The best wildlife viewing months in Tanzania are during the dry season from late June to October. The best chance of seeing the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February. The Southern and Western Circuit Parks are best visited during the dry-season (June to October), unlike the more popular Northern Circuit Parks that can be visited year-round. Tarangire is the only exception, since its wildlife viewing is considerably better in the dry-season as well.
|Best time to go:||June to October (All parks), June-July and January-February (Serengeti for the wildebeest migration & calving)|
|High Season:||July to March (northern circuit parks; they get crowded), July to October (southern and western circuit parks; they don’t really get crowded any time of the year)|
|Low Season:||April and May (northern circuit parks still get quite a few visitors unlike the southern and western circuit parks, where many lodges close down)|
|Best Weather:||June to October (Little to no rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||March and April (Peak of wet season)|
June to October – Dry Season
- June and July are the best months to see the wildebeest migration.
- Animals are easier to spot since they concentrate around waterholes and rivers and there is less vegetation.
- There are fewer mosquitoes because there is little to no rain. Skies are clear and most days are sunny.
- Even though most tourists visit during the dry season, the parks still don’t feel crowded, except for the Seronera area in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.
- Mornings and nights get cold. It’s recommended to bring warm clothing for morning game drives in open vehicles during the months of June, July and August.
November to May – Wet Season
- Late January to February is the time to see the calving in the southern Serengeti. This is an excellent time to see predator action.
- The scenery is green and beautiful. It’s low season, meaning lower rates and less crowded parks.
- Although wildlife is easier to spot in the dry season, you’ll still see plenty and most northern circuit parks offer good year-round game viewing.
- Migratory birds are present and birdwatching is at its best.
- Except for March, April and May, rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom have a negative impact on your trip.
- March to May is the peak of the wet season.
- Most big wildlife has migrated out of Tarangire NP and game viewing in Katavi, Selous and Ruaha is clearly better during the dry season.
Best time to go to Tanzania by major park
The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater offer good wildlife viewing throughout the year. June and July are the best months for seeing the migration and February is the best month for the wildebeest calving. The dry months offer good game viewing throughout Tanzania. Tarangire and the southern and western circuit parks (including Katavi, Selous and Ruaha) are best visited in the dry season, from June to October.
Do I require a visa?
Visas are required to enter Tanzania as of other East African Countries – Kenya and Uganda. They can either be obtained in advance through the various Embassies/High Commissions abroad, Consulates or at the airports or other ports/borders of entry.
The process is fast and easy and all one requires to have is a valid passport (at least six months).
Where and how can I apply? – see Tanzania VISA section
Airport and Arrival Information; Three International Airports, Dar-es-Salaam, now know as “Julias Nyerere International Airport – JKIA” and “Kilimanjaro International Airport – KIA” and Zanzibar International Airport. See flights coming to Tanzania and Zanzibar – see flights coming to Tanzania
To begin safaris in Northern Tanzania, most visitors are advised to book with Airlines whose Arrivals & Departures are at KILIMANJARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KIA) which is 45 minutes drive from Arusha town. See International Airlines such as AIR TANZANIA, KLM Royal Dutch with daily Flights out of Amsterdam into Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam, GULF AIR, KENYA AIRWAYS, ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES and Emirates. It is also possible to get flights arriving to Nairobi (Kenya) from where you can make arrangements to transfer to near city of Arusha.
Ferries: Boat and Ferries to Zanzibar and Mafia, see ferries to Zanzibar
Immunizations / Vaccination:
What medical precautions should we take?
Vaccination requirements change from time to time. We suggest you consult your local doctor or health department for information on the latest health precautions. Currently, shots against Yellow fever and cholera are recommended but not mandatory. As a precaution we usually advise anti-malarial drugs to be taken before, during and after your visit to East Africa. Also, if you are on prescription medication, please ensure you have an adequate supply to last the duration of your stay and a copy of your prescription(s).
Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription ant-malarial drug for details concerning risk and preventive medications.
What I should know for Safari? Everyone agrees that there is substantial planning required by those considering a safari in Africa.
How far in advance should I book my safari?
It is better to book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability at the time you wish to travel, especially during the high/peak seasons – June to Oct and Christmas/New Year season.
What should I take on safari? (Should be used as a guide only)
As you will want to capture as much as possible of this amazing tour, don’t forget a camera, camcorder with lots of films, tapes, and replacement batteries for all these. A torch light would come in very handy.
Sunglasses, hat, sun lotion, lip-balm, insect repellents and your own toiletry requirements, small first-aid kit, a spare pair of glasses or lenses if you are using one.
Don’t forget a swimming costume and you might want to include a good book for the relaxing hours. Sleeping-bags and towels if you are planning for camping safaris must be included.
