Tanzania

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tanzania is one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations and it is not a surprise as to why. Here’s the basic things you need to know about Tanzania as a safari destination.

 

Where is Tanzania?

Tanzania is in the eastern part of Africa. It shares its land borders with 8 countries: Kenya and Uganda to the north; Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique to the south; and Rwanda, Burundi and Republic of Congo to the west. To the east is the Indian Ocean coastline where it also shares maritime borders with Seychelles and Comoros. Tanzania covers a wide African expanse with an area of 947,303 km², a tad larger than two Californias. Because of its size, its mainland holds 29 airports sans the airstrips and military airbases.

Wildlife in Tanzania

The wildlife in Tanzania is excellent and is notable for its variety and overwhelming numbers. It contains 20% of the species of Africa’s large mammal population, and is a widely known home to the Big 5. In fact, it is one of the best countries in Africa to spot the big 5. Tanzania also holds the most-awaited, grand annual event: The Great Migration. Millions of wildebeests, Thomson’s gazelles, zebras, impalas and antelopes move from one place Serengeti to another in the Serengeti and then crosses to Maasai Mara in Kenya through the rivers for a few months. Between July to October, these migrants cross the river to find better grazing and by end of October until November, most of them can be found in Maasai Mara. See the wildebeest migration map.

 

Tanzania has been deemed by many as the prime game-viewing country with over 40 national parks and reserves that offers breathtaking views and abundant, quality wildlife.

See Top Parks in Tanzania

GETTING HERE

International flights to Tanzania fly into:

Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam

Abeid Amani Karumi International Airport (ZNZ) in Zanzibar Island

Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Kilimanjaro

Direct and one-stop flights are available in all three. However, the most common gateways are JRO and DAR. For northern circuit parks like Serengeti National Park, the most convenient airport to land in is JRO. For the more remote, southern circuit parks like Selous Game Reserve, it is more advisable to fly into Tanzania’s main airport, DAR.

 

The base for almost all safari tours is Arusha, which has a small domestic airport and is about 20 minutes away via plane or 80 minutes on the road from Kilimanjaro. Popular route is: Kilimanjaro → Arusha → Safari Circuit. From Arusha, you can either take a light aircraft to an airstrip in the wilderness areas or you can drive down to the safari park of your choice. Most safari providers offer travel arrangements from Arusha so you better inquire about it from them as well. Flights to the south are also available from Arusha. In fact, some travelers often fly down from their vacation in northern circuit safaris and then either fly out to their home country through Dar es Salaam or head on to Zanzibar for a beach trip.

 

Another option which some travelers deem cheaper is taking a connecting flight from their country of departure into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya and then to Arusha.

Flights to Tanzania from London takes about 11 hours, from Manchester about 12 hours and from Glasgow around 13. Airlines that fly to and fro Dar es Salaam (DAR) include British Airways, KLM, Emirates, Gulf Air, Ethiopian Airways, Air India, South African Airways and Swissair. Unfortunately, no direct flight is available from UK to Kilimanjaro. However, you can travel to Amsterdam or to Qatar (warning: this may entail long layovers) and take a flight to Kiliminjaro from there. Otherwise, you will have to catch a connecting flight from Dar es Salaam or Nairobi.

There are no direct flights to Tanzania from the US. The only options are:

  • Connecting flights with 2 stops en route
  • Fly to Johannesburg from New York or from Washington-Dulles via South African Airways(approximately 14.5 hours) OR from Atlanta via Delta Air Lines (approximately 15.5 hours)
  • Fly to either Istanbul or Amsterdam OR take a one-stop connecting flight through these cities. Turkish Airlines fly directly to Istanbul from more or less 10 cities in the US (New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami). KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, holding more available flights throughout the country, flies straight to Amsterdam from about 16 cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Newark, New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Washington DC).

There are only 2 airlines that fly directly from Europe to Tanzania:

  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – flies from Amsterdam Airport (AMS) to Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro
  • Turkish Airlines – flies from Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) to Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro

If you wish to take an alternate route via Nairobi, Kenya Airways has been a favorite of most travelers. Other airlines that offer flights to Nairobi are Lufthansa, Air France, Swissair and Brussels Airlines.

 

For vacationers to southern Tanzanian parks, you can also reach Dar es Salaam (DAR) by catching a flight:

  • via Dubai on Emirates Airlines
  • via Muscat on Oman Air
  • through Cairo on Egypt Air
  • via Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways
  • via Doha on Qatar Airways
  • via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines

There are 3 routes from Asia to all gateway airports in Tanzania via Kenya Airways:

  • Hanoi, Vietnam – about 15 hours to Dar es Salaam and an hour or two more to Kilimanjaro
  • Bangkok, Thailand – about 9 hours and 30 minutes to Dar es Salaam and an hour or two more to Kilimanjaro
  • Mumbai, India – about 6 hours and 30 minutes to Dar es Salaam and an hour or two more to Kilimanjaro

 

Alternately, travelers can go to Middle East and catch a connecting flight from there.

