10 Tanzania Travel Tips to Know Before You Go

tanzania travel tips

For many, Tanzania may be the most well-known country in Africa. It is the country that has become synonymous with the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar. People from all over the world flock to Tanzania to have a safari in some of the best national parks in the world.

The country is staggeringly beautiful, populated by a warm Swahili culture, and home to some of the best wildlife on this planet. Here are our top Tanzania travel tips to know before you go.

Tanzania Travel Tips

1. Hakuna Matata is Real

You know The Lion King? Scratch that I know you know The Lion King. It’s pretty tough not to know the song Hakuna Matata, that Timon and Pumbaa sing to young Simba. While the opening song “The Circle of Life” may not be Swahili, (it’s Zulu), Hakuna Matata is a real saying in Swahili! Yes, “Hakuna Matata” in Swahili does indeed mean “no worries.” So, when the days get hard Zanbari’s will be sure to let you know that it will be alright in the end. However, most Tanzanians will use “Hamna shida” outside of the tourist hotspots themselves.

Going off other Lion King celebrities Nala means gift in Swahili, while Rafiki is a friend, and Simba is a lion.

On safari in the serengeti

2. Have Some Deep Pockets For A Safari

The fuel, food, and camping costs are less than many other African nations we have traveled. However, where you save on those costs, you’ll slowly lose money to the Tanzanian park fees. Tanzanian Parks charge foreigners an arm and nearly a leg to enter their parks.

I’m all for paying for the conservation of a natural environment; however when the price is fifty times more than the local price I feel that I am just getting had. The Serengeti, for instance, costs a whopping $76 to enter, the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation will run you $76, and to actually drive any vehicle into the crater it will set you back $297 (a day). Make sure to have your credit card handy because this is the only method of payment accepted at the gate.

tanzania travel tips

3. Play Nice With the Police

This only really applies to self-drivers, but the Tanzanian police are littered across the roads of the country just waiting to hand out “tickets.” You will be able to see them from afar in their all white police uniforms sticking a hand out telling you to stop in the middle of the road.

Be sure to stick to the speed limits and only overtake other cars when it’s safe. Self-drivers should also equip their car with a fire extinguisher, wear shoes, safety vest, and red triangles or a bribe may be brewing up. Most fines are 30,000 shillings and the police will attempt to get you to pay on the spot.

If you suspect you are getting bribed insist on an official receipt from the police or tell them you will pay at the next police station. If you really weren’t breaking any rules this should get them off you back, it has gotten us out of many “tickets.”

Throughout our six weeks in Tanzanian, I can’t even count on my hands and toes the number of times we were pulled over. We probably got asked for a bribe five of those times and only ended up paying 30,000 Tanzanian shillings in two instances. One when we were going 11km over the limit and one when we were going 3 km over the speed limit. Yes. 3 km’s.

When dealing with police my best Tanzania travel tip is to remain calm, patient, and polite. Kill ’em with kindness.

4. Beaches, Plains, and Mountains – Oh My!

Tanzania travel has so much to offer tourists it’s overwhelming. Tanzania has beautiful turquoise beaches in Zanzibar, lush mountain vistas in the Usumbara mountains, the tallest peak in Africa, wild jungles in the Mahale Mountains, and endless plains in the Serengeti. With a country that’s rich in wildlife and culture, it’s hard to get bored.

If you make the effort to travel to Tanzania we would recommend experiencing several different climates. The most popular route for many is to finish a safari or Kilimanjaro climb with some much-needed relaxation on one of the best hotels on Zanzibar. 

Tanzanian Coast

5. Those Tanzanian Shillings

The national currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling. At the time of writing the exchange rate is around 2200 shillings to $1 USD. We found ATM’s in most major town; however, almost all ATMs have a high withdrawal fee (8000-15000 shilling).

USD is accepted at many tourist hotspots in Tanzania, but it is common to receive a bad exchange rate. You may as well leave your credit cards tucked away since they are rarely accepted outside of tourist hotspots and hotels. Check out how we deal with our cash and cards while abroad.

6. The Tanzanians are Amazing

“I’m sure you won’t find the Tanzanians very friendly,” someone had told us just a few months earlier. We were very much anticipating arriving in Tanzania, but more than a few people had described the locals as unwelcoming, cold, and just overall rude. Hearing this about Tanzanians certainly was not inviting; however, from the second we crossed the border we were blown away by how friendly everyone was.

Not one day passed in the country without hearing children shout “Jambo,” or “hello”. Or meeting adults who would say “Karibu sana” or “welcome” and asking us “habari” or “how are you.” They smiled, they waved, and they welcomed us into their country. It melts my heart thinking about the kindness of the Tanzanians. 

Cam and the Maasai

7. Kilimanjaro is there! And so is the beer!

I was surprised to learn how many people don’t know Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania. The town of Moshi, at the base of Kilimanjaro, is where many adventurers come to start their trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa at 5895 meters. It’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in Tanzania, but it will set you back about $1500-$3000 to climb it on the cheap end.  If you want the views without the climb I recommend heading to Moshi anyway and trying to get up into the mountains or hike to base camp. Don’t forget the Kilimanjaro beer that is one of the national beers of Tanzania and is readily available at any bar – sweat and hike not included.

