Bargaining is expected by vendors in tourist areas, particularly souvenir vendors, except in a limited number of fixed-price shops. However, at markets and non-tourist venues, the price quoted to you will often be the ‘real’ price, so in these situations don’t immediately assume that the quote you’ve been given is too high.
There are no set rules for bargaining, other than that negotiations should always be conducted in a friendly, spirited and respectful manner. Before starting, shop around to get a feel for the ‘value’ of the item you want. Asking others what they have paid can be helpful. Once you start negotiating, if things seem like a waste of time, politely take your leave. Sometimes sellers will call you back if they think their stubbornness has been counterproductive. Very few will pass up the chance of making a sale, however thin the profit. If the vendor won’t come down to a price you feel is fair, it means that it is not fair from their perspective, or that too many high-rolling foreigners have passed through already.
Tanzania has a generally comfortable tropical climate year-round, although there are significant regional variations. Along the warmer and humid coast, the climate is determined in large part by the monsoon winds, which bring rains in two major periods. During the masika (long rains), from mid-March to May, it rains heavily almost every day, although seldom for the whole day, and the air can get unpleasantly sticky. The lighter mvuli (short rains) fall during November, December and sometimes into January. Inland, altitude is a major determinant of conditions; you’ll need a jacket early morning and evening, especially in highland areas.
Dangers & Annoyances
Tanzania is in general a safe, hassle-free country. That said, you do need to take the usual precautions and keep up with government travel advisories.
- Avoid isolated areas, especially isolated stretches of beach. In cities and tourist areas take a taxi at night.
- Only take taxis from established taxi ranks or hotels. Never enter a taxi that already has someone else in it other than the driver.
- Never pay any money for a safari or trek in advance until you’ve thoroughly checked out the company, and never pay any money at all outside the company’s office.
- When using public transport, don’t accept drinks or food from someone you don’t know. Be sceptical of anyone who comes up to you on the street asking whether you remember them from the airport, your hotel or wherever. Take requests for donations from ‘refugees’, ‘students’ or others with a grain of salt. Contributions to humanitarian causes are best done through an established agency or project.
- Be wary of anyone who approaches you on the street, at the bus station or in your hotel offering safari deals or claiming to know you.
- In western Tanzania, especially along the Burundi border, there are sporadic outbursts of banditry and political unrest. Get an update locally before setting your plans.
- In tourist areas, especially Arusha, Moshi and Zanzibar Island, touts can be quite pushy, especially around bus stations and budget tourist hotels. Do what you can to minimise the impression that you’re a newly arrived tourist: walk with purpose, and duck into a shop if you need to get your bearings or look at a map.
- Arriving for the first time at major bus stations, have your luggage as consolidated as possible, with your valuables well hidden under your clothes. Try to spot the taxi area before disembarking and make a beeline for it. It’s well worth a few extra dollars for the fare. While looking for a room, leave your bag with a friend or reliable hotel rather than walking around town with it. Buy your bus tickets a day or two in advance (without your luggage).
- Carry your passport, money and other documents in a pouch against your skin, hidden under loose-fitting clothing. Or store valuables in a hotel safe, if there’s a reliable one, ideally inside a pouch with a lockable zip to prevent tampering.
- Keep the side windows up in vehicles when stopped in traffic and keep your bags out of sight (eg on the floor behind your legs).
- When bargaining or discussing prices, don’t do so with your money or wallet in your hand.
Government Travel Advice
Government travel advisories can be good sources of updated security information:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.travel.gc.ca)
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office)
US State Department (www.travel.state.gov)
Solo Travel in Tanzania
While solo travellers may be a minor curiosity in rural areas, especially solo women travellers, there are no particular issues with travelling solo in Tanzania, whether you’re male or female. The times when it’s advantageous to join a group are for safaris and treks (when going in a group can be a significant cost-saver) and when going out at night. If you go out alone at night, take taxis and use extra caution, especially in urban and tourist areas. Whatever the time of day, avoid isolating situations, including lonely stretches of beach.
