Tanzania is the very country of childhood dreams with amazing animals, Mount Kilimanjaro and the golden sands of Zanzibar. Now it is available to everyone. Our guide to Tanzania will tell you how to make your dream a reality.
Tanzania is the largest state in East Africa and, for sure, one of the most attractive countries for tourists on the entire African continent: thanks to a fairly developed tourist infrastructure, relative safety, rich fauna and a variety of natural areas, as well as because of the wide opportunities for beach recreation …
The country, located in the southern hemisphere a few degrees south of the equator, borders Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The east coast is washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean.
Tanzania is a country of geographical records: here is the highest point in Africa – the famous volcano Kilimanjaro (5,895 m), the lowest point of the continent – in Lake Tanganyika and the largest lake in Africa – Victoria. There is a large plateau in the central part of the country at altitudes from 900 to 1800 meters.
- Capital: Dodoma
- Area: 947,303 km²
- Population: 55,572,201
- Language: Swahili, English
- Of.site: https://www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz/en
Tourism is developing rapidly here, being one of the main sources of income for the local economy.
Tourists Tanzania provides an amazing opportunity to combine a wide variety of leisure activities: safari, trekking, beach holidays, sightseeing, ecotourism, etc. In addition, the country is home to more than 160 indigenous tribes, the most famous of which is the Masai, who have preserved their traditional way of life. in the middle of the wild. It has become a real symbol of Tanzania, but there are other, no less distinctive peoples that guests of the country can get to know.
On the mainland of the country there are natural objects of the Great African Rift: lakes, volcanoes, craters. And in terms of the number of national parks, Tanzania is the leader in Africa, and each natural park is unique and unique. On the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago, tourists will find a great beach vacation, diving, fishing, exciting excursions.
Due to its climate, this country has become very popular among Russian tourists in late autumn and winter, being one of the few winter beach destinations.
How to get to Tanzania
Most tourists get to Tanzania by plane, but sometimes they use ferry, car, train or bus.
Aircraft from overseas arrive at three Tanzanian international airports: Dar es Salaam (Julius Nyerere International Airport), Kilimanjaro International Airport located between Arusha and Moshi, and the air harbor on Zanzibar Island.
You can get to Tanzania with transfers in Europe by flights of Swiss Airlines (via Zurich), KLM (Amsterdam), British Airways (London). Connections in Asia are also possible when flying on Turkish Airlines (Istanbul), Qatar Airways (Doha), Fly Dubai and Emirates (Dubai), Air India (Mumbai), or in Africa with Kenya Airways (via Nairobi), Ethiopian Airlines ( Addis Ababa), etc.
Tourists arriving in mainland Tanzania at Dar es Salaam Airport can reach Zanzibar with local airlines such as Coastal Aviation, Auric Air, ZanAir, Precision Air. Travel time is only half an hour, ticket price is from 40 US dollars.
You can only get to Tanzania by train from Zambia. The two countries are connected by the TAZARA railway line, trains on it run twice a week between Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi. Trains have three classes, each train has a dining car. Disruptions in rail traffic are possible.
Despite the fact that Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam are one of the largest ports in East Africa, getting there by ship from abroad is quite difficult, it can be done only within the framework of cruise programs.
At the same time, Dar es Salaam and the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago are connected by ferry lines, which are a very popular mode of transport.
Also on Lake Tanganyika by ferry you can arrive at the port of Kigoma from other African countries – from Congo, Zambia and Burundi.
From the city of Mwanza on Lake Victoria, ferries run to Kenya and Uganda, as well as to the Tanzanian ports of Musoma and Bukoba.
You can come to Tanzania by car from all neighboring countries, but the most convenient and equipped with all the necessary auto crossings are on the border with Kenya.
You can also get to the country by bus, for example, from Zambia (Lusaka) or Kenya (Nairobi), from where high-speed buses of the Riverside, Scandinavian and Davanu companies go to Arusha.
History of Tanzania
The territory of modern Tanzania has been inhabited since ancient times, beginning with the Stone Age.
Tanzania before colonization
Initially, a variety of peoples lived on the territory of ancient Tanzania – tribes related to the Bushmen and Hottentots, to whom in the 1st century. BC were joined by the Kushites and Bantu. The formation of a new ethnic community of Swahili began in the 1st century. AD: it was made up of indigenous peoples, as well as newly arrived tribes – from Iran, Arabia, India.
Swahili traded in trade, they brought slaves, ivory, gold from Africa, and returned from overseas with various handicrafts, fabrics, food.
European colonialists, namely the Portuguese, came to this coast at the beginning of the 16th century, and since 1505 they owned almost all ports. But by the end of the 17th century. the invaders were driven out, and the Arabs and local residents took up the slave trade. At this time, the first states began to appear on the territory of present-day Tanzania under the leadership of the leaders.
In the middle of the XIX century. hundreds of Europeans came here: traders and missionaries from Great Britain, France, Germany and America.
In 1885, 29-year-old German Karl Peters landed on the shores of Tanzania, who was able to persuade 12 local leaders to sign an agreement with him on a protectorate – in fact, on the transition to German rule. The British became concerned and entered into a similar agreement in 1890 with the Sultan of Zanzibar.
A year later, Peters announced the creation of the imperial colony of German East Africa. There were established plantations of rubber, coffee, cotton, railways were built, and the total number of German settlers in the colony reached almost 5,500 people.
The first uprising of local residents in 1905-1907 was brutally suppressed. In 1914, during the First Myrrh War, fighting broke out in Tanzania between the Germans on the one hand and the British, Belgians and Portuguese on the other. The fighting did not die out until November 1918, when Germany made peace with the Entente. After that, Tanzania was under British protectorate.
Independent Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar
Only in December 1961 Great Britain agreed to give independence to Tanganyika (the mainland of modern Tanzania), and in December 1963 – to Zanzibar, which was still a sultanate.
But a year later, an uprising occurred on the island, the sultan was overthrown and the two republics created the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar – Tanzania.
