NEED TO KNOW
Language: English, Swahili
Capital City: Dar es Salaam
Population: 37 million
Area: 365,000 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 225
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Dec 30, 2008:
1 Tanzania Shillings = $0.00 US Calculate Other Amounts
Tanzania requires visas for citizens of the United States. Although visas may be purchased at the airport, it is advisable to obtain one from the Tanzanian embassy prior to arrival.
GOOD TO KNOW
WHEN TO GO
Tanzania's four seasons are dictated by the rains, which fall in two soggy seasons: the "long" rains from March to May (or, often, June), and the "short" rains in November and December. In general, the long dry season from June to October is the best time to visit: The weather is at its driest and coolest (highs range from the upper 70s to the mid 80s); the park roads are accessible; and the wildlife is easier to spot than in the rainy season. (A notable exception is within the Serengeti National Park, where wildlife watching is at its best from December to June.) Late December brings a second, shorter dry season that lasts through February, though temperatures are often uncomfortably high—especially on the coast. It's worth remembering that high-season weather is accompanied by high-season crowds (and costs), and many of the top lodges and camps book up months in advance.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are no nonstop flights from the United States into either of Tanzania's two main airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport, in Dar es Salaam; and Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is popular with mountain climbers and visitors heading to the northern safari circuit. On carriers such as KLM and British Airways, you can make a connection in Europe. Other options include flying through Johannesburg on South African Airways, Rome and Addis Ababa on Ethiopian, or London and Nairobi on Kenya Airways. You'll likely arrive the night before you plan to head out on safari, so it's best to book hotels close to the airport, as your charter flight or jeep transfer will likely depart early the following morning.
Due to Tanzania's vast size and the variable condition of the roads, it's likely that most of your in-country travel will be via scheduled charter flights on small planes, some with as few as four seats. Getting to more remote camps in places like Katavi National Park and the Selous Game Reserve often requires private charters, which can add significantly to the cost of your trip. Be sure to budget for these additional expenses (which can add up to an extra $1,000 or more per person). It's nearly impossible to arrange charter flights from outside the country, so it's best to have a tour operator or travel agent plan these for you. For travel between larger airports—such as Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar—book flights on Tanzanian carrier Precision Air. It's a good idea to set up airport transfers in advance; otherwise, be prepared to bargain with cab drivers.
Traveling by road is a good way to take in the breathtaking scenery, but the prohibitive costs of car rentals and insurance—along with the country's shocking rates of traffic pileups—make this a risky gamble for first-timers to Tanzania. Hiring a driver is highly recommended; 4WD is a must.
The logistics of planning a trip to Tanzania on your own are positively staggering. The lack of reliable information online, the difficulty of booking flights from outside the country, and ever-changing flight schedules make it a trip that not even the most experienced traveler should undertake planning on their own. It's best to book through a tour operator or travel agent who can walk you through everything from reserving reputable charter flights to taking proper health precautions. That will also ensure that you'll have on-the-ground assistance to deal with unforeseen hiccups, which are common—and surmountable, if you have the right people on your side.
Tanzania Tourist Board
Tel: 255 22 211 1244
January; 1, New Year's Day; 12, Zanzibar Revolution Day
April: 26, Union Day
May: 1, Labor Day
July: 7, Peasants' Day
August: 8, Farmers' Day
December: 9, Independence Day; 25, Christmas Day
Winter: Eid ul-Fitr; Eid ul-Adha; Islamic New Year
Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter; day after Easter, Easter Monday