The United Republic of Tanzania is a nation in central East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean. The official capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, where parliament and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996 the major coastal city of Dar es Salaam had been the country's political capital. Today Dar es Salaam remains the principal commercial city of Tanzania and the de-facto seat of most government institutions. It is the major seaport for the country and its landlocked neighbours.
The name Tanzania is a portmanteau of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The two states united in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which later the same year was, renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.
At 945,087 km², Tanzania is the 31st largest country in the world and is comparable in size to Nigeria.
Tanzania is mountainous in the northeast where Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, is situated. To the north and west are the Great Lakes of Lake Victoria (Africa's largest lake) and Lake Tanganyika (Africa's deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish). Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau, with plains and arable land. The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the island of Zanzibar lying just offshore.
Tanzania contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks, some of which we run safaris to, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park in the north, and Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park in the south.
Tanzania has a tropical climate. In the highlands, temperatures range between 10ËšC and 20ËšC during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20ËšC. The hottest period extends between November and February (25ËšC - 31ËšC) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (15ËšC - 20ËšC).
The March - May rains are referred to as the long rains or Masika, whereas the October - December rains are generally known as short rains or Vuli. These rains are no longer set in stone due to global warming and a changing of the weather systems and it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro all year round.
Tanzania has more than 126 ethnic groups and each ethnic group has its own language. No language is official, but Swahili is the de facto national language, used for inter-ethnic communication and for official matters. After gaining independence, English was still used for some official issues but nowadays it is no longer used in the administration, in the parliament or in the government. Hence Tanzania is one of the few African states in which a local language has gained importance to the disadvantage of the ex-colonial language.
What Is the Time Difference in Tanzania?
Tanaznia time is GMT/UTC plus 3 hours. Check out the current time in Tanzania here. The Tanzania Country Code is +255. For making calls back home, international rates can be quite expensive, be sure to check with your local carrier prior to visiting Tanzania. Wifi is available in most hotels in major cities. Connection speeds are not what you are used to in the west. Some places require you to pay for WiFi. In more rural areas, WiFi is not as readily available.
Cellular service is reliable in most areas of Tanzania. You may even have service in the national parks. However, since you will be traveling in remote areas, we cannot guarantee cellular services or internet. Expect to be un-plugged for the majority of the journey.
How Do I Charge My Electronics While in Tanzania?
Tanzania uses a British type BS-1363 plug type. The voltage is 220-240. Electricity is widely available in larger cities and urban areas throughout Tanzania. However, along trekking routes and in game reserves and national parks, there is limited to no access to electricity.
We advise that you bring a battery pack or solar charger should you think you will need to charge any electronics. To save batteries, turn off phones at night, and keep them close to your body when temperatures drop. This will help conserve battery power.
What Language is Spoken in Tanzania?
Tanzania is a multi-lingual nation with several different languages. The most widely spoken languages are Bantu Swahili and English. English has been around since colonial rule. However don’t be fooled, most Tanzanians speak Swahili instead of English. In major tourist areas, English is widely spoken. All of our guides speak English and you will be able to communicate. However, whenever you visit a foreign country it’s important to know a little of the local language. Check out some helpful Swahili phrases.
What is the Climate in Tanzania?
Tanzania is a large nation, and therefore has a varied climate. Overall the climate is tropical, with hot and humid coastal areas while the northwestern highlands are cool and temperate. Tanzania also has two rainy seasons: the short and long rains. The short rains happen from October to December, while the long rains are from March until June.
The best times to visit Tanzania is outside of the rainy seasons from June to October. For climbing Kilimanjaro, we also suggest going during either January-March or June to October. During the spring season, there will likely be snow along the way and temps will be cooler.
Additional Weather Resources:
Mt Meru – this is a wonderful four day climb up and is a great method of acclimatising for a climb of her higher neighbour, or as a stand-alone climb. Mt Meru stands at 4’566m high and is located 44 miles west of Kilimanjaro. The five day itinerary includes 2 nights in our hotel in Moshi.
Ngorongoro Crater and Lakes Safari - We offer an exciting 4 day, 3 night all-inclusive Tanzanian Safari Holiday to Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire as an addition to your climb of Kilimanjaro. The safari is a great way to relax after your climb and there is a choice of either 3* accommodation in Twiga Resort, or a 4* Lodge option in Lake Manyara. You can add this easily onto your trip when you get to the Booking Section.