The new country tried to build public facilities, roads, bridges on its own, attracting students, women and the elderly, but officials were engaged in personal enrichment. This period ended in unrest among the students, who were quickly suppressed.
In January 1967, the country’s leadership set a course for communism, banks, industrial enterprises, trade organizations, plantations, including those owned by foreigners, were nationalized, and collective farms appeared.
Only in 1995 were democratic multi-party elections held, as a result of which the president became the head of the country.
Climate and weather in Tanzania
Tanzania’s climate is subequatorial with a weakly pronounced seasonality. At the same time, there are two rainy seasons in the north – a short one, from late October to late December (Mango Rains), and a long one from March to May, while in the south there is only one monsoon season (November – April). The air temperature throughout the year fluctuates within the range of +20… +35°C.
The hottest months of the year are December, January and February, the weather is sunny in winter, the air temperature is kept at around +35°C. It was during this period that many tourists visit the country.
With the arrival of spring, the air temperature rises to +28°C on average, but due to the high humidity it becomes stuffy.
In summer, the country is noticeably drier, this time is great for a beach holiday and for safari (the safari season just starts in June).
Autumn is also favorable for tourist trips to Tanzania, despite intermittent rain, which does not spoil the overall experience of the holiday. In autumn, you can enjoy diving, swimming in the warm ocean, excursions and visits to national parks.
As for the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago, the climate there is humid, the average daytime temperature is +28 … +30°C, but the breeze from the sea makes the weather comfortable. The water temperature in the Indian Ocean is kept at around +24 … +26°С all year round.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be done throughout the year, but it is believed that the best climb is between August and October and January to March.
Thus, the best time to visit northern Tanzania is from July to October and December to March. It is advisable to go to the south in June – October, to the west – in the periods from December to March and from May to October. In Zanzibar, the high season lasts from July to October and from December to March.
Tanzania’s cities and regions for tourists
Administratively, Tanzania is divided into 30 regions, called “mkoa” in Swahili. The country has two capitals: the de facto center is the historical capital Dar es Salaam, and the legal center is the large city of Dodoma.
The administrative division is hardly interesting for tourists, but it will be useful for them to find out how to navigate the country and where its most interesting places are.
The eastern part of Tanzania lies on the coast of the Indian Ocean, and the economic capital of Dar es Salaam is also located here – the main air gate of the country, where most of the tourists arrive. Moreover, the region has a lot of interesting objects, beaches, hotels, which makes it ideal for acclimatization before traveling around the country.
Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania, founded in 1862 by the Sultan of Zanzibar Seyid Majid on the site of the village of Mzizima. It was the capital until 1973, and now it remains an important economic and political center of all of East Africa and a major transport hub: the country’s largest seaport, a large railway station, and an international airport are located here.
Tourists will find something to do for a couple of days in Dar es Salaam: you can walk in the center, built up in a variety of architectural styles – in Swahili, English, German and Asian. It is also worth looking into shops to buy everything you need for your upcoming trip around the country, buy souvenirs at the colorful Kariyaku market, you can plan trips to neighboring African countries.
Nightlife lovers will not be disappointed either: there are noisy discos, restaurants and even a casino. To relax on the beaches, it is better to go outside Dar es Salaam: to Oyster Bay, to Ras Kutani or Kunduchi beach, and also to the islands – to Zanzibar or Pemba.
70 km north of Dar es Salaam, also on the ocean coast, is the interesting historical city of Bagamoyo. It once claimed the title of the capital of the country and was the center of the slave trade. Its name comes from the word Bwagomoyo, which means “Here I left my heart.”
Today Bagamoyo is famous for its excellent beaches, as well as many historical sites, including a 19th century fort. with the Museum of History, the oldest building in the city of Lucu House (1868), Livingston Memorial, caravanserai, 14 mosques, etc. It is quite possible to come to this city for a day from Dar es Salaam.
Northern Tanzania is considered the most interesting part of the country among lovers of safari, ecotourism, trekking and ethno tourism.
It is here that the main national parks of the Northern Circle safari (Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara Park) are located, as well as unique geological objects, in particular, associated with tectonic activity in the area of the Great African Rift, which passes in this area. These include the world famous Ngorongoro Enclosed Ecosystem Crater Caldera and Olduvai Gorge.
In addition, the northern part of the country is famous for the Kilimanjaro volcano located here, which, if desired and with special training, you can even climb. Also here you can get acquainted with the life of the indigenous Maasai people, which has become a symbol of Tanzania.
The largest city in the north of the country is Arusha. It is also considered the air gateway to Tanzania, as its airport receives as many tourists as the Dar es Salaam air harbor. On the one hand, tourists are attracted by the proximity of the Kilimanjaro volcano, located only a hundred kilometers away, and the Great African Rift, located 200 km away, on the other. It is from Arusha that trips to the Northern Circle of Tanzania National Parks usually start.
Arusha is the former capital of the East African Community and the third most populous city in Tanzania, it is located near the border with Kenya at an altitude of 1,540 m, surrounded by plantations of coffee and bananas. The national park of the same name is located just 32 km from the city.
Moshi is a city located in northeastern Tanzania, near the Kenyan border and is the administrative center of the Kilimanjaro region. The proximity of the Kilimanjaro volcano contributed to the popularity of the city among tourists, and today there are a lot of travel agencies working here, including with Russian-speaking employees who can help tourists in organizing an ascent to the highest mountain in Africa. In the vicinity of Moshi you can find coffee plantations and the 50 m high Materuni waterfall. The city has good restaurants, cafes and modern shopping centers. 40 km from Mosha there is a lake with crystal clear water, which is fed by hot springs from underground caves. You can swim in it for a fee.
In this part of the country, there are the African Great Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria, which all travelers to Tanzania seek to see. They visit the island national park Rubondo on Lake Victoria and the national parks of Gombe, Mahal Mountains, Katavi near Tanganyika.
