Facts about Tanzania

Time Zone:  GMT + 3 hours.
Language:  Even though Swahili is the official language in Tanzania, English is widely spoken and understood.
Currency:

Primary:  currency is called “Tanzanian Shilling”, which is divided into 100 Cents.

Secondary: US Dollar

Safari duration

Our safaris duration take about 1 to several days, the number of days depends on the selected itinerary weather a long or short program. Most of our safari packages are custom made to reflect the actual needs of the customer. We therefore do not have specific date of travel or accommodation since this are made during program design basing on traveler requirements.

Guides and languages

We use well and trained guides with more than 10 years experience in tourism operation in Tanzania. Most of them speak English, Spanish, French Italian and German.

Hotels and lodges

In town like Arusha and Moshi prices are normally fixed ranging from US$ 20 (budget accommodations) to more than 200 (Luxury Accommodations)

In most national parks prices varies. Always accommodation prices are higher in high season and low in low season. The actual rate will be provided to client on request

A good selection of accommodation, ranging from local budget guesthouses to world-class business and boutique hotels, is available in regularly visited urban centres such as Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar, but hotels in less popular towns tend not to meet international standards.

Relatively affordable camping facilities are available in most parks and reserves.

 Food and drink

On safari, all meals are usually taken at your lodge or camp, and standards range from adequate to excellent. Most lodges offer a daily set menu, so it’s advisable to specify in advance if you are vegetarian or have other specific dietary requirements.

Most lodges offer the option of a packed breakfast and/or lunch box, which are variable in standard, but do allow you to eat on the trot rather than having to base game viewing hours around meal time.

In larger towns such as Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Morogoro, Arusha and Moshi, several bespoke restaurants offer high quality international cuisine, with Indian eateries being particularly well represented.

Local staples include a stiff maize porridge called ugali or cooked plantain dish called matoke or batoke, both of which are typically served with a bland stews made with chicken, beef, mutton or beans. Excellent seafood is available along the coast.

The usual bottled soft drinks (known locally as sodas) are available. Around ten different lager beers are bottled locally, of which Castle, Kilimanjaro and Serengeti seem to be the most popular.

South African wines are widely available at lodges and hotels, and they are generally of a high standard and reasonably priced by international standards.

Different Seasons in Northern Tanzania

Dry Season
June to February
Recommended for general Safaris

Wet Season
March to May
Recommended for special safaris like walking, cultural hike and related tours that does not require travelling to mountains or difficult drive areas.

Note: The estimate above may vary according to year on question. The precise season can be obtained from Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) Website: www.meteo.go.tz

Health and safety

There are no mandatory vaccinations required for entry to Tanzania unless you are coming from an area infected with Yellow Fever, in which case a Certificate of Inoculation against Yellow Fever will be required.

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance which includes curtailment and cancellation coverage as well as international medical insurance upon confirmation of your booking.

Tipping

Tipping the guide and cook (if camping) after your journey is normally part of the experience in Tanzania and other parts of east Africa, particularly as they are trying very hard to make your trip memorable one. For mountain climbing guests are highly advice to provide tips after the climb and after all luggage are loaded to the safari vehicle  at the end.

Entry requirements

A valid passport is mandatory, and it shouldn’t expire within six months of your intended date of departure from Tanzania.

Visas are required by most visitors and cost US$30-60, depending on your nationality. They can be obtained on arrival at any international airport or land border – a straightforward procedure that requires no photographs, nor any other documentation aside from a passport.

A standard tourist visa is normally valid for three months after arrival and allows for multiple entries to Tanzania from neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, but not from other countries.

For those who prefer to arrange a visa in advance, Tanzanian embassies or high commissions exist in USA,  Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium, China, CIS, India, Japan, Netherlands,  Sweden, and other countries

Getting there

There are three international airports. Dar es Salaam is used by most international airlines, and is convenient for business travelers or those exploring the southern safari circuit. The mainland alternative is Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), which lies midway between Moshi and Arusha and is well placed as a springboard for safaris to the Serengeti and other northern reserves. Some international flights land at Zanzibar.

