• Tanzania Facts
• Tanzanian National Parks & Game Reserves
• Important Travel Information
Tanzania is located on the East Coast of Africa, bordering Kenya and Uganda. The spectacular landscape of Tanzania offers differing terrain, tribes and an intense concentration of wildlife. Tanzania hosts centuries of history embedded throughout the country and has seen influences of various groups of people going through the land. Visitors come across colourful local tribal villages, modern bustling cities and eons of Arabian culture still living through the coastal cities. All this has integrated as one and co-exists with a blanket of peace and tranquillity hard to find elsewhere.
|Population:||Approximately 44 million – with a national growth rate of 2.8 %.|
|Total land area:||Mainland Tanganyika & the islands Zanzibar & Pemba comprise: 930.700 sq.km|
|Language:||Official: English and Kiswahili with 120 different dialects within Tanzania.|
|Capital city:||Dar es Salaam is the major trading centre & port. Dodoma is the official capital.|
|Dar es Salaam Population:||Approx. 4 million|
|Political system:||Multi party democracy|
Dar es Salaam, where most international flights arrive into is about 8-10 hours flying time from major European cities, and 16-20 hours flying time from North American cities.
Tanzania is the biggest of the East Africa countries (i.e. Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya). The country has a spectacular landscape of mainly three physiographic regions namely the Islands and the coastal plains to the east; the inland saucer-shaped plateau; and the highlands. The Great Rift Valley that runs from north east of Africa through central Tanzania is another landmark that adds to the scenic view of the country. The rift valley runs to south of Tanzania splitting at Lake Nyasa; one branch runs down beyond Lake Nyasa to Mozambique; and another branch to north-west alongside Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and western part of Uganda. Tanzania contains three of Africa’s best-known lakes—Victoria in the north, Tanganyika in the west, and Nyasa in the south. Mount Kilimanjaro in the north, 19,340 ft (5,895 m), is the highest point on the continent. The island of Zanzibar is separated from the mainland by a 22-mile channel. From the highlands and the central saucer plateau flow the drainage system to the Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the inland drainage system.
Tanzania has temperate to warm weather throughout the year, with high levels of humidity on the coast and dry on the central plateau. The heavy rains last from March to June. The hot, dry weather in January and February attracts the most tourists. The best time to visit the Serengeti is from January to March when the grazers are calving and there are plenty of lion around, or to witness the wildebeest migration to and from Kenya which occurs at the beginning of the dry season and returns again with the first rains, usually the beginning of June and mid-November. Zanzibar has a warm and humid climate year-round and its coastal resorts are tempered by sea breezes. The island is best avoided in April and May, the rainy season.
The history of human habitation in Tanzania dates back almost two million years, and the fossils found at Olduvai Gorge by Louis and Mary Leakey now stand among the most important artifacts of the origins of our species. Artifacts of later Paleolithic cultures have also been found in Tanzania. There is evidence that communities along the Tanzanian coast were engaging in overseas trade by the beginning of the first millennium AD. By 900 AD those communities had attracted immigrants from India as well as from southwest Asia, and direct trade extended as far as China. When the Portuguese arrived at the end of the 15th century, they found a major trade center at Kilwa Kisiwani, which they promptly subjugated and then sacked. The Portuguese were expelled from the region in 1698, after Kilwa enlisted the help of Omani Arabs. The Omani dynasty of the Bu Said replaced the region’s Yarubi leaders in 1741, and they proceeded to further develop trade. It was during this time that Zanzibar gained its legendary status as a center for the ivory and slave trade, becoming in 1841 the capital city of the sultan of Oman.
In Tanzania’s interior, at about the same time, the cattle-grazing Maasai migrated south from Kenya into central Tanzania. Soon afterward the great age of European exploration of the African continent began, and with it came colonial domination. Tanzania fell under German control in 1886, but was handed over to Britain after WWI. Present day Tanzania is the result of a merger between the mainland (previously Tanganyika) and Zanzibar in 1964, after both had gained independence. Tanzania has like many African nations experienced considerable strife since independence, and its economy is extremely weak. However, political stability does appear to have been established in recent years.
CUSTOMS AND CULTURE
When meeting, parting, passing and receiving anything, hands are always shaken. Use the right hand. This applies for rural areas as well as urban areas. If your right hand is occupied, offer your right elbow. Never offer your left hand, as it is used for hygienic purposes. While in the national parks, always follow the park regulations. Do not litter. Do not collect or purchase any bones, skins, horns, teeth, feathers or shells, and on the coast, do not collect coral, shells or starfish.
