The United Republic of Tanzania, commonly known as “Tanzania“ is a country located in East Africa with The Indian Ocean on one side and sharing the border with 7 Nations, namely: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique, and Rwanda, The capital city of Tanzania is Dodoma. Tanzania's official language is "Swahili," and it is also the most commonly used language. However, most people do speak English, so communication in the city/towns is not a problem.
Tanzania, formerly known as "Tanganyika" which translates to "Sail in the Wilderness" in the Swahili Language is a top wildlife destination because of the wide range of safaris it offers. If you are a first-timer for the field of safari, then this country is the best choice for the diversity it offers. The government also has the best beach destination, "Zanzibar Island," known for its white sand beach and wide varieties of water activities. Finally, we cannot forget the highest free-standing mountain in the whole world, "Mt Kilimanjaro." Hence Tanzania is called the land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and The Serengeti.
Arriving at Tanzania
The country's main airport is located in the city of Dar Es Salaam, the "Julius Nyerere International Airport", IATA airport code is "DAR," most of the international flights arrive at this airport which is recommended if you wish to do a Safari in the Southern circuit of Tanzania. However, if you wish to do the safari in the Northern Part or want to hike Mt Kilimanjaro, then it is suggested to arrive at "Kilimanjaro International Airport" IATA airport code being "JRO." The other option for the safari doers only is that they can take a local airline and fly to "Arusha Airport" IATA airport code "ARK," which is just 60 KM or 1 hour and 30 min drive from JRO Airport. Arusha is the main starting point for safaris in the northern circuit of Tanzania.
Apart from the safari or hike, if you wish to relax on the beaches of Zanzibar, then travelling to the international airport in Zanzibar, called the "Abeid Amani Karume International Airport" IATA airport code is "ZNZ” is recommended. There are other airports in Tanzania as well in cities like Mwanza, Dodoma but it is sporadic that tourists are going to travel there.
VISA and Vaccination
Most of the nationals will get a Tourist VISA on arrival, which will be valid for 90 Days, you can use the same VISA to visit Zanzibar Island as well. The cost will be USD 50 for all other nationals and USD 100 for US Citizens for a single entry (the cost might be changed anytime by the government).
In August 2019, the Tanzanian government announced the changes to the visa on arrival process at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). The new process will involve a queue for obtaining the Government Control Number, after which you will have to pay for the VISA at the bank located in the airport for the given Number. Finally queuing for Immigration to check and issue the VISA. The visa on arrival process usually takes over two hours to complete. VISA fees remain the same, and certain VISA restrictions and special permissions still apply. Thus we recommend everyone wishing to visit Tanzania to apply for their visa online at https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa/.The online process requires more information than a visa on arrival and is issued within 2 - 3 weeks.
Regarding the vaccination, we recommend all travelers should visit either their physician or a travel health clinic about three months before departure. Ask your doctor about vaccinations recommended by your government before traveling to Tanzania. However, Yellow Fever Vaccination is compulsory and has to be taken at least ten days before arriving in Tanzania. Other recommended vaccinations are Tetanus, Oral Polio, and Malaria (prophylaxis).
Currency and Transactions
Tanzania's official currency is "Tanzanian Shilling (TSh)", this currency is accepted all over the country. However, you can also use USD because it is one of the major currencies that is used in Tanzania for all the transactions. Converting some amount to TSh is always recommended to avoid the change issue if you wish to shop in Tanzania. You can find many ATMs that will dispense TSh in all parts of the country, and you can also find USD dispensing ATMs in the airport and major cities such as Dar Es Salaam.
PS: If you are getting USD from your home then please make sure that you get notes printed from 2006. Digital payment is also an option here, you can pay using any international credit card but please note that there will be an additional 5% charge as card processing fee for every transaction you make using the card. This fee is fixed throughout the country, although there might be a 0.5% - 1% difference in some places.
Safari in Tanzania
As said earlier, Tanzania is a top safari destination with spectacular landscapes and diverse wildlife, the experience of a Tanzania Safari is surreal and one among the best in the world. There are three main circuits in Tanzania Safari are (1) Northern Circuit (2) Southern Circuit and (3) Western Circuit.
