Have you always imagined yourself enjoying a vacation in Africa? If you are reading this, most likely it is a yes. We know you have eager been to experience some of the finest beaches, walk in the wild, indulge in landscapes and talk to local people. Your imagination is leading you to the right direction. This is the signature visual of Tanzania, the number one safari destination of Africa. However there is something that holds you back. Most likely… apprehensions.
We want you to smile, sit back and relax. Our experts have compiled a practical and handy ultimate traveler’s guide for your first holiday in Tanzania. From your packing list to your safety of sleeping under the canvas, we have got you covered.
Let us begin with the most important questions.
1. What kind of a traveler are you?
This is going to help you plan your itinerary and decide the choice of destinations. Tanzania is very diverse and is one unique destination in Africa that covers everything from the beaches to the mountains and wildlife. Keeping in mind the days and your budget, you will have to be picky.
If you are traveling with your family you will prefer the Northern Safari Circuit and a couple of nights at the beaches in Zanzibar. As a honeymoon couple, you will love to explore the Southern Safari destinations in all privacy including luxury intimate camps and visit the quiet coastal. As a photographer or an adventure lover, you would want to explore some off the beaten path destinations from mountains to national parks in the west zone.
It is always useful to share some personal details with your tour operator to get the best holiday package tailored for you.
2. What is your budget?
While you may have done your own research to find out how much a holiday in Tanzania may cost you, the best way is to consult a reliable tour operator after you have roughly decided your itinerary and how many people are traveling with you. Besides offering convenience, credible tour operators offer hotel rates which are below rack rates and exactly know the best packages that suit your budget and taste.
Do not just go by the price quoted for your holiday. It is very essential to check inclusions and exclusions such as game drives, park fees, taxes, transfers etc. A quality experience comes with a price tag and be wise to check the kind of hotels and destinations that you have been offered.
The value of your holiday can start from approximately $1500 per person and above depending on the number of days and places to visit. Pre-book tours are highly advisable to avoid any unexpected spike. Carry small bills and credit cards for extra expenditures.
3. How do I obtain a Visa?
Tanzania is famous as a travel destination and getting a tourist visa is not a challenge if you have all documents in place. There are two ways to apply for a visa. You can either obtain it from the respective Consulate Mission of Tanzania in your residing country or get a single entry visa from the main entry points (Dar es Salaam/ Zanzibar/ Kilimanjaro Airport or Tanzania- Kenya border) subject to fulfillment of health and immigration requirements.
The cost of the tourist visa is $100 for a U.S. citizen and $50 for a non U.S. citizen. More details can be found on the official website of Tanzanian embassy which also provides further details on countries exempted from tourist visa.
It is ideal to travel with a tourist visa to avoid if any unfortunate circumstances if your residing country does not have the facility to obtain a visa to Tanzania.
You may be curious to know about the best season to travel. Here is what you need to ponder upon…
4. Which is the best time to come to Tanzania?
There is always plenty to see and experience in Tanzania throughout the year. The most popular time is from July- October, also known as the dry season. The green season from March to April calls in for few visitors due to the rainy season; however it has its own charm and beauty.
The dry season invites a large number of tourists flocking into safari destinations. It is highly advisable to make sure that you have booked your tours at least 2-3 months in advance. During this season, although there are a large number of travelers, the greatness of Tanzania will never leave you disappointed and the wildlife spectacle is worth all your money. The green season is more budget friendly, with many hotels and lodges slashing down their rates to almost half and one gets to watch the calving season in the wilderness. We highly recommend you to check the availability of resorts and lodges in the green season as some of them are closed down.
Hiking trips to Mt. Kilimanjaro should be avoided during April and May when it is raining. Mafia Island is another less known destination for Whale shark watching is can be visited from October to February. The best time to visit Zanzibar and other neighboring islands is from July- March with expected rains in November, April and May.
5. How many days should I spend in Tanzania?
If you have to make your trip worth your money, we would recommend to spend not less than 5 nights exclusive of your arrival and departure. Booking your holiday with a reliable tour operator means you will get the taste of the best destinations and they exactly know the number of days you will spend in each destination.