Generally people finish Kilimanjaro at 2pm on the last day and go to the hotel for an overnight, and then depart the next morning for their safari. You can leave your trekking gear in the hotel. The first day is a drive from Moshi to Arusha and then to Mto wa Mbu, which is right next to Lake Manyara. Here we offer either the 4* Lake Manyara Lodge on the escarpment overlooking the Lake, or a 3* hotel in the town called Twiga Lodge. The safari takes in three Parks - Lake Manyara, Lake Tarangire and a whole day in the Ngorongoro Crater.
On the way back on day 4 of the safari, you can either be dropped at the airport (which is on the way), in which case you will need to bring all your luggage with you, or go back to the hotel in Moshi for a last night in the town.
The safari is fully catered and once again we use our own vehicles and staff under the management of Castro Kapela.
Tanzania Travel Facts
Got a question regarding travel to Tanzania? We've got answers. Feel free to contact us with any additional questions you may have.
Do I need a Visa?
A visa is required for entry into Tanzania. This can be purchased beforehand through your local Tanzanian Consulate however most people prefer to buy it on arrival either at the road border entry point or the airport. For the latest costs and requirements please refer to the Tanzanian consulate in your country of residence.
Can Kilimanjaro be climbed all year round?
Yes, the country does historically have two wet seasons however the mountain can still be climbed at these times, though there is a higher chance of colder weather and rain.
Do I need climbing experience?
No, Kilimanjaro is a high altitude trek. It does not require technical ability or equipment. It is perfect for someone who enjoys the outdoors and walking, or someone who is looking to achieve the Seven Summits or someone who wants to visit Africa for a great adventure.
Are all the routes camping?
All of the routes use tents except the Marangu route but don’t let this put you off! Camping is fun and we use excellent tents all of which have a comfortable mattress inside.
What Vaccinations do I need?
You will need to check with your doctor or travel clinic as travel advice changes. You can also have a look at our links page for the Net Doctor travel vaccination advice.
Who flies to Kilimanjaro Airport?
KLM flies into Kilimanjaro from the UK or Ireland via Amsterdam. Alternatively British Airways or Kenya Airways fly into Nairobi and then onto Kilimanjaro. The other option is to fly with Virgin or Air France into Nairobi and then travel overland by bus to Moshi, Tanzania – the bus is a 6 hour journey and also requires the purchase of a Kenyan visa. Our Kenyan staff can meet you in Nairobi and put you up in our guesthouse, and arrange the coach transfer for you.
Is there a ground fee payable on arrival?
No, the price you see is your full land costs. There are no ‘Park Fees’ or additional trip payments when you land, outside of the exclusions already mentioned such as tips, meals in Moshi and personal expenses.You will need to pay for an airport pick-up if you choose to use it, and the cost can be divided between a group of you which is why we don't include it as a cost per person.
How much should I tip?
Adventure Alternative run our own team of dedicated staff through our own office in Moshi. We pay the proper level of wages; however it has become tradition to tip the porters and unfortunately many companies rely on tips to substitute salaries. We have a strict policy in place regarding tips which is emailed to you in your Pre Trip Info pack but would suggest £40 per western climber. We do try to promote the concept that tips are given voluntarily and as a reflection of good service, so this is not a mandatory addition.
Are there any insects or bugs to worry about?
No, it is too high for mosquitoes or bugs. Above the treeline there is very little wildlife other than birds and striped dormouse. But there are malaria is endemic in the country so you are advised to visit your GP and get the necessary anti-malarial tablets, and cover up in the evening and early morning.
Can I go if I have a food preference?
Yes, we can easily cope with people who prefer a vegetarian diet, and with celiacs or people with specific food allergies.We may ask that you bring certain foods with you, such as gluten free, which are simply not available in Tanzania.
Do I get a certificate?
Yes, the National Park issues two types of certificate, a gold one for summitting and a silver one for reaching the crater rim. There is no extra cost for this.
Can I drink the water?
In the hotel and in Moshi always stick to bottled water. On the mountain it is all boiled and safe, but bring purification tablets or a Steripen if you wish.Do not drink the water from the rivers or streams. Generally you will give your empty water bottle to the cooks in the evening and they will fill it with boiled water which you can use as a hot water bottle. By the time morning comes it will be cool enough to drink.
How many people normally travel and how do we all co-habit?
