12 things you should know before traveling to Tanzania

12 things you should know before traveling to Tanzania

 

As a person who travels often, I do not always have time to prepare for my trips. It also happens to me that I do not always pay attention to many things that I should know before leaving. For example, before leaving for India, I worried very badly, as I did not get vaccinated against malaria, I used a very strong anti-mosquito remedy. However, for other times I was about to go there, I was calmer. It was a bit worse with my trip to Tanzania. I was preparing very precisely for this trip. Since it was a country I never been to before, I was scared of uncertainty, so I wanted prepare for unknown. I know Asia, I know many countries and places there, it almost feels like home. Tanzania however surprised me very positively and Tanzania itself become my favorite country in the world. These are few things I think you should know/do before going to Tanzania.

Visa

Most nationalities can get a visa at the airport.  And it is pretty much straightforward. Upon arrival, we filled out the forms, went to the first window, where we were greeted by the officer and paid 50 USD per person.

Then it’s just fingerprints you need to give, a photo and finally the visa is stamped in your passport. Quickly and efficiently.

Vaccinations

Since no vaccination to Tanzania is mandatory, it is still worth to look into vaccinate/protect yourself against hepatitis A (Hepatitis is compulsory in many countries anyway) and typhoid. These vaccines can protect us against the diseases related to contaminated water, food, etc. Either-way in Tanzania, the hotel will inform you that you can not drink tap water, or even rinse your mouth with tap water, and you can only use the water intended for that purpose{UV filtered and or manually filtered water}.

How to save a few pennies on vaccinations?

It is known that vaccination is not a cheap thing. We need two vaccines against hepatitis A and one against  typhoid. If you’re rom a small town like I would have to go to Warsaw to get vaccinated in a dedicated clinic. I chose another option and went to the primary care physician who wrote me the prescriptions for these vaccines. I ordered them on the online pharmacy website doz.pl because the price on their website and in other pharmacies is way cheaper and  differer of around 50-100 PLN on the vaccine! When the vaccines were ready for collection, I returned to the doctor who gave me the vaccination prescription, after I went to the pharmacy with a cooling bag, packed the vaccine and quickly went to the clinic, where I was vaccinated in a few minutes. You should remembered that the vaccines should be stored under certain conditions, so you have to move them quickly from the pharmacy to the vaccination point. I did not choose to keep them at home in the fridge and I preferred go straight from the pharmacy to the vaccination point as I was not sure if my vaccine would be ok. At the vaccination point, I have to sign the liability form as the vaccines are from outside. It was convenient for me to arrange all this in such a way, as it saved me all the trouble of traveling to Warsaw, plus the total cost is cheaper (you only pay for the vaccine), the doctor and vaccinations are within the health fund ( in Poland healthcare is free). Of course, in this case you just need to ensure that the vaccines are properly stored, even if it is only a matter of distance from the pharmacy to the vaccination point.

Yellow fever vaccination

Despite some rumors on the Internet, yellow fever vaccination is not required when traveling to Tanzania or Zanzibar and nobody checks it. These vaccinations are only required if you are coming from the country where the yellow fever exists.

Malaria

Tanzania is one of the countries where the risk of malaria is high. In the dry season, however, it’s hard to spot any mosquito. Each hotel is usually equipped with a mosquito net. In the evening, the risk of getting a bite is greater, but I did not see a mosquito during my stay and maybe I was bitten once. I did not take medicine against malaria, but this is a personal issue that should be considered individually. I do not encourage you not to take medicine, because nothing has happened to me. It’s different and it’s worth thinking about it. I did not take drugs, for the simple reason – these drugs hurts the liver very much, and I did not want to expose myself to unnecessary risk, plus I got myself with a very strong mosquito repellant (Mugga). Plus almost every hotel also has sprays against mosquitoes. Also, do not be frightened by statistics, malaria in Tanzania can be quickly detected as most hospitals are either sponsored by American foundations, so they will quickly detect malaria if we have such suspicion, and the costs of treatment are minimal and very effective. The problem with malaria is that still not everyone is able to afford treatment, or is detected too late, as the person will not go to the hospital. Again, taking drugs against malaria is an individual matter and in any case you should also take an extra precaution (mosquito spray, long pants and shirts, avoiding going out after dusk) 

Tse Tse

With tse tse flies we had to deal at Lake Manyara  as it is in the woods. These flies are terrible and they bite even through clothing. We had special whips in the car? to drive them away, but they were unmanageable. Nothing helped, maybe some special suit?

Money

During our stay, we did not even have to use the local currency (Tanzanian Shilling), and we used only dollars.

