March 11, 2021
Tanzania – Frequently Asked Questions

There is a lot that goes into planning a safari holiday and although many safari tour providers will give you a detailed itinerary and lots of information before you depart, there are often questions on your mind such as what clothes to pack, how much money to carry and what are the must-have items you will need. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions by safari visitors to help fill the gaps.

1. When is the best time to travel to Tanzania?

For wildlife safaris the best time to travel to Tanzania is from July to October. This is the dry season when viewing opportunities are better due to vegetation dwindling making the bush less dense while animals congregate around water holes to drink. Keep in mind that this is the peak season and Tanzania attracts a lot of visitors from all over the world so it can be busy plus it’s a more expensive time of year. On the other hand, the shoulder season, November to March is a great time to travel too. Although the bush is thicker so it’s harder to see wildlife, this time of year has less visitors and can be more affordable  For more information about the best time to travel to Tanzania, including its’s coastline, check out our Best Time to Visit Tanzania guide.

2. When is the great wildebeest migration?

The great wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya is the largest annual migration of around 1.5 million wildebeest and thousands of zebras, antelopes, gazelle, impala and eland. The migration is a result of dwindling grazing making the animals move to greener pastures following the rainfall pattern. This large-scale migration is fraught with dangerous river crossings where predators are lying in wait. The migration continues year round as the animals travel in a circular route from Tanzania to Kenya and back again. The rains in April and May get the herds of wildebeest on the move in the Serengeti on their journey towards the Masai Mara, Kenya. Once they have reached Kenya, they graze in the Mara. In a few months, the vegetation is exhausted and the animals start their journey back to the Serengeti, and the cycle repeats.

Check out our Great Migration Timeline to see how the wildebeest migration progresses over the months.

3. Is Tanzania a family-friendly safari destination?

From the postcard-perfect beaches and large open skies to the majestic animals and spectacular wilderness, Tanzania offers children mesmerising sights and wildlife adventures. Tanzania is a family-friendly safari destination, but before you hop on to the plane, you’ll need to do some research.

There are some safari lodges and camps that have age restrictions for children. When you book a safari tour, discuss this with your tour operator and find out details about the restrictions; it might be a lodge or camp which only accepts children over a certain age, or it could be some of the activities where there are age restrictions such as walking safaris or game drives. Some camps offer children-specific activities for families. In terms of safety, it is quite safe to take your kids on a safari, just ensure that they listen to the guide at all times.

4. How safe is it to travel in Tanzania?

Tanzania is one of the safest destinations in East Africa. The locals are generous, friendly and eager to help visitors. However, you need to take the necessary precautions, including storing your valuables in the hotel safe and carrying only what’s necessary (camera equipment, cards, cash, jewellery, or any other valuables). On a safari, your safety will be in the hands of your guide. Make sure that you follow everything your guide says and do not wander around in the wild.

5. What should I wear and take on safari in Tanzania?

  • Pack comfortable clothing suitable for sitting in safari vehicles and other safari activities.
  • Don’t pack bright colours (or camouflage patterns); stick to neutral brown, beige, khaki and white.
  • Bring light-weight cotton clothes which can be layered up in cooler weather. Pack long sleeve shirts and trousers to wear from dusk to prevent mosquito bites. During the winter months, mornings and evenings can be very cold so pack a fleece, hats and gloves.
  • Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and swimwear for both safaris and beach holidays.
  • If you plan to visit mountain areas such as Mount Kilimanjaro, you need to pack a fleece, rain jacket, and walking boots or shoes.
  • Additional items which are good to take on safari include binoculars, torch and adapter, and of course don’t forget your camera! 

6. What languages are spoken in Tanzania?

Even though Swahili, a Bantu language, is the official language of Tanzania and majority of the population speak it, not everyone in Tanzania speaks it. They might speak a variation of the Bantu languages as there are quite a few Bantu and Nilotic languages spoken throughout Tanzania. English is the second official language, spoken by a large number of Tanzanians – a remnant of colonial rule (formerly known as the Tanganyika territory). 

