The ultimate guide to solo travel in Tanzania
Africa is a continent often overlooked as a possible tourist destination. East African countries especially from cuisines, music to clothing, and much more East African countries have been influential in world history.
Tanzania, a popular tourist destination for animal lovers. But the country has much more to offer than the big 5! Tanzania is situated in East Africa. Its neighbouring countries are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia and is a country that will forever remain in your heart after visiting.
Backpacking in Tanzania is very popular as there are many backpacking hostels are available in bigger cities like Moshi, Arusha and Dar Es Salaam that you can stay in to meet others and transport is cheap.
Yes! Tanzania has been rated numerous times as the safest African country to visit. Especially for solo female travellers. Though no country is 100% safe, Tanzania is one of the safer African countries. If you’re in the capital Dar Es Salaam, it’s best practice to always walk with a purpose (don’t look like a tourist or lost), If you are lost always go into a shop to ask directions rather than strangers on the street. As a solo female traveller you should also be mindful of your things, whether that’s your bag at a restaurant or drinks at a bar, never leave your things unattended.
If you’re in more touristy town such as Moshi and Arusha or the island of Zanzibar the locals here are accustom to foreigners and are very welcoming. Feel free to stop and ask for directions if you need it as most locals in this area do have a better level of English.
Over overall the Tanzanians are incredibly friendly and will go out of their way to help you.
Knowing Swahili will be helpful! Though if you’re not able to, there will be someone around who will speak English.
With the rise of tourism to the country’s has a lot of cheaper accommodations are now available.
An average night in a hostel will cost around $5 per person per night with 5-star hotels costing around $150 a night. There are lots of listed accommodations on booking.com, hotel.com.
Tanzania is a great hub for Eco tourists as the country really does care about their environment. I’ve been to amazing open top bars and restaurants where monkeys and birds casually join in on your conversation.
Eco lodges are definitely a popular attraction here with many hosting themselves on big platforms such as booking.com and Airbnb.
If you are looking to book onto a safari; more than likely you’ll be offered an to stay in an Eco lodge such as the Serengeti Wilderness Camp. DO it! I 100% know that the experiences at Eco lodges are lifechanging.
Dar Es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, is one of the capitals of Tanzania and is often overlooked as a possible tourist destination as it’s overshadowed by Kilimanjaro and the plethora of safaris the country has to offer. This is understandable as Tanzania is truly amazing! Click here to read more about Tanzania. But Dar Es Salaam has it’s own unique twang. With bustling streets, huge markets, and multicultural hubs, it’s the perfect place to visit for big-city lovers. So here are my top 5 must-see places in Dar Es Salaam.
Things to do;
- Visit the museums
Both the national village museum and national museum were my highlights in the city. These places are great places to learn about how Tanzanians were before the Arabic and transatlantic slave trade lived and governed themselves.
The national museum is home to numerous bones and other fossilized remains, including a cast of one family’s footprint trail left in volcanic ash over 3.5 million years ago. From fossils and bones to carvings and statues. It also has a collection on the history of the slave trade and colonialism, as well as a number of cars that belonged to the country’s first president.
The Village Museum is a replica of many pre-colonial Tanzanian homes belonging to different some of the 120 different ethnic groups within the country. Not only can you enter the homes but there are many information stations talking about the different ethnic groups, their traditional customs, crafts, and common household items. The museum also hosts Ngoma, tribal dances, and other cultural activities
- Visit Bagamoyo City
Though a little further out of the capital (75 kilometres north). Bagamayo city was formerly a fishing village, the area has been home to Indian and Arab traders, the German colonial government, and Christian missionaries during its storied history. It is a place of considerable significance to world history, both as an entry point for Arab and European missionaries, explorers, and traders in East Africa. Once an active slave-trading outpost and ivory and coconut trading port, Bagamoyo, Tanzania is now home to a landmark church, a German graveyard, a history museum, and a thriving sailboat industry. Guided tours are recommended.
- Visit the Beaches
Coco beach, also known as Oyster Bay, this beach is popular with both locals and tourists. With an abundance of tasty street food served here, sports and the occasional concert. If you’re heading to this beach make sure you check out New Maisha Club a popular nightclub on the beach.
Bongoyo or Mbudya Islands are also perfect places to go to relax. As they are located off of the coast of Dar Es Salaam, they are much quiter and are home to beautiful beaches, clear waters and amazing seafood. You can take a short boat ride here from many points along Dar es Salaam’s harbour.
