A short introduction
We recognize the fact that all our customers are different, have different expectations and want different kind of experiences. We also recognize the fact that all our travelers have different knowledge about travel and experience with Africa.
In this section we’ll try to give you simple, understandable and sensible advice on how to get the most out of your trip. Since there are so many adventures to choose from, selecting a random “pre-defined package” just because it fit´s your budget –rarely gives you exactly what you are after.
If you consider yourself to have extensive experience on safaris, and want to you can get more in-debt knowledge about a certain area/park and options, you can find that in our Destinations section.
If you already know exactly want you want, you can proceed to the Create my trip section, where you can get a price-quote for the trip you are after.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with Africa and safari, and would like some advice and guidance –this is your section !
Safariguide for beginners
Most of our customers stay from 10-21 days, and we recommend at least 10 days. How long you intend to stay, is vital for the planning to ensure it will not be a stressful trip. Regardless of what kind of trip you would like and what your budget it –we’ll create a trip customized to YOUR wishes.
Basic safari vocabulary
The word “safari” is actually a Swahili word and means long journey. “Safari” often refers to trips to observe and photograph wildlife, -or hiking and sight-seeing. In the early days the “safari” was used to describe big-game hunting
Originally the term was used for any animals hunted for food. In the safari content the term is used on all the different wild animals you would see on safari
The term is used to describe the activity where you are in a 4x4 vehicle out on safari looking for game (Game watching)
As stated, you have safari on foot. You are accompanied by an armed ranger and a guide who make this completely safe to attend. An exciting variation to your safari experience, where the focus is on vegetation and the small animals (The small 5) that lives on the savanna/in the bush. Most walking safaris are done early before breakfast, so it can in most cases be done on the same day as game drives
Some areas allows the use of boats to watch game. Usually a river safari would focus on all animals that have the water as main habitat (crocodiles & hippo’s) as well as animals that normally lives on the river-banks, like birds, lizards and other small animals. Selous Game Reserve (Southern Circuit) is usually the place where to go on river / boat safari
Some areas allows the use of hot air balloons to watch game. There are limited possibilities and it is mainly available in the Northern part/circuit of Tanzania. Quite an experience, however quite costly. You would normally pay around 500 USD per person per “ride” for this activity. Tarangire National Park and Serengeti National Park usually offers balloon safari
A national park is classified as a park used for conservation purposes. In most cases a national park is a reserve of natural or semi-natural or development land of a sovereign state declares or owns. Tanzania has (per 2014) 16 national parks that comprise a combined area of more than 42,000 km2
A conservation area, also referred to as a protected area, are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological and/or cultural values. An example of this in Tanzania would be the Ngorongoro Crater. The term ”protected area” also includes Marine Protected areas which can be found several places along the coast of Tanzania
A game reserve is more than just a piece of land or a place to keep wildlife, it is a place where ecosystems are protected and conservation is a key. Indigenous wildlife in its natural habitat an ideal situation as this helps in providing an environment where growth in numbers at a natural rate can occur. For safari travelers, the biggest difference between a national park and a game reserve, is that in game reserves you are allowed to drive off- road to get closer to animals nearby, whilst in national parks this is strictly forbidden and your safari vehicle has to stay on the road at all times
Lodge & Camp
Often used term on safari accommodation sites smaller and more primitive than hotels, in smaller and more rural areas . This however does not contradict the “standard” as many camps and lodges can be seen as luxurious, but does not have the facilities often related to hotels, due the place it is situated
On safari, this would be the most primitive state of accommodation. Often just a tent set up the same day with no running water and basic/primitive cooking possibilities, however it could provide a fantastic and “raw” African experience
Fly-camp /semi-permanent camp
Somewhere in between lodge and camping. Basically a campsite that is built for a trip or for a season. It is a big variety in this category from primitive to private high luxury. Often used on longer and more remote/wild safaris
Means 3 meals a day is included -breakfast, lunch and dinner. Drinks (soft drinks and alcoholic beverages) are in most cases not included, unless it is specified
Means 2 meals a day is included -in most cases breakfast and dinner. Some lodges/camps/hotels give you the opportunity to choose breakfast + lunch or dinner. Drinks are in most cases not included, unless it is specified
B & B
Means Bed & Breakfast. Breakfast is the only meal included in the price
All meals are included and soft drinks as well as locally produced beer and spirits. An option we do not recommend, solely because you will probably spend some time away from the hotel on excursions during the day, and maybe want to visit different restaurants. So you could end up paying for a lot of meals you would not eat.
