The sights of Tanzania are exotic and majestic. From climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to a safari scouting the magnificent wildlife of East Africa, you are sure to revel in the experience, and come home with stories galore.
Until the 1980s, Tanzania was essentially closed off from the rest of the world, thanks to internal government policies; in the interim, the country has been making up for lost time by establishing itself as a fairly exclusive tourist destination.
Here are 6 tips for planning your trip to Tanzania that will help you prepare for the experience of a lifetime:
1. Have realistic budget expectations
For non-luxury accommodations, daily charges can come to U$20-30, which is not as costly as they come, but that doesn’t include excursions, namely Kilimanjaro and safaris, like some of the more luxurious resorts do. Be sure to take all other extra costs into consideration, as well – food and drinks, entrance fees, tips, and of course, souvenirs!
2. Don't skimp on Tanzania's “Big Two”
Mt. Kilimanjaro and the vast Serengeti game park are what draw people to Tanzania. They're not cheap, but they simply cannot be missed.
Consider staying at the Kibo Palace Hotel, located in Arusha, offering a gateway to the game parks.
Going on a safari will add a whole other dimension to your experience of Tanzania, not to mention enrich your personal life experience. Check out Savannah Explorers Limited, and if the bumpy roads of a safari deter you, consider a flight with Coastal Aviation, instead.
Mt. Kilimanjaro can also be seen at its most glorious heights – check out Air Excel for a breathless Mt. K experience.
3. Make time to visit Zanzibar
What really makes this country spectacular is that, after you climb one of the greatest mountains in the world and experience wildlife like you've never imagined at the greatest game park in the world, you still have more to look forward to: the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar. For luxury on the coast, stay at Dar es-Salaam’s Peacock Hotel, or the simpler, yet lovely, Best Western Coral Beach. If you've never scuba dived, now's your chance!
4. Be open to last-minute plans
One tricky, yet essential, point about Tanzania is that sometimes you have to play certain things by ear. For example, you may want to consider NOT booking your Kilimanjaro tour in advance. Instead, you could do on-site research for the best guides and negotiate the costs in person, a position far more likely to leave you with extra cash for souvenirs or to splurge for a night in a luxurious hotel.
5. Choose your season wisely
When to go to Tanzania can be a little complicated, but here are some facts to keep in mind:, Tanzania has two rainy seasons: March-May and November-December. The dry season of January-February is the nicest time for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, while the other dry season from June-November is a preferable time to find wildlife congregating at waterholes on safari. On the other hand, fewer crowds during the rainy season may make it more attractive (as might the available deals), despite the washed out roads and the downpours themselves.
If you are a wildlife buff, you may want to visit in February or March, when both zebras and wildebeest migrate across the Serengeti every year. It is also the season when they bear their young. And if you want to take advantage of the beaches of Zanzibar and Pemba, the best time to do so is from July-October, when you are nearly guaranteed sunshine.
6. Protect your immune system
Tanzania does not require tourists to have any immunizations, other than Yellow Fever. That being said, three months before you travel, consult with your doctor about the following immunizations that are recommended for American and European travelers to this country:
- Hepatitis A
- Polio (make sure you’re up to date)
- Rabies (prevalent enough that you may want rabies shots before you travel)
- Tetanus (make sure you’re up to date)
- Yellow Fever
Tanzania is home to a strain of malaria that is resistant to chloroquine, albeit less prevalent at high altitudes, so be sure to talk to your doctor or other pre-travel health coordinator about travel to Tanzania specifically, and not just “Africa,” to make sure you get the correct anti-malarial medication.
Enjoy your trip
Tanzania’s landscapes have the untouched beauty that is rarely seen elsewhere. Between the sweeping Serengeti plains, the awe-inspiring peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the cultural bazaar that is Zanzibar, you will have yourself an extravaganza of a vacation.