BEST TRAVEL TIPS FROM BEST GUIDES ADVENTURES

Clothes

Pack lightweight, short-sleeves/blouses and shorts are ideal, but pack a sweater for early morning game drives, as well as a head covering, sturdy, comfortable shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen. Long sleeves and trousers in light-coloured fabrics help discourage insect bites, avoid brightly colored clothes, as they may alarm the animals. Good places to shop for clothes are Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Stone Town. Shorts for women are acceptable, but mini-skirts and hot pants are a definite no. Women should carry a wrap to cover legs in villages and towns as revealing clothes can cause offence, especially in Zanzibar and Moslem areas. On the beach and within the confines of beach hotels normal swimwear is acceptable (but not nudity). For climbing the Kilimanjaro or Meru, take thermal underwear, light layers, sweater, rain jacket, good socks and sturdy boots. All other equipment can be rented.

Communication

Internet cafes in major towns and in many hotels and resorts are easy to find and the best and cheapest form of communication. Charges range from about $1 to $5 an hour’s connection. If you are travelling with a laptop, you’ll be able to hook up at top-end hotels and some mid-range hotels. Domestic and international calls can be made from Tanzanian Telecom offices in all major towns. Mobile phones are very common with a rapidly expanding network. Prepaid starter packages and top-up cards are on sale at shops throughout the country. Check with your home company about using your own phone in Tanzania. The country code for Tanzania is + 255.

Driving

On the left. An international licence is required. Self-drive vehicles are available mainly for local running or tarmac use. 4x4 Vehicles for safaris usually have to be hired with a driver.

Electricity

230V, but power failures, surges and troughs are common. Bring a universal adaptor and a torch (flashlight) or headlamp.

Flying doctor services

Flying doctor service is available and a temporary membership with the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is advisable. They provide air evacuation service in medical emergencies as well as air ambulance transfers between medical facilities. In addition, patients are repatriated to Europe, North America and Asia or medical escort is provided on commercial carriers.

Food & Drinks

The Tanzanian national dish is ugali, a staple made from maize or cassava flour, almost always served with a sauce containing meat, fish, beans or greens. Rice flavoured with coconut milk and matoke - cooked plantains- are other common staples. Though most visitors will rather go for mishikaki, marinated meat kebabs or nyama choma, seasoned roasted meat. Local dishes include Mtori - cooked beef and bananas - and Mchicha, a vegetable stew which meat or fish in it. Along the coast delicatable seafood dishes, often grilled or cooked in coconut milk or curry-style are widely served. The food on safari ranges from simple to gourmet, with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and homemade soups. At lunch and dinner chicken, lamb, beef or pork are served as well as fish and vegetarian dishes. Breakfast is comes usually as buffet with lots of tropical fruits, cereals, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, breads and pastries and eggs to order. Avoid tap water. Bottled water is widely available as well as fresh juices of pineapple, sugar cane and orange. The main soft drink is Tangawizi, a local version of ginger ale. Try the domestic, western-style beers Serengeti, Safari and Kilimanjaro. The local brew konyagi is a wonderful gin-like beverage. In the Kilimanjaro area you’ll find mbege - banana beer, or try Uraka, a legal distilled cashew drink.

Health

While a yellow-fever vaccination certificate is not officially required to enter the country unless you’re coming from an infected area, carrying one is advised. Malaria is endemic but is preventable, use insect repellent, cover up at sundown, sleep under a mosquito net and take anti-malaria prophylactics as advised by your doctor. Bring prescription medicines, spare glasses, contact lenses and solution as well as sunscreen, a first aid kit, paracetamol or aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibacterial ointment, cream for bites/stings and diarrhoea remedy. Drink only boiled or bottled water, bottled or canned drinks, avoid ice cubes and salads. HIV/Aids is widespread, especially in the main tourist areas. Check with your health department or local doctor for up dates. Mt. Kilimanjaro altitude sickness advice: climb slowly to increase your acclimatisation time and maximise your changes of reaching the summit. Bring a prescription of acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude sickness. To avoid altitude sickness, take your time. Allow a minimum of five nights, preferably even more for the climb.