A student ID gets you a 50% discount on train fares and often on museum entry fees.
Ways to Save
- Travel in the low season, and always ask about discounted room and safari prices.
- Families: ask about children’s discounts at parks and hotels.
- Travel in a small group for organised treks and safaris.
- Watch for last-minute deals.
- Stay outside park boundaries at those parks and reserves where you can do wildlife excursions in border areas.
- Enter parks around midday: as fees for wildlife parks are calculated on a 24-hour basis, you’ll be able to enjoy prime evening and morning wildlife viewing hours for just one day’s payment.
- Camp when possible.
- Focus on easily accessed parks and reserves to minimise transportation costs.
- Use public transport where possible.
- Do Cultural Tourism Programs rather than wildlife safaris.
- Eat local food.
- Stock up on food and drink in major towns to avoid expensive hotel fare and pricey tourist-area shops.
- Focus on off-the-beaten-track areas, where prices are usually considerably lower than in the northern safari circuit.
Embassies & Consulates
Most embassies and consulates in Dar es Salaam are open from 8.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday, often with a midday break. Visa applications for all countries neighbouring Tanzania should be made in the morning.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Landline telephone numbers are seven digits plus area code; mobile numbers are six digits plus a four-digit provider code. Area codes must be used for landline numbers. There are no central police or emergency numbers.
|International access code||000|
Entry & Exit Formalities
- Provided you have a visa, Tanzania is straightforward to enter.
- Yellow fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from an endemic area (which includes several of Tanzania’s neighbours).
Exporting seashells, coral, ivory and turtle shells is illegal. There’s no limit on the importation or exportation of foreign currency, but amounts over US$10,000 must be declared.
Almost everyone needs a visa, which costs US$50 for most nationalities (US$100 for US citizens) for a single-entry visa valid for a maximum of three months.
Officially, visas must be obtained in advance by all travellers who come from a country with Tanzania diplomatic representation. Single-entry visas (but not multiple-entry visas) are also currently issued on arrival (no matter what your provenance) at Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar International Airports, at the Namanga border post between Tanzania and Kenya, and at Tunduma border (between Tanzania and Zambia). In practice, visas are currently also readily issued at most other major land borders and ports (US dollars cash only; single-entry only) with a minimum of hassle. Our advice: get your visa in advance if possible. If not possible, it's well worth giving it a try at the border.
When out and about in Tanzania, always carry at least a photocopy of your passport and visa or resident permit, and have the originals readily accessible.
One month is the normal visa validity and three months (upon request) is the maximum. For extensions within the three-month limit, there are immigration offices in all major towns, including Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Moshi; the process is free and generally straightforward. Extensions after three months are difficult; you usually need to leave the country and apply for a new visa.
East Africa Tourist Visa
Tanzania is not currently a party to the East Africa Tourist Visa (EATV), and the EATV does not apply to travel in the country.
Visas for Onward Travel
One-month single-entry visas cost US$90 plus a Tsh10,000 application fee and two photos. The consulate in Kigoma also issues visas; allow one to two weeks.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre)
Visas are only issued to Tanzania residents who have a Tanzania resident permit, and who also have a letter of invitation from the DRC. Any Congolese visa issued in Tanzania will not be honoured on entry in the DRC unless you have a Tanzania resident's permit. Two-week, single-entry limited gorilla trekking visas are available through www.visitvirunga.org.
Kenyan visas should be applied for online in advance of travel at www.evisa.go.ke. If this is not possible, they are readily issued at Kenya's borders with Tanzania for US$50 plus one photo. Transit visas (available online or at points of entry) cost US$20 and are valid for 72 hours. The Kenyan High Commission in Dar es Salaam does not issue visas.
Malawi visas issued in Dar es Salaam cost US$100 plus two photos. If application is made in the morning, they are sometimes issued on the same day.
