Planning Your Tanzania Safari


Flights & Transfers

There are several ways to get to East Africa, depending on where you start, when you travel, and how much you want to pay:

Flying to Tanzania

There are flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport and Dar es Salaam International Airport, from most countries. Many of our safari goers find the following websites helpful:

  • Expedia  – traditionally, one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly flight finders
  • Vayama  – a relatively new flight search website with some unique features
  • Alternative Airlines - covers some destinations not reached by Expedia and similar large flight comparison sites

We are often asked whether we are able to recommend a particular airline. In our experience KLM seems to be popular choice, with most flights being routed via Amsterdam.

Domestic Flights in East Africa

Jambo JetThere are several reasons why it is sometimes necessary to arrange a short flight or overland transfer within East Africa, notably:

Visitors bound for northern Tanzania will often fly to either Nairobi in Kenya, or Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian coast, to avoid the more expensive direct flights to Kilimanjaro that are usually listed in August and other busy times.

Often travellers will do a climb or safari, before transferring to Zanzibar, the island paradise, to enjoy the beaches there. In this case they will usually fly in to Kilimanjaro, and arrange a return flight from Kilimanjaro Airport to Zanzibar for after their climb or safari. In our experience the simplest, fastest, and usually most cost effective means of finding these local and domestic flights is to use the website of Alternative Airlines. 

Alternatively, those needing to watch their budgets more carefully, will need to consider an overland option.

Travelling Overland Within East Africa

Shuttle Bus or Private Transfer from Nairobi to Arusha

Riverside ShuttleProbably the most popular method of travel between Nairobi and Arusha is to use one of the several available Shuttle Bus services that pick up travellers from Nairobi Airport and most hotels in Nairobi. The service varies in price from around USD 25 to some USD 50 per person, per direction of travel. Most of the transport is well maintained and adequate, but somewhat basic, with the rest stops en route becoming rather welcome after a couple of hours’ travelling. The roads between Nairobi and Arusha are generally of tolerable quality and maintenance, except for some short sections close to both Arusha and Nairobi, where there are several deep and slightly dangerous potholes. Because of this, we do not recommend completing this journey during hours of darkness, which is technically an option if your flight arrives into Nairobi after the last of the two daily Shuttle Bus departures at 1400. We are able to book these Shuttle Bus services and private vehicle transfers on your behalf. Private vehicles cost between USD 350 and USD 600, depending on the size of the vehicle and the time of travel.

The Shuttle Bus Service from Dar es Salaam to Arusha

There are similar bus services between Dar es Salaam and Arusha, but the road connecting these cities is much busier and therefore far more prone to accidents. The journey is also very long, around ten hours, and can sometimes even stretch to 12 hours, if there has been an accident on the road, as there is no dual carriageway for most of the journey. Of the services available the majority of our adventurers tend to use Scandinavia Express Services. Their website usually looks out of date and not particularly confidence inspiring, but it is nonetheless current and travellers are indeed able to make bookings through the site.

Using Small-Owner Public Transport in East Africa

There are many thousands of what the locals in Tanzania call dala dala, or in Kenya matatu. These can be found almost everywhere, passing at frequent intervals, and are Toyota minibuses that have been specially adapted to fit as many seats as possible inside, usually with very little leg room. Drivers strive to pack these vehicles as efficiently as sardine packers, so they should be considered neither comfortable nor safe, but are sometimes acceptable for short trips, provided you are not carrying valuable luggage or travelling far. The fares are, predictably, extremely cheap.

Safari Clothing and Equipment

To assist in shopping and packing it is helpful to print out a copy of this recommended kit list and tick off boxes as each item is acquired or packed. Please request a printable check-list from us if you feel this would be useful to have.

Baggage and Sleeping

Only applicable to camping and / or active safaris

  • Large Holdall, to contain everything you’ll need while on safari
  • Daysack, 25-35 litres, for personal use while on safari; for ready-access items
  • Sleeping Bag, rated to –10C if climbing Kili with us, or +5C if on safari only
  • Waterproof rucksack liner or heavy duty plastic sack (only if incorporating a multi-day walking safari)
  • Elasticated waterproof rucksack cover (only if incorporating a multi-day walking safari)

