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Tanzania Travel Guide

Tanzania

Travel & Tourism

If you are looking for a great African adventure, look no farther than Tanzania. The country teems with wildlife, it hosts fine safaris, and, of course, it possesses a jewel in Mount Kilimanjaro. The Kilimanjaro National Park tops the list of Tanzania’s amazing sites; there are also the Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks, the latter of which houses the Tanzania Great Rift Valley; the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, declared a World Heritage Site in 1978, and the Serengeti National Park, which boasts the greatest concentration of wildlife, as more than 3 million large animals migrate to the area each year. Tanzania also boasts a gorgeous coastline. This country is a must whether you are of the adventurous type or just want to indulge in leisurely activities.

What to Do in Tanzania

1. Zanzibar International Film Festival: Also known as ZIFF, this is East Africa’s largest film, art, and music festival. The two-week-long carnival boasts the best parties on the island, featuring live music and dancing.

2. Diving and Snorkeling: These activities are abundant off both the Tanzanian coast and the surrounding islands. Large coral reefs with tropical fish and whale sharks attract world-class divers from all over the world. If you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, be sure to check out some of the finest unbleached coral in the Indian Ocean.

3. Hot-Air Balloon Ride at the Serengeti National Park: Though somewhat expensive, this sophisticated mode of touring the park begins with spectacular views of natural beauty and wildlife and ends elegantly with a glass of champagne in the middle of the African bush. We urge you: Do not forget your camera!

4. Stone Town: The heart and soul of Zanzibar, Stone Town hasn’t changed much in the past 200 years. Once one of the most important trading ports on the Indian Ocean, Stone Town became a center for wealthy traders, who built grand houses with elaborate wooden doors. Visit Livingstone’s old house, the Palace Museum, the Arab Fort, and the bazaar, and take time to wander along the narrow streets and alleyways to get a feel of this historic town.

5. Mount Kilimanjaro: Whether you prefer standing at a distance and looking up at this massive mound of earth or tickling its back while hiking along its ridges, Mount Kilimanjaro is a site not to be missed. For the adventurous, the climb takes about five days and leads you through thick forests, peaceful grasslands, glaciers, and rocky terrain. Consider the climb only if you can call yourself an experienced climber; beginners should not attempt to summit Kilimanjaro. Be sure to plan your trip thoroughly with a guide if you plan on making the climb.

6. The Great Rift Valley: A number of national parks play host to this famous geological attraction. The Great Rift Valley runs to just over 5,400 miles and features lakes, volcanoes, and steep gorges. It also attracts a vast array of water wildlife, such as flamingos and pelicans.

7. Deep-Sea Fishing: The waters off the Tanzanian coast are rich in big-game fish, like marlin, tuna, swordfish, and barracuda. We recommend arranging a trip with a local lodge, as guides will know the local waters the best. Half-day and daylong trips can be arranged for small and large groups. If you’re an avid fisher, you’re in luck: these waters are still relatively unknown.

8. Ngorongoro Crater: This giant crater, stretching over 12 miles (19.3 kilometers,) was created after a volcano collapsed. The rim of the crater has excellent game viewing, and travelers can take a safari in the crater’s bottom.

9. Serengeti National Park: If you want an authentic African safari experience, head for the Serengeti. It is no doubt one of the most visited of the national parks in Tanzania. The park is enormous, and you can tailor your trip to your wilderness comfort level. Its creators aimed to preserve the world’s largest migration path, so check with your travel guide to make sure you are in the right place at the right time for the best viewing.

10. Lake Victoria: The largest lake in Africa (and the second-largest in the world), Victoria is nearly 27,000 square miles (43,452 kilometers) wide. While you’re there, visit Owen Falls (on the Ugandan side of the lake) and check out a few of the world’s most spectacular varieties of fish. Worn out from the hustle and bustle of the traditional African safari? you will find a quiet and peaceful alternative along Lake Victoria’s shoreline.