Insurance

Check carefully with your insurance company which costs are covered and most importantly if the policy covers an emergency flight home. Take out travel insurance to cover loss of baggage or valuables, personal accident and medical expenses.

Language

In major towns and tourist areas English is widely spoken but a few words Swahili can be useful and will be appreciated greatly by locals.

Money

The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling. There are bills of 10,000, 5000, 1000 and 500. Coins are available in 200, 100, 50 and 20. Major foreign currencies are accepted and are convertible at banks and bureaux de changes (Forex bureaux) at the international airports, in the main towns and tourist areas. The best currency to bring is US dollars. Traveller’s cheques are exchangeable in some places. Credit cards are widely accepted but carry poor exchange rates; it is therefore advisable to carry cash. Visitors can take in any amount of foreign currency and no currency declaration is required, but import and export of Tanzanian currency is illegal. Some banks in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Moshi and Stone Town offer ATM facilities against international credit cards, but ATMs are not available elsewhere. Visitors may be expected to pay in foreign currency for game parks. Don’t change money in the street, it is illegal.

On Safari

Respect nature, its surroundings and wildlife. Keep your distance from animals and be quiet to avoid distressing the wildlife. Observe the animals silently and with minimum disturbance to their natural activities. Loud talking on game drives frightens them. Don’t remove any natural material from wildlife reserves as this disrupts the ecology of the area. Follow instructions of rangers or guides as they are the experts. Don’t insist that they take you closer to the animals and don’t leave your vehicle in the parks except in designated places. Keep recognising tracks to avoid damaging vegetation. Please ask permission before taking pictures of people as it is considered rude in African culture to take pictures without asking. Refrain from smoking on game drives as the African bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire is very disastrous.

Photography

Extra films and batteries for your camera are available in hotels, lodges and camps, but they often have limited stock, therefore we suggest you to stock up in Arusha or Dar es Salaam. Carry your equipment in dust-proof bags on safari, especially in the dry season, as roads can be extremely dusty. Keep equipment and film cool. It is courteous to ask permission before photographing local people; your driver-guide will assist you in this and will possibly help you agree on modelling fee. If you intend to take a lot of people pictures, be sure to bring an instant camera with you so that you can leave a picture with the people you photograph. Do not take photographs of military, policemen, the president, government officials, or official buildings such as airports, military institutions, border posts or roadblocks.

Time

Time is GMT/UTC plus 3 hrs.

Visas

Visas are required for almost everyone. A tourist visa set u back US$50 and US$100 for U.S. passport holders. Check on current requirements with the nearest Tanzanian High Commission, embassy or consulate. Single entry visas can be obtained upon landing in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro International Airport and at most border crossings (in US dollars cash only). To avoid waiting in line it’s best to get the visa in advance as waiting can be especially long if your flight arrives at the same time with other international flights.

Security

Tanzania is relatively easy place to travel and generally safe country, but don’t invite temptation. Keep an eye on your belongings. If you go out at night, take a taxi and use extra caution, especially in urban and tourist areas. Don’t carry cameras or large amounts of cash; beware of pickpockets. Use hotel safety deposit boxes to safeguard valuables. Avoid isolating situations, including lonely stretches of beach, whatever the time of day.

Shopping

Tanzania offers a good selection of crafts, from woodcarvings and basketry to textiles and paintings. There are many markets and vendors in the tourist towns, as well as hotels and lodges, selling a wide range of souvenirs, jewellery and trinkets. Look for Makone carvings, Tinga tinga paintings, with distinctive style and colors, Singida baskets, vibuyu (carved gourds) and Gogo woodcarvings. You will find also some wonderful textiles, primarily the kanga – the traditional cloth garment worn by many Tanzanian women with Swahili sayings printed on the edge and the heavier kitenge. Don’t be afraid to bargain at roadside curio stalls and at vendors in tourist areas, you are expected to do so.