Tanzania Travel Guide

Tanzania Travel Guide

Tanzania is the most incredible country, it’s the Africa of your dreams. With world class safaris, beautiful beaches and stunning mountains, Tanzania really does have it all.

To help you you plan your trip to Tanzania, I’ve created this handy Tanzania Travel Guide, with lots of info and resources, things to see and do, how to get around, what to eat and where to stay!


Tanzania Travel Tips & Useful info


Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)

Language: Mainly Swahili, but English is well understood. There are also over 100 regional languages too.

Visa: A 90-day Single Entry Visa is $50 for most nationalities. However, the fee for American citizens is $100 but the visa is valid for 12 months. Volunteers usually go in on a tourist visa, but then must apply for a Class C volunteer when there which costs $200. Most nationalities can get visas on arrival, however some need to apply in advance. You can check your visa regulations here.

When To Go: The best time for wildlife viewing is during the dry season between June and October. However, if you want to see the great wildebeest migration you will want to avoid August to October as the migration moves into Kenya during this time. The best time to see the migration in Tanzania is June and July. The wildebeest calving takes place during January and February. Whale shark season on Mafia Island is usually March to November.

Dry Season: June to October.

Wet Season: The short rains come in November and December and the long rains come in March to May.

Yellow Fever: You can see whether you need a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate here.

Main Airport(s): Kilimanjaro International Airport (Arusha/Moshi), Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar es Salaam) and Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (Zanzibar).

Languages: Swahili is the main language, however there are a number of regional languages spoken and English is widely understood. See my list of the most useful Swahili words and phrases here.

Recommended Reading:

Internet & Mobile: The two main networks in Tanzania are Airtel and Vodacom. From my experience, Vocacom has better coverage in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. In Zanzibar, Zantel is usually the best network.

Water: I’d advise buying bottled water or using a filter bottle like this LifeStraw one.

Safety: Tanzania is generally a safe country to visit however petty crime is common and there have been some reports of robberies and muggings in Dar es Salaam and Stone Town especially, so you need to keep your wits about you. I would advise you to take taxis after dark and if you do need to walk at night, keep to busy streets and preferably walk in a group. Unfortunately, being gay is an illegal offence in Tanzania and in October 2018, the government announced an anti-gay crackdown and asked the public to report gay people. That includes foreigners, so be careful.

What to Pack: You can see my complete Africa Packing List here.

Top Tip: Greetings are everything to Tanzanians, so make sure you greet people properly and extra bonus points if you do so in Swahili.


Things To See & Do in Tanzania


Backpack Tanzania: If you’re looking for an African country that has it all, Tanzania is probably the one. Here’s my Tanzania itinerary in case you’d like to follow it!

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: To this day, climbing Kilimanjaro was one of my most challenging yet best adventures in Africa.

Go on Safari: Tanzania It wouldn’t be a trip to Tanzania without going on safari would it? The most popular safari destinations are the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, but you also have Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ruaha and Selous (to name a few).

Take the Tazara Train: One of my favourite journeys was taking the Tazara train from Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Visit to the Maasai Tribe: Visiting the Maasai and learning about their unique culture is a must-do experience in Tanzania. Just make sure your visit to the Maasai is an ethical one.

Hike the Usambara Mountains: The Usambaras are one of the friendliest and prettiest places in Tanzania and perfect if you love to hike. The most famous area is around the town of Lushoto which has incredible views over the surrounding area. However, if you want somewhere even more remote and more special, head to Mambo in the far north of the mountains. If at all possible, this place is even more beautiful than Lushoto.

Visit Historical Bagamoyo: My favourite town in Tanzania is the historical town of Bagamoyo, about and hour and a half north of Dar es Salaam.

Explore Stone Town: If you are looking for an incredible place to visit, Stone Town is an absolute assault on the senses, with so much going on, it’s hard to know where to look.

Relax on the Beaches of Zanzibar: Both Tanzania and Zanzibar have amazing beaches. Most notable in Tanzania are the beaches of Pangani. Whilst in Zanzibar you may like Kendwa, Nungwi, Jambiani, Paje and Michamvi.

