Every trip requires some admin, but that admin doesn’t have to be a headache! We thought we’d put together all the commonly asked FAQs in a blog post. In this way you can have all your practical Tanzania questions answered in one place. You can then get on with the happy business of planning your activities and anticipating your Tanzania adventure!
We answer the following questions:
- How do I apply for my visa?
- What vaccinations do I need for Tanzania?
- What currency do they use in Tanzania?
- Where should I fly to in Tanzania?
- What is public transport like in Tanzania?
- Is it safe to travel in Tanzania?
- What languages do they speak in Tanzania?
- Any tips for using my gadgets in Tanzania?
- Follow Alice to Tanzania
How do I apply for my visa?
Purchasing your visa upon arrival is standard. The cost is $50 for foreigners, and $100 for US citizens. You’ll be given an entry form on the plane to fill in. When you land, an immigration officer will look over your passport and entry card, then ask about your accommodation and departure date, before sending you to the cashier’s window.
Once the cashier receives your passport and payment, you’ll be asked to wait in a designated area. After processing, they’ll call your name, return your passport (visa stamp in place), and provide you with a receipt. Your new tourist visa is good for one year, but you can only stay in the country for 90 days at a time.
For more information about your Tanzanian visa, please visit the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs website.
What vaccinations do I need for Tanzania?
There are no mandatory vaccinations for entering Tanzania. The only exception is proof of a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country with a known yellow fever epidemic.
That said, to ensure your health whilst travelling abroad you should have the following vaccinations: typhoid, TDP, varicella (unless you’ve had chicken pox), and Hepatitis A and B. If you’re an adventurous eater, you might want to add cholera to the list.
Malaria tablets are also needed, as Tanzania is in a malaria zone, as shown in the map below. Please order enough to be able to continue taking them seven days after returning home.
Finally, your doctor may recommend a rabies shot – a series of two doses over a four-week period – if you plan on caving or working with animals.
Insect repellent and sunscreen
Please bring enough insect repellent and sunscreen for the trip. You’re heading to a country just south of the Equator, and so it can get very hot. It’s not easy to find insect repellent and sunscreen in Tanzania and, when you do, they’re pricey.
Whilst on safari, you need to protect yourself from tsetse flies. These flies can transmit African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. It’s best to wear light-colour clothing; tsetse flies are attracted to dark colours, especially shades of blue. Unfortunately products containing DEET usually don’t discourage tsetse flies from biting, so try to find a natural insect repellent containing eucalyptus oil.
What currency do they use in Tanzania?
The official currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling (TSh). It’s illegal to purchase Tanzanian shillings outside of the country. Most tourist areas accept US dollars as payment (in fact, dollars are sometimes even preferred over the local currency). But please ensure your US dollars were issued after 2006, otherwise they won’t be accepted.
In 2021, €1 equates to roughly 2,750 TSh, and $1 is roughly 2,320 TSh.
There are ATMs in most major cities, but these can sometimes be unreliable.
If you want to exchange any Tanzanian shillings back into dollars at the end of your trip, this will need to be done before you leave the country.
Tipping in Tanzania
Finally, please remember to bring cash along with you to tip when climbing Kilimanjaro or going on safari. Tipping on Kilimanjaro is expected, and so you should factor this into your budget before departing. It’s also customary to tip your safari guide.
Where should I fly to in Tanzania?
The three international airports in Tanzania are in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar.
Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam
This airport is on the east coast. It’s the biggest airport and you may need to fly here and then catch a connection to one of the smaller ones. This airport makes the most sense if you’re heading to west, central or southern Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha
JRO is just outside of Arusha, the main city of northern Tanzania. This is the ideal airport if you’re heading on a Northern Circuit safari or a Kilimanjaro climb. As you can see in the map below, it’s very close to Moshi, the closest town to Kilimanjaro National Park. It’s also the closest airport to the large game reserves like Serengeti.
Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume Airport (ZNZ) in Zanzibar
If you’re heading to the Zanzibar archipelago, then you want to fly into ZNZ on Unguja Island. Zanzibar is famous for its beautiful, warm-water beaches, unique cultural history, beautiful game parks and wildlife, and water sport opportunities. We find that many like to fly there from Kilimanjaro International Airport after having completed a Kili climb in order to relax and unwind after their epic trek.
Fly into Kenya and drive south
Note that you could also choose to fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya, and then drive southwards for 800 km to reach the Tanzania border. This works well for those wanting to visit both Kenya and Tanzania. If visiting more than one nation in the region, you’ll want to obtain an East African visa over just a Tanzanian visa.
What is public transport like in Tanzania?
