Tanzania Holiday Planning Guide
Though the scale of Tanzania’s main attractions may be overwhelming, the people make it a personable and easy-going place to visit. With the continent’s highest peak and some of the most animal-rich safaris available, Tanzania holidays tend to be series of spontaneous, unexpected, natural events.
Why Go On Safari?
An African safari involves several wildlife game drives, staying in remote locations, and observing the behavior and survival skills of Nature’s inhabitants. You can choose to be electronically unplugged from the modern world (internet is available, but ignored; turned off the cell phone; no newspapers, radio or television), no fast food chain restaurants, no vehicular traffic, no crowds of people, no man-made noises – an alien world in today’s fast-paced, modern hurly burly.
Best Time to Visit
Northern Tanzania – July to March
Southern Tanzania – June to March
Zanzibar and the coast – June to March
Western Tanzania – May to March
Local: Time is GMT + 3 hours
Tanzania is safe country to travel in. Tanzanian are warm-hearted and generous people and eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Tanzania is a politically stable, multi-democratic country. As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as shocking valuables in the hotel safe and not walking alone at night.
Banks and bureau de change are available at airports and in all major. Banks hours are from Monday – Friday 8:20am – 3:00pm, Saturday 8:30am – 1:30pm
Kiswahili and English
Popular Destinations in Tanzania.
The well-established ‘Northern Circuit’ safari of northern Tanzania offers some of the world’s most diverse safari experiences, consisting of National Parks, game reserves, conservation areas and private concessions. Among these are the world-famous and iconic Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, and of course their less well-known neighbours, Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park.
Arusha Region: Thanks to abundant wildlife, archaeological sites, and safari tours through remarkable World Heritage-listed national parks and natural reserves, Arusha Region has become a hub of Tanzania tourism. While serving as an excellent starting point for safaris into surrounding national parks, Arusha also offers a vibrant nightlife, lively markets, and delicious local coffee.
Lake Manyara National Park is best used as a soft introduction to a safari. Famous for its tree climbing lions, good elephants and baboons, the scenic beauty of this park certainly makes it worth a visit, the game viewing here pales into insignificance when compared with that on offer in Tarangire, the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti.
Tarangire National Park is a lovely, quiet park in Northern Tanzania. It is most famous for its elephant migration, birding and authentic safari atmosphere.
Serengeti National Park is Africa’s most famous. Renowned for its incredible concentrations of predators and the Great Serengeti Migration of two million wildebeest, a Serengeti safari is guaranteed to be exceptional. The endless grassy plains (Serengeti in Maasai) are the richest grazing grounds on the continent, and therefore home to the largest herds and the highest concentrations of predators on the planet.
Serengeti Hippo Pool: Constantly supplied by the converging Orangi and Seronera rivers, this pool inside Serengeti National Park brings tourists closer to the hippos–and the occasional crocodile.
Ngorongoro Crater: An oasis for both wildlife and the Maasai tribe, this World Heritage-listed natural wonder stretches 260 sq km (100 sq mi) and boasts zebras, wildebeest, and lions.
Oldupai Gorge: This deep ravine cutting into Great Rift Valley is considered one of world’s most important paleontology sites, offering a glimpse into ancient human history and a chance to witness millions of years of evolution.
Moshi: Resting at the foothills of the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, this tourism town serves as an excellent starting point for exploring nearby national parks, coffee plantations, traditional villages, hot springs, and waterfalls.
Mount Kilimanjaro: Experience this majestic dormant volcano with glacial peaks rising 5,895 m (19,341 ft) into the clouds, which offers some of the most awe-inspiring panoramic views and challenging hiking expeditions. Home to a thriving coffee industry, challenging mountaineering sites, lush rainforests, and Africa’s prestigious rooftop, Kilimanjaro Region remains one of the most popular places to visit in Tanzania and, indeed, Africa.
The south and west Zones
The south and west of Tanzania are often overshadowed by the more famous and iconic Serengeti Safari and Ngorongoro Crater in the north. However these areas offer incredible game viewing and a range of safari activities such as boating/walking safaris and fly camping. The western parks, Katavi and Mahale,are even more remote and wild – and expensive to reach! – thus less frequented by travellers and more exclusive.