What should I take for mountain climbing? (Should be used as a guide only)
Sunglasses/Snow goggles, Rucksack & day pack, 3-4 season sleeping-bag, Insulation pad, Balaclava or woolen hat, Long sleeved shirt, Several pairs of socks, Gloves, Waterproof trousers & jacket, Warm sweaters, Anorak/raincoat, Gaiters, Water-bottle, Wooden walking stick, Hiking boots, Pair of light walking shoes, Warm scarf, Toiletry requirements, Flashlight with batteries, Sun protection cream, Small first aid kit, Lip salve, A whistle and some plastic bags.
Baggage Limit: 1 bag 15kgs maximum. It is advisable to have your own insurance covering, travel, medical, baggage and personal injury.
Persons undergoing medical treatment should obtain approval from their doctor prior to booking the trek. The trek is taken at the clients own risk.
What kind of food do I expect during the trip?
The quality and variety of food available on safari will be a pleasant surprise for our clients. Most lodges serve meals in buffet-style. The food is prepared according to the western-tastes, and includes some local cuisine too. If a camping safari is chosen, fresh meat and produce is prepared by the expert chefs accompanying the clients to the highest standards.
Special dietary requirements such as vegetarian or diabetic meals can be easily arranged with prior notice. A vegetarian or vegan may wish to bring along some alternative protein sources. Persons with multiple food allergies, it is advisable to bring along supplemental snacks. Please notify us of any possible dietary restrictions along with booking confirmation
Is drinking water safe?
In some places tap water is safe, but generally, it is not advisable to drink or brush your teeth with tap water. Bottled water is available everywhere and in almost all Lodges and Hotels and all super markets. On treks and safaris, it is better to carry sufficient bottled water.
What Type of Clothes to take? :
For safaris, especially in Northern Tanzania (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha), during the day, light clothing is recommended with sturdy shoes and canvas hats. During the night in areas like Arusha and the Ngorongoro Highlands; where the altitude is between 1500 – 2500 Metres; a cardigan or pullover may be essential. In the same pack, remember your sun cream, lotions, sun glasses, a pair of binoculars, and a camera with rolls of film.
What would be the accommodations like?
Wide range of accommodations is available to suit your budget, lodges, hotels, tented camps, permanent camps to name a few. Most hotels are a nice blend of luxury, ambience, offering picturesque views. Once an inquiry is submitted, we provide you with a detailed list of accommodations available to suit your requirements.
Advise regarding photography?
For wildlife photography, a 200 mm zoom lens is the smallest that you should use, A 300-400 zoom is preferable. For bird-watchers, a 500mm or larger is necessary, and a wide-angle lens would be ideal for scenic shots. Bring extra camera and flash batteries and plenty of film – you may find these quite expensive and difficult to obtain locally.
Shopping Around: Locally made products are widely sold at reasonable prices. Ask your local Guide for the best offer to buy yourself or your friend items like; Batiks and Tingatinga paintings, Ebony carvings such as cutlery, bracelets, furniture and sculptures. Others include Maasai belts, rings and necklaces made of colourful beads, Khanga for women’s wrap around and Jewels to include Tanzania’s special Mineral – Tanzanite.
Do I require Travel Insurance?
We strongly recommend that you take out all of the necessary Travel Insurance before commencing on your journey.
What is the best time to visit Tanzania?
Climate in Tanzania is always wonderful, though you might have to avoid rains from Mid April to end of May to climb Kilimanjaro; however the following prediction is based on the movement of animals. It is the best time for game viewing.
all year round except April and May.
June through October
Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia
June through October; December through March
National Park & Game Reserve Fees as of 21 November 2010
Tanzania Parks and Game Reserves Fees and Regulations
Were are Tanzania Tourism Board Information Offices Located?
|Dar-es-Salaam (Main Office)||Dar-es-Salaam (Eastern Zone Office)|
|Tanzania Tourist Board,
IPS Building, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 2485, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
General (255) 022 211 1244/5
Marketing (255) 022 211 1345
Tourism (255) 022 212 8472
Mobile (255) 0788 420 050
Fax (255) 022 211 6420
|Tanzania Tourist Board,
Tourist Information Centre
Samora Avenue Road
P.O. Box 2485, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Tel.: (255) 022 213 1555
Fax: (255) 022 211 642
|Arusha (Northern Zone Office)||Mwanza (Lake Zone Office)|
|Tanzania Tourist Board, Arusha
Tourist Information Centre
47E Boma Road
P.O. Box 2348, Arusha, Tanzania.
