6 Things to Know and Prepare for Tanzania Safari

In this article I share 11 tips and advice on how to prepare for and get the most of a safari to Tanzania based on my experience.

1. Best Time To Go

While much of the year is suitable there are some key times you should plan to go to get the best experience, and see animals easier. Experts recommend visiting in the dry season, which runs from June to October. During this time the animals are easier to find and see as they have to concentrate around waterholes and rivers, and there is less vegetation for them to hide in. There are fewer mosquitoes at this time of the year, because there is almost no rain. Skies are clear and most days are sunny.

It gets very busy in June and July, when the huge mass migration activity peaks in the Serengeti. However, with millions of animals on the move many travellers still want to still go there to experience it. But availability will be tighter and prices higher.

I travelled in late May into early June, and we had overall good weather and incredible sightings of animals – including the “Big Five”.

2. Choose right Safari Tour Company

There are many operators and options available to do a safari in Tanzania with. To get the most I recommend you first draw up a list of your key requirements. So mine included (1) hitting the famous parks, (2) ensuring the greatest chance of seeing the “Big Five”, (3) staying in fairly luxurious lodges, (4) travelling with an expert local guide, (5) in as small a group as possible, (6) with fellow travellers of my age range and finally of course (6) within a reasonable budget.

We flew on KLM to Kilimanjaro Airport via Amsterdam Schiphol in a small tour group of just 9 people. We were split across two 4×4 trucks, with five people in one and four in another. The maximum each could have held was six. The tour was hosted by a local tour leader and two drivers and took in the must-see parks of Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater, Serengeti National Park and Lake Manyara National Park. This ensured we saw the “Big Five” (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino) along with tens of thousands of other animals including zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, cheetah and ostrich. We stayed in luxurious lodges and everyone was in my age group or older.

When planning your trip you should know there are three international airports:

Dar es Salaam is used by most international airlines, and is more convenient for business travellers or those exploring the southern safari circuit.

Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), which is close to Arusha and is the handiest for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara parks.

Some international flights land at Zanzibar.

3. Visa

You probably will need one. These can be obtained in advance in your home country or at the airport on arrival. The line of people buying their visa on arrival can be long and so I recommend getting one before you travel.

To check if you will need a visa visit your local Tanzanian Embassy site or check using the Travvisa.com site at: https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa there are some key requirements when applying for a Tanzanian visa:

Passport must have at least three consecutive blank visa pages.

  • Be valid for six months beyond entry date.
  • Two (2) passport size photos taken on a white background within the last six months.
  • If travelling from the UK, like I was, I had the option of getting a visa from the embassy in London (https://tanzaniahighcomm.co.uk) in person or by post, or by using a service like CIBT Visas https://www.cibtvisas.co.uk/. I went into the embassy and got mine the same day within just a few hours.

4. Malaria tablets and any inoculations.

Tanzania is a malaria area and you need to take anti-malaria medication. You must arrange this before you travel, as you need to start taking them before you arrive.

The medication requires a prescription in most countries. This can often be obtained from a Travel Clinic run by some large Travel Agents or Pharmacy Chains, so you may not need to visit your doctor. However, if you are on other medication you should check with them on any potential interactions as the type of pills prescribed need to take this into account.

Travelling out of the UK I was able to use an online review and prescription service offered by Boots Travel, who then delivered the pills to my home.

You may also need some other inoculations based on where you are travelling from or have been recently. For example, Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are travelling from yellow fever endemic countries/regions.

Some sites to check on the recommended inoculations and requirements that I found helpful in planning were:

  • NaTHNaC (National Travel Health Network and Centre): https://nathnac.net
  • NHS FitForTravel website: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

5. Travel Insurance

It is essential to take out comprehensive travel insurance, especially for medical issues. Many of the tour operators will insist on this when taking your booking. Your policy should include coverage for air evacuation to a hospital and back home if required. If you are injured, or have a serious medical incident, you will need to be evacuated from the park or lodge to a main centre, or even out to a neighbouring country like Kenya, mostly likely by plane.

A relatively inexpensive option, if your policy does not cover evacuation, is to take out an evacuation policy with Flying Doctors. They provide air evacuation by bush plane out of the wilds of Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya. More details at https://flydoc.org

6. Luggage requirements

Take the smallest possible case you can. Think small and then go even smaller! It is also essential it is a soft case, so ideally a duffel / holdall / carryall.

If you are flying between lodges there will be strict limits on the size and shape of your luggage to ensure it fits in the small planes. The airline may also specify that the bags cannot have wheels on them either. So double check your travel documents carefully. If you are returning to the same airport at the start and end of your safari many of the providers will let you store excess bags or clothes in a lock up, but it is best to stick to the limitations.

Gary Bembridge / https://www.tipsfortravellers.com/top-tanzania-safari-tips/