A large city in the north of the country is Mwanza, the administrative center of the region of the same name and a port on Lake Victoria. There is an international airport, a railway station and a ferry service with the Tanzanian ports of Musoma and Bukoba, as well as with Kenya and Uganda. Cotton is grown in the vicinity of Mwanza, and fish are caught in the lake. At the beginning of the last century, gold deposits were discovered here.
Kigoma is the westernmost of the major cities in Tanzania, it is located near the border with Burundi on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika and at an altitude of 775 m.The Transstanzanian railway ends here, originating in Dar es Salaam, which goes from ocean to lake through the capital Dodoma … The local port is considered one of the largest in Central Africa. By ferries from Kigoma you can get to Zambia, Burundi, Congo.
The central part of Tanzania is formed by a large plateau with a landscape in the form of a bush. Safari lovers come here to visit Mikumi National Park, where tourists can completely immerse themselves in nature.
Also in the center of the country is the nominal capital of the African state – Dodoma, representatives of the authorities come here only for the weekend, still working in Dar es Salaam. At the same time, the city is very peculiar: there are universities, many entertainment establishments, restaurants and shops, towering skyscrapers, vineyards in the vicinity, thanks to which Dodoma is considered a promising developing center of winemaking. You can see the city from above from the Lion Rock.
Another large city in central Tanzania is Tabora, which is considered a major religious center of the country: here are the centers of the Catholic Archdiocese, Anglican Episcopate and the Western Diocese of the Moravian Brothers. The city dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. There is also an airport and a large railway station in Tabor. The city is completely pedestrianized.
In the south of Tanzania, the so-called Southern Highlands is located – a sparsely populated area with a mountainous landscape formed by the Eastern Rift. There are two very famous national parks far beyond Tanzania – Ruaha and Selous.
Selous occupies almost 5% of the entire far from small territory of the country; a huge number of species and individuals of African animals are protected in it. Elephants alone are home to about 50,000 individuals.
Iringa is a city in southern Tanzania, founded in the 19th century, and the center of tea production. The surroundings of Iringa are attractive for mountains of unusual shape and rock paintings, as well as for the proximity of the most interesting national parks. So, to the west of the city on the river of the same name there is a large Ruaha Park, to the east – the famous Selous and Udzungwa Mountain Park with unique flora and endemic fauna.
Mbeya is another city in the south of the country, the administrative center of the region of the same name. Mbeya is located at an altitude of 1,600 to 2,400 m above sea level, at the western spurs of the Kipengere Mountains. The city is notable for the fact that eight rivers flow through its territory: Sisimba, Nzovue, Imeta, Khamzia, Mfvizimo, Simba, Nkwanana and Nsalaga. The latter two flow into the Ruachu. Tomatoes, rice, maize and bananas are grown in the Mbeya area.
Zanzibar is an archipelago of 75 islands located in the Indian Ocean northeast of Dar es Salaam. The largest island – Unguja with the capital Zanzibar – is located just 40 km from the coast of the country. Historically, the archipelago developed separately under the influence of the Arabs, for a long time it was a sultanate, and today it has broad autonomy within Tanzania.
Unguja attracts tourists primarily with beautiful sandy beaches surrounded by palm trees stretching on the shores of the turquoise ocean. It also offers diving, sailing, local dhow boating, dolphin or sea turtle watching.
The best beaches are located in the southeast of the island, while entertainment and nightlife are in the north. You can also visit the old town of Stone Town with a guided tour, rich in traditional Arab architecture and objects of the colonial era. In addition, this city is the birthplace of the cult singer Freddie Mercury, where you can visit his house-museum.
Pemba is the second largest island in the Zanzibar archipelago, it lies 50 km north of the city of Zanzibar. The capital of Pemba is the city of Chake-Chake, it is located 5 km west of the local airport. Pemba is famous for its extensive spice plantations, and the strait of the same name, which separates the island from the mainland, is considered the best place for deep sea fishing: it has the richest catches in all of East Africa.
Also on Pemba beach holidays are possible, and, despite the fact that there are few equipped beaches, they are some of the best in the country. So, the most popular is the Vumavimbi beach with white coral sand, which stretches for 2 km. Other recreational activities on the island include diving and ecotourism, such as visiting wild rain forests, indigenous villages.
Mafia is the main island of the archipelago of the same name, consisting of many small islets and located 40 km from the mainland. Despite the fact that the island has never been part of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, it is not part of the modern Tanzanian autonomy of Zanzibar, geographically it belongs to the Zanzibar archipelago. It’s hard to believe, but back in the 19th century. The Mafia was raided by the Madagascar cannibals Sakalava.
Today the island attracts tourists with its color and originality. There is also an excellent beach holiday not far from Chole Bay, which is also respected by divers. There are several large hotel complexes, lodges and apartments. Besides diving, fishing is possible in the waters of the Mafia.
What to see in Tanzania
Tanzania is an amazingly diverse country. It will be interesting for lovers of a variety of types of recreation – sightseeing, educational, beach, trekking and ecotourism, diving, etc.
So, in the largest city in the country, Dar es Salaam, there are many places that will attract foreign visitors. These include several temples (the Anglican Church of St. Alban. The Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph), the snow-white mosque of Darkhan Jamatkhan and the President’s Palace, built in the late 19th – early 20th centuries.
The city also has the Nyumba ya Sanaa Art Gallery, opened in 1972 to support local artists, and the Makumbusho Village Museum, an ethno-village with real dwellings of local residents collected from all over the country. There is also the Old Boma building – the oldest in the former capital and the only surviving part of the palace of Sultan Seyid Majid (1862).
In addition, the Botanical Garden deserves attention, as well as colorful markets – for example, the fish Mzizima and the Seashell Market located across the street from it, the Mwenge woodcarvers market, the Kivukoni, Kariakoo or Magagoni markets. ).
Be sure to visit the country’s most important museum institution – the National Museum of Tanzania. It was founded in 1940 as a memorial museum in honor of King George V of Great Britain. Since then, it has been rebuilt and expanded several times, and today it is a museum quarter, which includes several buildings and a courtyard. The collection of the museum acquaints visitors with archeology, anthropology, history, ethnography, flora and fauna of Tanzania.