Groups are between 5 and 15, and people share twin rooms in the hotel and 2-person tents on the mountain. It is no problem if you want a single room, but there is a supplement for this. We recommend sharing a tent, it’s warmer! We get people from all over the world coming on our trips but in general the bigger numbers are from the UK and Ireland.
Is it safe in Tanzania and in Moshi?
Moshi is a safe town which is quite rich by African standards, earning a good income from the mountain, but it is important to follow the usual rules of safe travel which you can find on the FCO Know Before You Go website.There is always a chance of opportunistic theft or robbery, so please be very careful with your belongings and your money. We have never had problems at the hotel but it is wise to always be cautious and not leave valuables lying on the table.
Will I be met at the airport?
Yes. Once you put your flight details in your Trip Page then Castro Kapela will be able to meet you off the plane. He will have a board with your name on it and a car or minivan to drive you to the hotel.The cost for this is paid in cash on arrival because it is a fixed fee per car, so cheaper per person if you arrive or leave in a group. You can of course make your own arrangements. If you take the coach from Nairobi then our office in Kenya will advise Castro of your arrival time and he can meet you at the bus station, or you can take a taxi to the Keys Annexe Hotel.
Tanzania Swahili basics
Swahili or Kiswahili is the national and official language of Tanzania. Swahili belongs to the greater Bantu language family that is widely spoken in East Africa as well as some parts of West Africa and Southern Africa.
The Tanzanians speak the most fluent Swahili in East Africa (as well as the Waswahili of Coastal Kenya) and take pride in their language which is widely spoken throughout the country and also used for official administration. Although there are many other local languages spoken in Tanzania, the Tanzanians take pride in the language that unifies them and gives them identity as a nation.
Most people especially in the cities can speak basic English, but mastering a few words in Swahili will be greatly appreciated by the locals.
Greetings - Salamu
• Hello, how are you? - Habari yako ?
• Am fine - Mzuri
• Goodbye - Kwa heri
• Nice to meet you = Nafurahi kukuona
• Goodnight - Lala salama
Communication - Mazungumzo
• Yes - Ndio
• No - Hapana /La
• Thank you - Asante
• Thank you very much - Asante sana
• Please - Tafadhali
• OK - Sawa
• Excuse me - Samahani
• You're Welcome - Karibu
• Can you help me? - Nisaidie Tafadhali
• What is your name? - Jina lako ni?
• My name is Lisa - Jina langu ni Lisa...
• Where are you from? - Unatoka wapi?
• I'm from London.. - Nimetoka London...
• May I take a picture? - Naweza piga picha
• Do you speak English? -Unaongea Kizungu?
• Just a little bit - Kidogo tu!
• How do you say Hallo in Swahili? = Unasemaje Hallo kwa Kiswahili
• I don't understand - Sifahamu
• Friend of mine -Rafiki yangu/Shoga yangu
• Me - Mimi
• You -wewe
• I am - Mimi ni
• Let’s go - Twende
• Ok - Sawa
• Enough - Tosha
• Where is the ... - ni wapi...
• Road - barabara
• Market -soko
• Toilet/bathroom - choo
• Plane - ndege
• Is there a bus going to Arusha...? - Kuna basi ya kuenda Arusha..?
• Is it far - Ni mbali
• Over there - pale
• Ticket - tikiti
• Where are you going? - Unaenda wapi?
• How much is it? -Ni pesa ngapi?
• Hotel - hoteli
• Room - chumba
• Are there any vacancies for tonight? -Kuna nafasi leo usiko?
• No vacancies - Hamna nafasi
• How much is it per night? - ni bei gani kwa usiku?
Time and Days - Wakati na Siku
• What is the time - ni saa ngapi?
• Today - leo
• Tomorrow - kesho
• Yesterday - jana
• Now - sasa
• Later - baadaye
• Every day - kila siku
• Monday - Jumatatu
• Tuesday - Jumanne
• Wednesday - Jumatano
• Thursday - Alhamisi
• Friday - Ijumaa
• Saturday - Jumamosi
• Sunday - Jumapili
Numbers - Hesabu
• 1 - moja
• 2 - mbili
• 3 - tatu
• 4 - nne
• 5 - tano
• 6 - sita
• 7 - saba
• 8 - nane
• 9 - tisa
• 10 - kumi
• 11 - kumi na moja (ten and one)
• 12 -kumi na mbili (ten and two)
• 20 - ishirini
• 21 - ishirni na moja (twenty and one)
• 30 - thelathini
• 40 - arobaini
• 50 - hamsini
• 60 - sitini
• 70 - sabini
• 80 - themanini
• 90 - tisini
• 100 - mia
• 200 -mia mbili
• 1000 - elfu
• 100,000 -laki moja
• 200,000 -laki mbili….