Ask for permission before taking anyone’s photograph. Ask your guides about the local customs in the area you are visiting.
The majority of the population along the coast are Muslim, so avoid revealing clothing. Cover up your shoulders and knees while in this area. Topless and nude bathing are prohibited.
Gay and lesbian travellers should avoid showing affection, as this might cause unwanted attention.
Practised religions in Tanzania include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and traditional beliefs.
When looking for souvenirs, batiks, wood carvings, Zanzibar handmade wooden chests and Maasai jewellery are among the items worth taking a second look at. Always expect to bargain, as the price first offered will be considerably higher than the real price. During weekdays, most shops are open from 9am to 8pm, often closed for lunch. Also open on Saturdays, some shops do business a few hours on Sundays.
Please do not give sweets and money to the local people. It encourages begging and is demeaning. While on safari, you might find children on the roadside begging for ball pens and money. Bear in mind that if you give them anything, this encourages them to spend their day on the roadside waiting for tourists, instead of going to school or helping their family in the village. If you wish to make a donation, go to the administrators of schools, hospitals etc.
TANZANIA – THE LEADING SAFARI DESTINATION
Wildlife is a prime attraction in Tanzanian safaris that take guests to some of Africa’s most well known national parks including the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha.
There are more than two dozen national parks falling within Tanzania’s borders, making it the most popular safari destination in all of Africa. The Tanzania Wildlife Services has done much to ensure that the parks are kept pristine and the poachers are kept out. Consequently, though Tanzania’s parks are the continent’s most visited, they are also among the richest in natural beauty and wildlife.
The annual migration of wildlife between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Game Reserve in Kenya takes place between June and September. The migration of almost two million wildebeest, zebras and other species is nature’s greatest spectacle on earth. The animal trek has been captured by filmmakers worldwide.
On average 6 to 10 days is usually adequate to do a safari covering Tanzania’s key attractions. One can take more days, depending on budget and interests to cover more of the many diversities the country offers. Many people enjoy a week or more relaxing at the coast after an inland safari. Tanzania is just next door and a cross-boarder safari can be quite exciting and organised in tandem to your Tanzanian safari.
POPULAR NATIONAL PARKS & GAME RESERVES
1. LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
Area: 325 sq. kilometres
HIGHLIGHTS – Exceptional game viewing: Picturesque landscape.
This fine park has been a mecca for seekers of wildlife, and for hunters, since safari travel began. Along its western border lie the cliffs of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, and its eastern border runs along the shores of Lake Manyara. Within this long and narrow corridor are dense concentrations of wildlife inhabiting a lovely and diverse landscape, which ranges from forest of tamarind, mahogany, and fig in the north to the wide open grasslands of the park center. Elephant, giraffe, lion, buffalo, and zebra are all to be found here, in addition to many other game and bird species.
2. NGORONGORO CRATER RESERVATION AREA
Size: 19km² wide crater
Location: Northern Tanzania.
HIGHLIGHTS – Spectacular combination – throngs of wildlife cocooned in an expansive crater.
Ngorongoro is famous around the globe as an echo of Eden. It is a 12-mile wide volcanic crater, ringed with towering walls and sheltering forests, grasslands, fresh springs, a large lake, and a dazzling abundance of animals of all sorts. The sunken cone of the extinct volcano (which was a behemoth during its day) serves as a natural cradle for the wildlife, which remains in the vicinity year-round.
3. SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
Size: 14,763 sq. km
Location: Northern Tanzania, bordering Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park.
HIGHLIGHTS – See the Big five – hundreds of bird species and local tribes that live in the park.
The name “Serengeti” has come to represent the safari experience itself, evoking images of sweeping savannas swarming with lion, wildebeest, and gazelle. In the language of the Maasai the word means “endless plain” and the park lands in Northern Tanzania do indeed seem infinite. Upon these grasslands roam more game animals than anywhere in the world. There are over a million wildebeest alone.
Throughout the winter months of December to March (the best time to come), many of the animals are concentrated in the park’s southern regions, near Ngorongoro. During the spring months of May or June, the vast herds of wildebeest and zebra start to head west in search of water, beginning a circuitous migration that takes some of them to shores of Lake Victoria, and others to northern areas and to Kenya’s Maasai Mara park just across the border. Virtually every African game animal can be seen in the Serengeti; however, because the animals are more dispersed between July and November visitors should give themselves sufficient time to track them down.