Air Tanzania, British Airways, Gulf Air, KLM, Lufthansa and Swissair all fly to Tanzania from Europe, while African airlines servicing Tanzania include EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and South African Airways.

Once in Tanzania, a good network of domestic flights connects Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, as well as other less visited towns. Private airlines also run scheduled flights connecting to most parts of the country, including Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia, Serengeti (Grumeti and Seronera), Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Mwanza, Rubondo Island, Kigoma, Selous, Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale.

Many tourists land at Nairobi (Kenya) and then fly on to Arusha with any of several regional operators. Several safe and affordable shuttle bus services connect the two cities via Namanga border post, departing at around 08.00 and 14.00 daily and taking four hours in either direction.

 What to Pack

Carry at least one change of shirt and underwear for every day you will be on safari, as it can be tedious to organize laundry en route. Dusty conditions practically enforce a daily change of clothes, so it can be a good idea to set aside one or two shirts for evening use only.

Shorts and a tee-shirt are perfectly adequate daytime wear on safari, but long trousers and warmer clothing might be required at night, to protect against cold and against mosquitoes. Socks and underwear should be made from natural fabrics.

Anybody who intends to climb Kilimanjaro should seek specialist advice about clothing from their operator.

The predominantly Islamic inhabitants of the coast and offshore islands are used to tourists and are reasonably tolerant of Western dress codes. Nevertheless, it is still advisable to err on the side of modesty, especially in urban settings and inhabited areas.

Binoculars are essential to watch distant wildlife in the game reserves. For most purposes, 7×21 compact binoculars will be fine, but birdwatchers will find a 10x magnification more useful, and should definitely carry a good field guide.

If you wear contact lenses, bring all the fluids you need, possibly a pair of glasses as a fallback – many safari goers find the combination of sun, dust and dryness irritates their eyes.

Cash, travelers’ cheques, credit cards, passport and other important documentation are best carried in a money belt that can be hidden beneath your clothing. This should be made of cotton or another natural fabric, and the contents could be wrapped in plastic to protect it against sweat.

Other useful items include a torch, a penknife, a compact alarm clock and strong mosquito repellent.

Photography

Wildlife photography will be very frustrating without a reasonably big lens, ideally 300mm or larger. Fixed fast lenses offer the best quality but are costly and cumbersome, so most people settle for a zoom, which allows you to play with composition without changing lenses. Tele-converters are a cheap and compact way to increase magnification, but incur a loss of quality.

A solid beanbag, which you can make yourself very cheaply, will help avoid blurred images when photographing wildlife from a vehicle. Another option is a clamp with a tripod head screwed on.

Plan ahead when it comes to charging digital camera batteries and storage devices. Most hotels/lodges have charging points, but it’s best to enquire in advance. When camping you might have to rely on charging from the car battery. Either way, make sure you have all the chargers, cables, converters with you, as well as sufficient memory space to store your photos.

Tanzanians generally find it unacceptable to be photographed without permission, and many people will expect a donation before they agree to be snapped. Don’t try to sneak photographs as you might get yourself into trouble, especially with the Maasai, who are very touchy about this.

Public holidays

In addition to Good Friday, Easter Monday, Idd-ul-Fitr, Islamic New Year and the Prophet’s Birthday, which fall on different dates every year, the following public holidays are taken in Tanzania:

January 1                            New Year’s Day

January 12                          Zanzibar Revolution Day

March/April                       Esther holiday

April 26                               Union Day (anniversary of union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar

May 1                                  International Workers’ Day

October 14                         Nyerere Memorial Day

December 9                       Independence Day

December 25                     Christmas Day

December 26                     Boxing Day

*Note: There are other three Islamic public holidays which are also observed

Communications

Internet cafés are prolific in larger towns such as Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Arusha, Mwanza and Moshi, and browsing is faster and more affordable than in most African countries, though it may seem rather ponderous to Europeans used to ultra-fast broadband.

