Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern border is formed by the Indian Ocean. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania.
The country is divided into 30 administrative regions: five on the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar and 25 on the mainland in the former Tanganyika. Since 1996, the official capital of Tanzania has been Dodoma, where the National Assembly and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996, the main coastal city of Dar es Salaam served as the country's political capital. It remains Tanzania's principal commercial city and is the main location of most government institutions. It is also the principal port of the country.
The name "Tanzania" derives from the names of the two states, Tanganyika and Zanzibar that united on 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. On 29 October 1964, the country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania. The Articles of Union are the main foundation of Tanzania.
Currency: Tanzanian shilling
President: Jakaya Kikwete
Population: 46.22 million (2011) World Bank
Official languages: Swahili Language, English Language
Industry: Diamond, gold, and iron mining, oil refining, wood products, salt, soda ash, cement, shoes, apparel and fertilizer productions
Agriculture: Coffee, Tea, cotton, cashews, sisal, cloves, and pyrethrum
Geographic coordinates: 6°00′S 35°00′E
Tanzania is a fascinating travel destination that has been blessed with real beauty and it offers something for everyone. The famous Mt Kilimanjaro, with its 5895 metre altitude is the highest mountain in Africa. The Serengeti National Park with its seemingly endless plains is one of the best wildlife resorts in the world and then there is the Ngorongoro Crater with its unbelievable density of animals.
The country also offers an amazing adventure accompanied with beautiful scenic view of trekking tours and relaxing beach stays on the shores of the Indian Ocean on either Tanzania’s mainland or on one of the beautiful islands of Zanzibar, Mafia or Pemba.
The East African nation of Tanzania has become an increasingly popular destination for visitors from around the globe due to the greatest sights in this vast, fascinating, beautiful and intriguing nation. Tanzania boasts some of the greatest parks in Africa with incredible sights of the Serengeti, Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Manyara, Ruaha and Selous. You get to have memorable encounters with the ‘Big 5’ safari animals but also meet host of wildlife that includes incredible and striking bird species.
Discover the origin of humanity in places like the Ngorongoro Conservation Area you have the chance to visit remarkable archaeological sites. Tanzania is an attractive circle of cultures resulting from generations of migrations, occupations and trading exchanges. This fusion has resulted in a rich and distinctive culture you can experience in the food, music, language and customs of the country. Tanzania has areas of outstanding natural beauty ranging from beaches to dense forests.
Why choose Tanzania for travel
The scenic beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro
This easily accessible area has been a wonder to many visitors across the world, venturing in and out of Tanzania to see and climb the “wonder of the world” Mt. Kilimanjaro which is 5895 meters in altitude and the highest mountain in Africa. It is a dream for many athletes and adventurers who wish to experience and pride themselves of having been to the roof of Africa. The variety of routes suited for varying lifestyles makes Mount Kilimanjaro a must climb for people who just want to experience nature or view the ecosystems and terrains.
The beautiful and welcoming beaches along the Indian Ocean
Tanzania offers some of east Africa's very best beaches, both on the mainland and on the islands just off the coast - including Mafia and Pemba. These beach holidays vary from relatively inexpensive through to very high quality.
Tanzania's multiple Indian Ocean Islands provides guests the opportunity to select their beach spot just the way they prefer it. While in Zanzibar, sit out on the soft white sandy beach under a palm thatch umbrella watching the sparkling turquoise blue waters totally mesmerize you.
Spectacular wildlife and nature Safaris
Tanzania prides huge numbers of wildlife spread all over the country and each of these wildlife display their own characteristics particular to the ecosystem. With Tanzania's national park and game reserves located so remotely such as Selous and Mahale Mountains.
Historical diversity and experience
Walk in the footsteps of great explorers and adventures that roamed Tanzania. Visit the exact spot in Ujiji, Southwestern Tanzania, where centuries ago the phrase "Dr Livingstone I presume" was uttered. Visit Zanzibar and Bagamoyo and learn about slave trade history and its effects or at Kilwa were incredible ruins that are extant till today.
