Tanzania is a country on the east coast of Africa. It is within the African Great Lakes region and borders Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Indian Ocean. The capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, in the middle of the country, and the largest city is Dar es Salaam, on the coast. Other large cities include Kigoma, Mwanza, Mbeya, and Arusha. Mount Kilimanjaro, African’s highest mountain, is in Tanzania as is Africa’s lowest point, Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania is known for its wilderness, from the Serengeti plains to the tropical islands of Zanzibar and Mafia.
The international airport in Tanzania is Julius Nyerere International Airport, in Dar es Salaam. To get from the airport into the main city, there are taxis and public buses. These buses run every 15 minutes. Be cautious of taxi drivers trying to scam you into paying more. A domestic rail network links the country's major cities, including Kigoma, Mwanza, Dodoma, Tabora, and Dar es Salaam. To explore further afield, take a regional train or bus or hire a driver. It is not recommended to drive in Tanzania unless you have driven in a developing country before. Roads are not good, except for a few that go between major cities. Travellers going to Tanzania to hike Kilimanjaro or to do a safari in the north should fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, between Arusha and Moshi.
The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling. The main economy is agriculture, which makes up around 24.5% of the GDP. However, Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and has made little progress toward decreasing extensive hunger problems.
Tanzania is home to the indigenous Hadza and Sandawe hunter-gatherers; several migratory waves brought Cushitic and Southern Nilotes people from Ethiopia and Sudan into the north of Tanzania while at the same time the Bantu people moved into the west. They brought with them planting knowledge, as well as their iron making traditions. Tanzania has long been associated with the production of iron and steel.
Budget accommodation in Tanzania is not generally found in traditional backpacker hostel form, although there are a few in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. Compared to Western countries, most accommodation - even the resorts - is inexpensive, although you may find that you have to share facilities. Instead of hostel-style accommodation, look for guesthouses or budget hotels. Keep in mind that most resorts and tourist attractions on Zanzibar and Mafia Island Marine Park close during the long rainy season (March to May.)
Near 38% of Tanzania’s land is in protected area for conservation, either as part of a National Park or wildlife reserve. There are 16 national parks in Tanzania, including the Gombe Stream National Park where Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research is ongoing. Many trails in the national parks are impassable during the long rainy season. Travellers should plan their trip accordingly. In the dry season (January to March,) temperature highs can reach above 40 Celsius, so keep that in mind if you’ll be hiking or spending a lot of time outside.
Tanzania is a land of geographical extremes, with the mountains in the northeast, where Kilimanjaro is located. It is one of the most popular hikes and takes upwards of seven days. In the northwest, Lake Victoria and the Serengeti plain are two of the top attractions. The annual wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo migrations take place in January and February - well worth watching! Water enthusiasts should head for the islands to see pristine coral reefs and swim with whale sharks.
With an excess of incredible wildlife, an exotic culture, and a beautiful coast, Tanzania is a country not to be missed.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Tanzania hostels. Welcome.