Where to go in Tanzania

The lion’s share of safari visitors to Tanzania focus on the northern safari circuit. With its prime attractions located in close geographical proximity to one another, safari goers can explore the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks, as well as have the opportunity to summit Africa’s highest mountain, in a single near-contiguous conservation area.

Elephant in the Serengeti National Park

For the more adventurous safari aficionados and anyone allergic to the safari hordes, the wide open spaces and remoteness of the southern safari circuit beckons. To be honest, the word ‘circuit’ is incredibly misleading here, as it implies a well-trodden path that sees large numbers of visitors and nothing could be further from the truth. Southern Tanzania is lucky if it sees even five percent of the travellers to Tanzania with most opting for the more well-developed and well-known northern safari circuit and Indian ocean islands – where Zanzibar is the star attraction.

Zanzibar is the star attraction on the northern circuit

What are the most important regions I should know about in Tanzania?

The northern safari circuit; the southern safari circuit; and Zanzibar and the Indian Ocean islands are the prime regions that every visitor to Tanzania should know about as they look to plan their ultimate safari itinerary. These key safari regions are explained and contrasted in greater detail below.

A flamboyance of flamingo in Lake Manyara

What should I know when travelling to Tanzania?

The following is a list of useful things to be aware of when travelling to Tanzania. Knowing and practicing these recommendations will ensure you are respectful of local customs and better able to assimilate into the Tanzanian culture.

  • Don’t say “Jambo”. Although “jambo ” does indeed mean “hello” in Swahili, the first time most Tanzanians usually hear or use this word is when they are interacting with tourists. While your Swahili phrase book may tell you that it is a common greeting term, no locals actually use it in daily life. Instead rather say “habari yako?” meaning “what’s up?”

  • Learn some Swahili phrases and slang. All primary school education throughout Tanzania is conducted in Swahili, and English is not widely spoken outside of the major cities, so – unlike in neighbouring Kenya or Uganda – it is difficult to get by in Tanzania without any Swahili unless you have a translator 24/7,

  • Know when Ramadan is. Almost half of Tanzania’s population is Muslim, including the whole of Zanzibar, making Ramadan a noteworthy and important time for everyone in the country. Many (usually Muslim-owned) restaurants shut during the day and open only in the evening over this period. The social scene tends to be duller as many people are observing the holy month, and their non-Muslim friends are also staying home.

  • It’s unavoidable, but as a tourist and you will get ripped off, so try to negotiate. Unless you speak fluent Swahili and look like you could be a Tanzanian, the chances are you will be paying a little extra for your souvenirs, street food and transport – basically anything that doesn’t have a fixed price. Most importantly, never get into transportation or use/eat something that you have to pay for (like food) without negotiating the price up front. If a taxi doesn’t budge on price, walk away, chances are they’ll call after you and agree to a lower price. Always pay for local purchases in Tanzania Shillings rather than foreign currency.

  • Immerse yourself in local culture. It would be a real waste to travel halfway round the world only to go and hang out with other tourists just like you.

  • Don’t take pictures of people without asking them first; it’s disrespectful and rude. Say, “Naomba kukupiga picha”, which means: “Can I please take a photo of you?” If you can’t remember that phrase, then try to ask in English or gesture with your hands, but if they remain unresponsive, then don’t take the picture and offend them.

  • It is a case of every road-user for themselves on the roads of Tanzania with traffic ‘laws’ considered to be more ‘rough guidelines’ rather than rules. For instance, just because a green light says you may walk or you are standing on a zebra crossing for pedestrians, doesn’t mean that cars will stop for you. Only cross the street when cars are a good distance away, or you can see that they have stopped at a red light, or a traffic policeman tells you it is safe to do so.


Popular Tanzania Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Close up view of Wildebeest | Medium Budget, Maximum Game Viewing in Tanzania’s North (11 days)

Medium Budget, Maximum Game Viewing in Tanzania’s North (11 days)

Visit Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorogoro Crater and Serengeti for a four-in-one safari you'll remember forever...

 | Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

We're offering our guests the chance to explore two world-famous destinations in under a week ...

 | Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined

Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined

Unforgettable experience in the jungles of Rwanda to track the last Mountain gorillas on earth and view the awesome Great Migration river crossings...

 | June to July Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania with Herdtracker (9 days)

June to July Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania with Herdtracker (9 days)

If the great migration is on your travel bucket list, then this memorable safari in Tanzania is ideal for you....

 | Tanzania June/July Great Migration Safari with HerdTracker (9 days)

Tanzania June/July Great Migration Safari with HerdTracker (9 days)

Explore the wonder of the great wildebeest migration from the best Tanzania has to offer...

 | Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania (11 days)

Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania (11 days)

This tour is designed to allow maximum exposure to the Great Wildebeest Migration...

 | Great Migration Safari in the Serengeti (9 days)

Great Migration Safari in the Serengeti (9 days)

Join HerdTracker on a Tanzania migration safari in the Serengeti National Park....

Game viewing | Green Season Wildebeest Migration Safari (11 days)

Green Season Wildebeest Migration Safari (11 days)

This four-in-one calving season safari includes not only the Serengeti, but Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorogoro Crater...

 | East Africa Great National Parks Migration Safari (10 days)

East Africa Great National Parks Migration Safari

Explore the migration national parks in East Africa...

 | World Cup of Wildlife Migration Safari with HerdTracker (9 days)

World Cup of Wildlife Migration Safari with HerdTracker (9 days)

This is the stage on which the greatest wildlife show on earth and plays out, as it is by far the greatest mass movement of land mammals on the entire globe....

You might also like

Have some ideas?
Contact us and get a customised no-obligation itinerary

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2