One-month single-entry visas cost US$60 plus two photos, and are issued within five days (US$100 for 24-hour service). In addition, you will require an application letter, a bank statement for the past six months, a return ticket, a hotel booking, a photocopy of your passport and a valid yellow fever certificate.
As of mid-2017, Mozambique visas were being issued at the Kilambo, Negomano and Mtomoni borders with Tanzania. However, this situation could change at any time, so get an update before setting your plans.
Three-month single-entry visas cost US$50 plus one photo, and are issued within four days.
One-month single-entry visas cost US$50 plus two photos and are usually issued within 48 hours.
One-month single-entry visas cost US$50 plus two photos, and are issued within two days or less. Visa applications are only accepted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings between 10am and noon. Visas can also be applied for electronically at http://evisa.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm, although the process takes longer. These e-visas are accepted for airport entry, as well as at the Nakonde border when arriving via train.
Greetings Take time for greetings.
Dining Don’t eat or pass things with the left hand.
Dealing with authority Respect authority, avoid impatience; let deference and good humour see you through.
Visits Before entering someone’s house, call out Hodi (May I enter?), then wait for the inevitable Karibu (Welcome).
Gifts Receive gifts with both hands, or with the right hand while touching the left hand to your right elbow.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, including the Zanzibar Archipelago, and prosecutions have become more commonplace. In mid-September 2017, 20 people on Zanzibar Island were arrested while attending a HIV/AIDS education session. Public displays of affection, whether between people of the same or opposite sex, are frowned upon, and homosexuality is culturally taboo.
Travel insurance covering theft, loss and medical problems is highly recommended. Some tips:
- Before choosing a policy, shop around; those designed for short package tours in Europe may not be suitable for the wilds of Tanzania.
- Read the fine print, as some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which can mean scuba diving, motorcycling and even trekking. A locally acquired motorcycle licence isn’t valid under some policies.
- Most policies for Tanzania require you to pay on the spot and claim later, so keep all documentation.
- Most importantly, check that the policy covers an emergency flight home.
Before heading to Tanzania, also consider taking out a membership with one of the following, both of which operate 24-hour air ambulance services and offer emergency medical evacuation within Tanzania:
- African Medical & Research Foundation Flying Doctors (www.flydoc.org) East Africa memberships available from US$16 per person per month.
- First Air Responder (www.knightsupport.com/first-air-responder) East Africa memberships from US$10 per week.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
There are internet cafes in all major towns, and wi-fi hotspots are widespread, except in rural areas. Prices at internet cafes average Tsh1000 to Tsh2000 per hour. Speed varies greatly; truly fast connections are rare. Almost all midrange and top-end hotels, including on the safari circuits, and some budget places have wireless access points; some are free, but others charge a modest fee. The best way to connect is either with your smartphone or by purchasing a wi-fi hotspot from one of the mobile providers (about Tsh70,000, including 10GB of initial credit). For topping up, various packages are available, averaging about Tsh35,000 for 10GB, valid for one month. Top-up credit vouchers are sold at roadside shops countrywide.
Apart from traffic offences such as speeding and driving without a seatbelt (mandatory for driver and front-seat passengers), the main area to watch out for is drug use and possession. Marijuana (bangi or ganja) is readily available in some areas and is frequently offered to tourists on the street in places like Zanzibar Island and Dar es Salaam, almost always as part of a set-up involving the police or fake police. If you’re caught, expect to pay a large bribe to avoid arrest or imprisonment.
In Dar es Salaam, the typical scam is that you’ll be approached by a couple of men who walk along with you, strike up a conversation and try to sell you drugs. Before you’ve had a chance to shake them loose, policemen (sometimes legitimate, sometimes not) suddenly appear and insist that you pay a huge fine for being involved in the purchase of illegal drugs. Protestations to the contrary are generally futile and there’s often little you can do other than instantly hightailing it in the opposite direction if you smell this scam coming. If you are caught, insist on going to the nearest police station before paying anything and whittle the bribe down as far as you can. Initial demands may be as high as US$300, but savvy travellers should be able to get away with under US$50.
