So how do you do this thing?
If you're nervous about your first trip to the continent, don't know what to pack or don't know what to expect, don't worry! We have a few guidelines and general bits of advice to walk you through planning and executing your big adventure. Please note that these are only guidelines, and it is important to check with your relevant institutions (banks, doctors, etc.) to ensure that the information given applies to your specific scenario. And then it's important to sit back, kick your feet up and relax. It is a holiday after all!
There are numerous daily flights from all over the world to Dar es Salaam, but flying in to Arusha or Kilimanjaro is more difficult.
KLM operates a daily flight from Amsterdam directly to Kilimanjaro, which is how most visitors arrive in Tanzania.
If you fly into Dar, you can transfer to Arusha or Kili on a local airline, but please note that local airlines have stowed luggage restrictions of 15kg.
We will pick you up at Kilimanjaro and Arusha airports, and can also pick you up in Dar for an additional fee.
EU, US, and Canadian passport-holders can obtain a 3-month tourist visa, either ahead of time at a Tanzanian embassy, or upon arrival at any international airport in Tanzania.
Visas cost $50 USD for EU citizens and Canadians, and $100 USD for Americans. They are payable only in cash, and border guards are not able to give change. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the travel dates.
All nationalities should check their specific visa requirements before booking.
The national currency is Tanzanian shilling, though USD is widely accepted in businesses which cater to tourists. Shillings are only available in Tanzania.
Change bureaus are common in cities and most major towns.
ATMs are also widely available, but it is important to check with your bank before travelling to ensure your cards will work abroad.
Credit cards are only accepted at larger lodges and tourist destinations, local businesses deal exclusively in cash. AmEx is, as usual, not widely accepted.
Yellow fever vaccination (with certificate of proof) is compulsory for entry into the country.
Inoculations for other tropical diseases - such as cholera, hepatitis, tetanus and typhoid - should be up-to-date. Malaria is a risk, but preventable if you take measures to avoid mosquito bites.
It is essential to visit a travel doctor before arriving to discuss inoculations and whether or not you want to take malaria meds.
Essential medicine for any existing conditions you have should be brought in sufficient quantities to last your whole trip. It is also recommended to bring a first aid kit with basic over-the-counter meds such as antihistamines, pain relievers, itching cream, diarrhoea medication, basic antibiotics, and travel sickness tablets.
While there are clinics and hospitals in Tanzania, the standard of health care is not, shall we say, international.
It is absolutely essential to have adequate traveller's insurance for not only visiting doctors in Tanzania, but for emergency evacuation from the country in the unlikely and unfortunate event that you should require serious medical attention.
AMREF Flying Doctors offers air ambulance services across the African continent. Check with your insurance provider to see if air ambulance services are covered under your plan.
Tanzania uses the Type G power socket, of British origin, although the EU Type D socket is found occasionally. The standard voltage and frequency is 230v 50z.
Travellers from North America will need voltage converters and plug adapters, or USB-compatible plugs can be purchased here.
Power outages are frequent in Tanzania, so visitors are recommended to bring a flashlight or headlamp and a portable power bank.
Please note that many safari lodges will not have power sockets in each room, but devices can be charged in common areas and the lodges use generators during daylight hours.
Tanzania has over 120 indigenous ethnic groups, each with their own language, but the national language spoken by the majority of the population is Kiswahili.
While English is a national language as a legacy of colonialism, it is not universally spoken, so please don't be surprised to find that your English doesn't go far with many people outside of tourism-specific businesses.
Learning a small amount of Kiswahili will be warmly welcomed by any locals you encounter.
Hello - Jambo
Welcome - Karibu
Please - Tafadhali
Thank you - Asante
Goodbye - Kwa heri
Local Customs & Courtesies
Tanzania is a fairly traditional, conservative country, where local courtesies are expected and regularly observed.
Polite greetings are an essential part of daily life, and locals will expect you to participate in a good-natured greeting before carrying on with any other business.
There is a 40%-40% split between Islam and Christianity among the population, so religious holidays are observed for both religions.
As a result of religion's influence, revealing clothing is widely considered unacceptable, so visitors are encouraged to wear modest clothing. Women, particularly, are recommended to cover their legs and shoulders when outside of the resorts.
Tipping is not required, but is considered a sign of appreciation for good service and is usually expected in businesses which cater to tourists. It is also a considerable income boost for many residents.
Tipping safari guides, cooks, and lodge staff is recommended at a rate of about $15 per day for your guides, and $15 per day for lodge staff.
Tipping in restaurants need not exceed 10% of the bill.
Tanzania, in general, is a safe country.
Violent crime is uncommon, and you would be astoundingly unlucky to be witness to or participant in any violent crime during your time here.
Pickpocketing and robbery is also uncommon, but as a result of high levels of poverty of in the country, unfortunately can happen and seems to be on the rise.
Take standard precautions such as being mindful of your possessions while walking in crowded areas like markets or bus terminals, and don't walk after dark unless accompanied by locals you trust.
For first-time visitors from the west, East Africa can be a bit of a shock.
Poverty is fairly evident at street level, and the sights, sounds, and smells of an impoverished country can be overwhelming to visitors from more affluent regions. It's important to give yourself time to reflect on what you're seeing each day.
Daily life in Tanzania also follows a considerably slower rhythm than that in the west, so don't be surprised when everything is not "on time" as you're used to. It's on Tanzania time!
East Africa is beautiful, and the aesthetics of the street life are unlike anything you can see on any other continent.
But as much as you'd like to take a million photos of the mamas in colourful khangas with baskets of fruit on their heads, or the cute little smiling children in dusty t-shirts at the side of the road, it's important to remember that these are just people going about their daily lives, and they may not want their photo taken.
Always ask permission before photographing people, and if they ask for some money in exchange for the photo, 1,000 shillings (around 50 cents), is sufficient.
What to Pack
When packing for safari, keep in mind that the weather can range from very hot during the day, to quite cold at night.
Daytime clothes should be lightweight for the heat, and light in colour since darker colours attract tsetse flies.
Bring shorts, a t-shirt or tank top, a light sleeved shirt, and a sun hat. Also bring comfortable walking shoes, and a pair of sandals. Bring a jacket and long pants for nighttime.
If you plan to spend some time in town, bring a nice outfit or two, as there are plenty of great restaurants and bars to dress up for.
Soft suitcases, instead of hard luggage, are easier to pack into a safari truck.
What you can buy
East Africa has a wide range of beautiful artisanal crafts, which are widely available in shops and markets around the country.
Maasai beaded jewelry, placemats, and decorative boxes are popular, as are carved wooden bowls and spoons. Homeware items and accessories made of kitenge, a colourful traditional East African fabric, are increasingly popular. There is a long and storied tradition of sculpture in the region, and a more recent tradition of painting.
Tanzania is the only place in the world you can buy Tanzanite, a bright blue precious stone, and East Africa has all the beaded leather sandals your heart could desire.
Walking around Tanzania as a tourist, you unfortunately appear to some locals as a walking piggy bank.
Many people, both children and adults, will ask you for money. Don't hand out cash all willy-nilly, as this just encourages begging. Especially for children, who may feel inclined to stop studying if they think they can make more money hassling tourists than by getting an education.
If you want to support locals, you can do so by donating money to a local charity, or by giving out more thoughtful gifts to people you have met and come to know in the country, instead of strangers on the street.