Tanzania is known for its incredible, diverse landscapes and majestic wildlife. Adventurous travelers will be amazed by the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro, the clear blue Indian Ocean and fantastic beaches, and the unique views of the Serengeti.
Many tours -- particularly safaris, which are one of the most common tours in Tanzania -- take in Kenya and Tanzania, starting and/or ending in Nairobi. This is a great way of seeing what East Africa in general has to offer. And while travel in East Africa is often thought to be synonymous with safaris, there's also amazing scuba diving and beach adventures in the Indian Ocean. Any Tanzania safari or tour is sure to show you the variety of the country, but make the most of your trip to this African country by following our suggestions.
The hot savanna and coastal cities of Tanzania offer travelers plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventures. Whether you are climbing the famous Mount Kilimanjaro or looking for lions and elephants among the watering holes, you will fall in love with Tanzania's warm sunny days and breathtaking landscapes. If you don't know which adventure to start with, try one of the following popular activities in Tanzania. All activities are best undertaken with the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced guides.
Mountain Climbing Tours
Far and away, one of the most popular reasons to travel in Tanzania is to climb its most famous mountain: Mount Kilimanjaro.
Arguably one of the most famous peaks in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro is unique because, despite its incredible height, it is still accessible to beginner climbers. This does not mean the trek is easy! However, with good conditioning training, reliable guides, and persistence, you can finish the 5 or 7 day trek (depending on the route you choose) and snap a picture at the summit!
The Serengeti National Park is another famous destination in Tanzania. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of lions, leopards, elephants, and wildebeest. Guided tours take you through the unique savanna landscape and let you get as close to the animals as you safely can to take pictures and admire the majestic creatures. Safari camps often conjure images of luxury, but affordable options are also available.
You might be surprised that Tanzania is a popular camping destination too. The Ngorongoro Crater is full of wildlife, and what better way to experience it than at the camp on the crater floor, so you can have easy access to the surrounding animals. Sleep in the wilderness under the stars, and then during the day watch leopards, cheetahs, zebras, and wildebeest go by. Going on a guided tour will help ensure your safety out in the wild.
Tanzania has some of the most beautiful beaches and clearest waters on the planet. Divers love Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, where reefs and sea fans deliver an underwater explosion of color. Reef fish, hammerheads, and parrotfish--just to name a few species--frequently dart in and out of the colorful coral reefs, creating an incredible ocean experience. There are lots of dive resorts located along the beaches, best suited to experienced divers. In case that's not you, the beaches are peaceful and spectacular, and other water sports can be enjoyed too.
If you have booked a package safari tour, always check to see if these costs are included in the total package price.
Best Time to Visit Tanzania
The best time to visit Tanzania, especially for wildlife viewing, is between June and October. This is Tanzania's dry season, so whether you are going on safari, climbing a mountain, or hanging out by the beach, it's best to do it when there's little chance of torrential downpours.
What to Look for in a Tour
The time of year in which you're traveling will affect the type of tour you take. The awesome wildebeest migration is at its most spectacular from June to October, so if you're planning on traveling to Tanzania at this time of year, consider signing up for a tour that will take you to see this. Similarly, the highlands bloom with gorgeous wildflowers in April and May, which is a sight to behold.
Always look up the background and reputation of a safari guide; especially important is that they don't take any risks with tourists and animals, such as bringing the two into too close contact. A few companies have been found guilty of animal rights abuses, and a quick Internet search can let you know if any such accusations have been made against a tour company before you book a trip with them.
Many organized tours also include travel in Kenya, and start or end in Nairobi.
Average Tour Costs
Generally, airfares to Tanzania can be quite expensive, due to the length of the trip and distance from major airport hubs, so this is a major element to factor into a trip to Tanzania. However, once you get to Tanzania, lodging and food is quite cheap compared to the global average.
Week-long safari tours start at around US$1500. When booking a tour, check to see whether transport and meals are included in the price, as this will greatly effect the overall cost. Generally, the cheaper the tour, the less will be included.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
The Tanzanian climate during peak tourist months is very hot and dry, so make sure to pack whatever you need to avoid sunburn and make your stay comfortable. Some essentials include:
- Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat
- Mosquito repellent
- Lightweight, long-sleeve shirts and lightweight pants
- Athletic shoes
- Day pack for all-day outdoor activities
- First aid kit
- Moist towelettes/hand sanitizer
- Power plug adapter for 230 V (North American travelers need this)
If you're participating in a tour which requires specialized gear, be sure to check if this is provided by the tour operator.
Other Tips: Visas
Citizens of many neighboring African countries require no visa to enter Tanzania, but citizens of most North American and European countries do. You do have the option of applying for a Tanzanian visa at the point of entry, usually the airport, but embassies recommend you get one before arriving. Keep in mind that Tanzania does not allow any volunteer activity on a tourist visa, so if you will be doing any type of in-country volunteering you will need to apply for a different visa.
To get a tourist visa you need:
- A passport valid for at least six months after your date of entry, with one blank visa page
- Round-trip tickets
- Proof of funds to cover your stay
Unfortunately, mosquitoes in Tanzania carry many diseases, so use mosquito repellent to stay safe from diseases like malaria. Mosquito nets around your bed can also ensure a more comfortable sleep without bites, and anti-malaria medication can prevent contraction of the disease.
If you are coming from or passing through a country with yellow fever, you will be required to show proof of the yellow fever vaccine before entering Tanzania.
In addition to making sure you are up-to-date on your routine vaccines, get a Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine to stay protected. If you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, your doctor may also recommend a rabies vaccine.
Many diseases can be contracted through contaminated food or water, so make sure your food is cooked thoroughly and served hot, and drink either bottled or disinfected water.
Crime, especially muggings and robberies, are a problem, particularly in the urban areas of Tanzania. Make sure you keep your money hidden (such as in a money belt), don't wear anything too flashy, and stay alert to potential dangers.
The last possible danger is while on safari; make sure to always follow your tour guide's instructions and don't get too close to the wild animals.