Tanzania - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Tanzania


The largest country in East Africa, Tanzania boasts the highest mountain on the continent, the exotic spice islands of historical Zanzibar, and the famous Serengeti National Park whose seemingly endless plains stage one of the greatest spectacles of animal behaviour, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra followed by their predators. The Great Rift Valley gives rise to the unique geological formations found in the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater and Mt Kilimanjaro. It is also home to the world's largest game reserve, the Selous, covering an area larger than Switzerland. Tanzania is richly endowed with many animal and bird species and offers some of the finest game viewing on the continent. Dar-es-Salaam is the largest city, a hustling, bustling and surprisingly scenic tropical seaport that is a common starting point for trips into the country. A dusty safari into the vast wilderness is superbly complemented by time spent on the refreshing Zanzibar islands, with white palm-fringed beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and historic Stone Town - an exotic reminder of its days as a major spice and slave trade centre.

Tanzania is home to hundreds of different ethnic groups and cultures, from the red-clad herders of the Masai tribes on the Serengeti plains to the modestly veiled women of Zanzibar's Islamic Stone Town. The warmth and smiling faces of its friendly people will touch the heart of every traveller.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Synonymous with the Serengeti and the magical and tropical island of Zanzibar, Tanzania is an eco-tourist's dream and a great place to see sights of a wilder variety.

With so many wonderful game-viewing opportunities abounding in Tanzania, the most popular parks include the Mt Kilimanjaro Game Park and the Serengeti National Park. Off the shore of mainland Africa, Zanzibar is known for crystalline turquoise waters and sandy white beaches on its north shore. And while you're there, be sure to stop off at the National Museum and the Palace Museum.

The quickest and most comfortable way to travel round this magical country is to fly between cities, but for the more rural area and game parks it's advisable to hire a car or preferably a 4x4. But for those on a budget, bus is the cheapest and easiest way to travel.


Although Tanzanians come across as relaxed and friendly, it is important to observe certain formalities, especially with greetings. It is advisable to learn a few Swahili catch phrases when greeting, followed by a handshake. Women and men rarely shake hands in Swahili culture, however if the woman extends her hand, the man is obliged. Tanzanians are to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., and Ms, followed by the family name. Business dress is seldom very formal, however lightweight suits are recommended for formal occasions. Business hours are similar to Western countries, but a longer lunch break is taken during the hotter months, and business continues later in the evening from Monday to Friday.


Tanzania is hot throughout the year and is humid on the coast and dry on the central plateau. The heavy rains last from March to June and can make unsealed road travel difficult. The hot, dry weather in January and February attracts the most tourists. The best time to visit the Serengeti is from January to March when the grazers are calving and there are plenty of lion around, or to witness the wildebeest migration to and from Kenya which occurs at the onset of the dry season and again with the first rains, usually the beginning of June and mid-November. Zanzibar has a warm climate year-round and its coastal resorts are tempered by sea breezes. The island is best avoided in April and May, the rainy season.


The international country dialling code for Tanzania, as well as Zanzibar, is +255. The outgoing code is 000, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)24 for Zanzibar and (0)22 for Dar-es-Salaam. International calls made from rural areas may have to go through the operator. Mobile phones work in the main urban areas and Zanzibar; the network operators use GSM 900 and 1800 networks. Travellers should contact their service provider to ensure they have international roaming. Avoid making telephone calls from hotels; they can charge as much as $10 per minute. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts.


Visitors to Zanzibar should be aware that it is a predominantly Muslim area and a modest dress code, especially for women, should be respected when away from the beach and in public places. Topless sunbathing is a criminal offence. Smoking in public places is illegal.

Duty Free

Travellers to Tanzania do not have to pay duty on 250g tobacco or 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 500ml of alcoholic beverages, and 473ml perfume. Restrictions apply to firearms, plants, plant products and fruits.

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used.

Travellers are advised to take medical advice at least three weeks before leaving for Tanzania. Most visitors will need vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid, yellow fever and polio. Those arriving from an infected country are required to hold a yellow fever vaccination certificate. There is a risk of malaria all year and outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever occur; travellers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should also be avoided, as meat and milk products from infected animals may not have been cooked thoroughly. Sleeping sickness is a risk in the game parks, including the Serengeti, and visitors should avoid bites by tsetse flies. There is a high prevalence of HIV/Aids. Cholera outbreaks are common throughout the country and visitors are advised to drink bottled or sterilised water only. Travellers climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro are at risk for altitude sickness. Medical services are available in Dar-es-Salaam and other main towns, but facilities and supplies are limited; visitors with particular requirements should take their own medicines. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Swahili and English are the official languages. Several indigenous languages are also spoken.

The official unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS), divided into 100 cents. The tourism industry prices everything in US Dollars and they are the preferred unit of currency. Major currencies can be exchanged in the larger towns. Foreign exchange bureaux in the main towns usually offer a better rate on travellers cheques than do the banks. ATMs are available in major cities only. Major lodges, some hotels and travel agents in urban areas accept credit cards, but these should not be relied on and can incur a 10% surcharge.

Passport Visa

All visitors entering Tanzania require a visa. Visitors may obtain a visa on arrival at Dar-es-Salaam or Zanzibar airports, costing between US$50 and US$200 depending on nationality, payable in cash. All visitors also require proof of sufficient funds and should hold documentation for their return or onward journey. Passports should be valid for at least six months from date of entry. Those arriving from an infected country must hold a yellow fever vaccination certificate. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


As in other East African countries, the threat from terrorism is high and visitors should be cautious in public places and tourist sites and hotels, particularly in Zanzibar's Stone Town. The area bordering Burundi should be avoided. Street crime is a problem in Tanzania, especially in Dar-es-Salaam where tourists should be alert and cautious. Lonely beaches and footpaths are often targeted; women are particularly vulnerable to attacks. Visitors should leave valuables in their hotel safe and not carry too much cash on them at any time. Armed crime is on the increase and there have been serious attacks on foreigners in Arusha and on Pemba Island. In February 2007 a party of tourists were also robbed by armed men near Ngorongoro Crater. Road accidents are common in Tanzania due to poor road and vehicle conditions, violation of traffic regulations and exhaustion among long-distance drivers. In the most recent accident, a bus travelling to the popular tourist town Arusha plunged off a bridge into the river after the driver lost control of the vehicle, killing at least 47 passengers.

GMT +3.

Waiters in the better restaurants should be tipped around 10%. Guides, porters and cooks in the wildlife parks and on safari trips expect tips. The amount is discretionary according to standard of service and the number in your party.

The small islands of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara, just off the southernmost section of Tanzania, are home to some of the most impressive ruins in eastern Africa. The islands were used as bases for trading luxury goods like gold, silver, ivory and pearls from the 13th to the 16th century, and the region's Muslim heritage is displayed in the many mosques, palaces, forts and tombs found there. Nearby on the mainland, Kilwa Masoko has a few resorts that make a good base for visiting the islands, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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