The name Tanzania conjures up images of wildebeest stampeding across vast savannah, rain forests teeming with monkeys and birdlife, and great plains brimming with legions of game.
All of these natural wonders and more are on offer in this exceptionally diverse African nation.
Visitors typically visit Tanzania to partake in at least one of the four well known Tanzanian tourist experiences: a relaxing seaside vacation on the picturesque island paradise of Zanzibar, an underwater tour of some of the world’s most renowned dive sites around the gorgeous Spice Islands, a safari adventure in some of Africa’s most impressive game reserves, or a hiking excursion around Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.
Whichever of these incredible holidays you choose, you will undoubtedly be welcomed by some fabulously friendly and peaceful inhabitants who, despite being divided into 120 different ethnic groups and cultures, live in harmony with one another and provide some of the most wonderfully exotic local cuisine you could imagine.
With all of this diversity on offer, the most difficult part of your Tanzanian holiday experience is likely to be deciding where to go!
All British passport holders need a tourist or business visa to enter Tanzania. Tanzania has introduced an ‘e-visas’ system through which applications can be submitted and approved online in advance of travel. It is no longer possible to get a visa from the Tanzanian High Commission in London.
It is also possible to get a tourist or business visa for a single entry on arrival at main ports of entry to Tanzania, subject to the fulfillment of all immigration requirements.
You may be asked to provide proof of your return journey. You will not be able to get a multiple entry visa on arrival. For further information about visas visit the Tanzanian immigration website.
Visa requirements are subject to change at any time and it is your responsibility to check the appropriate requirements for your travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your visa application.
Yellow Fever Certificate Requirements
Some countries require you to produce a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on arrival.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s Travel Health Pro website.
Banking and Currency
In Tanzania, the unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, which is divided into 100 Cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000 Shillings. Coins are issued in denominations of 50, 100 and 200 Shillings.
The Tanzanian Shilling is the official currency of Tanzania, but US dollars are also widely accepted in tourist areas.
Dollar notes printed before 2009 are usually not accepted. If bringing cash in US $, please make sure bank notes are in good condition, with no cuts or damage and are not older than 2009. Most banks offer higher exchange rates for US $ 100 / US $ 50 bank notes compared to US $ 20 / US $ 10 or US $ 5 bank notes.
Banks are open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. Many banks are equipped with 24 hour ATM machines.
You can exchange money at many authorised dealers, banks and bureaux de change. Get a receipt after each transaction.
Most banks in major cities have ATMs, but they are not always reliable and sometimes break down or run out of money.
To minimise the risk of card cloning, only use ATMs located within the bank. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted and non-Bank of England sterling notes may be subject to less favourable exchange rates.
Credit cards and travellers checks are not widely accepted in Tanzania. Where they are accepted can high service fees and poor exchange rates be expected.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
If you are visiting a number of parks and reserves in Tanzania, you can either drive or fly between them.
Roads in most of the wilderness areas are in poor condition and unmarked, and self-driving is not recommended. Driving is on the left hand side of the road
Operators will supply you with a driver who doubles as an informal guide; alternatively, you can arrange to fly to your destination and utilize a car and driver supplied by the lodgings.
Elsewhere in Tanzania, towns and cities are linked by a steady stream of buses and dala-dalas (minibuses), and in the cities, there is public transport in the way of buses, dala-dalas, taxis, and, in some places, bicycles or tuk-tuks.
Precision Air run regular services, mostly via Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar, to all main towns and other destinations in East Africa and beyond.
All national parks and some of the top-end luxury lodges have airstrips and Coastal Air operates between these and the main airports on the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.
ZanAir has frequent connections between Zanzibar, Pemba and the mainland.
Safari Airlink are a very reliable and well run airline offering flights to safari destinations.
Health and Medical Information
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the Travel Health Pro website.
Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and fact sheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the Fit For Travel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website.
You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines.
For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important.
Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in the guidance page.
Medical facilities are limited in Tanzania, especially outside Dar es Salaam. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation.
Malaria, dengue fever and cholera are common in Tanzania.
There have also been cases of sleeping sickness occurring after bites from tsetse flies in the north, including the Serengeti. Other diseases, such as rift valley fever, occur mostly in rural areas where access to sanitation is limited.
In the 2015 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 1,400,000 adults aged 15 or over in Tanzania were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 4.7 of the adult population. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Safety & Security
Please check the latest travel advice from the UK government before travel.
Tanzania is one of the world's poorest countries.
Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing. The British High Commission continues to receive regular reports of British nationals who are the victims of mugging and bag snatching (especially by passing cars or motorbikes) and armed robbery and burglary have increased throughout the country.
In Dar es Salaam, tourists have been kidnapped, assaulted, robbed and forced with the threat of violence to withdraw cash from ATMs and arrange cash transfers of up to £5,000 through Western Union after being befriended by strangers or using unlicensed taxis.
Walk as far away from the road as possible and avoid walking and cycling at night. If you need to walk alongside the road, walk towards the traffic.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or other valuables including expensive jewellery or watches. Leave your passport in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy for ID at all times.
If you’re attacked, do not resist. If you carry a bag, it is safer to hold it loosely by the handle or hanging off your shoulder rather than by securing the strap across your chest. Both pedestrians and cyclists have been targeted by bag thieves.
