Tanzania was formerly a German Colony. After the First World War it became a British protectorate. As Tanganyika it became an independent republic in 1961. In 1964 it merged with Zanzibar and became Tanzania. Julius Nyerere was the country’s first president and led the country until his death in 1999. His legacy is that today Tanzania is a beacon of political stability in a rather turbulent region.
The current population of Tanzania is approximately 36 million. It is made up of as many as 120 tribal groups of which the main ones are Bantus, Maasai and Swahili, who are of varied origins – Arab, African and Asian. The main religions are Islam and Christianity.
The official language is Ki-Swahili although English is also widely spoken as well as many local languages.
The landscape of Tanzania is spectacularly varied with high mountains, endless plains teeming with wildlife and a beautiful coastline and ocean. 25% of the total area of Tanzania is dedicated to National Parks and Game reserves. The Serengeti National Park in the north of the country is the oldest and largest park in Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Conservation area has been designated a UN World Heritage Site.
Government and politics
Tanzania is a republic with a head of state (President), Parliament and Head of Government (Executive President). Despite being politically stable, it is one of the poorest countries in the world with wide-scale unemployment and a per capita GDP of less than US$800. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, and although cultivated crops can only be grown on 4% of the land area it accounts for 50% of GDP, 80% of employment and 85% of exports.
Customs and etiquette
Tanzanians are generally very friendly, charming and courteous and many will want to engage you in conversation and find out more about you.
We request members of our groups to respect the local cultures in terms of dress code and behaviour. Tanzania is a conservative society whose people are uncomfortable with extensive exposure of the human body. While clearly males may go around in shorts – as do the members of several ethnic groups – it is almost inconceivable that you will see a Tanzanian women, whatever her race, displaying a leg or someone of either sex washing or swimming without basic covering.
Tanzanians have strong religious beliefs and customs. They also prize politeness and as one would expect, drunken and riotous behaviour is not appropriate.
Please note that crime is a problem in the larger cities, particularly Dar Es Salaam and you do need to be mindful of your personal safety and take sensible precautions. For example, you should avoid revealing large amounts of money when purchasing goods.
Tanzania has a wide variety of micro-climates between the lowland and coastal areas and the mountains. The hot season is November to April, with the cool season between June and August. The main rains fall between March and June.
Mid September is an excellent time to travel to Tanzania. It will be a little busier on the main trails but weatherwise a good time to go. Temperature will be between 18 and 30 degrees. It is likely to get as low as -10 on the summit. There is the chance of some rain and it will be humid on the lower slopes. There may be some snow towards the summit.
Health and Medical matters
Mountain Tracks recommends that you consult your doctor for health advice before travelling.
Inoculations should include Polio, Hepatitis A, anti tetanus and anti typhoid boosts. Yellow Fever vaccinations are now not required.
You must also take preventative medication against malaria. Mosquitos are prevalent in coastal areas and in Moshi in particular. Malaria symptoms can include: fever, chills, sweating, headache, diarrhoea, aching joints and abdominal pains.
Medication includes: Larium, Paludrine or Choloroquin.
On our previous trips the medication used by most travelers was Doxycycline.
All medication can cause side effects. You should always ask your doctor for their recommendation.
The most important action is to try and avoid getting bitten. This means:
(a) Using insect repellent on all exposed skin at dusk and at night
(b) Covering arms and legs with long sleeves and baggy trousers/skirt at dusk
and at night
You should bring insect repellent, high-factor sun cream and a standard, small first-aid kit.
Use an insect repellent with at least 50% deet content. Boots-own label repellent (available as roll-on and spray) is recommended. A repellent with 100% deet can be obtained from the Nomad Pharmacy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 8889 7014
One other piece of advice: repellent containers have been known to leak - especially in hot weather - so they should be kept in a plastic bag.
Water, food & hygiene
The food you will eat will have a high carbohydrate and high energy content that is easy to digest at high altitude. We recommend that you bring a few (and we mean a few!) of your favourite hiking snacks to keep you energized and to give you a boost!
The food rule is…if you can cook it, boil it or peel it, you can eat it…otherwise forget it!
Don’t eat salads, steamed food, undercooked meet/fish, reheated food. Stick to fresh ingredients, prepared under sterile conditions.
It is important that you always wash your hands before all meals
Avoid ice and drink bottled water. Ensure the seal is intact and that the bottle hasn’t been refilled with tap water.
Residents of most countries, including the UK will need a visa. In the UK a single-entry visa valid for 3 months costs £38 (April 2011) and should be obtained in advance from the Tanzanian authorities.
Application forms can be downloaded from the internet at www.tanzania-online.gov.uk
Together with the application form you need to include your passport, 2 recent passport photos and the application fee.
The address of the Tanzanian Embassy in the UK is
43 Hertford Street,
London W1Y 8DB
Tel.: (0207) 408 4078
The Visa section is open 10:00 – 12:30 Monday to Friday. Visas can be obtained in person.
They take 24 hours to provide the visa which means 2 journeys are required to hand over the passport and then collect the visa the following day. They offer an ‘express’ service which has a £5 charge and means visas will be provided while you wait.
They also provide a postal service. This takes a minimum of 5 working days. You should send your passport using special delivery and include a stamp addressed envelope (also special delivery).
Full details are available on their website www.tanzania-online.gov.uk
It is also possible to obtain the visa on arrival at the airport in Tanzania – the cost is US $50 payable in cash.
250 York Road, London
SW11 3SJ, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 8123 2978
Fax: +44 (0)20 7905 0921