Tel.: (255) 027 250 3842 / 3
Fax: (255) 027 254 8628
|Tanzania Tourist Board, Mwanza
Tourist Information Centre
Posta Road, New Mwanza Hotel, Ground Floor
P.O Box 2175, Mwanza, Tanzania.
Tel: (255) 737 199 806
Tel: (255) 28 250 0818
|Iringa (Southern Zone Office)|
|Tanzania Tourist Board and Tanzania National Park Tourist Information Office
Pawaga Road Iringa
P. O Box 1500, Iringa, Tanzania.
Tel: (255) 0787 113 868
Mob: (255) 0763 858 246
Filming in Tanzania?
Filming permit in Tanzania, please write and aquire information and licences from Tanzania Tourist Board [address above] or email to email@example.com Managing Director, TTB
Guidelines on Tourism Licenses and Forms – TALA
The guidelines for tourism licenses contained in this booklet issued by the Tourism Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism will very much assist tourism business operators in the country.
I anticipate that all those engaged in the tourism business will be made aware of these regulations and that it will receive enduring support from all the tourism operators.
With that they shall abide to all other Laws and Regulations set by the Government to operate in this business.
Tanzania has a tropical climate but has regional variations due to topography. In the highlands, temperatures range between 10 and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F) during cold and hot seasons respectively.
The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20 °C (68 °F). The hottest period extends between November and February (25–31 °C or 77.0–87.8 °F) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (15–20 °C or 59–68 °F).
Seasonal rainfall is driven mainly by the migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. It migrates southwards through Tanzania in October to December, reaching the south of the country in January and February, and returning northwards in March, April, and May. This causes the north and east of Tanzania to experience two distinct wet periods – the short rains (or “Vuli”) in October to December and the long rains (or “Masika”) from March to May – while the southern, western, and central parts of the country experience one wet season that continues October through to April or May.
The onset of the long rains averages 25 March and the cessation averages 21 May. A warmer-than-normal South Atlantic Ocean coupled with a cooler-than-normal Eastern Indian Ocean often causes the onset to be delayed.
Of the land area, 84.1% has a tropical wet and dry/ savanna climate (Aw), 6.9% has a semi-arid/ steppe climate (BS), 9% has a temperate/ mesothermal climate with dry winters (Cw).
Of the population, 80.5% live in a tropical wet and dry/ savanna climate (Aw), 9.5% live in a semi-arid/ steppe climate (BS), 10% live in a temperate/ mesothermal climate with dry winters (Cw)
|Location||Lat.||Long.||Alt. m(ft)||Climate||Biome||Av. Temp.||Precip.|
|Bukoba||1°20’S||31°49’E||1137 (3730)||–||Subtropical moist forest||–||2144 (84)|
|Musoma||1°30’S||33°48’E||1147 (3763)||–||–||–||893 (35)|
|Mwanza||2°28’S||32°55’E||1140 (3740)||–||–||–||1119 (44)|
|Arusha||3°20’S||36°37’E||1387 (4551)||–||Subtropical moist forest||–||873 (34)|
|Moshi||3°21’S||37°20’E||831 (2726)||–||Subtropical moist forest||–||906 (36)|
|Same||4°5’S||37°43’E||872 (2861)||–||Subtropical moist forest||–||603 (24)|
|Tanga||5°5’S||39°4’E||35 (115)||–||–||–||1327 (52)|
|Tabora||5°5’S||32°50’E||1190 (3904)||As||Subtropical dry forest||23 (73)||1010 (40)|
|Dodoma||6°10’S||35°46’E||1120 (3675)||–||Subtropical thorn woodland||–||556 (22)|
|Zanzibar||6°13’S||39°13’E||15 (49)||Am||–||26 (78)||1684 (66)|
|Dar Es Salaam||6°52’S||39°12’E||55 (180)||As||Tropical dry forest||26 (79)||1148 (45)|
|Mbeya||8°56’S||33°28’E||1707 (5600)||–||Subtropical dry forest||–||944 (37)|
|Mtwara||10°16’S||40°11’E||113 (371)||–||Tropical dry forest||–||1145 (45)|
|Songea||10°41’S||35°35’E||1067 (3501)||Cwa||Subtropical dry forest||21 (70)||1150 (45)|
|Tanzania Average||5°23’S||36°6’E||844 (2769)||As||Subtropical moist forest||24 (75)||1107 (44)|
Tanzania has a varied geography, including deep and large freshwater and salt lakes, many national parks, and Africa’s highest point, Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m or 19,341 ft)
Northeast Tanzania is mountainous and includes Mount Meru, an active volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano, and the Usambara and Pare mountain ranges. Kilimanjaro attracts thousands of tourists each year.