(1) Northern Circuit
Northern Circuit is the most famous and widely toured in the whole country as all significant parks and destinations fall under this circuit. The northern course attracts most of the tourists around the world, making it the most visited wildlife destination. The nearest airport to start the north circuit is Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), and the starting point is always Arusha, a town which is 1.5 hours drive from the airport. The main parks and destinations that are a part of this circuit are:
Serengeti National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Tarangire National Park
Arusha National Park
(2) Southern Circuit
Southern Circuit is the second most famous route which people would like to visit when they are in Tanzania. The people who choose to do this circuit are the one who is just visiting Zanzibar or in the country for business purposes, staying for a limited time and enjoying the wildlife at the same time. The starting point is either Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar. The main parks that are a part of this circuit are:
Selous Game Reserve
Mikumi National Park
Ruaha National Park
Saadani National Park
(3) Western Circuit
Western Circuit is also one of the famous circuits which consist of incredible national parks and reserves, but these are less travelled when compared to the other circuits. The main reason for this is the connectivity issue, you will have to take a local flight to visit these destinations as it is very far from the major cities, hence making it expensive. You can do chimpanzee trekking here, and it is one of the best in Africa. The main parks that is a part of this circuit are:
Mahale Mountains National Park
Gombe National Park
Katavi National Park
The Great Migration in Serengeti
The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the best natural phenomena in the continent; you can witness the mass herds of wildebeest traveling from Tanzania to Kenya and the vice versa. The great migration will happen all year round. The wildebeest are accompanied by Zebras and Gazelles as well. The migration will start in Tanzania and end in Tanzania; these animals will go in search of freshly grown grass, thus traveling from Tanzania to Kenya and returning, they follow the rain.
You can see the migration in Serengeti all year round, but if you want to see that in Kenya, then you will have to visit only in certain months (June, July, and August). In Serengeti, you can see migration, according to the table below.
January, February, and March - South Serengeti (Ndutu Region)
April, May - Western Serengeti (Moru Kopjes, Kirawira and Grumeti Region)
June - Central Serengeti (Seronera Region)
July August - North Serengeti (Ikorongo and Kogatende Region)
September - North Serengeti (Mara River and Bologonya Region)
October - West Serengeti (Loliondo and Lobo Region)
November, December - Central Serengeti (Seronera Region)
Since this is a natural phenomenon depending on the rain, it is hard to give the exact data, and all we can do is predict based on the previous year's cycles. This process might change approximately 15 days to 1 month based on the rainfall.
Weather and Climate
Tanzania is located just below the equator and has a pleasant, tropical climate, but it is becoming unpredictable, probably due to global warming. However, based on the study made and The Tanzania Climate Authority, below is the data.
Long Rains (March, April, and May) - This is the season where the country will get most of the rainfall, and it is the main rainy season. It tends to rain almost every day during the morning and evening. The humidity is always high, and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30°s.
Dry Season (June, July, August, September, and October) - This is the season where the rains are very unusual, most of the areas will remain dry, and the temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location. Even though it is a dry season, it will be a cold night, clear sky, sunny weather, and it is the best time to visit Tanzania.
Short Rains (November and December) - This season is another rainy one, but it is lighter than the main rains and less reliable. The rains during this season are very unpredictable, and although this does not affect your safari much.
Short Dry Season (January and February) - This is another dry season, depending on the location. The land dries up for a couple of months if it has rained during the short rains season, before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
Wildlife and Birds
Tanzania offers the best wildlife viewing opportunity as 20% of Africa's large mammal population is found here in parks and reserves. Each of the circuits, as mentioned above, offers various wildlife viewing opportunities. The BIG 5 is the main attraction, although black rhino is a little rare and can be found in Ngorongoro Crater. Below is the list of animals that you can see when you are doing a safari in Tanzania, and obviously, the wildlife depends on the parks you visit. Wildebeests, Lions, Elephants, Giraffes, Hippopotamus, Zebra, Antelopes, Rhino, African Wild Dog, Monkeys, Apes, Chimpanzees, Crocodiles, etc
Tanzania is also one of the best birding destinations as it consists of 800 - 1000 different species of birds, and almost 200 of them are regular migratory birds. The best time for bird viewing is from November to April when then migratory birds come to Tanzania. The best national parks and destinations for bird viewing are Serengeti, Arusha, Lake Natron, Ruaha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, and Ngorongoro Crater.
Tanzania is one of the safest countries in Africa to visit, and we recommend booking a well-organized safari or trek rather than searching for one after landing. There are always small crimes in the city like theft, but it can always be avoided by following certain safety measures. Millions of tourists visit Tanzania every year, and 95% of those will never face any problem. We always recommend you follow the guidelines provided by the safari guide during the briefing session to be safe from the wildlife. It is not allowed to get down from the car when you are inside the reserve. We request all the tourists to follow the rules and regulations of the parks. There will be rangers everywhere who will be monitoring everything.
Zanzibar is one of the best beach destinations in Africa. All types of people visit this place, such as couples, family, backpackers, etc. It is because of the clean and white sand beaches. Also, western Zanzibar offers most of the water sporting activities such as surfing, snorkelling, dolphin watching, etc. Zanzibar is one of the most peaceful places to relax after the safari. Zanzibar also offers many types of accommodation, starting from cheap hostels to high-end luxury hotels so it will fit all kinds of people. According to the study made by the Tanzania Tourism Authority, almost 70% of the people who visit Tanzania for a safari purpose will visit Zanzibar before flying back home.