Practical Travel Information

LANGUAGE

English is widely spoken but a few words of Swahili can be useful and will be appreciated greatly by locals.

FLIGHTS

Main points of entry are Kilimanjaro International Airport serving Arusha, Dar Es Salaam serving the Southern circuit and Zanzibar. If flying into Nairobi, road and air transfers to Arusha are also possible. Please ask us for more info on the best international flights for your itinerary. Most of our passengers arrive on KLM (to Kilimanjaro or Dar Es Salaam, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, Oman Air, Emirates, Swiss Air, Turkish Airlines and the recently opened route to Kilimanjaro by Qatar Airlines). However, there are many combinations and options available, and you may wish to check with online booking services or with your travel agent.

Kilimanjaro Airport is a one hour drive from Arusha while Dar es Salaam and Nairobi are a one hour flight or several hour bus ride from Arusha. If planning a visit to the Southern circuit or the islands during your Tanzanian holiday, consider flying into Dar es Salaam and then flying to Kilimanjaro for your safari and climb.

Zama Tours books East African internal travel, including flights, bus rides and shuttles. Your tickets will be kept in the office for you or mailed to you, depending on your first destination. Airport taxes are not included in the price of internal Tanzania flights. Be sure to bring extra US dollars with you to pay airport taxes which range from US $5 to US $15 per flight. Please note that baggage is restricted to 15kgs per person in a soft sided bag on all domestic flights (exception is Precision Air where limit is 20kg per person).

VISAS

Check current requirements with the nearest Tanzanian High Commission, embassy or consulate, or your travel agent. Visas, if required, can be bought on arrival at all international airports and overland borders. Tourist Visas are necessary for nearly all foreign visitors planning a safari holiday. The only exceptions are some Commonwealth Countries. Please be aware that obtaining your visa on arrival can take some time and it is advisable to acquire them before traveling. Tourist visas are usually single entry and valid for 3 months. A one month extension is possible whilst in the country. The price of visas varies depending on your nationality. For most nationalities the cost is $50 for a single entry 3 month visa. Zanzibar is part of Tanzania so you do not require a separate visa to visit it. Notable exceptions include American and Irish citizens: they need to pay USD 100, and must purchase a multiple entry visa (since September 2007). Remember that if you intend to fly to Nairobi and then travel on to Tanzania, you will require a transit visa at USD 20 per person

INSURANCE

Take out travel insurance to cover loss of baggage or valuables, personal accident and medical expenses

MONEY ISSUES

The local currency is the Tanzanian shilling. We recommend changing some money to shillings to pay for small items during your trip. Local stores and restaurants charge in shillings, and if you pay in dollars you will pay a higher rate. US$100 and US$50 dollar notes attract a better exchange rate than US$20, US$10, US$5 and US$1 – however these smaller notes are handy sometimes for buying souvenirs enroute during safari. Please be aware that your USD notes (especially of 50 and 100) will need to be recent (notes prior to 2006 are not accepted). We do not recommend bringing travelers cheques to Tanzania as banks require you to have the receipt of purchase as well as the cheque. We recommend bringing USD cash and using an ATM machine to withdraw shillings.

You can withdraw Tanzanian shillings using a Visa/MasterCard in Arusha, Moshi, Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam. Most restaurants/hotels do not accept credit cards, and the ones that do usually charge a commission of at least 10%. Please call your credit card company before you leave for Tanzania to notify them of your travel plans. Some companies will put a block on your card if you try to use it at a Tanzanian ATM. There is a withdrawal limit of 800,000/- (approx. US$600) Tanzanian shillings per day at ATMs so plan ahead if you have something in particular that you need to pay for.

HEALTH

Yellow fever vaccination is no longer compulsory on mainland Tanzania, only in Zanzibar. For current immunization recommendations and requirements for travel to Tanzania, please check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site.

Malaria is endemic but is preventable: use insect repellent, cover up at sundown, sleep under a mosquito net and take anti-malaria prophylactics as advised by your doctor. Bring prescription medicines, spare glasses, contact lenses and solution as well as sunscreen, a first aid kit, cream for bites/stings and diarrhea remedy. Drink only boiled or bottled water, bottled or canned drinks, avoid ice cubes and salads in local bars. In hotels/lodges and on climbing trips the food is perfectly safe.

HIV/Aids is widespread, especially in the main tourist areas.

CLIMATE

Generally dry and hot with cool nights/mornings June-October; short rains November to mid-December; long rains March-May but the seasons can vary. The coastal strip is hot and humid all year round. Temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro and Meru drop to below freezing.

For the best wildlife viewing, visit Tanzania during the dry seasons of November/December to February, and July to September. To avoid the crowds, visit in May, June or November. The driest month to climb Kilimanjaro is September. However, it is also one of the coldest and busiest. Because Kilimanjaro is such a large mountain, it has its own weather pattern and it often rains on Kilimanjaro when it is not raining elsewhere. You should prepare for rain and have your rain gear with you at all times while on the mountain.

The mass migration of wildebeest moves from Kenya into the Serengeti in December, January, February and March. This is a very popular time to travel to Tanzania, and can be a spectacular time to visit, with the herds generally attracting a lot of predators and some real wildlife drama! Note that the river crossings of the wildebeest take place around July or August; however, this is notoriously difficult to predict. It is really just a matter of taking your chances, booking in advance and seeing if you get lucky enough to witness this sight in person!