Internet access is available in some areas of the national parks through mobile broadband offered by VodaCom, TIGO, AirTel and TTCL

Hence you must buy a temporary simcard between the four ISPs.  Local guidance is vital for this case

International phone calls can be made through these companies’ services

  • VodaCom,
  • AirTel
  • Halotel
  • TIGO,
  • TTCL and
  • Zantel

Note that, while TTCL is Government owned other are privately owned

While Zantel main operations are in Zanzibar, others are in Tanzania Mainland.

You will be needed to buy a local SIM card and use the local pay-as-you-go service, which is very cheap for local and international calls and text messages.

 Tanzanian calling codes are

VodaCom 075
AirTel 078
Halotel 062
TIGO 071
TTCL 073
Zantel 077

 Craft shopping

Popular items include Makonde carvings, Tingatinga paintings, batiks, musical instruments, wooden spoons, and various small soapstone and malachite carvings.

The colourful vitenge (the singular of this is kitenge) worn by most Tanzanian women can be picked up cheaply at any market in the country.

The curio shops near the clock tower in Arusha are the best place to shop for curios, offering decent quality at competitive prices, bur a good selection is also available on Zanzibar and in many upmarket hotel shops.

Prices in shops are fixed, but those offered at stalls are highly negotiable. Unless you are good at bargaining, you may well end up paying more at a stall than you would in a shop!

Etiquette

Formal greetings are taken seriously; even if you speak no Swahili it is polite to greet somebody with a smiling ‘jambo’ or ‘habari’ before you enter into conversation.

It is considered poor taste for men and women to display open affection, for instance by holding hands in public, or kissing or embracing would be seriously offensive. Oddly, it is quite normal for friends of the same sex to walk around hand-in-hand.

In Islamic societies, it is considered offensive for a woman to expose her knees or shoulders, a custom that ought to be taken on board by female travellers, especially on parts of the coast where tourists remain a relative novelty.

It is customary to tip your guide at the end of a safari and or a Kilimanjaro climb, as well as any cook or porter that accompanies you. A figure of roughly US$5-10 per day is accepted as the benchmark, though it is advisable to check this in advance with your safari company.

In restaurants, a tip of anything from 5-15% would be acceptable, depending on the circumstances.

Crime

Crime levels are relatively low, though it’s wise not to walk around an unfamiliar town after dark – taxis are readily available.

The risk of casual theft is greatest in bus stations and markets, where you should avoid carrying loose valuables in your pocket or daypack

In any urban situation, try to avoid advertising your wealth in the form a dangling camera, expensive jewellery, handbag, or externally worn money-belt.

Health

The main concern is malaria. All visitors should take prophylactic drugs. It’s also strongly recommended to cover up in the evening, wear repellent, and sleep under a net or burn a coil to reduce the risk of bites.

Tap water is suspect, but mineral water is widely available and reasonably priced

Further reading

Tanzania by Philip Briggs (Bradt Travel Guides, 5th edition 2006)

Northern Tanzania: Bradt Safari Guide by Philip Briggs (Bradt Travel Guides, 2006)

Kingdon’s Field Guide to African Mammals by Jonathon Kingdon (Christopher Helm, 2003)

East African Wildlife by Philip Briggs (Bradt Travel Guides, scheduled for Sept 2007)

The Safari Companion by Richard Estes (Green Books UK, Chelsea Green USA, 1992)

Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe (Christopher Helm, 2002)

Birds of Africa South of the Sahara by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan (Struik Publishers, 2003)

Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa by Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Robert Drewes & James Ashe (A&C Black, 2004).

Amphibians of East Africa by Alan Channing & Kim Howell (Comstock Books, 2006)