Tanzania is a traveler's dream. Known for its wilderness areas, this East African country is where you can find the Serengeti National Park, a saffari mecca where the “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino) can be found and Kilimanjaro National Park, the home of Africa's highest mountain. If wilderness isn't your thing, then go offshore and spend some time on the tropical islands of Zanzibar and Mafia Marine Park exploring various coral reefs and taking a dip with some whale sharks. This Tanzania travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Tanzania Travel
- Tanzanian power voltage is 220V 50Hz; Plug C, E, F & L
- The Tanzania currency is the Tanzanian shilling is and is around 2100 TZS to 1 USD
- Levels of crime seem to increasing in Tanzania. Avoid showing signs of wealth and keep valuables out of sight. When walking, walk towards the flow of traffic and keep your bags on the side away from the road to prevent them from being snatched by someone in a passing car. Finally use only licensed taxis.
- Andrew Evans from National Geographic Traveler recommends that travelers skip the Serengeti, opting to venture into the areas where you will get more time with the wildlife, like Ruaha, for big cats and big savanna, Mikumi for elephants and proximity to civilization or Mahale and Gombe for chimpanzees.
- Several vaccinations are highly recommended including Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
- Tanzanian visas are available upon arrival, payable in US cash only.
- Beware of Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. This outbreak continues to affect parts Africa. Symptoms can take up to 12 days to appear, but usually begin within 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms generally include fever and joint pain; other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and rash.
- The water is not potable; drink only bottled water.
Top Packing Tips
Tanzania has a tropical climate. Temperatures in the highlands range between 50 and 68°F (10 and 20°C) during summer and winter months while the rest of the country has temperatures that rarely fall lower than than 68°F (20°C). The hottest period is between November and February while the coldest period occurs between May and August. Tanzania has two major rainfall regions. One is December–April in the southern, south-west, central and western parts of the country, while the other occurs October–December and March–May in the north and northern coast.
- Waterproof bag – the bag has two functions, protecting your stuff from the rain and also from the dust, especially if you're travelling to drier regions.
- Footwear – especially important if going you are heading on a safari! Pack a pair of lightweight, durable, waterproof and comfortable shoes and also a pair of flip-flops or sandals that you can change into after a long day of sightseeing.
- Protection from the elements – pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and bug-spray to prevent getting bitten by a mosquito (that might have malaria!)
- Layers – pack the basic tropical clothes and make sure to include long pants, long-sleeve tops and some warm clothes for those chilly nights.
- Avoid packing dark colored clothes – tsetse flies are drawn to dark colors, like blue and black clothing, and their bite can give you African Sleeping Sickness. Stick to light, neutral colors but avoid packing white clothes as they will get dirty and dusty pretty quickly.
- Binoculars – these are extremely handy for game drives. There is no off-roading permitted in the national parks so make sure you have an extra pair of binoculars or a camera with an epic zoom.
Top Things to do in Tanzania
- Climb Mount Kilimanjaro – I have to clarify a giant misconception about Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is not easy!
- Visit the Hadza Tribe – The Hadza, or Hadzabe, tribe are some of the last hunter-gatherer’s in Africa. Living near Lake Eyasi in central Tanzania, there are only about 1,000 of them left.