Our recommendation to visit Tanzania
Our recommendation to visit Tanzania and neighboring countries
Vacations to Tanzania
Multi country tours including Tanzania
Tanzania Travel advice
Events and festivals in Tanzania
The popular festivals in Tanzania are multicultural, as Christian, Muslim and other traditional African religions coexist within this country. Each denomination has its own celebrations and many of them take place privately within each tribe. Nonetheless, there are many official festivals in Tanzania which the tourist can watch and enjoy.
This takes place on the 1st June and is a very important festival in a country in which 40% of the population consists of children and adolescents. The objective of the celebration is to emphasise respect for the rights of children and to highlight the importance of the family unit. On this day, there are solemn parades through the streets and gifts are given to children.
The great Serengeti Migration
One of the most impressive events that you can experience in Tanzania is the great migration of wild animals. It begins in April with the coming of Spring. Thousands of grazing animals migrate in search for good pasture and fresh water and you can see thousands of antelope, zebra, gazelle and gnu travelling in herds. This huge exodus provides a great opportunity for predators, who are always lying in wait. We recommend that you watch this incredible spectacle from a hot air balloon, where you will be able to see the different groups of animals moving in herds.
Another of the most popular festivals of Tanzania is the unification which came about as a result of centuries of struggle to liberate the country. Tanzania was the commercial land of slaves until the inhabitants had a fierce revolution, after which came their long-awaited liberty and the unification of Tanganyika and the Zanzibar Archipelago. The events on this day are extremely solemn because of the important milestone which they commemorate.
The Wanyambo Festival
If the traveller is looking to immerse himself in the culture of Tanzania, the Wanyambo festival is a great opportunity to do this. It is celebrated at the beginning of January in Makumbusho, a region in the northern area of Dar es Salaam and it consists of dancing, traditional music and costumes, as well as traditional food.
The Kilimanjaro Marathon
For those looking for events in Tanzania with a little more action, the Kiliman Adventure Challenge organises a triathlon in the foothills of the mythical Kilimanjaro. The competition includes a trek in Kilimanjaro, a cycle race around its circumference and, finally, the proper marathon. There are options to do a half marathon or another easier and more fun type of race that will allow all types of people to take part in the adventure. It takes place in February, which is when the temperature is the coolest.
The Mzalendo Halisi music festival
This is celebrated in the month of May at Kigitonyama, to the north of the city of Dar es Salaam. The festival lasts for two days and offers acts by local artists who interpret the country’s traditional music, and there are also extremely interesting cultural exhibitions.
The Swahili cultural festival
This is another popular Tanzanian festival that is well worth going to see. It has been celebrated at Stone Town for more than 10 years and is an event where the cultures of the whole African continent come together. It is a mix of tradition and modernity where you can hear African hip-hop as well as the mystical acts of some of the most ancient cults.
The Mwaka Kogwa festival
Travellers who stop off in Zanzibar can enjoy one of the most unique of Tanzanian festivities. It lasts for four days during July and August and is an old traditional festival. The men use banana stalks to beat each other with. This is done to resolve the conflicts of the previous year. The women get dressed up, dance and sing. This culminates when a straw cabin is set alight. After this, the festival begins.
Festival of the Dhow countries
One of the most important cultural events in Tanzania is the festival of music and cinema held at the beginning of July. The Zanzibar International Festival of Cinema is the highlight of these two weeks filled with art. You can enjoy lots of local screenings in many different locations around the city.
Eid al-Fitr, the celebration to mark the end of Ramadan, also takes place in Zanzibar during the month of August. We particularly recommend the celebrations at Makunduchi, where there is more dancing, music, pomp and food.
The Karibu travel and tourism fair
The Travel and Tourism Fair at Karibu is a must-see event for travellers in Arusha during the months of May and June. This is the most important fair of this type in the whole of East Africa. There are exhibitions and sales of a great variety of traditional Tanzanian items, such as crafts, wines, precious stones, furniture, safari equipment and much more.
As you can see, the popular festivals in Tanzania are diverse, distributed throughout the whole year and full of fun, music and colour. So, when you are planning your trip, keep them in mind so that you can make it to some of them.GO TO EVENTS
Food in Tanzania
You’re probably wondering what to eat in Tanzania. As in most African countries, the scarce access of the population to resources has been an obstacle for the development of cuisine with its own personality. With the exception of some typical Tanzanian dishes, which are simple to make and rustic, national cuisine is mostly made up of Asian and European foods.