Dar es Salaam has a number of interesting and unusual high-rise buildings in downtown Africa: the 35-story PSPF Commercial Twin Towers in glass and chrome, or the Golden Jubilee Tower with a rotating panoramic Akemi restaurant (Akemi Revolving Restaurant) on 21st floor.
Another city where sightseeing lovers will find a lot of interesting for themselves is Bagamoyo. It is located 75 km north of Dar es Salaam and is the former capital of East Africa during the German colonization. Here you can see the fort of the XIX century. with the Museum of History, the oldest building in the city of Lucu House (1868), Livingstone Memorial, caravanserai, 14 mosques, etc.
Fans of exploring the ruins of ancient buildings should go to the islands of Kilwa Kisivani and Songa Manara, located off the coast of Tanzania, 280 km south of Dar es Salaam. These islands were inhabited from the 9th to the 19th centuries, and today they have a huge number of ruins of palaces, mosques and fortresses.
Zanzibar also has plenty to do for curious tourists. For example, it is worth visiting Stone Town – Stonetown, the old part of the capital of the island, interesting for its unique buildings, interweaving of narrow streets, which are impossible to drive through by car, mosques, bazaars, etc. Here, in Stonetown, is the Anglican Church, built in 1887 in several architectural styles, as well as the House of Miracles – a former Sultan’s palace with a museum. Tourists can also go to the Livingston House built in 1860, from which the explorer David Livingston went on his last expedition.
Tanzania has a number of natural sites that all travelers seek to see.
Kilimanjaro (translated from Swahili – “the mountain that sparkles”) – “Crown of Tanzania”, the highest mountain in Africa (5,895 m), towering over the Masai plateau and covered with a snow cap. She has become a real symbol of the country. About 15,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year.
The mountain is a stratovolcano with molten lava just 400 meters below the crater of Kibo’s main peak. In addition to the occasional gas emissions, the volcano is not very active now. Kilimanjaro is located on the territory of the national park of the same name.
Climbing the mountain is arranged accompanied by guides. To do this, in the nearest town of Moshi, you should contact a travel agency accredited in Kilimanjaro National Park to purchase a tour (average price is about $ 1,000). The duration of the tour is 5-6 days, the price includes the services of professional guides and porters. The months of December to February and June to October are best suited for climbing.
Volcano Meru is the second largest volcano after Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, located in the Arusha National Park. Climbing it is possible only with special permits. The last time Meru, whose height is 4,566 m, erupted in 1877, and since then has shown no signs of activity.
Ol-Doinyo-Lengai volcano is another mountain in Tanzania, also located in the Arusha National Park, the name of which translates as “Mountain of God”. The volcano is 2,962 m high and is one of the most active in Africa and the only active carbonatite volcano in the world. During the eruption, “cold” lava (with a temperature two times lower than in other volcanoes in the world) of an unusual black color is thrown onto the surface, which quickly solidifies and forms unusual shapes.
Another important attraction of Tanzania is the Ngorongoro Crater, which arose 2.5 million years ago as a result of the collapse of a large volcano. Its edges rise 3 km above sea level, the area is about 20,000 hectares, the diameter of the crater itself is 19 km. Ngogongoro includes a complex of natural sites located near the African Great Rift, close to the border with Kenya. Previously, the crater was part of the Serengeti Nature Reserve, but now it is an independent natural object called the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
A feature of this area is that, thanks to an insurmountable barrier for many species of animals and plants, a unique ecosystem has been formed in the crater. It is now a savannah plain, home to nearly 25,000 species of animals, including lions, elephants, rhinos, gazelles, buffaloes and zebras. This huge natural park is included in the UNESCO list of the Natural Heritage of the World. In addition to the crater, its territory includes the Olduvai Gorge, plateau, mountains, alpine forests and lakes.
Olduvai Gorge is an area in northern Tanzania, located in the Ngorongoro Protected Area. The length of the gorge is 40 km, the total area is 250 sq. km. It is known for the fact that many important archaeological discoveries were made in it: the remains of an ancient man Homo habilis more than 2 million years old were found, the skull of an Australopithecus, the remains of primitive tools of labor and hunting. In the gorge there is a museum “Olduvai Goj” dedicated to anthropology and human evolution.
Jozani Forest – Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park in Zanzibar with an area of 44 sq. km, in which the red-brown colobus are protected – the rarest species of monkeys included in the Red Book. Monkeys reach a height of 45–70 cm, the length of their tail is about 90 cm. They are peaceful, have long been accustomed to tourists and are happy to make contact. The Jozani forest is also home to many species of endemic animals and birds.
Tanzania is a country of lakes, on its territory there are many reservoirs, including champions in depth, size and other indicators.
Lake Tanganyika is one of the longest freshwater lakes on the planet, it lies within the boundaries of the East African Rift – one of the greatest geological phenomena on Earth. The length of the lake is 673 km, which is almost 40 km longer than that of Lake Baikal. Tanganyika is also the second lake in the world after Baikal in depth (1470 m), and just like Baikal, it is famous for its exceptionally clear water, which allows you to see the bottom at a depth of 33 m.At the same time, one side of the reservoir is located in Tanzania, and the rest belong to neighboring countries – Burundi, Zambia, the Republic of Congo.
Lake Malawi is the third largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. Its length reaches 560 km, width is 80 km, and the average depth is about 700 m. Malawi is famous for a wide variety of fish – there are up to 1,000 species of it. The lake is a popular fishing spot and local fishermen provide catch for all the surrounding settlements. There are also crocodiles in the lake, and whooper eagles along the shores.
Lake Natron is located 240 km from Arusha, it is one of the most unusual places in the country: the water in it is colored in shades from blood red to deep orange due to microorganisms living in it. Vapors from the salt marsh lake scare away predators, so many small animals and whole flocks of pink flamingos settle on the shores. There are several types of fish in the water.
