Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa and is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; by the Indian Ocean to the east; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The Tanzanian main-land is divided into several clearly defined regions: the coastal plains, which vary in width from 10-39 miles and have lush, tropical vegetation; the Masai Steppe in the north, 698 – 3,500ft above sea level; and a high plateau in the southern area towards Zambia and Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi). Savannah and bush cover over half the country, and semi-desert accounts for the remaining land area, with the exception of the coastal plains. Over 20,463 sq miles are inland water, mostly lakes formed in the Rift Valley. The United Republic of Tanzania includes the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, about 28 miles off the coast to the northeast of the country.
Shortly after independence, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. One-party rule came to an end in 1995 with the first democratic elections held in the country since the 70s. Zanzibar’s semi-autonomous status and popular opposition have led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international observers’ claims of voting irregularities.
One of the oldest known ethnic groups still existing, the Hadzabe, appears to have originated in Tanzania, and their oral history recalls ancestors who were tall and were the first to use fire, medicine, and lived in caves, much like Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis, who lived in the same region before them. Due to modern research East Africa is thought of as the cradle of humanity with the modern state of Tanzania being at its center.
The evocative mix of people and cultures in Tanzania creates a tapestry of memories for the visitor. Since the dawn of mankind, when the savannahs of east and southern Africa saw the birth of humanity, Tanzania has been home to countless people of many different origins. Tanzania’s history has been influenced by a procession of people, from the original Bantu settlers from south and west Africa to the Arabs from Shiraz in Persia and the Oman; from the Portuguese to the Germans and the British. Tanzanians took control of their own destiny with independence in 1961.
The country has a population of close to 65 million with 120 African ethnic groups, none of which represent more than 10% of the population. Tanzania’s population is young. The Sukuma, the largest group, live in the north-western part of the country, south of Lake Victoria. The Hadzapi of northern Tanzania have built a society based on hunting and gathering food, while the Iraqw live in the central highlands of Mbulu and are known for their statuesque, immobile posture and sharply delineated features. The Masaai, who are perhaps the most well known of East Africa’s ethnic groups, are pastoralists whose livelihood and culture is based on the rearing of cattle, which are used to determine social status and wealth. They dominate northern Tanzania but only occupy a fraction of their former grazing grounds in the north, much of which they now share with national parks and other protected areas. They are easily recognized by their single red or blue garments and their ochre covered bodies.
North of the Masaai Steppe, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, live the Chagga, who farm the mountain side. The Gogo live near Dodoma and have developed slowly due to the lack of water. The formerly warlike Hehe live in Iringa District’s highland grasses. The Makonde are internationally famous for their intricate wood (ebony) carvings. They live along the coast on the Makonde plateau and their relative isolation has resulted in a high degree of ethnic self-awareness.
The Nyamwezi, whose name translates into “People of the Moon”, were probably so called because of their location in the west. The Nyamwezi, now cultivators, were once great traders.
The Haya, located along the shores of Lake Victoria, to the north-west of the Nyamwezi, grew and traded coffee long before the arrival of the Europeans and today have established tea and coffee processing plants. In the area of forest and bush live the Ha who retain a deep belief in the mystical. They are well known for their artistic expression, especially their dances and celebrations.
When meeting and parting, hands are always shaken; this applies throughout the country in both rural and urban areas. It is the convention to use the right hand, not the left, to shake hands or pass or receive anything. The standard greeting when addressing an individual is ‘Jambo’ to which the reply is also ‘Jambo’. The greeting for a group is Hamjambo to which the reply is Hatujambo. People are delighted if visitors can greet them in Swahili.
Dress is smart and a good appearance is well regarded. Suits and ties or safari suits are worn by men and suits or dresses by women. When on safari dress comfortably. Ashtrays are usually an indication of permission for a visitor to smoke. Smoking is prohibited in cinemas and on public transport.
The government of Tanzania and the semiautonomous government of Zanzibar both recognize religious freedom as a principle and make efforts to protect it. The government of Zanzibar appoints Muslim religious officials in Zanzibar. The main body of law in Tanzania and Zanzibar is secular, but Muslims have the option to use religious courts for family-related cases. Individual cases of religiously motivated violence have occurred against both Christians and Muslims, as well as those accused of witchcraft.
Swahili is the official language. English is widely used particularly in the Government and business circles. Arabic is widely spoken in Zanzibar. There are also many local languages.
Tanzania’s president and National Assembly members are elected con-currently by direct popular vote for 5-year terms. The president appoints a Prime Minister who serves as the government’s leader in the National Assembly. The president selects his cabinet from among National Assembly members. The Constitution also empowers him to nominate 10 non-elected members of Parliament, who also are eligible to become cabinet members.
Tanzania is three hours ahead of GMT, seven hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time (EST) and ten hours ahead of the Pacific Standard Time (PST). Tanzania does not operate daylight savings time.
