Our Tanzania visitors guide makes sure you know all the most important basics before you visit. From the boundless Serengeti to the peaks of Kilimanjaro, the coral reefs of the coast or the spices of Zanzibar, Tanzania is one of Africa’s most exciting, diverse and unique destinations.
However, as a developing nation, there will likely be differences from home for visitors arriving internationally. A little patience and a little preparation will help you have a safe, successful and memorable trip in Tanzania.
Money electricity health and safety language getting around weather documents documents
- the official currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh), which at the time of writing (November 2018) was worth 2300Tsh. ATM’s are located throughout the city, and Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted.
Daily costs will vary depending on your tastes and your itinerary. You can eat with locals for $5 or less a meal and take a ride on a bajaji for around $2, or you can fly across to Zanzibar and spend $150 and eat at a great restaurant for $50 or more. Spending a little extra and opting for a hotel-arranged taxi and staying in a quieter part of the city can definitely increase your level of comfort in one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
– you’ll need either a British style 3 rectangular pin plug, or a 3 round (large) pin South African style plug-in Tanzania. Rooms at Southern Sun Dar es Salaam feature plug sockets for both styles as well as the two (round) pin Euro plug. Electricity is 230v with a 50hz frequency
– as with any travel, but especially to developing nations, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. Dar es Salaam has a number of good pharmacies and the Aga Khan Hospital, but outside the main cities, quality emergency medical care can be a very expensive helicopter flight away.
Crime in Tanzania is relatively low, but still exists. Especially be aware of opportunistic thieves if you are visiting a market or busy area and avoid showing off valuables or carrying a lot of cash. Be street-smart and avoid isolated places and travelling after dark. Also, while most Tanzanians are welcoming, warm and friendly, some might take advantage of tourists, so be wary if someone pretends to know you (and you really don’t know them), tries to help with your bags (unless you’ve arrived at the hotel) or insists on an unexpected charge on your bill. Double check if in doubt.
Guests travelling out of the city, especially those travelling into more isolated game parks, should ensure they find out more about malaria risk, prevalent diseases and options in case of a medical emergency.
Always check with the relevant foreign office for up to date travel risks, especially if you are travelling out of Dar es Salaam.
– English and some basic Swahili will get you far in Tanzania. While you probably won’t need to use any Swahili, it is often appreciated and might help warm you to locals.
Basic phrases in Swahili
- Hello – Hujambo! Or more respectfully, Habari
- I’m fine – Nzuri
- Thank you (very much) – Asante ( sana )
- Sorry – Pole
- Excuse me - Samahani
- Yes/No – Ndiyo/Hapana
- Watch out! – Hatari!
- Welcome - Karibu
– depending on how far point B is from your point A, Tanzania has a number of different getting-around options.
- Air - if you’re travelling long distances, generally the most comfortable, fastest, safest, and sometimes only option, is by air. Tanzania’s airline network offers an impressive number of flights for most bigger destinations, and enough choices even for far-flung safaris.
Most visitors arriving in the country will arrive at Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport. Long-haul arrivals are recommended to break up the journey with a stopover in the city before heading to an inland safari or mountain climbing destination. This gives you a chance to battle any jet-lag and rest. Southern Sun Dar es Salaam can arrange affordable airport transfers and comfortable quiet accommodation in one of the city’s leading hotels.
- Boat - there are few sights as iconic on the Swahili coast as the unfurled sails of shows passing the shoreline. But it is important to know that for the safety of visitors, there are a number of restrictions on dhow travel. IF you’re planning on a dhow trip, talk to the team at Southern Sun Dar es Salaam about arranging a charter with a reputable tour provider. Remember, as romantic as they look, there are still very real potential dangers of capsizing, so always wear a life jacket.
Taking the ferry across to Zanzibar can be one of those lifetime memories. But make sure it’s memorable for all the right reasons. Some ferries are overcrowded with few life jackets and little in the way of comforts. With that in mind it’s recommended to travel during the day and be aware of the dangers. If the crossing is rough, which is not uncommon, sea sickness medicine and a sick bag might well come in handy. That being said, the experience is like no other and the memories, as well as photographs will be ones to treasure.
- Road - bus travel is one of the cheapest ways to travel in Tanzania, over longer distances. But, considering the age of some vehicles, the driving style of some fellow road users and the condition of the roads, bus travel also should be chosen carefully. Book with a reputable company, and where possible opt for the best ticket you can afford (paying a little more might mean working air-conditioning and a better maintained vehicle). Always book tickets with official sellers, and don’t be intimidated by ticket touts. If you are going to spend time in a bus station, keep an eye on your belongings. Despite the warnings, travelling through Tanzanian countryside by road is often a stunning way to see the land.
If you’re travelling around the city and wanting an authentic Dar experience on a budget, then a dalla - dalla (minibus) will provide you with all of that and more. Expect it to be overcrowded, hot, slow and confusing. But if you’re travelling with someone who knows the city then it can be a special way to travel in Dar. Alternatively, taking a ride on a bajaji (tuk-tuk) is exhilarating and one of the quicker ways to get around. But again, what might be a novelty for some foreign visitors is a normal but not always safe way of navigating the city for local residents. As such, it helps to know where you are going, how much to expect to pay and to be well aware of the safety risk of a motorbike on bad roads. If you want to experience a bajaji and more of the city, talk to the Southern Sun Dar es Salaam team about arranging a Dar city tour.
One of the simplest and most affordable public transport options in Dar es Salaam is the DART project (Dar Rapid Transit). These buses are more reliable than dalla - dallas , are often safer, run on regular schedules and remain affordable.
If you require a car you can consider hiring. But for first-time visitors this isn’t always recommended. Busy roads, seemingly confusing road-rules (or lack of), and unfamiliar surroundings can make it more stressful than its worth. Rather talk to the hotel team about arranging a taxi and pre-agreeing the price. Whether for a single journey or a whole day hire, it can be arranged.
June to September – With drier weather that is also slightly cooler, this is Tanzania’s high season for tourists. Safari visitors especially benefit from easier game spotting with animals more likely to be seen at waterholes.
October to February – some rain to be expected from early November, and the weather will heat up for the months of December to February. The dry weather makes it one of the preferred periods for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
March to May – the wettest season of the year means green vistas and beautifully lush landscapes, but also navigating on mud roads by car sometimes impossible. April sees the start of the famous Serengeti wildebeest migration, which carries on through to August in different areas of the country.
– in virtually all cases you will need to pay for a visa to enter the country. The cost (November 2018) was $50 USD for most nationalities and is valid for three months. It is important to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months, and while it is possible to get a visa at many points of entry, it is strongly recommended you apply and obtain a visa in advance.
You can find out more information about visas and business visas here: http://www.immigration.go.tz/index.php/en/services/visa-information
Yellow fever vaccination certificates are not required from most destinations, but you may be asked to provide your yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry. As such, it is recommended you have an up to date vaccination certificate before you travel, wherever you are travelling from.