However, keep in mind that most places will not accept dollars issued before 2006. It is believed that the bills before 2006 were prone to counterfeiting so I was told. . It is also worth having a lot of smaller denominations for tips

Tips

I tip though it’s bit hard for me. In Poland, tips is not common to tip, and as I lived in China, if I ever tried to tip, the waiter or waitress would run after me telling me I forgot the money. I say this is a tip, and they act astonish and asked me that I would take this money back. We were so discouraged to give tips that it’s strange to us now. However, in Tanzania, despite the fact that tips are not mandatory, I know that everyone gives them, and sometimes they are even required (climbing Kilimanjaro). The amount of tips I saw on various pages seemed terrifying to me: from 15 USD for a driver per person, similar for a cook, a waiter, add a few dollars for the person who will carry the bags, and it turns out that your trip is twice as expensive as originally planned . Everyone wants a tip. The best solution is to tip at the end of your stay and secondly in a designated tip / envelope, or only to people who, according to you deserved it . You should also not to be suggest by the amounts given on websites/forums, because for many of us these amounts are too high and if we have to give tips to 5 or more people it will come to total of about 70-100 USD per day, which can be spooky especially if you’re on low budget!

Accommodation

For the first time in many years of traveling, We chose all-inclusive hotels and we definitely do not regret. First of all, it’s a matter of food quality. The hotel where we stayed, made sure that the food is prepared in a way that does not harm our health (hygiene, water). In addition, most of the better hotels are located in places where there are no cities / villages / restaurants for many kilometers. We would not even have anywhere to eat outside of our accommodation. There was only one hotel we stayed in Tanzania which was not all inclusive and we had to eat there anyway, as there was nothing around, and if we wanted to go somewhere, it would cost about 80 USD in both directions.

It is also best to choose hotels with better reviews, as they care more about the quality of the stay (mosquito nets, spray against mosquitos, extra water to rinse the mouth, good food, safety)

Additional fees

Remember that if you want to go on a safari, many hotels do not include fees for entry to national parks, concessions, tourist tax, transport, etc. These costs are very high and what is the fee for the hotel itself must even be multiplied by two.

We ourselves fell into this trap. We knew about the fee to the Serengeti National Park (about 71 USD per person for 24 hours), but we were not informed by our hotel about the additional concession fee as we will be staying overnight in the park. On the side of the hotel or the park, this fee is not included as it should be paid by the hotel for leasing the land in the national park. On arrival, it turned out that instead of 280 USD for two nights we have to pay 520 USD! We were not prepared for it and after talking with the manager, he informed us that this fee is on the side of the park, which is a lie because I looked through the website before arriving. The manager said that we either pay or we have to get lost. Of course, we had no choice and we paid, because we had flight in two days  from the same place to another national park. This fact initially spoiled my first minutes of stay, but after seeing the first giraffe in my heart I knew it was worth it. Of course, I do not recommend this hotel as a place to stay, due to the approach and help of the manager who left us our to ourself and the way he spoke to us it was just horrifying. , plus the food was really terrible. Next time I would stay at @andbeyond who also has an accommodation in tents in the middle of Serengeti. At least they have the right information on the site without fooling anyone. I believe that as a client I deserve transparency and the right to decide whether I can afford certain costs or not. This should not be the issue if you buy full safari package then it’s should be prepaid and all the fees include in the package. However if you plan on your own, and book hotels, flights etc on your own then we aware of it. 

Transport

This is an interesting issue in Tanzania. For most places, especially national parks, where we can see wild animals, we can reach either by plane (safari class, which means small aircraft / similar to gliders) or reserve a package with a specific agency that takes us on a safari car and arranges accommodation for us. Plus side of such a package is the fact that they include all fees, i.e. also those of parks and concessions, and we only need to take care of tips. We organized everything on our own from hotels and flights. As a line to the parks we chose Auric air, which was well on time, everything went smoothly, despite the fact that small planes terrify me to my core.

We also flew Precision air to Serengeti and Flight Link from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar (we booked the day before and it was the cheapest, the flight is on time okay and we are glad that we did not take the ferry)

Taxi

If you do not book transport from hotels then taxi is a good option. Public transport in Tanzania is still not recommended  . We used to take taxis from airports, of course, not in parks because there are not, only taxis from the hotel, but also game drives. We have learned one as the prices quoted by taxi drivers are far from the reality. For transport from Kilimanjaro airport to the hotel we paid 50 USD and it is expensive as the taxi driver made sure several times are we sure we will paid  50 USD for just two people. Probably there was a place to bargain here. The next time we were smarter and we deducted at least 20 USD from the given price and it was not a problem.

Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a paradise on Earth and the best culmination of an intensity of safari. The water is turquoise, white beaches, wonderful weather. We were on both sides, the one from the sunset (unfortunately our guesthouse was located in a place where the water was dirty, during the day far from the shore and with turquoise colors you could only dream of).

The second hotel (Tulia Zanzibar) is simply a dream. As we saw the view, we quickly changed our mind about Zanzibar. In the end, turquoise – there is a white beach – there is a drink in hand – it is a life. Finally we are in heaven. Oh yes!

Security

A question that bothered me the most. This was our first trip to Africa, and as we know Asia perfectly well and we feel safe there, always what is unknown at the beginning may cause anxiety. Everything went away after the arrival and we were very positively surprised by the kindness of people. I must emphasize that in most cases we took taxis straight to the hotel and spent most of the time there, due to the specificity of Tanzania and our trip, most of the attractions were organized by hotels (game drives, meals), plus hotels were very far away from cities, urban centers and there was no opportunity / need to travel there.