We have many happy clients travelling with us during the “long rains” of April and May, and the “short rains” of November. Don’t be put off traveling then – it certainly does not rain every day, often the rainfall is as night, and you can still see some amazing wildlife. Moreover, accommodations are cheaper, lodges are less full, and there are less other cars in the national parks. It can get a little difficult if you want to travel to really remote areas during rainy season, however the roads between Arusha, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti are good and well maintained, and still very much passable even during the rains.

CLOTHES

We recommend that you bring light casual clothes in neutral or muted colours (brighter colours can attract insects, and we urge you not to wear blue clothing as this is particularly attractive to certain insects!) We also urge you to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, hat with ties so it doesn’t blow off in the wind and insect repellent if you go on safari. In the evenings it can get rather chilly, especially in the desert areas and in the months of May-August, so bring a warm sweater and a scarf. Certain 5-star hotels require a smart dress code for dinner, though most do not and simply require you to be clean and fairly presentable!

Shorts for women are acceptable (but not too short!). Women should carry a wrap to cover legs in the villages and towns as revealing clothes can cause offense, especially in Zanzibar and Muslim areas. On the beach and within the confines of beach hotels normal swimwear is acceptable (but not nudity).

For climbing on Kilimanjaro or Meru, take thermal underwear, light layers, sweater, rain jacket, good socks and sturdy boots.

INCLUDING IN THE PRICE OF THE TRIP

This differs slightly depending on the kind of program you book. But as a rule, all our prices will include:

  • Full board lodging on safari (i.e. including 3 meals a day), whether in hotels, lodges, tented camps, mobile tented camps, or bush camps as specified in your itinerary
  • All park and game reserves entrance fees, including conservation fees
  • Unlimited game drives in our safari vehicles with window seat guaranteed for each passenger and top-up roof for the best game-viewing
  • Services of a dedicated, professional and experienced driver/guide (mainly English-speaking with other languages such as German, Italian and Spanish on request)
  • All in-country transportation as specified in your itinerary, whether by vehicle or bush plane
  • Excursions as specified in your itinerary
  • Bottled water in our safari vehicles
  • Hot coffee and tea served with any picnic lunches taken whilst out on safari

ON SAFARI

Distances in Tanzania are vast, and travel by road can be wearing. Plan to spend more time in fewer parks. You’ll see more and won’t return home exhausted. Keep your distance from animals and be quiet to avoid distressing the wildlife. Follow instructions of rangers or guides.

TIPPING

Not obligatory, but a tip for exceptional service (max 10%) will be appreciated. $10 – $15 per day for driver or tour guide. An excessive tip can make it difficult for the next customer.

TIME

3 hrs + GMT.

ELECTRICITY

220 volts, but power failures, surges and brownouts are common. Bring a universal adaptor and a torch (flashlight) or headlamp.

TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN

Tanzanians love children and are especially helpful to mothers. However, canned baby foods, powdered milk and disposable nappies may not be available outside major towns. Once we see that there are children present on your trip, we will do all we can to make your program as child-friendly as possible. We can select child-friendly accommodations – this could mean anything from having a great pool, to huge rooms sleeping up to 4 persons, to plenty of space for running round after a long day of game driving. We will plan a program which keeps transfer times to a minimum. We can recommend special activities such as boat trips, hiking and following hunting tracks with Bushmen – all great ways to spend some time outside of the safari vehicle.

VEHICLES

We use either regular or extended Landrover or Landcruiser vehicles, depending on the size of your party. All vehicles are 4WD, with plenty of space, and a pop-up photographic roof hatch. Windows can all be opened. Note that none of our vehicles are air conditioned. Air conditioning simply does not work on safari – the drives in national parks are too rough and dusty, and the system does not work. In any case air conditioning is not necessary – the vast majority of the time you will have the large roof hatch open, spotting animals, and all the windows open to let cool air in. On safaris in the Southern Circuit large open vehicles are used.

SECURITY

Tanzania is a generally safe country, but don’t invite temptation. Keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t walk in the towns or cities at night – take a taxi. Don’t carry cameras or large amounts of cash; beware of pickpockets. Use hotel safety deposit boxes to safeguard valuables and obtain a receipt. Leave valuable jewelry at home.

GIFTS

Don’t indiscriminately hand out pens, money and sweets like a wealthy Western Santa Claus – it just encourages begging. As anywhere, gifts should be given as a true expression of friendship, appreciation or thanks.

SOUVENIR SHOPPING

You will have many opportunities to purchase souvenirs in Arusha and while on safari. The souvenir market with the best prices is located in the center of Arusha town approximately 500 meters southwest of the central post office/clock tower on Sinoni Road. You will have to bargain at this market; you should pay about 50% of the asking price. There will also be many opportunities to purchase souvenirs while on safari. Most hotels have souvenir shops, and there are a couple of large souvenir shops along the way: Oldonyo Orok and Cultural Heritage (expensive). If you are interested in buying Tanzanite, please let us know so we can deliver you to certified gemologists who mine and wholesale Tanzanite (among other precious stones) – this will ensure good value and good quality. You will also be issued with a certificate.