West of those mountains is the Gregory Rift, which is the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. On the floor of the rift are a number of large salt lakes, including Natron in the north, Manyara in the south, and Eyasi in the southwest. The rift also encompasses the Crater Highlands, which includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Ngorongoro Crater. Just to the south of Lake Natron is Ol Doinyo Lengai (3,188 m or 10,459 ft), the world’s only active volcano to produce natrocarbonatite lava. To the west of the Crater Highlands lies Serengeti National Park, which is famous for its lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and buffalo plus the annual migration of millions of white bearded wildebeest. Just to the southeast of the park is Olduvai Gorge, where many of the oldest hominid fossils and artifacts have been found.
Further northwest is Lake Victoria on the Kenya–Uganda–Tanzania border. This is the largest lake in Africa by surface area and is traditionally named as the source of the Nile River. Lake Victoria covers 69,490 sq km (26,832 sq miles), which is Africa’s largest lake and 49% of it lies in Tanzania. Southwest of this, separating Tanzania from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is Lake Tanganyika . This lake is estimated to be the deepest lake in Africa and second deepest lake in the world after Lake Baikal in Siberia, with maximum depths of 1,470m (4,821ft), and is 673km (420 miles) long and averages 50km (31 miles) across; 41% of its area lies in Tanzania. The western portion of the country between Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi consists of flat land that has been categorised by the World Wildlife Fund as part of the Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands ecoregion. Just upstream from the Kalambo Falls, there is one of the most important archaeological sites in Africa.
The Tanzanian mainland is divided into several clearly defined regions: the coastal plains, which vary in width from 16 to 64km (10 to 39 miles) and have lush, tropical vegetation; the Masai Steppe in the north, 213 to 1,067m (698 to 3,500ft) above sea level.
The centre of Tanzania is a large plateau, which is part of the East African Plateau. The southern half of this plateau is grassland within the Eastern Miombo woodlands ecoregion, the majority of which is covered by the huge Selous National Park. Further north the plateau is arable land and includes the national capital, Dodoma.
The eastern coast contains Tanzania’s largest city and former capital, Dar es Salaam. Just north of this city lies the Zanzibar Archipelago, a semi-autonomous territory of Tanzania which is famous for its spices.
The coast is home to areas of East African mangroves, mangrove swamps that are an important habitat for wildlife on land and in the water.
Tanzania has a tropical climate and different bacteria, flora and fauna than most visitors are accustomed to , so it is advisable to take a few health precautions when travelling to make sure your trip goes as comfortably and smooth as possible. Malaria is usually top on the list of visitors’ worries, and prevention goes a long way towards keeping you protected. Make sure to visit your doctor to get a prescription for the anti-malarial drug the best suit you. The yellow-fever vaccination is no longer official required when entering Tanzania; however this is still a requirement if you wish to visit Zanzibar. Other vaccination should be considered.
The best choice of vaccines for your trip depends on many individual factors, including your precise travel plans. Vaccines commonly recommended for travellers to Africa include those against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow fever, Rabies and Meningitis.
Certificate required for entry into, or travel between, some African countries. Several of these vaccines require more than one dose, or take time to become effective. It is always best to seek advice on immunisation well in advance, if possible around 6 weeks before departure.
What to pack
It is advisable to travel with a small medical kit that includes any basic remedies you may need, such as antacids, painkillers, anti-histamines and cold remedies. You will also need anti-diarrhoeal medication such as Imodium (adults only); and oral rehydration sachets such as Electrolade, especially if travelling with children. Also include first aid items such as Band-Aids, antiseptic and dressings. It may be worth asking your doctor to prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic, suitable for treating dysentery or severe infections.
Take along scissors, tweezers, and thermometer, lip salve, sun block, water purification tablets or drops, as well as your preferred brands of toiletries and cosmetics. If you wear spectacles or contact lenses, take spares. Also take a torch and a pocket knife.
Food & Hygiene
If you eat every meal you are offered, anywhere in the tropics, you will undoubtedly become ill. Be selective. Possible disease hazards range from minor bouts of travellers’ diarrhea to dysentery and more serious parasitic diseases that may ruin your trip, so precautions are worthwhile. Always choose food that has been freshly and thoroughly cooked, and is served hot.
Avoid buffet food, or anything that has been re-heated or left exposed to flies. Avoid seafood. Raw fruit and vegetables tend to be very difficult to sterilise: don’t eat them unless they have been carefully and thoroughly washed in clean water, or are easy to cut open or peel without contaminating the flesh. In the tropics, the easiest and safest fruits are bananas and papayas.
Do not be afraid to reject food you consider unsafe, to ask for something to be prepared specially, or to skip a meal.
