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Overview of Tanzania

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Fast Facts About Tanzania

  • Languages: Swahili, English, Arabic
  • Population: 31,270,820 (census from 1999)
  • Capital city: Dar Es Salaam
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • People: Native African, Arabic, and Indian
  • President: William Mkapa
  • Government: Republic
  • Religion: Muslim (95%), Christian and Hindu (5%)
  • Climate: Hot and humid
  • Average Temp: 25°C (77°F)

 

Accommodation in Tanzania

 

The accommodation in Tanzania varies from budget camping accommodation to luxury class hotels, some of them have the prestige of belonging to the Small Hotels of the World association. Camping varies from basic budget tented camping, permanent tented camping which is sometimes quite luxurious, to extremely luxurious mobile  camping. The permanent tented camps normally have fitted bathrooms and electricity, so they can almost be classified as lodges under canvas.

Basically there are camps, lodges and hotels to cater for all budgets. Most hotels in towns have their own restaurants, whilst safari resorts and camps usually sell the accommodation on a full board basis. Food will have to be prepared by yourself in the campsite, unless you are booked on a tour which includes camping, then food will be prepared for you. During peak seasons, pre-booking well in advance is strongly recommended as many of the resorts and campsites are fully booked.

 

Transport

Flights to Tanzania
There are 3 international airports in Tanzania:

  • Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
  • Dar Es Salaam International Airport (DAR)
  • Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ)

 

There are various domestic airports and airfields connecting all major towns and safari destinations.

Trains in Tanzania
Tanzania has only one train operator, TAZARA, which links Dar Es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The central line links Dar to Kigoma going through Morogoro, Dadoma and Tabora. Interesting safari options to the Selous are offered utilising this line.

Roads in Tanzania
There are a total of 88,200 km of roads in Tanzania of which only 3,700 km are tarred. The roads between the major cities are in good condition, whilst many roads in the towns and cities are in a bad state of repair. Arusha has recently undergone major renovations to its roads. Prior to this it was rumored to have to most 4x4 per square km in the world. Roads out on safari can in the wet season become quite treacherous, and are not recommended for the faint hearted.

Transport in Tanzania
The only public transport is the rail facility. Many privately owned bus services operate within the towns (know as dala dala's or kifordi) and these are the cheapest forms of transport. Long haul bus services are available between most major cities, but these are sometimes unsafe and are not recommended. Should you want to travel between for example Arusha and Dar or Nairobi and Arusha, please make sure you contact us, so we can recommend the best operator.

 

When to go

One cannot really say when the best time of the year is to go to Tanzania. The country is so diverse that pretty much all seasons are fantastic, depending on where you wish to go. The best times to climb Kilimanjaro are January, February and March have the best weather, being warm and almost devoid of cloud. This is also the busiest time on the mountain. April through to mid June is still warm but there may be some rainfall on the lower slopes and bands of cloud may reduce visibility around the forest area. The upside is that this is probably the quietest time in terms of climber traffic. The best times to visit the northern circuit range from June to August and December to March. This co-incides with the migration patterns through the Serengeti and avoids the rainy season. Be that as it is, Tanzania is an awesome country basically all year round due to the many resident bird and animal species who reside in their specific areas.

Climate

Tanzania has a tropical equatorial climate modified by altitude. The north has two distinct wet seasons with the longest from March to May and the shortest from November to December while the rest of the country has one wet season from November to May. Around 50% of the country receives an annual precipitation of 760 mm (30 inches) with the maximum being 2,540 mm (100 inches) at Lake Nyasa and the minimum, 510 mm (20 inches) on the Central Plateau. The prevailing winds are the NE and SE trade winds. Average temperature ranges in Dar-Es-Salaam are from 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) to 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) all year

Services

   

Communications in the country are easily accessible with most hotels in towns having international telephone facilities and internet facilities. The country has 4 cellular phone operators and international roaming facilities are available. Please phone your service provider to ascertain in facilities are available for your network. Certain camps and lodges in the National Parks have satellite phone facilities but are quite expensive with calls being charged from $10 per minute. They do however have radio communication with bases in major towns and messages can be relayed in this way.

Electricity is 230V AC but you will have to buy flat 3 pin plugs should you wish to use any electrical appliances. These are available at most shops in major towns and cities.

Healthcare facilities in Tanzania are not up to Western standards. It is highly recommended that you obtain sufficient medical insurance prior to your departure to Tanzania. Flying doctor facilities are available with the nearest hospital being in Nairobi, Kenya.



