All the facts you need to know about the country itself.
Full Country Name: United Republic of Tanzania
Area: 945,000 sq km
Population: 54.3 million (UN 2015)
Capital and largest City: Dodoma
Borders: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo
Religion: Mainland Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, Indigenous beliefs 35%, Zanzibar – more than 99% Muslim
Time Zone: Standard time is 3 hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time
Languages: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many other local languages
Country Dialling Code: +255
Tanzania is home to the great wildebeest and zebra herds and the pursuing predators that trek the Serengeti in an annual migration in search of fresh grazing and water sources. The annual migration of an estimated two million animals can happen anytime between May and July, depending on the rains, with the animals returning to the southern Serengeti from the Masai Mara around October.
This incredible wildlife spectacle is just one of Tanzania’s many attractions. Other attractions include the Ngorongoro Crater, the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro which is the highest free standing mountain in the world, the Selous Game Reserve, the largest game reserve in Africa and the exotic spice islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Tanzania combines very well as a safari destination with neighbouring Kenya and is easily accessible to Uganda and Rwanda to see the amazing gorillas.
When to Travel
When to Travel
There is no right time to travel to Tanzania, just the right time for you! Here we go through the benefits and downsides of each season.
During the migration there are camps located in the far North Serengeti where you can also see the wildebeest river crossings that will be less crowded than the Masai Mara. From late July – early October the migration is predominantly in Kenya’s Masai Mara, however.
Green Season: April-May
The green season brings heavy rainfall and more so than in any other African country this can be disruptive due to poor infrastructure.
Advantages of visiting Tanzania in the green season
- This can be a great time for photographers and birders to travel.
- The landscape is lush and the birdlife is fantastic at this time of year.
- This is calving season so there are a lot of baby animals at this time of year.
- Rates are discounted so value for money is increased at this time of year.
- The rains usually only last a couple of hours so it doesn’t impact the whole day.
- You can expect more exclusive safaris as there are fewer tourists in the green season.
- The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater can be visited at any time and offer good wildlife viewing consistently, whatever the season.
Disadvantages of visiting Tanzania in the green season
- The rains here can affect the quality of a safari so we tend to warn people of this before they book.
- Roads are in poor condition.
- It is necessary to travel in 4WD vehicles as minibuses can get stuck in the mud.
- Animals are more difficult to spot, as there is a lot of water around so they aren’t all concentrated at the water sources.
- There is also higher grass for the animals to hide in.
Dry season: July to October
As the season name suggests, this is a dry time of year. These months offer the optimum weather conditions and excellent game viewing opportunities.
Benefits to visiting Tanzania in the dry season:
- The game viewing at this time of year is excellent due to lower grass levels and less sources of water.
- This time of year offers good conditions for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
- This is a good time to visit Zanzibar as rainfall is minimal and winds are mild.
- The Selous National Park, in southern Tanzania, offers great walking safaris at this time of year.
Downsides of visiting Tanzania in the dry season:
- This can be a busy time to visit, especially July to September when tourists are hoping to catch the wildebeest migration/river crossing.
- Prices are higher, as it’s peak season.
Shoulder season: November – March
Although this is not the optimum time of year for wildlife viewing, it can still be fruitful. The rains tend not to be disruptive and visitor numbers are fewer.
Benefits to visiting Tanzania in the shoulder season:
- January and February can be a good time to witness the calving season, which in turn brings about increased predator activity.
- The landscapes are green and lush.
- Rainfall is usually limited to the afternoons so they rarely impact negatively on a safari.
- Bird watching is still very good at this time of year.
- Rates are lower at this time of year.
- Visitor numbers are fewer at this time of year.
- The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater can be visited at any time and offer good wildlife viewing consistently, whatever the season.
Downsides of visiting Tanzania in the shoulder season:
- The weather can be unpredictable at this time of the year.
- The game viewing in the south and the west do not offer great wildlife viewing at this time of year.
Here is the “need to know” information about visas for Tanzania.