Only drink water that you know is safe. Don’t drink tap water or brush your teeth with it, stick to bottled or canned drinks – well known brands are safe. Have bottled mineral waters opened in your presence, and regard all ice as unsafe. Alcohol does not sterilise a drink!
If in doubt, purify water by boiling or with chlorine or iodine, or using a water purifier. (One of the safest methods is to use 2 percent tincture of iodine: add 1 drop of iodine to each cup of water, and wait 20 minutes before drinking.)
Accidents and Injuries
Accidents and injuries kill many more travellers than exotic infectious diseases: be constantly alert! Risks arise not just from the accidents themselves but also from the scarcity of skilled medical care. Don’t drive on unfamiliar, unlit roads at night. Don’t ride a moped, motorcycle or bicycle. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t drive too fast. Insist that taxi-drivers drive carefully when you are a passenger. Use seat belts, and for children, take your own child seats. Take special care at swimming pools: never drink and swim, and always check the depth. Carry a small first aid / medical kit. Minor wounds may easily become infected: look after them carefully and seek prompt attention if necessary.
Malaria:Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes that bite mainly at dusk and at night: every traveller to Africa needs reliable, up to date advice on the risks at his or her own destination. Prevention consists of using effective protection against bites (see below), plus taking anti-malarial medication. The most suitable choice of medication depends on many individual factors, and travellers need careful, professional advice about the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The most effective preventive drugs for travel to Africa are:
Lariam: widely-used; side-effects have received much media attention (ranging from vivid dreams to more serious neurological reactions); those who should not take this drug include travellers with a previous history of neurological and psychological problems.
Doxycycline: possible side-effects include a skin reaction that can be triggered by bright sunlight, as well as an increased risk in women of vaginal thrush.
Malarone: highly effective, well-tolerated, and with an extremely low rate of side-effects, but more expensive and currently only available on an unlicensed basis from specialist centres. Chloroquine and Paludrine have little risk of side effects and were previously widely used, but are now only about 50-60 per cent effective in many parts of East, West, and Central Africa, and must be used with caution, if at all. Commercial import to Tanzania has even been stopped.
Whatever your choice, you must take an anti malarial drug if you are visiting a malarial region, and you must continue taking the drug for the necessary period after your return; you must also take precautions to reduce the number of insect bites (see below).
Visitors to malarial areas are at much greater risk than local people and long term expatriates – from malaria as from several other diseases: do not change or discontinue your malaria medication other than on skilled professional advice. Travellers to very remote places should also consider taking stand-by malaria treatment, for use in an emergency.
Other Tropical Diseases Tropical diseases are relatively uncommon in travellers. Most of them tend to be food-borne or insect-borne, so the precautions listed above will prevent the majority of cases.
Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia, is a parasitic disease spread by contact with water from lakes, rivers and streams. Regardless of any advice you may receive to the contrary by local people, and even tour guides, no lake, river, or stream in Africa is free of risk. Contact should be avoided or kept to a minimum. Chlorinated swimming pools are safe.
Rabies: In Africa, dogs are not pets: avoid handling any animal. Rabies is transmitted by bites, but also by licks and scratches: wounds need thorough scrubbing and cleansing with antiseptic, followed by prompt, skilled medical attention including immunisation. Seek advice about pre-travel rabies immunisation, especially if your trip will be a long one.
Most cases of traveller malaria occur when travellers stop taking antimalaria drugs as soon as they get home. This is dangerous – tablets should be continued as instructed (at least 4 weeks after leaving a malarial area, except for Malarone, which can be stopped after 1 week).
Symptoms of malaria – and other tropical diseases – may not appear until long after your return home – you may not necessarily associate them with your trip. Always report any symptoms to your doctor, and make sure that he or she knows that you have been to Africa, even up to 12 months after your visit. DEMAND a blood test for malaria. If you have been exposed to schistosomiasis, a blood test at least six weeks after returning home should be considered.
No responsibility can be accepted by AMREF or contributors for actions taken as a result of information contained here. Everyone is advised to seek proper medical advice where necessary before, during and after travel.
The Flying Doctor Service
In many parts of Africa access to adequate health care can mean long, tortuous journeys by road. The Flying Doctor Service operated by AMREF not only provides outreach and emergency care to local communities in remote regions, it also provides a medical air evacuation service to tourists. By joining the Flying Doctors’ Society you can help the service reach the people who need it most and also ensure a free emergency evacuation flight for yourself should the worst happen on your travels. Visit the Flying Doctors page to find out more, and to become a member of the society, click here.
© Copyright Amref – Flying Doctors
It is believed that modern humans originate from the rift valley region of East Africa, and as well as fossilized hominid remains, archaeologists have uncovered Africa’s oldest human settlement in Tanzania.
