WHEN TO GO
Tanzania’s varied geography produces a variety of climatic conditions. The central plateau is dry and arid with hot days and cool nights, while the northwestern highlands are cool and temperate. June to September is the coolest season. The “long rains” are from March to May, while the “short rains” fall between October and December. The hottest months are between October and February. On the coast, it rains in November and December and from March to May. The coastal strip and the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia have a hot and humid tropical climate, tempered by sea breezes.
A valid passport is required of every visitor. Exempted from visa requirements are citizens of the Commonwealth, Scandinavian countries and the Republic of Ireland. Visas may be obtained from any Tanzanian diplomatic mission. The visa fee depends on the type of passport held. A visitors’ pass is required of all travellers. This can be obtained free from any Tanzanian embassy, or on arrival at any of the country’s entry points (airports, seaports and border posts).
Personal effects including binoculars, camera and film, may be imported temporarily duty free. A Customs bond may be demanded of visitors bringing in video/filming equipment, radios, tape recorders, and musical instruments to ensure the goods are re-exported. Firearms require a special permit. A duty free allowance is effected on one litre of liquor; 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; and 250ml of perfume. Additional items are subject to Customs duty.
GETTING THERE & AROUND
Air: There are many flights from Europe. Most people fly into Dar es Salaam, but there are also international flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport and to Zanzibar. Airlines serving Tanzania include, Air Tanzania, Alliance, an associate of South Africa Airlines, Aeroflot, Air Zimbabwe, Air India, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Gulf Air, Kenya Airways, KLM, Royal Swazi, Swissair and AeroZambia.
The national carrier, Air Tanzania, serves all internal routes, and has daily flights to Zanzibar. Privately operated light aircraft companies provide services between the mainland and the offshore islands of Pemba and Unguja (Zanzibar).
Rail: There are three main railway lines in Tanzania – the northern, central, and TAZARA lines. The sole point of entry into Tanzania by rail is from Zambia, on TAZARA (Tanzaia-Zambia Railway). All major centres (with the exception of Arusha) are connected by railway. Passengers have the choice of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class. Trains are reliable and comfortable.
Water: Tanzania can be reached via lakes Tanganyika and Victoria, and via the Indian Ocean.
Lake Malawi: Two ferries on the Tanzanian side connect Itungi and Mbamba Bay via several other small ports. Passengers have the choice of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class.
Lake Tanganyika: MV Liemba, the main ferry on the lake, runs scheduled services from Burundi and Zambia across Lake Tanganyika to Kigoma. MV Mwongozo operates only in Tanzania, serving Kigoma and smaller ports to the north and to the south.
Lake Victoria: MV Victoria operates a weekly service between Mwanza and Bukoba (in Tanzania) and Port Bell (in Uganda). It runs regularly between Mwanza and Bukoba, along with two internal ferries. Passengers have the choice of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class.
Indian Ocean: Ocean going liners link Dar-es-Salaam and Mombasa in Kenya. Several boats and ferries connect Dar-es-Salaam to the offshore islands of Pemba and Ugunja. Tourists are not allowed to use motorised dhow between Dar-es-Salaam and the islands. Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required before boarding boats to Zanzibar. Road: Road conditions vary a great deal. The best way to enter Tanzania overland is from either Kenya or Malawi. It is not advisable to enter from either Uganda or Rwanda. Most Tanzanian roads do not have sealed surfaces, and travelling on them in wet seasons can be problematic. A law aimed at curbing accidents forbids public vehicles travelling between 10 pm and 5 am.
Both short and long distance bus services are available. On the main long-haul routes, there is a choice between luxury and ordinary buses. Advance booking is recommended.
Taxis are available at international airports and in main towns. They have no meters and tend to charge standard rates per journey for given distances.
Driving & Car Hire: Vehicles keep to the left. International driving licences are required of all foreign drivers. Vehicles must have adequate third-party insurance. Car hire services are limited and it is difficult to hire a self-drive vehicle. The available car hire companies, are based in Dar-es-Salaam and larger towns.
Safaris call for practical clothes: a hat, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, a bathing suit and lightweight clothes (preferably cotton) that are easy to wash. A light sweater may be useful in the evenings. Campers are advised to carry warm sleeping bags. Track suits are very useful for sleeping in. Jeans too are very useful on safari. In the towns and for business meetings, a lightweight suit is the mode of dress.