Selous Game Reserve. Typically, Selous offers wonderful views of wild animals. The number of lakes alongside the main circuit is a great place to view the distinctively numerous giraffes and also many ungulates like waterbucks, zebras, impalas plus buffaloes. The waterholes are usually monitored by starving lions and every now and then it is possible to witness a kill.
Mikumi National Park, is Tanzania’s fourth-largest national park. It’s also the most accessible from Dar es Salaam. With almost guaranteed wildlife sightings, it makes an ideal safari destination for those without much time.
The main attarctions of Mikumi are;
- The spectacular concentration of variety of animals in Mkata flood plain including four of the big five, elephant, buffalo, Lion and Leopard.
- The ever changing skies and light producing glorious sunrise and sunset.
- Other games including the worlds’ largest Antelope – Eland, Greater Kudu, Sable Antelopes, Defassa waterbuck and African hunting dogs.
- Mikumi offers an outstanding diversity of bird life. From the striking turkey-sized group hornbill to the tiny sunbirds. Eagles are often seen soaring in the intense blue skies, and the Lilac-breasted rollers add brilliance to their background.
- Mikumi has a variety of vegetation types ranging from seasonally flooded grassland to woodland and riverine forest. The Afromontane forest found on the summit of Malundwe Mountains is part of forest type that is renowned for its unique flora and fauna
Ruaha National Park is one of the few Tanzania’s famous wilderness area where one can have a rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape. The park is rich of plants and animals such as Greater Kudu which can not be found in any other national park. The park boasts of her almost untouched and unexplored ecosystem, making visitors’ safari experience very unique.
Ruaha is believed to have high concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa. It is also a place where, magnificent mammals like Kudu (both Greater and Lesser), Sable and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland. The male Kudu have beautiful spiraled horns while male Sable antelope have impressive curved horns. The park is also a habitat for endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes and Jackals.
Udzungwa Mountains National Park – is an intriguingly offbeat destination for anyone botanically inclined or interested in remote hiking. Although not a conventional game viewing destination, Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers. An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular half-day ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 metres (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below.
Zanzibar and the Coast Region
Zanzibar Archipelago: Known for its pristine natural environment and exotic powdery beaches, this chain of islands reveals a captivating mixture of Indian, Swahili, and bygone Persian cultures, cuisine, and architecture.
Prison Island – Changuu Private Island: Home to endangered Aldabra giant tortoises, this popular tourism island with lovely guesthouses and pristine beaches once served as a slave prison and a yellow fever quarantine zone.
Forodhani Park: Bubbling with social and culinary activity, this renovated park with scenic landscapes hosts bustling food markets, cafes overlooking the bay and islands, and various public events.
Paje: Bordering the shallow lagoon of Unguja Island, the charming and calm village of Paje lies surrounded by natural spots and secluded turquoise beaches, attracting lovers of marine life, kite surfing, and spicy food.
Nungwi: Enjoy the warm sandy coast shaded by palm trees and mangroves in a calm rural environment, which still maintains its boat-building and deep-sea fishing traditions.
Nungwi Beach: Spreading along the bustling village’s main strip, this powdery white beach boasts turquoise waters and an abundance of snorkeling, diving, and dining.
Zanzibar Spice Tour: One of the nation’s most popular excursions, this tour lets you see first-hand how exotic spices, herbs, and fruits are cultivated, and then sample traditional Swahili dishes.
Dar es Salaam: Hailed as the country’s commercial center, this sprawling metropolis with beachfront penthouses, imposing skyscrapers, and blend of Indian and Arab cultural influences is a highlight of many Tanzania itineraries.
Planning a Tanzania Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Tanzania with Kids
Tanzania has a lot of destinations that children will find fascinating and entertaining. One of the nation’s greatest assets is its wildlife diversity, as well as plenty of touring opportunities to meet the animals up close.
While the greatest heights in Serengeti National Park are reserved for skilled hikers and mountaineers, the lower parts possess all the necessary facilities and staff, hosting programs and tours for children to immerse themselves in the exotic natural attractions of Tanzania. Your family can also embark on a safari to witness the stunning wildlife.
