Tanzania holidays are synonymous with the best wildlife experiences on the planet. From mobile camps following the action to luxury lodges you will not want to leave, there are over 40 national parks and game reserves to be explored by 4x4, boat or on foot. Prepare for incredible scenes of sprinting cheetahs, towering giraffes, wallowing hippos, trumpeting elephants, and the thrilling sound of a lion's roar.
The highest peak in Africa, it takes an average of five days to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, but the views are out of this world. Standing at 5,895 metres, its snow-capped peak is still pretty amazing even if you don't make the hard slog to the top; rising above the clouds or glowing amber as the sun rises and sets behind it.
Scented with locally grown cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, Zanzibar's `spice islands' are as idyllic as it gets. Spend your days savouring heavenly white shores and the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean; set sail for sandbanks and sunsets on hand built wooden dhows (boats); and explore seafront Stone Town's cobbled alleys, coral stone houses, sultan's palaces, mosques, and bustling bazaars.
Safaris aren't your only chance to meet the Tanzanian wildlife. Head to the world class reefs of Zanzibar, where neon-coloured fish contrast with the pure blue of this aquarium-esque underwater world. With shallow waters great for snorkelling and plenty of PADI scuba diving courses, this is your chance to encounter dolphins, rays, turtles, and gentle but giant whale sharks.
There are a number of carriers flying from the UK to Tanzania.
Direct Flights: KLM offer the only direct flight to Tanzania (Kilimanjaro). Why not start your journey at your local airport and transit in Amsterdam?
Indirect Flights: Kenya Airways, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly to Tanzania and Zanzibar from London Heathrow via Nairobi. Kenya Airways has an unrivalled route network making any safari and beach combination possible.
Departure Taxes: There is an International departure tax of US$ 48, however this is usually included in the cost of your flight ticket. Please contact your airline if you are unsure.
The official currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, which cannot be bought or sold outside Tanzania. You can change US Dollars, UK Pounds, and Euros at banks and currency exchanges when you get there. US Dollars are widely accepted; you will need them to purchase visas when you arrive and pay for park entry fees.
A combination of US Dollars and Tanzanian Shillings is the best option for your holiday in Tanzania. Make sure you get undamaged, newer dollar bills; many places do not accept those printed before 2005. Most high-end hotels and safari lodges accept Visa and MasterCard, but restaurants and shops do not usually accept credit cards. Cash machines can be found in larger towns and airports. Traveller's cheques are not commonly used and can be expensive and time consuming to change.
Tipping tends not to be expected in local establishments and rural areas, but in tourist hotspots around 10 percent is standard practice for good service. Tips are greatly appreciated by restaurant and hotel staff, most of whom receive very low pay. On safari, tipping is always in addition to the price quoted. Allow 12,000 to 25,000 Tanzanian Shillings per day for the driver and/or guide. Whenever possible, give your tips directly to the staff you want to thank.
April - May
Before travelling you should ensure you are up to date with the standard vaccinations such as Diptheria, Tetanus, Hepititis A and Polio. Also recommended are Typhoid, Meningitis, Tuberculosis and anti malarial protection. Passengers arriving in Tanzania may be asked to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate. Always consult your GP for up to date vaccination requirements for the country and area you are visiting.
Be prepared for hot weather throughout the year, but bring jackets and jumpers for nippy mornings and evenings, especially from June to September. You will need clothes for temperatures below zero if you plan to brave the higher reaches of Mount Kilimanjaro. Remember to pack light if you will be taking charter flights between parks.
Comfortable walking shoes;
Cool, lightweight clothing in natural fabrics like cotton or linen (in neutral colours if you are going on safari);
A jacket and jumper for early mornings and evenings;
A wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face;
High factor sunscreen;
Camera and camcorder;
An underwater camera for snorkelling;
An electrical adapter (the power supply in Tanzania is 230 volts at 50 hertz);
PADI and medical certificates if required for scuba diving.
From fresh-caught lobster on the island of Zanzibar to meat stews in inland Arusha, dishes depend on what food is available locally. In coastal regions, seafood, spicy curries, coconut milk and tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapples, pawpaws, and bananas are all on the menu. On the mainland, staples include ugali (maize porridge), rice, plantains, beans, okra, and marinated, grilled meat. With many second-generation Indian immigrants in Tanzania, Indian dishes like curry, biryani and chapatti bread are not uncommon.
