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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

A perfect guide to plan a trip to Tanzania on your own - everything you need to know

Perhaps often a little underestimated by tourists who opt for other destinations on the African continent, Tanzania is actually a wonderful place. Nature, animals and adventure, but also heavenly beaches and seas, fascinating cultures and an infinite variety of possibilities. I think that Tanzania has something for everyone, whatever type of trip you love, here you will find what you are looking for. From authentic villages and towns, where you can really discover the real Africa and everyday life, the tribes locals, the Masai, the large parks with majestic animals and the Big Five, but also the most beautiful hikes on Kilimanjaro and the dreamy beaches on the coast and the Zanzibar archipelago. The colours, the scents, the cuisine, the traditions and the warmth of the people…it is simply a destination not to be missed, but perhaps I am biased! For me Tanzania is now home: she welcomed me with open arms and taught me another side of life, another way of seeing things, and for this I will be forever grateful.

This is why for me it is an honor as well as a pleasure to tell you about Tanzania hoping to make you want to discover it and explore it!


Budget for a trip to Tanzania

The first myth to dispel is that traveling to Africa is NOT cheap.

Dear friends, sorry to tell you that Africa is a destination for rich people: I know it may seem like a huge contradiction because one thinks that being a third-world country everything should be cheap. Actually, Africa costs so much: everywhere and for everything there is a price for locals and one for white foreigners and Tanzania is no exception .. as far as Zanzibar is concerned, the island on the coast is a bit of a matter in itself: being very touristy and especially popular with Italian tourism, it can be reached and feasible with a fairly contained budget and I would say even more defined.

Therefore, in this small chapter, when I speak of Tanzania I am referring to the continent, we leave the archipelago of Zanzibar for the end as it deserves a separate discussion.

READ ALSO: Travel to Zanzibar, the island of colors and spices We just said that traveling to Tanzania is very expensive: let's see how.

Life in and of itself is actually quite cheap: shopping, going to the market, taking a taxi or bus, going to local restaurants are all incredibly cheap activities. To give you an idea of ​​the cost of living (again considering the prices for white foreigners - Muzungu) in Mwanza, where we stayed, fruit and vegetables at the market cost specifically:

  • a mango 2000 TZS (75 cents of €)

  • a dozen small onions 500 TZS (20 cents of €)

  • 4 aubergines 500 TZS (20 cents of €)

  • large pineapple 1500 TZS (60 cents of €)

  • 10 small bananas 1000 TZS (40 cents of €)

  • 1 small watermelon 500 TZS (20 cents of €)

If these are the prices of food and living in Tanzania then why did I just say that traveling here is expensive? Simply because that's all that is directed at whites and foreigners. Flights to Tanzania are expensive, the prices of the safaris are around 300 $ per person per night (in tents) - if we consider staying in a resort inside the parks the prices triple) - and even the excursions to Kilimanjaro are not they are certainly cheap. Everything that is tourist in Tanzania is extremely expensive, with the exception of Zanzibar which is more affordable for everyone but it goes without saying that it is also much more touristy. I struggle to give you an exact estimate of our budget for this trip because we were very lucky to have the opportunity to explore and get to know these lands from a privileged position: we lived in Mwanza, on Lake Victoria, for a month thanks to a mission of volunteering in the hospital, so having the base there we then moved on the weekends free from work.

However, let me give you some suggestions to optimize costs if you intend to discover this magical country:

  • Plan your trip on your own without relying on tourist agencies: you can do it and you will save a lot as well, in our opinion, you will be able to explore the real Tanzania and not the one proposed on the glossy pages of travel magazines;

  • Choose periods outside those in full high season: avoiding the months of heavy rains you will still be able to carve out a couple of less touristy periods in which prices are slightly lower;

  • Once you go, if you can, do everything you can to optimize the trip and the transfer;

  • Choose to always pay in local currency as it is much cheaper than home-made conversions in dollars or euros;

  • Plan excursions and activities with local agencies and guides;

  • If you go on a Safari, choose to travel with other people and maybe, if you feel like it, choose to sleep in a tent - it's much cheaper and in my opinion also suggestive;

  • Eat local food, try the markets, the Tanzanian street food and their restaurants: with simple precautions their food is safe for western intestines and in addition to giving you a better idea of ​​what the real Tanzanian culinary culture is, it will also allow you to save money very, very much.