Your family can discover the country’s vibrant and warm culture at Zanzibar Island, as well as enjoying the powdery white beaches and snorkeling through the depths.
Things to Do in Tanzania with Kids
Tanzania’s many zoos, nature parks, and wildlife refuges make for memorable excursions.
At Ngorongoro Crater kids can meet tame cheetahs and other animals up close, pet them, and see how they behave, feed, and play. Fans of marine life can don snorkeling gear and observe the colorful underwater world with Scubafish Zanzibar Ltd or Mafia Island Diving.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Tanzania
Many of Tanzania’s hotels and resorts eagerly welcome families, and numerous well-established attractions cater to children’s needs.
Small children can stay in hotels either for free or a significant discount, just remember to book all accommodations in advance to ensure that beds or rooms are interconnected.
Malaria is one of the most feared diseases for visitors: as you plan your trip, check all the necessary health procedures and consult your doctor about antimalarial tablets. Many doctors will also recommend getting a yellow-fever vaccine, although the epidemic is contained and precautions are no longer an imperative.
A tour of Tanzania will reveal a country that is peaceful and well-protected by the police and military. Police officers are always close by, especially in major tourist destinations. Safari organizers work with domestic and international peace-keeping organizations in order to ensure guest safety and provide immediate intervention should necessity demand it.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Tanzania
Cuisine of Tanzania
With over 120 ethnic groups, as well as strong European and Asian influences, Tanzania delights with its diverse and exotic cuisine. Muslims were the first to open trade routes in this region in 800 CE, bringing spices and citrus fruits from India. The Portuguese introduced Tanzania’s staple ingredients–cassava and groundnuts–while the British and Germans established tea and coffee plantations.
Hearty and healthy dishes will fuel your tour of Tanzania: coconut bean or plantain soups, fried bananas, beef or chicken kebabs, and rice or curried fish in coconut milk. The national dish is ugali, a cornmeal dough served with either meat sauce, fish, veggies, or beans. The ever-popular pilau (or pilaf), often a ceremonial dish, features rice, spices, and vegetables. Meat lovers will want to sample nyama choma, a typical Tanzanian meal of grilled chicken, goat, sheep, or fish.
Shopping in Tanzania
Most Tanzania vacationers inevitably stumble upon the many curio shops, bazaars, and markets located on main or coastal roads, and near parks and reserves. Tanzania’s bigger cities, such as Arusha, Dar es salaam and Stone town offer an abundance of shopping opportunities.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Tanzania
Interesting Facts About Tanzania
Over 120 languages are spoken in Tanzania, most of which belong to the Bantu group.
Some of the world’s oldest human remains and tools were found in Olduvai gorge.
The world’s most expensive African blackwood trees, or mpingo trees, are commonly seen in Tanzania.
The highlight of much Tanzania tourism, Mount Kilimanjaro stands as Africa’s tallest mountain.
Tanzania boasts the largest concentration of wildlife animals in the world per square kilometer.
Tanzania is also home to the world’s largest crab, the coconut crab.
Things You Should NOT Do in Tanzania
Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex, including kissing, hugging, and holding hands, are generally disapproved of in Tanzania. Meanwhile, friends of the same sex often hold hands in the street. Homosexuality, however, remains both a taboo and illegal.
Do not criticize people openly. Not only is it impolite, but it is also considered very offensive among the locals. If you have to complain about something, do so in a constructive and discreet manner.
You will probably notice during your Tanzania vacation that there are practically no dress codes. Showing bare legs and shoulders is tolerated in most parts of the country, especially in coastal cities. However, you must dress modestly when visiting Muslim institutions and grounds.
Although it is considered common sense not to eat without washing your hands, to Tanzanians hand washing is a traditional ritual. Never decline an offer to clean yourself up before dining, especially if you visit someone’s home. Hosts will pour warm water on your hands while saying the welcome word “karibu” and place another bowl below to collect the dirty water. The ritual is repeated after a meal, too.
Do not be offended by names Tanzanians call foreigners. This is because they rarely have a chance to communicate and practice their English with tourists, so they will seize their moment if they can. Tanzanians call almost all people of Asian descent Chinese, while Europeans or white people are called “mzungu,” meaning “a person who walks in circles/wanders without purpose.”