Clothing

  • Sweat-wicking T-shirts / vests
  • Fleece.
  • Insulated down jacket or similar, (only if climbing Kili or Oldonyo Lengai)
  • Down mittens or similar, (only if climbing Kili or Oldonyo Lengai)
  • Thermal long-johns for summit night, (only if climbing Kili or Oldonyo Lengai)
  • Lightweight walking trousers (for active safaris that incorporate hunting or trekking, avoid jeans or heavy cotton as they chafe and dry slowly)
  • Underwear (for active safaris, briefs are usually better than boxer shorts which gather and chafe)
  • Very good quality hiking socks and thin liner socks. (If your itinerary involves walking, we advise that socks should be at least a size too small otherwise once stretched they bunch, causing blisters)
  • Breathable lightweight waterproofs – jacket and trousers, (for active safaris that incorporate hunting or trekking),
  • Waterproof walking boots, sturdy and worn-in, (if your safari incorporates active elements – otherwise comfortable leather shoes will suffice)
  • Calf gaiters, (for ascents of Kili or Oldonyo Lengai only)
  • Balaclava, (for ascents of Kili or Oldonyo Lengai only)
  • Wide brimmed sun hat to protect face, ears and neck

Hygiene

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste & deodorant
  • Lightweight travel towel
  • Flat packed Wet Ones, travel wipes, or similar for personal hygiene on the mountain.
  • Kleenex tissues in plastic travel pouches or toilet paper
  • Hairbrush / comb
  • Sanitary products
  • Lip salve with UV protection
  • Vaseline, to prevent chafing skin and heel friction blisters

Health

  • Malaria Tablets (if you choose to take these. Most will seek advice from their GP. Note: some anti-malarial courses need to commence several weeks before departure
  • Sun cream.

Note: some argue that most sun creams are carcinogenic and either organic sun barriers or loose fitting clothes that cover the skin should be regarded as preferable.

Documents

  • Passport (with additional 6 months’ validity after proposed trip return date)
  • Tanzanian Entry Visa. (If flying to Nairobi and taking the bus to Arusha, Kenyan visas can be bought on arrival at Nairobi airport.)
  • Air Travel Documents
  • Cash in US dollars in denominations of $10 and $20 (tipping allowance and local purchases, taxis, meals, etc)
  • Credit Cards (recommended for eventualities only & obtaining extra cash from ATMs)
  • Travel Insurance Documents
  • Vaccination Certificates (where applicable)
  • Traveller’s Cheques are not recommend as they are subject to extremely poor conversion rates in Arusha.

Other stuff

  • Camera and film or Digital Camera and spare memory cards & batteries & charger
  • Sunglasses with UV-filter lenses
  • High energy snacks (Cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts)
  • Spare Contact Lenses and fluid, if worn
  • Watch
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Water bottles & Camelbak (3 litres carrying capacity if climbing)
  • Water Purification Tablets / Iodine drops
  • Ear Plugs (in the event of attempting to sleep near barking dogs)
  • Plastic bags (for dirty washing, used wrappers, etc.)
  • Telescopic walking poles (optional – and for use on active safaris & climbs only)
  • Mobile phone. There is signal reception in much of the national parks and safari areas.

Note: It is a very good idea to unlock your phone before you come out so that a local SIM card can be used. This will make WhatsApp calls home very inexpensive.

Personal Small First Aid Kit

  • Pain Killers (Ibuprofen)
  • Diamox (Acetazolamide) if you are climbing KIlimanjaro
  • Paracetamol
  • Zinc oxide tape and small scissors.
  • Compeed Blister Pads
  • Immodium / Loperamide anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Any medication you normally use
  • Dioralyte sachets or similar re-hydration packs.

Note that your guide or safari liaison will carry a more comprehensive medical kit containing additional Acetazolamide, Ibuprofen, Anti-inflammatory gel, bandages, Loperamide, Amoxycilin, and several other items.

Specialist Equipment for Hunters & Survivalists

  • Small, sharp, strong high-quality lock-knife. TK recommends Buck Knives. But please don’t bring a very expensive model.
  • Leather-palmed fingerless gloves (unless you have very tough skin on your hands)
  • Goggles – only for those requesting a night hunt, as torches cannot be used once we are near to the prey, and the risk of damage to unprotected eyes by thorns is high
  • Knee and elbow pads are not strictly necessary, however serious survivalists or Special Forces students who will be spending several days in Eyasi and wish to perfect their bush CTR & closing skills, may benefit from this protection.

Note: Please bear in mind that while the Hadzabe only wear a leather skin for protection (and sometimes not even that), they are very robust and are willing to accept the risk of injury perhaps more readily than most of the rest of us.

Vaccinations and Health Risks

We are aware of the perceived risks associated with the mercury-derived preservatives in many vaccines, and are not presenting this information in any advisory capacity. We would however bring to travellers’ attention that it is recommended to consider whether someone going on safari should take appropriate precautions against the following.