As I said before, Zanzibar is a different matter: there are many direct flights from Europe to Zanzibar and many resorts ready to welcome the myriad of tourists who flock to the island every year. For some things, this island is cheaper than mainland Tanzania, for others much more expensive as in the case of Taxis or markets. But in general, for a tourist, visiting Zanzibar is more accessible.

Here are some ways to save money:

  • Avoid the big all-inclusive resorts and choose cheaper and often quieter accommodations;

  • Dine in the various restaurants outside the resorts;

  • Combine a trip to Zanzibar with a visit to mainland Tanzania and optimize your trip.

Considering all this, I share a little of what we spent to give you a minimum of idea: To get an idea of ​​the prices:

  • Flight ∓ €1100 return

  • Visa + Health Insurance €200

  • 3 nights accommodation in Zanzibar ∓ 50€ each

  • Safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro of 2 nights and 3 days $ 600 each

  • Taxi €1-2 each way

  • Meals - 5-8€ in typical places inland, ∓ 15€ in Zanzibar


Currency in Tanzania

The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling but US Dollars are also accepted. 1 Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) = 0.00038 € = 0.00042 $ I strongly suggest you use Shillings because it is much cheaper considering that the highest banknote in existence is 10,000 TZS or €3.85 or $4.24, just to give you an idea of ​​how little life can cost. To change money, bring Euros or Dollars, they will change them without commission: use only authorized exchange offices and banks Useful tips:

  • Bring your credit card to withdraw money: you will find automatic teller machines (ATMs) near banks and the main circuits are accepted (Mastercard, Visa, Maestro, etc) Don't forget to activate the "MONDO" option on your card before leaving, to be able to withdraw cash abroad. This operation can now be done comfortably from your Home Banking app, but if you have problems, check directly with your bank before leaving.

  • Don't rely too much on credit card payments: always have cash on hand even when it comes to paying for expensive things like Safaris. You can pay by card in almost all the hotels (not in the guest houses) and in the more touristic restaurants, but in the markets, in the local shops and restaurants and to pay for taxis credit cards do not exist.

So, if you are wondering how much money to leave home with, it depends a bit on the type of trip you intend to do and what you will book from home. We had $250 each and that would have been enough if it hadn't been for the Safari that we couldn't pay by card. At worst you can easily withdraw: obviously, try to do this operation only once as commissions of around € 4 are still applied.


Visa for Tanzania

To enter Tanzania you need to pay and show a visa whether you are in the country for tourism or business purposes.

The cost of the visa is $50 (tourist) and is valid for 90 days. The visa must be requested at least 10 days before the departure date only in the following ways: 1) Procedure in English https://visa.immigration.go.tz/

2) In case of last-minute departures (less than 10 days notice) the visa can be requested upon landing, under the sole and exclusive responsibility of the traveler for obtaining the permit to enter the country. If you have a tourist visa, it is absolutely forbidden to carry out any work activity (including volunteering): there are frequent cases of arrest and fines against compatriots caught by the police in possession of visas that do not allow the performance of work or commercial activities, also voluntary.

3) If you are not very familiar with all this documentation and bureaucracy, my advice is to entrust yourself to an agency that takes care of the visa procedure for you. iVisa.com provides online travel documents such as visas for entry to countries around the world including Tanzania (as well as health declaration forms, embassy documents, passport photos, passport renewals, tourist cards, etc..). The site is safe and secure, the service fast and efficient, and the team is experienced and available 24 hours a day for any need. Relying on iVisa.com will allow you to concentrate totally on your trip without wasting time and struggling with bureaucracy, as well as allowing you to leave with peace of mind that there will be no hitches once you reach your destination. Click here to directly access the page for requesting visas and travel documents. ! Please always check that you are in possession of a valid and unexpired passport and that it has at least 6 months of residual validity. It is also important to know that it is mandatory to stipulate, before departure, both for Tanzania and for Zanzibar, an "International Health Insurance Certification", which provides for the coverage of medical expenses and any air ambulance repatriation (or transfer to another country ) of the patient.