Limit your traveling at night as much as possible.
Spectacular in Tanzania
While not exactly a holiday, the Serengeti Wildebeest migration certainly represents a major national event, especially between December and February, when nature lovers can observe these animals search for water and feed.
Useful Tanzania Travel Tips
Common Greetings in Tanzania
Greeting is very important in Tanzania, no matter if in passing or brief contact in the waiting room, elevator, stairs, and other passages. If you do not know Swahili, a simple “hi” or “how are you?” is quite acceptable. The general greeting in Swahili is “habari” (informal), “hujambo” (to a single person), or “hamjambo” (when addressing more than one person).
- In Tanzania learn some words in Swahili, e.g. Hello = Jambo; Thank you = Asante; How are you? = Habari?
- Smiles are universally understood and transcend language barriers.
Handshakes are not common practice. People will more likely offer their wrist just to be touched, but if a handshake happens, make it light and brief. The elderly or highly respected people in tribes can be greeted with a bow or a slight nod, but avoid this gesture in the rest of the country.
Climate of Tanzania
Although Tanzania’s climate has regional variations due to diverse topography, it is generally characterized as tropical. Coastal areas are quite humid with temperatures rarely falling below 20 C (68 F), whereas the temperature in the northwestern highlands ranges between 10 to 20 C (50 to 68 F).
Interestingly, Tanzania has two rainy seasons. Short bursts of rain are common from October to December, while the period between March and June experiences long showers. Touring Tanzania can be done all year round, but it is recommended that you travel between these two rainy seasons, especially if you wish to explore inland.
For a beach side vacation in Tanzania, plan to come between December and January. This period may be the hottest, but ocean breezes make the weather bearable. Note that hotels are usually fully booked during the Christmas and New Year period.
Prescribed anti-malaria medication can be taken 2 weeks before leaving home, while on safari in Africa, and continues 2 weeks after returning home.
From dusk to dawn, use a strong Deet infused insect repellent; wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, closed toe shoes (not sandals); and use mosquito netting to prevent insect bites. The high altitude (7,500 feet/2,300 meters) of Ngorongoro Crater causes temperatures too cold for mosquitoes.
Avoid dehydration by drinking lots of bottled water. The dust dries out the eyes, throat and mouth. Arrange with the safari operator for bottled water in the 4WD safari vehicle and the lodging accommodations.
Transportation in Tanzania
Tanzania’s road network is fairly developed, but try to limit your stay to around two regions. Also, you will find almost no rest areas or gas stations between towns and cities, so consider picking one base from which you will explore the rest of attractions on your Tanzania itinerary.
Public transportation has its pros and cons. Ubiquitous dalla-dallas, or public minibuses, feature fixed prices and make many stops, but they are frequently crowded and prone to speeding accidents. Boats and ferries are frequently used, but can be overcrowded. Trains may offer a lovely glimpse of Tanzania’s scenic environment, but expect slow service and delays.
Taxis have white plates on the mainland or a passenger vehicle sign on Zanzibar Island. You can hire one in all major towns, but remember to agree on the fare before getting in, since there are no meters. Feel free to ask locals for advice to negotiate a fairer price, and also make sure to use taxis from established stands or hotels. If renting a car, choose a reliable company that offers replacement in case of breakdowns, and avoid driving at night.
Tipping in Tanzania
Although tipping in Tanzania is not mandatory, rewarding quality service is certainly appreciated.
However, choose wisely who deserves a bigger tip, especially in the tourism sector. Certain job positions, such as park ranger, which require high education and a high level of practical knowledge, are not paid well by the government, whereas safari camp assistants, who do not require the same set of skills, may receive a higher monthly revenue thanks to tips alone, thus creating an imbalance in the local economy.
Taxis, restaurants, and barbers outside of tours do not expect a tip. Still, if you consider that service was excellent, you may round up the bill to a convenient amount.
Visa Fees, issuing centres and authorities:
Standard rate for ordinary visa fee is USD 50. A Visa may be obtained at the united republic of Tanzania mission abroad or consulate and also on arrival at all designated entry point.