Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro   Zebra in Tanzania

Why Tanzania?                                                                Click here to view video

Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar… The names roll off the tongue like a roster call of Africa’s most alluring destinations, all packed into one country. Resonating with hints of the wild and exotic, these four alone are reason enough to justify packing your bag and heading off to Tanzania.  Within the space of several hours, it’s possible to go from lazing on idyllic beaches to exploring moss-covered ruins of ancient Swahili city-states; from climbing mist-covered slopes in the Southern Highlands to trekking through the barren landscapes around Ol Doinyo Lengai, guided by a spear-carrying Maasai warrior. Yet, despite its attractions, Tanzania has managed for the most part to remain unassuming and low-key. It has also remained enviably untouched by the tribal rivalries and political upheavals that plague many of its neighbours, and this – combined with a booming tourism industry – makes it an ideal choice for both first-time visitors and Africa old hands.
 
Throughout, Tanzania offers travellers an array of options, set against the backdrop of a cultural mosaic in which over 100 ethnic groups amicably rub shoulders. While most visitors head straight for the famed northern wildlife-watching circuit, followed by time relaxing on Zanzibar’s beaches, Tanzania has much more to offer anyone with the time and inclination to head off the beaten path. Follow the coastline south into a Swahili culture whose rhythms have remained in many ways unchanged over the centuries. Journey through rolling hill country along the Tanzam highway, detouring to Ruaha National Park. Admire ancient rock paintings around Kolo village. Explore the Lake Victoria shoreline, with its small fishing villages and tranquil islands. Experience the seldom-visited wilderness of Katavi, teeming with buffaloes and hippos. If you’re seeking creature comforts, stick to the northern safari circuit and Zanzibar, where there are sealed main roads and many hotels and restaurants. Elsewhere, and especially in the south and west, you’ll soon find yourself well off the beaten path, surrounded by a Tanzania that’s far removed from Western development.  Wherever you go, take advantage of opportunities to get to know Tanzanians. With their characteristic warmth and politeness, and the dignity and beauty of their cultures, it is they who will inevitably wind up being the highlight of any visit. Chances are that you’ll want to come back for more, to which most Tanzanians will say ‘karibu tena’ (welcome again).

  • When should I travel?
Tanzania can be visited during all seasons. The weather is coolest and driest from late June to September, although in July and August, hotels and park lodges, especially in the north, are at their fullest. October and November are very pleasant, with fewer crowds and a slowly greening-up landscape as the short rains begin in many areas. From late December until February, temperatures are high, but not oppressive. Watch out for high-season hotel prices around the Christmas–New Year holidays, as well as during the July-August peak.  During the main rainy season (March to May), you can save substantially on accommodation costs, and enjoy landscapes that are green and full of life. However, some secondary roads may be impassable, and this is the time when many hotels close for a month or so, especially along the coast.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
Tanzania is in general a safe, hassle-free country and can be a relief if you’ve recently been somewhere like Nairobi. That said, you do need to take the usual precautions. Avoid isolated areas, especially stretches of beach, and in cities and tourist areas take a taxi at night. When using public transport, don’t accept drinks or food from someone you don’t know, and be sceptical of anyone who comes up to you on the street asking whether you remember them from the airport, your hotel or wherever. In tourist areas – especially Arusha, Moshi and Zanzibar– touts and flycatchers can be extremely aggressive, especially around bus stations and budget tourist hotels. Do every¬≠thing you can to minimise the impression that you’re a newly arrived tourist.

  • What money should I take?
Tanzania’s currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh). Prices can be high in Tanzania, but credit cards are frequently not accepted, even at many upmarket hotels. Where they are accepted, it’s often only with steep commissions, which means that you will need to rely here more heavily on cash, ATMs and (in major centres) travellers cheques.  The best currency to bring is US dollars in a mixture of large and small denominations, plus some travellers cheques as an emergency standby and a Visa card for withdrawing money from ATMs. Euros are also easily changed.

  • How about my health?
Travel insurance is essential. There are numerous hospitals, and some Christian missions which provide medical treatment; however, facilities are rudimentary outside of Dar es Salaam and medicines are often unavailable. All treatment must be paid for. Travellers should use bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth. Visitors should encounter few problems if eating in upmarket hotels and lodges. Travellers should take precautions against mosquito bites.

  • Public Holidays

2012

January 01 New Year's Day
January 12 Zanzibar Revolution Day
February 05 Birth of the Prophet
April 06 Good Friday
April 09 Easter Monday
April 26 Union Day
May 01 International Labour Day
July 07 Saba Saba (Industry's Day)
August 08 Nane Nane (Farmer's Day)
August 19 Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan)
October 14 Nyerere Day
October 26 Eid al-Adha
December 09 Independence and Republic Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

2013
January 01 New Year's Day
January 12 Zanzibar Revolution Day
January 24 Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
March 29 Good Friday
April 01 Easter Monday
April 26 Union Day
May 01 Labour Day
July 07 Saba Saba (Dar es salaam International Trade Fair Day)
August 08 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
August 08 Nane Nane (Farmers' Day)
October 14 Nyerere Day
October 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
December 09 Independence and Republic Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

  • Do I need a visa?
Soutth African passport holders require a visa for Tanzania.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
It is no longer compulsory to have the yellow fever vaccination to enter Tanzania. Nevertheless, this rule seems to change every few months so it may still be wise to check with your health practitioner.