Health insurance for a trip to Tanzania

We have therefore just said that to enter Tanzania it is mandatory to have health insurance .. actually, no one checks this at the airport but I strongly advise you to do it anyway, especially if you are traveling to the continent and not to Zanzibar. I happened to be sick, very sick, and I was so close to needing a hospital: I can guarantee you that in these cases you will be very grateful to have insurance coverage that allows you to access a private hospital. Given the historical period, I strongly recommend coverage that also includes a possible Covid-19 disease and a certificate certifying the completion of the vaccination cycle. If once you travel you should have problems of any kind, the reference for anything in Tanzania is your local embassy.


Flights to Tanzania

Flying to Tanzania can be more or less easy depending on what your final destination is as there are only 3 international airports:

  • Dar Es Salaam;

  • Zanzibar;

  • Kilimanjaro (Arusha).

If your destination is near one of these airports (for Safaris the destination airport is Kilimanjaro) then you won't have any problems, if like us you need to reach more distant places, as in our case Mwanza, then you will also need to take of internal flights. The most important thing is to evaluate all the options available and for this, I always recommend you use Skyscanner.

I leave you a couple of tips to make the most of this search engine for flights:

  • do not trust the price that appears initially but keep going with your research on the various sites that Skyscanner offers you and compare the real price, which is often much less cheap;

  • always do your research in private mode so as not to inflate the prices with your various searches;

  • do not choose based only on the price but also consider stopovers and the overall duration of the flight.

Keep in mind that the prices for these destinations are quite expensive, usually with the exception of Zanzibar which is usually very well served and also low-cost companies such as Neos. We chose to fly with Qatar Airways and we had a great time! New aircraft, comfortable and with excellent service both on board and in the airport, plus Doha airport is huge and simply spectacular.. the stopover here was also too short, I hope to go back soon and explore it more calmly. As already mentioned in the Budget section, the flight cost us 1090€ each: quite a lot but when we booked, i.e. in February, leaving in March (we were very late due to work delay) this was the cheapest option. On each flight, we were served at least one meal (we also ate well and there is also the chance of choosing vegetarian, vegan, etc.) and the tickets included two hold bags weighing 23kg each. We had a great time and we didn't have any problems: I suggest you, once booked, download the app for your phone which will allow you to quickly check in, get your boarding passes and monitor the status of your flight, as well as seeing the departure gate of the various flights in advance. During check-in, it is possible that for some routes they do not issue boarding passes and that they will deliver them to you when you drop off your hold luggage, don't worry! Before leaving, check the section on the official website of the airline Travel Requirements the necessary documentation for the trip.


Flights to Zanzibar

During our stay in Mwanza, we spent a weekend in Zanzibar which we reached by taking internal flights from Mwanza.

We booked online a couple of weeks before departure using the company Air Tanzania.

The journey was a bit long as there is no direct flight from Mwanza - Zanzibar and we had to make a stopover in Dar Es Salaam (the capital) paying €199 each with 23 kg luggage included. Friday afternoon MWN - DAR (1h45min), DAR - ZNZ (30min) Monday evening ZNZ - DAR (30min), DAR - MWZ (1h30min)


How to get around in Tanzania

If you are planning your do-it-yourself trip to Tanzania, I'll tell you right away that it's not that simple. The options are few and not suitable for tourists; if you have in mind a trip that includes several destinations, the best solution is to take internal flights. It is not a cheap option but it is the easiest to plan, but also is the safest and most reliable. The best companies are Precision Air and Air Tanzania.