The scenic beauty of Tanzania makes it a photographer’s paradise. However, photographs should not be taken of people or religious ceremonies without their consent. Don’t take snapshots of the airport or strategic buildings. Military units, police stations and State House are strictly prohibited. While some film may be readily available in the main towns, visitors requiring specific types should bring plenty with them.
WHAT TO BRING
Equipment is available for hire in some places. But for your own convenience, it is advisable to bring such items as golf clubs, fishing gear, or mountain climbing equipment.
A US$ 20 departure tax in cash is payable by all passengers departing on international flights. Departure from Zanzibar into a destination within Tanzania, the tax is TShs.200. An additional 10 per cent of the ticket value will be paid as sales tax on all tickets issued in Zanzibar.
The Tanzania shilling (TSHS), divided into 100 cents, is the national currency. It is illegal to import /export the currency. Visitors may bring in as much foreign currency as they wish, and no currency declaration form is required. Foreign currency may be changed at authorised banks, forex bureaux and hotels. Credit cards (Access, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Eurocard, and Dinners) are accepted by top hotels around the country. PTA travellers’ cheques, or those in Sterling pounds, US dollars or rand are recommended.
Visitors to Zanzibar are required to pay for their expenses in hard currency. Any amount of foreign currency brought into Zanzibar must be declared at the airport. The currency may be exchanged at the National Bank of Commerce or with an authorised dealer and the receipt obtained should be preserved untill the time of departure.
Banks and forex bureaux are available at the airport and in all main towns. Banking hours:
Monday – Friday 08h30 – 12h30
Saturdays 08h30 – 11h30
A few branches in the major towns open untill 16h00.
Learn the art of bargaining, particularly in markets and curio shops. This is very much Tanzanian culture, as developing a good rapport between shopkeeper and customer takes precedence over the actual sale.
TIME & ELECTRICITY
Local time is GMT + 3.
Electrical supply for domestic use is generally 230 volts AC, 50 Hz. All installations are British standard and all appliances should be fitted with pin plugs of British specification.
Kiswahili is the national language. English is widely spoken, and there are 120 ethnic groups, each with its own indigenous language.
Requirements: Regulations and requirements are subject to change at short notice and visitors are requested to contact their own health authorities, the nearest Tanzanian Diplomatic Mission, or their travel agent well in advance of their intended date of departure.
While doctors and dentists are available in many parts of the country, the major hospitals are located in the main towns. It is recommended that visitors bring sufficient supplies of any drugs they need regularly, and carry medical insurance.
Malaria in malignant falciparum form is endemic below the 1,800m and precautions should be taken both when visitors are in Tanzania, and for several weeks after departure. It is therefore necessary to take prophilactics, and advisable to be vaccinated against typhoid fever, tetanus, tuberclosis, and similar communicable diseases.
HIV/AIDS occurs worldwide but is not transmitted through casual contact, the ingestion of food or water, by insects or by animals. Infection is through sexual intercourse with infected individuals, use of infected blood or blood products, or use of unsterilized contaminated instruments (e.g. syringes and needles) to inject materials or pierce the skin. HIV infection is prevented by avoiding such activities.
Tap water: As a precaution boil or sterilise drinking water. Swimming in rivers, ponds, or dams should be done with local advice as they may be infected with bilharzia.
POSTS & TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Postal services are efficient, and modern telecommunications facilities are in place. The International Code for Tanzania is (+255). The internal codes for the main centres are as follows:
Moshi (+ 55),
New Year’s Day
Zanzibar Revolution Day
Chama Cha Mapinduzi Day
Id el Fitr*
International Workers’ Day
Saba Saba Day
Id el Haj*
* dates depend on the lunar calendar and vary annually
A recognition of traditional courtesies is important when visiting another country. A handshake greeting is normal. Unsuitable clothing such as brief shorts or swimwear is not acceptable in towns and villages away from resorts. Some upclass hotels and restaurants may insist on smart casual evening wear, with ties for men. Hence, jeans (though very useful on safari), and sports wear, shorts and sandals may not be acceptable.