Getting Around Tanzania : How To Travel Around Tanzania Safely : Tanzania, a country in East Africa, is home to some of the planet’s most pristine natural landscapes and wildlife. On the other hand, navigating Tanzania can be a little intimidating, especially if you are traveling independently or do not speak Swahili, the local language.
If Dar es Salaam’s urban traffic jams aren’t keeping you from getting where you’re going, the nation’s bad roads and inadequate infrastructure can make overland travel incredibly slow. It’s crucial to have a reasonable expectation of local transit times when planning a trip to Tanzania and to take safety into account.
Flights within Tanzania
If you’re flying in, Dar es Salaam is probably where you’ll land. It’s important to keep in mind that local airlines that offer connections to other domestic locations like Arusha or Kilimanjaro are notorious for their delays and cancellations, while flights to smaller towns like Kigoma may be advertised but not actually be available.
As a general rule, allow yourself a day before boarding your international flight back home and budget for delays. There are private flights that connect to the National Parks, but their cost is much higher.
Dar es Salaam, an urban center dispersed along the Eastern coastline, is the largest city in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam’s notoriously disorganized traffic can be a nightmare during the weekday workday. Due to the infrequent rotation of the few traffic lights, you will have to wait for a while when a light turns red.
From the Dar es Salaam airport, registered taxis can be found easily and safely for 50,000 TSH (or 20,000 TSH in smaller towns). The white cars will be easy to spot in Dar es Salaam thanks to a yellow stripe and a three-digit number along the side. Prior to leaving, it is always preferable to negotiate a flat-rate fare with the driver. If your taxi travels through a toll booth, the taxi driver will typically pay the toll, not you.
In Tanzania, Tuk-tuks and boda-boda (motorbike taxis) are less expensive options, but they are riskier in urban traffic than taxi cars. You should be aware of the possibility of theft and ATM extortion because many Tuk-tuks and bike taxis are not registered, especially at night. Uber, a taxi alternative in the city’s capital, is relatively new to Dar es Salaam.
Dala dalas, or local buses, are a cheap way to travel within Tanzanian cities; however, they do require some knowledge of Swahili. Expect to get “up close and personal” with your neighbors if you ride a dala-dala because it will be a crowded and bumpy ride. On these buses, be aware of your wallet and phone.
In Tanzania, overland buses are a cheap way to get from city to city, but due to Tanzania’s poorly maintained roads, these trips can be very long and uncomfortable. Many overland buses are quite basic and have been known to breakdown on the side of the road, so don’t expect any A/C or a toilet on board.
At various stops along the way, you’ll have several chances to use the restroom or purchase food, so it’s a good idea to bring your bag or backpack when you get off the bus.
Train connections from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and Kigoma via Tabora are a secure mode of transportation. A second railway service is also available, and it extends all the way to Zambia in the southwest.
Although trains are a more comfortable mode of transportation than buses, you must allow plenty of time for them, and they are notorious for their delays, which could leave you stranded at the connecting train station at night.
It is advised to carry a cell phone with a local SIM to make emergency calls in order to prepare for this scenario. Additionally, if you are taking a sleeper carriage and want to get some rest, you should store your luggage securely. Never take anything from a stranger, especially food or drink, as there have been reports of drug-related thefts.
If you choose to drive independently in cities, you should be aware of parking rules, traffic laws, and other dangers. Although carjacking is rare, thieves have opened windows at traffic stops and taken valuables from unlocked cars, so keep your windows closed and doors locked when driving.
Getting a 4×4 vehicle with rental insurance and a local SIM card for outgoing calls in case your vehicle breaks down is highly advised for cross-country driving. Roads between towns can be very remote, so try to avoid using them at night and make sure you have enough food, water, and fuel. Buses may try to pass you, and approaching cars may swerve into your lane to pass other vehicles. Drive to the closest police station to report the incident in the event of an accident.