Tanzania Travel Guide for an Unforgettable Safari!

Explore Tanzania with our helpful Tanzania Guide and fall in love with this top safari destination







Tanzania Travel Guide

Tanzania is an excellent African safari destination giving you the opportunity to see all of the Big Five. One of the best experiences is witnessing the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra crossing the plains of the beautiful Serengeti and Mara River, trying to avoid the jaws of crocodiles and other predators. Apart from the abundance of wildlife, Tanzania offers a rich diversity of natural landscapes and experiences.

The Serengeti is one of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania and one of the older ecosystems in the world. The plains sweep up to Lake Victoria. Tanzania is also home to the world's largest intact volcanic caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the tallest mountain in Africa; Mount  Kilimanjaro.

Apart from these well-known highlights, Tanzania offers a lot more stunning beauty. It counts 22 National Parks, including Arusha National National Park, Lake Manyara famous for its tree-climbing lions and flamingos, and Tarangire National Park. The Northern part of Tanzania, called the Northern Circuit, is the most popular among tourists, but Selous Game Reserve, now renamed Nyerere National Park, and Ruaha National Park, part of the Southern Circuit, are also well worth a visit.

A well-known tribe is the Maasai; opt for a bush walk with a Maasai guide and learn more about their culture and the bush. Lots of safari trips in Tanzania are luxury and high-priced, but you can also find budget (overland) safari tours. You can also think about volunteering in Tanzania to contribute to (wildlife) conservation.

After your safari trip in Tanzania extend your trip to the tropical Zanzibar (or Pemba) to enjoy the white sandy beaches or experience a thrilling skydive. The food is also delicious; expect a mixture of Arabic, Indian and African influences. 

Table of contents in this Tanzania Travel Guide:

Interesting Facts Tanzania

  Flag of Tanzania

Tanzania country flag

  Tanzania's National Animal

Masai Giraffe

  Tanzania National Dish

Ugali (maize porridge)

  Currency in Tanzania

Tanzanian shilling (TSh)

  Tanzania Time Zone
East African Time Zone or EAT (GMT+3 hours)

Best time to visit Tanzania

The best time to travel to Tanzania depends on what you want to see and do and what wildlife you would like to spot. The numbers of wildlife you are able to spot are dictated by the rains.

  • In general, the best time to visit Tanzania is during the dry season, from July to October, when wildlife sightings are at their best and animals congregate near water holes or rivers. This is also the high season with little to no rainfall.
  • If you don't mind the chance of some rain showers and you want to avoid flocks of tourists, travel to Tanzania between November and March (or even until May). It's Tanzania's 'green season' and there are fewer tourists. It's also the best time for birdwatching and spotting newborn calves from the Great Migration herds (late January to February).
  • The best time to witness the Great Migration is between July and September, this is also the busiest season with lots of vehicles. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is usually June-July.
  • Tanzania knows (short) heavy rains between March and April/May, this can affect wildlife viewing or other activities like hot-air ballooning. Except for this wet season, Tanzania is an all-year-round travel destination.

Looking for the best places to stay for a safari in Tanzania?

Things to know before you travel to Tanzania

Safety in Tanzania

Tanzania is generally a safe country to travel to, however violent armed robbery, petty theft, and threats of violence, sexual assault, and mugging are common in Tanzania, especially in Dar es Salaam. Take extra care in Arusha where armed robberies and carjackings have happened. Terrorist attacks have happened at places of worship. Try to avoid the Cabo Delgado province - Mtwara region - near the Tanzania and Mozambique border area. Also, try to avoid the border area with Rwanda. There are always isolated incidents reported from all over the world. Just use your commons sense while traveling and pay attention to your personal security, be alert in crowded places, avoid large gatherings or demonstrations, and monitor local media. Avoid walking and traveling after dark. I felt safe the entire time when traveling in Tanzania, especially in the company of my safari provider. I found the people very warm and gracious. Keep a safe and legal distance when looking at animals and don't swim in lakes and rivers.

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Tanzania

Almost all foreign nationals require a visa to travel to Tanzania. You can obtain a visa through the embassy or consulate, but you can also apply for an online (e)visa or a visa upon arrival. Just be sure your passport is valid for 6 months. For more details and an online visa application, visit the official Visa Application System of the Immigration Department of the United Republic of Tanzania (both mainland and Zanzibar).

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel Choices for Traveling to Africa

Responsible Travel in Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the world's poorest countries, but one of the most expensive to travel in. Tourists like us can have a huge impact. Spend your money in national parks, game reserves, and with local communities to emphasize the importance of wildlife tourism over (for example) trophy hunting. Hunting (legal and illegal) is a big issue in Tanzania. National Parks and reserves often have projects to control and monitor this practice.

Never purchase items made from endangered species, such as ivory, fur, or turtle shells. Don't volunteer in orphanages and don't visit schools when the children are still present, as it is disruptive for the children's education. If you really want to make an impact, ask if the school requires items and donate them to the teacher.

Also, it is best to organize your trip through a responsible, reputable, local tour operator, to stay at locally owned eco-hotels, to use local guides, and to buy local food. Search for organizations that are also teaching and supporting locals to create their own sustainable independence or invest in conservation education in schools.