- Good country maps include those published by Nelles and Harms-ic, both available in Tanzania and elsewhere, and both also including Rwanda and Burundi. Harms-ic also publishes maps for Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Zanzibar Island.
- The Surveys and Mapping Division’s Map Sales Office in Dar es Salaam sells dated topographical maps (1:50,000) for mainland Tanzania. Topographical maps for Zanzibar Island and Pemba are available in Stone Town.
- Hand-drawn 'MaCo' maps (www.gtmaps.com) cover Zanzibar Island, Arusha and the northern parks. They’re sold in bookshops in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar Town.
Radio TBC Taifa, Radio One, Clouds
Newspapers Guardian and Daily News (dailies); Business Times, Financial Times and East African (weeklies).
Television ITV, EATV, TBC1
The easiest way to access money while travelling in Tanzania is at ATMs using a Visa card.
- Tanzania’s currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh). There are bills of Tsh500, Tsh1000, Tsh5000 and Tsh10,000, and coins of Tsh1, Tsh5, Tsh10 (although these three are rarely encountered), Tsh20, Tsh50, Tsh100 and Tsh200.
- In 2011, bill design was changed for all amounts. Both the old and new styles are still accepted, and in circulation.
- A Visa or MasterCard is essential for accessing money from ATMs and for paying entry fees at most national parks.
- Credit cards are not widely accepted for hotel payment, except at top-end establishments. Where they are accepted, it’s often only with commissions. As a result, you will need to rely heavily on cash and ATMs.
- US dollar bills dated prior to 2006 are not accepted anywhere. Post-2006 US dollars are generally accepted by larger establishments. For smaller, local places, you'll need to exchange them for Tanzania shillings.
ATMs are widespread in major towns, and all are open 24 hours. But they are occasionally out of service or out of cash, so you should have back-up funds. All internationally linked machines allow you to withdraw shillings with a Visa or MasterCard. Withdrawals are usually to a maximum of Tsh300,000 or Tsh400,000 per transaction (ATMs in small towns often have a limit of Tsh200,000 per transaction) and with a daily limit of Tsh1.2 million (less in small towns). Some machines also accept other cards linked to the Cirrus/Maestro/Plus networks.
The main operators:
Barclays Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi, Zanzibar Island, Tanga
CRDB Major towns
Exim Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi, Mwanza, Tanga, Morogoro
National Bank of Commerce Major towns
Stanbic Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi, Mbeya
Standard Chartered Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi, Mwanza
In large cities, queues at ATM machines on Friday afternoons are notoriously long; take care of your banking before then.
If your ATM withdrawal request is rejected (no matter what reason the machine gives), it could be for something as simple as requesting above the allowed transaction amount for that particular machine; it’s always worth trying again. Entering your PIN number erroneously three times results in a captured card.
There’s essentially no black market for foreign currency. You can assume that the frequent offers you’ll receive on the street to change at high rates are a set-up.
US dollars, followed by euros, are the most convenient foreign currencies and get the best rates, although other major currencies are readily accepted in major centres. Bring a mix of large and small denominations, but note that US$50 and US$100 bills get better rates of exchange than smaller denominations. Old-style (small head) US bills and US bills dated prior to 2006 are not accepted anywhere.
Bring a Visa card or MasterCard. These are essential for withdrawing money at ATMs; Visa is the most widely accepted. A Visa or MasterCard is also required for paying park fees at most national parks. Some upmarket hotels and tour operators accept credit cards for payment, often with a commission averaging from 5% to 10%. However, many don’t; always confirm in advance.
- Change cash at banks or foreign exchange (forex) bureaus in major towns and cities; rates and commissions vary, so shop around.
- Forex bureaus are usually quicker, less bureaucratic and open longer hours than banks, although most smaller towns don’t have them. They also tend to accept a wider range of currencies than banks.
