Tanzania offers some of the best wildlife experiences in Africa, suiting both first time and seasoned safari goers. The main draw towards Tanzania is the country’s natural environment, with flora and fauna being of significant interest alongside the pristine white sand beaches of the islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and Pemba. With the exception of Stone Town, a fascinating Zanzibar coastal town and port which is rich in history and culture, cities are of little interest when compared with the nature reserves and forests of Tanzania. Leopards, lions, rhinos, buffalos and elephants are one of the country’s wildlife highlights and are known as the ‘Big Five’, but chimpanzees and whale sharks mixed into Tanzania’s biodiversity, it is impossible to list even a fraction of what this beautiful country has to offer.
For safari, Tanzania is generally divided in two, with the northern safari circuit including the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara, as well as several small and seldom visited parks and reserves. The south includes the little known Selous Game Reserve in addition to Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale. Wildlife activities in the north are focused on safari drives with some walking available, whereas the south is best known for boat safaris and some of the best walking activities found anywhere in Africa. Complimentary to the obvious wildlife highlights, Tanzania is home to some seriously impressive natural phenomenon. These include the Ngorongoro Crater, a huge volcanic caldera which needs to be seen to be believed, and Lake Manyara National Park, which offers breath-taking scenery over the great rift valley escarpment.
The standard of guiding is excellent, whilst the people are warm, welcoming and friendly. Tanzania is widely accepted as offering the best (and easiest!) pairing of wildlife experience and tropical beach destination in Africa.
Food & Drink
Food is almost always included on safari and tends to be a delicious mix of international cuisines. Portions are large, options wide ranging and dinner features numerous courses: this made all the more impressive when considering that you are often dining at a remote camp with no easy access to fresh supplies or modern technology!
Snacks and drinks are regularly provided between meals, meaning that most visitors to Tanzania tend to return feeling extremely well fed! Hotels in Zanzibar are typically arranged on a half board basis to include breakfast and dinner (you will often find yourself out and about during the day with lunch being readily available). Some camps and hotels also include drinks but most do not; however, drinks and food tend to be of a similar or slightly lower cost to that of the UK, making for good value for money.
When to Travel
The best time to visit Tanzania is between June and October, although the majority of the country is a year-round destination, with a few factors to be aware of during the rainy season of March to the end of May that hits much of the country. During this time the Selous, Ruaha and Katavi close their airstrips, making visiting near impossible, but the rest of the country remains open for business! It is worth noting that between these months you will see regular rain, although this doesn’t usually last for more than an afternoon.
Between the months of June to October the temperature rarely fluctuates from around 25 – 27 degrees, with humidity varying depending on your location.
It is not currently possible to fly directly to Tanzania from the UK. The quickest route to get to the major airports are from London via Nairobi with Kenya Airways and British Airways, both of which offer a daily service. As the route to Tanzania requires one stop, this opens up a variety of airlines such as Qatar, Emirates and Ethiopian Airways, all of which offer some incredible fares at various points throughout the year. Departing from regional airports within the UK is also easy, with the likes of BA, Qatar, Emirates, KLM and Air France making for good options.
British citizens require a visa to enter Tanzania, which it is possible to obtain in advance from the Tanzanian High Commission in London using an online form and posting of documents. We would recommend getting a visa in advance of travel for those that have tight connections, otherwise it is possible to arrange a visa on arrival, with the process rarely taking any longer than 10 minutes. The current cost of a single-entry visa is $50, and it is worth having the correct money to hand on arrival. The single-entry visa covers entry into Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Citizens of other nationalities should check with the Tanzanian High Commission for any visa regulations pertaining to them.
Tanzania is mostly a very safe country, particularly in the areas most frequented by tourists. Crime rates are higher in the bigger cities but with little to offer tourists we tend to avoid these areas anyway. If visiting Zanzibar’s Stone Town in the evening, then we would suggest arranging transfers through your accommodation. Most accommodations in Tanzania have safe deposit boxes in the rooms, whilst those that don’t will have a central safe and we suggest using these to store all valuables including cash.