Tanzanian Cultural Experience
Tanzania's varying tribes and cultures provides an excellent opportunity for guests to encounter other ways of life, rites and rituals. Guests visiting the various parts of the country such as the Usambara Mountains can take a tour of the local communities or can visit Zanzibar and interact with the Zanzibaris participating in their day-to-day activities.
The National Parks in Tanzania all offer unrivalled safari experiences in terms of abundance and diversity of wildlife, and variety of landscapes. The Northern National Parks include the Serengeti, famous for the annual Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire, all offering a range of lodge and mobile safari options. A Hot Air Balloon Safari over the endless plains of the Serengeti is one of the best ways to view the migration.
Selous, Ruaha and Katavi in the south of Tanzania are some of the most untouched and wildest reserves in Africa. Game drives, boat cruises and guided walking safaris will give you the opportunity to view a variety of wildlife and bird species.
Tanzania's offers an underwater paradise for marine enthusiasts visiting Pemba, Mafia and Zanzibar with many interesting reefs featuring shallow rocky areas that suddenly drop off into vertiginous crevasses, 40 meters deep. With steep walls covered in colorful sponges and Gorgonia, divers will find such diverse life as Brittlestars, Langoustines, and Moray Eels. Some reefs are like undersea mountains, wreathed with seaweeds and corals, and teeming with colorful fish.
Getting to Tanzania
These days there are many ways to travel to Tanzania. Overland railways connect the country, the roads are easy to navigate and well-maintained, cruise ships and passenger liners stop frequently at the ports, and international air carriers arrive and depart daily from the many airports located around the country. Travel to Tanzania is easier and more convenient than it has ever been before. World-class airport facilities and on-the-ground assistance make sure that your visit to the country is perfect from the first moment of arrival.
Whether you’re travelling independently or with a tour operator, be sure to book your ticket well in advance and make sure your return flights are confirmed. Travel agents in major cities can assist you in making any last-minute changes to your itinerary and flights.
Flying to Tanzania
There are frequent direct and indirect flights to Tanzania by numerous international airlines. At the time of writing, international airlines that fly to Dar es Salaam include KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, Emirates,Qatar Airways, Oman Air,Turkish Airlines,South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Airways, Kenya Airways,Air Uganda, LAM Mozambique Airlines and Rwanda Air.
The international departure tax is US$50 but this is included in the price of an airline ticket.
Travel by rail
The route between Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Moshi in Zambia is run by the Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) (tel: (022) 286 2033; www.tazarasite.com).
By rail note:
The train journey from Dar es Salaam to Zambia is very long (around 50 hours) and there are frequent delays. Trains get very crowded and travellers should take special care of their baggage. Always travel in First Class in a two or four sleeper compartment. When the train crosses the border between the two countries, immigration officials board the train to complete border formalities. There is also a train from Dar es salaam to Kigoma, Mpanda and Mwanza
Driving to Tanzania
The main international road crossings into Tanzania are from Kenya. The most used is the border crossing at Namanga, about halfway between Nairobi and Arusha. The other principle border crossing is south of Mombasa on the coast at Lunga Lunga, from where the nearest large Tanzanian town is Tanga. There are quieter border crossings at Taveta, between Voi and Moshi, and Isebania on the main road between Kisumu and Mwanza.
Border crossings from other neighbouring countries include the Songwe border with Malawi and the Tunduma border with Zambia, both of which are in the southwestern corner of Tanzania and are reached by a good (but long) road from Dar es Salaam. There is a crossing with Uganda at Mutukulu, northwest of Bukoba, but this is a rough road and a remote region to get to. The easiest way to get to Uganda from Tanzania is via Nairobi in Kenya, from where there are daily bus services to Kampala. There is a border crossing with Rwanda at Rusomo, although again this is in the remote northwestern part of Tanzania although there are bus services between Mwanza and Kigali. Tanzania does share a border with Mozambique to the south, but road access between the two countries is very limited.
Getting to Tanzania by boat
The main port is Dar es Salaam (www.tanzaniaports.com) which is served by commercial ships but no passenger services from other countries. It does however serve as the departure point for ferry services to Zanzibar.
- Cruise ships: Some cruise ships dock at Zanzibar.
