Tanzania has two official languages: Swahili and English. Swahili, which has its origins in Zanzibar, is the most commonly spoken language in both Tanzania and Kenya.
English is widely spoken, however you may wish to bring along a Swahili to English phrasebook to give you access to the basics. The locals are always appreciative if you know a little bit of Swahili!
Below you’ll find a few useful Swahili phrases to get you started.
Useful Swahili Phrases
Habari?/Habari yako?: How are you?
Nzuri: Good. Standard reply to how are you.
Asante: Thank you.
Travellers are advised to be immunised against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and measles. While a yellow fever vaccination certificate is not officially required to enter Tanzania unless you’re coming from an infected area, carrying one is advised.
Tanzania is home to a strain of malaria that is resistant to chloroquine, albeit less prevalent at high altitudes, so be sure to talk to your doctor or other pre-travel health coordinator about travel to Tanzania specifically, and not just “Africa,” to make sure you get the correct anti-malarial medication.
HIV/AIDS are no more a problem here than they are anywhere else in the world. Provided you are not taking undue risks, you have nothing to fear.
Be sure to visit your doctor for a health check-up at least 8 weeks before your trip to ensure that you have all the required vaccinations and any chronic medication.
Ruaha is hot and dry. Temperatures don’t vary throughout the year, which is typical of its location close to the equator. Nights remain warm all year long. The warmest months are October to March, and the coolest are June to August.
The Dry season occurs from May to October. Ruaha has one extended Wet season from November to April. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, but it is unusual for rainfall to last throughout the day.
Dry season – May to October
It is dry and sunny and temperatures will range between 27°C/81°F (daytime) and 15°C/59°F (nighttime).
Wet season – November to April
The Wet season is made up of hot, humid weather. Average temperatures range from 28°C/82°F (daytime) to 17°C/63°F (nighttime).
November & December – November is the start of the rains, although the exact timing is hard to estimate. The rains won't interfere with your safari since they are mostly afternoon showers. The temperatures increase just before the rain starts, and peaks of over 38°C/100°F are not unusual. Daytime temperatures average 30°C/85°F, while night and early morning average 18°C/64°F.
January, February & March – Like previous months, it is highly unlikely for rains to last the whole day, but they will be more plentiful – usually in the afternoon. Daytime temperatures average 28°C/82°F, while night and early morning average 17°C/62°F.
April – The rains will slow down, as this is the end of the Wet season. Temperatures average between 28°C/82°F and 17°C/63°F.
The culture of the Tanzanian people is wonderful and fascinating. They prioritize family and religion, and they foster a strong sense of community.
The Tanzania culture is Swahili, an Arab/African mix, but there are also big Asian communities, particularly Indian, in towns and cities. Tribes inhabit rural areas, including the Maasai of the Great Rift Valley of the north.
Explore Tanzania's diverse cultures and vibrant villages with our range of cultural tours:
Guided tours to the local Hehe tribal villages
Visit Maasai bomas and watch traditional dancing
Iringa town tours
Visit the Ismila Stone Age site
It is okay to photograph the locals, but always ask first. Some Maasai will charge you for this.
In Tanzania, it is advisable that you dress modestly. Wearing revealing clothes is a sign of disrespect. Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim so attention to dress is paramount and women should always keep knees and shoulders covered.
Tanzania, and especially Zanzibar, are popular with newlyweds and honeymooners. But these people must be wary. While hugs and kisses are just fine in your hotel room, or even at your resort’s pool, PDA on sidewalks and public beaches are highly frowned upon.
Guides and cooks on safaris expect to be tipped, as do waiters in city restaurants (typically 10 percent).
Handshakes are a must, no matter how many people you’re greeting at once. In any situation, make sure to greet the most elderly first, and then go on until you greet the youngest people in the room.
Islam and Christianity are the majority of religions in Tanzania, where 35% practice Islam and over 40% practice Christianity. Islam is particularly popular on the coast, but it’s also practiced on the interior of the country.
Of course, there are those that practice ancestral religions, and a small minority of Asians, like the Hindus, Ismailis, and Sikhs.
Religion is very important in Tanzania. Most Christian families go to church together and dress their best for the occasion. In these services, churchgoers dance and sing to celebrate the glory of God. The major Christian holidays, like Christmas and Easter, are observed faithfully in the country by going to church with their entire families and eating big meals together afterward.
Of course, Ramadhan is a month-long religious event that is celebrated by Muslims all over the country. During this time, Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown every day.
Then comes Eid, which is the exact opposite. During Eid, Muslims feast and celebrate together.
Tanzania is in the +3 GMT time zone. The sun rises at approximately 6.30 in the morning and sets at around 18.45 in the evening.