In remote areas or areas with few excursions or other restaurants, it could be considered as a good option
Swahili animal name
- Zebra/Punda milia
A little basic Swahili
- Goodnight/Ulale salama
- Sleep well/Lala salama
- Good bye/Kwa heri
- My name is.../Jina langu ni...
- My friend/Rafiki yangu
- What is the news?/Habari gani? (This is the normal term for "How are you?)
Getting to Tanzania
Our best tip !
Check out www.momondo.com it can help you to find the best flights!
(PS: We are not linked to Momondo at all and do not receive any kick-backs or commission –we just think it’s a great site!)
Accommodations & standards -what to expect
Basically you can get whatever you want in all price-ranges. And as anywhere else in the world, quality and cost have a certain connection for obvious reasons.
This being said, very luxurious camps and lodges on safari are very seldom worth their price. Although spectacular, you don’t spend a lot of time in the room or at the campsite (since you are out for game-drives most of the day), so save your money! The most luxurious camps and lodges can easily charge 1000 USD per night person.
In the other end, stay away from the lowest segment. Yes, it might be tempting to get the lowest price possible, but it could highly affect the quality (and safety) of your stay. You might be able to get decent beds, but quality food and a good guide are critical elements to have a successful and memorable trip. You won’t get that on a very low budget.
While TripAdvisor and similar sites, as well as information on a webpage could provide good information, do not blindly trust what you read. A place can change owners, which affect the whole experience of a place, and there is very little control and justice of what is written on webpages in many African countries.
A place could pretend to be a 5 start luxury resort with fantastic pictures, but in reality they are a mid-range 3 star hotel, who got some lucky shots in the dark of their facilities. Just because a company can create a great web-page, does not mean they understand and can provide a great stay for the customers. So please trust our advice here.
Tanzania Explorer and our partner’s visit, monitor and controls all recommended camps regularly, to ensure your trip-investment is taken care of!
Accommodation & standards -some examples
Tanzania offers all classes and standards when it comes to accommodation! Sometimes a great place can have a bad web-page that doesen´t really give the right impression. On the other side, some places can seem really nice on their webpage, but might actually use pictures from other places to look more attractive than they really are.
Once you are there, it might be to late to change the hotel, so that´s why you shouldn´t book a hotel/accommodation yourself in Africa without doing a significant amount of research. Pages like TripAdvisor can be of good help, but needs to be read with a certain level of skepticism. By booking through Tanzania Explorer you can be sure you get the right information about your accommodation.
We have approved all the places we recommend and visit the places regulary to make sure we have updated information about the stay. That allows us to secure the standard you want, to the price you expect! In addition we have great deals with hotels and lodges all over Tanzania at lower rates than what your would get if you booked directly.
We will try to give you a few hints on what you can expect from the different standards, both "out in the bush" on safari and at your beach vacation.
These are some examples in general. The most important thing is that you tell us what you are looking for, and together we will find the best option for your budget and time of travel, since this might also vary!
What to expect?
Small rooms/tents, bungalows and hostels. B&B basis. Sometimes shared bathrooms. Usually fans, don't expect AC. Not recommended on safari due to guides and food
What to expect?
Hotels, camps and lodges. Fan or AC. Could have great location although the facilities might differ. Restaurant service and might have. Might have swimming pool. Big differences in this category.
What to expect?
Thoroughly good standard hotels and lodges. AC (not on safari), swimming pool, laundry service and might even have spa.
What to expect?
Best there is! Exclusive hotel rooms, private villas, private pools, spa, total isolated area, restaurants etc. On safari you will have the best guides available. Often no children policy.
Generally about pricing and elements that affects the cost
Time of travel / season
- Peak season (Late December - early January + July)
- High/Mid season (Late January - March, June + August - October)
- Low (November, April & May)
Seasons might vary from lodge to lodge when it comes to accommodation cost
Especially regarding drive-in safaris. The cost of a car/driver/guide per day, are mostly the same no matter how many people that is in a car. So more people =more to split the cost between. This being said, it is not advised to “cramp up” in a car just to save costs. Ex. 3 people in a back seat is not recommended simply because it could really affect the quality of your safari game drive and be uncomfortable during transportation.
Length of safari
The most costly part of your trip will probably be the safari. So if you plan a week safari in luxury accommodation, be prepared to pay a substantial amount for your safari. For most customers than have never been on safari before, 3-4 days on safari in one park or 5-6 days of safari with 2-3 parks would normally be more than enough.
Stick to the “middle+” segments on our recommended lodges, and try to avoid typical main-stream resorts at the beach and islands to get the best African experience! Most of our trips have a combination of mid-range to high accommodation (and maybe even a small luxury treat in one of the destinations.)