The railway line in Tanzania is so bad, as well as the buses are slow and very unpredictable. As far as traveling over short distances, taxis are the best solution.

app Bolt

To move around cities and surroundings, I recommend downloading the app Bolt to book taxis and drivers. It is an app that many already know as it is also used for delivery. Through this very convenient and easy-to-use app, you can book rides both by taxi and on board the tuc-tuc (also on a motorcycle if you want, but I strongly suggest you don't): both methods are cheap and relatively safe (the risk of accidents exists… let's just say Tanzanians have pretty reckless driving). Tuc-Tucs are typical African 3-wheeled vehicles: I had met them both in Kenya and in Nosy Be and they are quite fun and characteristic. In both cases, the payment methods are either in cash or by credit card if you enter it in the app. Prices are really convenient and much lower than taxis or tuc-tucs stopped on the street. To give you an idea of ​​the costs for a ride of about 15 minutes.. we paid 5,500 TSZ (about €2.10) Using it is very simple: you set the place of departure and destination, and in a few minutes they came to pick us up and take us to their disposal: the drivers are all very serious and reliable, so don't worry. Prices are definitely much cheaper than the taxis you'll find around the streets.


Weather in Tanzania

In Tanzania the climate is typically tropical, with temperatures ranging between 20°C and 32°C, but which can however vary considerably according to the altitude, passing from a humid heat along the coasts, with an average between 26 and 28°C, to a dry heat in the hinterland with a lower average, especially at high altitudes (on the crests of the Ngorongoro crater and on Kilimanjaro where the temperature can even reach freezing). The key thing to know if you want to travel to this area is the alternation of wet and dry seasons. There are two rainy seasons: the big one, from March to June, and a small one in November and December. To make things easier for you:

  • from January to March: average temperature between 26°C and 30°C, it is the best time to see the migration in the Serengeti National Park;

  • the period between March and May is long rainy season: it hardly rains all day long, but the roads are filled with mud and the safaris are more complicated and tiring, and require rain gear;

  • June: the rains end and leave the air clear and cool in the evening and warm during the day. It's the green season, with the land starting to dry out and bloom. One can witness the migration of the wildebeests, who keep moving towards the North;

  • from July to September: in Tanzania it is winter, but the temperatures, for us, are spring-like and hover around 24°C. This is a great time for safaris and seaside stays;

  • from October to December is the period of small rains. In many areas, especially starting from November, temperatures tend to increase even if they are mitigated by the arrival of perturbations. This is a great time for Serengeti safaris and beach holidays, and also December, with its hot, dry weather, is the ideal month to climb Kilimanjaro.

Time Zone

The time zone is East African GMT/UTC




Packing for Tanzania

Packing your suitcase for these hot and tropical destinations is quite simple but some tricks can greatly facilitate your trip:

  • Choosing a good suitcase: as regards the choice of your luggage, I generally always strongly recommend a bag over a trolley suitcase. Specifically, we use the Duffel Base Camp Large from 91 litres. The options for this type of bag are many, you will also find a M version (71 litres) (140€) or even some more spacious ones. The bag is very spacious, ideal for trips from 1 week to 1 month: it is ideal for frequent trips as it also has shoulder straps to carry it as a backpack. This time we left with two suitcases full each: the Duffel North Face with our clothes and a giant trolley full of clothes and toys to leave there. In this way, on the way back, folded the Duffel inside the trolley, we had only one suitcase each.

  • Bring good hand luggage that can contain everything you need for the plane trip but also for a few day excursions: we have been using the model for years Borealis Classic - North Face, now a faithful and irreplaceable travel companion. It has lots of very useful pockets and compartments, two external bottle holders and straps to fasten it to the waist and chest that allow you to keep it comfortably on your shoulder without getting tired. It is also perfect for trekking and for staying out for up to 3 days.

  • Always keep an eye on your bag location at any time with the Apple AirTag. It is a device the size of a coin to be inserted inside the suitcase and to be connected with the Where is app on the iPhone, which allows you to track your suitcase in real-time, anywhere. Actually, it can also be used for keys, a wallet or a bag in everyday life. The price of an AirTag is €28 and you can easily insert it into a keychain by hooking it inside the bag.

  • To limit the use of plastic bottles, don't forget to bring your personal steel bottle. We use the Sparrow 1l thermal steel model: both Enrico and I have one and of all the various brands and types we tried, this is undoubtedly the best.

  • Be sure to bring adapters for electrical outlets: in Tanzania and Zanzibar they are type G.