The locals also use what is known as Swahili Time, which is quite a bit different to the conventional way of keeping time as we know it. 1:00 in the morning is the first hour after the sunrise (approximately 7am) and 1:00 in the evening is the first hour after sunset (approximately 7pm).
That being said, most businesses will operate using the standard way of measuring time.
Healthcare in Tanzania
When it comes to medical attention, nurses and doctors in Tanzania are highly qualified, especially in cities such as Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. Most camping sites, lodges, and hotels have on site physicians and are in close contact with the Flying Doctors Service should an evacuation be needed.
Medicines and pharmacies
Pharmacies are readily available in the main urban centres but medicines may be in short supply. Guests should consider bringing all prescription and chronic medication with them. These should be carried in their original labelled containers and accompanied by a prescription or doctor’s note.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.
There is no dress code for safari, however it is advised that you were inconspicuous clothes in brown, green, beige, khaki, or other neutral colours so as not to draw attention to yourself or frighten the animals away.
As driving distances can be quite long while on safari, it is advisable that you dress lightly and comfortably. With evenings able to get quite cold, it is also advisable to bring along warmer clothes.
Tanzania is a conservative country, so don’t dress provocatively.
Rules and Regulations
Tanzania, like all countries, has rules and laws that need to be followed.
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify your country's Embassy immediately.
When on safari:
It is illegal to sunbathe topless
It is illegal to urinate in public
The buying, selling, and use of drugs is illegal
It is advisable not to talk on the telephone while inside a bank
It is forbidden to take plants, animals, seeds, minerals, archaeological finds, corals, ivory, or sea turtle shells out of Tanzania
Without prior authorization, you should not photograph the President or certain public facilities such as military bases, airports, bridges, police stations etc.
Tanzania’s penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity on the mainland and on Zanzibar. Those arrested and charged for consensual same-sex sexual conduct may be sentenced up to thirty years in prison.
You should never feed animals while you are on safari
In addition to this, you should try to remain as quiet and still as possible so as not to startle the animals
Always listen to your guide’s instructions. They are experts when it comes to Tanzania’s wildlife, and will advise you how best to act
Never get out of the vehicle without your guide’s implicit instructions. It may appear safe, but you never know what’s lurking in the tall grass!
Packing for your trip
Below you’ll find our recommended list of things to bring along with you on your trip:
A warm sweater or light fleece
A windbreaker or waterproof jacket
Walking shoes or boots
Batteries and/or charger for your camera
A flashlight or headlamp
Phone and charger
Plug adaptors (In Tanzania the power plugs and sockets are of type D and G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz)
You may also wish to bring along water purification tablets and any medications you take for any existing medical conditions.
Don’t let the above list daunt you. Many of these items are only necessary in extreme cases, but it’s better to have something and not need it than it is to need something and not have it!
Sunscreen and lip balm
Antihistamines for allergies and insect bites
Cold and flu medication
Medicines for rehydration after diarrhea or sunstroke
Moisturiser for treating sunburn
Femine hygiene products (women)
Bandages and plasters
Telephones and Internet
The international code for calling Tanzania is +255.
Almost all campsites and lodges in Tanzania offer phone and internet services. Internet cafes can also be found in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam, and Karatu. Ruaha Hilltop Lodge offers free WiFi at the lodge.
There are four mobile providers in Tanzania: Zain, Zantel, Vodacom, and Tigo; all of which offer roaming services. Mobile network coverage for both data and phone calls is quite good across Tanzania. You should still be able to access your phone while on safari, although some areas of the national parks do not receive coverage.
You can buy prepaid Zain cards for $5 to $50, and you can even purchase cheap phones for as little as $35-$80. Vodacom offers an unlimited data pack for your phone for 25,000 Tanzanian Shillings (approximately $13) that is quite popular as well.
In emergencies, your relatives can also reach you by calling our telephone numbers or emailing us in the office.
Tanzania is one of the safest countries in East Africa, but you never can be too careful when you’re on the road. While safari areas are generally very safe, the country is no stranger to criminal activity. Like any other country in the world, there is always some risk of theft.
It is advisable that you listen closely to your guide’s advice at all times, and that is especially true in some urban areas. Either leave your valuables (such as many, electronics, credit cards, and documentation) behind in your hotel room’s safe, or carry them with you in concealed inner pockets.
Don’t flaunt your valuables in public, as this may draw unwanted attention to you. Pickpockets are particularly active in heavily touristed areas, so it pays to be cautious when in cities and areas popular with tourists.
It is always a good idea to make copies of all of your important documents and keep them in your luggage.