When to Go

We recommend visiting Tanzania between January and March: the clear days are perfect for game viewing, and the warm nights are ideal for a dip in the Indian Ocean. Tanzania has two rainy seasons: the period from mid-March to the end of May is known as the masika rain season. The second season is known as the vuli season; it occurs intermittently throughout November and parts of December and January. During the vuli season, showers arrive in the morning and are sometimes interrupted with clear weather.

If you’re planning to travel on safari, check with lodges to determine the best travel periods especially if you are looking to spot particular animals, as migratory patterns may differ among various groups of wildlife. We do not suggest traveling during April and May, because of the rain.

Getting In and Around

Visas: It is possible to obtain a visa upon arriving in Tanzania, but we highly recommend that you arrange that before you travel. Tourist visas are issued as single- or multiple-entry permits and cost about $100.

It is highly recommended that visitors get cholera and malaria vaccinations before their trip. If you are traveling to Tanzania from a surrounding country, it may be necessary to certify that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever as well.

Transportation: Most travelers will fly into Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, or Zanzibar. The national airline is ATC (Air Tanzania Corporation). ATC and Precision Air are the main providers of domestic flights and link most of the major towns in the country.

Car travel is probably the cheapest and most widely used mode of transportation in Tanzania. Roads serve the rural population effectively, and driving is a great way to pass through the countryside and visit the smaller villages.

The best and fastest, albeit pricey, way of traveling around the country is by plane. Tanzania has many small airports and airstrips that serve smaller towns; if you’re traveling on safari, you may have to plan to take a charter flight after landing at a bigger airport.

There are two major rail lines in Tanzania: the TRC and the TAZARA. The TRC (Tanzania Railway Corporation) operates from Dar es Salaam to Tabora and branches off to either Kigoma or Mwanza. It also operates from Ruvu, branches to either Tanga or Moshi, and connects to the Kenyan railway system. The TAZARA (Tanzania–Zambia Railway Authority) connects Dar es Salaam with Zambia.

Ferries offer an efficient (and exciting) way to travel the country’s coastline. Boats leave about every hour from Dar es Salaam and head toward the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Ferries also run on Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Nyasa.

Safety and Security

Concerned about your safety as you plan travel to Tanzania? We at Africa.com, together with our friends, family and colleagues, travel extensively throughout the continent. Here are the resources we consult when thinking of our safety in Tanzania:

• UK Government Tanzania Travel Advice Guidance

Africa.com comment: Very timely and frequently updated. Perspective assumes that you ARE going to travel to Tanzania, and seeks to give you good guidance so that you understand the risks and are well informed.

• Mo Ibrahim Personal Safety & Rule of Law Score for Tanzania

Africa.com comment: An annual ranking of the 54 African countries based on their relative personal security as determined by a highly qualified staff of an African foundation, funded by a successful African philanthropist. See where Tanzania ranks relative to the other 54 nations in Africa.

• U.S. State Department Travel Advisory on Tanzania

Africa.com comment: Can sometimes be considered as overly conservative and discourage travel altogether to destinations that many reasonable people find acceptably secure. On the other hand, they have the resources of the CIA to inform them, so they know things that the rest of us don’t know. See what they have to say about Tanzania.

Local Advice

1. Tanzania’s official name is the United Republic of Tanzania. The country consists of the states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which were united in 1964. It is bordered to the north by Kenya and Uganda, to the west by Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo, to the south by Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique, and to the east by the Indian Ocean.

2. The official currency is the Tanzania shilling. Some major credit cards are accepted in large city hotels, but for all other transactions, bring local cash.

3. The official language of Tanzania are Kiswahili. Other languages include Kiunguja (the name for the Swahili language in Zanzibar), English, Arabic, and 125 tribal languages.

4. The mainland population is almost evenly divided as to religion: 30 percent of the inhabitants are Christian, 35 percent are Muslim, and about 35 percent follow local religions and practices. Zanzibar itself is almost entirely Muslim.

5. There are at least 127 known tribes in Tanzania. The Maasai tribe, possibly the best known tribe of them, generally
consists of cattle herders and lives in the northern region of the country.