There are a number of ways to get around town in Tanzania. The primary ways of navigating the cities are:
- dala-dala (small local bus)
- boda-boda (motorcycle taxi)
The dala-dala is the least expensive way to travel around town – it will cost you around 500 TSh ($0.22). But be aware that you may be sharing the ride with non-caged live chickens under the backseat. It’s also important to make sure you have the exact amount, or give a small bill, as you likely won’t get change. Hiring a tuk-tuk or boda-boda will cost you about 4,000 TSh ($1.70) for the same distance as the dala-dala.
Travelling by bus throughout the country is not scary and it’s a fantastic way to see the countryside. It’s an 11-hour road trip from Dar es Salaam, the capital city, to Arusha in the north. This includes a 30-minute lunch stop. The cost is a mere 36,000 TSh ($15.50).
Is it safe to travel in Tanzania?
Overall, Tanzania is a safe, hassle-free country. That said, you should, of course, take the usual precautions. We’re talking avoiding isolated areas, like empty stretches of beach. If you plan to go strolling along the beachfront, away from security, leave your valuables, money and cellphone in your hotel room. To capture the stunning views, bring along a cheap camera. That way, if something happens to it, you aren’t devastated by the loss.
Be wary of ‘flycatchers’
Also watch out for the ‘flycatchers’. These are men that act like they’re your new best friend, ready to save the day. The flycatcher’s goal is to bring you to excursion companies, so that hopefully they’ll be hired permanently by the company (and maybe receive a tip from you too).
These men usually operate in a group. If you say no, they will follow you. When they see another opportunity, a partner will approach you. Of course there are honest and dishonest flycatchers, and it’s difficult to know which is which, especially as a foreigner. If you’re travelling with a tour guide, you can just defer to them, and they’ll look after you.
Dress and behave appropriately for Tanzania
Other considerations should be public display of affection and suitable clothing. If you’re coming with your significant other, please be aware that public display of affection is not acceptable outside of the hotel; homosexuality is illegal and is punishable by a harsh prison sentence.
Women should avoid wearing above-the-knee shorts and shirts that display the collarbone and shoulders in public, unless you’re on Zanzibar or at a private beach. The exception to this rule is on safari and trekking Mt Kilimanjaro, where it’s acceptable.
Respecting the local culture makes you a thoughtful traveller.
Safety on Kilimanjaro
The latest info
What languages do they speak in Tanzania?
There are over 120 languages spoken throughout Tanzania. After the country gained independence in 1961, the Government decided that an official language must be chosen in order to strengthen national unity. They chose Swahili, a language spoken throughout eastern Africa as well as parts of central Africa.
Swahili can be picked up pretty easily. Each letter in a word is pronounced. Note that e sounds like “ah”, and i sounds like “e”. Here are some helpful Swahili phrases. Get practising!
|How much?||Bei gani?|
|Take me to …||Nipeleke …|
|Thanks very much.||Asante sana.|
|Have a nice day||Siku njema|
Any tips for using my gadgets in Tanzania?
A couple of quick tips on using your smartphone and camera in Tanzania …
Using your mobile phone
You won’t find an official store to purchase your mobile service. Instead, there are makeshift stands. The individual you purchase from will ask to see your identification; they’ll then take a photo of it on their phone and send it to the company. You then wait to receive an approval text.
Airtel and Vodacom are two popular mobile phone companies that have reliable service throughout the country. To give you an idea of price, an Airtel SIM card with 12 GB on the 4G network for 30 days cost 40,000 TSh in 2019.
Be wary of prohibited photography
Tanzania has many fantastic photo opportunities, but you’re strictly prohibited from shooting snaps of military installations and personnel, hospitals, schools, bridges, industrial sites, and airports. Before you click, ensure there’s nothing in the photograph that could get you into trouble with the authorities.
Also, when travelling remotely, please be sensitive to the people and their culture. The most remote of the Maasai communities in the north, for instance, aren’t familiar with photos and you should always request permission before taking a photo of them.
Follow Alice to Tanzania
There are lots of tour operators organising trips to Tanzania. It can be hard to choose who to go with! We can assure you that when following Alice to Tanzania, you’re travelling with friends. You’re also travelling with a partner who cares about Tanzania and its people. We partner with local Tanzanian entrepreneurs, and work hard to offer authentic adventures that benefit the local communities and economy. Whether you’re interested in climbing Kilimanjaro, going on safari in one of the many beautiful national parks, or snorkelling in Zanzibar, we’ve got you covered.
“I followed Alice to Kilimanjaro and it was an absolutely amazing experience. On the mountain we were guided by Chris and his outstanding crew. They made it possible that all of us were able to summit due to their great support carrying our bags, preparing the camp, motivating us and pushing us forward. I’m happy I did the trip with Follow Alice and would do it again right away!” Seraina