Tanzania

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
41,048,532

Religion:

About 45% of Tanzanians are Christians; Roman Catholicism is the largest denomination. Islam is the religion of about one-third of the people on the mainland and is dominant on Zanzibar. Less than one-fifth of the population follows traditional religions.

Language:

Swahili and English are the official languages of Tanzania, but many people continue to use the language of their ethnic group. Arabic is widely spoken on the coast.

Area (sq. km):
945,087 square meters

Time:

GMT +3

When To Travel

The relative height of much of the country results in a fairly temperate climate for most of the year, especially in the northern part of the country. Evenings can be quite cool, whilst daytime temperatures are pleasantly warm. The principal rainy season is April/May, whilst in November and early December, the ‘short’ rains bring showers in the early mornings and evenings. The hottest months are October to February; on the coast it is generally hot and humid. Ngorongoro Crater can be very cold at night and in the early morning.

The climate in Tanzania differs across the northern, southern and coastal regions. With regards to the northern safari circuit, which includes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, the dry seasons run from January to March and then from June to mid-November. The short rains fall from mid-November to the end of December. Rainfall tends to occur in short bursts and usually later in the afternoon and evening. The long rains, which occur generally throughout April and May, are not a good time to visit northern Tanzania. The southern region of Tanzania, including Selous and Ruaha, is not as impacted by the long rains of April and May as the north. Peak travel seasons for Southern Tanzania are throughout July to October. Kilimanjaro is best climbed from December to March and from June through to September, inclusive. The island of Zanzibar receives monsoon like rains in April and May and into the start of June. The remainder of the year is a better time to travel to Zanzibar.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

The major international airports are Kilimanjaro Airport, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Small airstrips in national parks and smaller towns service domestic services.

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Tanzania is +255. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Alternatively local sim cards and pay-as-you-go credits are easily obtainable. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.

Electricity:

The electricity supply in Africa is rated at 220 volts/50 cycles, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round three pin plugs are the most common types in Africa. Tanzania has a G-type three-pin rectangular blade plug which is also used in Uganda, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Tanzania also has a D-type three-pin plug with round pins. This plug is also used in Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Food:

The food in Tanzania includes a variety of African and Indian recipes. The island of Zanzibar has excellent restaraunts with a fusion of spices and middle eastern influences. Ugali is a porridge made from cornmeal or millet flour and is a local staple. Nyama Choma, which combines meat such as goat and ugali, is popular and is eaten by the hands. Groundnut soup, stews and kebabs are also favourite dishes. Use of spices and coconut also feature in Tanzanian cuisine. Indian food such as pilau rice, samosas and chapatis are often eaten with meals. Tea is served very hot and sweet.

Shopping:

Timber curios, soapstone sculptures, beadwork and Masai blankets and jewellery are offered for sale to travellers. Wildlife photogrpahic books and guides, maps and Swahili language phrase books are abundant in Arusha. A variety of paintings and screen printed cloths are also to be found. Some of the paintings on offer in Zanzibar are exceptional and completed using a distinct local style known as Tinga Tinga paintings. Locally hewn Tanzanite gems can also be purchased in Tanzania.

Visa: Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders currently require a visa for Tanzania. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. Care must be taken to ensure that your visa does not expire before your proposed date of entry to Tanzania (visas are usually valid for three months from the date of issue).
It is recommended that visas should be obtained before departure. A visa fee of US$50 is charged to most foreign nationals. A visa fee of US$100 is charged for US citizens.

Useful Words & Phrases

Further Reading

East Africa - Lonely Planet

Going Down River Road - Meja Mwangi

Flame Trees of Thika - Elspeth Huxley