital. Diving ventures are plenty; wonderfull white tropical sandy beaches. Enjoy a guided tour of one of the many spice farms.
  • Boating and Canoeing: Boating and canoeing through the rivers, ocean bays, and waterways of Tanzania can be an exhilarating experience. River boating can take you past sleeping crocodiles and hippos sunning themselves with their mouths wide open, gathered in half-submerged herds. Taking to the water is also a welcome break from the all-day enclosure of a traditional vehicle safari, and allow visitors to experience the sights and sounds of Africa’s waterways up-close and unhindered.Boating safaris are fast becoming a popular alternative for safari-goers adventurous enough to venture off the beaten track. Water-safaris are on offer as a break from longer game-viewing and give visitors the opportunity to get out in the open and see tremendous amounts of bird-life and water species up close. At present, boating safaris for game-viewing are only permitted in the Selous Game Reserve, where the Rufigi River, the Great Ruaha River, and numerous lakes give visitors a choice of many expeditions to choose from. Despite the proximity of crocodiles and hippos during water safaris, the expeditions are extremely safe and the animals react with puzzled curiosity to the sight of boats on water!

 

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Serengeti

Tanzan7The dramatic natural arena in which Africa’s greatest display itself out, the horizonless plains of the Serengeti are a spectacular wildlife sanctuary without parallel. Known by the local Masai as “The Great Open Space”, the plateau of the 15 000 km square grassland is covered by the short grasses of the Serengeti National Park, acclaimed as the finest game reserve in Africa. This extraordinary ecosystem- adjoined by the Masai Mara Reserve- is home to enormous populations of mammals. The Serengeti’s annual wildebeest migration begins on the southern plateau during summer rains (December to May) when herds of 100 000 animals begin their 800km trek to the western territories, only to make the grueling return trip to the southern plains between October and November.

 
 

Kilimanjaro


Tanzan6Mighty Kilimanjaro
with an altitude of 5 895 m, emerged 750 000 years ago as a result of volcanic activity to create the world’s highest freestanding mountain. The precise origin of Kili’s name remains lost in time- the local word kilima means ‘hill’ rather tah ‘mountain’.
Rising from the plains of the Masai, the mountain peak- a dormant volcano- is snow-capped even though only 3 degrees from the equator and make of the different slopes varies radically. From the foot to 1800m the inclines comprise of volcanic soils, while the vegetation up to 2800m is rainforest, which receives over 2000mm of rain. To an altitude of 4000m it is covered by a moorland and heather and giant lobelias.

 

 

Lake Victoria

Tanzan8Also known as Victoria Nyanza, Lake Victoria falls within the boundaries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Covering 69 485 km square, Victoria is Africa’s largest lake and the world’s second largest. Lying in the populated highlands of Kenya, it averages a depth of only 78m, and its waters are drained by the Victoria Nile. The lake is dotted by little islands such as Ndere ( a reserve harbouring island wildlife).Rubondo Island reserve boasts sitatunga, bushbucks and chimps. The lake shore is lined with reeds, papirys and flamingoes, while its banks are settled mostly by the Luo , farmers and fisherman who ply the lake for Nile perch.

 

 

 

Dar es Salaam

Tanzan3Established in 1870 by Sultan Majid of Zanzibar as his “Haven of Peace”. The spiritual heart of Tanzania is magical Dar es Salaam, the nation’s most important harbor city and largest urban settlement. More acclaimed for its splendid beaches, Oyster Bay and Kunduchi, dynamic Dar remains every inch the contemporary city. It has a wonderful mix of people and cultures (the legacy of German and English colonists) as well as noisy but mesmerizing markets and unparreled upmarket tourist facilities. It also boasts impressive historic sites that are, in the most part, only a few decades old.

 

 

 

Ngorogoro Crater

Tanzan10The Ngorogoro Crater, the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world, form the heart of the Nogorogoro Conservation Area, the expansive tableland that covers the 265km square of the crater floor. Hedged in by 600km walls that tower high above the open savanna, this is a sweep of untamed wilderness across which herds numbering hundreds of zebra and wildebeest charge, and huge flocks of pink flamingos wade seasonal waters. The plains and montane forests are home of array of Africa’s most recognized wildlife, with no fewer than a quarter million large mammals scattered across the emptiness. The abundance of antelope species means that this is also prime big cat country, with cheetah, leopard and the world’s nesest population of over 100 lions. The rest of the Big Five have also settled here: elephant bulls, 3,000 head of buffalo and roughly 20 black rhinos.

 

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