As we are not medical experts, we feel that it is essential that you contact your G.P. regarding vaccinations and other medications necessary when travelling to Tanzania. We would suggest that, in addition to the vaccinations you’d routinely have as UK residents, further boosters should be obtained for Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Diptheria; however, this must be verified by a medical professional. Malaria exists throughout much of Tanzania, so please consult your G.P. for advice on what malarial precautions to take.
Other good websites to use after speaking to your GP: The Travel Doctor, an interactive website providing specialist health information for travellers, including customised lists of travel medicines, vaccines and malaria tablets for holiday makers, global adventure travellers and expeditions. The NHS’ Fit for Travel website also has a host of useful information for people travelling outside of the UK, including advice on vaccinations and precautions to take when travelling.
MONEY & TIPPING
The local currency is the Tanzanian shilling, a closed currency which is only available in Tanzania; however, US dollars are accepted everywhere in Tanzania, with the Euro becoming more widely accepted in Zanzibar. If you did want to get some Tanzanian shillings then you can exchange sterling at your arrival airport, but we suggest taking US dollars. ATM’s are available at all major airports in Tanzania and there are also a number of these available in Stone Town for Zanzibar. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Zanzibar hotels and at a good range of safari accommodations, although not all.
Tipping is very welcomed and appreciated in Tanzania. You will generally find a central tipping box in almost all accommodations in Tanzania for camp staff, including chefs, housekeepers and hosts. The idea being that you can contribute into this at the end of your stay rather than handing out multiple small notes. A general guide would be $5 per person per night. Safari guides are tipped separately and to them we would recommend $10 per person, per day, with half for a half day activity. Most safari camps and lodges will arrange safari activities so that you keep the same guide for the duration of your stay so that you can tip your guide at the end of your stay. For transfer drivers, a small amount of roughly $3 – $5 per journey is usually sufficient. When changing currency it is worth asking for several notes of small denomination and it is also worthy of note that $100 bills are not accepted so should be avoided.
Departure taxes are payable when departing from all airports in Tanzania, including Zanzibar, but these are almost always included in the price of your flight ticket so, there is nothing that you need to pay locally unless we advise differently.
Travellers Code of Conduct
– We provide all of our clients with a “Travel Facts” document upon confirmation of your booking. This details useful facts and travel advice for your chosen destination, including restaurant recommendations, reading tips, basic language, cultural traditions, climate information and brief historical overviews. We feel that this offers a useful insight into the country you are visiting, and can help you interact with local residents in a more sensitive, well informed manner. Please try to take the time to read this information before your visit, if at all possible.
– A number of the countries in which we operate holidays are religious societies with a widely observed set of customs. Always respect these norms, particularly when visiting religious buildings.
– To the best of our knowledge, all of the hotels, lodges and camps within our portfolio operate stringent measures to minimise water usage. All of our destinations have issues with water supplies to a certain extent so feel free to raise any possible wastage should you encounter it during your stays, either with the accommodation or with us upon your return.
– Please ask before taking photographs of people, and respect their wishes should an individual not be happy to be photographed. We find that friendly requests and a smile are usually met with assent.
– Strive where possible to make your own contribution to environmental practices within the destination you are travelling. This might include minimising your electricity usage, avoiding smoking in protected areas, avoiding coral while snorkelling and safely disposing of all litter (recycling where possible).
– Where possible, try to purchase from local suppliers. This includes shopping for souvenirs, eating out in restaurants and booking further excursions during your free time. In areas where haggling is an accepted part of daily life, don’t become angry or offended if you are unable to obtain what you perceive as a fair price for an item. We emphasise to local suppliers that our clients should never be taken on unsolicited shopping trips, but if this does happen, try to retain your sense of humour, provide a firm refusal to participate and tell us about this on your return. We pass on all feedback from every trip undertaken with Holiday Architects to the relevant local suppliers, who share our commitment to travelling with sensitivity.
– Please don’t remove any indigenous items from their natural habitat and attempt to bring them back as a souvenir. This particularly applies to coral, shells, plants and food in the natural world, and to cultural artefacts and antiques.
– If you are unsure about anything relating to the above, please feel free to ask our local suppliers or your Holiday Architects specialist. All of these people either live or have travelled extensively in the country you are visiting and will be more than happy to offer their considered advice.