Immunisations for safari-goers that are generally strongly recommended: Yellow fever 10 days before travel. This is the only vaccination that Immigration require.

However, this vaccine should not generally be given to children under 6 months, anyone who is immunocompromised, or allergic to eggs (since the vaccine is produced in chick embryos). It is very important to remember this preclusion if challenged by an officious member of Immigration who demands to see a Certificate of Yellow Fever Vaccination.

  • Typhoid. 10 days before travel (available in capsule form)
  • Hepatitis A. 2 – 4 weeks before travel
  • Diphtheria. 3 months before travel
  • Polio. Those whose parents or schools routinely vaccinated them will often already be up to date

Additional immunisations worth considering in certain circumstances: Meningococcal vaccine Recommended for those expecting to spend protracted periods with locals in remote areas, or with displaced persons

Rabies. Well worth considering for those prone to attracting the attentions of angry dogs, or who intend to spend more than a little time living in the bush with the Hadzabe, learning their primitive survival skills

Tetanus Diptheria. Most people will already be up to date, but for those who have not been inoculated within 10 years, this vaccination is worth considering

With the exception of the required vaccine for Yellow Fever (excepting the very young, pregnant, and those allergic to eggs) the decision to vaccinate is entirely a personal choice of the individual and Safari Tours | Tanzania make no recommendations in favour or against this choice. Indeed we concede that the risk of illness involved with invading the body with all of the above substances in short succession, is itself considerable.

Further Potential Dangers and Risks to Safety on Safari in Tanzania or Kenya

Readers may be surprised by our candour in discussing openly the following issues. It is our conviction however, that –particularly when venturing off the beaten track – we have a moral imperative to ensure that adventurers are made aware of potential threats to their health and safety, since (albeit, these risks are very rare) the extent to which we are able to control these risks is necessarily limited. It is with this conviction in mind that we aim to be as transparent and overt as possible in discussing risks to all persons that choose to venture off the beaten track. We ask those considering an adventurous safari to decide for themselves whether such exposure will be personally acceptable to them and their companions. Risks involved with classic game viewing safaris to the more common destinations that are reached on very well used, and generally well maintained, roads, are considered to be less.

Schistosomiasis

Swimming in untreated water is not recommended. We are aware that visitors (not travelling with us) to one of the tented lodges that we use have contracted schistosomiasis while swimming there. In spite of this recommendation, we nonetheless offer the opportunity to go swimming in a waterfall in the Lake Natron area. We believe that the extent of the agitation of the water there makes it very unlikely to contract any diseases from the water. However, those on safari with us must themselves undertake this risk and make their own judgments as to whether or not to swim.

Scorpions and Snakes

There are scorpions and snakes in some safari areas of Kenya and Tanzania, particularly in the Eyasi area, however these creatures are shy and try to avoid humans, and the bushmen and our staff are competent in dealing with these threats. In the event of a bite we have natural remedies that we apply that we believe to be effective. It should nonetheless be understood that while the risk of confrontation is rare, this is a risk that should be borne and accepted by the traveller.

Anti-Malarial Prophylaxis

Areas in East Africa that are below 1,800m altitude are considered chloroquine-immune malarial risk areas, (plasmodium falciparum). Most visitors therefore choose to take a course of anti-malarials prior to travelling here, however we recommend that you discuss your choice of prescription carefully with your doctor as some of the options will be a poor choice for some people. Further information is available on our climber’s website here.

Road Accidents in East Africa

The nature of venturing off the beaten track is such that the risk of accidents is something about which adventurers should be aware and prepared to accept. Typical threats to road safety are areas of dirt road that have been washed away by recent flash floods and heavy rains, and roads that serve low volumes of traffic on which local drivers often drive too confidently and observe poor lane discipline, failing to anticipate the likelihood of drivers approaching them from areas of dead ground ahead. To date we have suffered two such accidents amongst several thousand climbs and safaris. The most serious injury sustained was a gash to a climber’s forehead.

Despite this wound, he accepted first aid in the field, continued to the mountain, and summitted Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route. The other accident occurred during an emergency stop when a driver braked suddenly to avoid a new aperture that he observed in the road, en route to Lake Eyasi. One of the passengers impacted one of their patellae against an object in front of where they were sitting. Whilst no accident is acceptable, we believe that the likelihood of being involved in one can be considered extremely low.

Bandits on roads in East Africa

Adventurers should be aware that there is statistically an extremely small, but nonetheless present, risk of encountering bandits on the road. To date we have only ever experienced one encounter with what appeared to be two armed illegal immigrants on the road between Mto wa Mbu and Lake Natron. Our driver feigned cooperation with their directives and once the bandits were off-guard, undertook rapid evasive manoeuvres off road and into safety.

