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Frequently asked questions about Tanzania

What is the best time to travel?

Most of the rain comes down in the months of March, April and May and to a lesser extent in November and December. Just after the rainy season, the landscape is green and many of the trees and flowers are in blossom. During the east African winter months of July and August, the temperature is pleasant during the day but there is often a wind which can require a sweater in the higher areas, even in daytime. At night it is cool and you will need a sleeping bag that is at least capable of keeping you warm enough at freezing point. The relatively cool and dry period from June to October and the hot dry period from the end of December to February are the most pleasant.
The best times to climb Kilimanjaro are from July to November and from January to the beginning of March. The higher you climb the less you will be troubled by rain.

What is the best time to see wildlife?

Wild animals are everywhere here, not just in the wildlife parks. With the exception of a few of the rare species most animals are usually visible. Tanzania has more than 1,100 species of birds.
During the dry months it can be a little easier to spot game.
Many tourists wish to see the vast migrations, one of the most amazing sights in the animal kingdom. Large herds of wildebeest (gnus), zebras and several species of antelope seek pastures new in the immense highland plains of the Serengeti and Masai Mara. The pattern of migration usually takes the following shape: After the heavy spring rain, the trek begins in June from the Ndutu plains in the Serengeti and goes to the central and western regions of the Serengeti. In July and August the migration heads north and arrives in the Masai Mara in Kenya around September. From November onwards the exodus heads south again, to the eastern plains of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro reserve. The herds reach the Ndutu plains

What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

In Tanzania, Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas are celebrated as well as the Islamic festival of breaking the Fast, Eid ul-Fitr. The large Hindu community also celebrates its holidays. In Tanzania, it sometimes happens that a national holiday is announced with one or two days notice. Totally unexpectedly, government and public life just stops for a day. As the Islamic calendar is based on the observation of the moon, Islamic holidays take place on different dates every year. Eid al-Fitr (as well as other Islamic holidays) are colourful everywhere in Tanzania, but even more so in Zanzibar, where families participate in the processions in their best clothes. In 2008 Ramadan will take place from 1st September to 30th September. The festival of breaking the Fast is on 30th September.
Important national holidays in Tanzania are: New Year’s Day (1st January); Zanzibar Revolution Day (12th January): foundation of the political party CCM (5th&nbs

Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes, you have the option to pre-book airport transfers (arrival only) and secondly the option to pre-book pre and post tour nights.These extra services should be added to your booking.

What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

Do I need a visa?

UK/EU citizens need a visa for Tanzania, but these things can chang so please click here and check out the current situation. You can also check on that website if a visa is required for any other nationality. Make sure you find out if you need a visa at least a month before departure so you do not run out of time.

If you need a visa, please contact your nearest embassy unless you decide to use a visa service. Shoestring does not organise your visa. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. You can also obtain the visa through a specialised visa agency like

Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialised health centre and make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you arrange this at least six weeks in advance to give time for a full program. Two weeks should suffice for people who have already had a few injections. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

What is the recommended currency for Tanzania?

The official unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS), divided into 100 cents. The tourism industry prices everything in US Dollars and they are the preferred unit of currency. Major currencies can be exchanged in the larger towns. ATMs are available in major cities only. Major lodges, some hotels and travel agents in urban areas accept credit cards, but these should not be relied upon and can incur a 10% surcharge.

What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

This tour across the equator will mainly lead through highland and mountains with a moderate climate and nights that are sometimes cold. You will need to bring thin, cotton clothes. In the evenings a high-necked long-sleeved T-shirt or a thin cotton roll-neck jersey will offer useful protection against mosquitoes. Be sure to have a sweater and a waterproof jacket. A pair of worn-in walking shoes with good tread and strong soles is essential. Locust thorns can easily perforate soft soles. Sandals are comfortable on travel days. Other important items are: sunglasses, suntan lotion, toiletries, basic medical kit, sun hat or scarf, photo or film equipment, spare films and batteries, torch, maybe a pocket knife, alarm clock, stationery, books, passport with a valid visa, vaccination certificate, sufficient travellers cheques and cash, copies of your passport, visa and travel insurance, a list of cheque numbers and their receipts, your airline ticket, your travel insurance card with the

What kind of luggage should I take?

