The United Republic of Tanzania is situated in East Africa and is 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 border lies on the Indian Ocean. The country is divided into 26 regions, 5 on the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar, and 21 on the mainland. The capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, where Parliament and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996, the main coastal city of Dar es Salaam served as the country's political capital. To this day Dar es Salaam is the major seaport for Tanzania and its landlocked neighbours and it remains the principal commercial city of Tanzania and the de facto seat of most government institutions.
Must see destinations in Tanzania:
Mount Kilimanjaro - Mount Kilimanjaro Africa's highest mountain is situated in Tanzania. Tanzania also has countless stunning beaches in Zanzibar and spectacular national parks like the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation.
Tanzania has 2 safari circuits - the Northern Circuit which includes the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire and the Southern Circuit with Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area - The Ngorongoro Conservation area has large concentrations of wildlife especially in the Ngorongoro crater. The highlands around the crater have a large population of elephant and the crater itself has similar animals to those found in the Serengeti, but with higher densities. There is also a small population of black rhino).
Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve - Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve are far less popular but they are worth a visit. Here you will find much greater variety of wildlife than you would in the Serengeti. This destination has fewer tourists. Ruaha is known for having the largest elephant and giraffe population of any park in Africa.
The Serengeti National Park - The premier game viewing destination in Tanzania is the Serengeti National Park which has abundant wildlife populations including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippopotamuses, elephants, zebra, buffalo, water buck, crocodiles, gazelle, warthogs, and wildebeest. The Serengeti is famous for the wildebeest migration, which occurs continuously between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara inKenya..
Tanzania has a tropical climate. In the highlands, temperatures range between 10 and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F) during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20 °C (68 °F). The hottest period extends between November and February (25–31 °C / 77–87.8 °F while the coldest period occurs between May and August (15–20 °C / 59–68 °F). Annual temperature is 32 °C (89.6 °F). The climate is cool in high mountainous regions.
Tanzania has two major rainfall regions; in the southern, south-west, central and western parts of the Tanzania’s rain falls December to April and October to December. The October–December rains are generally known as short rains or Vuli. In the north and northern coast areas rainy season is from March to May and the rains are referred to as the long rains or Masika. Tanzania lies near the equator and the climate is hot and humid.
The best time of the year to visit Tanzania - The Best times to visit are, June to August the tail-end of the long rainy season and the weather is at its best at this time of year. The weather is bearable during the day and cool in the evening. However, this is not necessarily the best time of year for safaris, as water is plentiful in the parks and animals are not forced to congregate at the water holes to drink as they do in the middle of the dry season right after Christmas.
January to February is the best time to visit the Serengeti. It is usually at this time that huge herds of Wildebeest, Zebra and Buffalo migrate to better grazing areas. At this period you could observe some of the 1.5 million Wildebeest that inhabit the Serengeti undertake their epic journey. This is most likely the hottest time of year in Tanzania.
Getting there - Most international flights arrive at the major airports in Dar es Salaam, and in Kilimanjaro at Kilimanjaro International Airport. Tanzania is served internationally with flights from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other countries in Africa.
Population of Tanzania - Most of the population about 99% are African of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes. The rest of the population consists out of Asian, European, and Arab and mixed Arab and African peoples.
Languages of Tanzania - Swahili and English are the official languages; however the former is the national language. English is still the language of higher courts and it can still be considered a de facto official language.
Visa & Passport requirements for Tanzania
Travel Documents - Your passport must be valid for at least a minimum of 6 months after your intended return date. Children may travel on their parent’s(s’) passport(s), but separate passports are recommended. A photocopy of your passport should be carried separately.
Visas - U.S.A, U.K and Canadian passport holders are required to be in possession of a valid visitor’s visa for entry in Kenya and Tanzania. You do not need to make application for this visa prior to your arrival; you can easily obtain one at Immigration upon arrival within the airport concourses. Please be sure that you have US$25. per person with you for Kenya and US$ 100 for Tanzania in US$ Bank notes. Traveler’s checks, Credit Cards or any other Currency (including Kenyan or Tanzania Shillings) will NOT be accepted tender for the processing of your visa. Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your intended departure from Kenya or you will NOT be issued a visa. YOU DO NOT REQUIRE A PHOTOGRAPH TO APPLY FOR YOUR VISA UPON ARRIVAL IN KENYA or TANZANIA!
Currency of Tanzania - It is advisable to carry some U.S. Dollar cash. U.S Dollar Cash is valuable in this part of the world and comes in handy. American Express and Visa MasterCard’s are popular and, if lost or stolen, can be easily replaced. U.S Dollar cash can be converted to local bank notes at airports, hotels, and banks. Cash should either be kept with you or locked up in a secure hotel safe. In Kenya, the unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KSh) while Tanzania uses Tanzania Shillings which is made up of 100 cents. Notes in circulation are KSh1000, KSh500, KSh200, KSh100, KSh50, plus there are also coins of KSh40, KSh20, KSh10, KSh5, and KSh1 in circulation.
***PLEASE NOTE THAT NOTES PRINTED PRIOR TO THE YEAR 2000 ARE NOT ACCEPTED IN KENYA AND TANZANIA, SO BEST TO MAKE SURE ALL NOTES ARE NEW FROM THE BANK AND ARE FROM 2000 SERIES AND ONWARDS credit cards are only accepted at the more expensive restaurants and hotels.