Safari -which destination to choose
It really all depends of what your trip consists of, and if you have any special requirements and wishes, but here are some basic advice that we hope you find useful. Close to 90% of our safari-trips consists of more than one park.
Since there are 16 national parks to choose from (not including game reserves and other conservation/protected areas), there are great possibilities to combine different areas to get a more diverse safari-experience.
Basically you have 3 main areas to choose from;
The Northern Circuit
Consists of Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, Lake Manyara and Arusha National Park. This is by far the most famous circuit, especially because of Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. This is a truly magnificent area to go on safari, with the opportunity to see the famous Great Migration in the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem.
But with fame, you also get some major drawbacks. In high season, these areas can be over-crowded with tourists that could highly affect the quality of a “wild and authentic safari”. And with a lot of visitors –the charges goes up. So although spectacular, it is not the most cost-effective and “wild” safari.
Those who have it on their bucket-list to tick of the most famous safari-areas in the world, for those who see it important to experience the Great Migration and for those who would like to combine a Kilimanjaro-climb with safari. The north can be quite busy especially during June, July & December. We highly recommend the end of the green season (mid to late May and early June). The migration is then in the Southern areas of Serengeti and there are few tourists at this time!
The Western Circuit
Consists of Mahale, Katavi, Gombe Stream and Lake Tanganyika. By far the most secluded and wild areas in Tanzania and probably some of the least visited safari-attractions in the world. This is where Sir Henry Stanly spoke the immortal words: “Dr. Livingstone I presume?”
This is also one of the few areas left in the world where you can see chimpanzees in their wild natural habitat, and where Jane Goodall did most of her work protecting the wild chimpanzees. Since these areas are very remote, they are pretty expensive and would also require a longer safari due to the travel distance.
Those who don’t have a set budget to go after and are willing to spend money on their safari. If you would like a safari with very few tourists and get the wildest safari experience ever. In addition, if your main priority would be to experience wild chimpanzees –this is your area!
The Southern Circuit
Consists of Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park, Udzungwa National forest Park and Ruaha National Park. Selous is the world’s largest game reserve with rivers and dense vegetation. Mikumi has the large open savannas and in Udzungwa you can do some light trekking to some of the highest water-falls in Africa.
Ruaha is by us ranked as one of the best hidden safari adventures in the world. Wild, free and very little tourists. All areas accessible by both car and small airplanes and they are really good to combine to get a diverse safari-experience than doesen’t empty your bank-account!
If you are after a varied safari-experience and “best-value” this is definitely your area. Very few tourists, but only because they are not very well marketed. A lot of tourist/travel agencies around the world only promotes the famous north because the names sells better and they have higher profits here. This is the area we recommend to all travelers who don’t have a specific requirement or park that is a “must” to them.
Beach -which island to choose
One of the best features about Tanzania, is that it allows you to combine a great safari-experience with some truly amazing tropical islands with white sandy beaches and azure blue ocean. Great combination, don’t you think? Over 95% of our customers have this combination. As you might already know, Tanzania has a long coast towards the Indian Ocean to the east.
There are great possibilities to find a perfect beach on the mainland. However, to get the true feeling of a tropical lifestyle and experience the best beaches, we recommend that you take your beach-part of your vacation on one of the beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean.
There are 3 main islands to choose from;
Located in the northern part of the coastline, this would be considered the most “remote” of the island options. Known as the “Green Island” in Arabic, it is one of 3 main islands forming the Zanzibar archipelago. The population is thought to be a little over 400 000.
Great beaches and fantastic diving-options (especially for the advanced divers), and also the home of Manta Resort, where you are able to sleep 4 meters below the surface! Although it comes at a price –what an experience it is. The island has limited activities and cultural activities/experiences unless you want to spend your time diving in this fantastic area.
The island is the most expensive of the 3 island options. Suitable for those who want an extraordinary underwater experience, who don’t require a lot of “out of water”/beach activities, and with a little extra in their pockets to spend on the beach vacation.
The name "Mafia" originates from the Arabic word morfiyeh, which means meaning "group" or "archipelago", or from the Swahili word mahali pa afya, meaning "a healthy dwelling-place". The small island that has about 20 minor villages with the total population of about 40 000 people, is located to the southeast of the Tanzania coast. A small romantic island with only a few accommodation possibilities available. Famous for its whale sharks!
Hit the right season and you can have some of the most incredible underwater experiences with the largest fish is the sea! Like Pemba, it’s not too many activities to attend to out of the water, but plenty of fantastic diving and snorkeling opportunities. Mafia Island’s cultural and historical element would be Chole Island and its ruins which date back to the time of the sultan of Oman. Chole Bay, Mafia's protected deep-water anchorage and original harbor, is studded with islands, sandbanks and beaches.