220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used, type D and type G.
Tanzania is a tropical country which has four main climatic zones: The hot, humid coastal plain; hot, arid zone of the Central Plateau; high, moist lake regions; and temperate high land areas. The rainy season is from March to May (long rains) and in November & December (short rains). Hottest months are from October to February with average temperatures of about 77ºF.
Clothes to Wear:
Tanzania offers a wealth of vacation activities, including safaris, snorkeling, swimming, hiking, climbing, camping and shopping. When packing for your trip to this East African country, your itinerary will determine much of what you will need to bring. However, it is generally best to leave behind your fancy clothes and take loose, comfortable outfits. Don’t pack too much. Rather have hotels or lodges wash your cloths – it is reasonable and usually quick. No dry-cleaning, though.
Entry & Exit Requirements:
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after departure. U.S. and Canadian must obtain a visa (e-visa) before arriving.
We recommend that travelers apply for an e-visa in advance online at www.immigration.go.tz for all trips, starting immediately.
For those travelers that do not wish or do not have enough time to apply for an e-visa, the new process to get a visa on arrival will require the following steps:
- Stand in line for a Government Control Number
- Stand in line to pay for this at the bank
- Stand in line to have the visa issued
- Stand in line for Immigration to check the visa
Process for Visa on Arrival can take in excess of two hours. We therefore discourage it. Also note that these rules change regularly, you therefore must ascertain rules currently applicable.
In an effort to prioritize the preservation of the environment, the Tanzanian government has taken an important measure to ban single-use plastic bags.
According to the official government press release, “all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness are prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in Mainland Tanzania… “The relevant authorities shall ensure that any plastic carrier bags entered in Tanzania Mainland in contravention of these Regulations, are confiscated at the point of entry and disposed of or recycled in an environmentally sound manner.”
Ziploc bags which are designed to carry toiletries will be permitted as they are expected to be in the possession of visitors and are not expected to be disposed of in the country. Any other form of plastic bags will not be permitted into the country and will need to be surrendered at the airport or any other point of entry.
Embassy & High Commission Locations:
Embassy of the United States of America
686 Old Bagamoyo Road, Msasani
Dar Es Salaam
Tel: (255-22) 229-4000
Canadian High Commission
38 Mirambo Street, Garden Avenue
Dar Es Salaam
Tel: (255-22) 216-3300
All visitors to Tanzania should consult a doctor beforehand to ensure that all relevant inoculations and vaccinations are up-to-date. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate must be presented (at all points of entry) only by visitors whom have passed through an Endemic Yellow Fever zone(s). A vaccination will be given at a fee at the point of entry should no certificate be presented.
Malaria suppressants are advised, and travelers are strongly advised to carry malaria suppressants with them. Visitors should consult their physicians before traveling to learn about prophylaxis and the possible side effects of various available medications. In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial medications they have been taking. East African Trypanosomia-sis (African sleeping sickness) is carried by the tse-tse fly, which is endemic to the northern safari circuit of Tanzania. The disease itself is very rare but present. Travelers are advised to use normal precautions to avoid insect bites. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential if there is an infection. If symptoms appear, even months later, health care practitioners should be told of the visit to East Africa and the possibility of exposure.
Tap water in Tanzania is unsafe to drink. Travelers are strongly urged to use bottled water for drinking and food preparation. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or via the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_ diseases/en/. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Banks and Currency:
The unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) = 100 cents.
Money may be changed at authorized dealers or bureaux de change. The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, subject to declaration. The export of foreign currency is limited to US $10,000 or the amount declared on arrival. Banking hours are 08:30am-03:00pm Monday to Friday, 08:30am-01:00pm Saturday.
US Dollars are widely accepted. Carry recently issued Dollar bills and bills with a clean and new appearance. Small denominations are better. Carry 1, 5 and 10 Dollar bills since these are also appreciated as tips.
Telephone: International Direct Dialing is available. Country code: 255. Outgoing international code: 00. In rural areas, international calls may still have to go through the operator.
Internet: Not only is the telephone system crucial to the process of communication in Tanzania, but the Internet has also been playing a large role in transporting messages to and fro. The Internet code is .tz.
Cell Phone Usage:
Please contact your cell phone provider to determine whether your contract includes coverage in the country you are visiting. Depending on your contract you may have to add international services and/or country specific services.
Food and Drink:
Most hotels serve local Tanzanian food while the major hotels offer Western food. There is a variety of good seafood such as prawns and lobsters and an abundance of tropical fruit such as coconuts, paw paws, mangoes, pineapples and bananas. Table service is normal in restaurants.
Coffee and tea are of high quality. Alcohol is not prohibited. A good lager beer, Safari, is produced locally, as is a popular gin called Konyagi, a chocolate and coconut liqueur called Afrikoko and a wine called Dodoma, which comes in red or rosé. Bars generally have counter service.
