Tanzania

Useful info

Time
Tanzania is three hours ahead of GMT 

Electricity
Electricity does not reach most places in Tanzania and the power supply (230 volts) is not reliable, even in major cities. However, majority of big and medium-size hotels and resorts do not depend on the public power supply and run their own generators.

Money
The unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling, which is divided in into 100 cents. Visitors are advised to bring a sensible mix of hard currency in cash. These are easily changed into local currency. US Dollars are recommended for the best rates of exchange. Credit cards are not widely accepted and carry poor exchange rates. It is not rare that visitors are expected to pay in foreign currency, mostly in US Dollars (for example park entrance fees). You can use credit cards (Visa, MasterCard) only at larger establishments. There are currently some ATM's (cash machines) available at major banks in the main cities. Read more >

Tipping
Not obligatory but a tip for exceptional service – a maximum of 10% - will be appreciated. Tip 10-15 USD per day for drivers or tour guide but remember an excessive tip can make it difficult for the next customer.

Weather
Tanzania has a tropical type of climate. In the highlands, temperatures range between 10˚C and 20˚C during cold and hot seasons, respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20˚C. The hottest period extends between November and February (25˚C - 31˚C) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (15˚C - 20˚C).
Two rainfall regimes exist over Tanzania. One is unimodal (December - April) and the other is bimodal (October -December and March - May). The former is experienced in southern, south-west, central and western parts of the country, and the latter is found to the north and northern coast.

Best Times to Visit
Northern Tanzania
July through October; December through March
 
Southern Tanzania
June through October
 
Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia
July through October; December through March
 
Western Tanzania
May through October

What to Pack
Do not forget to take the camera, camcorder and binoculars and take a torch for finding your way around your camp at night. Stock up with replacement batteries for all these equipment.
Take sunglasses, hat, sun lotion, lip-balm and some insect repellent, it is better not to be stung by a mosquito even if you are taking malaria tablets.
It is best to take some medicines, required for the duration of the visit. A spare pair of glasses or contact lenses is also a good idea. Take plenty of film. While traveller’s cheques can be exchanged in cities and towns, banking facilities in remote areas are restricted, so take plenty of cash.

What to Wear
It never gets cold in Tanzania so lightweight clothing is the norm. On safaris avoid brightly coloured clothes as they may alarm animals. Browns, beiges and khaki are preferred. Short sleeve shirts/blouses and shorts are ideal, but pack a sweater; it can be chilly in the early morning and in the evening. Wear a hat to avoid sunstroke and do not forget a swimwear. Shoes should be fit for walking in the bush.
In towns and villages, immodest clothing will offend local tradition.  Women should carry wraps to cover their legs in towns or villages, as revealing clothes can cause offence, especially in Zanzibar and other Muslim areas. On the beach, and within the confines of the beach hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable, but nudity is certainly not acceptable.
For climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Meru, check with a mountain specialist before departure.

Health
Tanzania isn`t particulary dangerous place healthwise, and with sensible precautions you`re unlikely to suffer anything more than minor tummy trouble.
Modern medical services are available in Dar-es-Salaam and other major towns and centres. Chemists are available in most major towns, but it is always a good idea to bring your own medicin for personal use. 

Visitors from countries, infected with cholera and yellow fever, must produce international certificates of vaccination. This is particularly relevant for those travelling from or passing through other neighbouring countries, including members of the East African Commutity (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi) and vice versa. It is also important to note that travellers from the mainland of Tanzania to Zanzibar island, would need to have a yellow fever certificate.
Travellers, who proceed to Tanzania directly from un-infected areas, are still advised to get immunised against yellow fever. Travellers are strongly advised to take prescribed anti-malaria tablets course a few days prior to arrival, during your stay, and for a short period after returning. Anti-mosquito cream and\or mosquito-repellers are very useful, particularly in the coastal region at night.

Security & Safety
Tanzania is a safe country to travel in. Tanzanians are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Tanzania is a true example of tolerance and cooperation in our modern world, with an evidenced multicultural diversity that has co-existed for centuries and has a lot to offer the world by its example.
As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe, which frees your mind to absorb the natural beauty and incredible sights that will stay with you forever. 

Food and drink
Produce is often of very high quality. Meat and milk can prove difficult for western taste and diets, so be sure that all meat is cooked through. At hotels, you won't have any trouble, but if you venture into small villages, make sure that all water is filtered or boiled before drinking and all fruits and vegetables are peeled before eating. Bottled water is widely available throughout the country.  

Most food that makes up Tanzanian cuisine is typical throughout all of East Africa. The Tanzanian diet is largely based on starches such as millet, sorghum, beans, rice, and cornmeal. Meat is not widely consumed in comparison with other areas of the continent. When meat is consumed, however, nyama choma (grilled meat) and ndayu (roasted, young goat) are most popular. Bananas and plantains are among the staples of the daily diet in Tanzania.
If there is anything that can be called Tanzania’s national dish, then Ugali would most likely win out. A polenta-style dish made with corn flour, it accompanies cooked meat and a variety of stews, and it's eaten with your hands. Recipes vary from village to village, and everyone has their own way of making it. Many foreigners find it bland and unappealing, but it's worth a try, and some upscale establishments serve it. Other common local dishes are Mtori, (cooked beef and bananas) and Mchicha (vegetable stew which meat or fish in it)

The introduction of various spices by the Arabs is highly evident in a popular coastal dish, pilau. It consists of rice spiced with curry, cinnamon, cumin, hot peppers, and cloves. On special occasions, meat or fish (on coastal regions) are added on coastal regions. Like most dishes in Swahili kitchen, it is very delicious and features excellent seasoning!

Chai maziwa (tea with milk), the most widely consumed beverage, is typically consumed throughout the day, often while socializing and visiting with friends and family. On the coast, spices will be added to the drink and the result is very likely the best chai, you ever had or will taste. Chapatti (fried flat bread) or Mandazi (a sweet doughnut-styled food) are often served with chai and is a popular snack among children.

Street vendors commonly sell freshly ground black coffee in small porcelain cups, soft drinks, and fresh juices made of pineapple, oranges, or sugar cane. Adults enjoy a special banana beer called mbege made in the Kilimanjaro region. Konyagi is a wonderful gin-like beverage, sold only in Tanzania. Domestic beers are Kilimanjaro, Serengeti and Safari, which are western-style and very good.

Public Holidays
Most businesses are closed during public holidays, but festivities during religious occasions can be colourful and are an event not to be missed. Please note that during the lunar month of Ramadan, restaurants and businesses on the coast may be closed during midday and open again after sundown. 

*  1 January - New Year’s Day
*  12 January - Zanzibar Revolution Day
*  26 February (2010) – Maulidi - Prophet Muhammad’s bithday
*  2 April (2010) - Good Friday
* 4 April (2010) - Easter Sunday
* 5 April (2010) – Easter Monday
*  26 April - Union Day
*  1 May - Labour Day
*  7 July - Saba Saba (Industrial Day)
*  8 August - Nane Nane (Farmers’ Day)
*  21 August (2010) - Ramadan begins
*  10 November (2010) - Eid al-Fitr – Ramadan ends
* 14 October – Nyerere Day (Death of Tanzania’s belovad president J.Nyerere) 
* 16 November (2010) – Eid al-Adha - "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid"
*  9 December - Independence Day
*  25 December - Christmas
*  26 December - Boxing Day