Lake Manyara is another habitat for a large number of pink flamingos. The population of these birds is so extensive here that you can see a solid pink spot on the water from afar. In addition to flamingos, over 400 species of other feathered inhabitants live on the banks of Manyara, many of which are unique. Here you can find hornbill, marabou, stork, pelican, ibis, crane and cormorant. The surrounding area is home to baboons, elephants, lions and hippos.
Lake Victoria is one of the seven Great African Lakes and is located on the territory of three African states at once – Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Its area is 68,800 sq. km. Several densely populated cities have been built on the shores of the lake, in which over 30 million people live. The equator border passes along the lake. Industrial shipping is developed in the water area, there is a ferry connection between the countries.
What to do as a tourist in Tanzania
In Tanzania, any tourist will find something to their liking. Here you can go to national parks to take a safari and get acquainted with the unique flora and fauna, or you can relax on the snow-white beaches on the shore of the warm ocean.
Here are 10 things we offer travelers in Tanzania.
- Take courage and climb the highest African mountain Kilimanjaro.
- Find yourself in the “Lost World” by visiting the Ngorongoro Crater.
- Go to visit indigenous tribes, for example, the Maasai, whose representatives have become a real symbol of Tanzania.
- See how spices grow on Pemba Island.
- On a safari, collect your photo-collection of animals from the “Big African Five”.
- Experience the best diving in East Africa off the coast of Mafia Island.
- Go fishing on Lake Manyara, catch a lot of fish, give the catch to the locals.
- Get lost in the narrow streets of Stonetown, feeling like a 19th century traveler.
- Find Pink Flamingos in Pink Lake Natron.
- Soak up the white sand of the beach in Zanzibar and want to stay under this palm tree forever.
Half of Tanzania’s territory is occupied by national parks – there are more than a hundred of them in the country, and they are all founded to preserve the natural diversity of this part of Africa.
Protected Areas Safaris are organized along two main routes: the Northern Circle (Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire) and the Southern Circle (Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha). Tourists also visit Maasai villages on the Northern Circle trip. These two routes do not include a number of equally interesting, but much more difficult to access parks, such as Katavi or Gombe, for example.
Serengeti National Park is a large nature reserve popular with tourists from all over the world, with an area of 14,763 km, which is home to 3 million large mammals of 35 species, including those belonging to the “Big Five”: elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo. The Serengeti is located next to the Great African Rift, its ecosystem is considered one of the oldest on the planet. The park was created in 1929, and since 1981 it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Migration of animals in the Serengeti takes place in May and early July.
Kilimanjaro National Park is a park surrounded by the legendary volcano Kilimanjaro. This reserve is protected by forests with indomitable tropical vegetation, alpine meadows, and desert landscapes. The fauna is represented mainly by ungulates, in particular, between the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro Mavenzi and Kibo, herds of eland antelopes live. The city of Moshi and the foot of the volcano are connected by minibus routes.
Arusha National Park is a nature reserve famous for giraffes. Here you can walk in the jungle without the risk of being eaten by predators. On the territory of Arusha is the volcano Meru – the second largest volcano after Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There are virgin forests, mountains, lakes, swamps, heather fields. Among the fauna, the black and white colobus monkeys, buffaloes, zebras and warthogs stand out. Various species of birds nest near the local lakes.
Lake Manyara National Park protects the nature of this reservoir and its surrounding areas. In addition to the lake, which occupies two-thirds of the park, there are forests, meadows and swamps. Lake Manyara is home to thousands of flamingos, hippos, elephants come to watering places, you can meet lions and baboons, the largest population of which lives in this national park.
Tarangire National Park, named after the river of the same name, is known for its savannah landscapes with powerful baobabs and acacias. There are also unique tall grasses, rare bushes and Indian date trees. The park was founded in 1970 and is especially popular with tourists during the dry season from July to September, when a huge number of animals come to the Tarangire River for watering.
Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected area in Africa, located in the south, in the Rufiji River Basin, and covers more than 5% of Tanzania. This reserve is interesting for its forest vegetation, in contrast to the savannah parks of the north. There is a hunting lodge zone in the Stigler Gorge – hunting lovers gather here from July to November. There is a cable car.
Mikumi National Park is located in the center of the country on the banks of the Ruaha River, next to the Selous Reserve. Mikumi is the fourth largest park in Tanzania (area 3,230 sq. Km), famous for its flora of the flooded meadows of Mkata. Together with Selous and Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the reserve forms a popular safari route, during which you can meet many animals, including zebras, antelopes, giraffes, elephants, hippos, and lions. There are also over 400 bird species in the park.
Ruaha National Park is a large park, in which, due to isolation, inaccessibility and low traffic, a unique virgin nature has been preserved. The park was created in 1964 and is widely known for its huge population of elephants: almost 8,000 of these giants live here. In addition, the park is home to buffalo, antelope and over 400 bird species.
Mahali Mountains National Park has the largest population of chimpanzees in the world. Research on primates has been carried out since 1965 by scientists at Kyoto University. Besides chimpanzees, the park is also home to colobus monkeys, squirrels, porcupines, lions, zebras, giraffes, and antelopes. You can get to the park, located in the west of the country, on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, from the city of Kigoma, located 128 km away.
National Park Rubondo Island, as the name implies, is located on an island on Lake Victoria, while in addition to Rubondo Island, its territory includes 12 more nearby islets. 90% of its park area is occupied by humid forests, in which more than 40 species of orchids grow. The park is home to hippos, mongooses, monkeys, chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, colobuses, sitatunga antelope. Tourists are also attracted by fishing on the islands: specimens of Nile perch weighing more than 100 kg are caught here.
Gombe National Park is also famous for its chimpanzees. This is the smallest national park in Tanzania. British researcher Jane Goodall has been working here since 1960 on the study of chimpanzees. The park is home to many other species of primates and mammals, there are at least 200 species of birds.
Katavi National Park is a hard-to-reach floodplain divided by the Katuma River and several seasonal lakes. The lakes are home to a large population of hippos, crocodiles and over 400 bird species. During the dry season, you can see elephants, lions, zebras and giraffes.