Flight costs

 

Flights from the UK cost about £335 ($443) one way; Istanbul to Dar es Salaam about $650 for a round trip ticket; Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam will cost around €570 ($673) round trip; New York to Dar es Salaam via Amsterdam costs about $700-$1000; nonstop flight from New York to Johannesburg will cost about $720 round trip; Bangkok to Dar es Salaam about ฿25500 or $765 for a round trip; and for a round trip from Bangkok to Kilimanjaro, it will cost at least ฿35000 or $1,050. Of course, the earlier you book a flight the higher the chance of scoring a cheaper ticket. Also, watch out for travel deals and promos, and don’t hesitate to check flight comparison websites like Skyscanner and Hipmunk.

TOP DESTINATIONS

Serengeti National Park

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

With a very varied landscape that encompasses a vast savannah, hilly woodlands and scenic open grasslands, Serengeti National Park persists to be at the forefront of Tanzanian destination. Its sweeping vistas, natural dramatic feature and world-class wildlife concentration make it a photographer’s paradise and a traveler’s dream-come-true.

mount-kilimanjaro

MOUNT KILIMANJARO

Whether you’re aiming to snap breathtaking shots of this snow-capped towering beaut or you’re planning to trek it up to its summit, Mount Kilimanjaro never disappoints. It is Africa’s highest mountain and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. For climbers, you can choose from at least 7 routes – all beautiful in its own way. For non-climbers, you can always enjoy the view, experience the wildlife surrounding it and take photos to memorialize its magnificence.

Beach in Zanzibar

ZANZIBAR ISLAND

For a holiday in the tropics or an interesting historical and heritage tour, Zanzibar is always a good idea. The island covers a vast and scenic spread of white sand beaches, gorgeous coral wilderness perfect for snorkeling and diving, and a myriad of places for sightseeing and historical visits. This is also a perfect place to cap off any safari trip.

POPULAR TOURISM ROUTES

  • Northern Circuit (Suggested duration: 1.5 to 2 weeks)

Serengeti National Park →  Ngorongoro Conservation Area → Lake Manyara National Park → Tarangire National Park → Arusha National Park

  • Southern Circuit (Suggested duration: 1 to 2 weeks)

Selous Game Reserve → Ruaha National Park → Mikumi National Park

  • Western Circuit (Suggested duration: 1 week)

Katavi National Park → Gombe National Park → Mahale Mountains National Park

Why go to Tanzania over other safari destinations?

Aside from the stunning views and broad range of wildlife, Tanzania remains to be the top destination for an African adventure. Here are the major reasons why:

Ease of Travel

Tanzania is easily accessible for international travelers as it has direct and connecting flights from different airports in the world to both its northern and southern regions. Plus, there’s an extensive list of available airline providers you can choose from!

VISA AND TRAVEL SAFETY

Obtaining a visa for Tanzania is fairly easy and quick. For some passport holders particularly those from western countries, Visa on Arrival is available. Tanzania is also generally safe with a more stable government and less political issues compared to other African regions.

SAFARI COSTS

Because Tanzania is one of the most top-rated African destinations, safari costs are a bit higher in this country. However, it will still depend on ta myriad of factors. Safaris can range from $100 to $1000 depending on your accommodation preferences.

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

There is a wide array of options for every budget – from the most affordable to the most high-end. Whether you are on a backpacking trip or even on a luxury romantic honeymoon, Tanzania has the most diverse accommodation selection in store for you.

POSSIBLE TOURISM BARRIERS

  • Expensive park fees
  • Self-driving is not allowed
  • Some camps and areas close down during wet season (March to May) due to inaccessible roads

BEST TIME TO GO

Game Viewing

June to October

Bird watching

November to June

Best Weather

June to October

Low Season

April to May

January to February:

In January, the wildebeest calving season in Serengeti begins. Thousands of wildebeests are born everyday so predator action is expected in almost every turn. Wildlife viewing is also excellent in Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as Lake Manyara National Park during these months.

 

March:

Migration herds in Serengeti remain in the southern region of the park while European migratory birds arrive in the southern regions of the country, i.e. Selous Game Reserve. “Long rains” also start this month.

 

April to May:

This is the peak of the wet season (long rains). Vegetations become lush thereby affecting wildlife viewing and as a result, most properties and parks in the southern circuit (Katavi, Mahale, Selous, Ruaha) shuts down. The good news during these months is, prices usually dive deep down.

 

June:

The dry and hot season commences. There is less vegetation and so it is easier to spot animals sauntering around and gathering in waterholes and rivers. Also, since there is little to no rain, there will be less mosquitoes around.

 

July to October:

These months are deemed the best time to witness the Great Migration, Weather-wise, it’s perfect: hot and sunny during the day and cold during the evenings. It is also not just the perfect time to see the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti or to visit other northern circuit safari parks. It is also the perfect time to visit the southern circuit safari parks like Ruaha, Selous, Gombe and Katavi.

November to December:

Migratory birds arrive and so it’s perfect for birdwatching. Migration herds are also on their way back to the southern part of Serengeti. Humidity starts to climb up during these months and “Short rains” happen (mostly short afternoon showers). In a nutshell, it is relatively good and to some extent excellent to visit any park or reserve in the country during this time.

Related ArticleS