December-February and June-September (but NOT July-Sept for Serengeti safaris!); the weather is relatively cool and dry, meaning less mosquitoes, wildlife is more concentrated due to limited water supplies, more visible due to shorter grass and you have more light to enable use of your new super-telephoto lens!
However, if you head for the Serengeti AFTER Africa's biggest wildlife migration, to Kenya (July/August?) you're going to be a few animals short of a safari.
OK: November to December tho' there may be some mild rainfall.
Worst: March-May due to long rains on the coast (and July-August for Serengeti safaris because wildlife takes a drought hike into Kenya). Most Tanzanian roads are of dirt, so the rainy season may make road trips either uncomfortable or impossible, depending on your location.
Generally Tanzania is hot and humid but it's a huge country so you can also find delightfully cool areas in the highlands. Check below for mosquito information.
Ramadan, Muslim fasting month with varied dates:
(dates depend on full moon so may differ by one day depending on location. 9 July-7 August 2013).
During this time most, if not all, Muslims will neither eat nor drink during the daytime and consequently many cafes, restaurants and even shops may open only after sunset; public eating, drinking and smoking by tourists will be frowned upon.
The last day of Ramadan, known as Idd al Fitr, can be a wild time with much celebrating, depending on location; Zanzibar is known for its penchant for excitability at this time.
Mt. Kilimanjaro hiking
go to Tanzania?
Safari, hiking, beaches...This is one of Africa's finest massed-wildlife experiences, with world-famous game reserves such as Ngorongoro and Serengeti offering more mammals and birds than any other African country, spectacular landscapes bursting with 10,000 plant species, excellent hiking and competitive prices.
tribes are colourful, friendly and have managed to preserve many of their rich traditions in spite of encroaching modernism and Christianity; the Maasai in the north are particularly glamorous and welcoming.
The coast is scattered with excellent beaches while the Zanzibar archipelago a few kilometres offshore plays host to not only a number of dazzling Indian Ocean beaches and excellent scuba diving but also a relaxed and interesting culture, superb cuisine and amiable locals.
- Some thievery, though not in well-run safari camps.
- mostly dull towns hold little interest for tourists, apart from Zanzibar's Stone Town.
- Kenya may be cheaper.
Tanzania's Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (according to Tanzania's Tourist Office):
1) Ngorongoro Crater 2) Serengeti NP 3) Zanzibar and Pemba islands 4) Tarangire NP 5) Lake Manyara NP 6) Mt Kilimanjaro 7) Selous Game Reserve 8) Ruaha NP 9) Mafia Island 10) Mt Meru.
Small creatures are fun too! A chameleon in the Usambara Mountains.
to go for Tanzania wildlife safaris
What to do other than animal viewing tours:
**Mt. Kilimanjaro hiking
***Zanzibar culture, beaches and diving.
Legendary *Lake Victoria, source of the Nile, is in Tanzania's northwest, traversing into Uganda and Kenya. This is Africa's largest expanse of freshwater but surrounded mostly by mankind these days and inhabited by decreasing numbers of fish and increasing numbers of malarial mosquitoes and bilharzial snails as the lake's eco-system gives up under the weight of human demands.
Victoria's premier (Tanzania) tourist destination is Mwanza port, convenient for visiting the primitive islands of Ukerewe and Ukara, the Sukuma Museum (Tanzania's largest tribe are the Sukuma) and even Serengeti National Park, just 5km from the lake. Surrounded by rocky hills Mwanza is Tanzania's second-largest city and the core of the lake area.
**Dar es Salaam (aka Dar, or Bongo by locals, possibly because bongs are always on the go) is not the capital of the country (which is dull Dodoma) but a large, lively and cosmopolitan port city throbbing with African music, an eclectic nightlife that rivals any in East Africa, good food, great shopping in the Kariakoo Market, a couple of small but worthwhile museums and even some fine beaches.
North of the city are several developed beaches, such as Jangwani (21kms) which has both a family-friendly Waterworld amusement park and colourful coral reefs for scuba divers a few kilometres offshore. Fungu Yasini, 7kms away is the easiest dive to access while snorkelling is a treat around Mbudya Island, 3km offshore.
South of Dar the beaches are less organised and more lie-back-and-fry, with a scattering of accommodation ranging from campsites to pricey lodges, but no scuba to shout about.
Dar es Salaam is gateway to the three luscious islands, culture, beaches and scuba diving of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.
A day trip north from Dar is Bagamoyo, a notorious slaving port and home to many exquisite colonial buildings.
South of Dar lurk dazzling, empty beaches and ancient ruins but the roads become extremely poor and travel there is rewarding but only for tough cookies.
Another interesting possibility in Tanzania is spending time with and getting to know local tribes, often involving wildlife walks, horse riding, or village visits with Maasai, Meru or Il Larusa tribes. Learn about traditional healing, village life, cattle care (drink blood?!) and more. There are too many cultural tourism projects in Tanzania to list so if you're interested check with the Tanzania Tourist Board in Arusha which is the current hub for these kind of activities.
A Masai village in Tanzania ready for cultural tourists.
Getting to Tanzania and getting around by land
Single-entry three-month visas can be bought on arrival at an airport or from a Tanzanian consulate beforehand. If you wish to stay longer it's easiest to leave the country and return. Visas for overland crossings vary constantly and even from border to border, but should be cheaper.
Tourist areas, safaris and scuba ($80+ per day) are pricey but individuals who go their own way without these luxuries can survive on surprisingly little, perhaps $20 per day or less, though even a low end safari will cost at least $90 per day.
Take $ cash for ease of exchange but also some cheques for backup. Towns have ATMs that will provide funds too (at a price).
Credit cards are accepted for major tourist services but you can expect a 5% or even 10% surcharge so it may be cheaper to withdraw the cash from an ATM after all!
230v, 3 flat pins, occasionally 3 round pins (2 small, 1 large).
- Malaria is caused by stings from the female Anopheles mosquito and is commonplace in low-lying areas of Tanzania. It can be avoided by protecting yourself from mozzie bites and taking prophylactic pills. See our Malaria page for avoidance tactics and an anti-malarial summary, but we feel that at the moment expensive Malarone is the best preventative.
- Eating and drinking advice for foreigners in developing countries such as Tanzania can be found on our Travel Health page.
- Make sure you are inoculated against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and have a polio booster.
- HIV is prevalent in Africa so be very sensible about intimate relationships with local people and do not imagine being drunk excuses terminal idiocy.
- when out walking in wilderness areas wear shoes and walk noisily to protect against snakes - who would much rather be doing something other than sinking their pristine fangs into your dirty, sweaty foot.
- don't swim, wash or even touch stagnant fresh (as opposed to salt, which is fine) water, such as fresh-water lakes, unless your guide can confirm it's safe from bilharzia, a tiny and unpleasant burrowing critter that can cause long term damage, though it is curable.
Cuisine in Tanzania - other than on Zanzibar's stylish and exotic island - is more hearty than haut, fatty than fashionable.
Rice and cornmeal porridge (ugali) are the national dish, usually offered with some variety of animal protein, vegetable stew or beans; portions tend to be huge.
Tourist-oriented fry-ups are common in many towns with fish, chips, chicken, burgers and eggs on the menu as well as samosas, chapatis, rice cakes, meat balls, kebabs and corn cobs.
Health freaks might choose to make a meal of Tanzanian fruit, which is superb, from the usual bananas and avocados, papaya, pineapple and mangos to passion fruit, custard apples and guavas.
Tanzania Hiking | Tanzania Wildlife Safaris
Tours | Tanzania Map | Zanzibar
Beaches | Zanzibar