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Tanzania visa requirements

Visitors to Tanzania require a passport that is valid for at least six months after the initial date of travel. Almost all visitors to Tanzania require a tourist visa, which costs between US$20 and US$100 for a tourist visa that is valid for three months. While most embassy and travel websites will encourage you to get this visa before departing your home country (especially if you require a multiple entry visa); it is straightforward to obtain a single-entry 90-day tourist (or work visa) upon arrival at any of the country’s major entry points, such as Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro international airports, as long as you are able to pay for your visa in US dollars cash.
While most European and American nationals require a visa to visit Tanzania, South Africans are among the countries exempt from a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Because immigration rules and visa requirements are notoriously prone to change, it is essential that you enquire from your embassy or travel agent to find out exactly what is required before visiting.

Packing list

Malaria is relatively common in Tanzania, especially during the rains, and it is one of the biggest killers in the world, although the affect is worst on those under five years of age. It is strongly recommend that all visitors take anti-malarial drugs, however you should discuss this with your personal physician to decide which one and which vaccinations would be most suitable for you.
To maximize your enjoyment of the actual Tanzanian safari experience, make sure to bring binoculars, camera, appropriate clothing, sun hat and sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Ensure you also have sufficient US dollars and credit cards authorized by your bank for use in Tanzania.

Travelling to Tanzania

Most visitors enter Tanzania by air, although the options for airlines are extremely limited. Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro international airports are serviced by Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Air Rwanda from Kigali, Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, and South African Airways from Johannesburg, as well as KLM from Amsterdam, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, and Qatar Airways from Doha. There are no direct flights from Tanzania – or anywhere else in East Africa – to America, although this is set to change with the recent approval granted for direct flights from Nairobi and Kigali to the US east coast. The most reliable East African budget airline for regional flights connecting Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza to neighboring countries is a Tanzanian airline called Precision Airways. Fast Jet is notorious for frequently delaying and canceling flights without warning, reason or compensation.
Only the most adventurous travellers will enter Tanzania by road or rail. For over landers, this is a relatively straightforward process provided all vehicle papers and documentation are in order. By contrast, the train option requires intrepid travellers to have plenty of time on their hands for the 21-26 hour Tazara train journey linking Dar es Salaam with New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. For those who have sufficient time, patience and adventurous spirit, train travel offers fine views of the countryside and a window into local life.

How do I travel in and around Tanzania?

The quickest and most convenient way to travel around Tanzania in by scheduled or charter flight. Precision Air offers a number of scheduled flights between the major cities, as well as Zanzibar and Seronera in the Serengeti National Park. There are also a whole host of airstrips scattered throughout the country’s parks and reserves that are serviced by local air charter companies, including Coastal Aviation, Auric Air, Regional, Air Excel, Northern Air and Grumeti Air. This is an extremely convenient way to get around the country, but it is quite costly.

A more budget-friendly option is to arrange a safari that includes a private 4×4 vehicle and driver to transfer you between the parks, reserves and other attractions on your safari itinerary. Having an experienced and knowledgeable driver reduces stress and allows you to concentrate on absorbing the scenery and culture around you. It might take longer then flying, but this is a considerably more affordable and immersive method of travel. Over-landers and experienced Africa hands will likely opt to be masters of their own destiny, driving their own vehicle and reveling in the freedom to choice and the flexibility this allows. Just make sure your vehicle and its paperwork conform to the latest Tanzanian requirements to avoid fines at the country’s many roadblocks and check points.

Backpackers, adventurous souls and those on a shoestring budget will tackle Tanzania by public transport with buses and shared taxis being the most common choice.

Shopping

Most mainstream tourist destinations in Tanzania offer opportunities for souvenir shopping. Popular gifts to take back home include: Maasai tartan blankets and bead-work, Tanzanite jewellery’s, traditional woodcarvings and hand-printed batik fabrics. As a general rule, you’re much more likely to find a bargain at a local market as opposed to in a shopping centre or craft shop frequented by tourists.

The main shopping area of Dar es Salaam is to be found along Samora Machel Avenue. In and around this part of the city, visitors will find plenty of shops to peruse for some last-minute souvenirs, including printed cotton fabrics and local paintings. A cheaper option for souvenir searching is to visit one of Tanzania’s many indigenous markets. In Dar es Salaam, the largest local market is the vast Kariakoo Market, selling locally grown fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and spices as well as some textiles and handcrafts. Although safe to explore, keep in mind that it can get very crowded. The colourful Arusha Central Market is another fascinating shopping experience and the local people are generally welcoming and friendly, although there are a number of young men who tend to stick to tourists like tsetse flies on a buffalo and if you are at the beginning of your excursion, it can severely detract from your overall market experience. When exploring these gigantic local markets, don’t expect too much in the way of tourist stuff to take home, mostly it will be memories and a dizzying array of smells that you will take away with you.

Back in Dar, visitors can also pick up hand-carved souvenirs at the Mwenge Carvers’ Market, located opposite the Village Museum. The Msasani Slipway Weekend Craft Market is a more expensive option, although it’s a much quieter affair, making it easier to browse in relative peace. A trip to the Dar es Salaam Fish Market might not be an obvious shopping destination, but it’s definitely worth a visit simply to soak up the atmosphere when fishermen deliver their catch at dawn – an early start is recommended.

Safety in Tanzania

Tanzania is generally a safe, hassle-free country, but you still need to take the usual safety precautions and keep up with local travel advisories. Take note of the following safety tips in order to stay safe while in Tanzania:

 

  • Avoid isolated areas, especially remote stretches of beach; and safety in numbers.
  • In cities and tourist areas always take a taxi at night and only from established taxi ranks or hotels. Never enter a taxi that already has someone else in it other than the driver.
  • When using public transport, don’t accept drinks or food from someone you don’t know. Take requests for donation support from ‘refugees’ or ‘students’ with a pinch of salt. Contributions to humanitarian causes are best done through an established agency.
  • Be sceptical of anyone who approaches you on the street, at the bus station, or in your hotel, offering safari deals or claiming to know you.
  • Never pay any money for a safari or trek in advance until you’ve thoroughly checked out the company, and never pay money outside of the company’s office. Demand a receipt.
  • In western Tanzania, especially along the Burundi border, there are sporadic outbursts of banditry and political unrest. Get a local update before venturing into this area.
  • In tourist areas, such as Arusha, Moshi and Zanzibar Island, touts can be quite pushy, especially around bus stations and budget tourist hotels. Do what you can to minimise the impression that you are a newly arrived tourist: walk with purpose and duck into a shop if you need to get your bearings or look at a map.
  • Have your luggage as consolidated as possible – with your valuables well-hidden under your clothes – when arriving at a major bus station for the first time. Try to spot the taxi rank before disembarking and head straight for it. Walk with purpose. It is also a good idea to try and buy your bus tickets a day or two in advance (without your luggage).
  • Carry your passport, money and other documents in a pouch against your skin, hidden under loose-fitting clothing. If there’s a reliable one, secure your valuables in a hotel safe and ideally inside a pouch with a lockable zip to prevent tampering.
  • When travelling in a vehicle, keep the side windows up when stopped in traffic and keep your bags out of sight (e.g. on the floor behind your legs).
  • When bargaining or negotiating prices, don’t do so with your money or wallet visible.
  • Government travel advisories can be good sources of updated security information.