  • Bringing a good insecticide for environment can be an excellent idea: (platelets, sprays, plug devices) to free the room from insects or prevent mosquitoes from entering;

  • Whatever time of year you are planning your trip to Tanzania (rainy season or dry period) and whether the sky is clear, cloudy or it is raining, do not forget to put on some sunscreen. Whether you want to explore mainland Tanzania or Zanzibar, sunscreen is a must; if your trip also includes a seaside half then always check that they do not contain oxybenzone, responsible for coral bleaching and damage to coral reefs and that they are therefore REEF FRIENDLY certified. I use the Hawaiian Tropic Aloha Care line in the body and face versions, both with SPF30.

  • The essentials for a trip to Tanzania - general: sunglasses, hat, light and breathable clothing (preferably in cotton and linen - given the humidity rate, items in synthetic materials will make you sweat twice as much) preferably in light colors and opaque both as a very conservative country but also to protect yourself from mosquito bites;

  • Essential items for a trip to Zanzibar: swimsuit, slippers, rock shoes, a waterproof case for your iPhone or smartphone. To learn more about what to pack for Zanzibar then READ ALSO: Travel to Zanzibar, the island of colors and spices

  • Essential items for a Safari in Tanzania: Safari hat, binoculars (small and compact), lip balm with SPF (the best in my opinion is the Connettivina one), power bank for your mobile phone, clothes - preferably in camouflage colors, such as khaki, dark green, cream - and a sweatshirt/jacket for the evening. To learn more about what to pack for a Safari then READ ALSO: Safari in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania

  • Stock up on medicines just in case, and don't forget a good mosquito repellent.

Essential medications for a trip to Tanzania

A good suitcase for Tanzania can only include a decent supply of medications that take into account any eventuality, especially gastro-intestinal disorders which are commonplace. Personally, after so many trips of this type and some unpleasant experiences (of which the most recent was in Tanzania), I have my personal list of essential medicines.

  • Paracetamol 1000mg

  • Aspirin

  • Antihistamines

  • Steroids

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics - Amoxicillin in general is a good one

  • Rifaximin (intestinal disinfectant)

  • Antidiarrheals and antinausea

  • Antacid

  • Mineral supplements - eg: Polase

  • Plasters and disinfectant spray

  • Thermometer

10 days before departure and for the entire duration of the trip, we took a beta-carotene supplement to prepare the skin for the sun, making it less susceptible to sunburn and prolonging the tan. An excellent mosquito repellent is also FUNDAMENTAL and indispensable (check that it contains at least 50% DEET insect repellent), to be used at all hours of the day to protect as much as possible from dengue fever, endemic throughout Tanzania. I usually use the Jungle Formula Molto Forte Spray, recommended in areas with a high risk of malaria and other insect-borne diseases such as Dengue. Furthermore, for this type of travel, I suggest you take prophylaxis with lactic ferments before leaving and for the entire duration of the stay in order to strengthen the intestine and prevent intestinal disorders - lately, I always use Enterogermina Viaggi.


Vaccinations for a trip to Tanzania

Actually, there are no mandatory vaccinations for traveling to Tanzania but there are some that are strongly recommended and at total personal discretion. I strongly suggest you get the vaccination against HAV, HBV, typhoid and, if necessary, also to check that you are up to date with your anti-tetanus. Before departure, I recommend a visit to your local international vaccination clinic to evaluate together with the competent physicians which vaccinations to get or not.

Antimalarial prophylaxis

Even if antimalarial prophylaxis is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended especially for mainland Tanzania as malaria is endemic in this area. There is no antimalarial drug that gives absolute certainty of not being infected, but regular intake allows you to prevent at least serious complications. The drugs mainly used for the prophylaxis of malaria are:

  • Mefloquine (Lariam)

In Italy, we have Lariam, a drug in tablet form that should be taken (preventively) once a week starting the first dose 10 days before departure and the second dose 3 days before departure and continuing up to 4 weeks after return. Before leaving for this trip, I did various research on this drug as it was the first time I was taking antimalarial prophylaxis and I read and heard many negative reviews and practically all of them advised me against it due to its frequent side effects which mainly affect the neurological and emotional sphere such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, ..

