Quick Guide to Tanzania: Visa-Free travel for South Africans

2018-11-05 10:30
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Tanzania is a visa-free, easy to visit destination


It was recently reported that Tanzania's city governor launches an anti-gay witch-hunt, threatening to arrest people suspected of being homosexuals. Even asking his followers to "give up the names" of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) individuals, so that they could be punished by "his people". 

Last year, over 20 people were arrested for being homosexual in Zanzibar as LGBTQI rights are basically non-existent in Tanzania. 

What does this mean for you as a LGBTQI traveller?  

Destination Pride is an excellent source to check if a country is LGBTQI friendly or not. Simply add the country you're travelling to and it will spit out a score out of 100, based on how it fared according to criteria such as sexual activity laws and social media sentiment. 

Tanzania's score currently stands at 25 out of 100. Also see an updated map of sexual orientation laws around the world here.

Overall, reports state the anti-gay crackdown is 'not reflective of Tanzania's official stance. Read more here. 


Here's the key Quick Guide info you need to know about if you plan on visiting:

As travel across the continent becomes more and more accessible, South Africans are certainly expanding their #AfriTravel horizons.

Tapping into the beauty and adventure of our African continent comes together spectacularly in the beach and bush hotspot of Tanzania.

It is a visa-free destination for South Africans and certainly on the must-do list of any discerning traveller.

Tanzania, located in the east of the continent, just below the horn of Africa - it is known for its vast wilderness areas, the iconic Mount Kili, and the wildlife adventure of the Serengeti National Park, which is home to the Big Five.

TRAVEL PLANNING: Zanzibar Escape: Karafuu Beach Resort - click here for full package details 

Yet off shore lies the tropical islands of Zanzibar, with Arabic influences, and a marine park home to whale sharks and coral reefs as well a Stone Town legacy bedazzled as the birthplace of Queen lead entertainer and singer Freddie Mercury. 

    Here we take a look at one of the top ten searched African destinations for South Africans and what you need to know should you want to visit:

    Population: 56 million (2016)

    Vaccination and key medical info: Travellers are advised to be immunised against Hepatitis A,  Hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and measles. A Yellow Fever certificate is not required.

    Language: Swahili and English

    Currency: Tanzanian Shiling

    Visa: No visa required for South Africans, 90-day visa on arrival. Passports need to be valid for six months. 

    SEE: #AfriTravel: A visa quick-guide for smooth travel to these 14 SADC countries

     National Carrier: Air Tanzania

    Airport hub: Nyerere International Airport

    Airline connectivity:  DBN – JHB: Mango, JHB – ZAN: Mango return, JHB – DBN: SAA; Fastjet also offers flights three times a week via Dar es Salaam.  Search flights here

    UPDATE: #AfriTravel: South Africans get more direct access to exotic Zanzibar with Mango 

    Time zone: Tanzania is +1 hour ahead of SA.

    Plugs: Yes. Tanzania uses plug type D and G. It has a 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

    Country code: +255 

    Local transport: Distances between Tanzania's key attractions are long and it's better to focus on one or two areas rather than trying to fit in too much in one visit.

    Uber is available in Dar es Salaam. However taxis, usually white, can be hired in all major towns. Experts advise these are not metred, so a fare needs to be agreed upon beforehand. 

    Like SA's thriving informal taxi industry Tanzania has what is known as Dalla-Dallas and are usually quire affordable at Tsh400 (about R2.21 ) for town runs. 

    The Central Line, formerly known as the Tanganyika Railway, is the key rail service provider, along with TARA. It runs west from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika via Dodoma. 

    Boat & Ferry trips can be busy and crowded in Tanzania. However, first class rides in the more modern ferries between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam are a lot more relaxing.  Otherwise there are a number of good, reliable companies. Rentals with driver are most common, although some allow self-drive.

    Climate: The climate is tropical and coastal areas are hot and humid. The north-western highlands can be quite cool and temperate.

    There are two rainy seasons - specifically between October to December and then the longer rain season from March to June. The central parts of Tanzania are generally drier throughout the year.   

    Best Time to Visit:  

    Tanzania is famous for its wildlife, especially its part in the great wildebeest migration. The Dry season from late June to October is ideal -  with the best chance of seeing the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February.

    TRAVEL PLANNING: The Great Wildebeest Migration 101 - and which months to visit

    Food to try when visiting:

    Tanzanian cuisine is both spicy, with variations of bananas widely used. Tanzania grows at least 17 different types of bananas which is used for soup, stew, and chips. 

    Along the coastal regions of Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, and Pemba - you'll find flavourful dishes, balance with the use of coconut milk. 

    However, across the mainland regions the foods take on a different and even more unique flavour.  Traditional dishes include wali or rice, a type of maize porridge known as ugali, flat chapati  breads and braaied meats known as nyama  as well as mshikaki. Vegetables such as  bamia or okra), mchicha a kind of spinach and maharage or beans are widely cooked with. 

    Key phrases to know:

    Useful app to download: Duolingo makes learning a new language easy and fun. 