Sadani National Park is located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, 45 km north of Bagamoyo and 130 km from Dar es Salaam. This small reserve became the 13th National Park of Tanzania in 2002. Its territory is 1,150 square meters. km, it is almost completely covered with groves of acacia, palm trees and mangroves. Elephants, giraffes, lions, an extremely rare species of antelope – Roosevelt’s sable antelope, leopards, baboons, black-and-white colobuses, crocodiles, hippos, and a wide variety of birds live here. On the coast of the ocean you can see dolphins, whales, and also observe rare turtles nesting on the Madete beach.
Meserani Snake Park is a green oasis located on the tourist route from Arusha to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, founded in 1993. Visitors to the park can see the most venomous snakes in Africa – the red and black cobra, green and black mamba, Egyptian cobra. Other inhabitants of the park include the African python, which grows up to 10 m in nature and is capable of swallowing an antelope whole, monitor lizards, chameleons, turtles and crocodiles.
The park also houses the Masai Museum, where guests can get acquainted with the culture, traditions and way of life of one of the most famous tribes in East Africa. You can visit the nearby Maasai village and the handicraft market of Masai crafts. There is also a campground, a free hospital for local residents and the famous Snake Park Bar, which serves the legendary Green Mamba and Overland Overdose cocktails.
Kitulo National Park is also called “Garden of God” (Bustani ya Mungu) or Kitulo Plateau Flower Park. It is located in the south of the country at an altitude of 2,600 m and is famous for the large number of species of orchids that grow here. The park was established in 2002 to protect local flora damaged by uncontrolled commercial flower picking by poachers from neighboring Zambia.
The volcanic lands of the park, irrigated by the Kitulo River, which is one of the main tributaries of the Great Ruaha River, form one of the largest mountain meadows in Tanzania. About 45 species of orchids grow here in natural conditions, as well as many other flowers: aloe, geranium, giant lobelias, lilies, asters, etc. The park attracts nature lovers from December to April. It is located 100 km southeast of the city of Mbeya.
The conditions for visiting Tanzania’s national parks and safari programs can be found on the official website.
Tanzania is one of the best beach destinations in East Africa. Tourists wishing to relax by the ocean are attracted by the beaches of the coast and islands.
Beach holidays are possible in Dar es Salaam, however, it is recommended to swim here only on private beaches and hotel beaches. The city beaches are not very clean, and there is also a risk of losing your belongings. If the hotel where the tourist is staying does not have a beach, then it is better to take a taxi and go out of town to the area of hotels located north of Dar es Salaam, along New Bagamoyo Road.
We are talking about the hotels Bahari Beach, Rungwe, Silver Sands, Kunduchi Beach, Kunduchi Ruins, White Sands and Jangwani Sea Breeze Lodge. There, the entrance to the beaches can be both paid and free, but they are all fully equipped for relaxation with sun loungers, umbrellas, changing cabins and bathrooms.
For a fee, from the White Sands Hotel, tourists can be taken to Bongoyo Island, which also has an excellent beach with sun loungers and a restaurant.
Festivals and Holidays
Tanzania is a multinational and multicultural country, different religions and traditions coexist peacefully in it. Holidays common to all countries of the world are celebrated here, such as New Year, Catholic Christmas, Easter, Muslim Ramadan. Important holidays are also the Day of the Unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar (April 26) and the Day of the Zanzibar Revolution (January 12). The country widely celebrates Children’s Day on June 1, since about 40% of the country’s population are children or adolescents.
One of the most important periods of the year for Tanzania takes place in the Serengeti National Park, where the Great Migration of Wild Animals begins in April, an amazing sight when herbivores follow the vegetation, and predators follow them. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world come to watch this natural action. The most breathtaking views are from a height, for example from a balloon basket.
Zanzibar has been hosting the international Swahili Culture Festival for 10 years, bringing together representatives of a wide variety of peoples from all over Africa. Here you can get to know more about African traditions, creativity and folk crafts. The holiday ends on the beaches, where folk festivities take place for several nights.
Another famous festival in Zanzibar is the International Film Festival, which aims to preserve the unique heritage and culture of Africa. It brings together participants from all over the world.
Dar es Salaam hosts the Nyama Choma Barbecue Food Festival in March. Visitors have a great opportunity to get acquainted with meat dishes of traditional Tanzanian cuisine.
Swahili Fashion Week is held annually in December, during which the best designers from East and Central Africa present their collections.
Getting around the country
Public transport in Tanzania is quite developed: the network of routes around the country allows you to get to almost any point.
Airplane is a very popular form of domestic transport in Tanzania.
In addition to three international airports, Tanzania has many local air harbors, airfields and airstrips in the remote corners of the country.
Typically, the domestic airlines have a fairly reliable and well-maintained fleet of aircraft.
Domestic airlines are operated by such air carriers as Precision Air (also flies to Kenya), Coastal Aviation, ZanAir, Auric Air, Regional Air (serves most of the country’s destinations, in particular, connects major cities with national parks).
To travel around the country, you can use the train: Tanzania has two railway lines. One of them connects Dar es Salaam with such cities as Dodoma, Kigoma, Tabora, Mwanza, Arusha, Mbeya. The second is the international TAZARA line from Tanzania to Zambia. The ticket price depends on the class of the carriage.
Buses are considered one of the most convenient modes of transport in Tanzania. For example, the buses of the Scandinavia Express company, which depart from Dar es Salaam to many cities in the country, are quite reliable and comfortable. The local population travels in matatu minibuses, cheap, uncomfortable and always crowded.
If you need to get somewhere fast in Tanzanian cities, it is worth taking a taxi. Taxi cars in Tanzania have white numbers, fare is paid by agreement. No need to get into a car without first specifying the cost of the trip. Bargaining with a driver is not just appropriate, but mandatory. If the purpose of your trip is a remote urban area, or you are planning to return after dark, take the taxi driver’s phone number and arrange a return trip.
