It can be quite tricky to plan a Tanzanian adventure and make the best out of your travel. With so much to see and do, you may be exhausted with too many details. Here a few important things you need to know before backpacking to Tanzania.
Pack your luggage using soft-sided bags – they are much easier to store and load. Any critical items such as your travel documents, money, medications and other important items should be packed in your carry-on bag.
Essential things to pack for a Tanzania travel include: toilet paper, sanitary products, moisturiser, hand sanitizer, lip balm, wet wipes, small change, eye drops, power bank, insect repellent, sunglasses, water, food, scarf, medication, backpack, warm sweater or light fleece, windbreaker or waterproof jacket, walking shoes or boots, long sleeve dress, shirt and trousers, hat, sunscreen, camera, binoculars, batteries and/or charger for your camera, flashlight or headlamp and a first aid kit.
Exploring Tanzania to its fullest may take more than two weeks. If your travel plans don’t extend that long, the top 3 places that you shouldn’t miss when in Tanzania includes Mount Kilimanjaro, the largest freestanding volcanic mass in the world and the tallest mountain in Africa; Serengeti National Park which hosts the Great Migration – the largest mammal migration in the world and Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest lake at 660km.
Swahili and English are the two official languages in Tanzania. Although English is widely spoken, you may wish to bring along a Swahili to English phrasebook to give you access to the basics. Learning a few local words is invaluable.
There is no dress code for safari but it is advised that you wear inconspicuous clothes in neutral colours. Tanzania is a conservative country, so don’t dress provocatively. Majority of the beaches in Tanzania and other Islands do not allow for topless bathing. It is advisable to bring appropriate swimwear choices and semi-formal clothing for romantic evening dinners on the beach.
Hotels and restaurants provide both intercontinental and local cuisines. Traditional Tanzanian food features plenty of meat, rice, and vegetables. For the most part, food in Tanzania is perfectly safe to eat. Except you are using the tap water to shower or wash your hands, do not drink it. To avoid health problems, use only bottled or filtered water for drinking.
Though the official Tanzanian currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, the US Dollar is widely used, but may not be accepted in some establishments. You can get dollars from some ATM’s or change local currency for dollars. It’s good to have enough dollars for your visas and a few spare. Dollars should also be the newest ones you can find, ideally post 2013. There is a wider acceptance for Visa than Mastercard. Don’t just rely on that, it is generally better to carry cash. Traveller’s cheques are not accepted anywhere in Tanzania.
Tanzania is one of the safest countries in East Africa, but you never can be too careful when you’re on the road. Although the safari areas are generally very safe, it is advisable that you listen closely to your guide’s advice at all times. Before departing for your trip, get vaccinated against typhoid, hepatitis A & B, meningitis and rabies in addition to MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox, polio, and flu shot. There are nurses and doctors in Tanzania are highly qualified, especially in cities such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam.
The international code for calling Tanzania is +255. Almost all campsites and lodges in Tanzania offer phone and internet services. Mobile network coverage for both data and phone calls is quite good across Tanzania. You should still be able to access your phone while on safari, although some areas of the national parks do not receive coverage.
In Busy Season, Book Ahead
Depending on the season, there are some places that need to be booked in advance. In high season, the really popular places can book out so it’s good to book even if it’s just a day or two ahead.
Entering Tanzania requires both a valid passport and a Tanzanian visa. It is advisable to always check ahead to ensure visa processes or charges have not changed. Visas are available upon arrival in Tanzania, whether you’re landing at the airport or are making a border crossing. You should always keep copies of your travel documents with you while in Tanzania either in your checked luggage, hand luggage or digital copies on your smartphone.
You need to prepare yourself physically and psychologically for Tanzania travel. Tanzania will wear you down and break your heart, but it will also uplift your soul, open your mind and help you to discover who you truly are.