There is so much to consider when planning a trip to Africa. Our Climate Guide, Visa Information and When to Travel guides below are designed to help make your experience as trouble free as possible.
In general, tourists should wear modest or conservative attire, especially in Zanzibar, which is a conservative Muslim society. Western women should not wear clothing that reveals too much skin. 'Kangas', brightly-colored wrap-around cloth, are affordable, available throughout the country, and can serve as a discreet covering.
The Masai people, with their colorful clothing, are tempting targets for any tourist with a camera. However, they expect to be paid for it, and you should always ask before taking pictures.
Many sellers are persistent and, ordinarily, a simple head shake, accompanied by "asante sana", should settle it. However, as a last resort, a firm "hapana", meaning "no", will do the trick. Tanzanians find the word "hapana" quite rude, so please don't use it casually -- only as a last resort. Whatever you plan to do, do not tell someone you will come back to buy from them later when you have no such intention; better to be honest and say 'no' than having to avoid someone for days. They somehow have a funny way of finding you when you promised to visit their stall or shop!
The most polite way to refuse something is to say "sihitaji" (pronounced see-hih-tah-jee)- "I don't need it". All travellers must exercise vigilance in both their belongings as well as their behaviour, so as not to attract undue attention.
It is advised that all travellers visit their own Government or Embassy websites to obtain up-to-date advice on travelling to Tanzania.
A Brief History
Kenya has known the presence of humankind since the very earliest development of our species. Moreover, the region has long been a migratory path, passed through by wave upon wave of peoples from all over Africa and, later, from the Middle East as well. By the 10th century or so, the region had developed its own lingua franca, Swahili, which is a Bantu language heavily overlaid with Arabic. Among other familiar words, safari is Swahili, meaning simply travel.
With the arrival of the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century, the East African coastal region was for a time dominated by the Europeans. However, in 1729 the Portuguese were expelled, to be replaced by two Arab dynasties. Arab rule lasted until the end of the 18th century, when Kenya passed into the British sphere of influence. The country became independent in 1963.
This is probably one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found dating back over two million years. More recently, Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived, and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century. Travellers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and Western India have visited the East African coast since early in the first millennium CE. Islam was practised on the Swahili coast as early as the eighth or ninth century CE.
In the late 19th century, Imperial Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania (minus Zanzibar), Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into German East Africa. The post-World War I accords and the League of Nations charter designated the area a British Mandate, except for a small area in the northwest, which was ceded to Belgium and later became Rwanda and Burundi). British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful (compared with neighbouring Kenya, for instance) transition to independence. In 1954, Julius Nyerere transformed an organization into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Nyerere became Minister of British-administered Tanganyika in 1960 and continued as Prime Minister when Tanganyika became officially independent in 1961. After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighboring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the island merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania on 26 April 1964.
Top Health and Travel Tips
- Get Travel Insurance for Tanzania and Kenya & check that the cover is appropriate for all your Travel.
- Check what vaccinations you need at least 6 weeks before you go & consider whether you need to take extra health precautions.
- Get a good travel guidebook and get to know your destinations and local laws & customs.
- Ensure you have a valid passport and the necessary Visas.
- Make copies of your passport & any visa pages, insurance policy plus 24-hour emergency number & ticket details. Leave these copies, itinerary & contact details with family & friends.
Specific Health Issues:
All travelers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure.
Malaria: Malaria A Prophylaxis with Lariam (mefloquine), Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil), or doxycycline is recommended for all areas at altitudes less than 1800 m.
- Polio : One-time booster recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult
- Yellow fever : Recommended for travelers arriving from a yellow-fever-infected country
- Hepatitis A : Recommended for all travelers
- Typhoid : Recommended for all travelers
- Hepatitis B : Recommended for all travelers
- Rabies : For travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, or at high risk for animal bites, or involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) : Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given
- Tetanus-diphtheria : Revaccination recommended every 10 years
It is recommended that you consult your local doctor for clarification on all health related issues before you commence your journey.
Visas to Kenya
A visa is required prior to entry into Kenya. A single Entry Visa (valid for three months from date of issue) will cost US$ 50. A transit visa will cost US$ 20 (You can also pay using Euros, GBP or SwissFrancs).
Citizens of the following countries need to have a visa prior to arrival in Kenya;
Afghanistan, Libya, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Somali, Armenia, Mali, Syria, Cameroon, North Korea, Tadjikistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Stateless Persons
For those whose country doesn't appear in the list above, visas can be obtained at the Airport upon arrival. It's advisable to obtain the visa from the Kenyan Embassy/High Commission in your country prior to departure.* Note: The list of countries shown above is subject to change - For more information please check http://www.immigration.go.ke
Visas to Tanzania
Travellers to Tanzania require a valid Visa each time they enter the Republic. Visas can be obtained at any Diplomatic or Consulate Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania abroad, normally within one business day. Visitors are urged to do so to avoid any possible inconvenience at point of entry in Tanzania.
It is possible, however, to obtain a tourist's visa for a single entry at any one of the following four main entry points to Tanzania, subject to the fulfilment of all immigration and health requirements:
- Dar es Salaam International Airport
- Zanzibar International Airport
- Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA)
- Namanga Entry Point (Tanzania-Kenya boarder point)
(This facility is generally for those who could not apply for a visa from a Tanzania Mission abroad) For all other entry points in Tanzania, visitors must hold valid visa prior to arrival.
What to Pack
Temperatures and climate vary drastically from region to region and even throughout a single day. Basically the traveller should come prepared for hot, cold, wet and dusty conditions. Packing requires some careful thought and consideration.
- Subdued safari colours such as khaki, green, beige and neutral colours (dark blue and black clothing is not practical during game drives but can be worn at the lodges)
- Shirts with long sleeves for a chilly evening and even in summer: as protection from the sun & mosquitoes
- Golf shirt/T shirts
- Shorts or light skirts
- (Safari) trousers for evenings and cooler days
- A fleece or thick sweater is recommended for early morning and evening game drives & for use at the Ngorongoro Crater
- Lightweight waterproof jacket
- Swim and beachwear (Swimming pools available at each lodge).
- Comfortable walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine).
Medication and Toiletries
- Sun block with high SPF. hat, moisturizer and lip-salve are all essentials.
- Personal toiletries – all the Sopa Lodges have their own range of complimentary shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion
- Malaria tablets if applicable - please seek advice from your General Practitioner.
- Basic medical kit containing plasters, travel sickness tablets, anti-septic cream, anti-histamine cream, pain relieving tablets for headaches, indigestion tablets, eye drops, medication for upset stomachs, rehydrate sachets and after-sun moisturizer. If you have any allergies i.e. insect stings, or an asthma condition, please make sure you bring enough of your required medication with you.
- Strong insect repellent.
- A good quality pair of sunglasses (tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light),
- If you wear contact lenses, bring enough solution & a pair of glasses in case your eyes get irritated.
Photographic and Optics Advice
- A good camera with zoom function.
- We recommend you bring plenty of memory cards/film and batteries. A dustproof bag ensures your camera is safe from the dust whilst on safari. 300 mm lenses are adequate for wildlife photography.
- A pair of binoculars will enhance your game viewing experience and although your guide will have pairs available to use, you may wish to bring your own.
- Please don’t forget to ask permission before taking a photograph of any East African resident. There could be a charge for this.