The most traditional Tanzanian cuisine is Swahili cuisine which is found on the coast and is a combination of Indian and Arabic influences. Many of its typical dishes belong to Hindu cooking but are adapted to the ingredients of the area. The British influence is also prominent in the culinary customs of the country. Organising what to eat in Tanzania if you are vegetarian can be a bit more difficult.
Meat and fish
In Tanzanian cooking, dishes made with meat prevail in the inland areas, and fish on the coast. While it is true that the recipes are not very elaborate, the raw material is very fresh, so the quality is excellent. Normally the meat is grilled or roasted, most notably antelope, wildebeest and buffalo steaks. For visitors who don’t dare to eat such exotic meats, there are also options of dishes with chicken, beef, lamb, and in some places, also pork.
It is fairly common to find kebab stalls thanks to the Islamic influence. They are quite similar to those that we all know, made with strips of lamb seasoned with different spices. It is accompanied with rice and vegetables, which can be cooked (green beans, potatoes, sweetcorn) or raw. The sauces are made with coconut milk or curry. Sausages are made with beef due to the prohibition of pork in the Islamic culture.
In terms of fish, the most common varieties in Tanzanian cuisine are trout, perch, tilapia, parrot fish, tiger fish and rock cod. It is also known for its seafood, particularly lobster from Zanzibar and giant prawns.
When you don’t know what to eat in Tanzania, salads are a good choice. They are usually made with raw fruit such as banana, apple, papaya, coconut and sweet potato. They also often served cooked as a garnish for meat and fish. A spice which is used a lot is pepper. In fact, pepper cake is one of its specialities. It contains minced beef, butter, onion, olive oil, curcuma, nutmeg and three varieties of pepper.
Another of the typical Tanzanian dishes is ugali. This is a purée of cassava which is very like Italian polenta. It is served with meat and vegetable stews.
Nyama chocan is typical of the regions in the north of the country and is a barbecue of chicken and beef. On the coast you can often find dishes with cassava and plantain with clove and cinnamon.
It is also easy to find chapatis, belonging to India. It is a type of bread in the shape of a flat dough made with cornflour. Mandazi is a type of sweet fried bread which is usually served to eat with coffee.
Typical Tanzanian desserts
What should you eat in Tanzania in terms of desserts? Evidently, tropical fruit is the star dessert, served in salad or fresh. An infinity of fruit is on offer: mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, passion fruit, coconut, tamarind, orange, lime, watermelon, melon, custard apple, etc. The British influence can be seen in hotels and restaurants, especially when it comes to desserts. If you are wondering what to eat in Tanzania, you can enjoy more western flavours in the hotels and lodgings.
As with all of the old English colonies, tea plays a prominent role. It is grown abundantly on the highlands of the country and is exported in large quantities. It is drunk with milk and sugar. Another exported product of excellent quality is coffee, which is worth tasting.
Beer is consumed quite a lot, but it is important to specifically ask for it cool, otherwise, in line with British custom, it is served warm. The national brand is Kilimanjaro and Safari Lager which comes in a half litre bottle. Dodoma Red and Dodoma Pink are the country’s wines, although in the restaurants they serve wine of different origins, mainly North American, European and South African. Kenya Gold is a delicious coffee liqueur which is served with a bit of ice and can be a fantastic end to a hot day trip. Kibgayi is a liqueur made with a mix of vodka and gin and Afrikoko is a sweet cocoa and chocolate liqueur. Konyagi is a typical Tanzania gin. It is important to note that, although alcohol is allowed, you shouldn’t drink in the street.GO TO GASTRONOMY
Shopping in Tanzania
Are you going on a trip and wondering what to buy in Tanzania? Tanzania is a country situated to the east of Africa whose main tourist attraction and source of income are safaris. However, it also stands out for its bright and colourful crafts which are handmade by the area's tribes. There are also unique items that you will only find there, such as tanzanite. Below we offer you a series of traditional products from Tanzania that you should make space in your suitcase for.
If you are looking for truly special souvenirs of Tanzania, you have to get yourself a shuka which is a type of large shawl with different coloured squares which are usually worn by the Maasai people. The shuka has an interesting history behind it which goes back to Victorian times. They were introduced to the country when the first English missionaries and explorers started to arrive, and they used these Scottish fabrics as hard currency with the Maasai tribe. Nowadays its production takes place mostly in China, although the colours and combinations continue to be characteristic and unique of the original Shukas. This traditional shawl and Maasai symbol has transcended borders to become a fashionable accessory that can be used in any number of ways.