- Visit the wood Carvers market
I also enjoyed the Mwenge woodcarvers’ market as African art can be seen through these carvings. This is a great place to buy souvenirs as it’s home to a variety of products, but it is best known for its sculptures and wood carvings. Be sure to take a look around before purchasing so you know your options, and don’t be afraid to bargain.
- Visit Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park
This aquapark is located about 19 kilometers from the center of town and is the largest water park in East and Central Africa. It’s a great place to go for families as it has over 30 water slides of varying heights, catering to both adults and young children. The park is also home to Tanzania’s only Go Kart track. Why not release your innter child at this park.
Arusha is a small town close to Moshi and is the middle ground between a small village like Moshi and a big city like Dar Es Saalam. Arusha is also home to some of its own unique attractions.
Things to do in Arusha;
- Climb Mount Meru
A cheaper alternative to Mount Kilimanjaro is Mount Meru. Located in Arusha, Mout Meru stands at 4,566 meters it is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania and some climbers even consider it more a beautiful hike than Kilimanjaro. Due to its bountiful and diverse flora and fauna.
- Visit Arusha National Park
This park is home to some amazing wildlife including zebras, elephants, hippos, buffalos, hyenas, and giraffes. If you’re an animal lover then this park is definitely for you.
- Visit National History Museum in Arusha
This museum is also known as the Old Boma museum and is home to a collection of historical artifacts. It’s a great starting point for history and culture lovers.
Home to Africa’s tallest mountain, this little town is one of the most-visited parts of Tanzania by international tourists and it’s not hard to see why! Mount Kilimanjaro is actually also a dormant volcano and is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain standing at nearly 6,00 feet! This mountain though not as challenging as others should not be underestimated! Do ensure you adequately prepare for such a climb.
Besides the mountain some other amazing things to do in Moshi include;
- Go to Kikuletwa Hotsprings
Located approximately 1.5 hours away from Moshi, Kikuletwa Hot Springs is one of Tanzania’s many hidden gems. This oasis is home to pleasant hot springs hidden away by large fig trees.
- Embrace Marangu Village
This is the place to go for a cultural experience. This place is where much Chagga tribespeoples calls home. With a local museum and many historic caves here, you will learn the significance of this place in Tanzanian history. During your time here you will definitely meet friendly locals too so don’t be shy to try the local food.
- Enjoy Materuni Waterfalls
A stone’s throw away from Moshi town center lies the Materuni Waterfalls. A day tour will begin with a short hike to the waterfall where you can make a splash in the mountain water of Kilimanjaro and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding valleys. Along the way, you’ll also get to experience the local life of the Chagga people and on the way back you’ll stop by a traditional ‘shamba’ (farm) to see how coffee is produced – from picking the bean to roasting and then drinking a tasty cup yourself!
- Visit Lake Chala
Lake Chala is located just 1.5 hours away from Moshi on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, this tranquil location is one mighty fine example of how much natural beauty this country has to offer. Lake Chala is a crater lake caused by a volcanic eruption over three million years ago. It’s a beautiful blue lake and lush green foresty is home to a plethora of plant and animal life.
Zanzibar is the main island in Tanzania located off of the eastern coast in the Indian Ocean. This island though small has its own vast history and is a popular tourist destination.
Tings to do in Zanzibar
- Enjoy Stone Town
This is the most populous part of the island and has unique Arabic-influenced buildings, this town allows you to fully immerse yourself in the culture.
- Visit the old slave market
Zanzibar is a melting pot of different cultures and one of the reasons for this is due to Zanzibar’s dark past. Zanzibar was a major trading hub for slaves. The slave trade was atrocious with hundreds of thousands of people being trafficked through Bagamoyo on the to be sold in Zanzibar, then shipped to the east or the west, with many passing to the UK. This market is a great place to learn more about this part of Tanzanian history.
- See the Prison Island
Prison Island is about half an hour away from Stone Town. This island gets its name from its former use as it was used as a detention area for rebellious slaves and people with deadly diseases. It is a tourist attraction with one of the main draws being giant tortoises some tortoises calling this place home are nearly 200 years old!
- Relax on the beach
Zanzibar is a popular destination and is world-renowned for its beaches. The beaches in Zanzibar are on another level. With crystal blue waters and exotic fruits. Beaches such as Jambiani, Matemwe, and Bwejuu really offer it all to travellers looking to relax. Why not rent a room at a beach hotel and live your best life.