Food - Chakula
• Hot - moto
• Cold - baridi
• Water - maji
• Hot water - maji moto
• Cold water - maji baridi
• Drinking water - maji ya kunywa
• Soda (soft drinks) - soda
• Beer - bia
• Milk - maziwa
• Meat - nyama
• Chicken - kuku
• Fish - samaki
• Beef - nyama ya ng'ombe
• Fruit - matunda
• Vegetables - mboga
Health - Afya
• Doctor = daktari/mganga
• Hospital = hospitali
• I'm sick = mimi ni mgonjwa
• I need a doctor = nataka kuona daktari
• It hurts here = naumwa hapa ( hapa –point at where the pain is)
• Fever = homa
• Malaria = malaria
• I have a headache = naumwa na kichwa
• I have diarrhoea = naendesha
• Vomiting = tapika
• Medicine = dawa
Animals - Wanayama
• Animal = mnyama
• Buffalo = Nyati / Mbogo
• Cheetah = Duma / Chita
• Elephant = Tembo / Ndovu
• Giraffe = Twiga
• Hippo = Kiboko
• Hyena = Fisi
• Leopard = Chui
• Lion = Simba
• Rhino = Kifaru
• Warthog = Ngiri
• Wildebeest = Nyumbu
• Zebra = Punda milia
Tanzania and its surrounding islands (Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia) are tropical regions characterized by warm and humid weather at the coast, and warm and dry weather in the central regions. In general, the ‘summer’ period is between December to March and ‘winter’ season between March to May. However, just like most parts of East Africa different areas of Tanzania and the islands experience different climatic conditions depending on the topography.
There are 2 distinct annual rainfall patterns in Tanzania: Towards the South and West and Central parts of the country, there is on rainy season that occurs between December and April. In the Northern and Eastern regions there are two rainy seasons; the short rains that last from October to December and the long rains that last from March to May.
The warm Tanzania climate lasts from mid-December to March, roughly corresponding with the rainy period of the south, west, and central region of the country. From June to October, it is generally cold and dry across the country. Temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru drop below freezing at night.
The Annual Weather Patterns
January - February
Short dry season.
March – May
Main long rainy season with heavy downpours in the afternoons. The humidity is high and daily temperatures can just below# 30°C.
June – October
This is the dry season. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it's a great time to visit Tanzania. It gets cold in the evenings and can be quite cold at the Ngorongoro Crater.
November – December
Period of short rains. These tend to be in the form of a daily thunderstorm. The Ngorongoro Crater rim has a wonderful climate at this time of year. The Serengeti and Lake Manyara are very warm and Zanzibar is very hot.
This is summer time. Bringing dry and very warm conditions. Due to its altitude, the Ngorongoro Crater is much cooler than elsewhere.
The Great Migration in Tanzania
November - December
This is the beginning of the short rains in Tanzania’s North. In late this period, the herds of wildebeest arrive on the plains of the Serengeti from the Mara and then continue to migrate further South spreading across the plains.
January - March
The animals are now settled in the South and East of the Serengeti; the South of Seronera around Ndutu area and includes the North of the Ngorongoro Conservation. This is the calving season where most wildebeest calves are born in the window around February.
April - May
Gradually the animals begin to migrate Northwards seeking fresh grazing water. The area around Moru Kopjes and west of Seronera is then hectic with the might movement of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and including the Thomson Gazelles and zebra. Some of the migration then head due north of Seronera, but most are usually further west.
The wildebeest migration slows down around the Grumeti River in the Western Corridor, concentrating here. The river here is normally a series of pools and channels, but it's not continuous – and so whilst they always represent an annual feast for the Grumeti River's large crocodiles, these aren't usually quite as spectacular as the crossings of the Mara River, further north.
July - October
They migrate towards Northeast Serengeti (Bologonja and Ikorongo and Ikoma Game Reserve) to Maasai Mara in Kenya.Only those animals (excluding predators) which can stand without surface water for long periods and adapted to the poor forage remain there. The biggest and the most demanding task for the animals is when they have to cross Mara Rivers in the North. Many animals drown or get caught and eaten by the crocodiles whilst lions await them on the other side.