On safari, there is not much need for nightlife. The hotels and lodges may provide entertainment in the form of a traditional dance presentation, however, a short while after dinner, most are ready to turn in to be fresh for their early morning game drive. In Dar es Salaam there are nightclubs and a cabaret. There are cinemas, all air-conditioned. Generally the nightlife centers are in the top tourist hotels and restaurants.
The Mainland: Dar es Salaam has many craft markets in the city, particularly in the area around Samora Avenue. Markets are available on Uhuru Street, or on Msimbazi Street. There is a local fish market on the Kivukoni harbor front. On Ohio street, there’s an artist’s market called Nyumba Ya Sanaa, which sells textiles and regional handicrafts. The artists will frequently work in the open, so tourists can watch items being made before they buy. Tourists should note that in markets they will be expected to haggle or bargain for anything they wish to purchase. It’s a tradition to do so, and refusing to bargain would offend. Visitors to the area might also consider visiting some of the old African “Curio” stores, which are crammed with old statues and Chitengi shirts (very colorful cotton shirts).
Zanzibar: Zanzibar, a shopper’s paradise, with its narrow winding streets, is lined with stores selling local crafts, antiques, jewelry, clothes and spices.
The Gallery Zanzibar, on Gizenga Street, sells a huge range of printed fabrics and clothes plus silver jewelry and locally made massage oils and perfumes. The Gallery is also a publishing company, and sells a range of new and second-hand books on local history, plus diaries, address books, calendars and postcards featuring photographs by the shop’s owner, well-known photographer Javed Jafferji. The Orphanage Shop, near the Old Fort, sells crafts and paintings by local artists and the orphans themselves, plus bolts of brightly colored fabric, which the in-house tailor can make up to your own design. Beware of buying large polished shells, lumps of coral or tortoiseshell products in Stone Town or on the beach. Their collection and sale is illegal, and many of the species they derive from are already endangered. Also note that individual shope mentioned here may close without notice or change names.
Baggage rules for international and domestic air travel have changed much in recent years, differ from carrier to carrier and these days even may cover your on-board bags. Checking luggage may cost a separate fee or may be free depending on your personal status with the carrier. We therefore encourage you to read your ticket’s small print and/or contact your carrier for exact rules.
For tours that include light aircraft transfers and/or charter flights, there is a maximum weight allowance usually not exceeding 33 lbs. per person. Always check with the carrier for the most updated rules. Soft-sided luggage is required and strict limitations are imposed. For overland tours, space for luggage in safari vehicles is limited. Extra baggage will be stored wherever possible (additional charges may apply, please request information from your sales consultant). Soft luggage is preferred.
Tourists are expected to tip their safari staff and staff working at most restaurants and hotels.
As with any tipping situation, if you enjoy your experience, give a generous tip; if you do not enjoy your experience, adjust the tip accordingly. The following information provides a guide to tipping:
On Safari: Driver/Guide: US $10 – US $20 per day per guide (Please note that the tip is per guide per day, not per traveler per day. For example, if you are in a group of four travelers that would like to tip the driver $20/day, each traveler would contribute $5/day to the tip kitty. The guide’s total tip at the end of a seven day safari would be US $140. It is best to tip at the end of the safari.)
Hotels & Restaurants: Tips are expected at high-end luxury hotels and lodges. While tips are also expected at moderately priced safari lodges, not all patrons tip. Most tourist lodges and hotels will have tip boxes at the reception desk. You can tip hotel staff individually, place a tip for all hotel staff in the tip box, or do both. Tips can be made in local currency, USD, Euros, or Sterling
Trekking: Head Guide: US $15 – US $30 per day per guide
Assistant Guide: US $10 – US $20 per day per guide
Cook: US $8 – US $12 per day per cook
Porter: US $4 – US $10 per day per porter
(Generally, you should budget between 10% and 15% of your total climb cost for tips. If you are traveling in a small group, you should contribute more per person to the tip kitty.)
Please note that the tip amounts listed for safari and Kilimanjaro are per group, not per individual traveler. For instance, if four people are on safari, they should each contribute $5/day if they want to tip the driver $20/day.
Laundry service is available at most hotels in the main centers, and at the luxury lodges and camps. Generally you should allow about 24-hours before the item is returned to you, however, some have an emergency service available at an extra charge.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
You will find incredible photographic opportunities on your safari. Please be courteous when taking pictures of the local people. In some countries you must refrain from photographing sites such as Military bases and industrial installations. Also be aware of cultural sensitivities when taking pictures of or near churches and other religious sites.
USE OF DRONES
The use of drones is being legislated by many countries. In some cases drones are already forbidden and their unauthorized use may carry severe penalties. If you plan to travel with a drone please contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.