Tanzanian power outlets use 220-240V, 50Hz. If you are traveling from a country with a voltage less than 220V should check whether or not their electronic devices have a dual voltage power supply. If not, you may need to purchase a converter before leaving.
Generally speaking, most electronics (smart phones, digital cameras, tablets, and computers) work on a dual voltage basis. Electrical appliances such as razors and hair dryers do not.
Tanzania uses the 3 pin ‘British’ plug, which is comprised of three square/rectangular pegs. Travel adaptors can be purchased at airports and at most larger department stores.
Ruaha Hilltop Lodge has 24 hour electricity.
It is not safe to drink tap water in Tanzania. In fact, it is advisable to use tap water only for showering or washing your hands.
To avoid health problems, use only bottled or filtered water for drinking and brushing your teeth.
Bottled water is cheap and readily available in Tanzania. All our rooms and safari vehicles always come stocked with plenty of bottled water to ensure you remain hydrated while on safari.
Banks and Currency
Currency can be exchanged at banks, currency exchange offices (which are plentiful in the city), and in most hotels.
Banks in Tanzania are open from 9am until 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am until 11am on Saturdays.
Travelers are required to declare international currency valuing more than $10,000 on both entrance and exit from Tanzania. Non-residents (except Kenyans and Ugandans) may not import or export Tanzanian Shillings (TZS)
The tax rate in Tanzania amounts to 18% for most products and services. There is no process for reclaiming this amount upon departing the country.
ATMs that accept both Visa and MasterCard are available in most cities. You will be able to withdraw from your accounts in local (Tanzanian shillings) currency.
Be sure to alert your bank that you will be traveling to Africa. Many banks will deem transactions made out of your native country as suspicious, and may lock access to your accounts if you have not forewarned them.
International credit cards (especially Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Thomas Cook) are accepted in most stores, restaurants, hotels, camping sites, lodges, car rental companies, etc. Many smaller stores will not have EFTPOS facilities, so it is generally better to carry cash.
Traveller’s cheques are not accepted anywhere in Tanzania.
Visas and Passports
Visitors to Tanzania must obtain a visa from one of the Tanzanian diplomatic missions or online unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries whose citizens can obtain a visa on arrival. Click here for visa exempt countries.
All visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months (according to the Tanzanian immigration department) or a month beyond the period of intended stay.
Tanzania’s tourism industry means that there is a great variety of high quality food available. Hotels and restaurants provide cuisine from all around the world as well as local cuisine, so you can immerse yourself fully with Tanzanian food or sample the comforts of home.
Traditional Tanzanian food features plenty of meat (especially beef, chicken, and fish), rice, and vegetables. It’s simple, hearty food often accompanied by ugali, a flour and water based dough similar to polenta and eaten by hand.
Our trained chefs provide both continental and Tanzanian cuisine using all local produce. We serve fresh juices and bake our own bread. Bush breakfasts and picnics can also be arranged for game safaris.
Our family-style meal presentation is an African tradition that promotes sharing, generosity and consideration.
Traffic in Tanzania moves on the left. Drivers and pedestrians alike must maintain vigilance. Although a number of inter-city highways are periodically repaved and maintained, even good roads may deteriorate quickly due to weather conditions.
During the rainy seasons (late March to mid-June and mid-November to mid-December), many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The distances between cities are long.
Use taxis or hire a driver from a reputable source. When traveling by taxi:
We offer a range of transfer and shuttle services to ensure convenient, safe and comfortable road travel.
Do not ride in a taxi hailed by someone you do not know
Ask the hotel or restaurant to recommend a driver.
Make sure the child locks are not engaged and the door can be opened from the inside
After entering, lock the doors and roll up the windows. If the driver unlocks the doors or rolls down the windows, exit immediately
Do not ride in taxis already carrying a passenger. If a taxi stops to allow another person to enter, exit immediately
Ruaha is Tanzania's largest National Park. Created in 1964 and covering 20,000+ sq. km, it lies in the centre of the country, just west of the Iringa highlands.
It takes its name from the great Ruaha River, which flows through the Park, creating spectacular gorges. The river is the home of hippos, crocodilles, water buffalo, red buffalo, water buck and reed buck.
1 650+ plant species
450+ bird species
Elephant, Buffalo, Kudu, Widebeest, Sable Roan Antelope, Lion, Hippo, Giraffe, Zebra, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Crocodile
What to do
We offer a range of game drives, hot air balloon and walking safaris through untouched bush.
Best time to visit
For predators and large mammals, dry season (mid-May-December); bird-watching, lush scenery and wildflowers, wet season (January-April). The male greater kudu is most visible
in June during the breeding season.