It is the personal responsibility of the passenger to make sure his or her passport is valid and contains the necessary visa and travel documents for his or her journey.
- A visa for Tanzania is required for Australian Passport Holders.
- The visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport or at border posts.
- Single Entry Visa: USD 50 per person on an Australian Passport (subject to change).
Please double check this with Bench Africa or your travel agent as this may change at any time
What you need to know about your finances for your holiday in Tanzania.
- The Tanzanian currency is decimalised with 100 cents to the Shilling.
- Hotel bills and extras have to be paid for in foreign currency.
- It is possible to change Tanzanian Shillings into US Dollars on departure from the country, and bank receipts are required for this.
- Please note the import and export of Tanzanian Shillings is not permitted.
- Barclay’s Bank in Tanzania has implemented a new policy where they will no longer accept US Dollar notes printed before 2000. Clients who carry US Dollar notes printed before 2000 will be compelled to accept a rate of exchange lower than normal.
Is Tanzania the right choice for you and your family? Here’s what you need to know about travelling with children.
- We would not recommend travelling to Tanzania with children under the age of 6 as it is not malaria-free.
- The dry season is better for travel with children as there are fewer mosquitos at this time of year. Having said this, precautions must still be taken to prevent malaria. Please speak to your doctor.
- Travel in the dry season is also a lot easier.
- Speak to our Africa experts about child rates. Most hotels and all national parks offer discounted entry and accommodation rates for children.
- Tanzania can be a good option for families as there is a nice balance of excellent quality beach and bush to keep children stimulated.
Although electricity in Africa is a lot more reliable than it used to be, here’s what you need to be aware of.
- In Tanzania the general voltage is 230 and the frequency is 50 Hz.
- The British three rectangular blade plugs are common.
- Some lodges and camps only have power in the early mornings and evenings.
- Batteries may be recharged in camps during the day but it is wise to double check with the camp manager.
- As the sockets can vary a ‘Travellers Adaptor Set’ is recommended.
- Voltage sometimes fluctuates and whilst power cuts are rare, they are not unknown. It is useful to carry a torch.
Travelling by road in Africa may seem daunting to some so we have put together some information so that you know what you can expect.
- Tanzania like most countries in Africa is a third world country. Therefore please be aware that the infrastructure in certain areas is not up to the standard you would find at home. Specifically some of the roads are often very rough and short journeys can take much longer than expected.
- Some days will be very long, bumpy and dusty due to the road conditions. In saying this though, the views and spectacular scenery encountered, usually makes the trip worthwhile.
- Rainfall can make some roads impassable so there are certain times of the year that we may advise against travelling to certain parts of Tanzania.
- Road travel in Africa can be a risky business. We cannot stress enough how important it is that you travel with a reputable ground operator, who has strictly enforced guidelines regarding speed and road safety. We have spent the best part of 50 years assessing the ground operators in each country that we sell. In booking through Bench you know that you will be the safest that you can be!
Here are our recommendations to thumb through either before you leave for your trip to Tanzania, or whilst on safari.
- The Africans - David Lamb
- The White Nile - Alan Moorehead
- Serengeti Shall Not Die - Bernard Grzimek
- The Remarkable Expedition - Olivia Manning
- The White Tribe of Africa - David Harrison
- 101 Things to Know When You Go on Safari in Africa – Patrick Brakspear
Tipping is a delicate and sensitive issue and many people ask us for tipping guidelines, here is all the information you should require.
Tipping is usually considered customary in Africa although not as widespread as the United States or Europe. It is always at your discretion. If you feel that someone has gone the extra mile to make your stay more enjoyable, a tip would be considered a nice way of saying thank you.
To help you budget for your trip, the following is given as a guideline only (shown in US Dollars):
Driver (per person per full day): $5.00
Guide (per person per full day): $5.00
Camp Staff (per person per full day): $5.00
Safari Guide/Driver (per person per full day): $10.00
Local Transfer/Tours (per person per activity): $3.00
Hotel Porter (per bag): $1.00
Restaurant (per person per meal): $1.00
A la Carte dining: 10% of the bill
Suggested tipping information for Mt Kilimanjaro climbs, in US Dollars.