4. SELOUS GAME RESERVE
Size: 55,000 sq. km
Location: South, Western Tanzania
The Selous is the largest national park in Africa and carves out a huge portion of Southern Tanzania. The immense size of the park makes it ideal for the traveler seeking a sense of isolation, exploration, and discovery. Few (if any) other people will be visible.
5. LAKE TANGANYIKA
Size: 714 km
The first Europeans to encounter Lake Tanganyika were the British explorers Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, in 1887. Beginning on the eastern coast, they crossed Tanzania in search of the source of the Nile, finally coming upon the shores of this seemingly endless and bottomless body of water after months of great deprivation. Though this was not the mythic headwater of the great Nile (it is actually Lake Victoria, to the north), the sheer size of this lake, the worlds longest made it a geographical bonanza in itself. At the northern end of Tanganyika is Gombe Stream National Park, where Jane Goodall conducts her celebrated studies of chimpanzees.
6. GOMBE STREAM NATIONAL PARK
The park’s forested mountain slopes, which help define the Great Rift Valley, are home to chimpanzees that Jane Goodall studies. Though Goodall has invested more time studying Gombe Stream’s chimp population than anyone alive, visitors can discover these fascinating creatures for themselves. The chimps are accustomed to humans and therefore somewhat approachable.
7. MOUNT KILIMANJARO
HIGHLIGHTS: Highest Mountain in Africa, Amazing views, intense mountain climbing.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is a vision that has fed the human imagination for eons and has been innately and inexhaustibly symbolic. Writers render it, climbers conquer it, Africans worship it, and at the end of the day its magnetic singularity remains undiminished.
Kilimanjaro truly stands alone among the mountains of the world. The huge, solitary volcano is unaccompanied by any mountain chain. Though its size is immense, it also has one of the world’s most accessible peaks. People who are in good shape can make the ascent to its summit, Uhuru peak, in a matter of days, passing through five distinct ecological zones along the way.
The lower slopes of the mountain are defined by coffee and banana fields that rise up and end where the mountain’s forest begins. An average of 80 inches of rainfall a year makes the forest home to some botanical treats. Tree ferns in this region are known to grow up to 20 feet, and giant lobelias often reach 30 feet. At an altitude of about 9,000 feet, the forest gives way to grasslands and shrubbery, and elephant can sometimes be spotted roaming the high slopes. At about 13,000 feet life begins to recede, a result of extreme weather conditions inhospitable to anything more than small mosses and lichens. Once the summit area is reached, three glaciers and three volcanic peaks sit in lofty, placid contemplation of the tremendous plains over 3.5 miles below.
It is highly advisable to take the mountain slowly. The thin air is a well-known killer of impatient weekend climbers, who misjudge their abilities and ascend too fast. Altitude sickness is common and can be fatal. No climb is permitted without a guide, and there are six routes up the mountain with varying degrees of difficulty. Huts are available at different points along the way, and the final ascent begins near midnight (so melting snow isn’t a problem) and culminates with a spectacular sunrise at the peak.
Exotic Island 22miles off the coast of Tanzania.
The island of Zanzibar, the ornate and mysterious jewel of the Indian Ocean, was once the eastern gateway to Africa. Its lush forests and cloistered Arabic alleyways are indicative of all the esoteric wonders waiting in the continent beyond.
Once the center of the slave and ivory trade, Zanzibar welcomed into its harbor ships loaded with goods from India and the Far East as well as Europe and America. An Indian bazaar still operates on the island today, as well as the world’s largest clove market.
The Omani Arabs who once ruled the island left behind white-washed architectural delights that are in great condition. Among them are the Sultan’s Palace, the Arab fort, and the Beit el Ajaib (House of Wonders), which is Zanzibar’s tallest building. Visitors often remark that a journey to Zanzibar is like going back in time–the atmosphere is that of the age of colonialism and exploration, and the haunting ruins of the slave market are a pointed reminder of the era’s exploitative extremes. The slaves would be driven here from the interior of the continent, sometimes over 1,000 miles. On some days, hawkers would sell away as many as 600 lives.
9. DAR ES SALAAM
Little more than a century old, Dar Es Salaam is a relatively modern city that has an old world charm. It shows none of the overwhelming bustle that capital cities often possess, and the name that the founding Sultan of Zanzibar gave it in 1857 still applies: “Haven of Peace.”