Ideal for a romantic “get-away”, and ideal for whale shark enthusiasts and divers in all categories! Can also be combined with Zanzibar for a diverse and varied island experience!
By far the most popular and well know island on the east coast of Africa, Zanzibar is a “must” for your first time visit to sub-equatorial Africa. Unguja, which is actually the correct name for the island is a semi autonomous part of Tanzania. The island also referred to as the Spice Island, is probably one of the most historically interesting places in Africa. Zanzibar has something for all. If you get tired of laying at the beach or the numerous activities above and below the water surface, the island have plenty of other activities to offer out of the water as.
Jozani Forest National Park, the reptile park, turtle shelters, spice tours, village tours and cultural visit to Stone Town –the historical part of Zanzibar Town which is the capital and the only “city” on Zanzibar. For a complete list, take a look at the next chapter which includes numerous activities to attend. Some people choose different islands to visit because they might have heard Zanzibar is a very “touristy” island. Correct and not correct at the same time. Just as the different safari-options of the mainland; some areas are “touristy”, other not so much. And this is where our recommendation comes in.
The northern part of the island called Nungwi, has probably some of the finest beaches on the African continent, and perhaps in the world. This of course, attracts tourists from all around the world, and encourages the growth of touristy resorts which we tend not to recommend. And in turn, creates higher prices. The eastern and south-eastern part however, has far less tourists, with the result of less commercialized areas, more authentic smaller resorts and very few “beach-boys” / salespeople.
The “draw-back” of the east coast, is that it is a bit more affected by tide than the northern part. During mid-day you might have to walk a bit to take a swim in the ocean. But you will always have the pool available. Despite of this, we feel that this is a great area to explore and relax for your beach vacation. There are a numerous great places/areas along the east coast, which will make your stay on Zanzibar magical!
Activities -what to choose
In most places you will have a lot of activities to choose from. In general, most of your activities should be pre-booked. Especially when it comes to safari. The reason is that it might affect your travel schedule. This being said, you are more than welcome to discuss alternatives with your guides and the camp you are staying at! On Zanzibar we also would advise you to pre-book your activities for safety reasons.
You might be able to save 10-15 USD on an activity if you book it through a "beach boy" or random person you meet. This is not recommended for 3 reasons; 1. Safety 2. Quality of the excursion 3. Sustainability. With reference to the latter point, one of the major economic issues in Tanzania is to get the economy rolling by tax-listing.
By purchasing an activity from a random person -you do not contribute to the growth of the economy in Tanzania/Zanzibar, which is really needed to secure the future of this country. If you pre-book activities on Zanzibar, it is usually not a problem to switch days, if anything comes up.
You will have a Tanzania Explorer contact person on Zanzibar, that will assist you in transportation and excursions!
A part from the obvious safari game drives (in vehicles), and depending of the different parks, we can highly recommend river/boat-safari, walking safari and balloon safari where available. The latter however, is quite pricy and starts off at about 500 USD per person and only available in the northern areas.
A local village tour could be worth the visit, and most areas allow you to visit a traditional Maasai village or other NGO projects
Pemba & Mafia Island
Both islands are really good for both snorkeling and diving! For professional divers that likes a challenge, Pemba is your mekka. On Mafia Island you can both dive with whale sharks (season) and visit Chole Island. The small island have a intriguing history that dates back to the 8th century. Under a treaty of 1890, Germany took control over Mafia. They constructed several buildings still evident on Chole. Chole Bay, Mafia's protected deep-water anchorage and original harbour, comprise of islands, sandbanks and beaches -a great place to visit
- Kite-surfing (ideal in the eastern part)
- Diving & snorkeling (all over the island)
- Dolphin safari (to the southern tip of the island)
- Deep-sea fishing
- Safari-blue (a fantastic day out on the water with the traditional Dhowe)
- Jozani Forest
- Spice tour (more than just tasting spices. Recommended for all ages)
- Stone Town guided tour (markets, bazaars, Livingstone Church with the old slave markets)
Trekking & climbing
- Kilimanjaro (Read more about Kilimanjaro)
- Mt. Meru (Although not as high as Kilimanjaro, a more challenging climb for most)
- Udzungwa (Visit Sanje Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Africa. Suitable for all)
- Oldevai Lengai
In most safaris you will have the option of visiting a traditional village and in some places a Maasai-village. Oldevai gorge is "the cradle of man kind". Laetoli footprints dated back 3,7 million years. We can also arrange visits to local projects that we support for the development of communities
To be honest, there is not that much to see in the cities of Tanzania, but while in Dar es Salaam we can provide a full city tour of what’s to see, if you have a few hours to “kill” before you fly back home. If you are up north for a safari, Arusha could be nice to explore
Advice based on your group
My first African safari
But it probably won’t be your last, so take a reasonable bite! What we mean is that a lot of first time travelers want to do as much as possible, in as short timeframe as possible. This is not recommended. You are here to enjoy your time, not only to tick of boxes with animals you have seen and areas which you have visited.
