Tanzania Travel Tips
Certain practices such as taking of photographs of state buildings and embassies is prohibited and could lead to detention. Some of the buildings and installations prohibited may not be marked and therefore visitors must always be cautious and seek clarification when not sure.
The various ethnic communities in Tanzania subscribe to various cultural practices which should be respected. Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim and religious customs and sensitivities should be highly respected, particularly during Ramadan.
Tipping is customary and is a way of showing appreciation to a service rendered. However, it is at your own discretion and always very greatly appreciated. In some rare cases, however, a 10% service charge may be added to the bill in more upmarket restaurants. Otherwise small change in local currency may be offered to taxi drivers, porters and waiters. On safari, however, drivers, guides and cooks often rely on tips to get by, but these are discretionary.
Like in many countries in the world, crime is a problem in Tanzania and visitors are advised to be alert and to always exercise caution and common sense especially in major urban centres.
Though still considered a safer destination compared to many African countries, visitors are advised and to avoid irresponsible behaviours like carrying too much cash and overdisplaying of valuables like cameras, phones and expensive jewellery which may make them targets. For city excursions or sightseeing, a taxi is recommended. Tanzanians are generally friendly and very hospitable people.
Tanzania is often considered one of the most ecologically diverse countries in Africa. It’s pristine parks and reserves carry some of the the best Africa’s wildlife. The country also boasts of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro which is amust visit for every discerning safari seeker.
Tanzania has an elaborate network of piped water which is considered safe for domestic use. However, this is not very safe for drinking and it is recommended that you drink only bottled or properly purified water for your peace of mind. Opinions, however differ as to what is safe and what is not safe. During the safari, bottled drinking water is provided during the long drives.
Tanzania, like the rest of East Africa, has wonderful and exquisite eating experiences. Various cuisines, both local and continental, are served and each is a delight. The hotels and lodges offer continental cuisine, in addition to local delicacies to appeal to a wide range of palates. Major cities like Like Dar Es Salaam and Arusha boast a variety of mouth-watering regional and continental specialities.
In the bush, the quality of the cuisine in lodges and camps is superb. Meats, vegetables and fruits arrive daily, fresh from the surrounding area's rich farmlands. Vegetarian requirement are also well taken care of.
Tanzania never really gets cold and light clothing is recommended. Warmer clothing such as sweaters is however necessary to get you through the evenings and early mornings if you are heading for the highlands. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro of course requires special clothing and shoes.
On a Tanzania safari, bright coloured clothing may get you in trouble with wild animals. Brown, beige and khaki clothing are highly recommended while on safari. Short sleeve shirts, shorts and trouser for men are sufficient. For ladies, short sleeve blouses, slacks and skirts are ideal though in the national parks and other places frequented by tourists such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam you may get along with shorts.
At the coast and Zanzibar where Muslims are predominant women need to dress modestly so as not to offend local sensibilities. But swimwear is perfectly acceptable at beaches and hotel premises. Nudity is totally unacceptable in the whole country. It is advisable to travel light and some safari and air charters have a baggage limit of 10-15 kilograms maximum. Dress code is also greatly determined by the prevailing weather conditions.
Best times to visit are:
- June to August: This is the tail-end of the long rainy season and the weather is at its best at this time of year, 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 in a few locations to rehydrate, as they do in the middle of the dry season right after Christmas.
- January to February: This 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. Be advised this is most likely the hottest time of year in Tanzania, when even the locals complain about the heat.
Tanzania's weather varies from humid and hot in low lying areas, such as Dar es Salaam, to hot during the day and cool at night in Arusha. There are no discernible seasons, such as winter and summer, only the dry and wet seasons. Tanzania has two rainy seasons: The short rains from late October to late December and the long rains from March to May.
Zanzibar and the coastal areas are hot and humid, and average daily temperatures hover in the 30°C range. October to March is the hottest period. Sea breezes however temper the regions’ climate and June to September is coolest with temperatures falling to 25°C. In the Kilimanjaro area, temperatures vary from 15°C in May-August period to 22°C over December-March. As you head to the peaks of Kilimanjaro, temperatures can drop to below freezing, especially at night.
Visitors entering Tanzania from yellow fever infected areas require yellow fever international certificate of vaccination. Exemptions are made for visitors arriving from non-endemic areas such as Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The northwestern forest region is considered a high-risk area for yellow fever. Malaria is common in Tanzania and visitors are strongly advised to take anti-malaria medication at least two weeks before travel. It is also recommended to take vaccinations against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Tanzania travelers should receive a yellow fever vaccination if they are at least 9 months of age. The vaccination needs to be given at least 10 days prior to departure.