Travelling through Tanzania

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Tanzania is host to some of the most majestic African splendours known around the world. Places and names conjure up images of adventure and exotic destinations, such as Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, the Serengeti or Ngorongoro. Even the previous capital, Dar es Salam, sounds like somewhere far away and mysterious. Tanzania is also home to the world’s largest game reserve, the Selous, which is larger than Switzerland. It is the largest country in East Africa, with the Indian Ocean on its east and Lake Victoria (the biggest lake in Africa and Earth’s second-largest freshwater lake) to the north.The endless plains of the Serengeti are host to one of the most awe-inspiring natural sights in the world, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. Leaving behind the romanticism of the country, every year Tanzania sees a host of business travellers enter the country for industries dealing in, amongst others, energy, mining and agriculture. Some only remain for a day or two, requiring the simplest method to get in, get around and get back home, while others remain for months on end. Tanzania is a predominantly Muslim country, meaning visitors need to take into consideration Muslim culture and traditions when in the country. Time is GMT +3 and electricity supply is 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used.

Getting There

Dar es Salaam’s airport, Julius Nyerere International Airport, is the country’s main international and domestic point of arrival and departure. There are two terminals: the newer Terminal Two serving international flights and many domestic flights and then older Terminal One further down the road which serves smaller flights such as charters to Zanzibar.

African airlines offering flights to Tanzania include South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Uganda Airlines, Air Malawi and Air Zimbabwe. Precision Air is a domestic airline based in Tanzania. There are also numerous air charter companies operating in various parts of the country. The airport is situated 12 km from Dar es Salaam and taxis are available to the city, which are probably your best bet, though you’ll need to hone your bargaining skills in order not to pay the ‘tourist rate’.

Visas

Visas cost US$50 or the equivalent in other currencies for a threemonth stay. In order to avoid unnecessary delays, those who proceed to Tanzania from a country where there is a Tanzania Diplomatic Mission or Consular Office (such as South Africa) are strongly advised to obtain their visa prior to their departure to Tanzania.

Dar es Salaam

Meaning ‘Harbour of Peace’ (often erroneously translated as Haven of Peace) in Arabic, Dar es Salaam began as a small fishing village and has become a melting pot of cultures, encompassing African, Arabic and Indian tastes. But this city is anything but peaceful. It is the largest city in Tanzania and the economic capital of the country. It is a vibrant and energetic city, bustling during the day and alive during the evenings, it provides excitement for most travellers. Though it lost its official status as capital city to Dodoma, it remains the centre of the permanent central government and its name remains more widely known than the new capital. You’ll find a decent selection of hotels, guesthouses and various other places to stay and/or eat at in Dar es Salaam, varying from basic to five-star standards.

Money Matters

Tanzania uses the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh), which you’ll get in notes of Tsh10 000, 5,000, 1,000 and 500, plus coins. Cash is generally king in Tanzania. Credit cards are often not accepted even at the better establishments and traveller’s cheques can be difficult to exchange outside of major cities. Euros and dollars are the easiest currencies to exchange.

Forex bureaux offer faster service than banks and although the exchange rates are only nominally different, the bureaux usually offer a better rate on traveller’s cheques. Standard Chartered banks around the country have ATM machines that allow you to withdraw cash from your VISA card and Barclay’s Bank ATMs allow you to withdraw on both VISA and MasterCard accounts. Credit cards are accepted only at major lodges, hotels, and travel agents. There are ATMs available in just about all major towns, though you might have to visit more than one for a withdrawal as they take turns between being out of service, out of cash or some other problem that will send you in search of another machine.

Safety and security

Tanzania is relatively safe for travellers. Like all countries you will need to be wary of petty crime and common sense will be your best asset by being alert and cautious. Avoid isolated areas or walking alone on empty streets or late at night. Be wary of strangers and getting lifts or food and drinks from people you do not know. Do not openly flaunt cash or valuables as this may make you the target for theft. Sporadic outbursts of political violence along the western Berundi border make that area worth steering clear of if you can help it. Tourists can be hassled by numerous individuals offering tourism services, asking for hand-outs or needing funds for some or other made-up cause.  

Leisure activities

If you are fortunate enough to have spare time while in Tanzania, or if you can extend your business trip by a few days you will be able to visit some of the top tourist attractions in Africa. Tanzania offers divers world-class reefs and plentiful schools of tropical fish just offshore of popular beaches and secluded locations. Dive courses are offered at many of the hotels and lodges on the mainland cost. Most of the reefs are accessible to snorkelers and equipment is easily rented from dive shops and lodges. If you are interested in a safari, Tanzania has something to suit every budget. The experiences range from budget camping to luxury camping safaris. Hunting safaris are also possible. Other possible activities include deep-sea fishing, boating and canoeing, ballooning and of course mountain climbing.