One of the most attractive features of Dar Es Salaam is its harbor. The crescent bay is fringed with palm trees, and gorgeously wrought sailing craft often waft into port. From December to March, Asian bateels and badane set sail from India, Arabia, and the Persian Gulf, their holds bursting with carpets, silver, and brass to trade at the Indian bazaar. Johazi and Mashua, Dar Es Salaam’s traditional small sailboats, come and go all day from Mafia Islands and Lamu.
Another fascinating attraction of the city is its National Museum. Some of Dr. Leakey’s first finds can be found in the museum, including Nut-cracker Man and Zinjanthropus Bosei, proto-humans who roamed the Rift Valley over a million years ago. There are also detailed displays that track humanity’s evolution over the eons.
LOCAL TIME: GMT + 3 hours.
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you may bring into any of the East African countries. It is advisable to change the foreign currency into local currency only in banks and forex bureaus. Before you leave you can change the local currency back into your currency but you may be asked for the initial exchange receipt. US$ are acceptable for payments in most tourist establishments and are more commonly used than the Euros. Many hotels and all National Parks quote their rates in US$ for visitors.
The local currency is Tanzanian shillings, Tsh, in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000. Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and in some exchange facilities, but the rate is not as favourable as for cash or travellers cheques.
Banks are open from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4pm, Saturdays closing at 1pm and closed on Sundays.
Visitors arriving from yellow fever and cholera infested countries must have valid vaccination certificates. This is particularly important when crossing from one East African country to another one.
No other vaccinations are required to enter into Tanzania at this time.
Visitors are advised to take anti malaria tablets and consult your doctor in good time before departure.
Do not drink the water from the tap, nor brush you teeth with it. Use bottled mineral water, which is easily available.
Do not share eating utensils or drink from the same glass/bottle. Salads, fruits and vegetables should be rinsed thoroughly in boiled or purified water. Meat must be thoroughly cooked.
In the evenings wear trousers and long sleeves, and sleep under a mosquito net.
Mosquito repellents should not contain more than 30% Deet, as it can harm your skin. Do not swim in lakes, which cause a high risk of contracting bilharzia.
There are medical centres in all the national parks and in all townships. A flying doctor can be called for emergencies in all areas. (This must be covered by your insurance). If you feel feverish, immediately seek medication from a doctor.
You should consider having travel insurance to cover medical assistance, transportation, loss of luggage and theft.
FOOD AND WATER
Tanzania has an extensive variety to offer when it comes to culinary delights. Delicious exotic fruits and fresh fruit juices among a continental spread of items is a great way to start your day at lodges and hotels. If you want to explore the traditional Tanzanian cuisine, there are countless places to eat. Portions are big, and consist mainly of potatoes, rice, beans, spinach, and ugali (a stiff maize porridge) along with chicken, beef, mutton or fish. Some lodges and hotels will feature such items on their dinner buffets for guests to try.
On the coast you can enjoy fresh tropical fish, lobster and shrimps. Larger towns have a good selection of Chinese, Italian and Indian restaurants. Some restaurants even serve game mean, like giraffe, crocodile, zebra and antelopes. Note that endangered species do not appear on the menu and animals that do appear are reared at farms, so enjoy your meal with a clean conscience.
Most restaurants cater well for vegetarians and various palates and tastes. Should you have specific dietary requirements or queries, please inform us so that we can address your issues and special arrangements can be made at most lodges.
In a warm and humid climate, cotton is the most comfortable fabric to wear. Avoid nylon and other synthetic fabrics. Ideal clothing includes a light weight cardigan, shorts, long pants, t-shirts and a few long sleeve shirts for milder evenings. If you are coming between the months of June – August you may want to bring a slightly heavier cardigan, due to Global Warming we have seen temperatures during these months become chillier in the evenings. Sandals are fine though Safari shoes are recommended if you anticipate going on walking safaris or any adventure sports. A hat is essential for sun protection as vehicle roof hatches are left open whilst game viewing. Sunscreens are recommended, sunglasses and a swimsuit is essential for lodges with pools. Please do not offend local customs by wearing very skimpy shorts or miniskirts. Note that none of the beaches in Tanzania or Zanzibar are nude beaches.
Laundry services are available in most hotels and guest houses, if you order it in the morning, you will have it back the same afternoon, at a reasonable price.
