My daughter recently returned from 3 weeks in Tanzania. I asked her to put together a quick rundown of her trip, I'm sure I can get her to check in to answer any questions anyone may have.
What I did:
o Volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) in Bagamoyo, Tanzania
o Weekend excursions:
• Touristy, but an awesome experience
• Can buy Masai jewelry (can also buy it elsewhere throughout Tanzania)
Ngorongoro Crater (traveled with Bushmen Expeditions)
Tarangire National Park (traveled with Bushmen Expeditions)
• Spice Tour with Abeid’s Spice Farm
o Definitely worth doing!
o Tour the different fruits, vegetables and spices grown there. You can smell and taste all of them.
o You have the opportunity to buy spices there, but buy at them at the spice markets in Stonetown (cheaper)
o Email: email@example.com
• Stonetown (interesting history; take a tour)
o The Anglican Church built on the last closed slave market
o Spice Markets
o Birthplace/House of Freddie Mercury
What was there:
o Bagamoyo: great place to do volunteer work, but not a place to go to if one is looking for just a vacation. Nice beaches, but nothing special. The only foreigners present in the town were volunteers. Locals were accepting of our presence, but please be courteous to their culture (dress appropriately)
o Dar es Salaam: a city. Very busy. Interesting to explore the different markets. There is a casino in the city.
o Mt Kilimanjaro: hiking trips are available. Didn’t get a chance to hike it.
o Local art (wood carvings, jewelry, paintings)
o Old Slave Markets
o Tik tik: Not recommended
o Motorcycles: I do not recommend nor did our volunteer organization
o Bus: Never experienced, but they always appeared uncomfortably crowded
o Taxi: Never experienced.
o Ask if your hotel has a taxi service or knows a reliable one.
Food: Stick to general traveling guidelines about food when abroad. Only eat after it has been washed, if it can be peeled (fresh fruit and vegetables offered by street vendors), has been boiled or cooked at high heat for ten minutes or more. Only drink bottled water. Use bottled water for brushing one’s teeth as well. My group and I did not eat out much because our volunteer organization provided all three meals. When on our safaris, meals were provided by our tour guides (meals are included in safari payment).
- Bagamoyo: avoided eating out. Check out Poa Poa (great banana shakes) and Kaole for drinks and food.
- Dar es Salaam: Pizza Hot
- Zanzibar: Africa House Hotel (decent food, beautiful restaurant, gorgeous view of the sunset, Hooka lounge)
- Keep in mind that you are on their time so there is not always fast service.
Money: Tanzania uses shillings (100 & 200 shilling coins; 1,000 shillings; 2,000 shillings; 5,000 shillings; 10,000 shillings) While I was in Tanzania US1$= 1,499 shillings
Using credit cards and ATMs are not recommended, but are possible. Use ATMs at reliable banks (look up prior to traveling). After returning home for your travels, it is recommended you change your pin number. Credit cards are good to use for paying for any great expenses (safari, hotels). Be sure to call your credit card company after returning from your travels to inform them that you are no longer in country and that if any purchases are made there to cancel it immediately.
Where to Stay:
Dar es Salaam: Seacliff Hotel, Double Tree, Holiday Inn
Zanzibar: Swahili Resort
People: In the small town areas there are fairly accepting. Respect their culture and try to learn what is acceptable and what is unacceptable (i.e. clothing). Bring a Swahili dictionary with you (recommend one by Lonely Planet). The people love when one really tries to speak Swahili and appreciates the effort. The kids love foreigners, and commonly call any white foreigner “Mzungu.” It is not meant to be derogative. Adults may also call you a “Mzungu”.
What to wear: Most important for females! The areas I was in had very high Muslim populations (Zanzibar: 95% Muslim and 5% Christian or Arab). I recommend that females wear skirts below the knees and shirts that cover their shoulders. I was accepted more by the people when I was dressed more conservatively. If females wear shorts, tank tops, or tight-fighting clothes, unwanted attention from local men and women will occur. Definitely pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes!