TANZANIA ESSENTIAL TRAVEL GUIDE
If you decided to go to Tanzania, congratulations! Tanzania is such an amazing country, with a rich history, an amazing biodiversity and a very welcoming population. If it is your first time traveling to Tanzania, there are a few things you need to know beforehand, in order to be best prepared, feel safe and comfortable during your trip. This is why I prepared this essential Tanzania Travel Guide, with everything you should know before going, from vaccination requirements, to tipping practices, dress code and religion in Tanzania.
I hope you find this Tanzania travel guide useful, but please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below this blog post should you have any question. Happy Travel !
TANZANIA TRAVEL GUIDE – GENERAL INFORMATIONS
- Best time to go to Tanzania : The best season to visit North Tanzania is June to September. It is the dry season and the vegetation is not too dense which makes animals easy to spot. It is also the best time to observe the Great Migration in Serengeti National Park. Logically, it is the most popular touristic season, so hotels can be full several months in advance. It is also one of the best time to visit Zanzibar as the weather is mostly cool and dry. October to February is the shoulder season, with hot weather and some rainfalls. It is the best time for bird watching. In January the herds are in the southern part of the Serengeti for calving, so you can expect to see a lot of wildlife too. It is a less touristic season, so hotel prices drop compare to the peak seasons. December to February is also a good time to visit Zanzibar, with hot and dry weather. March to May should be avoided, as it is a period of heavy rains.
READ MORE: 10 Days Tanzania Itinerary
- Is Tanzania safe? Tanzania is a generally safe country, with a stable political situation and a very friendly population. If you are going for a safari or in Zanzibar, it will be mostly hassle-free. In large towns such as Dar Es Salam, Arusha, etc take some precautionary measures to hide your valuables, rely on official taxis to go around, and overall don’t accept unsolicited help or advises.
- What is Tanzania’s currency ? The local currency is the Tanzanian Chilling. As of Sept 2019, 1 USD = 2300 TZS. Most touristic places accept both USD and Tanzanian Chilling either in cash or credit cards. When going to very remote places, it is better to carry some cash, in case the Credit Card machine connection doesn’t work. It is also very handy for tipping.
- Driving in Tanzania: Is it not very common to see foreigners self-driving in Tanzania, but it is totally possible, as long as you have your driving license with you and/or an International Driving Permit. Main roads are overall in very good conditions. Driving in Tanzania is on the left side of the road.
- Visa to enter Tanzania : Most western countries require an entry visa to Tanzania, which costs 50 USD (100 USD for US citizens) for a single entry and can easily be obtained online here. It is also possible to get an entry visa on arrival, but the immigration counter in Dar Es Salam is a little chaotic, so it will just take longer.
- Wifi / Network : Although phone networks and data are widely available in Tanzania, it is quite rare to find coverage in the remote areas of the parks. However, public wifi is easily accessible in hotels, camps, lodges and at most of the park entrances.
- Toilets: Toilets are pretty clean in generak, including in the parks. Most of the time you will find both Western-style toilets and squat types. Although most of the places I visited had toilet paper, it is always good to carry some with you, as well as hand sanitizer. Just in case you need to use the bush toilet.
- Plastic usage : As of June 2019, the Tanzanian government imposed a ban on plastic bags. So except for the ziplog bag that you might need to hold toileterries in your carry-on, refrain from bringing unneceassary plastic bag or other single use plastic items into Tanzania.
TANZANIA TRAVEL GUIDE – HEALTH
Below are a few general questions I had while preparing for my trip to Tanzania, so I thought it would be convenient to group them in this travel guide. However, I am absolutely not a doctor, so I recommend you to visit a GP or a Traveler clinic before you travel to Tanzania, to have some piece of advice from a professional.
- Vaccination: There is no specific vaccination required before traveling to Tanzania, aside from the vaccinations that are mandatory in most western countries, including Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), Hepatitis A, Polio, and Typhoid. Before you travel to Tanzania, make sure you are up to date with these vaccinations and carry your certificate with you.
- Yellow Fever: Contrary to popular belief, yellow fever vaccination is not compulsory for Tanzania, unless you are coming from, or did a stopover in a Yellow Fever endemic country. This is the official recommendation from WHO : “Tanzania Country requirement: a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travelers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission”. If you are coming from such country (full list here), make sure to be up to date with your vaccination and carry your certificate with you. FYI, you should get your yellow fever vaccination at least 2 weeks before your trip to Tanzania.
- Malaria: Tanzania is a high-risk malaria country (especially in rural areas below 2000 m) therefore it is recommended to take anti-malaria medicines. The treatment usually starts a few days before your trip, continues daily throughout your time in Tanzania and 7 days after you return. Anti-malaria tablets can have unpleasant side effects, so discuss it with your GP before you travel.
- Emergency Kit : While on safari, you might be hours away from the nearest doctor, hospital etc. Therefore it is recommended to carry a small medical / emergency kit, containing at least :
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Strong painkillers
- Large scope antibiotic
- Fever medication
- Antibacterial hand sanitizer
- DEET-containing mosquito repellent
- Mosquitos: To avoid mosquitos bites and the diseases it can carry, think about wearing long pant, long sleeves and closed shoes in the evening, and protect yourself with DEET-containing insect repellent. Just FYI, during our trip to the Northern Parks in September, we actually encountered very few mosquitos.
- Water: Tap water is not safe to drink in Tanzania, but most of the safari tours will provide you daily with bottled water. To limit your plastic consumption, consider bringing your own reusable bottle, and ask the hotel /camp/lodge to refill it for you every morning and night.
READ MORE: 10 Tips to Be a more Eco-Conscious Traveler
TANZANIA TRAVEL GUIDE – INTERACTING WITH TANZANIAN
- Tipping in Tanzania: Gratuities in the Tanzanian tourism industry generally follow the North American system. Tourists are expected to tip their safari staff and staff working at most restaurants and hotels. The recommended tip for hotel staff is 10 USD / day (usually left in a Tip Box) and around 15 to 25 USD /day for a safari guide. Tips add up quickly and are handed over in cash so budget it properly beforehand.
- Religion: Around 60% of Tanzanian are Christian, 35% are Muslim and the rest practice traditional religions.
- Dress Code: Tanzania is still a somewhat conservative country, so it is best to dress relatively modestly, especially in towns. It can get cold in the highlands so it is good to pack a sweater or jacket. It can also get really hot during the day, so pack a hat or a cap too!
- Taking pictures of people: Like pretty much everywhere else, it is polite to ask permission before taking a picture. If someone offers you to take a picture of them (unsolicited) you will definitely be asked for a tip in return.
- Languages: There are 2 official languages in Tanzania: Swahili and English. English is spoken widely across the country and in the tourism industry in particular. Overall, it is very easy to get understood.
- Courtesy & Manners: Tanzanian are extremely polite. They like to take their time, to enquire a lot about your well being, introduce everything at length, etc. Being too quick and abrupt will be seen as rude, so relax and smile, you are on holidays!
TANZANIA TRAVEL GUIDE – ON A SAFARI
- What to wear: The ideal is to bring neutral color clothes that can be easily layered, This way you will easily go from the chilly morning temperatures to the very hot ones during the day. Avoid black and dark blue colors that attract TzeTze flies.
- Equipment: If you want to return home with some decent pictures, it is an absolute must to bring a good zoom lens. Minimum 200 mm, 300 mm would be ideal. I also highly recommend you take some good binoculars …it will bring another dimension to your safari.
- Max load on bush flights: Most of the bush flight only allow 15kg of luggage.
Here you go: All the questions I asked myself before traveling to Tanzania now answered. I hope you will find this Tanzania Travel Guide useful, but please let me know if you still have questions, I would be very happy to answer all question here or through an other Tanzania travel blog post.