Tanzania has 7 UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Tanzania (formerly known as Tanganyika) and offers travellers a vibrant array of destinations revealing ancient histories, unique wildlife and rich cultures that have become to be known as one of the world’s melting pot for civilizations, it also has the world’s largest free–standing mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895 m. Choices for travellers to experience are huge, from superb game viewing of the Big 5 in various parks by vehicle, foot or via hot–air balloon, experiencing the world–famous Serengeti Migration, exploring Olduvai Gorge and ancient humanoid remains, and enjoying diverse cultural interactions and historic sites. On top of that, sit on a glorious palm–fringed beach by the warm Indian Ocean, snorkel or swim off the coral reefs – Tanzania really can offer an all–round beach and safari destination and one that should be on everyone’s “bucket” list. There is a wide range of lodges and camps from basic camping scheduled safaris, to all–singing and dancing luxury lodges offering something for everyone.
Located in East Africa with Kenya to the north–east, Mozambique to the south, Zambia south west, and small sections of Rwanda and Uganda to north/north west. Interspersed with the countries is Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, along with the Indian Ocean to the east where the islands are found. It is in union with the semi–autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar. With over 35 islands, Unguja (often referred to as Zanzibar) and Pemba are considered the main two islands. Unguja or Zanzibar is the business hub with most economic activities and attracts most tourists particularly to its capital the Stone Town. The country has an area of 945,087 sq km (364,900 sq miles) and a population of around 47.6 million (UN, 2012). The capital city of Tanzania is Dodoma, with around 325,000 while Dar es Salaam (meaning; the house of peace in Arabic) being the business hub (economic and trade capital), home to most foreign missions, ministries and the State House.
Zanzibar had long been a destination of great mysticism and great appeal to numerous empires such as the British and the Portuguese and later Omani Sultans. Ancient vessels were packed with jewels, ivory, gold and slaves and shipped to the Far East and strong trade linkages connected the archipelago with Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Zanzibar offers its visitors tours through the historical city of the Stone town, ruins, magical beaches, excursions and a unique marine life
An impressive 20% of Africa’s species of animal are found in Tanzania and an estimated 4m animals scattered throughout the parks and reserves, these are made up of 430 species and subspecies from predators, to 140 species of antelope, zebra, hippos, giraffes, buffaloes, primates and more. It is estimated there are over 60,000 insect species, 100 snakes, numerous fish and around 650 reptiles and amphibians
Large mammals: elephants, hippos, rhinos, giraffe, buffalo, kudu and other larger ungulates make up the large mammal category
Endangered species: include black rhino (best spotted at Ngorongoro Crater), wild dog, primates including red colobus monkeys, sanje mangebey, kipunge (highland mangebey) Rondo dwarf galago, along with Abbott’s duiker. There are also a number of turtles, amphibians, snakes and insects that should be included – for mammals 2 critically endangered, 13 are endangered, 19 vulnerable
Endemic: numerous and in particular includes the red colobus, Pemba flying fox, the Kilimanjaro mouse shrew, the grey–faced Sengi (elephant shrew), a number of bird species (numbers listed in bird section below)
Birds: A terrific and important country from a birding perspective! There are around 1050 species in Tanzania, with 800 or so resident, and the remainder migrant with around 21 endemics. 56 of these species are of global conservation concern and an additional 43 species are only found in 1 or 2 other countries. Species of interest include Ulurugu bush shrikes, Pemba green pigeon, hawksbill, Udzungwa forest partridge, Usambara eagle owl. There are plenty of jewel–coloured kingfishers, fish eagles, vultures, and many more to enthral no matter how much of a “birder” you are
NOTE: Tanzania holds parts of several Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs): the Tanzania ¬ Malawi mountains with 32 of its restricted range species occurring in Tanzania; the Albertine Rift mountains; the Serengeti plains with all 6 restricted range species; the Kenyan mountains with 5 of the 9 restricted range species; the East African coastal forests with 5 of the 7 restricted range species and Pemba with 4 restricted range species. In addition, there are three secondary endemic bird areas: south–west Tanzanian swamps; Kilombero flood–plain; and Dry woodlands west of Lake Victoria. Parts of 6 biome restricted areas occur in Tanzania: Guinea–Congo Forests of which 56 of its restricted range species have been recorded; the Lake Victoria basin with 11 species; the Afrotropical Highlands with 91 species; the Somali ¬ Masai with 77 species; the East African coast with 26 species; and the Zambezian biome with 40 species. Tanzania’s 80 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) cover a total of more than 167,000 km2 or about 18% of the land area with sites varying in size from 3 hectares to 5 million hectares. Only a small number of the better known IBAs are documented here but the total list of sites can be found at the references at the end of this section. (African Bird Club)
Flora: Thanks to the varied eco–systems, plant life is varied and rich with around 11,000 species located in lands from tropical rainforest, to acacia savannah. These are generally listed under broad titles such as savannah, woodland and semi–arid desert. Almost one–third of the country has a drier inland area of bushland, thickets, grasslands, forests (including baobabs), mangroves and the grasslands with scattered woodlands are throughout the country (think Serengeti) and alpine moorlands (think Mt Kili).. The famous African violet – now a popular house plant originally came from here. The montane forests contain around 7% of Africa’s endemic plant species.