Take a small, lightweight flash light as electric generators at lodges and camps are sometimes turned off after 2300 hrs or 0000 hrs until 0500 hrs in the morning. Most lodges do provide these and candles in rooms. Carry cameras and binoculars for added pleasure in game viewing, along with extra film rolls and batteries.
Most lodges outside Arusha and Dar es Salaam use generators. The voltage is 230 volts Ac, 50hz, suitable for appliances, with the exception of those manufactured in the USA and Canada. However, some generators are usually only run for short periods in the early morning and again in the evening from 1830 hrs to 2230 hrs. You would be wise to bring battery operated razors, battery operated curlers and a good quality torch with extra batteries. For those coming from the USA and Canada, an adaptor with a power converter may also be worth carrying for any electronic equipment and re-charging.
Tanzania is a peaceful country in its cities and out in the game parks. However, there are precautions one should take when spending one’s holiday here, as you would in any unfamiliar area. Never show off your valuables, keep your money and passport in the hotel’s safe. Ask your driver or hotel front desk which areas are not safe, and stay away from them. Always take a taxi after dark.
Phones and fax facilities are available in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, some lodges
and major towns.
Postal services are available though tend to be slow. Internet cafe’s are popping up everywhere, and the rates are favourable, for a little over 1 US$ you can surf for one hour. Some internet cafes also offer internet phone services, which is much cheaper than calling from a normal line.
Telefax facilities are available in many Government-and-business offices as well as tourist hotels. Telegrams can be sent from the post office.
Daily communication exists between our drivers and the head office. This ensures your safety at all times and allows for easy communication for any messages you may have to receive or send. Mobile phone usage is possible within all major towns and in some national parks. A few however have not been covered on the local mobile phone networks.
East Africa is the photographer’s dreamland, abounded with wildlife and bird life in their natural habitat, magnificent scenery, colourful people and reliable and unlimited sunlight. While on safari one must remember that the animals are not tame and it is advisable to keep a distance or remain in the vehicle. When taking shots of local people permission from them should be sought and the local culture respected.
Tanzania is certainly in the mainstream wildlife safari photography destinations and is photographically productive enough to warrant the time and expense it takes to travel thousands of miles to photograph wildlife there.
Wildlife can easily be photographed; just ask the driver to stop and ask any questions you may have about the animals. It is advisable to carry your cameras in dust-proof bags on safari, especially in the dry season. Film is available in most hotels and lodges but it is advisable to stock up in major cities. Memory chips and storage cards may be hard to find and so it is best to bring these with you.
VISAS AND TRAVEL
There are 3 international airports, namely Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Upon departing Tanzania via airports, a tax of 30 US$ is required. This can not be paid in local currency. Remember that import and export of the local currency is illegal.
Visas can be obtained at all points of entry (airports and borders).The fees vary for different nationalities and between Tanzania, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. When travelling between the 4 countries multiple entry visas are advisable. Visitors are not allowed to engage in any paid or unpaid employment during their stay except with written permission from the Department of Immigration
Apart from personal effects visitors may bring along with them cameras, films, binoculars, non – consumable provisions, cigarettes, perfumes and spirits in such quantities as are in the opinion the authorities consistent with the visit. Gifts are dutiable while firearms; illicit drugs and obscene literature are prohibited. 1 liter of wine or spirit, 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco) and 250ml of perfume can legally be imported to Tanzania.
Please remember that the following products can not be taken into the UK, USA and many other countries. They will be confiscated at your port of exit or entry and you could also face legal proceedings:
Elephant: all ivory products, leather, goods and tusks are prohibited
Rhino: All trade in rhino horn products is banned internationally.
Sea Turtle & Shells: Shells, shell jewelry, coral and turtle related products are prohibited.
Cats: The purchase of exotic cat fur is ill advised and few can be traded legally.
Tanzania’s national carrier is Air Tanzania. British Airways flies direct to Dar es Salaam from London, taking about 11 hours. A few European carriers fly to Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro via European hubs. Gulf Air and Emirates fly to Dar es Salaam using mid eastern connections. Other airlines flying to Tanzania include Air Tanzania – the national carrier, Air India, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, South African Airways and Swiss.
Tanzania can also be reached through regional hubs at Nairobi and Johannesburg and to a lesser extent Addis Ababa. There are more flights into Nairobi than Kilimanjaro and a popular route for those heading for the northern parks is to fly into Nairobi and then connect to Arusha by shuttle bus service. There is a ferry service between Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam.
Karibu Tanzania – Welcome to Tanzania.