Responsible Tourism Tanzania (RTTZ) is a non-profit organization that will encourage and promote a more sustainable tourism industry within Tanzania. It stands for protecting and caring for the diverse cultures of the country, as well as its natural environment. It provides guidelines as well as tools to help the tourism enterprise adopt internationally accepted responsible management practices. 

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Tanzania

Required vaccinations depend on what you will be doing in Tanzania, which places you will be visiting, and how long you will stay. However, most travelers to Tanzania require Hepatitis A, TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), Rabies, Cholera, and Typhoid. There is a risk of Yellow Fever as well as dengue, Zika virus, filariasis, and sleeping sickness due to the tsetse fly. Malaria is a risk throughout Tanzania, except in areas above 1800 meters. Use mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, and antimalarials if you travel to Tanzania. Consult a travel clinic for personal advice regarding your travel plans.
What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Tanzania

The two official spoken languages in Tanzania are Swahili and English. Swahili is the national language of Tanzania. In Zanzibar, they speak Arabic and other regional languages in Tanzania are Chaga, Makonde, and Datooga. Make an effort to learn a few words in Swahili. Jambo is only a tourist-way to greet. 'Habari' is a better word to say 'hello, how are you?'

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Mount Kilimanjaro and Maasai Cattle

Climb the iconic Kilimanjaro

Climbing the highest mountain in Africa (5,895m or 19,341 feet) is a top experience for ambitious hikers and is definitely a challenge of a lifetime. The main summit is called Uhuru Peak. The best times to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro are in the driest months, especially Jan-Feb, and Aug-Sep. There are several climbing routes up to the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and require you to camp or stay in huts. The trekking is usually from 5 to 7 days. Search for a responsible tour operator for your climb where locals will lead the climb and that supports the fair and ethical treatment of Kilimanjaro Porters, who are carrying your stuff. 

view of Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

Visit the Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest inactive, intact volcanic caldera that collapsed 3 million years ago, and that practically erupted with wildlife. It's a UNESCO world heritage site located in Northern Tanzania and a breathtaking place you should definitely add to your Tanzania itinerary. The protected area has about 25,000 large animals living inside the crater, such as lions, black rhinos, buffalo, hippo, wildebeest, and zebras. Because of the enormous concentration of animals, you will most likely see 3 or 4 out of the Big Five! You can't find any giraffes, impalas, or crocodiles in the crater. The crater is one of the best places to visit in Tanzania and a must-do on your Tanzania itinerary.

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River during the Great Migration in Masai Mara National Reserve

Witness the Great Migration in Serengeti

Serengeti National Park is one of the most famous and popular Safari destinations in Africa. This Unesco World Heritage Site is located in Tanzania and it's the oldest park in the country. The Serengeti offers a high amount of wildlife viewing all over the year. Best known for one of the earth's most impressive natural spectaculars: the annual Great Migration of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles crossing the plains of the Serengeti and the Mara River, trying to avoid the jaws of crocodiles and other predators. It’s home to the entire Big Five, however, rhinos are more difficult to spot due to poaching in all of Africa. Only black rhinos live in the Serengeti National Park.

Mwaburuga Fishing Village Lake Victoria Tanzania

Relax at Lake Victoria and visit a remote fishing village

Lake Victoria is an amazing place to stay on your Tanzania trip because it's totally different from wildlife-viewing in the Serengeti or Maasai Mara. It's Africa's largest lake and borders three countries: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

There are enough things to do around Lake Victoria, such as boat rides, hiking, bird watching, or fishing trips. Swimming is possible but be aware of Malaria and Bilharzia. A great thing to do is a ride in a small wooden boat to a nearby rural fishing village to observe the every-day life of these fishermen and their families and to learn more about the importance of Lake Victoria for these villagers.

Freefall Zanzibar Skydiving activity

Visit the Tropical Island of Zanzibar

Zanzibar is the home of paradise beaches, clear warm tropical waters to go for a swim, coral reefs, and rich marine life - such as dolphins. The best time to visit the tropical island of Zanzibar is from June to October during the cool(er) spring period (dry season), or from December to February in the short dry and hot season. Zanzibar is perfect for snorkeling and diving activities or for relaxing at the beach after your safari trip. There are enough things to do in Zanzibar for a 7-day itinerary, including Skydiving at Kendwa Beach!

Hyena feeding on a carcass in the Maasai Mara

Explore the off-the-beaten-path Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected area on the African continent and is located in southern Tanzania. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the diversity in wildlife and undisturbed vast wilderness with grassy plains, mountains, forests, and open woodlands. It's twice as big as Serengeti National Park and a less crowded safari destination in Tanzania. The network of swamps, lakes, and channels creates a unique ecological system. It's the hidden gem of Tanzania offering an amazing wildlife experience and lots of things to do from bird watching, and boat safaris to walking safaris, game drives, hot-air balloon safaris, and fly-camping tours. You can find an abundance of wildlife, such as elephants, hippos, lions, giraffes, zebras, leopards, hyenas, African wild dogs, and the sable antelope.

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