Another type of private taxi is dala-dala. Actually, this common word refers to several different types of transport for local people. It can be open minibus taxis, closed motorized carriages with two passenger seats in the back, and trucks, whose passengers move in the back. Tourists can also use this exotic form of transport, but must remember that it runs only during the daytime. The fare varies depending on the region and distance, but in any case it is significantly lower than in a taxi.
Ferries operate between Dar es Salaam and the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar, as well as Lakes Victoria, Nyassa and Tanganyika.
The cost of the ferry is very different, it depends on the age of the vessel and the level of comfort on it – it can be new high-speed passenger catamarans, and less fast “older” ships, but, as a rule, night ferries are always much worse than day ones.
Ferries are a very popular type of transport among local residents, tickets must be bought in advance: it is impossible to buy a ticket on the day of departure.
The cost of crossing from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, for example, is about $ 40 in first class, with travel times up to two and a half hours depending on the direction of the tidal current. The most famous ferry operators on this route are Azam Marine, Sea Express, Flying Horse, Sea Star, Seagull, Sepideh Megaspeed Liners.
In Tanzania, it is possible to rent a car to see as much as possible during your trip. The traffic here is left-hand, the car park in the rental offices is not too new, for rent you will need an international driving license.
Connoisseurs of local realities advise tourists not to drive on their own, especially when traveling long distances: the roads are not in the best condition, the driving style of local residents, to put it mildly, is peculiar, people and animals cross the road, not paying attention to transport. It is best to rent a car with a driver, this is especially true when traveling on safari or national parks. It is worth remembering that it is allowed to enter the national parks only in 4 × 4 cars with a specially equipped roof, from which you can take photos and videos on the go.
It is not customary to bribe the police in the event of incidents on the roads of Tanzania.
Communication in Tanzania
Tanzania’s official languages are English and Swahili. English is spoken in business, government, the judicial system, in higher education, it is spoken by the educated part of the population and residents working in tourism.
In Zanzibar, many speak Arabic, in the center of mainland Tanzania, the dialects of individual tribes are common.
Swahili is the language of inter-ethnic communication in this country of immense ethnic and linguistic diversity. This language is used in social and political spheres, in primary education.
Recently, the Tanzanian authorities have been pursuing policies aimed at reducing the role of the English language and replacing it with Swahili in various industries.
Tourists traveling to Tanzania and who do not speak English may find our Russian-English phrasebook useful. Well, of course, no one canceled the international sign language.
Tanzania is an amazing country in terms of culture. On the one hand, it is predominantly inhabited by representatives of indigenous tribes, of which there are more than 160 here. On the other hand, Tanzania is one of the freest countries in Africa in terms of religion. In it, the Christian religion peacefully coexists with the Muslim, and both of them – with pagan beliefs. For example, almost the entire population of Zanzibar professes Islam, on the mainland more than half of the inhabitants are Christians, a third are Muslims and 12% are pagans.
Each tribe in Tanzania has its own customs and cultural characteristics associated with history and religion. Often, polygamous marriages are allowed in the tribes, they honor ancestors, worship the forces of nature, are engaged in hunting, gathering, agriculture, craft and speak their own dialects.
The main nationalities are 12 tribes, their representatives form about half of the population of the entire country. This also affected the balance of power: none of the ethnic groups is large and strong enough to prevail over others, so Tanzania has suffered less from ethnic conflicts than other African countries.
The most famous tribe is the Masai, which has become a symbol of Tanzania thanks to its colorful traditions, bright clothes and friendliness. Representatives of the tribe live in the north of the country, near the Ngorongoro Crater. The Masai are nomadic pastoralists, they are also engaged in beekeeping, hunting and fishing, they own blacksmithing, sew clothes from leather, and make dishes from horns and hooves.
Sukuma (translated as “northern people”) is the largest group of tribes in Tanzania, whose members live in the northwest of the country, south of Lake Victoria. Sukuma adhere to pagan beliefs, but there are Christians among them. Their traditional occupation is agriculture and cattle breeding. Leather bedspreads are used as clothing.
Jagga is a tribe living on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is the third largest tribe in Tanzania. It is noteworthy that Jagga for the most part are Christians, although there are both Muslims and adherents of traditional beliefs among them. This people is engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding.
Irakv is another tribe, many of whose members are Christian. The people live in the central highlands of Mbulu, where they are engaged in agriculture.
Makonde is one of the five major tribes of Tanzania, renowned for its woodcarving skills. This nationality is very sensitive to the preservation of their culture, territory and way of life.
Haya is a people who settled on the shores of Lake Victoria. The tribe grows coffee and tea for export.
Ha is a tribe living in western Tanzania between Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria. It raises livestock and cultivates farmland. The tribesmen wear clothes made from vegetable fibers and hides. Bananas are used to brew beer and drink it during pagan ceremonies.
Nyamzvezi (translated as “people of the moon”) live in western Tanzania, in the Tabor region. They are engaged in animal husbandry and field cultivation. Once this tribe was the most powerful in Tanzania, it was they who came out in 1880 against the Arabs who seized local territories.
The national cuisine of Tanzania is very diverse, it was formed under the influence of local culinary traditions and cuisines of European countries associated with this country by the colonial past. The influence of Arab and Persian gastronomy can also be traced here.
Traditional Tanzanian cuisine is simple and hearty, based on meat and seafood. Most meat recipes use game, poultry, and goat meat, since they are cheaper than pork and beef. Serves as a garnish with cereals, beans, vegetables and fruits.
In Swahili, all meat dishes are prefixed with nyama, such as the traditional nyama kuku, fried chicken served with beans. And “nyama-na-ndizi” is meat stewed with bananas. Another popular local dish is duck stewed in coconut milk and served with rice. In some restaurants, exotics are prepared especially for tourists: elephant stew, antelope fillet, ostrich roast or even crocodile meat. There are also very extreme options – fried termites and locusts, for example.
In addition to meat, you can also try seafood in Tanzania. Here fish is baked in banana leaves, octopus stew is prepared, shellfish, lobster and shrimp are served with vegetables or seaweed.
