A practical travel guide to Tanzania

Had enough of the monotony of work and need some fresh air? Consider going on holiday to Tanzania for a change. 

As a top destination offering travelers and tourists the authentic safari experience - The Tanzanian plains open an unimaginable collection of Africa’s richest treasures. The country of 56 million accommodates the big five, has hospitable people, laid-back sunny weather, and endless activity choices - what more could you want?


The official languages of Tanzania are Swahili and English. Swahili is the most spoken language in East Africa and dates it’s origin to Zanzibar. English is popularly spoken but it never hurts to carry along a Swahili phrase-book to be informed on the basics. The locals find it impressive if you took the time to learn a few phrases of their language. 


Tanzania is on the +3 GMT. Sunrises are at 6:30 in the mornings while the sunsets clock at 18:45. Most businesses operate on the standard work timelines. If you happen to hear ‘African time’, that means everything is taken quite chill and gradual. With that in mind, do not be surprised if someone shows up late on every plan you arrange.

Local cuisine

The Tanzanian tourism sector offers a wide range of high-quality foods. Restaurants and hotels offer the best of international cuisine while accommodating a diverse group of international clients from the continent.

Traditional foods in Tanzania are rich in meats such as fish, beef, and chicken. The stews are normally served with vegetables and rice. Simple dishes are accompanied by ugali, which is a dough of flour and water.

Seafood lovers can enjoy an endless collection of delicacies ranging from shrimp, fish, and others.  Over the years, the foods have been greatly influenced by British and Indian cuisine. The establishments offer diverse options from spicy curries to old British staples such as fish and chips. 

Veggie food lovers have several options from sumptuous fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, and coconuts. Tanzanian foods are generally accompanied by legumes, vegetables, and rice. 

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I wouldn’t recommend directly drinking water from the tap while in Tanzania. However, you can rely on that for showering and hand sanitation. I would stick to filtered or bottled water when drinking or brushing your teeth. Bottled water can be found everywhere and is cheap. All restaurants, lodges, and travel-tour companies have it stocked.


The currency of the land is the Tanzanian shilling. It can be converted into coins of 50, 100, or 1000 shillings. Note denominations are at 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000. The United States dollar is widely used though some establishments might not take it. Due to prevalent local currency counterfeiting concerns, most places will only accept local currency notes older than 2006.


Most if not all ATMs in the country accept both VISA and MasterCard. You can withdraw money in the local Tanzanian currency from an ATM. Limits on withdrawal amount to $300. Beware to alert the bank of your planned travel to Africa. 


Banking hours in Tanzania run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. to 11 a.m on Saturday. The waiting times can extend for hours thus it is way better to exchange money at the airport.


To enter Tanzania, a passport and Tanzanian visa are mandatory. Thus far, this is the visa process. Anyone traveling to Tanzania needs a visa except travelers from Malaysia, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Barbados, and a dozen other countries. Your passport pre-entry should have 6 months validity remaining. When applying for a visa, it is important to have 2 free adjacent pages remaining. 

Travel essentials

Packing for a safari is quite daunting. Keep tabs on what you will need for your journey. Here is our recommended packing list.

  • Light fleece or sweater for the chilly nights
  • A backpack that conservatively carries most of your gear
  • A waterproof jacket or a windbreaker 
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellant
  • Binoculars
  • A camera
  • A guidebook
  • Phone and charger

Telephone and internet

Tanzania uses the international calling code +255. Most of the campsites have a phone and an internet connection. There are several internet cafes in Dar Es Salaam, Arusha and Karatu.