When the pasture has been exhausted in the North and Maasai Mara, this army of animals surges back to the now green pastures of the Serengeti North and continue to migrate South…and the cycle begins all over again…
Early Wet Season – December to April (February is the calving season)
Late Wet Season – April to June
Early dry Season –July to October
Late dry Season – October to December
Tanzania is formerly known as Tanganyika, a name that was given to the country by a British civil servant in the early 1920’s (Tanga meaning sail and Nyika meaning arid plain). The previously known German East Africa was then became known as Tanganyika Territory. In 1964, Tanganyika was joined with Zanzibar and other offshore islands to become what is known as today: United Republic of Tanzania.
Being a former colony of both Germany and Britain, architectural styles in Tanzania reflect Arab, German, and British influence and occupation. There is also a long rich history of slave trade and other goods that can be seen in the architectural remains and buildings, as well as culture of the coastal towns and offshore Zanzibar Island (The Portuguese, Arabs and Indians and Chinese were also involved in this trade). For instance, ruins of Arab mosques as well as nineteenth-century stone houses on narrow streets can be seen in Bagamoyo, which was one of the main endpoints of the East African slave trade. There are also tombs embedded with Chinese ceramics dating to the twelfth century.
Suburban dwellings, most of which are built along a grid pattern, include the Swahili house, a rectangular structure made of either stone with a corrugated roof or earth on a wooden frame with a thatch roof. This type of house is found all along the coast.
There are many factors that have contributed to the national identity of Tanzanians.
- Kiswahili - This is the lingua-franca of the nation, is spoken and revered by all, and is a compulsory subject in schools.
- The unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form a United Republic.
- Development of Tanzanian socialism as endorsed by first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and sanctioned in the Arusha Declaration of 1967. As an expression of social collectivity, ujamaa villages were created – whose core structure was based on mutual assistance and cooperation.
- National Resources such as Mt Kilimanjaro and other natural attractions such as the Serengeti and the world’s largest caldera, Ngorongoro crater as well as Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, contribute to the Nations sense of national identity.
What is the Language of Tanzania?
There are more than 120 ethnic tribes in Tanzania. The largest ethnic groups include the Sukuma (over three million), Chagga, Haya, and Nyamwezi (over one million each). Despite the numerous cultural diversity represented by all these tribes, they are all united by use of Swahili or Kiswahili - a coastal Bantu language with Arabic influence. In his quest for his people to find identity in themselves as one people, the first president Julius Nyerere encouraged all Tanzanians to communicate in Swahili. The use of Swahili as a single common language has facilitated trade, political debate, nationalism and information dissemination. The Tanzanians have strong feelings of national pride and cohesion, and this strong sense of nationalism backed up with the use of a common language has enabled Tanzanians to resolve most internal conflicts without resorting to violence keeping the country at peace for over two decades, in comparison to most of its neighbours.
English is also spoken by most of the Tanzanians of post-secondary education in addition to their tribal languages. When traveling it’s always a good idea to go with a little local language knowledge. Here is a list of helpful Swahili phrases.
What is the Food Like in Tanzania?
The staple food in Tanzania depends on the region that one is coming from. The people from the North West prefer plantains, those from the South West prefer Ugali and those along the coast prefer rice. – these staple carbohydrates that are unique in each region are accompanied by a fish, beef, goat, chicken, or mutton stew or fried pieces of meat, along with several types of vegetables or condiments, such as beans and sukuma wiki pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Walking along the streets especially in urban market areas, many delicacies are sold such as fried plantains, sweet potatoes, charcoal roasted maize on the cob, pieces of dried or fried fish, mshikaki, grilled pieces of meat, samosas, chapatis among many other finger foods. It is also common to find local brews sold in local bars such as the Konyagi a popular spirit.
Social Structure and Organization of Tanzania
The extended family is the basic family structure. In most cases, the man is the head of the home and usually makes all major decisions. Throughout the nation, children are raised with the strong influence of parents as well as close relatives, friends, and neighbours. However, the market economy has placed significant pressure on the stability of the domestic unit and the extended family. Educated, wealthy family members are often called upon to provide resources to other family members for their education and general welfare. Elders are honoured and respected by the rest of the community.
In rural areas especially, the role of women and girls is basically to take care of the household chores, take care of children and work in the fields. The men also work in farms, care for their livestock and make the important family decisions. However, all these roles are changing gradually with the increase in development, and increased girl child education. These divisions of labour however are not so pronounced in urban areas.
