A vacation to Tanzania can be an extraordinary and life changing experience. A unique way of exploring this stunning country is to plan a backpacking trip, which is a low budget, independent way of travelling. The backpacker is on the road for at least several weeks, during which they gain a lot of knowledge and embark on many extraordinary adventures. Here is a guide for backpacking across the beautiful Tanzania.
Where do I go?
Many locations in Tanzania are backpacker friendly. One can travel to the Serengeti to find spectacular wildlife including lions, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, hyenas, hippos, antelopes, and zebras, or witness the Great Migration of two million wildebeests. One could go to the Ngorongoro Crater which is home to lions, zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, elephants, antelopes, hyenas, oryx, elands, buffaloes, gazelles, and black rhinos! Another great location is Mount Kilimanjaro which the traveller can climb to enjoy stunning aerial views of the region. An excellent backpacking spot is the breathtaking Zanzibar archipelago, where backpackers can relax on the pristine beaches, experience exciting water activities such as parasailing, kiteboarding, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, and kayaking, take a dhow ride, interact with friendly locals, enjoy the delicious cuisine, or go on walking tours of Stone Town. Tourists can also visit Arusha, a perfect spot for birdwatching, where they can find flamingos, geese, hornbills, and herons! Other locations include Ruaha, Mafia Island, Pemba Island, Kilwa, and Lake Victoria.
What can I do?
Backpacking tours allow visitors to freely explore the area. Tourists can walk around, or use public transport which is cheap and easily accessible. Backpackers should interact with locals, stop at marketplaces such as Arusha’s Maasai Market, enjoy bird watching, wildlife viewing, and game viewing, camp in the national parks, and go on boat rides. Backpackers can easily immerse themselves into the culture, by staying in comfortable locally managed accommodation, and eating traditional foods, instead of expensive fast food. This food has spices such as cardamom, turmeric, and lemongrass, and allows tourists to understand Tanzania’s diverse and unique culture, which has Portugese, Arabic, and Indian influences.
How much will it cost?
The budget for backpacking tends to be near $20-30 (US Dollars) each day, excluding excursions and adventures, but including $1-5 for meals, $4-10 for accommodation, and an average dollar per hour rate for public transport, which is cheap and easily accessible. To save money, tourists can stay at guesthouses that offer facilities such as free communal kitchens. Street food is delicious, cheap, and provides an authentic taste of local food.
Is it safe?
Backpacking can often get dangerous or unsafe. Tourists should avoid travelling alone at night, and if possible, hire a local guide. Keeping a pepper spray or taser can be prudent. Devices such as phones should always be charged so emergency numbers can be contacted if the need arises. Travellers should inform trusted contacts about their whereabouts and itinerary. Backpackers should avoid carrying too much cash at one time.
As backpacking allows solo travel, it may ensure that a person is not in close proximity with another during a set period of time. However, it is important to carry a sanitizer so one can sanitize their hands as frequently as possible. Wearing masks and gloves should be compulsory in public or crowded places. Tourists should always carry any medication that they need, as well as keeping first aid items such as bandages or painkillers.
What should I carry?
Backpackers should keep toilet paper, wet wipes, water bottles, a torch, and batteries. One must pack clothes according to the weather, and keep a precautionary extra layer in case the weather gets colder. It is also a good idea to carry a translation book with basic words and phrases in Swahili. Although many people speak English, learning a little Swahili can be helpful, and is also respectful to the local culture and customs.