Climate and Best Times to Go
The best time to go to Tanzania depends on what you are wanting to do. Here you’ll find more information.
Tanzania has a population of around 55 million and over 100 ethnic groups. Most people live either along the northern border or the east coast, and approximately 70% are rural and this number is falling.
Capital and Government
Tanzania is a multiparty democratic republic and the capital is Dodoma. Zanzibar is semi-autonomous and has a parliament and president.
Credit cards, Visa, MasterCard being preferred, are accepted at top end shops and hotels, albeit with large commission charges, but cards are rarely accepted in other establishments and outside main tourist areas. The acceptance of Travellers cheques is on the decline and we do not recommend their use in Tanzania. There are ATMs in most towns and cities and at major airports. Sterling and Euros can be changed at banks and bureaux de change, but US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency. You’ll find that tipping your main safari guide and even at most lodges is fine in US dollars (so take plenty smaller notes).
Language and Religion
Kiswahili and English are the official languages. Roughly 45% of Tanzanians are Christian and almost 40% are Muslim, many of whom live on the coast and islands. Sikhs, Hindus and traditional religions make up the remainder.
Area and Geography
The country covers just over 945,000 square kilometres. Tanzania is in eastern Africa, bordered by Kenya and Uganda in the north, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique in the south and the Indian Ocean in the east. There are 2 main safari circuits: the northern circuit which includes the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Highlands, Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks, and the southern circuit comprising Selous, Ruaha, Mahale and Katavi. There are plenty of coastal resorts plus islands including Zanzibar, Mafia and Pemba offering rest and relaxation.
The international telephone code to call Tanzania is +255, and the outgoing code is 000. Mobile phone coverage is good in towns and main tourist centres, but in the national parks and reserves it can be patchy or non-existent. Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies.
Food and Drink
Traditional food is generally a meat stew accompanied by a ugali (boiled maize porridge), rice or plantains. You won’t often be offered such traditional fare, instead being given more standard international cuisine. Its rare that travellers don’t find anything they would love to eat on safari or at beach resorts, but always let us know if you have any particular requests or requirements. Serious food allergies should be brought to our attention before booking, as we cannot always guarantee meals being free of whatever you’re allergic to. Peanut allergies are particularly difficult to deal with in Africa.
Seafood is plentiful by the coast and on the islands. Many towns and cities have restaurants providing a choice of cuisines. Fresh fruits are common, as is fruit juice, alongside the usual carbonated soft drinks. Hot drinks include different types of teas, and coffee. There are several locally brewed beers. In Muslim areas alcohol is not available in some hotels and restaurants.
Major tourist centres such as Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Stone Town on Zanzibar have plenty of souvenir shops and markets where you can buy locally made craft and artwork. Some camps and lodges have small gift shops selling hand carved goods, Tingatinga style paintings, jewellery and kikois (sarongs). On Zanzibar ornately decorated tiles, antique ornaments and carved chests are popular.
Facts and Information
Time: GMT +3 hours
Flight time: Flights from UK to Tanzania take about 9 hours direct or 10-11 with a brief stopover en route if from Europe.
Language: Kiswahili and English are Tanzania’s official languages. Although most people in the cities speak some English, a few phrases of Kiswahili are useful in more rural areas.
Visas: Most nationalities require a Tanzania visa, obtainable from the High Commission in London (or on arrival into International Airport.
Health: Most nationalities require a Tanzania visa, obtainable from the High Commission in London (or on arrival into International Airport.