Planning to travel to Tanzania? Tanzania travel facts.
- Which International Airline will get me into Tanzania?
- Do I need travel insurance?
- What communications are available?
- When is the best time to visit?
- When is the best time to see the Serengeti animal migration?
- What should I pack for safari and climbing Kilimanjaro?
- What can I do to stay healthy?
- What should I do about tipping?
- How safe is Tanzania, particularly for women travelers?
You will need a valid passport (with at least 3 months to expiry date) and, except for citizens of some Commonwealth countries, you will also need a visa. You can obtain visas on entry at Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro International Airport and at Kenya/Tanzania border entry gates e.g. Namanga. The process may involve delay at busy times. You need to pay in US dollars. Visas are not available at Zanzibar airport. It is advisable to obtain visas in advance and check for any entry changes from Embassies and High commissions. Passports and Tanzanian visas are also required for Zanzibar.
Tanzania has four main airports accepting international flights. Kilimanjaro (40km from Arusha, 45km from Moshi. 45 minutes journey either way), Dar es Salaam (10km, 25 minutes from the city center) Zanzibar (7km, 15 minutes from Stone town) and Mwanza (serving the western regions). Domestic carriers link the mainland to Zanzibar, major cities, tourist attractions and game parks.
Kilimanjaro International Airport is the best arrival option for the northern safari circuit, Mt Kilimanjaro and domestic connections. Dar es Salaam is best for the southern safari circuit and domestic connections. Zanzibar is good for direct island flights but also has good connecting flights.
- KLM in cooperation with Kenya Airways, Air France and Northwest Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Condor (from Germany with connection flights to West Europe)
- South African Airways in cooperation with Air Tanzania (from Johannesburg)
- Also Quatar, Turkish Air, Lufthansa and SAS (Scandanavia)
For tour activities starting in northern Tanzania and ending in Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam, consider booking an 'open jaw' ticket with flight operators serving both airports.
An airport departure tax of US$ 30 is levied, but this is likely to be included in your flight ticket. If departing Tanzania from Zanzibar, the payment is in cash. If departing Zanzibar for other destinations in Tanzania there is a US$ 6 airport tax to pay.
Nairobi International airport is a major 'hub' for Africa flights. International flights to Nairobi are sometimes cheaper than flying directly into Tanzania airports. However, arrival and departure times may mean staying overnight in the city before continuing the journey on the following day. From Nairobi airport you can join a domestic flight into a Tanzania airport or continue your journey into Tanzania by tourist bus.
Flight operators serving Nairobi airport:
- KLM in cooperation with Air France and Northwest Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Swiss Airlines
- British Airways
- Egypt Air
- Brussels Airways
- South African Airways in cooperation with Air Tanzania (from Johannesburg)
If flight arrival and departure is via Dar es Salaam or Nairobi airports, please check your arrival and departure times, as some international flights arrive too late and depart too early for same day, internal, onward journeys. We can arrange transfers and accommodation in your arrival city if requested.
If your arrival is through Nairobi airport for an onward land journey to Tanzania, you will need to obtain a transit visa before leaving the airport and continuing your journey by bus or private transport into Tanzania.
There are a number of companies operating shuttle bus services to/from Tanzania (Arusha and Moshi)
At the Tanzania/Kenya border you must have a visa to enter Tanzania. These can be obtained in advance from your own country at Tanzania High Commission offices and Embassies, or alternatively paid for at the border.
Note: To maximize your time in northern Tanzania, we suggest that you arrive via Kilimanjaro International Airport.
We are happy to organize your travel arrangements.
You must obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance from your home country before traveling. You should check the policy for any exclusions, and check that it covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Also check that your policy covers you for repatriation in the event of serious illness or injury or some other extreme occurrence outside of your control.
Check your home insurance and private medical schemes. You may already be covered but you may need to add climbing and any other activity to your current insurance policy.
Being a wilderness destination medical infrastructure in major centers is remote from many locations visited. Therefore cover for medical evacuation by an East Africa based scheme is recommended in case of a medical emergency. This is especially relevant to those climbing Kilimanjaro. Government provision of emergency medical response does not exist in Tanzania and so is carried out by specialist private local medical operators. While international medical insurance is essential it should be combined with a scheme provided by a local medical evacuation operator in order to prevent delay in mobilizing effective local emergency response. Please consider including in your price quote. (Provided by AMREF Flying Doctor - emergency rescue.)
International Direct Dial is available. The country code for Tanzania is +255, For outgoing international calls the codes are 00 for the United States and 000 for other countries. Public call boxes are located on the street and at post offices in main towns. They work on a card system. You can buy cards from nearby small shops. Cellular phone companies operate roaming lines which work near most major cities and towns. Internet cafes are available in major towns. For mailing, there are post offices, branches of international courier services and post restante in major towns and cities.
Tanzania is mostly tropical with an average day time temperature of between 22-30 degrees. However, the coast and lake regions are almost always hot and humid. The main tourist season ties in with rainfall patterns. There are two rainy seasons, long rains (late March to May) and short rains (November). The hottest time is from December to March. The coolest time is between June and August. However, weather patterns are becoming increasingly difficult to predict. At high altitude, temperatures fall below freezing during the coolest months. Basically, there is always something to see and do whatever time of year, but if you want to avoid the busy time, and higher safari lodge prices, visit outside the main tourist season.
More information about the best time to visit for safari can be found on the Safari Planning page.
The largest animal migration on earth is prompted by a seasonal search for water and grazing. The movement of huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle is closely followed by stalking predators and voracious teams of well fed scavengers. The timing of this instinctive mass movement varies annually, depending on the rains.
