Tanzania Travel Advice
Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve has been named one of the new Seventh Wonders of the World in a poll of experts conducted by ABC Television’s Good Morning America. The incredible annual migration of over a million Wildebeest from the Serengeti plains to the Mara has been described as being one of the most awe inspiring sights on earth, and a broadcast on US morning television took this spectacle into millions of American homes.
Tanzania is East Africa’s largest country, with about 1,400 kms of coastline along the Indian Ocean. It has a land mass of 945,087 sq kms. Through the interior runs the Great Rift Valley, where this has created many fascinating topographical features, such as Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Tanganyika. Mount Kilimanjaro (5895 meters), which is also the highest point in Africa is located in Tanzania. Tanzania has a rich and fascinating history and is the ‘cradle of mankind’. It was at Olduvai Gorge, that the remains of homo habilis were discovered, calculated to be 1.75 million years old. Arab Traders arrived 2000 years ago on the east coast of Africa who were followed by Islamic settlers. The inter marriage of Arabs and the local population created the Swahili language and culture. Portuguese sailors arrived on the East African coast in the 16th century where they set up trade in slaves and ivory that lasted for 200 years.
Language and Culture
Swahili is the official language with English being the official primary language of commerce, administration and higher education. A third of Tanzania population is Muslim. It is offensive for ladies to walk around in public places displaying legs and shoulders, so please dress modestly. Avoid sexual displays of intimacy in Islamic areas and don’t enter mosques without permission. Please ask for permission before taking photographs of people and wanting to smoke in enclosed areas.
Best Time to Visit
Tanzania can be visited all year round, but the coolest and driest time is from June to September, which is viewed as the high season, especially for game viewing. This time is also the best trekking conditions on Mount Kilimanjaro. December until February is excellent time to view the annual migration in Serengeti National Park.
There are two international airports in Tanzania – Dar es Salaam International Airport (DAR) 15 kilometers from City Center and Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), 50 kilometers from Arusha.
Most visitors to Tanzania require visas whether visiting for a holiday or to conduct business. Visas can be obtained on arrival at Dar es Salaam International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport, and the border posts of Namanga, Tunduma, Taveta and Holili. But it is advisable to apply for a visa from the nearest Tanzanian Embassy or Consulate before travelling to Tanzania. Some airlines will not allow passengers to embark on a flight to Tanzania without a valid visa.
Before travelling to Tanzania please consult your doctor for advice on anti-malarial tablets and vaccinations. When packing for your trip it is advisable to include a small medical kit with the following:
• Imodium (anti-diarrheal tablets)
• Antihistamine cream (for allergies)
• Antiseptic cream
• Aspirin (pain relief tablets)
It is compulsory to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are travelling from a country in an ‘endemic zone’. Consult with your doctor or your clinic which these countries are. The most commonly recommended vaccinations are for typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis.
The Tanzanian shilling (Tsh), divided into 100 cents, is the national currency. Most major currencies and travelers cheques are accepted and can be converted at banks and foreign bureau in main towns and tourist areas. The US dollar is the most popular currency. Banks are available in all major towns, where foreign exchange can be converted.
Most banks have a 24 hour cash machine where international bank cards, mainly Visa and Mastercard, are accepted to draw Tanzanian shillings. Cash machines are not always readily available in some of the smaller towns.
Credit cards can be used at major tourist lodges and hotels. When eating out or shopping in the towns, visitors must note that most establishments do not accept credit cards. Travellers Cheques in US dollars and pounds sterling are recommended, but may be harder to exchange outside main towns.
Make a List
About a week or so before the trip, make a list of items you don’t want to forget. It’s easiest to have a travel list saved in Google Doc so as to access it online and edit it as needed.
Make Copies of Important Documents
Take photos of the passport and driver licenses and keep them in Google Docs and in files on your phone. You just never know when you need a backup.
Plan for the weather forecast to be wrong
Be sure to bring some extra items for weather conditions you don’t expect.
Get into the habit of using sunscreen. Use it daily, regardless of the weather. You will likely be walking a lot more than you think, and even if the sun isn’t literally shining, you can get sunburned. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your hands and arms as well as your neck, chest, and ears, and don’t forget to reapply. Take a small lightweight container of sunscreen with you in the bag.
• Pack light casual wear in neutral colours
• A pair of decent walking shoes
• Warm jacket for evening game drives
• Swimsuits for beach holiday. Most Hotels on Safari have swimming pools
• A sunhat is vital
• A camera with spare batteries or a charger
• Memory cards
• Camera bag
• Zip lock bags (dust proof ) Not plastic bags as they are banned in Kenya
• Beanbag for Camera stability during photography
• Insect repellent
• Malaria prophylactics if necessary
• Water bottle