With 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 or enjoying the tropical beaches, the temperatures are always welcoming and gentle.
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.
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 scrubland plains.
Tanzanians 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.
LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
The official language is Kiswahili, which is generally spoken, and various local languages abound. Although English is the second official language, it is widely spoken and understood in the cities.
Tanzania's culture is a result of African, Arab, European and Indian influences. The African people of Tanzania represent about 130 tribal groups. The Tanzanians are friendly people, to foreigners and amongst themselves. Politeness, respect and modesty are highly valued.
Immodest attire, public affection and open anger are disrespectful to the Tanzanian people. In Zanzibar, it is important for women to dress modestly out of respect for Muslim cultural beliefs. Men should not wear shorts on the main island, and women should wear dresses that cover their shoulders and knees.
The unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TShs) and there are no smaller denominations. It’s best to carry as little cash as possible when traveling to avoid further inconvenience if anything should be lost or stolen. That said, major currencies (US Dollar, English Pound, and Euro) are easily changed in large towns, although US Dollars are sometimes preferred. Forex bureau offer faster service than banks. The bureaus usually offer a better rate on travelers’ cheques. Standard Chartered banks around the country have ATM machines that allow you to withdraw cash from your VISA card and Barclay’s Bank ATMs allow you to withdraw on both VISA and MasterCard accounts. Credit cards are accepted only at major lodges, hotels, and travel agents.
Precautions are a necessary part of staying healthy, and while you will of course make every effort to stay healthy and safe during your trip, it’s always wise to plan for emergencies. International travel insurance and emergency medical evacuation plans are available for purchase before you even leave home, so be sure to provide for yourself in the event of unforeseen circumstances. It is important to have a medical policy that will insure you while traveling, and cover any theft, loss, or medical emergencies you may experience while away from home. Check your policy’s evacuation criteria and notify your travel agent of any necessary details.
HOSPITALS & CLINICS
For minor aches and pains during your travels, there are many hospitals and clinics around the country that will care for you and prescribe any medicine you may need. For emergency or out-patient cases, Dar es Salaam’s new Aga Khan Hospital provides excellent care, as does the Nairobi Hospital. African Air Rescue (AAR) has clinics and out-patient care in both Arusha and Dar es Salaam, and smaller clinics offer consultations and laboratory services around the country.
FOOD, DRINK & ACCOMMODATION
All major towns in Tanzania have excellent luxury hotels. All towns will at least have a good guest house. Hotels have their own restaurants. Local food is readily available and there are many restaurants serving various cuisines like Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Continental and many more.
It’s best to drink bottled water when traveling through Tanzania – numerous brands are widely available and served in all restaurants and lodges.
Important Note: THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY. Please check with your nearest Tanzanian Consulate for up to date information.
Most visitors require visas with the exception of certain countries of the Commonwealth. It is advisable to obtain a visa in advance of travel as certain airlines insist on them prior to departure. Depending on nationality and country of origin, a visa may be obtained on arrival at Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro airports and at Namanga Gate on the Tanzania / Kenya border. Zanzibar remains independent although it is a part of the union of Tanzania. Passports and a Tanzanian visa are required even on a day's visit.
Visas cost US$50-200 depending on nationality and are usually valid for three months.
Requirements for obtaining a visa are: a passport, valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay, two passport photographs, proof of sufficient funds, two application forms and a detailed itinerary stating reason for visit. Sometimes, a copy of your airline tickets is required.
Requirements may change so you are advised to contact your nearest Tanzanian Consulate before finalizing your travel arrangements.
Tanzania is a safe country to travel in. Tanzanians are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Tanzania is a true example of tolerance and cooperation in our modern world, with an evidenced multicultural diversity that has co-existed for centuries and has a lot to offer the world by its example. As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe, which frees your mind to absorb the natural beauty and incredible sights that will stay with you forever.
Tanzania is located in a tropical climate with different bacteria, flora, and fauna than most visitors are accustomed to, so it is advisable to take a few health precautions when traveling to make sure that your trip goes as comfortably and smoothly as possible. MALARIA is usually top on the list of visitors’ worries, and prevention goes a long way towards keeping you protected. Other vaccinations that might be considered before you travel include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, and tetanus.
Yellow Fever: If you are arriving in Tanzania (or planning to re-enter) from an area that is infected with yellow fever or arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic (such as Kenya, Sudan, or Uganda), you are required to have a yellow fever vaccination; and it must be administered at least ten days before your arrival (or re-entry) into Tanzania. If your travel itinerary requires you to have a yellow fever vaccination, you must ask your doctor to provide you with an "International Certificate of Vaccination," which should be carried with you while travelling to serve as proof that you have fulfilled the vaccination requirement. If proof of vaccination is required and you do not carry it with you, you may be denied entry into Tanzania. Please note that, even if you are not required to obtain a yellow fever vaccination for your safari in Tanzania, the CDC recommends vaccination if you are travelling outside of urban areas.
Please contact your doctor for further information.
Traveling in Tanzania is a rewarding and remarkable experience. Driving through villages and grasslands on your way to game parks and nature reserves will be one of the most memorable parts of your trip -- the smiling faces of young Masaai herding cattle, the piles of mangos and fresh greens set out in piles in a village market. Driving through the country, although takes longer, is an ideal way to witness the daily lives of Tanzanians and take in more of the scenery around you. Flying is another way of seeing the country, the micro-ism of its villages and fields suddenly appear larger than life against the striking sky. From the window of a plane, Mount Kilimanjaro and the crater of Mt. Meru become clear and visible, the undulations of the Eastern Arc mountains ancient and vast, and the glistening sea with its aquamarine reefs and scattered green islands promises refreshment, even from afar.
Ferries offer a glimpse of local culture at a slower, more relaxed pace, and Tanzania’s rapidly developing rail network allows you to see the country from the romance of a boxcar, its iron rails twisting across the African plains. There are many ways to get around in Tanzania, and the option you choose will depend upon your time constraints and your budget. Traveling by road is the most accessible and probably the cheapest way to travel and public transport connects all major locations, and ventures far off the beaten track. Tanzania’s infrastructure is quite developed, especially around major tourist attractions in the north and along the Swahili Coast. Public transport vehicles crisscross the country and connect larger towns to out-of-the-way locations.
WHAT TO DO
Tanzania has whatever you are dreaming about - be it tropical islands, climbing the highest mountain in Africa, diving for marine treasures or watching the annual migration of plains game.
Tanzania boasts some of the most romantic and tropical beaches in Africa - Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar Stone Town was once home to Sultans and explorers and is the land of exotic spices, azure waters and white sandy beaches.
Almost 25% of Tanzania is designated as national parks and game reserves -- from the Serengeti in the north, which sweeps uninterrupted from neighboring Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve, to Selous in the south, with its long distances and large variety of animals. No area is more protected, by geography as well as by permit, than the Ngorongoro Crater, whose steep walls create a separate ecosystem with its own representative collection of animals. Combined, the crater, Serengeti and the Maasai Mara represent one of the world's most important ecosystems, and it is estimated that some 3 million large animals inhabit this region. Many of them move around the plains of East Africa on the annual wildebeest migration, the largest movement of animals on Earth. Because these spaces are protected -- and because they are so wild -- the best way to see them is by guided tour, locally known as safari, which in Kiswahili means journey.
Tanzania has a lot to offer and the activities are endless: mountain climbing, safari adventures, beach lounging, scuba diving, fishing, walking, and exploring. Take your pick!