At a Glance
When to Go
To enter the country, most tourists require a visa, usually valid for three months; this is easily obtained at the airport or border point of entry. Some nationalities may be required to get one in advance, so check before traveling. International flights arrive daily into Kilimanjaro International Airport (Arusha), and Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar Es Salaam). Domestic flights are plentiful, allowing access to even the most remote of lodges, especially during the rainy season when national parks can become inaccessible by road. In fact, many lodges have their own local or private airstrip. If arriving from Kenya, the main highway from Nairobi to Arusha via the border town of Namanga is a well maintained route. The highways connecting Arusha, Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Kilimanjaro, and Dar Es Salaam are also good. Many buses operate over the borders between Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia.
Tour operators offer a driver and guide to navigate the roads and national parks by vehicle. Alternatively, buses and Matatus (small minibuses) are an excellent way to get around, though you should not travel at night. Domestic flights and airlines are plentiful. Many lodges and hotels have a local airstrip, and some upscale retreats have their own private airfield. The Tazara Railway operates several routes from Dar Es Salaam to Kapiri Moshi in Zambia and is a fantastic off-the-beaten-path experience, winding its way through villages and national parks. Expect delays; this is for those who are not in a hurry. It is probably one of the best ways to see Tanzania.
Food and Drink
Tanzania’s public holidays are generally related to its wrestle with independence. Saba Saba Day (July 7) celebrates the founding of the Tanganyika African National Union; Nyerere Day (Oct 14) honors the country’s first president; Independence Day (Dec 9) commemorates independence from Great Britain in 1961; and Zanzibar Revolution Anniversary (Jan 12) remembers the day in 1964 when the Sultan of Zanzibar was overthrown.
Zanzibar is arguably the festival hub of Tanzania, hosting the Sauti Za Busara traditional music festival (February), the massive Dhow Countries & Zanzibar International Film Festival (July), and the Mwaka Kogwa New Year festival, to name but a few. On the mainland, Dar Es Salaam holds its Wanyambo music and food festival in January. Kilimanjaro hosts a February marathon that draws thousands of people from around the world. And Bagamoyo Arts Festival lasts for a week in September and features exotic, acrobatic displays and exhibitions.
What the Locals Know
Currently living in East Africa, Kerry has a penchant for far-flung places. Having many fingers in the tourism industry pie means she now is able to share her pick of the best experiences off the well-trodden tourist circuit. She also has a terrible habit of buying Volkswagen Kombi’s and storing them in her garage.