Money

Currency in Tanzania:

The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. The current rate of exchange (May 2001) is Tsh900 = $1. Almost every hotel and resort accepts US$ but beware, some of their exchange rates are not very favorable. It is best to exchange your currency at a local Bureau de Change into Tsh as their rates are normally the best. Not many Bureau de Change or hotels accept ZAR.

Banks in Tanzania:

  • NBC Bank - most major towns
  • Bank of Tanzania - most major towns
  • Standard Chartered Bank - most major towns
  • Stanbic Bank - most major towns

 

Banking hours are from 8:30 to 15:00 (except Bank of Tanzania) weekdays and 8:30 to 13:30 on Saturdays.

Credit Cards and Traveler's Cheques in Tanzania

Credit cards are accepted at some of the major hotels, restaurants and resorts. Traveler's cheques are the safer option as these are more widely accepted than credit cards.
Language and cultures 

Language

The official language of Tanzania is Kiswahili. Most residents have a good knowledge of English, Italian and various Arabic dialects. Some important words in Swahili are:

  • Jambo - hello
  • Habari - what's news?
  • Mambo - slang greeting like habari
  • Mzuri - I am well
  • Asante - thank you
  • Kwaheri - good bye
  • Maji - water
  • Chakula - food
  • Kahawa - coffee
  • Chai - tea (also referred to as a bribe)
  • Moja - one
  • Mbili - two
  • Tatu - Three

Culture

Tanzania's culture is a result of African, Arab, European and Indian influences. The African people of Tanzania represent about 120 tribal groups. The largest group are of Bantu origin including Dukuma, Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai are of Nilotic origin, as are the Arusha and the Samburu. Tanzania is one of the least urbanised countries in Sub- Saharan Africa, but traditional African ideals are being deliberately adapted to modern life. The Tanzanians are friendly people, to foreigners and amongst themselves.

Politeness, respect and modesty are highly valued. It is recommended that you learn some Swahili greetings (see "Language"). Handshakes are very important and you may continue holding hands during conversation. Note that the right hand is usually used for eating, while the left is traditionally used for toilet duties. Immodest attire, public affection and open anger are disrespectful to the Tanzanian people. In Zanzibar, it is important for women to dress modestly out of respect for Muslim cultural beliefs.

Attractions

 

Possibly the most well known is:

Tanzania Migration

The annual migration involves some 1,500,000 wildebeest and 250,000 zebra migrating in a circular pattern throughout the year. Contrary to what many people believe, this affair is continuous and certain areas of the Serengeti experience major concentrations of animals at certain times of the year:

  • Dec -Feb: During late November/ early December, the animals migrate from the Maasai Mara in Kenya down through the Loliondo controlled area and into the upper portion of Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and the Naabi Hill Gate section of the Serengeti. During January they settle in the short grasses of the Serengeti Plains. February sees them move deeper into the NCA.
  • Mar - Apr: During March the animals begin to leave the NCA and move back closer to Naabi Hill Gate and the Serengeti plains. During April, they start shifting to the central portion of the Serengeti.
  • May - Jul: May sees the animals migrating from the central Serengeti heading off to the Western Corridor and the Seronera region. During June, they are firmly placed in the Western Corridor. This area contains wet black cotton soil plains and is treacherous for animals and tourists if the rains are late. During July, they move on to the Grumeti Controlled area and a few of the head off for the Lobo area of the Serengeti.
  • Aug: During August, the animals are spread between the Lobo area and the Ikorongo controlled areas of the Serengeti, and slowly start moving towards the Maasai Mara. This is one of the better times to see the animals being caught by predators as they have to cross the Mara River, Bolongoja River and Grumeti River to get to the Mara.
  • Sept - Oct: During this period, the animals are in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, where water is always available for them.
  • Nov: Late November see the migration returning the Tanzania down the Loliondo Controlled Area, where they are following the new rains  coming from the south to the north.

 

There are no set patterns that the animals follow, so you can't be absolutely certain of there exact location.

 

Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge is situated in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, about 1/2 an hour drive from the Ngorongoro Crater. This is by far one of the most fascinating places to see on your Northern circuit safari. It's claim to fame is the discovery of the first homonid footprints by Louis and Mary Leaky in 1959. It is an archaeological wonder and excavation still continues to this day, although you are not permitted to view these sites. At the main site there is an information center where you can see many of the fossils that have been discovered in the area and copies of the original footprints. You will also be given a lecture about the area and the excavation processes.