What is Daily Life Like in Tanzania?
Politeness, respect and modesty are virtues that highly valued by Tanzanians. The country has harmonious national culture that is based on subtle but strong social code of courtesy and respect. Take the time to greet people before you ask them for directions.
The ability to keep control of one's temper and emotions in public is highly valued. Young men and women in rural areas are not supposed to show mutual affection in public in daylight, although this rule is often broken in urban centres. Boys and men, and however, are commonly seen in public holding hands as a sign of friendship or comradeship. In many rural areas, women are not supposed to smoke, be seen in a drunken stupor in public talk in a raised voice in an uncontrolled manner.
What are Common Greetings in Tanzania?
Handshakes are very important in social etiquette. Handshakes are required, regardless of how many people you are greeting. For example, if you enter a room with 30 people gathered for a meeting, it is usually expected that you will take the time to greet each individual with a handshake. Always greet the oldest person first, and then proceed to the rest of the people finishing with the youngest, children. To skip or rush this element in the greeting process is the height of poor manners.
Tanzanians frequently continue holding hands throughout a conversation. Note that the right hand is usually used for eating, while the left is traditionally used for toilet duties. You should try not to pass items to others with your left hand. When receiving items from others, do so with both hands, or with the right hand while touching the left hand to your right elbow as a sign of respect and courtesy.
People are generally addressed by their academic, professional or honorific title followed by their surname. If the person is unknown to you, then to call them by their most distinguished title is appropriate – Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.
Tanzanians may also be addressed as mother of so and so, or father of so and so. For instance, the mother and father of Mary may be referred to as ‘Mama Mary’ and ‘Baba Mary’ respectively. Referring to your friends' parents in such a manner shows respect.
How Should I Dress in Tanzania?
It is important to dress modestly In Tanzania. Wearing clothes that are too revealing shows a sign of disrespect. In Zanzibar especially, it is important to dress modestly out of respect for Muslim cultural beliefs. Women should be covered above the elbow and knees. No midriffs should be showing.
Traditional Medicine in Tanzania
Tanzania is popular for its sophisticated indigenous healing systems found in almost all Tanzanian ethnic groups. Healing can cure almost anything ranging from barrenness and infertility, as well as love matters, psychological problems, social problems such as finding a job, a lover, or even financial breakthrough to complicated chronic and infectious illnesses. All these are facilitated by the mganga (medicine man/ traditional healer). Predicated on a holistic approach to health, traditional healers treat body, mind, and spirit as an integrated system, often in the communal sense of the ‘social body.’
What is Hospitality Like in Tanzania?
When invited for a meal, you should accept the meal that is offered to show that you accept their hospitality. The best course of action is to behave formally. When in doubt, watch what others are doing and follow their lead. It is considered polite to finish everything on your plate, although it is not mandatory.
Tanzanians, like other African countries are generally social, and visiting a friend or relative does not require any serious prior plans or schedules. It is common for people to visit each other impromptu and normally, a meal is offered.
Neighbourliness is common, and many Tanzanians in the same community look out for each other, assisting each other where need be even in trivial things such as neighbours borrowing cooking items from each other, and children all play together in the same neighbourhood.
Law and Order in Tanzania
There are hundreds of petty offenses in Tanzania where fines are charged as set by the law. However, although stealing is common in Tanzania, it is heavily enforced through mob justice. Anyone even suspected or accused of stealing is likely to be severely beaten, and then burnt to death by a nearby crowd. This is commonly known as ‘mob justice.’ For more information on laws see our laws section.
What is the Religion of Tanzania?
Christianity and Islam are the predominant religions in Tanzania where over 40% practice Christianity and over 35% practice Islam. Islam is the major religion of the coastal areas but is also practiced further inland. There are also those who follow traditional beliefs and there are also the Asian minority: the Hindus, Sikh’s and Ismailis.
Religion plays a big role in Tanzania, and many Christians families dress their best to attend church services together. There are charismatic services and people sing and dance and their voices can be heard in the streets. Easter and Christmas are major religious events that are observed by Christian faithful in the country by attending church and celebrating together with their extended families often by feasting together.
Ramadhan is also a month that is observed by the Muslims and many across the nation fast in the holy lunar month. Thereafter comes Eid, a time of feasting and festivity for the whole community.
What are the Major Holidays and Festivals in Tanzania?
Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are the best spots for enjoying the many festivals in Tanzania. Here a few notable festivals that happen every year. Aside from the festivals mentioned below, Eid, Christmas, and Easter are also popular holidays. Be aware that Eid changes every year, so be sure to check your calendar.
Waynyambo Festival: In celebration of local culture, dance, music, costumes and food. Happens in Dar es Salaam in January.
Kiliman Adventure Challenge: A triathlon event that includes a hike up Mt Kilimanjaro, a mountain bike ride around the great circumference and a Kilimanjaro Marathon. Happens in February.
Kilimanjaro Marathon: This is a road race under the view of Kilimanjaro. The event even includes a half marathon. Happens in February.
Unification Day: April 26th. Signifies the unification of mainland Tanzania with Zanzibar.
Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival: A music festival held in Dar es Salaam in May.
Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair: A fair with many items for purchase from gemstones to safari gear. It’s the largest of such festivals in East Africa. Happens in Arusha around May/June.
Festival of the Dhow Countries: A film and music festival in Zanzibar. Happens in early July and goes for two weeks.
Mwaka Kogwa Festival: Happens in Zanzibar where the local men beat each other with banana stalks to settle arguments from the previous year. There is a big fire and a feast. A four day event happening in July/August.
Bagamoya Arts Festival: The town of Bagamoya between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar holds a week-long event in September that celebrates music and dance.
Serengeti Wildebeest Migration: December through February the wildebeest numbers are at their peaks.
Tipping in Tanzania
Tipping is usually done in USD but it can also be done with the local currency in Tanzania. In hotels tip bellhops and cleaning staff around $1-$2 a day or per bag. In restaurants, typically tip 5% if a service charge is not included. Round up your fare for any taxi rides.
Tipping your guide and porter is encouraged but not mandatory. Please see our tipping page for more information.
Sustainability in Tanzania
As with many developing nations, Tanzania has a plethora of environmental issues. As a visitor to this amazing place, it is our responsibility to minimize our impact. Do not buy any wildlife products that you do not know if they were obtained sustainably. Filter your water to eliminate the use of disposable plastic water bottles. This decreases the tourism impact on the waste stream. Use a cloth shopping bag when you shop in country. If you are welcomed into a home, be sure to finish your plate of food. Many people go hungry in this part of the world, finishing your plate ensures that no food goes to waste.
Laws in Tanzania
The following advice is intended to provide a brief outline of any laws in the desination country that are directly applicable to travelling there. This is not intended to be exhaustive or complete and laws do change from time to time so we strongly advise visiting the UK Foreign Office website and checking for their current advice.
In general the laws of any country will be based on the same values as at home but significant differences can be present subject to the prevailing cultural, religious and political environment in the country. These four basic factors can be your main guide to how to act in unfamiliar situations. If you are any doubt as to what to do in a given situation it is usually possible to identify the "safest" fallback option and go with it. For example, not buying something, not taking a photo of a government building etc.
This information should also be read in conjunction with our relevant pages dealing with Cultural Awareness and Visa Requirements.
Tanzanians are welcoming and well disposed towards visitors; but be sensitive to local culture. Loud or aggressive behaviour, drunkenness, foul language and disrespect, especially towards older people, will cause offense.
There is a high proportion of Muslims in Tanzania, especially along the coast and on Zanzibar and Pemba. Dress modestly. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops away from tourist resorts, and particularly in Stone Town and other places where the local population may be offended. There have been cases where women traveling alone and in small groups have been verbally harassed in such areas.
Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar).
Carry identification (e.g. a copy of your passport) at all times.
All drugs are illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and those found in possession will be fined. There are severe penalties, including custodial sentences, for drug trafficking.
Practical Travel Information: Tazania
Below you will find all you need to know regarding practical travel information. If you don't see what you need here, check out our other travel information pages or send us an email. We would be happy to assist you.
Most passport holders need a visa to travel to Tanzania and you can obtain one prior to travelling. It is also possible to obtain a tourist visa for a single entry at the main ports of entry to Tanzania but this is subject to the fulfilment of all immigration requirements. You should check with your local Tanzania Consulate for the latest costs and requirements.
If you need a multiple entry visa arrange this through a Tanzanian diplomatic mission before your arrival in Tanzania. Otherwise you will have to buy a single entry visa each time you enter the country. There is now a requirement for all visitors to Tanzania to provide biometric fingerprints and photographs on arrival and departure.