See the Chimps in Mahale Mountains National Park: If you really want to get off the beaten track, head to Mahale National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganika. This is where Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees for many years.


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Getting Around Tanzania


Tanzania is one of the easiest African countries to travel through due to the abundance of local transport options. Here are a few you can try:

Mini Bus: Local mini buses (called dala-dalas) go pretty much everywhere in Tanzania. They aren’t the safest or most comfortable form of transportation, but they are cheap and often.

Coach: To travel long distances, I would definitely recommend using coaches or shuttle buses. The Impala Shuttle and Riverside Shuttle are good choices for travelling between Arusha/Moshi and Nairobi. And the Kilimanjaro Express is my favourite choice for travelling between Arusha/Moshi and Dar es Salaam.

Ferry: The AZAM Marine ferry is the best option for getting to Zanzibar (other than flying). The ferry is quick (usually around 1.5 hours) and is $35 for an economy seat. You can book online, however they have no online payment facilities at the moment so you need to collect and pay for your tickets 3 hours before departure or they may release them. There are also ferries that run between Zanzibar and Pemba a couple of times a week. Other ferries include the MV Liemba on Lake Tanganika, MV Iringa and MV Songea on Lake Nyasa (aka Lake Malawi) and MV Victoria on Lake Victoria. Check recent reports to check if they are running.

Train: Travel travel is the easiest or most reliable form of travel in Tanzania, but it is a fun adventure. There are two major train lines in Tanzania. The most popular is the Tazara that connects Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. There’s also the Central line which links Dar es Salaam with Kigoma on Lake Tanganika. However, currently the track is out of action near to Dar, so if you want to take the train, you’ll need to head to Dodoma and take the train from there.

Plane: Air travel within Tanzania is pretty easy and frequent. Local and international airlines fly between the major cities and towns. There are also a number of smaller airports and airstrips throughout the country serviced by local airlines. You can find a list of Tanzanian airports here.

Tuk Tuk: There are plenty of tuk tuks (known locally as Bajaj – which is the make) in Tanzania, especially in the coastal regions. They are cheaper than taxis and a good option.

Motorbike Taxi: There are lots of motorbike taxis known as piki-pikis (sometimes called boda-bodas) that are a quick and cheap way to get around. Whilst they are efficient, they aren’t very safe and rarely will the driver have a spare helmet. Just be aware that if you have an accident whilst riding one, your travel insurance may not be valid.

Taxis: There are lots of taxis in Tanzania, but they can be expensive, so you’ll need to try and negotiate a good price.

Hitchkiking: I would not advise hitchhiking around Tanzania. Rather, ask around and see if someone knows someone who is going where you need to go. They usually always do.


Food in Tanzania


Tanzania has great food, in fact, it’s probably my favourite in Africa! Tanzanian food is heavily influenced by Indian food, so you’ll find lots of crossovers. Food is generally pretty well-priced and you can easily eat for just a few dollars a day if you buy from local markets and cook for yourself or eat from street food stalls. There are also plenty of great restaurants too. In land the food is a bit more meat focussed, whilst on the coast is more about the seafood, but there are also plenty of great vegetarian options too!

Some foods to try when you go are:

Ugali: A maize porridge which is the staple food of may African countries.

Greens: Usually somewhere on the side of any meal, you’ll find some collard greens, known locally as sukuma wiki.

Chips Mayai: A chip (French fry) omelette. Believe it or not, this is a very popular street food in Tanzania.

Nyama Choma: Grilled meat, usually goat, chicken or beef. I don’t know why, but the grilled chicken in Tanzania is my favourite in the world.

Chapati: Tanzania food is heavily influenced by Indian food, so chapattis are extremely popular.

Rice and Beans: A staple in Tanzania.

Samosa: Deep fried parcels of meat or vegetables.

Mtori: A nutritional plaintain (green banana) and beef soup.

Mishkaki: Skewers of meat (usually beef) cooked over hot coals, often with a little spice.

Kashata: This is one of my favourite things, a sweet treat made with peanuts, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cardamon and water. I guess that means it’s vegan too.