Wood and leather
The Maasai are also skilled craftsman of leather and wood. They work with different types of wood although ebony is the most valued. You can find masks, figures, decorative carvings and objects made of leather such as baskets, sandals, wallets, etc. It is a good option if you’re not sure what to buy in Tanzania.
Another of the typical Tanzanian products is tanzanite. It is a precious stone of considerable value which is found in the Mererani hills to the north of Tanzania and near to Kilimanjaro. Tanzanite deposits are scarce which turns it into an even more unique material. It is a tri-colour crystal with purple, burgundy and sapphire blue tones, depending on the orientation. It is used as a gemstone in jewellery and it was in fact the popular brand Tiffany & Co. who baptised this beautiful stone with the name of the country where it is extracted.
If you don’t know what to buy in Tanzania, another interesting option are kikoys. They are beautiful cotton fabrics used as a sarong in the hottest regions of East Africa. Both men and women use them wrapped around the waist as a skirt or trousers. They can be found in different colours, dyed with natural dyes. The kikoy also has ancient origins which date back to the trade relations that the Arabian merchants have had on the Eastern coast of Africa in the last twelve centuries. In spite of it being of Arab heritage, throughout all of this time, the kikoy has acquired its own personality, as well as extending its uses. And as well as its use as clothing, kikoys are used as turbans, scarves, table cloths, parasols, towels, curtains, to make a bundle or even to filter coffee.
Maasai crafts are another of the typical Tanzanian products that have travelled the world. The bracelets, necklaces or other types of trinkets, made of coloured beads are characteristic of this tribe and are a must-have to wear in any country and continent. They are handmade by the Maasai women. Other interesting craft pieces are the sticks of the Maasai leaders or the spears of the warriors. They are also handmade and decorated with coloured beads. The Maasai know that we love their crafts and each time they expand their offer, so that you can find lots of different items.
It is recommended that you purchase Tanzanian souvenirs preferably in the Maasai villages themselves. You can visit them in different areas such as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the south of the Serengeti or the Esalali Women's Project in Karatu which is located between the Crater and Lake Mayara. This way, you contribute to boosting the women’s cooperatives and the local Maasai economy.
Buying through haggling
If you already know what to buy in Tanzania, now you need to learn to haggle. Many tourists find haggling difficult because they aren’t used to it and they feel aggressive or uncomfortable when buying using this method. However, it is a habitual custom and something which is assumed and expected, even in souvenir shops. In order to do it like an expert, firstly you should offer the seller half of what they are asking for. The shop assistant will be alarmed and will exaggerate their outrage to then make you another offer. It is important to be friendly, negotiate calmly and with a sense of humour. If you're not convinced of the offer or you don’t manage to agree a price, you can try in another place. You just need to drop the shame of haggling to end up enjoying it.
Buying through exchange
Exchanging objects is also habitual in Tanzania and you can reach an agreement by exchanging products. You probably have objects that you don't mind letting go of and which are of great value to the Maasai. Footwear, a watch you don’t use, a hat or a t-shirt you are bored of, etc. They are things that they may be willing to swap for a Maasai blanket or a beaded trinket.
Now you know which are the traditional products of Tanzania and where to find them, you can plan your trip to the African country better.
Tanzania tourist attractions
More information about Tanzania
Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and one of the world’s top safari destinations, owing to its unbeatable national parks and its diverse and exotic wildlife. As well as amazing safari opportunities, Tanzania is also well-known for its idyllic beaches, such as those on the island of Zanzibar, and its ancient heritage as one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas on earth.
The de jure capital is Dodoma, but the largest city is Dar es Salaam, located on the Swahili coast. Most travellers who choose a safari in Tanzania will, instead, arrive into Kilimanjaro airport, in the shadow of the mountain of the same name, the highest in Africa and a favourite of adventurous climbers who aim to reach its lofty summit. Tanzania plays host to the wondrous Great Migration between December and March every year in the Serengeti, only adding to its appeal as a wildlife-spotting destination. Travel to Tanzania will almost certainly be focused on its game parks and wildlife destinations, such as Ngorongoro or Tarangire National Park, but Tanzanian culture is a magical bonus to any holiday to Tanzania.
Tanzanian’s are well-known for their diverse culture and the warm welcome they extend to visitors, so be sure to make time to get in touch with the locals, such as paying a visit to the bustling Maasai Market in Arusha or attending the lively Wayambo Cultural Festival, held every January in Dar es Salaam.