Mchuzi Wa Kamba
A must-try on Zanzibar, this Indian-style prawn curry is one of the tastiest results of the island’s time as a trade crossroads. Other main ingredients include coconut milk, tomatoes, garlic, and tamarind.
Otherwise known as Swahili shish kebabs, these skewers of meat or fish are spiced and marinated for extra flavour. Beef, goat, chicken, kingfish, and tuna are all popular.
Your best bet for great street food is Stone Town, Zanzibar’s eclectic capital. Head to the night market at the waterfront Forodhani Gardens, where you can sample Zanzibari dishes and snacks while you watch the sun set over the ocean. Feast on kebabs, samosas, barbecued seafood and local favourites like urojo, a spicy cassava soup flavoured with mango and ginger, and Zanzibar pizza, a fried stuffed bread filled with gooey cheese, egg, meat and veg. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean, fresh, and cooked right in front of you.
With all those safaris, luxury lodges, and beach retreats, holidays in Tanzania can be relatively expensive. Make use of local rather than tourist establishments though and you could really stretch your budget. A three course meal in a mid-range restaurant might set you back 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings, with a bottled beer about 3,000 Tanzanian Shillings and a 1.5 litre bottle of water around 1,500 Tanzanian Shillings.
For men, Tanzania's national costume is the kanzu, a white or cream ankle-length tunic worn with a small embroidered cap called a kofia. The formal wear for most tribes, the collar is adorned with a tassel that is often perfumed with oils for wedding ceremonies. Women often dress in a kanga, a wrapped garment of fabric printed with colourful patterns and phrases.
From the tall Masai warriors to the artistic Makonde, Tanzanian culture is a fascinating blend of over 120 tribes, unspoiled by the rivalries and political struggles that curse many of its African neighbours. Warm and polite, Tanzanians respect their elders and place great importance on controlling tempers and emotions in public.
When it comes to etiquette, keep the following in mind:
• A firm handshake is the usual form of greeting. Handshakes may linger, with hands still held well into the conversation. Men should wait for women to extend their hand first, otherwise a bow or a nod will do.
• Rather than being direct and straight to the point, most people will ‘talk around’ the topic for a few minutes before hinting at what it is they need.
• When talking to an elder, people tend to look down out of respect.
• Overly direct eye contact with someone of the opposite sex can be interpreted as intrusive or rude, especially with men looking at women. Men may interpret direct eye contact from women as flirting.
• Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public when people are fasting during Ramadan.
• In rural areas, women who smoke, drink in bars, and/or dress provocatively are often seen as prostitutes. Foreign women may not be held to the same standard as local women, but might be judged for such behaviour.
• Women should dress modestly in tops with sleeves and skirts below the knee.
• Men should not wear shorts.
• It is illegal to wear camouflage clothing.
• Always use your right hand to eat, give, receive, touch, or shake hands with another person. The left hand is considered unclean.
• It is considered rude to let the bottom of your foot or shoe point at someone.
• Pointing at a person with one finger is considered rude. Point with the whole hand instead.
• People beckon others by making a scratching motion with their fingers, palm facing down. Doing so with your palm up is considered very rude and is reserved for animals.
• Public transport can be unreliable when it comes to being on time.
• Homosexuality is sadly a major taboo in Tanzanian culture.
Home to the Big Five and so much more, Tanzania is blessed with all the biggest names in African wildlife. Let's start with elephants, zebras, hippos, giraffes, wildebeests, buffaloes, antelopes, gazelles, and chimpanzees. Then there are those famous predators: crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs. Over 1,000 species of birds include bee-eaters and flamingos. And endangered creatures include hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles, black rhinos, red colobus monkeys, and wild dogs.
Serengeti National Park
Known to the Masai as ‘the place where the land moves on forever’, the Serengeti is most famous for the wildebeest migration, when wildebeest and zebra move in their clockwise route from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then west and north after the long rains in April, May, and June.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Based around the Ngorongoro Crater, formed by a volcano two million years ago, this is the place to find the highest density of mammal predators in Africa, including lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals. It is also famous for its hundreds of flamingos, which form a pink border around the lake in the heart of the crater.
Lake Manyara National Park
With an alkaline lake that covers more than half the park in the wet season and retreats to next to nothing in the dry season, Lake Manyara National Park is known for its incredible birdlife, with more than 400 species to see, including flamingos. Other highlights include the hippo pond and seeing big cats like leopards and lions lounging in the trees.