- The most useful bank for foreign exchange is NBC, with branches throughout the country. Countrywide, banks and forex bureaus are closed from noon on Saturday until Monday morning.
- To reconvert Tanzanian shillings to hard currency, save at least some of your exchange receipts, although they are seldom checked. The easiest places to reconvert currency are at the airports in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro, or try at forex shops or banks in major towns.
- For after-hours exchange and exchanging in small towns, as well as for reconverting back to dollars or euros, many Indian-owned businesses will change money, although often at unfavourable rates.
- In theory, it’s required that foreigners pay for accommodation, park fees, organised tours, upmarket hotels and the Zanzibar ferries in US dollars, although shillings are accepted almost everywhere at the going rate.
- Restaurants Tipping is generally not practised in small local establishments, especially in rural areas. In major towns and in places frequented by tourists, tips are expected. Some top-end places include a service charge in the bill. Usually, however, either rounding up the bill or adding about 10% to 15% is standard practice.
- Safaris and Treks On treks and safaris, it’s common practice to tip drivers, guides, porters and other staff.
- Taxis Tipping is not common practice, except for longer (full-day or multiday) rentals.
Travellers cheques can no longer be changed anywhere in Tanzania.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Opening hours are generally as follows:
Banks and government offices 8am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday
Restaurants 7am to 9.30am, noon to 3pm and 6.30pm to 9.30pm; reduced hours low season
Shops 8.30am to 5pm or 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday; often closed Friday afternoon for mosque services
Supermarkets 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Saturday, 10am to 2pm Sunday
- Always ask permission first before photographing people and always respect their wishes. Sometimes, locals will ask for a fee (usually from Tsh1000 to Tsh10,000 and up) before allowing you to photograph them, which is fair enough.
- Don’t take photos of anything connected with the government and the military, including army barracks, and landscapes and people anywhere close to army barracks. Government offices, post offices, banks, ports, train stations and airports are also officially off limits.
Post is reasonably reliable for letters. Sending packages is at your own risk; for more assurance, use a courier service. General postal rates are available at www.posta.co.tz.
The dates of Islamic holidays depend on the moon and are known for certain only a few days in advance. They fall about 11 days earlier each year and include Eid al-Kebir (Eid al-Haji), Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Moulid (Maulidi).
New Year’s Day 1 January
Zanzibar Revolution Day 12 January
Easter March/April – Good Friday and Easter Monday
Karume Day 7 April
Union Day 26 April
Labour Day 1 May
Saba Saba (Peasants’ Day) 7 July
Nane Nane (Farmers’ Day) 8 August
Nyerere Day 14 October
Independence Day 9 December
Christmas Day 25 December
Boxing Day 26 December
Following are approximate dates for celebration of Islamic holidays in Tanzania.
Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan, two-day holiday)
Eid al-Kebir (Eid al-Haji)
- Smoking A few international-standard hotels in major cities offer nonsmoking rooms. Nonsmoking areas in public places are uncommon.
Taxes & Refunds
Tanzania has an 18% value-added tax (VAT) that’s usually included in quoted prices. While this has long applied to accommodation, as of July 2016 the tax also applies to ground transportation, guiding fees, park fees and camping fees. VAT refunds are not available.
The fast-fading Tanzania Telecom (TTCL) usually has its offices at the post office. TTCL ('landline') numbers are seven digits, preceded by a mandatory three-digit area code.
Local SIM cards work in European and Australian phones. Other phones must be set to roaming. All mobile companies sell pre-paid starter packages for about US$2. Top-up cards are widely available from shops and roadside vendors throughout the country.
- The mobile network covers major towns throughout the country, plus most rural areas, although signal availability can be erratic.
