A huge fan of Tanzania, Chania Hemsley-Smith answers questions about travelling on holiday to Tanzania. Our Frequently Asked Questions sections are intended to help you decide if a particular destination is what you are looking for. Get in touch with Chania if you would like some firsthand advice.
WHY WOULD I CHOOSE TANZANIA OVER OTHER SAFARI OPTIONS?
I think Tanzania is the most diverse safari destination in Africa, blessed with a stunning physical landscape that gives some of the greatest wildlife experiences on the continent. It is probably most famed for its Northern Parks like Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti and Lake Manyara. Many of these areas are also tribal lands and so you have the added cultural experience to go with the wilderness and wildlife. It is the perfect place to head to if you want to have good mix of game viewing, cultural interaction and scenic diversity.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
For main Tanzania access points of Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, British Airways and Kenya Airways operate daily direct flights from London via Nairobi. In addition, a number of services from the rest of UK via Europe and the Middle East.
HOW DO WE TRAVEL AROUND THE COUNTRY?
Travel around Tanzania is mainly done in four-wheel drive safari vehicles. You will also most likely fly between some locations on small aircraft as this is easy and maximises you time game-viewing.
IF THERE WAS ONE THING I SHOULDN’T MISS, WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
I’d say the Serengeti National Park every time! The Serengeti will always have a surprise in store for you, be it when you are out in the bush experiencing the wonder of the great wildebeest and zebra migration, or when searching for the big cats. There is always so much action here.
IS TANZANIA SAFE?
Like anywhere it is advisable to keep your valuables with you and not on show. Of course, there are many wild animals and you must always listen to the advice of your guides. On most of our trips you will be looked after by our representatives and will be met and transferred to all locations, so you are well looked after.
CAN I DRINK THE TAP WATER?
You should not drink the tap water, but instead drink bottled water. It is always best to check the bottle is sealed when you receive it.
IS ENGLISH WIDELY SPOKEN?
Yes the majority of people who you will meet will speak English. Although over 100 different languages are spoken across Tanzania, the official languages are KiSwahili (it is definitely worth learning the basics before you go) and English.
SHOULD I EXPECT VERY BASIC FACILITIES IN ALL TANZANIA HOTELS AND LODGES?
This really does depend on where you are staying, but accommodation ranges across the country from basic (but comfortable) camping to the ultimate in luxury.
WHAT IS THE LOCAL FOOD LIKE?
Most of the time you will be eating in your lodge or camp, which will be of a good standard. It’s always better to advise us prior to travel if you have any specific requests, as lodges do need to bring in food especially. Some places are a long way from towns so are unable to get supplies in at short notice.
When you are staying in bigger towns there are normally many eating-out options. Indian restaurants are plentiful, due to the high resident Indian population, and also pizzerias and continental restaurants are numerous. On the coast seafood is normally superb – my favourite and something I always recommend.
Local cuisine tends to be made up a stew, which includes one of the following - rice, chapti, ugali (a kind of maize porridge) or batoke (cooked plantain). The most common stews are beef, chicken, goat and beans. Fish is also used in towns near the coats and lakes. Swahili cuisine tends to be a bit spicier than other Tanzanian food.
If you do eat local food it is best to ask the advice of your guide, but it can be a great experience and one you shouldn’t miss!
HOW MUCH OF A CULTURE SHOCK IS TRAVELLING TO TANZANIA?
It really does depend on where you have travelled previously, but Tanzania is a poor country and you will need to be prepared to see poverty as is the case throughout Africa. Although many people have very little, you’ll feel very welcomed and hopefully will learn more about the local cultures and traditions.
HOW CAN I CONTRIBUTE TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMMES?
Buying local foods and produce is a good direct way to contribute to the local economy. Also buying presents for people back home adds to local income. If you are interested in any specific areas - schools, conservation programmes etc we can normally arrange for you to visit and find out more.
DO I NEED TO GET ANY VACCINATIONS AHEAD OF TRAVEL AND/OR MALARIA TABLETS?
Yes, you will need to speak to your GP or travel clinic to find out what is required. Tanzania is malarial. Remember to do this at least six weeks ahead of travel.
I AM PREGNANT, CAN I TRAVEL TO TANZANIA?
Again it is always best to consult your doctor on whether and if you should travel.