Main guide (per person per day): $20.00 – $25.00
Assistant guide (per person per day): $15.00 – $20.00
Cook (per person per day): $12.00 – $15.00
Porter/Waiter (per person per day): $10.00
Here are some numbers you might need.
High Commission of the Republic of Kenya
Level 3 Manpower Building, 33/35 Ainslie Ave Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Tel: +61 2 6247 4788/4722/4688/4311
Australian High Commission in Kenya
Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road) Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 4277 100 or +254 20 4277 160
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Tanzania so we suggest you contact the Australian High Commission in Kenya or the High Commission of Canada to Tanzania.
There are some additional costs that you should be aware of.
Airport Safety Tax
All passengers departing Tanzania must pay an Airport Safety tax of US $9 per person. This must be paid in cash at the airport.
Infrastructure Tax and Levy (Zanzibar)
The Government of Zanzibar have announced a new infrastructure tax and levy which will affect all visitors to Zanzibar and is affective from 01 July 2015.
- Infrastructure Levy: US $1.00 per person per night to be paid direct by passenger at his / her hotel in Zanzibar.
- Infrastructure Tax: TZS 2000 (approx US $1.00) per person to be paid direct by passenger on departure at airports and seaports in Zanzibar to any destination within the United Republic of Tanzania.
Note: These taxes have to be collected at points of service including hotels, airports and seaports.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime, truly incredible achievement.
In order to make sure that you make the most out of your experience, we have put together a handy guide book to the epic Kili trek!
Here are some guidelines for travelling by light aircraft in Tanzania.
- Please ask the local operator at your hotel/lodge to reconfirm all onward flights prior to departure to ensure the flight timings are still correct.
- Most departure taxes (domestic and international) are included on tickets, however some regional and private airports have taxes to be paid for locally.
General Luggage & Weight Restrictions on Light Aircraft
- The maximum baggage allowance on the light aircraft utilized for transfers between game lodges is 15 kg per person in a soft bag. This includes photographic equipment and hand luggage.
- Only soft bags will be accepted – no wheels, frames or rigid structures can be transported, as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft.
At Bench Africa we carefully select the properties that we use, and one size certainly does not fit all. Here is a list of all the different types of accommodation awaiting you in Africa.
We recommend this for the more intrepid travellers who want to get their hands dirty! Guests will put up their own tents and may be required to help around the campsite. The basics are catered for, as well as two-man tents and sleeping mats and campsites preselected to stay at along the journey. The amenities at these campsites can vary quite drastically depending where you are in Africa and what you pay. For example in the Serengeti there is no running water at the campsites, however in other parts of Africa the campsite may have a swimming pool.
Fully Serviced Camping
For those that want to experience a traditional safari, under canvas but would still like the chance to relax and take time to enjoy their environment we would recommend fully serviced camping. On arrival the mobile camp is set up and ready to go. The tents are spacious and can be really quite luxurious, often with camp beds and en-suite bathrooms, as well as a full staff of chefs, waiters and other helping hands. Here you will have lighting, hot water and cold drinks but you still have that amazing feeling of being at one with nature!
Luxury Tented Camping
Luxury tented camps are a very popular choice on safari because these camps are very intimate, usually with no more than 20 tents on site. These luxury tents offer spacious rooms with electricity, proper beds, as well as en-suite bathrooms with running hot and cold water. The cuisine and service is of a very high standard and you will eat like a king, with 3 decadent meals a day, as well as snacks. All luxury tented camps offer an all-inclusive package to incorporate meals, local drinks and game viewing activities. At night you can still go to sleep, under canvas with the sounds of the African wilderness around you. This is how you do safari in style!
Safari Lodges vary considerably in size and architectural design but essentially these are much more permanent structures, often with many more rooms than luxury tented camps. They will often have a swimming pool and conferencing facilities. A lodge will celebrate the nature surrounding it and will usually blend in with its surrounds and built making natural, locally sourced materials.