Conservation & Conservancies: Poaching and anthropological pressure to meet the huge demand of wildlife meat has been a major problem in Tanzania with reported removal of 160,000 to 200,000 animals annually in the 1990s. The Government of Tanzania, in collaboration with international aid agencies, has made serious efforts to contain this problem through wildlife law enactment and enforcement, and finding solutions to the conflict between wild life conservation and the needs of rural communities dependent on these resources. Anti–poaching operations have been conducted on several occasions and game–viewing tourism has been a success in the easily accessible northern wildlife area of the country. Trophy hunting has also provided some respite to the problem and this has helped in generating revenue, generally in the northern, southern and western wildlife areas (notes from Wikipedia)
However, on a positive note, Tanzania has many protected sites and conservation areas set aside to alleviate the human–wildlife conflict including Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Its worth noting that the country has around 39% of its land protected in some form or another but with increasing human population soil erosion, deforestation etc are serious threats. As one of the original safari destinations, lessons in conservations have evolved and as such there are numerous privately– owned lodges and tourist development campaigns actively seeking to improve the situation
A year–round destination, deciding when to travel may still require some planning depending on what you want to experience – such as climbing Mt Kili, or experiencing the migration.
Climate: Tanzania has a tropical climate along the coast but it gets temperate in the highlands.
April & Mid – May = Long rains (Green Season)
June – Sept = Cool season
Nov – Dec = Short Rains
October – March = Hottest season
The range of Temperatures in Tanzania is fairly limited and always hot, running from 25 to 30 degrees C on the coast while the rest of the country apart from the highlands run from 22 to 27 degrees C. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20 °C (68 °F). The hottest period extends between November and February (25–31 °C or 77.0–87.8 °F) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (15–20 °C or 59–68 °F).
Seasonal rainfall is driven mainly by the migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. It migrates southwards through Tanzania in October to December, reaching the south of the country in January and February, and returning northwards in March, April, and May. This causes the north and east of Tanzania to experience two distinct wet periods – the short rains (or “Vuli”) in October to December and the long rains (or “Masika”) from March to May – while the southern, western, and central parts of the country experience one wet season that continues October through to April or May. Just bear in mind that during the heavy rains, some lodges may be closed with the secondary roads impassable for a period of time. As always and with all destinations, climate change is having a substantial impact so rains may come earlier, be heavier or hardly come at all!
Travel Documents and information
Money & FX:Tanzania: Tanzania shilling
Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are sometimes accepted in shops and restaurants in towns/cities and some lodges but do not rely on them for payments or for cash. Credit cards may incur an additional fee and lines may be down so worth carrying extra cash Stone Town: ATMs –at Barclay’s Bank, National Bank of commerce (NBC) and the Federal Bank of the Middle East (FBME). There are many more ATM machines in Arusha and Dar es Salaam. ATM machines will accept almost all cards. But note, American Express and Diner’s Club is not accepted
Cash: Not obtainable in advance and most people wait until arrival where cash can be obtained. ATM’s are available in towns/cities. USD also widely accepted but no notes issued prior to 2006 and USD100 may not be accepted so recommend smaller notes
Bureau de changes are widely available in Tanzania and Zanzibar (mainly the Stone Town) and Pemba and many hotels and lodges will accept payments in US Dollars and/ or Euros. You will find many outlets for Western Union and other money transfer operations across Tanzania and Zanzibar
Travel Insurance: As part of the Terms and Conditions to Chameleon Holidays and Travel, it is essential that all clients purchase comprehensive travel insurance. Your insurance should be inclusive of full medical cover including costs of emergency repatriation to your home country, and cancellation and strongly recommend covering for loss, damage, theft of personal luggage and belongings, personal injury, accident or illness. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate insurance and have read and understood the full terms and conditions of this policy to ensure you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on your trip. Please carry your insurance details with you at all times and that you have given your details to us before arrival – you may be requested to show your insurance on the morning of safari departure or to complete indemnity so please ensure it is in hand luggage. We will also require a copy of this insurance or details for your insurance, in the very unlikely event that you are involved in an accident or require health care whilst you are on holiday we MAY need to be able to act on your behalf and instruct medical evacuation – please note that much of Africa is not like many first world countries where there is a good local emergency and health service that will automatically assist. Chameleon recommends: www.worldnomad.com
Passport & Visa Information: It is the clients’ responsibility to ensure that they have allowed adequate time to obtain necessary visas in advance if they require them.