7. What currency is used in Tanzania?

Although Tanzania’s official currency is Tanzanian Shilling, which is accepted throughout the country, US Dollars are also widely accepted in a majority of tourist areas. However, the locals don’t usually accept US dollar notes printed before 2009. We recommend visitors exchange money at authorised dealers in Tanzania plus there are options to use ATMs to get the local currency. Most of the Tanzanian outlets accept Mastercard and Visa.

To make things a little simpler, we have shared a quick currency conversions (2021):

Currency Tanzanian Shillings
1 Pound Sterling 3212.97
1 Euro 2911.17
1 United States Dollar 2319.26
1 Canadian Dollar 1826.27
1 Australian Dollar 1800.13
1 Japanese Yen 22.10

8. How much money should I carry on my Tanzanian safari?

Usually, safari tours and packages are prepaid which includes airfares, meals, vehicles, lodges, camps and some or all activities. Once this is settled before you depart from home, on safari you’ll will need money to tip the guides and accommodation staff, buy any souvenirs, drinks and optional activities. Some of these can be paid for with credit cards, some you will need cash for. Around 50-100 pounds or dollars is probably the most you’ll need to spend per day in Tanzania, plus you can carry traveller cheques and credit cards.

9. Do I require a visa and passport to travel to Tanzania?

The majority of visitors travelling to Tanzania require a visa to enter Tanzania. There are certain exceptions to that rule. Visitors can either obtain a visa on arrival or get a visa prior to travel from the Tanzania Consulate in their country of residence. Some visitors (from specific countries) may not require a Tanzanian visa at all. Refer to Tanzania Immigration website for the complete list of visa-exempt countries. You can also refer to the same page for Referral Visa Cases, as it provides a list of countries that can acquire a visa on arrival. There are numerous types of visa, but visitors who want to travel to Tanzania for leisure require a Single Entry or an ordinary Visa. In addition make sure your passport has at least six months validity.

10. What about mosquito nets and repellent?

As malaria is present safari lodges and camps will all provide mosquito nets – whether you’re staying in a luxury lodge or a mobile tented camp, mosquito nets play an important part in preventing malaria. In addition, mosquito repellent is often provided, but it’s well worth bringing your own, plus don’t forget to pack a full sleeve shirt/blouse, and slacks or trousers to wear at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

11. How safe is the water and food in Tanzania?

The food in safari lodges and camps should be really good as meals are a huge part of the safari experience; relaxing over brunch after an early morning game drive, enjoying a delicious dinner at the end of an active day. Avoid drinking tap water and stick to bottled water provided by your safari guide and accommodation. If you are being more independent, choose any restaurants you visit wisely, and eat only at places that have good reviews and come highly recommended.

12. What transport will be used on safari in Tanzania?

It’s unlikely that you will have to worry about transport once you arrive in Tanzania. Many safari packages include a vehicle with a driver guide who will can take you around Tanzania on your safari. The vehicle included in the package will be your primary mode of transportation together with any charter or scheduled flights to take you to remote game areas or off shore islands such as Zanzibar.

13. How to make an emergency call in Tanzania

To reach emergency services in Tanzania dial 112 and ask for the required service.