- Mobile phone numbers are six digits, preceded by 07XX or 06XX; the major companies are currently Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, Halotel and (on the Zanzibar Archipelago) Zantel. To reach a mobile telephone number from outside Tanzania, dial the country code, then the mobile phone code without the initial 0, and then the six-digit number. From within Tanzania, keep the initial 0 and don’t use any other area code. Dialling from your own mobile is generally the cheapest way to call internationally, especially if you purchase one of the international call bundles available from the major companies.
Tanzania’s country code is 255. To make an international call, dial 000 followed by the country code, local area code (without the initial ‘0’) and telephone number.
Tanzania time is GMT/UTC plus three hours. There is no daylight saving.
Tanzanians use the Swahili system of telling time, in which the first hour is saa moja (asubuhi), corresponding with 7am. Counting begins again with saa moja (jioni), the first hour, evening, corresponding with 7pm. Although most will switch to the international clock when speaking English with foreigners, confusion sometimes occurs, so ask people to confirm whether they are using saa za kizungu (international time) or saa za kiswahili (Swahili time). Signboards with opening hours are often posted in Swahili time.
- Toilets vary from standard long-drops to full-flush luxury conveniences.
- Most non-budget hotels sport flushable sit-down types.
- Budget guesthouses often have squat-style toilets, sometimes equipped with a flush mechanism, otherwise with a scoop and a bucket of water for flushing things down. Paper (you’ll often need to supply your own) should be deposited in the can that’s usually in the corner.
- Many upmarket bush camps have ‘dry’ toilets – a fancy version of the long drop with a Western-style seat perched on top.
Tanzania Tourist Board (www.tanzaniatouristboard.com) The official tourism entity.
Travel with Children
Tanzania may initially seem daunting for travel with children: prices for accommodation and park entry fees can be high, road distances are long and vehicle rental is costly. But for those with a sense of adventure, it's a destination with wonderful attractions, including wildlife, beaches, friendly people and good weather.
Best Regions for Kids
- Northern Tanzania
Tanzania's north is safari country and Maasai country. It's not cheap, but kids will love seeing the animals, as well as the many colourful cultures. A good selection of child-friendly hotels and restaurants completes the picture.
- Zanzibar Island
Zanzibar Island's gentle beaches alone are enough to make the island the perfect family destination. Many hotels also have swimming pools (ideal for passing time while the tide is out) and spacious grounds, and there's a wide choice of child-friendly cuisine.
- Southern Highlands
The highlands offer plenty of space for kids to run around, several wildlife parks, lovely Lake Malawi and family-friendly accommodation.
- Northeastern Tanzania
Low-key beaches, family-friendly lodging, historical Bagamoyo and the chance to spot wildlife in Saadani National Park make the northeast a child-friendly choice.
Tanzania for Kids
Tanzania's parks are completely unfenced, as are the park lodges and camps. The necessity of carefully supervising your children while in camp cannot be overemphasised. Wild animals frequently enter public areas, and a child should not be allowed to walk alone around camp, even for short distances. Exercise particular vigilance in the evenings.
Tanzania's wildlife areas, especially Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater, offer almost guaranteed animal spotting, often at very close range. While all parks offer substantially reduced children's entry fees, all fees are valid for only one entry per 24 hours. If staying inside the park, it's a good idea to choose a lodge or safari camp with a pool where the kids can expend their energy between wildlife drives. Alternatively, base yourself outside the park at a hotel with a pool and/or large grounds for running around. Then venture into the park on one well-timed animal-spotting foray, while taking advantage of cultural tours, night drives and other activities outside the park for the remainder of the time.
Tanzania's beaches are wonderful, but variable. Depending on the season, the sea can be still and clear with little debris, or cloudy, choppy and with a strong undertow. Sharp, submerged rocks are another consideration. Ask hotel staff about good areas and times to swim safely.
If your budget permits, renting a vehicle with driver is a good investment for family travel in Tanzania, giving you some control over driving speeds and the chance to stop for bathroom breaks when you'd like. That said, we've met many families happily exploring the country on public transport, particularly the train. Apart from the less-than-sanitary situation with the train toilets, and long, unbroken stretches, it's a relatively gentle introduction to Tanzania travel.