Visas

Visas Needed if Flying to Kenya

If your destination is Tanzania and you choose to fly to Nairobi rather than direct to Kilimanjaro Airport, then you’ll need to get a local flight from Nairobi to JRO, or else will need to take the Riverside Shuttle bus, or similar service, from Nairobi to Arusha. If you remain at the airport in Nairobi for your connecting flight and so do not need to clear through Immigration, it is not necessary to have a Kenyan visa simply to make use of their airport, but if quitting the airport for any length of time, either to catch a later onward flight, or else to travel through to Tanzania by road, you’ll require a Kenyan tourist visa.

The Kenyan tourist visa can be purchased at the airport when you land at Nairobi Airport. A tourist visa for travelling to Kenya from Tanzania – if opting to fly out from Nairobi – can be purchased at the Namanga border which you are required to cross, however if you entered Tanzania from Kenya on your way to Arusha then your original Kenyan visa will probably still be valid as nowadays Kenyan tourist visas are issued on multiple-entry basis.

Visas Needed if Flying to Tanzania

If flying direct to Tanzania however, although it is almost always possible to buy a tourist visa on arrival at the airport, the Tanzanian High Commission nonetheless advises visitors to apply for this before entering the country, as they are entitled to decline visa applications on arrival.

Information on obtaining visas is available on our climbers’ site.

How to Book Your Safari

We recommend that at whatever stage you are at in your planning, you make contact with us via the Contact page. We can then propose an itinerary to you together with details of costs, and you can feed back to us your proposed amendments as many times as you like, until you're totally satisfied with the itinerary and accommodation we'll run for you.

When first you reach out to us, please let us have an idea of:

  • how many of you will be booking,
  • when you’re planning to come,
  • whether you want a game-viewing only safari, or would like to add some adventurous components - such as time with the Bushmen, or a volcano climb
  • whether you want to stay in lightweight tents, semi-luxury, luxury, or exclusive grade accommodation
  • anything else you’d like us to consider and make special provision for.

We’ll then get back to you with suggestions on how best to customise an itinerary that matches your expectations and suits the interests of your group.

How to Pay for Your Safari

Step 1. Once we have received your booking details we will request from you a non-refundable booking deposit of USD 150 per person plus the value of the accommodation element of your safari. Timely receipt of this enables us to obtain a firm booking at your chosen lodges and camps.

Step 2. The final balance of payment (ie. the entire amount minus your deposit payment) must please reach us 45 days prior to your arrival into Arusha if paying by card, or 30 days prior to arrival if paying by bank transfer.

Payment Options

Most clients will pay their deposit by card and their final balance by bank transfer, however, it is possible to pay for everything by card if this is your preference.

  • Credit or Debit Card - This is the most usual payment method for deposits as it's quick and simple and there is no handling fee
  • International Wire Transfer in USD - This is the usual payment for final balances for US residents and clients who live outside the UK and the Eurozone
  • SEPA Payments in EUR - This is generally the most convenient payment method for those who live in the Eurozone
  • BACS Payment in GBP - The usual method of payment for UK residents.

Important Notes Relating to Payments

  1. Last minute bookings. If you have not completed your booking more than 45 days prior to your proposed safari and we are still able to secure your dates and accommodation and therefore accept the booking, you will be required to pay a deposit using a credit card, with the final payment for your safari being due strictly in by bank transfer, with cleared funds being required to reach our account prior to your arrival into Arusha.
  2. Credit cards and travellers’ cheques cannot be accepted for payments made on arrival.
  3. ATMs in Arusha should not be relied on as a means of obtaining cash for local payments as they do not issue US Dollars and are often underfunded, with daily withdrawal limits being as low as TZS 200,000 (around $90).
  4. Please ensure that when initiating an international wire transfer you stipulate the correct account name of our payment agent (Arien Lifestyle Limited), and not any of our trading names, such as ‘Team Kilimanjaro’, etc. The correct account name is very clearly provided on the payment instructions that we will send you. If an incorrect account name is detailed on the remitting bank’s SWIFT instruction, the receiving bank will not be permitted to credit funds to the intended recipient account without transgressing strictly enforced international anti-money laundering legislation and risking disciplinary action by its regulator.
  5. When arranging the wire transfer please ensure that you instruct your bank to effect the transfer so as to arrive into our bank account free of bank charges. Should a client’s bank be unable to effect these instructions, any outstanding bank charges incurred will be invoiced for payment in cash on arrival.

Want to know what to expect on safari? What to Expect on Safari

What to expect on a TK safari