Just below the equator, Tanzania borders Kenya and Uganda in the north; Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi in the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique in the south. Namanga Gate (between Tanzania and Kenya) is open 24 hours per day.
If you carry firearms you will require a special permit. The duty-free allowance is limited to one litre of liquor; 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; and 250ml of perfume. Any other items are subject to customs duty.
Tanzania has two rail lines: The Tazara line runs from Dar es Salaam to Zambia’s New Kapiri Mposhi, via Mbeya and Tunduma. The central line runs from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma and Mwanza, via Morogoro, Dodoma and Tabora.
Rail is a safer but slower travel option, and food can be purchased on board. Crime is not a major problem, but do ensure you have your possessions with you at all times.
‘Express’ and ‘ordinary’ buses operate along Tanzania’s major long-distance routes. Express buses are more comfortable, make fewer stops, and operate to a schedule, though they are slightly more expensive. Ordinary buses (generally the only option on secondary routes) are often packed to overflowing, make many stops, and deviate quite freely from the schedule. They and dalla-dallas (minivans) serve shorter routes. The latter are a slower and more dangerous option.
Buses are not permitted to operate at night. Note that roads in Tanzania have a high accident rate, and buses tend to speed. Reservations are not always possible, so get to the bus with plenty of time before the scheduled departure.
Domestic air services operate between the major airports:
»Dar es Salaam International (DAR)
»Kilimanjaro International (JRO)
»Kishni, Zanzibar (ZNZ)
There are a total of 129 airports in Tanzania, of which only eleven are paved. Air services have become the most significant form of internal transport for official and business travel. Small planes, from charter companies, fly to towns and to bush airstrips.
There are 88,200 km of highways in Tanzania, but only 3,704 km of these are tarred. The key roads are in good condition, though the majority are bad and hazardous.
Road conditions in the reserves and national parks of Tanzania are extremely rough. During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Tanzania is definitely not recommended as a self-drive destination. Any four-wheel drive vehicles for safaris usually have to be hired with a driver.
Watch out for cyclists, pedestrians, livestock and wild animals. Most car rental companies do not allow self-drive outside of Dar es Salaam. Driving is on the left side of the road. Your home driving licence, with English translation if necessary, is accepted.
Almost all nationalities of visitor require visas, with the exception of certain countries of the Commonwealth. You should acquire a visa before travelling, because some airlines insist on them prior to departure. Depending on nationality and country of origin, a visa may be obtained on arrival at Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro airports and at Namanga Gate on the Tanzania/Kenya border.
Despite being part of the union of Tanzania, Zanzibar remains independent. Passports and a Tanzanian visa are required for even a single day’s visit. Requirements may change so you are advised to contact your nearest Tanzanian Consulate before finalising your travel arrangements.
Visas cost US$10-60 depending on nationality and are usually valid for three months. Requirements for obtaining a visa are: a passport valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay, two passport photographs, proof of sufficient funds, two application forms and a detailed itinerary stating the reason for your visit. Sometimes a photocopy of your airline tickets is required.
Visitors must produce a valid yellow fever certificate obtained no less than ten days prior to travel. It is also crucial that you obtain malaria prophylactics before entering Tanzania. When purchasing these, please tell your doctor or pharmacist that you intend visiting Tanzania.
Precautionary measures to take to prevent contact with mosquitoes include: insect repellent, cover up at sundown, sleep under a mosquito net and wear long sleeve clothing and long trousers in the evenings.
Immunisation against cholera, polio, hepatitis A & B, typhoid and tetanus is recommended if travelling by road. There is a current warning that Tanzania’s immigration authorities are insisting on cholera certificates or will administer a vaccine themselves.
Medical facilities are limited and medicines are often unavailable. If medical assistance is given, doctors and hospitals require immediate payment. It is therefore advisable to obtain medical insurance prior to travel to Tanzania.
Emergency services and first aid are unavailable outside major cities and tourist areas. It is wise to bring with you any medication you may require, as you will not have access to pharmacies in most of the areas you’ll visit.
There is great concern about HIV/AIDS; recent estimates suggest that 10% of the population may be HIV-positive. There are many hospitals in Tanzania, but most are very understaffed. Tanzania has an harmonious national culture, one that is based on a subtle but strong social code of courtesy and respect. Tanzania culture is a result of African, Arab, European and Indian influences. The African people of Tanzania represent about 120 tribal groups. The largest groups are of Bantu origin, including Dukuma, Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai are of Nilotic origin, as are the Arusha and the Samburu.
Tanzania is one of the least urbanised countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but traditional African ideals are being deliberately adapted to modern life. Tanzanians are friendly to foreigners and amongst themselves. Politeness, respect and modesty are also highly valued, so it would be very helpful to learn some Kiswahili greetings before visiting. Take the time to greet people before you ask them for directions.
Handshakes is very important in social etiquette. Tanzanians frequently continue holding hands throughout a conversation. Note that the right hand is usually used for eating, while the left is traditionally used for toilet duties. You should try not to pass items to others with your left hand. When receiving items from others, do so with both hands, or with the right hand while touching the left hand to your right elbow.
Immodest attire, public affection and open anger are disrespectful to the Tanzanian people. In Zanzibar, it is important for women to dress modestly out of respect for Muslim cultural beliefs. Men should not wear shorts on the main island, and women should wear dresses that cover their shoulders and knees. This does not apply on Mnemba Island.
Tanzania is considered to be generally safe, but extra care should be taken in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. In the past there have been reports of muggings in game reserves. Although the government has stepped up security, it is better to be careful and to stay in close vicinity to other vehicles during your visit. Driving at night is not recommended.
Drink only boiled or bottled water, and bottled or canned drinks. If camping, bring your own drinking water and all other camping provisions.