Tanzania’s got it all! You can climb crazy, beautiful mountains (HELLO Kilimanjaro), explore stunning wildlife-packed plains, swim with dolphins, and kite surf on clear, sparkling waters. And that’s just to name a few activities! Your adventurous streak is telling you to visit Tanzania ASAP but your wallet isn’t so sure, which is exactly why we’ve put together a Tanzania travel guide perfect for anyone looking to explore the country on a budget.
With so many amazing things to do in Tanzania, it’s a shame to miss out because you’re scared about hitting your bank balance hard. Well don’t worry! With a little inside knowledge and this Tanzania travel guide as your best friend, you can experience all that this fine country has to offer, without going bust. Here are our top tips for the backpacker’s way to tackle Tanzania!
1. Reconsider Public Transport
Wonderful open roads! 📷: @schmangela
Often, plane tickets are the most expensive part of any trip. The biggest way to save a whole heap of money when visiting Tanzania is to ride the bus instead! Travelling to, from, and around Tanzania has never been easier – and cheaper! The Kilimanjaro Express offers low-cost fares, online booking and a comfortable ride to get up you close and personal with the country. Travel from city to city for as low as $25. Choose an itinerary that can take in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Moshi, Morogoro, Mwanza, Tanga, Iringa as these are some of the best places to visit in Tanzania.
During the daytime in the cities, use the dala dalas. A unique and friendly experience in themselves, dala dalas are mini buses used throughout Tanzania. You’ll be packed in with everyone else, and you can stop anytime along the route so just make sure you tell the fare collector where you want to get off. The dala dala runs 24/7 which means the wheels on the bus go round and round, quite literally, all day long!
2. Where To Stay In Tanzania
The mountain view from the hostel terrace… YES! 📷: @Rafiki Backpackers and Guesthouse
Hostels are your best bet for amazing accommodation, without going over your budget… and we’re obviously not biased! They’re the cheaper option and you’ll meet and share stories with other travellers who may even become your new best buds. It’s a great opportunity to swap tips and team up for some adventures. Some guesthouses such as Rafiki Backpackers & Guesthouse offer communal kitchens free of charge, and others offer space for camping. Rafiki means ‘friend’ in Ki-Swahili, (but we’re sure you already knew that from the Lion King!) There’s no better place to meet fellow like-minded travellers! Rafiki’s Backpackers & Guesthouse is for the adventurous souls! They offer mountain climbing tours, safaris, Kilimanjaro treks, and day trips around Moshi. With a communal kitchen, TV lounge, and the choice of private or dorm rooms, Rafiki’s has a really social vibe. Plus, with a colourful terrace and killer views out to Kilimanjaro, Rafiki’s makes an excellent addition to your Instagram!
3. What to eat in Tanzania
Get in my belly 📷: @jamielee8
The trick to keeping costs down is to eat like the locals or cook for yourself, remember that hostel kitchen from point 2?! ? Local specialities are usually tasty, healthy and cheap! In Tanzania, it’s a good idea to avoid street food because generally your stomach won’t be used to it… we all know that nothing ruins a trip more than having to run back and forth to the bathroom!
Nonetheless, local restaurants are amazing and you can feast for as little as $1-2. Fill up on tasty wali na maharage – rice and beans Tanzanian style – or traditional pilau, beef stew, or the ubiquitous ugali, a side-dish made of flour.
There’s plenty of choice for our herbivore friends too! Cook your own meals and you’ll have fun foraging in the colourful and chaotic markets that offer a range of succulent fruit, all kinds of vegetables, as well as rice and pulses.
4. Beautiful Budget Safaris
Probably on the way to meet the new king!📷: @danae_prsl
The aim of our Tanzania travel guide is to help you save some money, steer clear of the tourist traps and immerse yourself in a few more off-the-beaten-track experiences. Kilimanjaro is not the only thing to do in Tanzania! Of course it’s iconic and truly breath-taking, but you’ll find that there are plenty of amazing things to do in Tanzania that don’t involve a six day slog up a mountain!
For the natural wonders of Tanzania, there’s nothing better than a budget safari to the smaller national parks of Arusha, Tarangire, Lake Manyara – lesser known beauties than the more expensive Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, but all the more delightful – and not a selfie-stick wielding tourist in sight! At these national parks you’ll come face to face with giraffe, Cape buffalo, warthogs, zebra, and fantastic bird life. Lake Manyara shimmers with millions of flamingo during the rainy season and there’s even snorkelling on offer at Lake Tanganika.
The three-day hike from Lushoto to Mambo in the Usambara Mountains won’t hurt your wallet! It’s an awesome trek that takes in the beautiful, wooded scenery as you walk through winding paths, and picturesque villages. You’ll trek through Mtae, a clifftop village with spectacular views… cameras at the ready people!
Any safari will be cheaper for you if you team up with others or join a group, and don’t forget to book with a good local company rather than a national one – you’ll pay less for the same safari! You can thank us later…
5. Explore off the beaten track cities
Amboni caves of wonder! 📷: @malintoemmervik
Tanga is a quiet city in the north of Tanzania, and you won’t find it on any tourist itinerary! Tanga is the a perfect starting point to embark on a city crawl and check out some the best places to visit in Tanzania! Be sure to explore the Amboni Caves, Galanos hot Springs, Saadani National Park, Toten Island, Mwarongo Sand Beaches and the Protected Coastal Mangroves…. Just to name a few!
6. Fall in love with Tanzania’s Beaches
Beaches ain’t shit! 📷: @umdiekugel.ch
What Tanzania travel guide would be complete without somewhere to relax and enjoy the East African Sun?
If it’s a beach you’re after, you don’t need to travel all the way to Zanzibar – the mainland’s got a coast to drool over and it’s super popular amongst backpackers! We’re trying to keep quiet about Pangani but, well, we’re not doing a very good job! Pangani is a somewhat secret beach town on Tanzania’s northern Swahili coast, but clearly, we’re bad with secrets! A gem this good you just have to share!
You’ll find beach resorts up and down the coast around Pangani. At the resorts you’ll find empty tropical beaches, warm azure seas and golden-white sands. Need we say more?! You can spend your days lazing on the beach and snorkelling through coral reefs alive with fish all the colours of the rainbow. Poetic, right?!
Can you think of anywhere else that’s missing from our Tanzania travel guide? Let us know in the comments below…
[Feature 📷: @aukjevanwissen]