- Ferry operators: Passenger ferry services run on Lake Tanganyika to Mpulungu (Zambia). They also used to run to Bujumbura (Burundi), and this service is likely to start up again in the future. There is sporadic and unreliable ferry service on Lake Nyasa linking Tanzania with Malawi.
Best Travel Period
The best wildlife viewing months in Tanzania are during the dry season from late June to October. The best chance of seeing the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February. The southern and western circuit parks are best visited during the dry-season (June to October), unlike the more popular northern circuit parks that can be visited year-round. Tarangire is the only exception, since its wildlife viewing is considerably better in the dry-season as well.
What to dress/ wear
Light, neutral-colored clothing is generally advised. Bright colors aren’t recommended on game drives and dark colored clothing, particularly dark blues and black, tends to attract the diurnal (active during the day) tsetse flies more than light colors. It will get warm (or even hot!) during the day (low 30 C or high 80s F) and depending on time of year or your location, evenings can get downright chilly.
Safari dress code is casual and comfortable and modest. You may wish to bring something slightly nicer for dinners at the lodge but it should still be light weight and easy to pack.
A suggested packing list would be:
- 2 – 3 pairs of lightweight pants / trousers (cotton is recommended)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 2-3 long sleeved shirts
- 2-3 short sleeved or sleeveless shirts
- Warm sweater or fleece
- Undergarments and socks (cotton is recommended)
- Swimming suit
- Cap or scarf for head and/or neck
- Sunscreen – we recommend a minimum SPF25
- Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, tooth brush, dental floss, hair brush or comb, body and face lotion, razor, eye drops, lip balm, tissues.
Don’t forget your bag pack especially when going for trekking activities!
Documents and Visa entry fees
Most non-Tanzanian citizens are required to have a Visa for entry into Tanzania. While it is advisable to obtain the visa at your local embassy prior to arrival in Tanzania, it is possible to purchase them at most major points of entry to the United Republic of Tanzania: principally Namanga, Tunduma, Sirari, Horohoro, Kigoma port, Dar es Salaam International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport, Zanzibar Harbour and Zanzibar Airport. Many people come to Tanzania via Nairobi, Kenya, in which case two visas will need to be purchased, one for Kenya and one for Tanzania. It is not difficult to purchase your visa at the Tanzanian airport and the price of the visa will not be higher if it is purchased there. However, during peak travel times queues/lines are likely to be long, so please consider which option is best for your needs.
Visas are valid 90 days from date of issue and passports must have six months remaining before expiration. More information on the various types of Tanzanian visas can be found here.
Exemptions: Citizens of Commonwealth countries are not required to obtain visas unless they are citizens of the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, or India.
Camera and video
Most animal activity occurs during crepuscular hours (dusk and dawn) which provide excellent photography lighting. An SLR camera with a telephoto lens is advisable, and while 200mm is adequate, anything from 300mm and higher is recommended for good detailed shots. Tripods are also advisable for larger lenses (300mm and greater). For night drives, you may even wish to bring a night vision camcorder or camera.
Parts of Tanzania are arid and the sun gets very intense during the day. One of the best ways to help adjust to the new time zone and climate is to ensure you’re drinking enough water.
Only drink bottled water
Most of the time this will be easy to remember, and in all restaurants, etc. you will only be served bottled water. However, don’t forget to use it when brushing teeth and to try not to open your mouth in the shower.
When it comes to biting insects, the two main culprits are mosquitoes and tsetse flies. Mosquitoes carry the risk of malaria, so in addition to taking malaria tablets, it’s wise to ensure you keep yourself covered when they are most active – once the sun goes down.
The tsetse fly is not present in all areas of Tanzania, but in areas where it is present, your first encounter with it won’t take long! Tsetse flies are diurnal (active during daylight). Dark colors do attract them more than light colors, but you will inevitably get bitten a few times if you’re in an area where they are present. Tsetse flies do carry trypanosomes and some can cause trypanosomiasis - otherwise known as sleeping sickness. However, it is rare for it to be transmitted to human and most cases are of animal sleeping sickness. The bite feels similar to that of a horsefly. Often times you’ll see the fly land on you and if you’re quick, you’ll get a chance to get them before they get you