Solid suitcases are hard to transport on this kind of holiday so bring a backpack instead. A small rucksack is also useful for everyday use. Make sure your luggage is not too heavy. You will be allowed to bring 20 kg. on the aeroplane but you will certainly not need this much. During your trip you will no doubt buy a number of souvenirs and soon have more than enough to carry. We advise that you bring a maximum of 12 kg of luggage. To keep banknotes and other valuable papers safe, you are advised to purchase a slim cotton money belt that you can wear under your clothes. Bring a separate overnight bag.

What is the situation regarding electricity?

Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in Tanzania and/or Zanzibar. You could also consider taking a universal electric adaptor.

Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

What is the accommodation like?

Mostly we will sleep in two-man tents on campsites. Hotels are used in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller (same sex when possible) unless you have booked a single room. If we go camping, you may decide to take a small tent if you would prefer to sleep alone. If this involves extra camping fees (never very much), your tour leader will tell you and collect the extra fees.

Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?

Travelling in Tanzania you will need a sleeping bag and, if you want to be more comfortable, a sleeping mat and linen.

What can I expect from camping facilities?

The quality of campsite facilities varies from place to place. Some are comfortable; some have no running water or electricity.

Do I need to take a mosquito net?

Although hotels can provide mosquito nets on request, it will be useful to bring one with you for the nights when we are camping.

Do they cater for vegetarians in Tanzania?

Some meals (in Samburu, Serengeti and Ngorongoro) will be prepared for our group by a chef, so asking for a vegetarian meal won't be a problem.
Requesting a vegetarian meal in restaurants is not a problem either. The ingredients of local cuisine includes much fruit and vegetables such as tomato, carrots, onion, rice, cassava and bananas. It’s also common to find Indian foods which are mostly vegetarian.

What kind of transportation is used?

We generally use trucks, but if the group is small then we will use a car or minivan. Where necessary we will also use 4-wheel drive vehicles and ferries.

Is Tanzania dangerous?

In Tanzania, street robbers are especially active at night. Do not walk the streets after dark. In the daytime, too, some care should be taken: don’t show large amounts of money, be sure to hide your camera when it’s not being used and do not wear conspicuous jewellery. Remember that in the eyes of most Tanzanians we are immeasurably wealthy. For example, a camera represents the value of five annual salaries. That’s why you should never leave anything in your hotel room and always keep an eye on your bag and money belt. Sometimes travelling gangs visit certain regions or there is tribal warfare. In such cases we will take appropriate measures to ensure that our travellers are inconvenienced as little as possible. It may, however, be necessary to change part of the trip in such circumstances. Any consequential additional cost will be borne by the travellers.
In principal, the many wild animals you will see are not dangerous, provided you stick to some basic rules

What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

When people meet it is the youngest or lowest in rank who greets first, often bowing. The greeting is followed by a handshake, always with the right hand. It is very polite to put your right hand on your heart after shaking hands. When visiting someone’s house the visitor is the first to greet; at the end of the visit the visitor is also the first to say goodbye. It is considered rude to pass anything on with your left hand even if the right one is carrying something. Eating with your left hand is very impolite. Kissing in public is another sign of bad manners. Avoid coming across as a “know-it-all" as arrogance is seen as offensive. Causing offence here is easier than you may think!

Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?

You will have the possibility to snorkel or dive on the beautiful island of Zanzibar. Shining coral fishes are everywhere and giant turtles can also be seen.

Are there opportunities to swim?

You will have the possibility to swim in Zanzibar .

What other activities and sports could I do?

You will go on many safaris. You can choose to climb Mount Kilimanjaro if you like and you can take a boat trip to see dolphins in Zanzibar.

How are communications in Tanzania?

The mobile telephone services are usually available only in urban areas, although there are currently efforts to provide nationwide mobile phone coverage. Internet is available only in the cities and in tourist resorts.

What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference between Tanzania and your own country.

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