History of Tanzania
The history of Tanzania can be traced back to more than 2 million years ago. Humanoid fossils have been discovered in Tanzania and link the area to some of the earliest human civilisations on earth. On a tour of Tanzania today, you can visit Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world, which has helped to reveal countless secrets about the evolution of early humans.
Ancient Tanzanian history is characterised by the movement of a number of different tribal communities into the region, including Southern-Cushitic speakers from the north and Bantu-speaking communities from West Africa. More recent migrants to the territory of Tanzania include Maasai, the best-known ethnic group owing to their distinctive clothing and residences near the nation’s game reserves. Around the 8th and 9th-centuries, travellers and merchants from Persia and India spread the teachings of Islam to Tanzania’s Swahili Coast and the Omani ruler, Said bin Sultan, established the capital of his Sultanate in Zanzibar in 1840.
It was not long before Zanzibar became a centre of the Arab slave trade. By the end of the century, German colonists conquered much of Tanzania, incorporating it into German East Africa. If you travel to Tanzania today, you can still see the influence of this period in the colonial architecture of Dar es Salaam. Following Germany’s defeat in World War I, Tanzania came under British control and eventually gained independence in 1961. During the same period, Zanzibar had a revolution, resulting in their independence and the merging of what was then known as Tanganyika and Zanzibar, to form Tanzania in 1964.
Nature in Tanzania
The ‘Big Five’ are one of the most enticing attractions for travellers who take a trip to Tanzania. Almost 40% of Tanzania’s land area is protected for conservation purposes and the country has a total of 16 national parks, as well as a number of game reserves. A highly biodiverse country, a holiday to Tanzania is sure to be an unforgettable adventure for all wildlife lovers. There’s nothing quite as awe-inspiring as a safari through the African savannah, and Tanzania is the best place to experience this.
One of Tanzania’s most unique landscapes is the Ngorongoro Conservation Arena, the highlight of which is a huge volcanic crater, home to a wealth of wildlife. Safaris here guarantee fantastic wildlife spotting as the walled crater naturally protects and encourages the flourishing of the native wildlife, consisting of at least 25,000 large animals. Tarangire National Park is known for its lion population, in fact, more than 700 can be found prowling this extraordinary reserve. You can also find large herds of elephants here and a diverse mix of landscapes randing from swamps to grassy plains and clusters of giant baobab trees.
A safari holiday to Tanzania is incomplete without contemplating the eternal plains of the Serengeti, the country’s most popular and well-known national parks. Seemingly never-ending savannahs play host to the largest land mammal migration in the world, whilst watching the sunset over the Serengeti is sure to have life-affirming qualities. For a more relaxing slice of Tanzania’s natural beauty, head to idyllic Zanzibar, where white-sand beaches are lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
Culture in Tanzania
Tanzania’s rich cultural tapestry is a result of the amazing diversity of its population, composed of approximately 125 ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Sukuma, Haya, Chagga and Nyamwezi. The most widely-understood language is Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic influences, although Tanzania is a multilingual country and hundreds of regional languages are spoken throughout the country.
Visitors on a trip to Tanzania will be pleased to know that English is widely spoken in larger cities and tourist destinations. Christianity and Islam are the predominant religions, although indigenous beliefs are practised in some rural communities. From the red-cloaked Maasai people to the hunter-gather communities of Hadza people, meeting local ethnic groups is an integral element of any trip to Tanzania if you want to understand the nature of Tanzanian culture. Tanzanians are known for their politeness and hospitality, so you’ll receive a warm welcome if you travel to Tanzania.
The nation’s colourful and diverse culture is exemplified in its artistic traditions, for example, its Tingatinga paintings, a traditional artistic method involving brightly colourful enamel paintings depicting animals and landscapes, as well as in its delicious national culture, which celebrates the variety of Tanzanian produce and has a number of regional specialities.
A long-standing safari destination, Tanzania is hard to beat when it comes to its concentration of wild animals, captivating landscapes and exciting cultural experiences. Whether you’re a veteran safari aficionado or a first-timer, a safari in Tanzania will open your eyes to an amazing world of wildlife in the African savannah.
Passport with a minimum of six months validity and a return ticket.
A visa is required. Issued on arrival in the country. Price approximately $50. Maximum 3 months stay. Visas are paid in cash only, with USD banknotes issued after 2006.
UTC + 03:00.
Swahili and English.
Tourist Office websiteVisit website
Other useful information
Tanzanians drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Please consult your doctor regarding the vaccination against yellow fever and malaria prophylaxis. Travellers over 60 years must consult their doctor as the Yellow Fever vaccine can have serious side effects.
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