Please note that working as a volunteer in Tanzania requires a Class C work permit. This should be obtained from your nearest Tanzanian diplomatic mission before you travel. If you overstay the validity of your visa, or work without an appropriate permit, you will be liable to arrest, detention and a fine before being deported.
You must hold a valid passport to enter Tanzania. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months in order to apply for a visa for Tanzania.
Yellow Fever Certificates
Travelers from non-endemic countries traveling to Tanzania (including the Zanzibar islands of Unguja and Pemba) do not require a Yellow Fever Certificate. Please note, however, that travelers from non-endemic countries that travel through an endemic country are subject to yellow fever vaccination only if they stay outside the Airport or have a long connection up to twelve hours.
As some countries list Tanzania as a Yellow Fever endemic country you may also be asked for a certificate after departing Tanzania and arriving at other destinations.
Basic Swine Flu checks are carried out at the main points of entry to Tanzania.
Where do I Arrive When Visiting Tanzania?
Most international visitors will arrive in Tanzania by air via Dar es Salaam at the Julius Nyerere International airport (DAR), however if you are joining us for a safari or climb on Mount Meru or Kilimanjaro then you should fly in to Kilimanjaro airport (JRO). As a developing nation, Tanzania is doing what it can to welcome tourists into the country. However, some people experience shock when they arrive in such locations, simply take a deep breath and realise that you are in Africa. Things work a little slower than what you may be used to.
Will I Be Able to Contact Home While I Am Away?
Tanznia time is GMT/UTC plus 3 hours. Tanzania’s country code is +255. For making calls back home, international rates can be quite expensive, be sure to check with your mobile network provider prior to visiting Tanzania. Consider downloading WhatsApp, a free internet-based texting and calling service to keep in touch with loved ones. Wi-Fi is available in most hotels in major cities. In rural areas, WiFi is typically limited but cellular service may still be available.
What Vaccinations do I need?
We advise that you schedule an appointment with your doctor, or a travel-specific doctor prior to coming to Tanzania to discuss your health needs. Tanzania does have vaccination requirements, and we urge you to discuss your specific information with a health professional.
Do plan on bringing any prescriptions you may require during your stay. Medication does exist in Tanzania, but the quality and type may not be something you are used to. In rural areas, medication is hard to come by, so please come prepared. Be sure to understand the risks and preventions of Malaria in the area you will be travelling to.
What is the Quality of Medical Facilities in Tanzania?
Tanzania is a developing nation and many of its medical facilities are not up to Western standards. There are private hospitals and clinics in major urban areas that can help with emergencies. However, for serious incidents, evacuation to your home country, or a country nearby with the proper facilities may be required.
Although we do not anticipate any problems during your visit, accidents do happen. We require that you carry traveller's insurance that covers a helicopter evacuation at the altitude you will be climbing or activity you are doing. For more information see our Travel Insurance page.
Will I have Access to an ATM in Tanzania?
ATMs are available in Tanzania in most major urban and popular areas. The official currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSH) and ATMs usually have a 400,000 TSH limit. It is advised to get money in the more populated areas before heading out to rural areas of Tanzania.
Other accepted currencies are the USD with bills dated later than 2006. Many hotels accept the US Dollar as currency, favouring it over other widely accepted Western currencies. However, you usually get a better price using the shilling.
Credit cards are also accepted, however there is usually a 5%-15% service fee for using a credit card and as such we advise that you use cash. Keep cash locked in hotel safes and do not travel with large amounts of cash in hand. If you leave your cash with hotel staff (common in some areas, where the safe is behind a desk), be sure to have a written note with the amount of cash stated. Keep the rest of your money hidden with a money belt.
What can I Expect from Toilet Facilities?
Western style, sit toilets are common in hotels in major cities. Along trekking routes, the quality and cleanliness of toilet facilities vary widely, usually a long drop, squat style toilet with a wooden privacy shed meaning there is a slat-opening in the floor where your business goes and a long drop to the bottom of the pit.
We advise to always bring some personal toilet paper for your trip. For feminine hygiene products consider investing in a moon or diva cup. A menstruation cup is reusable, after being cleaned per manufacturer instructions. This helps eliminate the need of hygiene product waste, making life on the trail a much simpler experience.
What is the Water Quality in Tanzania?
The water out of the tap throughout Tanzania is unfit to drink, however it is suitable for showering and washing your hands. Be sure to take care to keep your mouth closed while showering. If you are on an organised tour then it is likely that clean drinking water will be provided.