    Don't be surprised if you hear somebody shouting Mambo while walking along the streets of Stone Town - it's a common slang greeting, said to be widely used across Eastern Africa. In fact the Kiswahili slang is said to be vastly different to the official language itself. However, here are a few choice phrases to get your through the basics.

    Hujambo – Hello 

    Habari – Also Hello / Good Morning. Use this one when speaking with older people.

    Nzuri – Beautiful / Good / Nice / I am fine.

    What is your name - Jina lako nani

    My name is - Jina langu ni

    Shikamo – Meaning I hold your feet.  it is used for older people. 

    Asante - Thank you

    Pole pole - Slowly, slowly.

    Chakula - Food 

    Ndiyo / Hapana - Yes and No respectively. It is suggested that Hapana is rude but as long as you don't say it forcefully - you should be fine.  

    Hatari - Danger  

    Water - Maji

    Taxi - Teksi

    Hotel - Hoteli

    Can I get a discount  - Ninaweza kupata punguzo  

    (Sources: Africa Geographic, MatadorGoogle Translate)

    Top attractions in Tanzania: 

    • Mount Kilimanjaro

    Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is an icon in its own right. Many aspiring adventurers aim to summit the highest free-standing mountain in the world but this is not something to be taken lightly or to be done on your own. 

    Climbing Kilimanjaro provides detailed itineraries, route maps and itineraries tracking all the major routes, including "the Arrow Glacier, the Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Mweka (only used for descending), the Rongai (Nalemoru), Shira (predominantly used for evacuation) and Umbwe routes." Click here for more info.

    • Serengeti National Park 

    The Serengeti National Park is unmatched when it comes to the annual migration of over 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest and 250 000 zebra across the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions.  The area is also famous for its annual migration of  and for its numerous Nile crocodile and honey badger. 

    READ MORE: Drinking champagne in a fenceless Tanzanian lodge where lions roam around your villa

    • Zanzibar Beaches

    Zanzibar is comprised of an archipelago of islands set off Tanzania. Two bigger islands (Pemba and Unguja) dominate the landscape with many smaller islands dotted around them. The biggest one of the lot, Unguja is generally what people refer to when they say they’ve been to Zanzibar and that’s where we went. 

    • Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    Located in the northern part of the country, this is a long-extinct volcano crater that offers up spectacular wildlife experiences. Well-organised great migration itineraries will see you journey across the Great Rift Valley and through the Crater Forest and over the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. 

    SEE: #AfriTravel: New mobile premier camp opens in Serengeti National Park

    • Pemba Island 

    A three-and-a-half hour flight from Johannesburg, allows you to enjoy pristine beaches and landscapes dotted with baobab trees - not to mention miles and miles of the azure Indian Ocean as far as the eyes can see.    

    • Stone Town 

    A drive through the city centre, Stone Town, presents an unfortunate picture of dilapidated buildings aged aggressively over time but still rich with culture; and with local businesses offering paintings by local artists, traditional outfits, spices and the usual ‘tourist’ fare like t-shirts and sarongs.  

    PICS: Zanzibar's 'greenest' hotel welcomes eco-conscious tourists

    Must-do things to add to your itinerary: 

    • The Great Migration

    If you grew up watching wildlife shows narrated by the legendary David Attenborough, chances are pretty good that you’re mildly obsessed with the Great East African wildebeest migration.

    Rolling on from year to year in what is perhaps the clearest example of the Great Circle of Life (said in Mufasa’s voice) at work, this incredible natural display contains all the elements of a good edge-of-the-seat drama: romance, new life, travel, enemies lurking in the shadows, death, survival and, finally, greener pastures for those who make it. Something not to be missed and the timing of your trip should certainly factor this in. 

    TRAVEL PLANNING: The Great Wildebeest Migration 101 - and which months to visit 

    • Diving

    Diving is one of Zanzibar’s biggest attractions with mostly clear visibility and many coral reefs surrounding the island. A day tour with Safari Blue sets you up for a day of fun and you don't need to be an expert to enjoy the marine-rich ocean either. Book and plan your tours ahead of time to be able to factor in the necessary costs.  

    WATCH: 10 cool Southern African dive spots that will make you want to take a deep breath

    • Spice tours 

    Zanzibar was an important stop in the spice trade centuries ago. It’s still known as a spice island and boasts big exports of cloves. On these spice tours you’ll be able to see how different spices are grown - everything from vanilla to ginger. And nothing seems to look like I expected it to. You’ll also be able to buy spice at the end of the tour, albeit they are quite expensive. 

    • Big tortoises

    Big tortoises are a thing, always hiding on these tropical islands. Giant Aldabra tortoises can be found on Prisoner’s Island, a 45-minute boat trip from Stone Town harbour.  The island itself has a rich history (no prisoners actually lived there for one) and the tortoises are delightful. Expect some crowds here. Prison Island is also a popular spot for diving. It really has stunning blue waters and many tours offer diving opportunities as well.