Book a Kilimanjaro Trek Here!

Mt. Kilimanjaro View

8. Don’t Drink the Water

It is best not to drink the water in Tanzania. We’ve been getting around most of Africa without having to produce unnecessary waste and save money with ourLifestraw Go; however, in Tanzania, we aren’t even using that.

Bottled water is cheap and readily available here and you can expect to pay anywhere from 1000-2000 shilling per 1.5 liters.  I still recommend purchasing the Lifestraw Gofor other points in Africa and for those times when you are in desperate need of filtered water.

9. Ahh, the Internet!

Surprisingly enough, the internet actually works quite well in Tanzania (writing this from the back of a taxi right now). Yes, it’s true the internet connection around Africa is generally very poor; however, the 3G connection in Tanzania is spot on. We have been able to get a secure and stable 3G connection from in the middle of the Usambara mountains to the base of Kilimanjaro.

The next best part? The data in Tanzania is very affordable. We decided to get a sim card with Vodacom as soon as we entered the country. The sim card itself cost us 1000 Tanzania shilling, while the actual data cost us 12,000 shilling for 10 GB valid for seven days.  No more completely wireless nights here!

10. What to Pack For Tanzania?

Things to do in Crete
Travel Insurance

We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage

SafetyWing is perfect for digital nomads. See our full review here!

Check Rates

Overland Tour in Africa

Traveling Africa on your own can be daunting to many travelers. However, there is no need to fear with overland tour companies who will show the ropes and a great time. You can check out some of them here to compare the different companies and possibly score a discount.

African Safari ToursNamibia Safari Tours

Grayl Waterbottle
Travel Water Bottle

Plastic pollution is a problem in Africa so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere. The tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, but a water purifier, like the Grayl waterbottle, works well!

However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.

Best Travel Water BottlesGrayl Ultralight Water Bottle

Travel in Zanzibar
Camera Gear

Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm. 

For more professional photographs we use our Fuji XT-3, and LOVE IT.

Fuji X-T3

Best Cameras for SafariBest Cameras for VloggingBest Travel Cameras

Africa Adapter

You’ll need this adaptor in Southern Africa, and this one in Eastern Africa.

Buy Before You Land

Africa Guidebook
Guide Book

Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights. Are you going on safari? We always carry our Robert’s Southern Africa Bird Book and a good mammal guide.

Lonely Planet

Safari Shirt

You’ll want a safari shirt while on safari. They are lightweight and keep the bugs away. Plus they look ideal in photos and blend into the environment around you!

Shop on AmazonShop on BackcountryShop on REI

Safari Pants

Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).

We recommend neutral colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is they’re useful beyond Africa as they are a travel staple and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.

I like two pairs, one pair is made by prAna and rolls into capris and the other are convertible pants. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Zion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price.

Women’s PantsMen’s Pants

Things to do in Crete
Rainbow Sandals

Sandals are great for walking around at night when you’re relaxing. Get yourself some Rainbow brand sandals, seriously everyone around you will be wearing them – and for a good reason. They are uber comfortable once you break them in and last forever!

Rainbow Sandals

African Safari Boots
Safari Boots

If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Africa then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Africa.

I love my Merrell Moab Ventilators and have been going strong in them for two years! Check out my other recommendations on women’s shoes, and we have a post on the best safari boots.

I cannot stress a good pair of shoes enough because if you land anywhere outside of South Africa a quality pair of hiking shoes will be hard to come by. If you plan to walk around a lot get thick rubber soled shoes as acacia thorns are prone to stab through thin shoes. Cameron learned the hard way one day when he pulled a thorn out of his foot that went straight through his thin rubber sandals.

Best Safari Boots

Buff Headband

I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in Africa. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding in the mountains. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!


Things to do in Crete

Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Africa. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.

We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.

Purchase Sunscreen

Beach Packing List Sunglasses

Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.

We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.

See Sunglasses

Best Travel Towel - REI Micro Lite towel
Travel Towel

Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.

Best Towels For Travel


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6 Comments on “10 Tanzania Travel Tips to Know Before You Go”

  1. Hi there-thanks for the great tips. I’m trying to decide what vaccinations to get for Tanzania. What did you get?

  2. We got the Yellow Fever vaccine and updated all of our shots before we left for Africa 🙂

  3. Great guide of tips! Thanks for sharing. I’m doing a trip later this year to Tanzania. Land in Nairobi and then go to the Serengeti, mountains, and Zanzibar. Did you get the anti-malarial vaccination before going or just the yellow fever? How did you stay protected against the tsetse flies?

  4. We didn’t take anti malarials in Tanzania as we were in Africa for a year. The Yellow Fever jabs we got in South Africa. Tsetse flies are attracted to dark blue so do your best not to wear that.

  5. Hi! I read somewhere that it is frowned upon for both men and women to wear shorts in Tanzania. Is this true? We are thinking of going to Tanzania for 2 weeks for our honeymoon. Any tips or must see/do activities?

  6. I think men will be okay if they are past the knees. I wouldn’t wear short shorts as women in Tanzania unless you at a beach resort. If you type Tanzania into our search bar you’ll find all our suggestions.

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