However, I wanted to give it a try as it is the drug of choice for this area and it is very cheap in Italy.

I was very anxious but actually, apart from a slight and passing stomachache after the first intake (which I have always controlled effectively with a gastric protector the day itself and the day after the intake), both Enrico and I did not experience any type of side effect.

  • Atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone)

Malarone is the best known tablet drug for malaria prophylaxis and for adults it should be taken one tablet a day, starting 1-2 days before entering the risk area and continuing for a week after returning from the trip. Unlike Lariam, it has a very high cost in Italy (and this becomes a problem in case of long journeys) as a pack of 12 tablets costs €68.80. If we had chosen this option for our 30-day trip, considering the week after the return, we would have had to buy 3 and a half boxes each, spending around €200 each. Side effects of Malarone are more specific to the gastrointestinal tract with frequent abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

☞ When choosing the drug, also bear in mind that Tanzania is among the countries classified by the WHO (on the basis of the risk and response to the various drugs available) in Band C - in which the risk is high and the therapy of choice is mefloquine. However, both drugs have many interactions and contraindications so always check the leaflet and let your general practitioner or international vaccination clinic guide you in this choice.

Other tips to prevent malaria:

  • always use a spray repellent on the skin - Jungle Formula Molto Forte Spray is the best in my opinion;

  • choose light-colored clothes that cover most of the body, especially after dark;

  • sleep in a room protected by mosquito nets and under a mosquito net on the bed;

  • use an insecticide (pads, sprays, plug devices) to rid the room of insects or prevent mosquitoes from entering.

As far as health vaccinations are concerned, to travel to Zanzibar, since the island is a very touristic destination frequented by Westerners, nothing special is required - not even the intake of anti-malaria drugs. We did it only and exclusively because we had to do it living in Mwanza, in the hinterland of Tanzania, on Lake Victoria.. if your trip includes only Zanzibar you can safely not do it, a good mosquito repellent is enough, even if there are very few.


Telephone and data traffic in Tanzania

If you are planning a long trip to Tanzania or one that does not include luxurious all-inclusive resorts where wifi is everywhere, you may need internet connection wherever you are. I suggest you buy a local prepaid sim card: we chose Vodacom (the African Vodafone) by going to an official store and we paid 52,500 TZS in total (about €20): 50,000 for a subscription plan for 25 GB, 2000 for the sim and 500 credit to be inserted at the beginning. Once the 25 GB was used up, the data traffic worked the same, just a bit slower but still supporting the uploading of videos and photos on social media.


Tanzania travel guide

As always before a trip, I bought a Lonely Planet to take with me to learn more about Tanzania's history, traditions, culture and cuisine. It was also very useful for planning the various weekends away and choosing what to do thanks to lots of useful advice on how to organize and where to book the various excursions. There is no specific Lonely Planet for the various areas of Tanzania but it is unique for the whole state - Lonely Planet Tanzania in English; so if you have to go only to Zanzibar in my opinion it is not worth buying it as the pages dedicated to the island are only a small part of the guide.


Destinations inside Tanzania

As you may know by now, we spent a month in Tanzania as volunteers in a hospital in Mwanza in March 2023. This has allowed us to see many wonderful places in this African state but many others are those that we have not been able to do .. here are some ideas on splendid destinations that I really recommend in Tanzania:


Here we are at the end of this "not too short" guide on how to plan a trip to Tanzania on your own. I hope I haven't bored you but I' tried to report everything we've done and what's served us this month in Tanzania. Planning a trip to these areas of Africa on your own is a little more complex than in other areas of the world but not impossible and thanks to this post I hope I have made it easier for you. Zanzibar, as with so many things, is a bit of a different matter: thanks to its fame and the high number of tourists, especially Europeans who frequent it, it is a very simple destination to plan independently!

READ ALSO: What and where to eat in Mwanza, in the heart of Tanzania - where Africa and India meet I hope I gave you all the information you need but if not, don't hesitate to contact me below in the comments or privately!


Safari njema - have a safe trip in Swahili




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