Tanzania Safari Tips | Mbeya Tours
My Tips for a Safari In Tanzania: Things To Know And Prepare For
Heading to Tanzania on safari is one of my favourite all-time travel experiences. In this article I share 6 tips and advice on how to prepare for and get the most of a safari to Tanzania based on my experience.
#1: Best Time To Go:
While much of the year is suitable there are some key times you should plan to go to get the best experience, and see animals easier. Experts recommend visiting in the dry season, which runs from June to October. During this time the animals are easier to find and see as they have to concentrate around waterholes and rivers, and there is less vegetation for them to hide in. There are fewer mosquitoes at this time of the year, because there is almost no rain. Skies are clear and most days are sunny.
It gets very busy in June and July, when the huge mass migration activity peaks in the Serengeti. However, with millions of animals on the move many travellers still want to still go there to experience it. But availability will be tighter and prices higher.
#2: Choose right Safari Tour Company
There are many operators and options available to do a safari in Tanzania with. To get the most I recommend you first draw up a list of your key requirements. So mine included (1) hitting the famous parks, (2) ensuring the greatest chance of seeing the “Big Five”, (3) staying in fairly luxurious lodges, (4) travelling with an expert local guide, (5) in as small a group as possible, (6) with fellow travellers of my age range and finally of course (6) within a reasonable budget.
#3: Malaria tablets and any inoculations.
Tanzania is a malaria area and you need to take anti-malaria medication. You must arrange this before you travel, as you need to start taking them before you arrive.
The medication requires a prescription in most countries. This can often be obtained from a Travel Clinic run by some large Travel Agents or Pharmacy Chains, so you may not need to visit your doctor. However, if you are on other medication you should check with them on any potential interactions as the type of pills prescribed need to take this into account.
You may also need some other inoculations based on where you are travelling from or have been recently. For example, Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are travelling from yellow fever endemic countries/regions.
#4: Luggage requirements
Take the smallest possible case you can. Think small and then go even smaller! It is also essential it is a soft case, so ideally a duffel / holdall / carryall.
If you are flying between lodges there will be strict limits on the size and shape of your luggage to ensure it fits in the small planes. The airline may also specify that the bags cannot have wheels on them either. So double check your travel documents carefully. If you are returning to the same airport at the start and end of your safari many of the providers will let you store excess bags or clothes in a lock up, but it is best to stick to the limitations.
If you are on land trip only there is also very limited space for bags in the back of the 4×4 trucks that you will be travelling in. You should have a small and soft bag for this as well, or they will struggle to fit them all in. It is easier to carry to and from the different rooms in the varied lodges you are likely to be staying in as you travel between different parks too. I travelled with a bag double the size of the more experienced safari travellers and regretted it. Luckily they could fit it in as everyone else was travelling light. It is a mistake I will not make again!
#5: Currency and money
The best currency to take is US Dollars. They are accepted virtually everywhere and save having unwanted local currency at the end of the trip. You should bring small bills and they need to be in good condition and as new as possible. Locals and stores will not take torn or notes in poor condition.
Tipping is quite common and expected. So plan to tip the lodge staff if they help you with your bags. The guide should be tipped up to US $ 20 to US $ 30 per group per day. I gave the driver and guide $50 each for the 9 days I was with them.
#6: Know what to expect and be prepared
Although it is very rewarding and you will see a lot in Tanzania, going on a safari there can be tiring. To make the most of the potential to view animals the days are long with lots of time in the truck out sightseeing or moving between parks and lodges. There will also be a number of early starts. On average we spent about six hours a day in the van. It can be tiring and so naps in between and early to bed is recommend.
Unlike safari vans in places like South Africa, the vans will not be open. The roof will be raised up so you can stand up to view and take pictures of the animals.
Here are some things to expect and be ready for:
- Expect crowds and a number of vans when you spot animals, especially the harder to find beasts like lions, leopards and cheetah.
- English is widely spoken but a few words of Swahili will always be appreciated.
- Only drink bottled water, including for brushing teeth. This will be provided in your room.
- In many lodges after sunset you will be escorted to and from your room for dinner in the main lodge building
- Most meals will be buffet style.
- When heading out on a game drive in addition to wearing neutral coloured clothing
- Take along tissues and a plastic bag in case you are “caught short” and your guide cannot take you to toilet facilities in the park.
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