In 1959, Dr. L. S. B. Leakey, a British anthropologist, discovered at Olduvai Gorge in NE Tanzania the fossilized remains of what he called Homo habilis, who lived about 1.75 million years ago. Tanzania was later the site of Paleolithic cultures. By the beginning of the first millennium A.D. scattered parts of the country, including the coast, were thinly populated. At this time overseas trade seems to have been carried out between the coast and NE Africa, SW Asia, and India.
By about A.D. 900 traders from SW Asia and India had settled on the coast, exchanging cloth, beads, and metal goods for ivory. They also exported small numbers of Africans as slaves. By this time there were also commercial contacts with China, directly and via Sri Vijaya (see under Indonesia) and India. By about 1200, Kilwa Kisiwani (situated on an island) was a major trade center, handling gold exported from Sofala (on the coast of modern Mozambique) as well as goods (including ivory, beeswax, and animal skins) from the near interior of Tanzania. By about 1000 the migration of Bantu-speakers into the interior of Tanzania from the west and the south was well under way, and the population there had been greatly increased. The Bantu were organized in relatively small political units.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, became the first European to visit the Tanzanian coast; in 1502, on his second visit there, he made Kilwa tributary. In 1505, Kilwa was sacked by Francisco d’Almeida, another Portuguese explorer, and by 1506 Portugal controlled most of the coast of E Africa. The Portuguese did not cooperate with the local people, and their impact was mostly negative—trade was disrupted, towns declined, and people migrated from the region. However, Kilwa’s trade seems to have grown as a result of contact with the Portuguese. Toward the end of the 16th cent., the Zimba, a group from SE Africa, moved rapidly up the coast, causing considerable damage; in 1587 they sacked Kilwa and killed about 3,000 persons (roughly 40% of its inhabitants).
In 1698 the Portuguese were expelled from the E African coast (except for a brief return in 1725) with the help of Arabs from Oman. In the early 18th cent., the Omanis showed some interest in the commerce of E Africa, and this increased after the Bu Said dynasty replaced the Yarubi rulers in 1741. Oman’s commercial activity was centered on Zanzibar (and, to a lesser extent, at Mombasa), from which it controlled the overseas trade of E Africa. By the early 19th cent. numerous towns on the Tanzanian coast had been founded or revived; these included Tanga, Pangani, Bagamoyo, Kilwa Kivinje (situated on the mainland near Kilwa Kisiwani), Lindi, and Mikandani.
The Caravan Trade
Sayyid Said, the great Bu Saidi ruler, took a great interest in E Africa and in 1841 permanently moved his capital from Muscat, in Oman, to Zanzibar. He brought with him many Arabs, who settled in the mainland towns as well as on Zanzibar. About the same time, new caravan routes into the far interior were opened up; the three main lines went from Kilwa and Lindi to the Lake Nyasa region; from Bagamoyo and Mbwamaji (near present-day Dar-es-Salaam) to Tabora, where one branch continued west to Ujiji (and on into modern Congo) and another went north to the Victoria Nyanza region; and from Pangani and Tanga northwest into modern Kenya via Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The caravans following the southern route obtained mainly slaves and ivory; along the more northerly routes ivory was the chief commodity purchased. As a result, the Swahili language (a blend of Bantu grammar and a considerable Arabic vocabulary) and culture gained new adherents. In the middle third of the 19th cent. several European missionaries and explorers visited various parts of Tanzania, notably Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tabora, Lake Victoria, and Lake Nyasa. From the 1860s to the early 1880s Mirambo, a Nyamwezi, headed a large state that controlled much of the caravan trade of central and N Tanzania. About the same time Tippu Tib, a Zanzibari, organized large caravans that passed through Tanzania to present-day Zambia and Congo, where ivory and slaves were obtained.
As the scramble for African territory among the European powers intensified in the 1880s, Carl Peters and other members of the Society for German Colonization signed treaties with Africans (1884–85) in the hinterland of the Tanzanian coast. By an agreement with Great Britain in 1886, Germany established a vague sphere of influence over mainland Tanzania, except for a narrow strip of land along the coast that remained under the suzerainty of the sultan of Zanzibar, who leased it to the Germans. The German East Africa Company (founded 1887) governed the territory, called German East Africa. The company’s aggressive conduct resulted in a major resistance movement along the coast by Arabs, Swahili (whose main leaders were Abushiri and Bwana Heri), and other Africans that was only defeated with the help of the German government. A second Anglo-German agreement (1890) added Rwanda, Burundi, and other regions to German East Africa.