Tanzania’s numerous parks and reserves offer many climbing options for the avid explorer. The most popular option is of course Mt. Kilimanjaro, but other options include Mt. Meru and the Crater Highlands. If your schedule allows it, it is recommended to make the short trip across to the island of Zanzibar. The winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged since the late 16th century and visitors can walk between the sultan’s palace, the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort and gardens, the merchants’ houses, and the Turkish baths of the old city. Day-long spice tours to working plantations offer visitors the chance to observe the cultivation of cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that have made the island famous. Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world.

Health

Tanzania is located in a tropical climate with different bacteria, flora, and fauna from what most visitors are accustomed to, so it is advisable to take a few health precautions when travelling to make sure that your trip goes as comfortably and smoothly as possible. Malaria and sleeping sickness are areas for concern which are contracted through the bites of mosquitoes and tsetse flies, so take necessary precautions. Make sure to visit your doctor to get a prescription for the anti-malarial drugs that best suit your health and condition.

The yellow fever vaccination is no longer officially required when entering Tanzania, yet because the disease is endemic many doctors will recommend it as a precaution. Other vaccinations that might be considered before you travel include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, and tetanus. It’s best to drink bottled water when travelling through Tanzania – numerous brands are widely available and served in all restaurants and lodges. Steer clear of ice, raw vegetables, and salads when eating at street restaurants. High-end lodges and restaurants will clean their produce in antiseptic solution, but should you feel wary about anything on your plate, leave it. Try to avoid eating in empty restaurants – the food may have been sitting out for some time – and order your meat well done. On the coast, seafood and fish are usually fresh, but again, make sure everything is well-cooked.

Communication

Most Tanzanians can speak English, which makes communication relatively easy. Tanzania’s international dialling code is +255 and the outgoing code is 000. The two main area codes you may use are for Zanzibar (0)24 and Dar es Salaam (0)22. Cellular networks operate on GSM 900 and 1800 and there are roaming agreements with some of the bigger cellular networks from other countries. Internet Cafés are available in main towns and most resorts.

Where to stay

There are a number of suitable business hotels located in Tanzania, including Dar es Salaam.

Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski in Dar es Salaam

This five-star hotel is on the waterfront, offering views of the harbour. It features well appointed rooms and suites that provide a combination of comfort and luxury. The royal and presidential suites offer a home away from home for the most distinguished travellers. A number of restaurants and bars are on the premises and there are also conference venues including a ballroom accommodating up to 400 people. Guests can unwind at the Anantara Spa.

Palm Beach Hotel in Dar es Salaam

 This small business hotel offers 32 bedrooms, a conference room, garden restaurant and bar, and a fully air-conditioned coffee shop. It is within walking distance of the town centre and is situated on the main road leaving the Dar es Salaam city centre.

Holiday Inn Dar es Salaam

The hotel is just 20 minutes’ drive from the airport and is in Dar es Salaam’s major business district. There are five modern meeting rooms with wireless Internet, a mini-gym, the Al Dar Café and Gaucho Restaurant. Suites and Executive rooms are available and the Executive Lounge can be found on the 10th floor.

Doubletree by Hilton Dar es Salaam – Oysterbay Hotel

Located just under 25 km from the airport and 7 km from the city centre, the hotel is situated in a serene suburban area where embassies and international companies are located. All the spacious guest rooms feature wireless Internet access. There are two executive floors with upgraded rooms and suites, a conference floor and a selection of restaurants and bars. n

Health

Tanzania is located in a tropical climate with different bacteria, flora, and fauna from what most visitors are accustomed to, so it is advisable to take a few health precautions when travelling to make sure that your trip goes as comfortably and smoothly as possible. Malaria and sleeping sickness are areas for concern which are contracted through the bites of mosquitoes and tsetse flies, so take necessary precautions. Make sure to visit your doctor to get a prescription for the anti-malarial drugs that best suit your health and condition.

The yellow fever vaccination is no longer officially required many doctors will recommend it as a precaution. Other vaccinations that might be considered before you travel include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, and tetanus. It’s best to drink bottled water when travelling through Tanzania – numerous brands are widely available and served in all restaurants and lodges. Steer clear of ice, raw vegetables, and salads when eating at street restaurants. High-end lodges and restaurants will clean their produce in antiseptic solution, but should you feel wary about anything on your plate, leave it. Try to avoid eating in empty restaurants – the food may have been sitting out for some time – and order your meat well done. On the coast, seafood and fish are usually fresh, but again, make sure everything is well-cooked.

Communication

Most Tanzanians can speak English, which makes communication relatively easy. Tanzania’s international dialling code is +255 and the outgoing code is 000. The two main area codes you may use are for Zanzibar (0)24 and Dar es Salaam (0)22. Cellular networks operate on GSM 900 and 1800 and there are roaming agreements with some of the bigger cellular networks from other countries. Internet Cafés are available in main towns and most resorts.