Traveling to Tanzania: What You Need to Know
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On your quest for an authentic safari adventure, you’ve decided on exploring the beautiful country of Tanzania – a land unlike anywhere else in Africa.
As you nail down your travel dates and sit down to plan your unforgettable journey, you stop to think to yourself, “What now? Where do I begin mapping out my trip?”
Planning a Tanzanian adventure and making the absolute best out of your travels can be tricky. There’s just so much to see and do that you may find yourself frazzled over the many details.
Fret not – in this article, we’ll cover all the information you’ll need to help you plan a safari in Tanzania. From the best time of year to travel to budgeting tips, things to do, and packing advice, you’ll find it all here!
What is the best time to visit Tanzania?
Before choosing what to do in Tanzania, it is important to know the best time to visit the country. Truth be told, it depends a lot on your travel style and what you want to see.
Every month has its highs and lows, but here is a breakdown of what you can expect:
June to October – Dry Season
If it’s the Great Migration you came to see, then the best time to travel in the Serengeti is during the dry season (more specifically, October).
During these months, the vegetation is low, and the migrating animals tend to be more concentrated around watering-holes and rivers. This means that the animals are easier to track, and you get to see the most wildlife!
Another huge perk to traveling in Tanzania in June to October is that there are fewer mosquitos due to the lack of rain, which reduces the risk of getting infected with malaria.
November to May – Wet Season
During the rainy season, many migrating animals stop in the southern Serengeti for calving season, which attracts many predators, including the lion, the king of the Big Five.
Also, if you’re on a tight budget, November to May is a great time to travel to Tanzania. Although you’ll most likely be caught in the rain at some point, there are perks to traveling in the rainy season. Prices tend to be a lot lower, making it cheaper to travel. Plus, the lack of crowds means more availability!
So, where should you travel in Tanzania and when?
- July to March: Be sure to visit the northern circuit parks but be warned, they tend to get crowded.
- July to October: The southern and western circuit parks are great for wildlife viewing and they’re usually less busy.
- April and May: The northern circuit parks get quite a few visitors while the southern and western circuit parks are much quieter.
What can I do in Tanzania?
There are plenty of places to visit in Tanzania and exploring the country to its fullest may take more than two weeks.
If you’re planning a trip with a shorter duration, here are the top 3 places that you shouldn’t miss when in Tanzania:
Serengeti National Park
The vast plains made up of over 1.5 million hectares of savannah known as the Serengeti are the reason why so many adventure seekers and animal enthusiasts flock to Tanzania year after year. The Serengeti is widespread, located between Tanzania and Kenya. The park located in Tanzania is known as the Serengeti National Park.
Each year, the Serengeti becomes host to the Great Migration – the largest mammal migration in the world, seeing over two million wildebeests cross over from Tanzania to Kenya in search of food and water.
The best time to visit Serengeti National Park is during the dry season from late June to October, when wildlife viewing is at its best. Those who want to witness the birth of wildebeest should visit the park from late January to February.
Planning to visit this iconic national park but don’t know where to start? Read our detailed guide about visiting Serengeti National Park!
The unique Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactivate, intact volcanic caldera. It is also the only place in the world where humans and animals coexist in harmony.
A UNESCO world heritage site, words don’t do justice to its magnificent beauty.
The star of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area is the large crater itself. The legendary Great Migration passes through the area starting in December when the wildebeest and zebras move south. They travel north in June.
All of the majestic Big Five are present here. You are also likely to spot wildebeest, zebras, hippos, elands, leopards, jackals, and hyenas in the crater. The giraffes can be found outside of the crater because of the steep descent.
The crater can be visited year-round, but for the best wildlife viewing plan to come here during the dry season (June to September). The grass on the crater floor is smaller allowing for better animal spotting.
Planning to visit this incredible volcanic caldera? Read our detailed guide about visiting the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area!
Tanzania is home to the largest freestanding volcanic mass in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro. At 19,341 feet (5,895m), Mount Kilimanjaro is also the tallest mountain in Africa. It is no wonder that as many as 25,000 people hike up Mount Kilimanjaro every year in hopes of reaching its summit, Uhuru Peak.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is quite accessible to the average trekker as it is not considered a technical climb and doesn’t require any prior technical climbing experience. However, one still needs to be generally fit to take a stab at climbing this African beauty.
There are seven major routes available for trekkers to choose to reach the summit, each with its own difficulty and duration. The most popular route that most climbers opt for is the Marangu Route, which can be completed between 5 to 6 days.
If you decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, be sure to remember to trek slowly as you ascend the mountain, as it is extremely important to acclimatize to the altitude to avoid Altitude Mountain Sickness.
Is Tanzania suitable for a family vacation?
Featuring excellent wildlife, exquisite beaches, and a great transportation network, Tanzania is a good choice for a family safari.