Because the company had proved to be an ineffective ruler, the German government in 1891 took over the country (which by then included the coast) and declared it a protectorate. However, it was not until 1898, with the death of the Hehe ruler, Mkwawa, who strongly opposed European rule, that the Germans succeeded in controlling the country. During the period 1905 to 1907 the Maji Maji revolt against German rule engulfed most of SE Tanzania; about 75,000 Africans lost their lives as a result of German military campaigns and lack of food. Under the Germans, several new crops (including sisal, cotton, and plantation-grown rubber) were introduced; the production and sale of other commodities (notably coffee, copra, sesame, and peanuts) was encouraged, and railroads were built to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika and to Moshi. In addition, many new Christian missions, which included rudimentary schools for the Africans, were established.
During World War I, British and Belgian troops occupied (1916) most of German East Africa. In the postwar period the League of Nations made Tanganyika a British mandate, and Ruanda-Urundi (later Rwanda and Burundi), a Belgian mandate; the Portuguese gained control of some land in the southeast. The British, especially during the administration (1925–31) of Gov. Sir Donald Cameron, attempted to rule “indirectly” through existing African leaders. However, unlike N Nigeria, where the policy of indirect rule was first developed (see Frederick Lugard), Tanganyika had few indigenous large-scale political units. Therefore, African leaders had to be established in newly defined constituencies. The effect of British policy, as a result, was to alter considerably the patterns of African life in Tanganyika. After a slow start, the British developed the territory’s economy largely along the lines established by the Germans. Increasing numbers of Africans worked for a wage on plantations, especially after 1945, when economic growth began to accelerate. Also after 1945 Africans gradually gained more seats on the territory’s legislative council (which had been established in 1926).
Independence and Nyerere
In 1954, Julius Nyerere and Oscar Kambona transformed the Tanganyika African Association (founded in 1929) into the more politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU easily won the general elections of 1958–60, and when Tanganyika became independent on Dec. 9, 1961, Nyerere became its first prime minister. In Dec., 1962, Tanganyika became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, and Nyerere was made president. On Apr. 26, 1964, shortly after a leftist revolution in newly independent Zanzibar, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged; Nyerere became the new country’s first president. Abeid Amani Karume, the head of Zanzibar’s government and leader of its dominant Afro-Shirazi party (ASP), became Tanzania’s first vice president. Although formally united with the mainland, Zanzibar retained considerable independence in internal affairs.
In Feb., 1967, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration, a major policy statement that called for egalitarianism, socialism, and self-reliance. It promised a decentralized government and a program of rural development called ujamaa (“pulling together”) that involved the creation of cooperative farm villages. Factories and plantations were nationalized, and major investments were made in primary schools and health care. While Nyerere put some of the declaration’s principles into practice, it was not clear if power in Tanzania was, in fact, being decentralized.
TANU was the mainland’s sole legal political party and it was tightly controlled by Nyerere. In the early 1970s there was tension (and occasional border clashes) between Tanzania and Uganda, caused mainly by Nyerere’s continued support of Uganda’s ousted president, A. Milton Obote. However, in 1973, Nyerere and Gen. Idi Amin, Uganda’s new head of state, signed an agreement to end hostilities. Tanzania supported various movements against white-minority rule in S Africa, and several of these organizations had offices in Dar-es-Salaam. In 1977, TANU and Zanzibar’s ASP merged to form the Party of the Revolution (CCM). A new constitution was adopted the same year.
Hostilities with Uganda resumed in 1978 when Ugandan military forces occupied about 700 sq mi (1800 sq km) of N Tanzania and left only after having caused substantial damage. One month later, Tanzanian forces and Ugandan rebels staged a counterinvasion. Tanzania captured the Ugandan capital of Kampala in 1979 and drove Idi Amin from power. This campaign further depleted the country’s already scarce economic resources. Tanzania maintained troops in Uganda after its victory and drew criticism from other African nations for its actions. In 1983, negotiations between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda led to the reopening of the Kenyan border, which had been closed since 1977 after the collapse of the East African Community.
Tanzania after Nyerere
By the 1980s, it was clear that the economic policies set out by the Arusha Declaration had failed. The economy continued to deteriorate with cycles of alternating floods and droughts, which reduced agricultural production and exports. After Nyerere resigned as promised in 1985, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, president of Zanzibar, became head of the one-party government. He began an economic recovery program involving cuts in government spending, decontrol of prices, and encouragement of foreign investment; modest growth resumed. In 1992 the constitution was amended to allow opposition parties.
The 1995 multiparty elections, which were regarded by international observers as seriously flawed, were won by Benjamin William Mkapa, candidate of the ruling CCM. In the 1990s Tanzania was overwhelmed by refugees from the war in neighboring Burundi; by the end of the decade some 300,000 were in Tanzania, and the number subsequently grew. Tanzania began repatriating the refugees in 2002, and closed the last camp in 2009. More than 200,000 Burundian refugees who fled to Tanzania in 1972 also remained prior to 2009; many of these accepted an offer of Tanzania citizenship.