For your first safari, we recommend 3-5 days out in the nature, depending on what you are after. The Southern Circuit (Selous, Mikumi, Udzungwa and Ruaha) would be our best recommendation.
For the beach part of your vacation we would recommend Zanzibar, since there is so much to see, do and experience here!
Experienced safari traveler
Unless you are there for a specific purpose (to see the Great Migration etc.) –stay away from the north. You will in most months of the year find it to crowded. So stick to the western part if you have a solid budget, and in all other cases –the southern park, with Selous and Ruaha in particular.
If you have been to Zanzibar before, we highly recommend to test Pemba or Mafia Island. Especially if you are interested in under-water activities and/or just relaxation.
Family / generation trip
If you are a large group, traveling by car would save you a lot of money! Depending on the age group, it could also be smart to avoid longer drives if you have small children or elderly people with you. We will recommend accommodation to fit all requirements and where you are able to spend as much time together as possible.
A trip in the Southern Circuit would be our basic recommendation (before we know more about your group).
For a group, Zanzibar would most definitely be the best island option for you. Both with reference to activities and accommodation.
Depending on the age group of course, you might want to include some activities that you can to together on your safari, like hiking Sanje Falls (Udzungwa Mountains), exciting accommodation instead of the “main-stream” places. We would also recommend you to have a round-trip and drive-in safari.
For you beach-vacation Zanzibar would probably be the best option since there are so many activities to attend to as a group!
Depending on health and fitness, one of the most important things is to consider weather or not a long drive would be suitable for your trip. Since you will spend a lot of time in a car during the “game-drives”, many of our senior travelers prefer to fly in and out of the areas they are visiting, to avoid long drives.
On the islands we will accommodate you in more quite areas (unless you prefer a party of course.) Also while on Zanzibar, we tend to book our senior travelers more than 1 day in Stone Town which is the historic and cultural center of the Zanzibar-islands.
The biggest choice you should make is if you want to spend as much time together just the two of you, or if you want more interactions with others. There are plenty of accommodation options both on safari and on the beach-part of the vacation which could provide exactly the experience you want.
On the beach-part of your vacation we always choose small boutique lodges/hotels to enjoy a romantic stay, and we are able to provide all sorts of romantic dinners in all locations, just for you! The romance however –you will have to take care of yourself!
Africa with children
Many people are afraid to bring children (especially small) to Africa, because it is “different”. No worries here, and the Tanzanians love children and will go out of their way to make your stay as fantastic as possible! We actually have customers that take out their maternity/paternity leave in Tanzania, enjoying quality family time at a bungalow on the beach.
If you plan to take your children on safari, however –choose wisely. We don’t recommend children 5 and under to attend safaris. Although they might have a great time with the animals, this is not a zoo and you do spend a lot of time in a car out in the parks. So our suggestion is to wait until the children are 7-8 to take them out on safari.
They will probably enjoy the trip even more, and remember it as well! ☺ It is a bumpy ride, so if your kids tend to become car-sick, you should choose to fly in top the area where you are doing the safari, rather than exposing them to a long drive. Feel free to get in touch with us, if you want more specific advize about bringing children on your safari-trip!
Company trip / team building
We do offer customized trip to companies, whether it is a “reward”-trip or a team-building session for your employees. We created tailor-made trips adapted to your specific group/purpose. Please get in touch with us for more information of what kind of options you have!
5 simple steps to get the most out of your safari
- Do some research on our webpage on what you would like to do
- Send us your wishes on “Create my trip” and receive a full itinerary
- Go through our suggestion and ask for any changes you would like
- Book your flights, and send us the flight times
- We will adapt your itinerary, send you extensive preparation documents
Thanks for reading –we hope to see you in Tanzania soon! ☺
We really hope this section have been helpful, and given some ideas of what would be ideal for just your trip! Take a look to the options on the right, to find your next step. You are also more than welcome to send us an email with your request on firstname.lastname@example.org
KARIBU AFRICA! (Welcome to Africa!)