This would commonly be the largest of all the accommodation types but again can vary quite dramatically in style, size and the amenities that it offers. There is typically a reception area, with rooms opening directly onto a hallway. They would be less exclusive that the aforementioned accommodation types, with restaurants and other facilities open to the public.
A boutique hotel is a 5-star establishment providing all the features and facilities of a standard hotel but is always unique and very stylish. These properties are usually smaller and more intimate than a hotel and offer a very high-end service.
Hotels, lodges and tented camps in Africa range from good tourist standard to award- winning deluxe properties. On occasions it may be necessary to change a hotel, lodge or camp due to various reasons, which would be out of the control of Bench Africa. In this situation we will make every effort to give you as much advance warning as possible. In the event of this happening we may not be able to send out up-to-date information on this substitute property.
For more information on the individual hotels, lodges or tented camps where you will be staying please refer to your itinerary or speak to one of our Africa experts.
What to Pack
What to Pack
Here we have listed our recommendations of what you should pack for your Africa travels.
- Formal clothing is generally not needed throughout most of Africa. We recommend that you limit your luggage to the basics. More formal attire is usually only required when staying in the more prestigious city hotel establishments and on luxury rail journeys such as Rovos Rail or the Blue Train, in South Africa.
- On a wildlife safari, casual cotton clothing is the most practical. Calm neutral colours such as tan or khaki are a good idea although a bush outfit is not essential. Some form of headgear is recommended, and sunglasses are essential. A warm fleece or jacket is advisable for colder evenings and early mornings. A lightweight raincoat may be useful as some seasonal rains can occur.
- Heavy footwear is not required, but sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or boots are recommended for nature walks, with a change of shoes (such as trainers) for the camp.
- The dress code is informal at all of the camps and it is advisable to bring long sleeved shirts and trousers for the evenings to minimise insect bites.
- Good laundry facilities are readily available at many hotels, game lodges and camps, and often on a complimentary service where the amount of luggage is restricted. However, on a busy itinerary it is advisable to check that your clothes will be ready before your departure. If your trip contains any light aircraft flights, then you may be subject to some very strict baggage restrictions. You will be limited to a certain weight, often between 15–20 KG. Bags also have to be soft-sided cases so that they can fit in the hold. These restrictions cannot be avoided, as there simply is not the capacity on these small planes so bear this in mind when you are packing for your Africa trip.
- It is always a good idea to dress in layers on activities to accommodate the early morning and late afternoon change of temperature. Winter months will definitely require a warm jacket and perhaps a beanie, gloves and a scarf.
- Hat for protection from the sun
- Good quality sunglasses preferably polarized
- Camera, charger and adaptor
- If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case of dust irritation.
- Good walking shoes, trainers as well as sandals
- Socks (long socks, if you are doing a gorilla trek)
- Long trousers/slacks
- T-shirts/long-sleeved cotton shirt for cooler evenings
- Sweater/fleece/raincoat. These may be required for early morning and late afternoon game activities throughout the year.
- Lip balm
- Sports bra – ladies, you may need this for bumpy game drive
- Swimming costume
- Basic medical kit (aspirins, elastoplasts, Imodium, antiseptic cream etc
- Malaria tablets AND anti-histamine cream
- Insect repellent (many lodges do supply sprays)
- Protective suntan lotion particularly for pale and sensitive skins
- Tissues or ‘wet wipes’
Food & Drink
Food & Drink
What you can expect from food and drink in Tanzania.
- Most lodges and safari camps have restaurants and licensed bars, and the food offered ranges from good basic meals to gourmet style. The standard of food in lodges and camps is generally very good.
- Bottled water is available in all tourist centres. It is advisable to drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day whilst on safari as dehydration can occur quickly, especially in the summer months.
- It is best to assume that water is NOT safe to drink unless it has been boiled. It is always wise to double check locally if in any doubt.