14. Where are Tanzania’s best birding spots?

Arusha National Park: The park has more than 400 bird species, the most well-known amongst them the pink flamingoes that can be seen in the shallow waters of the Momela Lakes in Arusha National Park.
Lake Victoria: Home to more than 200 diverse bird species: cormorant, goliath, great-white egret, sacred ibis and malachite kingfishers are some of the most frequently spotted species.
Lake Natron: Boasting a diverse population of 127 bird species including ostrich, helmeted guinea fowl, coqui francolin, flamingoes, buff-crested and kori bustards, red-chested cuckoo and white-backed vulture. As well as Lake Victoria and Lake Natron, other lake destinations which are great birding locations include; Lake Eyasi, Lake Manyara-, and Lake Tanganyika are also ideal birding locations are Lake Eyasi, Lake Manyara and Lake Tanganyika.
Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park: With the highest number of bird species around 750, its diverse habitats are home to numerous turaco species, four of which are Hartlaub’s turaco, rose turaco, Schalow’s turaco and violent-crested Turaco. There are also more than 30 species of cuckoo in the park, including klass cuckoo and emerald cuckoo.
Ngorongoro Crater: Home to 500 bird species we mention some of the common bird species found in this area in FAQ 18.
Ruaha National Park: One of Ruaha National Park’s attractions is its large concentration of bird species, 450 bird species, including night-heron, storks, kingfisher, glossy ibis and goliath.
Rubondo Island National Park: The park has around 300 bird species, which include egrets, herons, flamingoes, kingfishers, spoonbills, African fish eagles and vultures.
Serengeti National Park: More than 500 bird species call Serengeti National Park  home. Some of them are grey-crested helmet shrike, grey-backed fiscal, Schalow’s turaco, Rupell’s vulture, Verreaux’s eagle and silverbird.
Usambara Mountains: Usambara Mountains region is teeming with birds including little yellow flycatcher, east coast akalat, dapple-throat arcanator, southern banded snake-eagle and Fischer’s turaco.

15. What are Tanzania’s major attractions?

  • Arusha Game Reserve
  • Lake Manyara National Park
  • Lake Victoria
  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Zanzibar Beaches and Historical Sites

16. What is the appeal of Ruaha National Park?

Here are a few attractions of Tanzania’s second-largest national park, Ruaha National Park, which is part of the southern safari circuit and one of the country’s less accessible parks, making it one of Tanzania’s hidden wildlife gems.

  • Abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, primarily large concentrations of big cats – leopards, lions, and cheetahs.
  • A high concentration of the largest of the big five animals, African Elephants.
  • A spectacular birding destination, it is home to 500 bird species with frequent sightings of ashy starlings and black-collared lovebirds.
  • Diverse habitats, including savannahs and miombo woodlands.

17. What wildlife can be seen in Selous Game Reserve?

Selous Game Reserve, the largest national park in Africa, has a high mammal population with around 150,000 African buffaloes, 40,000 hippos, 25,000 impalas, 4,000 lions, 100,000 wildebeest, and 35,100 zebras. In addition, with its 440 bird species, it is a bird watcher’s paradise. Listed below are some of the most popular wildlife species found in Selous Game Reserve.

Animals

  • African wild dogs
  • African buffalos
  • Giraffes
  • Impalas
  • Lions
  • Leopards
  • Nile crocodiles
  • Waterbucks
  • Zebras

Birds

  • African spoonbill
  • African skimmer
  • Brown-necked parrot
  • Black-winged stilt
  • Common white-headed vulture
  • Dickinson’s kestrel
  • Pel’s fishing owl
  • Racket-tailed roller
  • White-fronted bee-eater
  • White-backed night heron
  • Yellow-billed stork

For more information, take a look at Selous Game Reserve.

18. What wildlife can be seen in Ngorongoro Crater?

The most famous spot in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders. Formed from a collapsed volcano, the crater provides year-round food and water for a remarkable amount of wildlife, including the Big Five, which lives here.

Animals

  • African buffalo
  • Black rhino
  • Black-backed jackal
  • Blue monkey
  • Crocodile
  • Elephant
  • Eland
  • Golden jackal
  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Oribi
  • Serval
  • Spotted hyena
  • Thomson’s gazelle
  • Topi
  • Waterbuck
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra

Birds

  • African spoonbill
  • Capped wheatear
  • Great white pelicans
  • Flamingoes
  • Hartlaub’s turaco
  • Hildebrandt’s francolin
  • Jackson’s widowbird
  • Northern anteater chat
  • Kori bustard
  • Scarlet-chested sunbird
  • Silver-cheeked Hornbill
  • Verreaux’s eagle

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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