- Zanzibar Island Lovely east-coast beaches with soft sand and gentle waters, plus many swimming pools at the resorts to while away the time while the tides are out. In Stone Town, Tembo House Hotel is a good family-friendly choice.
- Pangani Quiet beaches and sheltered coves, plus many family-friendly resorts, including Peponi and Fish Eagle Point.
- Lake Nyasa Matema beach is wonderful for families year-round, except during the heavy rains (March through May) when waves can be big.
- Mafia Island Small beaches, dhow rides and snorkelling.
- Iringa area Rolling hill panoramas, plenty of space, the chance for hiking, nearby Ruaha National Park and family-friendly accommodation – especially Kisolanza – The Old Farm House – make this region an ideal destination for travel with children.
- Usambara Mountains Lovely mountain scenery, cooler temperatures, hiking possibilities and family-friendly accommodation make this another good part of the country to explore with children.
Planning for family travel takes on a new dimension in the wilds of Tanzania. Following are a few tips and pre-trip considerations to help you get set.
- The June through September cooler, dry season is best. Mosquitoes tend to be fewer (although anti-malaria precautions should still be taken) and travel overall is easier.
- Check with your doctor about recommended vaccinations and use of malarial prophylactics. It’s essential to bring along mosquito nets and ensure that your children sleep under them. Bring long-sleeved shirts, trousers and socks for dawn and dusk and always use mosquito repellent (from home).
- At beaches, keep in mind the risks of hookworm infestation in populated areas, and watch out for sea urchins while wading in the shallows and snorkelling.Take care about bilharzia infection in lakes, and thorns and the like in the bush. A fully stocked child-oriented first aid kit is essential.
- Street food isn't generally suitable for children, and 'healthy snacks' are difficult to find on the road. Stock up on fresh and dried fruit and kids' juices in major cities. Bring a pocket knife from home for peeling fruit. Plain yoghurt (mtindi) is available in major towns.
- Except in five-star hotels, baby changing areas are nonexistent. Bring a small blanket to spread out or your own portable change mat.
- Processed baby foods, powdered infant milk, disposable nappies, baby wipes and similar items are available in major towns, but not elsewhere.Child seats for hire cars and safari vehicles are generally not available, unless arranged in advance.
- Many wildlife lodges and safari camps have restrictions on accommodating children under 12.
- Most hotels and all national parks offer discounted entry and accommodation rates for children, but you’ll need to specifically request these, especially when booking through tour operators.
- Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children has more tips for keeping children and parents happy while on the road.
While there are few facilities for travellers with disabilities, Tanzanians are generally quite accommodating and willing to offer whatever assistance they can. Some considerations:
- A small number of lodges have wheelchair accessible rooms. But, few hotels have lifts (elevators) and many have narrow stairwells, especially in Stone Town (Zanzibar Town) on Zanzibar Island, where they are often steep and narrow. Grips or railings in the bathrooms are rare.
- Many park lodges and camps are built on ground level. However, access paths – in an attempt to maintain a natural environment – are sometimes rough or rocky, and rooms or tents raised. Enquire about access before booking.
- As far as we know, there are no Braille signboards at any parks or museums, nor any facilities for deaf travellers.
- Minibuses are widely available on Zanzibar Island and on the mainland, and can be chartered for transport and for customised safaris. Large or wide-door vehicles can also be arranged through car-rental agencies in Dar es Salaam and with Arusha-based tour operators. Taxis countrywide are usually small sedans, and buses are not wheelchair equipped.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel. Other contacts:
Access-Able Travel (www.access-able.com.au)
Accessible Journeys (www.disabilitytravel.com)
Disability Horizons (www.disabilityhorizons.com)
Mobility International (www.miusa.org)
National Information Communication Awareness Network (www.nican.com.au)
Safari Guide Africa (www.safariguideafrica.com/safaris-for-the-disabled)
Tourism for All (www.tourismforall.org.uk)
Volunteering opportunities (generally teaching, or in environmental or health work) are usually best arranged prior to arriving in Tanzania. Note that the current cost of volunteer (Class C) resident permits is US$200 for three months. Also note that for any volunteering work involving children, you will require a criminal background check from your home country and/or previous countries of residence.