There is a popular saying in Swahili; Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka (there is no blessing in going to fast). This holds true for your quality time spent in Tanzania. It is ideal to stay at least 2 nights if you are visiting bigger destinations such as the Serengeti National Park or Ngorongoro conservation area. Arusha, Mikumi and Kilimanjaro national parks can be visited during a day trip. If you are hiking mount Kilimanjaro, you ill ant to stay longer beyond your 6-7 days of hiking trip and visit the coastal destinations for a relaxing holidays.
Most trips range from 6- 10 days, however one can extend the stay depending on the places you want to visit or connecting itineraries to other neighboring countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda
6. The Bush or the Beach?
We would say both. Yes it is possible to experience both the wilderness and the coastal destinations, thanks to the domestic and chartered flights that make transfer convenient. If you are coming to Tanzania with luxury of time and money, you would rather enjoy a quality and holistic time by experiencing the best of both destinations especially if this is your dream holiday or if you traveling on special occasions such as a honeymoon.
Travel operators offer various holiday packages that include options of both the safari and beach destinations. We would always advise to begin with a safari hen you are fully charged up and curious and finally spend the rest of your days relaxing by the beach. If you have few days in hands we would suggest to exclusively go for a safari or the beach and most likely a safari, depending on your budget.
Honeymooners and families can have their itinerary planned well in advance and book the best lodges and resorts and especially during the high season hen rooms are not easily available.
One you have done all the major planning, it is now time to get into specific details.
7. Your Packing List
What you carry has to be very carefully decided. While it is always fun to be stylish and look fabulous we suggest having a practicall list of things with you and looking more into comfort. Ideally you should have a written packing things and avoid that you will really not need.
Avoid white as it often gets dusty. Instead flashy bright colors that may attract animals wear earthen or subtle colors such as browns and khaki. Despite being a tropical country, it is relatively cooler in the northern region, so you should also carry enough of warmers. Instead of jeans wear trousers and carry a few long sleeves t-shirts/ shirts to avoid flies. Packed footwear such as walking boots is ideal. Do not forget the costumes if you are going to the beach.
Accessories such as camera, extra batteries, binoculars, sunglasses and small travel bags should also be on the top of your list
8. Should I be cautious of the mosquitoes?
Yes. Malaria is still prevalent in Tanzania but this is not something that should scare you or is a deciding factor whether or not to visit Tanzania. That is why you should also pack repellents and carry with you at all times. There are also other health advisories you should refer to.
While you may not require any immunization apart from Yellow Fever (three months before your travel) we still recommend you to visit your private doctor and vary mediation depending on your medical condition. Travelers from European and American countries should consult doctors for immunizations including Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Polio (make sure you’re up to date) and Typhoid.
If you are here for more of an adventurous experience such as mountain climbing or sea diving make sure you are physically fit as urgent medical attention means that you need to fly out to the main city.
9. Should I be worried about food?
If you have booked your holidays with reputed hotels, lodges and camps, you need not worry. You I’ll be served meals from 3-4 times a day and you are given enough food options. If you have specific dietary requirements, this should be informed earlier while booking your trip.
There are some basic hygiene precautions that you need to practice such as washing your hands often and carrying a hand sanitizer. Even when you are on long drives during a safari you will be given a lunch box enjoy meals in the bush. Some lodges also provide a light snack menu or biting for the evening.
It is advisable to carry snacks of your on especially if you are traveling with your kids or you are booked on half board accommodation basis.
10. Should I stay in camps, hotels or lodges?
The place where you stay is where you will get to experience what it is like to stay in Africa therefore you should choose the best without any compromise. This will also depend on your budget and Tanzania has plenty of options from budget to luxury travelers.
Staying in tents is a thrill and one can enjoy the extreme wilderness and enjoy the full safari thrill. If you are traveling with kids or family, we recommend staying in lodges or hotels that are kids friendly. In coastal destination beach resorts are some of the best places to park yourself in and should be booked well in advance.
While there are generally no large visitors in most hotels and camps, remember while booking your accommodation, the more small the place is the more private and customized experience.
Are you ready to book your holiday or have more questions? We are here to respond to you efficiently and tailor the most memorable holiday for you.