Travel Tips for Tanzania

Tanzania is not only proud to bear witness to the highest and largest free standing mountain in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro – but is also home to rich and diverse wildlife concentrations, mineral and other resources. These travel tips will help you get the most out of your Tanzania vacation.

Geography/Landscape

Tanzania is mountainous in the northeast, where Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, is situated. To the north and west are the Great Lakes of Lake Victoria (Africa's largest lake) and Lake Tanganyika (Africa's deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish). Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau, with plains and arable land. The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the island of Zanzibar lying just offshore.

Tanzania contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park in the north, and Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park in the south. Gombe National Park in the west is known as the site of Dr. Jane Goodall's studies of chimpanzee behavior.

People

As of 2006, the estimated population is 38,329,000, with more than 80% of the population is rural. Dar es Salaam is the largest city and is the commercial capital; Dodoma, located in the center of Tanzania is the new capital and houses the Union's Parliament. The African population consists of more than 120 ethnic groups; the population also includes people of Arab, Indian, and Pakistani origin, and small European and Chinese communities.

The national census has not asked for religious affiliation since 1967 as the religious balance is seen as a sensitive topic as Tanzanians pride themselves on living together with their diversity.

More than 100 languages are spoken in this country. After the independence, the government of the country found it very difficult to administer. So it introduced Swahili language as the official language.

Climate

Tanzania has a tropical climate. In the highlands, temperatures range between 50 and 68°F (10 and 20 °C) during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 68°F (20 °C). The hottest period extends between November and February 77–87°F (25–31°C) while the coldest period occurs between May and August 59–68°F (15–20°C).

Tanzania has two major rainfall regions. One is December–April in the southern, south-west, central and western parts of the country, while the other occurs October–December and March–May in the north and northern coast.

Best Time to Travel

Peak season for visitors is July-August, when the weather is cool; but also December-January when the weather is hotter. The best time to do the Northern Circuit is July to March. Optimum time to do the Southern Circuit is June to March, and May to March for the Western Circuit. Zanzibar is fine to visit all year round.

Entry Requirements

A valid passport and visa are required of U.S. citizens. The tourist visa costs US$100 and can be acquired on arrival and payable in US cash only. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond your return date of travel. Your passport must have two blank pages that face each other when the pasport is open.

Currency & Banking

The currency of Tanzania is the Tanzania shilling. The U.S. dollar is easily changed in large towns, although dollars are sometimes preferred. Important to note that only US bank notes 2003 and later will be accepted. Most banks around the country have ATM machines that accept Visa and MasterCard cards for cash withdrawals. Credit cards are accepted only at major lodges and hotels.

Electricity

Electricity in Tanzania is 230V and frequency is 50Hz. The socket/plug types are Type D and G. They look like this:

D type socket/plug and G type socket/plug

Water

Drink only bottled water, which is widely available.