Do not accept lifts from strangers or individuals offering to procure a licensed taxi on your behalf. Do not use unlicensed taxis. Where possible, you should arrange a taxi through a reputable establishment, for example a hotel, and you should always ask to see the driver’s ID. App-based taxi services are not reliable. Avoid walking and exercising alone, particularly in isolated areas and on beaches.
Take particular care in places frequented by tourists and expatriate residents. In Dar es Salaam, tourists and residents have been targeted in the city centre, at Ubungo bus station, the Masaki/Oysterbay peninsula area, particularly at Coco Beach and along Toure Drive.
On Zanzibar incidents have taken place in Stone Town and at hotels and on popular tourist beaches throughout the island.
You should be vigilant and exercise caution.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Dining on Safari
Most camps, lodges or hotels cater specifically to tourists and serve Western-style food, ranging in standard, but generally are excellent.
Dining is generally on communal tables in game lodges but the set up varies from lodge to lodge.
Game lodges tend to offer a daily set menu with a fairly limited selection, so if you are a vegetarian or have other specific dietary requirements please let us know in advance so we can advise your accommodation.
First-time visitors to Africa might take note that most game lodges in and around the national parks have isolated locations, and driving within the parks is neither permitted nor advisable after dark, so that there is no realistic alternative to eating at your lodge.
Most camps, lodges and hotels have bottled water readily available.
Tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, and most travellers try to stick to mineral water.
Filtered and bottled water can be difficult to find you are travelling outside of main town and so it is advisable to stock up.
Tanzanian cuisine varies by geographical region. Along the coastal regions (Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, and Pemba), spicy foods are common, and there is also much use of coconut milk.
Regions in Tanzania's mainland consume different foods. Some typical mainland Tanzanian foods include wali (rice), ugali (maize porridge), nyama choma (grilled meat), mshikaki (marinated beef), samaki (fish), pilau (rice mixed with a variety of spices), biriyani, and ndizi-nyama (plantains with meat).
Vegetables commonly used in Tanzania include bamia (okra), mchicha (a kind of spinach), njegere (green peas), maharage (beans), and kisamvu (cassava leaves).
Tanzania grows at least 17 different types of bananas which are used for soup, stew, and chips. Additionally, some breakfast food that you would typically see if you were to go to Tanzania are maandazi (fried doughnut), chai (tea), chapati (a kind of flat bread), and chipsi mayai.
Famous Tanzanian snack foods include isheti, kashata (coconut bars), kabaab (kebab), sambusa (samosa), mkate wa kumimina (Zanzibari rice bread), vileja, vitumbua (rice patties), and bagia.
Since a large community of Indians have migrated into Tanzania, a considerable proportion of Tanzanian cuisine has been influenced by Indian cuisine.
Famous chefs, such as Mohsin Asharia, have revolutionized traditional Indian dishes, such as kashata korma tabsi and voodo aloo. Many Indians own restaurants in the heart of Dar es Salaam, and have been welcomed by indigenous Tanzanians.
Climate and Weather
Just south of the equator, Tanzania is huge and its sheer size means that the climate varies considerably within it.
However, generally the main rainy season, or the 'long rains', lasts during March, April and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm – which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30°s.
The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it's a great time to visit Tanzania.
During November and December there's another rainy season: the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable.
If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months, January and February, which is Tanzania's 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
It never gets really cold in Tanzania so lightweight clothing, preferably cotton or linen, is recommended.
While on a game viewing safari, avoid brightly coloured clothing, stick to whites, beiges, khakis and browns.
There may be long days sitting in safari vehicles, so it is advisable to wear light comfortable clothing such as short sleeved shirts and cotton/linen trousers or shorts. Denim will become too hot and extremely uncomfortable. Walking shoes and socks will be required.
The evenings will be chilly, so long sleeved shirts and trousers should be worn. A sweater may be needed. These will also prevent you being bitten by insects. A hat should be worn at all times outside. The sun may sometimes not feel hot, but it can still easily burn, especially if it is cloudy and overcast.
If visiting Zanzibar or any coastal town don't forget to take a swimsuit, as it is invariably warm. Ladies are recommended to take cotton skirts, blouses and dresses. Sandals are a must for this environment! On the beaches and within the confines of hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable but nudity is not.
As over a third of the population in Tanzania is Muslim, it is therefore not etiquette for ladies to walk around in public displaying their legs and shoulders. Remember to dress modestly as short shorts, miniskirts, vests and tank tops will be frowned upon.
Tanzania has good Internet Service Providers with email and internet services offered by many hotels and lodges (free / paid). In most towns there are plenty of private business centres and cyber cafes offering email and internet access, although the speeds might be somewhat slower than what you are used to.
Electricity and Plug Standards
The electricity supply in Tanzania is 220/240 volts at 50Hz.
Plugs are 3 point square (UK Type). Adapters are available at major airports.
Tanzania has banned the use of plastic bags and you can be fined for bringing them into the country.
All passengers arriving at any Tanzania airport including tourists may face very heavy fines for using plastic bags in any way, shape or form.
Using manufacture or importation of plastic bags, including garbage bags and shopping bags is illegal.
Offenders, including tourists, could face very heavy fines.
Visitors are advised to avoid packing any plastic bags in their suitcases or in carry-on hand luggage before flying to Tanzania. Items purchased at the airport before boarding the aircraft should be removed from plastic bags.
Similarly the transparent "zip-lock" plastic bags that some airlines require passengers to use for keeping liquids, cosmetics, toiletries etc are also not permitted and should be removed.