Mkapa, who continued to pursue economic reforms, was reelected in 2000, but there were blatant irregularities in the vote in Zanzibar, where the opposition party, which favors greater independence for the island, had been expected to do well. In 2005 the CCM candidate for president, Jakaya Kikwete won the election with 80% of the vote, and the CCM won more than 90% of the seats in parliament, but the voting in Zanzibar was again marred by violence and irregularities. A corruption investigation implicated the prime minister, Edward Lowassa, and two other cabinet members in 2008, leading them to resign in February; Kikwete subsequently re-formed the cabinet. The president was reelected in 2010 with more than 60% of the vote, while on Zanzibar the election was largely peaceful and the CCM candidate narrowly won the island’s presidency. The CCM also won three quarters of the seats in parliament.
You can now apply for an Online Visa to visit the United Republic of Tanzania (both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar).
You are required to fill in the online form, make payment, and submit your application online. Your form will be internally reviewed and processed.
Applicants will be notified through their e-mails whether their applications have been accepted or rejected. They may also TRACK their application statuses through the online system. Applicants may as well be required to visit the nearest Tanzanian Embassies or Consular Offices for interviews.
For online application, copy the link below:
The evocative mix of people and cultures in Tanzania creates a tapestry of memories for the visitor.
Since the dawn of mankind, when the savannahs of east and southern Africa saw the birth of humanity, Tanzania has been home to countless peoples of many different origins. Tanzania’s history has been influenced by a procession of peoples, from the original Bantu settlers from south and west Africa to the Arabs from Shiraz in Persia and the Oman; from the Portuguese to the Germans and the British. Tanzanians took control of their own destiny with independence in 1961.
It has a population of over 26 million with 120 African ethnic groups, none of which represent more than 10 per cent of the population. The Sukuma others including the Nyamwezi, the Makonde and the Chaga of the Kilimanjaro region., the largest group, live in the north-western part of the country, south of Lake Victoria. They are fairly commercial oriented and have prospered with a mix of cotton farming and cattle herding.
Unlike in other African countries, most people identify themselves as Tanzanian first and foremost. This reflects the ideals which were introduced by the leader of the nation for over twenty years, Julius Nyerere
The Hadzabe of northern Tanzania have built a society based on hunting and gathering food, while the Iraqw live in the central highlands of Mbulu and are known for their statuesque, immobile posture and sharply delineated features. They grow their own food and tend cattle.
The Masaai, who are perhaps the most well known of East Africa’s ethnic groups, are pastoralists whose livelihood and culture is based on the rearing of cattle, which are used to determine social status and wealth.
They dominate northern Tanzania but only occupy a fraction of their former grazing grounds in the north, much of which they now share with national parks and other protected areas. They are easily recognised by their single red or blue garments and their ochre covered bodies.
North of the Masaai steppe, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, live the Chagga, who farm the mountain side. Through cooperative farming they have achieved a fair standard of living.
The Gogo live near Dodoma and have developed slowly due to lack of water. The formerly warlike Hehe live in Iringa District’s highland grasses.
The Makonde are internationally famous for their intricate wood (ebony) carvings (sold over much of East Africa). They live along the coast on the Makonde plateau and their relative isolation has resulted in a high degree of ethnic self-awareness.
The Nyamwezi, whose name translates into “People of the Moon”, were probably so called because of their location in the west. The Nyamwezi, now cultivators, were once great traders. The 19th century European explorers regarded them the most powerful group in the interior.
The Haya, located along the shores of Lake Victoria, to the north-west of the Nyamwezi, grew and traded coffee long before the arrival of the Europeans and today have established tea and coffee processing plants. Haya women produce excellent handicrafts.
In an area of forest and bush live the Ha who retain a deep belief in the mystical. They live in relative solitude with their long-horned cattle and wearing hides or fibres of bark. They are well known for their artistic expression, especially their dances and celebrations.
Tanzanians will tell you that the reason for the relative harmony between the various ethnic groups is that virtually everyone speaks Swahili in addition to their native tongue.
Today, a great majority of the population have accepted and fluently use Kiswahili, thus English is generally well known. As a result of this linguistic situation, many of the 120 tribal languages are slowly withering away with every new generation. Kiswahili on the other hand has grown into an international language that is widely used across multiple boarders.
Kiswahili is ranked among the top 10 international languages. Apart from Tanzania, it is now used in Kenya, Uganda, DRC Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to name a few.