 

Shifting Sands

The Shifting Sands are situated in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, about 40 minutes drive from the crater rim. These sands which have religious associations for the Maasai people are remarkable in that they move along in the exact same formation at a rate of about 5m per year. This is actually volcanic ash deposits from Oldonyo Lengai which is too heavy for the winds to blow away. In 1969 it was noticed that year after year they seem to be in a different position so a marker was laid to measure the distance. Since that time they have drifted some 2 km's. Take some time out from your safari to s over and have a look. Look out for the original marker, you will be amazed.

There are many fascinating places to visit, too many to list here. Your driver guide on safari is very knowledgeable and will be able to take you to many places of interest whilst on safari. Please feel free to let us know your story, so we can publish it in our travel features section.

Tanzania Travel Tips

What to pack

  • The most important items to pack are the ones you feel most comfortable in. There is nothing worse than being on safari and feeling uncomfortable. Here is a guideline for you to work on:
  • Lighter colored cotton clothes are generally cooler (beige, white or khaki)
  • Shorts can be worn in summer, so bring a pair
  • Warm jackets and sweaters for evening wear, especially in Ngorongoro Crater
  • Long sleeved shirts/ blouses to wear at night to protect against mosquitoes
  • Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Thick socks for protection if you enter tsetse fly areas
  • For Kilimanjaro equipment see our Kilimanjaro guide


Malaria Tablets

Tanzania is situated in a malaria zone, so it is recommended that you consult your physician on the prescription right for you. Pregnant women are not allowed to take Malaria prevention drugs, and are cautioned before entering any malaria area.

Insect/ Mosquito repellent

Mosquitoes, like little vampires, favor night conditions. Be sure to take a repellent, and cover all exposed areas of your body (e.g. neck and arms). We recommend that you wear trousers at night and long sleeved shirts should you be outdoors. If the heat is too much and you wear a short sleeved shirt, make sure you smear/ spray your arms with repellent. At night before you go to bed, make sure your mosquito net is either touching the ground, or is tucked in, and your exposed areas (especially your ankles) are protected with repellent.


Travel insurance

It is imperative that you have travel insurance. Even though they do not check any certificates when you enter the airports, for your own peace of mind, make sure that you are adequately covered.


Crime in Tanzania

As with all cities, Tanzania is not free of crime. Unfortunately it has been on the increase, so make sure you do not take valuables on holiday with you. If you do take expensive jewellery, make sure it is either locked up when you go out, or hidden from sight.

Be careful not to walk the streets at night alone, this invites trouble. If you are confronted, do not resist, and try to report the matter to the police as soon as possible. The police are sometimes rude and arrogant, but an attempt will be made to recover your property.


Entry Requirements     

A visa and a yellow fever inoculation certificate are pre-requisites to enter Tanzania. Visas cost $50 per person and are obtainable from the Tanzanian Embassy at:


822 George Ave
Arcadia
Pretoria
Tel: (012) 342 4393


You will need 2 passport photographs and 2 completed application forms. Should you not have the time, please let us know and we will do it for you for a nominal fee.

 

Yellow fever inoculations are available at travel clinics around the country.

 

Possibly one of the most important requirements, although not a pre-requisite is travel insurance. Visitors must make sure they are adequately covered. If you are unsure about what you should take out, please contact us and we will gladly help you.

 




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African Encounters is a tour operator run by travelers like you. We know & love Africa and believe that the African continent is there for everyone to exerience. From the rural townships to the lap of five star exclusive luxuary, our partnerships in Africa are unrivaled. We guarentee you the best holiday deal. Booking your honeymoon, holiday, safari, dive or beach holiday. We will make your dream vacation happen.



10 Travellers Comments
Written by Lisa Wilmot
Hi Nicolene, 
 
I was wondering if there was going to be an opportunity for feedback. 
 
African Encounters was great. I had no problems with my bookings and in fact have advised several friends to make bookings through you guys. 
 
Zanzibar was divine.
Written by Zingi Sipamla
Hi Nicolien, 
 
 
 
Thanks for everything, this was the best holiday EVER!!! 
 
