Backpackers Guide to Tanzania
Tanzania is a haven for adventurers with natural and scenic beauty unlike any other in the world. From the wide-open plains of the Serengeti to the beautiful white sandy beaches of its islands such as Zanzibar and Pemba, if you have decided to backpack to Tanzania, then get ready to be amazed by all its natural wonder.
If your interest is Tanzania’s southern attractions such as the Selous game reserve, or whether you want to start off at Zanzibar, you can access these areas through the Dar es Salaam international airport.
On the other hand, if you want to quickly get to the Serengeti or view the spectacle that is Africa’s tallest mountain Mount Kilimanjaro, then it is best to use the Kilimanjaro international airport.
As for the most ideal time to travel to Tanzania, you wouldn’t want to miss the great wildebeest migration. It takes place between July and August in the Serengeti. For some other spectacular northern parks such as Ngorongoro Crater, the dry months of June and October are best.
Are you looking to make the most of your stay by spending less? Then why not visit Tanzania during the low seasons such as January all through to March. You stand the best chance of striking awesome deals at this time. You can even combine game viewing with mountain trekking or head off to Tanzania’s coastline for a day at the beach, you can opt for snorkeling or even swim with the dolphins.
You do not have to concern yourself with accommodation as it will be taken care of during your overlanding. During your stay, you can be sure to meet other backpackers, especially in Paje and Kendwa. You can also make trips to local tourist activities nearby and meet up with other backpackers. As for the locals, they are friendly and very tolerant of tourists. They are however quite conservative, and it is advisable to dress appropriately with your knees, shoulders, and body well covered.
If you are on a budget there are still plenty of things you can do such as white-water rafting, diving and eating at local hotels and restaurants. When you want to purchase something, you can always negotiate as the prices are usually flexible. Haggling is not looked down upon and if you do not haggle you will be paying a high price.
The best way to conduct transactions is through the local currency—the Tanzanian shilling. However, the locals will also accept the US dollar. You can find ATMs in all the major towns if you are short on cash.
To ensure you remain healthy and safe from disease, get the right vaccinations and anti-malaria shots. Remain hydrated and apply sunscreen and mosquito repellant. Also, avoid night travel as there are still plenty of unsafe areas in the country. Avoid overdrinking and stay away from areas with political unrest.
Keeping those costs down:
• Join a group safari, check for the budget options as some are aimed at the luxury market, and others for the budget conscious traveler.
• Check local social media groups for other travelers looking for additional people to join their group for a safari.
• Do your research on the tour operator you’re thinking of handing your money over to.
• There are many hostels in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
• Local and street food is delicious and inexpensive but do follow safe eating guidelines.
• Always negotiate prices – it is well known that there is a ‘Swahili price’ and a ‘Wazungu – as foreigners are fondly referred to – price’.
• If needing or wanting to fly, look for last minute deals – many of the local airlines have preferred pricing for tickets bought within 24 / 48 hours of departure.