Planning is the key to going on a safari and making it a successful and memorable experience. With this in mind, we have created a list of travel tips and advice to help you, together with some additional resources about Tanzania you might find helpful.
A. Safari Advice
I. Wildlife Safari
An iconic safari destination, Tanzania is home to one of the greatest wildlife events on earth, Serengeti’s spectacular annual wildebeest migration. Witness this natural spectacle play out as hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles survive the arduous journey across murky river waters full of crocodiles while on dry land predators wait around every corner.
In addition to the great migration, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Tanzania: superb wildlife, mountain climbing, cultural interactions, spectacular landscapes, beautiful beaches and much more. Tanzania is the perfect place to combine two or more of these highlights for the ultimate safari experience.
There is fantastic year-round game viewing in Tanzania’s national parks and reserves. The well-known parks of the northern circuit include Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park, which are highly biodiverse regions and among Tanzania’s premier safari attractions, packed with wildlife and numerous bird species. Less well-known and visited, but equally desirable, are the national parks of the southern circuit, which include Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park and Mikumi National Park.
Some of the most popular wildlife hotspots have busier times of the year so for those who want to avoid crowds completely, head to hidden gems such as the Grumeti Concession, Mahale Mountains National Park, Saadani National Park and Rubondo Island, to name just a few.
For more information on which national parks to visit, check out our handy guide on Tanzania Safaris: North vs South.
II. Beach Safari
Tick another item off your bucket list by visiting the Islands along Tanzania’s coastline. Zanzibar remains a primary attraction with its historical significance and extravagant marine life. The beaches will offer a relaxing post-safari break after spending busy safari days in Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves. Spend time relaxing on stunning beaches, snorkel and boat in the azure sea, look out for dolphins and other marine life, explore the forests in search of colobus monkeys and discover the famous spice plantations, which give Zanzibar its name, ‘The Spice Islands’.
Ramadan, one of Zanzibar’s most extravagant religious festivals in April, lasts one month. It is also one of the best times to visit Zanzibar. You have to follow some of the basic Ramadan etiquettes, showing respect to these traditions. At night, expect parties and lots of noise in the neighbourhood. After an entire day of fasting, people get together, eat, play games, and you’ll also hear loud drums beat and songs coming from the streets signalling to people that it’s time for a midnight snack.
With its fabulous bustling marketplaces and magnificent restaurants, Stone Town is a must-visit. Consider staying in Stone Town and exploring the Swahili culture further by booking into one of the converted Swahili houses.
Zanzibar gets its fair share of visitors so, if you want to avoid crowds, you can plan a trip to serene Pemba Island, north of Zanzibar. Pemba is perfect for adventure enthusiasts with activities such as snorkelling and diving. There are daily flights from Zanzibar to Pemba if you decide to add both to your travel itinerary. Mnemba and Mafia are two other islands known for their glorious sandy beaches.
1. Packing Advice
- Tanzania’s locals have strong religious beliefs, so certain etiquettes need to be followed both in Tanzania and Zanzibar. For one, visitors have to dress modestly so pack some long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. These are also good to wear to avoid mosquito bites.
- Although you should dress conservatively in the main towns to respect the local culture, also pack some beachwear if you are heading to the coast as well as swimming costumes for any safari lodges/camps which have swimming pools.
- Don’t wear camouflage clothing that looks like army outfits. It is illegal to wear them in Tanzania.
- Pack a good pair of walking shoes, an essential on safaris. Throw in a pair of flip flops or sandals for the beach.
- Don’t bring your big laptop. Carry a lightweight tablet or smartphone.
- An important tip, Tanzania does not accept US Dollar bills printed before 2006. Use cash to purchase things and to tip the staff and tour guides. Major cities, towns and airports have ATMs where you can withdraw cash. Avoid using traveller’s cheques as they may incur transactional fees. Check with your bank about any charges which might arise when using a credit card.
For more information on what to pack, refer to the must-have items to pack for your first safari
2. Travel Safety Advice
- Although Tanzania has had no cases of Yellow Fever in recent years, the country is vigilant about protecting everyone. A yellow fever vaccination is required if coming from or passing through, an infected country.
- Speak to your local GP about other vaccinations and malaria prophylactics. The majority of lodges and camps have taken measures against malaria and are likely to have mosquito nets and sprays but to be on the safe side, you should carry a bottle or two of your own mosquito/bug repellent.
- When you are travelling through built-up areas be vigilant and have your personal belongings secured.
Refer to Tanzania’s Travel Safety Tips page for an updated travel advisory.
3. When to Visit
- Wildlife Viewing: The ideal time to visit most of Tanzania’s national parks is June to September, although there is game viewing year-round. Visitors interested in seeing the wildebeest migration should plan a trip between June and October when the wildebeest are in the Serengeti. You could also plan a trip from January to March, the wildebeest calving season, when the predators are active, lying in wait to pounce on the vulnerable mother and calf.
- Bird Watching: The wet season brings lots of migratory bird species to the wilds of Tanzania. When the rain hits the dried up vegetation, Tanzania starts blooming, transforming the bush into a scenic wonder. It makes November to March a great time for bird watching.
- Zanzibar Beaches: The dry season, June to September, is the best time to visit the Zanzibar beaches. Dolphin viewing is ideal during these months together with January and February, the second dry season.
Read our detailed guide featuring reasons to visit Tanzania in the summer, monsoon and winter for more information and inspiration on when to travel.
4. Travel Tips
- Zanzibar has basic visa requirements that every visitor has to fulfil before entering the country. For a detailed breakdown of visa requirements, refer to our short travel guide.
- Flights to Zanzibar: Zanzibar has one airport, Zanzibar International Airport, located in Stone Town – the island’s cultural centre. To reach Zanzibar, visitors have to take direct flights from either Dar Es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Arusha or Nairobi.
- Travelling within Zanzibar: Besides taking the local buses or local dala-dalas, visitors can rent scooters and motorbikes in Zanzibar to drive through the streets of Stone Town and explore the island.
Our Tanzania Resources
- Tanzania Frequently Asked Questions
- Tanzania’s Safari Animals
- Tanzania’s Safari Animals
- Tanzania’s Lesser-known wildlife species
- Top 15 Tanzania Safari Lodges and Camps
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