Because of the malaria risk, however, it is not recommended to take young kids on a safari in Tanzania. While adults and older kids can take malaria pills, the medication is not recommended for kids under 5-6 years old.
That said, Tanzania is a great option for kids above 8 years old. Some lodges are fenced so there are fewer chances for animals to wonder on the premises. Between game drives, boat rides, and campfires at night, your children won’t get bored on a safari in Tanzania.
Is a safari in Tanzania expensive?
When deciding on travels to any country across the globe, a sure question that may come to mind is whether the specific country is suitable for your travel needs. In this case, the first line of consideration for many is the budget involved.
Tanzania, though not the cheapest of destinations, is still one of the most inexpensive countries in Africa. While going on a safari in Tanzania, or perhaps anywhere in Africa, may burn a small hole in your wallet, visiting and experiencing all else won’t be nearly as costly.
Most travelers visit Tanzania to see the Serengeti, famed for the Great Migration and the Big Five population. Parks like the Serengeti National Park and the Tarangire National Park are situated north of Tanzania and are extremely popular among tourists, rendering their safari trip prices higher. If you’re looking to go on a budget safari, head down south where parks like the Ruaha National Park may be more budget-friendly.
You can find all kinds of accommodation in Tanzania. From basic to luxury campsites, from basic lodges to chalets, it’s your budget that most likely dictates where to stay.
If you prefer to be immersed in nature, a camping safari is a perfect choice. But if sharing the bathroom and shower facilities isn’t up your alley, a lodge is the right choice for you.
Self-drive safaris are the most affordable to see wildlife, but you won’t benefit from the guide’s experience. Especially if it’s your first time going on a safari, you won’t be too efficient being attentive at the road and trying to spot the animals.
On the other hand, a jeep safari allows you to focus on the activities you came to Tanzania for: watching and photographing wild animals.
Private reserve vs national park
When you choose a private reserve, it means that you are opting for a more luxurious experience than if you were to stay in a national park.
Kindly note that private game reserves allow night game drives, off-road game drives, and guided nature walks. These activities are not allowed in national parks.
As they place restrictions on the number of people and cars allowed, you will also enjoy a crowd-free game viewing experience.
You are likely to share a 4x4 open vehicle and benefit from the experience of a guide and a spotter. The small number of people in a vehicle guarantees you will have a clear view of the animals and can take great photos, too!
When you plan a safari in Tanzania, make sure to also check the country’s entry requirements well in advance.
Citizens of 66 nations are not required a visa to enter the country, including some European Union Nationals. A single-entry visa for a US citizen costs 100 USD and can be obtained on arrival. For UK citizens the single-entry visa costs 40 GBP (if applied for in advance). All other nationals that require a visa, pay 50 USD. It is possible to apply for an electronic visa online.
There’s also a transit visa available. It costs 30 USD and proof of itinerary / onward travel as well as funds, are required.
The worst thing that could happen to you on a trip abroad is falling ill with a serious disease and ending up hospitalized. Avoid this nightmare by preparing beforehand and getting the necessary vaccinations!
Along with malaria and dengue, Tanzania has also been identified to have an increased risk of cholera spread. This gastrointestinal infection can be contracted through the consumption of contaminated water or undercooked fish. To prevent contracting this disease, it is recommended that you receive a cholera vaccination before you travel.
While you don’t necessarily need to have a yellow fever vaccination for your trip to Tanzania, keep in mind that you may be asked to show proof of yellow fever vaccination especially if you are coming from a country where yellow fever is present. These countries include Uganda, Angola, and Kenya.
What to Pack for a safari in Tanzania?
Knowing what to pack for your Tanzania safari is vital. After all, there’s nothing worse than lugging around a heavy suitcase only to arrive at your destination and not need half the things you’ve packed. Or worse, not having any of the essentials!
It’s easier to remember things like cameras, memory cards, and cell phone chargers, but there are a few things that often fall off of our radars.
So, to make sure you have all you need for the perfect getaway, here is a handy checklist:
- Converter plugs: If you travel from the US to Tanzania. They use the same electrical plugs as the UK.
- Travel backpack: Make sure to fill it with a copy of your passport and travel insurance information, a water bottle, and a light jersey to keep on hand in case it gets a little cold.
- Lightweight hiking boots: Whether you’re climbing mountains or not, having a comfortable pair of hiking boots is great to have for safari game drives.
- A rain jacket: Especially if you travel during the wet season.
- Insect repellent: Malaria is prevalent throughout Tanzania, as are the mosquitoes that cause it.
- Sunscreen: Make sure to pack a strong enough SPF (30+).
- A sarong: Tanzania is a very conservative place to travel and keeping your thighs and shoulders covered is a must.
Good things come in small packages! A short safari in Tanzania is a great way to explore this beautiful African country.