Things to know before coming to Tanzania
Planning a trip to stunning Tanzania? Here at Mkoma Bay, we are ready to welcome you to our paradise, but we think there's a few things that you should know first.
1) Learn some Swahili.
Tanzanians are very proud of their language and love to teach foreigners new words and they love it even more when the foreigners’ can use what they have learned! All our staff here at Mkoma Bay speak English, but they are also happy to help our guests learn a few words while they’re here.
2) Hey Mzougu!
If you’re white skinned- don’t be surprised by people calling you “mzougu” (white person). It’s not an insult and you will hear it a lot if you travel to places where white people are not often seen.
3) Show me the money
American dollars are very welcome to pay for big things, but you should have Tanzanian shilling to pay for food and basic transport. It will make your life a lot easier and cheaper as some local places may charge an extra conversation rate when paying in USD.
4) Bring your Benjamins
Make sure to withdraw or exchange enough USD before you enter the country. You cannot withdraw USD from ATMs in Tanzania, and you cannot exchange shilling into USD without a receipt from the ATM. If you are bringing a lot of cash with you make sure to break it up and hide it in several different places on your person.
5) Be sun-smart
Don’t forget the sunscreen. As it is primarily tourists who buy sunscreen in Tanzania, it is much more expensive here than in European countries and it can also be quite hard to find unless you are in popular tourist areas. The sun here can be very hot and unless you are tanning by the pool you will probably want to avoid it as much as possible.
6) Avoid the suckers
Be sure to pack your insect repellent. Alternatively you can buy it in Tanzania relatively cheap and our experience is that it works. Also, make sure you purchase a repellent with DEET in it if you plan to be outside at night and pack some loose-fitting clothing which covers you will so that you’re not tempting the mosquitoes with your bare skin. Fortunately, due to our sea breeze at Mkoma Bay we get less mosquitoes than many places but they do still appear on nights with little wind.
7) Yellow fever
Tanzania does not have Yellow Fever, however, if you are coming from a country which has the disease, you must have had a yellow fever vaccination and have proof of your vaccination with you to enter Tanzania.
8) Visa info
You will need a visa to enter Tanzania. To speed up your arrival process in Tanzania this can be organised through your local consulate in your home country. If that’s not possible you can also get a visa on arrival for $50 with reasonably little hassle.If applying for a visa on arrival make sure you have the correct change with you. Also, make sure you apply for the right visa for the right kind of trip. Volunteers should have a business visa, and there are strict penalties for getting caught with the wrong kind.
9) Poleh- Poleh
Poleh- poleh means something in between slowly-slowly and gentle- gentle. You can expect everything to be a little slower here in Tanzania. Whether it’s at the bank or at a restaurant, life here happens at a much slower pace. It might take a bit of time to adjust if this is your first time in Africa, but luckily, you’re on holiday! Relax and take it easy.
10) Stay connected
Buying a local sim card will save you big $. Being able to call your hotel or driver directly from your phone without huge international charges will be a huge advantage. Sim cards are cheap to buy and cheap to run, with internet data available. We suggest using the Tigo network.
11) When to come
Due to the changing climate the seasons in Tanzania are no longer as easily definable as they used to be. But in theory, there are three main seasons:
High Season (Jun–Sep)
· Weather is cooler and dry.
· Animal-spotting is easiest, as foliage is sparse and animals congregate around dwindling water sources.
· Weather is hot, especially December through to February.
· From late October, the mvuli (short rains) fall and the kusi (seasonal trade wind) blows.
Low Season (Mar–May)
· Heavy rains make secondary roads muddy and some areas inaccessible.
· It seldom rains all day, every day. Landscapes are lush and green.
We hope you will enjoy your time in beautiful Tanzania! Mkoma Bay Tented Lodge is open all year round and is the perfect place to relax and unwind, no matter what the season. Get in touch for more information.