Many dishes have a unique taste thanks to the spices the country is famous for growing. Among the side dishes are corn grits, peas, rice. You can also try the local unsweetened bananas that taste like potatoes. Bread is not eaten here, it is replaced by cakes.
The influence of Arabian cuisine can be clearly seen in the “sweet” part of Tanzanian cuisine. Many local dishes are based on honey. Desserts include popsicles, cakes with banana quiche, samosa pancakes, halua coffee and almond dessert, and maandazi sweets. Fresh fruit is also served with honey.
In Tanzania, they mainly drink coffee and tea, and tea – most often with milk, this is the legacy of the British colonists. The country has its own coffee, it is of excellent quality and is considered one of the best in the world. You can also round off your meal with freshly squeezed fruit juice with ice.
Alcohol in Tanzania is represented by light local beer “Kilimanjaro”, “Serengeti”, “Ndovu” and “Safari”. There is also a strong drink called Cognagi, a sugar cane-based gin that can be drunk with Coca-Cola’s local Krest tonic.
Shopping in Tanzania
A trip to Tanzania can be combined with shopping, which is quite specific, since it has a traditional African flavor.
Local shops are open from 9:00 to 19:00, in large cities – until 22:00. In private shops and markets, bargaining is appropriate. In Tanzania, they prefer to deal only with cash. For exchange, it is best to take with you US dollars in denominations of 50 and 100 dollars, issued after 2003. It is recommended to change currency at banks or large exchange offices in the city center.
In Tanzania, you can buy clothes made from natural fabrics, perfect for a beach holiday or safari. Also, as a keepsake of Africa, it is worth buying products from local craftsmen, such as wooden masks, figurines made of black (ebony) wood, leather products, beaded jewelry, drums, batik, and wicker items. Tourists also love the colorful paintings of the Tingatinga depicting animals or representatives of indigenous tribes.
A separate category of souvenirs from Tanzania is objects created by representatives of the Maasai tribe: masks and figurines with elongated shapes, vessels for liquids with an ornament, made of ebony Makonde. Many tourists buy brightly colored blankets used as clothing by the tribe.
You can also buy unique jewelry with a rare stone – tanzanite (“blue diamond”), mined in only one place – at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Tanzanite is a kind of mineral zoisite, aluminum and calcium silicate with a vanadium content, sometimes it is found interspersed with ruby. The cost of high quality stones, well cut and without voids, starts at $200 per carat.
Other precious stones are mined in the country, famous for their quality: Tanzanian green tourmalines, sapphires, garnets, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. When buying, you should require a certificate, without which the stones cannot be transported across the border.
Tanzania is one of the world’s largest exporters of coffee and tea. The best local coffees – Typiku, Kent, Blue Mountain, teas – black Orthodox. In addition, in the country you can buy spices grown on the islands: there are plantations of cloves, ginger, cinnamon.
Large shops can only be found in Dar el Salaam, Dodoma and Zanzibar, where there are also many shops and private shops. Shopping there will be absolutely typical – the same as throughout the country.
The main shopping centers in Dar es Salaam are Nyerere Cultural Center, Mwenge Handicrafts Village, Shoppers Plaza shopping centers. Jewelry and precious stones are sold in the Golden Plaza stores (the entrance to them is closed with a security grill, but it will be open to tourists).
In Arusha, where the safari routes start, there is a fairly large Masai market. In Zanzibar, you should visit the Memories of Zanzibar and One Way shops – the largest souvenir centers in the country.
Communications in Tanzania
Mobile communications in Tanzania are relatively well developed, in any case coverage can be found along all major roads. There are several mobile operators in the country – Mobitel-TZ, TZ Zantel, VodaCom, Celtel, Halotel, Airtel.
International calls are expensive, they are usually not used, and for communication within the country it is advisable to purchase a SIM card from a local operator. They are sold at exchange offices, gas stations, special offices or kiosks in cities. For tourists, it is preferable to buy a package with a prepaid tariff for a week or a month, which includes the Internet. If the Internet is not enough, you can periodically buy it by replenishing the card from the operator.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, but it varies in quality everywhere. There are many internet cafes in cities.
Safety in Tanzania
Tanzania is a fairly safe country by African standards. The locals are friendly and happy to help tourists. However, with all this, travelers should not move away from the main streets of cities in order not to become a victim of scammers or pickpockets. Also, do not take large amounts of money with you and wear expensive jewelry.
Leaving the hotel, you need to have a photocopy of your passport, and leave your passport, money and air ticket in the safe. When buying something from local residents, you should definitely bargain.
Before traveling to the country, especially to Zanzibar, you should be vaccinated against yellow fever, and while in Tanzania, it is recommended to take antimalarial drugs. There is a risk of being bitten by a tsetse fly.
You need to drink only bottled water bought in the store (it is the same to wash and brush your teeth), and not to eat foods of the quality of which there is no certainty.
Local residents will not understand if a European tourist, in their opinion, loses the level of unspoken self-esteem by riding a dala-dala or drinking strong alcohol of cognag in a public place. It is better to photograph Tanzanians only with their permission and for a small fee.
Where to stay in Tanzania
Tanzania has a wide variety of accommodation options, which are designed for both wealthy tourists and those who intend to save on housing.
So, you can find hostels, private guesthouses for two or three rooms, city hotels, campgrounds, and lodges where visitors to national parks who have arrived on safari stay. The price level in the properties ranges from $ 15 per night to several hundred dollars per room in an expensive hotel.
On the island of Zanzibar, the level of service in hotels is quite consistent with many world resorts. For example, we wrote about the best hotels in the archipelago in our separate article “Top 20 Hotels in Zanzibar”. Tourists especially praise the lodges that allow you to spend the night comfortably in the wilderness.
In Tanzania’s power grids, the standard voltage is 220 V. The so-called “British standard” sockets, so tourists will need an adapter with a three-pin plug.
When booking accommodation, you should find out the details in advance: is there air conditioning in the room, and hot water in the shower, is the bed equipped with an anti-mosquito canopy, is there regular pest control.