After the rutting season, in May or early June, the animals start moving in a clockwise direction towards the Kenyan border. The unsettling mass has to make it's way across unforgiving crocodile infested rivers to reach fresh grazing in the Kenyan Massai Mara. The herds are concentrated in the Massai Mara around August. By September grazing food is already becoming scarce. In October and early November the migration turns back towards the Serengeti. The herds spread out, reaching into Loliondo and Ngorongoro. From December to May the herds settle in Serengeti and western Ngorongoro. Calves born at this time increase the herds by an estimated half million. Predators gorge, but the surviving calves will be strong enough to join the migration on it's next cycle. The migration is a pattern of movement that changes year on year, depending on the rains and can not be predicted with accuracy.
We can safely store your excess luggage.
Essential packing for safari: Some safari air charter flights limit baggage to 10-15ks maximum. For safari you will need a soft bag or rucksack, day pack, light clothing, long and short sleeved tops, trousers and shorts, trainers, slip-on sandals, toiletries, sun hat, lip salve, sun cream. sunglasses, binoculars, camera, film, spare batteries, 1 to 2 season sleeping bag (if camping), insect repellant and some cash for tipping the crew.
Safari packing list - essentials
Essential packing for Mt Kilimanjaro climbing: When you are packing, keep in mind that porters will carry your main rucksack/bag. For climbing Kilimanjaro you should bring a rucksack and day pack, 3 to 4 season sleeping bag, comfortable boots, hat, scarf, sunglasses, waterproof jacket and trousers, gaiters, layers of light (for mild days) and warm clothing (for cold days and the summit), water bottle, lots of socks, small first aid kit (plasters etc), insect repellant, sun cream, lip salve, toiletries, head torch, spare batteries, plastic bags, walking poles, camera, film, energy snacks, small thermos flask and some cash for tips.
Kilimanjaro packing list - essentials
See Climb planning for more on Mt Kilimanjaro climbing.
See Safari planning for more on safaris.
We advise you to visit your medical practitioner for a health check, advice on inoculations (polio, hepatitis A and typhoid) and anti-malaria medication. Visitors from countries infected with cholera and yellow fever must produce vaccination certificates.
Cuts and minor illness: Tanzania's tropical climate has bacteria you may be unaccustomed to. Clean and cover any skin breaks/wounds and practice careful hand washing. Drink bottled or boiled water. It is a good idea to bring re-hydration salts in your personal medical kit.
Malaria: Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Take anti-malaria medication as prescribed. Cover up and use bed nets wherever possible and liberal amounts of insect repellant's.
Altitude: Almost everyone who climbs Mt Kilimanjaro experiences some effects of the altitude. This can be mild or serious. Good guides are trained to detect mountain sickness symptoms e.g. short of breath, lightheaded, headaches, nausea, insomnia, reduced mental clarity and exhaustion. Drink plenty of fluids and take food. For more serious symptoms the only action is to descend quickly.
Taking the drug Diamox has become increasingly popular with Kili climbers to help with altitude. We suggest you discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your medical practitioner.
Sexually transmitted diseases: STD's are widespread in Tanzania. The prevalence of HIV is now reported as reaching 20% in tourist areas and along major highways. The advice is to avoid sexual contact or use condoms.
For more information on travel health for visitors to Tanzania check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention web site which you can find at www.cdc.gov/travel/eafrica.
Apart from cheap eating places, tipping is an expected practice in Tanzania and a welcome boost to the family economy. Tourism in Tanzania has a seasonal aspect to it and therefore the money earned in 'high season' has to last. One of our clients commented;
"Although guidebooks mention tips, they don't stress the reason for them. I now know that tips are not the icing on the cake, they are as important a part of the cake as flour, sugar and water" (Becky C. USA).
However, you should only be tipping for good service.
On the mountain: Before you tip, consider how efficiently your porters carried equipment, prepared the campsite or hut, the level and quality of extra services (e.g. water carriage and wood collection). The standard and timeliness of food from the chef and assistant. How informative was the guide and how efficiently did he run the team?
On safari: Consider the safety of the driving, the information given, the standard of car cleanliness and daily car maintenance, the time keeping and route planning.
It is always difficult to suggest an amount, but from experience we know our visitors appreciate some guidance.
We suggest the following: Mountain guide(s) and safari driver/guide(s) - US$20 to $25 for each day of service, chef(s) US$15 to $18, mountain porters US$10 to $12 each porter for each day of service. Generally, for trekking each climber should consider a budget of around US$ 220 for tipping.
Most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free. Generally, Tanzanians are welcoming, respectful, tolerant and peaceful. You are less likely to get hassle in the major tourist centers if you don't dress and behave like a tourist just off the plane.
Solo woman travelers are generally a curiosity, particularly in rural areas, but usually treated respectfully.
On a darker note, you should avoid walking alone, especially at night, in isolated areas and on beaches. Mugging and robberies, sometimes accompanied by violence or the threat of violence do occur throughout Tanzania.
Do not make yourself an obvious target for muggers and pick-pockets by carrying large sums of cash in the streets or wearing expensive-looking jewelry or watches. Also be alert to the risk of thefts of personal property from cars and taxis stationary in traffic.
There is a high population of Muslims in Tanzania, especially along the coast and on Zanzibar and Pemba. You should dress modestly. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops away from tourist areas and in Stone Town. Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar). All drugs are illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and people found in possession will be fined. There are severe penalties, including custodial sentences, for drug trafficking
For anyone traveling in Tanzania, if you respect local customs and beliefs, dress modestly, be polite (but firm, if you do get hassled), be patient and don't take unnecessary risks, your stay will be enjoyable and enlightening.
To get up to date information on travel safety in Tanzania, check out the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office web site at www.fco.gov.uk.
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