Zanzibar is edged by reefs so blessed with coral and marine life you could be in an aquarium. Go under the water to swim with schools of fish in every colour of the rainbow, graceful gliding turtles, and gentle but giant whale sharks. The shallow waters are great for snorkelling and various dive centres run PADI scuba diving courses; there could not be a better place to learn.
Those teal-blue waters will tempt you at every turn, as will the softly-billowing sails of the dhow boats drifting across the reef. Join an excursion on a hand-crafted wooden dhow and set sail for a seafood feast on a sand bank, a boat-side swim, or a romantic evening cruise silhouetted against the sunset.
Beautiful Zanzibar is the perfect backdrop to a meal, and its fine seafood restaurants more than live up to their surroundings. The island's rich trading history has brought Arabic and Indian influences to its cuisine, making it a delicious blend of cultures, freshly caught fish, and locally grown coconuts and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Seafront Stone Town is the island's heartbeat, with its cobbled alleyways, coral stone houses, sultan's palaces, mosques, and courtyards. At the centre of the spice and slave trades in the 19th century, its architecture reflects Swahili, Indian, Arabic, and European cultures. Explore the narrow streets to discover street vendors, singing schoolchildren, and bustling bazaars.
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. Oman Air & Qatar Airways also have access into Tanzania (including the island of Zanzibar) via their respective hubs.
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.
Please note that from 01st July 2015, a new tax system proposal has been brought into effect for passengers visiting Zanzibar & Pemba Island:
British passport holders are required a visa to enter Tanzania. We recommend you obtain this prior to travel, however it is possible to obtain a single entry visa on arrival for US$ 50. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Tanzania. Please contact the Tanzania High Commission for up to date country and visa information on 0207 569 1470.
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. This is for passengers who transit in a Yellow Fever Endemic area and are at the airport for 12 hours or more or if they leave the airport at all. 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.
lightweight clothing in natural fabrics like cotton or linen (in neutral colours if you are going on safari);
Comfortable walking shoes;
A jacket and jumper for early mornings and evenings;
High factor sunscreen;
A wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face;
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.