Mangoes with Spice: One of my fabvourite street foods in Zanzibar is mangoes sprinkled with chilli, salt or both.

Urojo Soup (Zanzibar Mix): A soup

Kachumbari: A salad usually made with tomatoes, onions and chilli (sometimes avocado).

Pilau: Rice with spices, meat and sauce, all cooked together.

Biryani: Similar to pilau, but the rice is cooked separately.

Mandazi: Basically a donut.

Swahili Curry: There are lots of variations on this dish but whether you have fish, chicken or b=vegetables, it’s likely to be a whole load of coco-nutty loveliness.


Where Stay in Tanzania


Tanzania has a wide range of accommodation to suit every type of traveller, from camping, to backpacker hostels, to luxury beach villas and upmarket safari lodges, Tanzania has it all! Here are some suggestions (generally listed cheapest to most expensive by destination):

Arusha

Check out some other options here.

Moshi

  • The Secret Garden: This is a really nice hostel/lodge with friendly staff and nice decoration and views of Kilimanjaro. stay inside the hostel as the outside rooms are n’t as nice.
  • More Than a Drop: I love this place. It’s an amazing guesthouse, vocational centre and social enterprise that trains young women in hospitality. They have great veggie food and an epic view of Kilimanjaro too.

Check out some other options here.

Serengeti

Check out some other options here.

Ngorongoro Crater

Check out some other options here.

Lushoto

Check out some other options here.

Mambo

  • Mambo Cliff Inn: Good budget option and nice rooms with amazing views, but basic food options and water doesn’t always work.
  • Mambo View Point: Fantastic eco-lodge, just along the cliff from Mambo Cliff Inn.

Pangani

  • Drifters Lodge: If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Pangani that’s nice but pretty cheap, then Drifters is a great choice.
  • Pangani Cliffs Lodge: This is a great mid-range option, for those who want a little extra but don’t want to break the bank.
  • The Tides Lodge: If you’re looking for somewhere a bit fancier, then The Tides Lodge is a great choice, right on the beach with beautiful rooms and pool area.

Check out some other options here.

Bagamoyo

  • Moyo Mmoja: A great budget option, nothing fancy and there’s no restaurant or pool, but staying here you’ll feel part of the community. This is just round the corner from where I lived at Baga Point (where you should go for a beer from a container). You’ll often find long-term travellers here and NGO workers, so you’re bound to make local friends.
  • Firefly:This is a cute guest backpackers, perfectly situated in the main part of town, near the beach and close to Poa Poa restaurant. One of my favourite backpackers in Africa.

Check out some other options here.

Dar es Salaam

  • Hunch Backpackers: Nice hostel in a great location nearer the the ferry than the others.
  • The Slow Leopard: Clean and modern dorms and they have great food and a popular bar. In a great location!
  • Mikadi Beach Lodge: This hostel/camp is right on the each and I think it’s now owned by the same people as Firefly in Bagamoyo.

Stone Town

Check out some other options here.

Paje

  • Drifters: A nice backpacker place. They’ve just moved location to the beach too.
  • Hakuna Shida Guesthouse: Nice guesthouse, set back off the beach but only a couple of minutes walk.
  • The Waterfront: Beautiful beach hotel with a great pool.

Check out some other options here.

Jambiani

  • Red Monkey Lodge: Beautiful beach lodge in Jambiani. The place to be on a Monday night when they have the Monday Night Jam.
  • Mamamapambo: This place is amazing.

Check out some other options here.

Michamvi

  • Upendo Zanzibar: Super cool and beautiful villa lodge in Michamvi, facing The Rock Restaurant.

Check out some other options here.

Kendwa

  • Kendwa Rocks: Great for solo travellers and home to the famous Full Moon Party. They also now have a pool!

Check out some other options here.

Nungwi

Check out some other options here.

Fumba

  • Fumba Lodge: Perfect place for honeymooners in the south of the island.

Mafia Island

  • Butiama Beach: This is a gorgeous boutique hotel on mafia Island if you make it down there.

Check out some other options here.


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