 
 
Zingi
Written by Ann De Villiers
Feedback on both African Encounters and the on the ground handling agent is that everything was handled very well. In fact, I would compliment the on the ground handling agent on the quality of their staff, their attitude to the guests they ferry around etc. They were excellent. The only issue was with Air Tanzania which I would not fly again unless there were no other options!From my point of view dealing with you – you were really efficient, helpful, and went more than the extra mile for us, so thanks.
Written by Ann De Villiers
Feedback on both African Encounters and the on the ground handling agent is that everything was handled very well. In fact, I would compliment the on the ground handling agent on the quality of their staff, their attitude to the guests they ferry around etc. They were excellent. The only issue was with Air Tanzania which I would not fly again unless there were no other options! 
From my point of view dealing with you – you were really efficient, helpful, and went more than the extra mile for us, so thanks.
Written by Zingi Sipamla
Hi Nicolien, 
 
 
 
Thanks for everything, this was the best holiday EVER!!! 
 
 
 
Zingi
Written by Retha Groenewald

Trip to Swahili

At last a minute to give you proper feedback: Generally the service experience from African Encounters met our expectations as it was efficient and effective. Thank you for that. Our transfer from Swaheli Beach Resort to Stonetown was on time, friendly and without any hassles. In Stonetown your handler also tried his best to make us as comfortable as possible and to get us to do one of the day tours, but as it was our second last day in Zanzibar, we were almost locals by then, and really did not required any support or assistance. 
 
So my feedback pertains to Swaheli Beach Resort the main destination, where we spend 6 of the 7 days. 
 
The rooms were very comfortable, the location ideal and the view magnificent. We loved the fact that it was not overly populated and that the set up was small.  
 
What was kind of frustrating was the fact that the hotel clearly wanted you to eat at their restaurant and nowhere else, and to make use of them to arrange day tours and nobody else. So they kept us away from the locals and were not eager to give information that we could use to self explore. We did not mind eating in the restaurant, but it was a very standardised menu with little local influence and they did not serve the fresh fish with which the fishermen came back from the sea on a daily basis of the fresh fruit hanging from the trees. Theirs were strangely enough imported from the Mainland. So in the end we had to kind off work around the hotel people, befriended locals on the beach and with their help we explored the island. I was personally very disappointed with the fact that the resort exists on an “island” of its own, with little integration with the local Kizimkazi community in terms of offering value to tourists as well as just fresh fruit and fish from the surrounding areas.  
 
But apart from this one point of criticism I am and will recommend our holiday to any and everybody as a truly wonderful experience.
Written by Karien Van Wyk

Ms

Hi Mixo  
 
Coral Rock was quite an experience! It was well organized and the resort was very original. We definitely cannot complain about any services, but would like to make a suggestion to the resort for the up keeping of their units as we had to deal with maintenance issues (like the fixing toilets, and bathroom basins) while on holiday.  
 
 
We will most certainly use the services of African Encounters again.
Written by Elize Slabbert

Zanzibar Trip

Hi Nicolien 
 
Just to let you know we are back in South Africa and we had an amaizing time. Thanks for the effort, it is a destination that we will defenitly go back too. Neptune Pwani is a fantastic (five star) hotel with the friendliest staff most amaizing accomodation and the food is "to die for doll."  
 
Please consider this hotel as a destination for other South Africans. 
 
This is a wedding anniversary we will never forget. 
 
Thanks for everything 
Elize Slabbert
Written by Anil andRene Bhagwanjee

Zanzibar - La Gemma Del Est

I wanted to contact you with feedback anyway, so thanks for following up. I must say a hearty thanks from Rene and me for a truly outstanding holiday. Your arrangements were hassle free and ground handler on that end were fabulous - please convey our recommendation to them regarding our guide Bhoori and driver Ahmed who were warm, friendly, informative and punctual. Most of all, your advice on choice of hotel is truly appreciated- the setting, ambience, food and hospitality were just amazing. Perhaps most special were the people of Zanzibar and their culture.  
 
One piece of advice to you: we discovered while we were there that the annual Zanzibar African Music Festival (Sauti za Busari) takes place in February every year over four days, starting in the old fort and ending on the beach at Kendwa Rocks. So what a pleasant surprise that we were there at the right time. The concerts were a marvelous bonus for us and the music was awesome. So our suggestion is that you actively market this event to your customers.  
 
All in all, a big thank you Farzanah for making our trip a memorable one! 
 
with thanks again
Written by Michelle Coppin

Tanzania Safari

Thanks Melinda! 
 
 
 
So sorry for only getting back to you now, took a couple more days off! 
 
 
 
We had an AWESOME, AMAZING, WONDERFUL Time once at each destination (and all places SUPERB!)–well done to you, Musaddique, Emillion and African Encounters! You are all very professional and knowledgeable in your field! I will most certainly refer you to any interested party and – when I can use you and your company again! 
 
Once again – JAMBO!!!!!  
 
Fondest Regards 
 
Michelle

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