Credit Cards - Major credit cards are widely accepted by shops, restaurants and hotels. Some merchants may add a surcharge. Credit cards are NOT accepted by market traders or government institutions, so travellers should keep some local and foreign notes with them at all times.
ATMs - Barclays Bank has a huge network of ATMs covering most major towns. They support MasterCard®, Visa®, Plus® and Cirrus® international networks. You can draw up to KSh40, 000 at one time. MasterCard seems to be the most widely accepted credit card, but the Visa card is gaining popularity.
Electricity in Tanzania - Kenya & Tanzania uses the 240-volt system. The power supply is usually reliable in most places, though there are occasional failures. Power sockets are of the three-square-pin variety as used in the United Kingdom, although some older buildings have round pin sockets. If a power supply is important to you, be sure to bring a universal adapter with you.
Hairdryers - Not all lodges provide a hairdryer, so bring one along.
Vaccination requirements for Tanzania
Inoculation - It is vitally important to have protection against malaria (malaria protection is not an inoculation but a tablet, and it must be prescribed by your doctor). Always consult the appropriate medical authority for the latest inoculation and medicine requirements for any country you plan to visit. Vaccination, inoculation, and medical certificates or receipts should be carried on the trip at all times. All inoculations should be done 4 to 6 weeks before your departure. Yellow Fever vaccination is required in Tanzania if you are arriving from an endemic country.
Medication - Travellers on special medication should carry ample supplies at all times. It is also advisable to carry wrist tags, your physician’s address, and instructions as well as prescription details for emergencies.
First Aid - Although our vehicles and lodges usually carry first-aid kits, it is advisable that travellers also carry their own. The kit could include Band-Aids; gauze dressings and tape; alcohol prep pads; antiseptic cleansing wipe; anti-fungal powder; antihistamines; antidiarrheal agents; pain killers; antibiotics; children’s medicines; sunburn creams; thermometer; and toothache and oral pain swabs.
Eye Wear - Contact lenses can become uncomfortable during game drives due to dusty conditions. Bring sunglasses.
All travellers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure. Bring a sufficient supply of your medications with required prescriptions for your entire trip, as many common medications are unavailable in Tanzania.
Food and water precautions - The number one rule is to Be careful of drinking water and especially ice! If you don’t know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are generally fine. Only use water from containers covered with a serrated seal—not just with tops or corks. Bottled water is freely available, and your safari driver/guide will provide bottled water daily.
Useful tips for traveling in Tanzania
Laundry - Clothes can be washed and ironed at most lodges and hotels in Africa, where, unlike many other lodges and hotels in other countries around the world, laundry is usually inexpensive. Laundry at the lodges is provided as a same-day service for your convenience.
Meals - You can expect “buffet”-style meals whilst on safari. Typically, breakfast includes juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, a selection of cereals (hot and cold), eggs to order, breakfast meats (bacon, ham, sausage), potatoes, and more. Lunch and dinner start with the soup of the day followed by a sumptuous buffet boasting a variety of cold salads, cooked vegetables, and at least 4 varieties of fish and/or meat dishes. Bread rolls and various other pastries are available, as is a selection of deserts to please every palate. Decaffeinated coffee/tea, herbal tea, and sweeteners are not always available, so carry small quantities with you if you like.
Shopping - East African products are as diverse as the countries that make up the region. There are traditional artefacts, fantastic jewellery, beautiful wood carvings, the world’s best coffee, precious stones, furniture, brightly coloured cloth, clothing and textiles, musical instruments, wonderful modern art, and much more. There are also excellent gift shops in many hotels and lodges throughout east Africa where prices are not usually negotiable. But for the dedicated bargain hunter, the markets are the place to be, and there visitors are expected to “haggle”. The art of bargaining is deeply rooted in east African culture—it’s considered an essential business skill. Starting prices are always exaggerated and the negotiating process can be lengthy, which frustrates some westerners. If you do become impatient, you can finalize proceedings by declaring your “absolute final price” and asking for the sellers. If you both agree on this amount, the deal is done, and you will probably have ended up paying approximately 50% to 60% of the vendor’s starting price. The bottom line is, bargain hard but be reasonable . . . don’t forget that good carvings and beaded jewellery in particular are works of art, both difficult and time-consuming to create.
Packing & clothing - Pack lightly! Not only is excess luggage cumbersome (and costly if it is overweight), it is simply NOT necessary. And besides, you’ll want to leave plenty of space in your luggage to accommodate all your purchases. Inexpensive laundry facilities are available at the lodges, and “same-day” service is provided.
Early Morning - Early morning game drives can be cool and crisp, so a sweater or jacket and trousers are recommended.
Mid-morning/Early afternoon - Whether on a game drive or not, it is best to dress in a light shirt and shorts. Adequate protection against the strong sun is crucial; apply sun block regularly and use a hat, scarf, and sunglasses.
Afternoons and Evenings - It gets chilly in the evening, so take a sweater or a jacket along on a game drive. For dinner, a long-sleeved shirt, sweater or jacket, trousers and thick socks help protect against insects and cooler temperatures. Always apply insect repellents on exposed areas.