- Wine tends to be imported and may be expensive; however, local beer and local spirits are reasonably priced and easily available as are soft drinks (Pepsi, Coca Cola etc) and bottled water.
It is vital that you visit your doctor at least 6 weeks prior to travel.
- We are not health professionals and as such we recommend you speak to your GP or local Travel Doctor for up-to-date information and advice.
- Malaria: It is recommended that precautions against malaria be taken for travel to most regions in Tanzania. We suggest you contact your doctor for advice on which prophylactic is recommended.
Make sure that you are covered from the moment you place your booking with us!
Our Tips for Choosing Insurance
- We strongly recommend you take out Comprehensive Travel Insurance at the time of booking your trip.
- Note, it is essential that you are fully aware of the Terms and Conditions of your travel insurance policy therefore we recommend that you read your policy wording carefully and contact your insurer should you have any questions.
Here is some “need-to-know” information about taking photos in Africa.
- Photographing of airports, Government buildings, etc is prohibited.
- Some local people strongly object to photographs being taken without permission, but will sometimes agree upon payment of a small tip. Please check with your guide.
- Film and memory cards are generally available, but stocks can be limited and could be expensive, so we suggest you carry with you adequate supplies.
- Telephoto lenses for game viewing, lens hood and ultra violet filters will be useful – bring your dust cover.
- Batteries can be recharged at most lodges and hotels, but it is advisable to bring spares.7 Easy-to-Follow-Tips to take Mesmerising Wildlife Photos
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Although Africa is now safer to travel than it ever has been it is important to take note of the following information.
- Doors should be locked when driving after dark.
- Don’t walk alone at night in city streets, isolated beaches or remote areas.
- Travellers should not display unnecessary signs of wealth (e.g. mobile phones, money, and expensive jewellery) on the streets.
- Leave all your valuables including passports locked in the room safe where available.
Safety on Safari
- The wild animals are not like those found in theme parks – they aren’t tame.
- Most of the safari camps are unfenced and dangerous animals can (and do!) wander through the camps. Many of the animals and reptiles you will see are potentially dangerous. Attacks by wild animals are rare, however, there are no guarantees that such incidents will not occur. Bench Africa, our staff members, associates, agents, or their suppliers cannot be held liable for any injuries caused during an incident involving the behavior of wild animals.
- Please listen to the camp staff and guides. The safety precautions need to be taken seriously, and strictly adhered to.
- Do not go wandering off on your own without a guide – even to your rooms. After retiring to your rooms at night, do not leave them.
- Observe animals silently and with a minimum of disturbance to their natural activities. Loud talking on game drives can frighten the animals away.
- Never attempt to attract an animal’s attention. Do not imitate animal sounds, clap your hands, pound the vehicle or throw objects.
- Please respect your driver/guide’s judgment about proximity to lions, cheetahs and leopards. Don’t insist that he/she takes the vehicle closer so you can get a better photograph. A vehicle driven too close can hinder a hunt or cause animals to abandon a hard-earned meal.
- Litter tossed on the ground can choke or poison animals and birds and is unsightly.
- Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal on foot. This is especially important near lodges or in campsites where animals may have become accustomed to human visitors.
- Refrain from smoking on game drives. The dry African bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire can kill animals.
A little handy advice to get the best out of your shopping in Africa!
- There is an abundance of wonderful souvenirs and crafts to buy. Look for colourful materials, sisal bags, wood or stone carvings, unusual artwork, handcrafted jewellery, woven goods and attractive basketry are recommended.
- Bargaining is expected at markets and roadside stalls, but not in shops. The locals may start off with highly inflated “tourist prices” and you will need to bargain until you feel you are paying what the product is worth.
- Cash in local currency is accepted, as well as US Dollars, while credit cards may only be accepted in larger shops.
- Do not purchase ivory, rhino horn, animal furs/hides, tortoise shell, coral, game skin, trophies or elephant hair bracelets. These items are prohibited as hunting was banned in 1976.