African Initiatives (www.african-initiatives.org.uk) Focuses on girls' education and women's rights, and offers several ways of getting involved, although most opportunities are outside Tanzania.
Frontier (www.frontier.ac.uk) Marine conservation work, primarily on Mafia Island.
Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania (www.ieftz.org) Education work in Maasai areas of northern Tanzania.
Kigamboni Community Centre Teaching and other volunteer opportunities in a rural community on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.
Peace Corps (www.peacecorps.gov) US voluntary organisation with placements in various countries, including Tanzania.
Responsible Travel.com (www.responsibletravel.com) Matches you up with ecologically and culturally responsible tour operators to plan a volunteer-focused itinerary.
Trade Aid (www.tradeaiduk.org/volunteer.html) Skills training work in Mikindani village in southern Tanzania.
Voluntary Service Overseas (www.vso.org.uk) British voluntary organisation with placements in Tanzania.
Weights & Measures
Weights and Measures Tanzania uses the metric system.
Women travellers are not likely to encounter many specifically gender-related problems. More often than not, you will meet only warmth, hospitality and sisterly regard, and find that you receive special treatment that you probably wouldn’t be shown if you were a male traveller. That said, you’ll inevitably attract some attention, especially if you’re travelling alone, and there are some areas where caution is essential. A few tips:
- Dress modestly: trousers or a long skirt, and a conservative top with sleeves. Tucking your hair under a cap or scarf, or tying it back, also helps.
- Wearing sunglasses can help minimise hassles, as it’s hard for hustlers to gauge your reactions and their level of success when they can’t make eye contact. That said, keep in mind that wearing sunglasses when trying to chat or make friends with locals can be perceived as rude.
- Use common sense, trust your instincts and take the usual precautions when out and about. Avoid walking alone at night. Avoid isolated areas at any time and be particularly cautious on beaches, many of which can become quickly deserted.
- If you find yourself with an unwanted suitor, creative approaches are usually effective. For example, explain that your husband (real or fictitious) or a large group of friends will be arriving imminently at that very place. Similar tactics are also usually effective in dealing with the inevitable curiosity that you’ll meet as to why you might not have children and a husband or, if you do have them, why they aren’t with you. The easiest response to the question of why you aren’t married is to explain that you are still young (bado kijana), which whether you are or not will at least have some humour value. Just saying bado (‘not yet’) to questions about marriage or children should also do the trick. As for why your family isn’t with you, you can always explain that you’ll be meeting them later.
- Seek out local women, as this can enrich your trip tremendously. Places to try include tourist offices, government departments or even your hotel, where at least some of the staff are likely to be formally educated young to middle-aged women. In rural areas, starting points include women teachers at a local school, or staff at a health centre.
- On a practical level, while tampons and the like are available in major cities, women will likely come to appreciate the benefits of Western-style consumer testing when using local sanitary products.
Unemployment and underemployment rates are high, and unless you have unique skills, the chances of lining up something are small.
- The most likely areas for employment are the safari industry, tourism, dive masters and teaching; in all areas, competition is stiff and the pay is low.
- The best way to land something is to get to know someone already working in the business. Also check safari operator and lodge websites, some of which advertise vacant positions.
- Work and residency permits should be arranged through the potential employer or sponsoring organisation; residency permits normally need to be applied for from outside Tanzania. Work permit regulations for foreigners have recently become more restricted, so be sure to inform yourself fully of the situation before setting your plans.
- Most teaching positions are voluntary and best arranged through volunteer agencies or mission organisations at home.