- Visit Jozani Forest
For all those animal lovers out there, this forest is just for you. Why not visit and get up close to some amazing animals in this forest including the rare red colobus monkey
- Visit the Palace Museum
Commonly known as the Sultan’s Palace, The Palace Museum to some is the most historic building in Stone Town as it was built in the 19th and now displays artifacts of the past Sultan family
Tanzania has the wildest concentration of wildlife in the world so it’s no wonder why their national parks are so popular. From lions, giraffes to elephants, this country has it all! Home to 12 National Parks and 13 Nature Reserves and almost 40 protected areas; Why not visit Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro or any other park to get a chance of seeing some amazing wildlife.
The great Serengeti Migration occurs in June or July, with thousands of gazelles, zebras and other animals brazing the Mara river, why not book a tour to watch these majestic creatures in action.
The Massai tribe are an ethnic group in Tanzania and Kenya. Known for their world-renowned jumping skills. Why not book a tour to learn more about their unique culture and watch them perform ceremonial dances and show off their jumping skills. Cultural cooking and beading classes are also offered too so do make sure you find a tour office to find out about these cultural excursions.
Tanzania has relatively good year climate all year-round but the best time to go if between June – October during the dry season. The country hosts some beautiful weather during time and is also when the Great Serengeti Migration happens. During drier seasons (June and October) are the best times to try and climb mount Kilimaanjaro.
- Tanzania is a very relaxed and liberal country but is still an Islamic country so modesty should be taken into consideration.
Pack some Tissues
- As Tanzania is an Islamic country, their toilets often look different. Some places have squatting toilets whilst others have normal toilets but it’s very hard to find toilet paper. This is as they often use a hose in the stall to clean themselves rather than toilet paper. I recommend trying it out for a new experience but also keeping some pocket tissues to hand too.
Get a SIM
- If you plan to stay in the country for a long time, it may be useful for you to get a sim card, these can easily be bought in phone shops. Public WiFi is not really common. Though some upscale restaurants do have WiFi, it may be safer as a solo female traveller to stay connected on your go throughout the city too.
If you want to make some friends here I’d advice you to;
- Stay in a hostel. I’ve found that staying in hostels really helped me to meet new people and go on adventures together and Dakar was no different. With so many cheap hostels around, it’s more than worth a try.
- Take a tour. There are so many experiences and tours in Tanzania, especially in Moshi and Arusha which are a great way to also meet fellow wanderlusters and who knows. They may even be able to share with you some hidden gems in the country.
- Join some clubs. Now I didn’t personally use this method, but I did hear from other travellers that this is a good way to meet people. Using sites like Facebook and joining groups is a great way to get the ball rolling.
Kilimanjaro airport is the most commonly used airport by tourists and is situated in Moshi, a small town by Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tanzania has 29 international and domestic airports. If you are in the capitals, you most likely would be flying in and or out from Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam or Msalato International Airport in Dodoma.
If you are visiting Zanzibar; Abeid Amani Karume International Airport is main airport on the island.
Tanzania has so much to see and do so its not uncommon for tourists who come here to want to stay forever. I have personally visited the country 3 times (2 weeks at a time in different cities) and still don’t feel like I have fully seen all Tanzania has to offer!
Depending on your itinerary, I’d say 2-3 weeks is a good amount for excursions only. 4-5 days per excursion i.e. Safari or climbing mount Kilimanjaro. 3 days to explore the city you are in. A few more to travel to other cities or have day tours.
- Can I drink the water? No
- Is tipping expected? Yes! Especially on excursions. You are expected to tip porters at Kilimanjaro and Safari guides. Other tour guides expect a tip too, some restaurants may expect tips too.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed Price except at markets.
- Any ATMs? Yes in the main cities.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Left
- Good for vegetarians? Yes! A lot of Tanzanian diet is actually vegetarian and plant based too!
- Any seven wonders of the world? No.
Plan a trip to Tanzania
If you are ready to solo travel Tanzania here are some useful links to help you plan your travel.
Budget – £50 a day (based on traveling on a budget and staying in hostels and budget accommodation Tanzania. If you are looking to book on excursions such as Safaris these can be a bit more pricey and your daily budget may be more like £200)
Capital – Dar Es Salaam and Dodoma
Population – 47 million
Language spoken – Swahili and English
Local Currency – Tanzanian Shilling
Do I need a visa? – Yes, for British citizens
Flying time to Tanzania – 11 hours
Did you know? Over 120 ethnic groups live in this country!
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