Visas: Tanzania– visas are required by most countries including USA, & UK, EU, Australia & New Zealand Prices vary but approx. US$45/50for single entry for UK passport holders and US$100 for US citizens. Visas can be generally be obtained from home country in advance – contact Tanzanian High Commission for more information or follow link below. You can obtain your visa on arrival but queues can be long so recommend you arranging in advance. Your passport must have sufficient empty pages (at least 2 pages per country visiting) and have at least 6months validity before returning to your home country. You may be refused entry to the country if you need a visa issued prior to arrival. This information is given in good faith but recommend you check in advance in case of any changes.
You can now apply for an Online Visa to visit the United Republic of Tanzania (both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar). You’ll need to complete the online form, make payment, and submit your application online. Your form will be internally reviewed and processed. Applicants will be notified through their e–mails whether their applications have been accepted or rejected. You can also TRACK your application statuses through the online system. Applicants may as well be required to visit the nearest Tanzanian Embassies or Consular Offices for interviews. For online application, copy this link: https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa/
IMPORTANT – Travelling with children – Under 18 immigration guidance
Some countries now require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s – even if travelling through a country in transit. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to you /your party
Lone Parents: Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentation confirming that the individual has authority to travel with the minor. It is crucial that you contact the relevant country embassy for further information on exactly what may be required.
For further information check the appropriate country’s government or travel advisory site
Please ensure you provide Chameleon with the correct passport information prior to arrival – passport number, full name as per passport, date of birth and passport expiry date
We recommend that you consult your physician or a travel centre prior to your safari departure, as there are a few health matters that require attention. Here are some guidelines but please remember we are not medical practitioners and recommend you contact your Governments Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and discuss with your doctor about the current situation – as a guideline only and general recommendation. Please do not underestimate heat exhaustion, we also recommend taking a small first aid kit with you and carrying a few over–the–counter medications (for headache/general pain relief etc
Tanzania: as a tropical country, it is recommended to have vaccines up–to–date
Hepatitis A & B – Recommended – Vaccines give good protection; initially two weeks from first dose and then second dose within 6–12months gives long–term protection
Polio – Yes and within 10years
Typhoid – Yes
TB – Recommended and covers long term
Tetanus – Yes – note there is an all–in–one vaccine that covers tetanus, polio and diphtheria
Dengue Fever: No vaccine but ensure against being bitten (usual precautions against mossie bites)
Malaria – Protection against malaria is required as malaria occurs in most regions – note chloroquine is not regarded as a suitable treatment in Tanzania.
Yellow Fever – Although not official, it is strongly recommended – you may be asked at point of entry to show certificate and is required if you have travelled from countries with yellow fever you may be asked to produce the certificate of vaccination – regulations for this are changing on a regular basis and we advise you check in plenty of time before your trip. It is currently classified as a yellow fever zone
Water: Recommend bottled mineral water
Preparing for your trip:
Climate: Tanzania can be visited throughout the year /all seasons, is tropical but this can vary greatly with altitude and regions. Tanzania has a tropical climate along the coast but it gets temperate in the highlands.
April & Mid – May = Long rains (Green Season)
June – Sept = Cool season
Nov – Dec = Short Rains
October – March = Hottest seasonCoast: areas are hot and humid, determined by monsoon winds from mid–March to May with rains most days and often heavy; short rains during November, December and sometimes into January. Some months are unlikely to receive any rains or have limited rain. Average temps vary little during the
Central plateau: dry and arid. The coolest and driest are from late June through to September – It can be cool at night, particularly in June & July and at altitude. Generally the long rains arrive April/May and the short rains Nov/early December. Temperatures can drop to around 15c in June/July and can rain any time of year.
Countrywide; Warmest months are from December to March and coolest from June–September
As with everywhere worldwide – climate change has had an impact and weather patterns can now be quite unpredictable
Safari: Neutral coloured casual clothing (shorts/long trousers, shirts/t–shirts) for everyday wear, bright colours or white are not suitable for game viewing in game walks or open vehicles; stout shoes (with soles thick enough to protect against thorns and for walking) or robust trainers with good traction soles, light jacket or jumper (summer time), warm jumper and jacket (winter time), light spray jacket during rainy season.
In towns/cities: normal clothing attire
Other clothing: sunhat; nightwear; underwear; socks; sandals; swimwear; scarf/gloves; beanie/warm hat for winter months; thermals useful in winter;
Other items: sunglasses; torch; prescription glasses or spare contact lenses if needed (note with dusty climate contact lenses may not be suitable); personal toiletries; small first aid kit and malaria prophylactics if required; any personal medication; insect repellent; sun lotion; lip salve; credit cards/visas/money/tickets/passport and insurance details; binoculars; refillable water bottle
Transport: Finding a private hire taxi in Tanzania and Zanzibar is rather easy, should you ever need to make a quick trip to a shop when in the city. Ask at your hotel lobby if you do not find one to hail on the street and you will have one available within minutes. Although taxis are not metered, fares will vary depending on the distance, traffic and areas you are travelling to and fro. We recommend touring the country with a reputable company whether as a private–guided or scheduled tour option overland or flying between camps.