Are you ready to venture abroad, but picking between tropical beaches, rainforests, or icy mountain peaks is like trying to decide on a single froyo topping? Fear not, my indecisive friend, because Tanzania has it all. As one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, Tanzania boasts some of the most exciting adventures you’ll ever find. Trek Mt. Kilimanjaro (the highest peak in Africa), explore rainforests, visit impeccable beaches, traverse the Savanna, or check out amazing wildlife year-round (including one of the densest populations of lions in all of Africa). There is no doubt: adventures in Tanzania will be pure paradise for adrenaline junkies!
Located on the coast of Eastern Africa, Tanzania has a population of 47.6 million and welcomes a little over a million travelers every year. With fascinating tribal cultures as well as Arab and Indian influences, Tanzania is diverse not only in its flora and fauna, but also in its people.
Dar es Salaam. Historically a small fishing village, Dar es Salaam has grown into a multicultural hub with fabulous restaurants, historic buildings, and all the metropolitan sites you would expect from the largest city in Eastern Africa. It also happens to be the perfect jumping-off point (no, not literally! Although there are a couple bungee jumping spots in the area if that’s what you’re into.) for safari adventures in Tanzania. From Dar es Salaam, it will be easy for you to take a trip to Serengeti National Park to see some of the largest herds of lions, cheetahs, and zebras on the planet. We know you’ve been lifting up kittens like Baby Simba for years just waiting for this moment. The Serengeti will not disappoint; it is actually as gorgeous as a Disney movie (B.Y.O. Simba though).
Mafia Island. The most spectacular of the Spice Islands, this is a great place to call home for a few days while you check out the many adventures the Indian Ocean has to offer. Less of a Lion King fan and more of a Little Mermaid type? This is your spot. With some of the richest reefs in the world and a great diversity of ocean life, you can wave your little fin through cliffs and channels so breath-taking, even Ariel may have considered staying in the sea. Once you’re ready to dry off and soak up some sun, you’ll discover the sparkling white beaches are almost too good to be true.
Moshi. Nestled at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, this is the perfect resting stop before and after you make the climb up (at least part-way) Africa’s tallest mountain. The town itself has a lovely market to visit during down time, and is also quite close to a few safari destinations: Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, and Arusha National Park. The climate in this area is pretty warm, so you may be glad to find out about the popular nearby swimming holes, Marangu Waterfall and Lake Nyumba ya Mungu.
Adventure Travel in Tanzania
Adventure activities in Tanzania abound, so there are fun opportunities for people of all ages and interests. Safaris are definitely on the short list of activities to include in your Tanzania adventure, along with scuba diving and/or snorkeling. In addition to the exhilarating mountain climbing and spectacular underwater coral caverns, there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to relax on between adventures in Tanzania. Tanzania is also one of Africa’s best birdwatching destinations, as it is home to over a thousand different species, most of which live there year-round.
There are adventure trips in Tanzania for every type of adventurer, many of which have an additional focus on conservation or development work. You’ll likely be traveling in smaller groups of like-minded adventurers with professional guides and local support staff no matter what type of adventure you embark on in Tanzania.
Tanzania welcomes visitors year-round, which makes scheduling adventure trips easier. However, there is still a peak season, which tends to be July through March. Some wildlife parks in the South and West are closed during April and May, while the Northern parks are still active, but less crowded. The wildebeest migration and calving season happens from June to July and January to February, so those are great times to go to the Serengeti.
In general, June through October is the dry season and a fine time for all types of adventures in Tanzania. In April and May, you’ll see more rain (which means more mosquitoes) and less travelers (which means lower rates on all the attractions). The migrant birds are back in Tanzania from November through April, though many other species live there full time. Rest assured, there will be abundance of majestic wildlife and breathtaking landscapes waiting for you, whether you choose to visit during the rainy or the dry season.
Costs & Affordability
Tanzania is a relatively inexpensive place to travel to (for example, an 11 oz. Coke costs $0.60). You could budget about $15 per day for food and eat quite well during your adventure in Tanzania. Both the local currency, the Tanzanian Shilling, and the U.S. dollar are widely accepted throughout the country, but you’ll have a hard time finding places that accept credit cards, and those that do will charge a large fee. Your best bet, therefore, is cash money! But, be careful, because Tanzania is not the place to party like it’s 1999 (at least not with your Benjamins), since U.S. bills dated before 2006 are not accepted! There are plenty of ATM’s for withdrawing cash, just make sure you have either a Visa or Mastercard.
Tipping (10 to 15 percent of the bill) is commonly expected in major towns, cities, and tourist destinations. In smaller towns and rural areas, tipping is not customary. In some high end restaurants, a service charge is added automatically to the bill. If you’re out on an adventure in Tanzania, it is customary to tip the drivers, guides, porters, cooks, and other staff accompanying you on your trip.
Adventure travel in Tanzania spans a wide variety of activities, depending on the type of experience you want to have. A day-long safari, including transportation and lunch may cost between $150 and $600, with significant discounts for booking multiple tickets. A water excursion on Mafia Island could run anywhere from $30 to $250, with prices varying based on if you want a full-day adventure of whale watching, scuba diving, and sailing or just a simple afternoon of snorkeling. Public transport costs are extremely low and it’s an easy way to get around no matter where you travel in Tanzania. Renting a car can be complicated, however, so it may sometimes be easier to hire a driver, which costs around $40 for a full day.
Accommodation & Visas
As for where to rest your head after a long day in the sun, Tanzania can offer you luxury or the basics, depending on what you and your wallet prefer. You can rent a simple room with a communal bucket shower almost anywhere. In tourism hotspots, you’ll be able to find mid-range and even luxury accommodations as well. If you’re traveling to Tanzania during peak hotel season (July to August and December to January), prices may be a little higher than during other months. On the other hand, during the low season (April through early June), you can negotiate your room price and sometimes get as much as a 50 percent discount. Generally, expect to pay between $30 and $150 for a place to call home for the night.
A visa is required to enter Tanzania, and it costs $100 for U.S. citizens and around $50 for almost everyone else. You can get your visa in advance, which is recommended, or you can also request one upon arrival at the airport. Either way, you’ll be able to get a single-entry visa that is good for up to three months (90 days). Remember to check visa requirements with your designated embassy, which you can find via GoAbroad’s Tanzanian Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Tanzania offers travelers rich biodiversity and an amazing range of destinations across oceans, jungles, mountains, and plains. You can spend one day chasing elephants in the Serengeti and the next being chased by a sea horse in the Indian Ocean. The combination of cultures, wildlife, and climates you’ll find during adventures in Tanzania is one of a kind.
One challenge to be aware of while enjoying your trip to Tanzania is the presence of mosquito-born illnesses, such as malaria and yellow fever. While there is a yellow fever vaccine, there is no sure-fire way to prevent malaria. The best coarse of action, in addition to one of the many medications you can take to help prevent malaria, is to always use mosquito nets, bug repellent, and clothing that covers your body. Hotels may not hang mosquito nets in the rooms, but will have them available upon your request. Cholera and Typhoid are both concerns in Tanzania as well, and there are vaccines for both.
Tanzania is a country with many riches to offer and your travels there will undoubtedly change your life for the better. With dozens of NGO’s, conservation, education, and development organizations working in every region, you will find ample opportunities to use your adventurous spirit to learn more about local history and culture, while bringing growth to this amazing country through your visit.