Practical information

Travel information Tanzania. Although some might disagree, for many people part of the holiday fun is in the preparation, particularly for such an exotic destination as Tanzania . We have listed the most frequently asked questions below related to self-drive and independent travel in Tanzania.

Is your questions not listed? Rest assured you are in good hands. Drop us a line, and we are happy to help you further. 

How much are the park entrance fees?

TANAPA manages the Tanzanian National Parks, the exceptions being Selous and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The conservation fees for 2016 and 2017 are as follows: Kilimanjaro (US$ 70); Serengeti (US$ 60); Arusha, Tarangire and Lake Manyara (US$ 45); Ruaha, Saadani, Mkomazi, Udzunga (US$ 30). Permits are per person and valid for 24 hours. Entry fee for your Roadtrip vehicle is Tsh 20,000 per car. Public campsites which are managed by TANAPA costs US$ 30 pp/pn. So-called special campsites, a concession given to a private safari outfitter to operate a mobile camp, costs US$ 50 pp/pn. If you are staying in a private mobile camp, ask if TANAPA camping fees are included in the price. The fee for the Ngorongoro Conservation is US$ 60 per person per 24 hours, plus the vehicle fee of Tsh 20,000. This is payable by all who enter the conservation area, even if you are only in transit to and from Serengeti National Park. If you want to enter the crater, you have to pay the additional Crater Service Fee of US$ 250 per vehicle each time you go down the crater. Selous is a private game reserve. Conservation fees are US$ 65 per person. Kindly note that Value Added Tax (VAT) of 18% will be applied to all of these entrance costs from July 2016.

How are the road conditions?

By East African standards, the road conditions in the Northeast of Tanzania are very good. All the primary roads connecting to most places of interest are smooth asphalt. You can expect a lot of speedbumps on your way and occasionally a pothole or some road construction works. Then there are gravel roads, so-called off road driving. Usually the last part of your daily trip (when reaching your accommodation, forest, mountain, beach or in the game parks), you’ll be driving on these gravel roads. The conditions of these roads tend to be variable from one season to the next, and are most difficult during the rainy season. On these roads you should always expect the unexpected. Most important is to act confident, but take it easy and reduce your speed! The longest unsurfaced sections are the gateways to the safari parks in the South; from Kibiti to Selous (c. 90 km) and from Iringa to Ruaha (c. 110 km). Also, the main ‘’highway’’ intersecting the interior from Dodoma going North up to Bonga is unsurfaced, but roadworks are implemented and the road should be asphalted by 2016. This stretch of 260km will now take you a full day to complete. Also the main road through Serengeti is notorious and is not always accessible for a RAV4. During wet times, all park roads become more challenging and some might become temporarily inaccessible. When entering a park always enquire updated information about the current road conditions in the park.

Are there areas off limits for self-drive rentals?

Western Tanzania lags behind in terms of economic development and very few tourists make it to the far West. Roads are in bad condition and it will be impossible to follow up adequately in case the car has a mechanical problem. For this reason, we do not allow hirers to take our Rav4 vehicles on a roadtrip to the national parks around Lake Tanganyika. Ruaha is the farthest West you can go. Also, we do not allow Roadtrippers to take our Rav4 vehicles into the Serengeti for a number of profound reasons, the bottom line being safety. The main road running from Naabi Hill gate to Seronera, the center of action, and from Seronera radiating to the East and West, is notorious among all tour guides in Tanzania and beyond for its condition. It is a challenging road due to the rocky surface with washboard ribbons. We do allow you to visit Serengeti with a Land Cruiser, advice is to drive very carefully on this road!!! Lake Narton is also off limits for our Rav4 vehicles due to the poor quality of the road in places.

Is Tanzania safe for self-drive?

Yes. The country is known to be one of the safest countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and the people are friendly. Tanzanians are very forthcoming and helpful and will surely assist you to change your tyre or show you the way (although their sense of distance and time is not always the most accurate...). Furthermore, it’s hard to get lost. All rental vehicles from Roadtrip Tanzania come with a Bradt Travel Guide, detailed and accurate roadmap of Tanzania and a GPS pre-loaded with Tracks4Africa. Almost every lodge and campsite is already plotted on Tracks4Africa, so finding your way around is easy. Armed attacks or any violence toward travellers is unheard of. While on the road, it is always recommended to drive defensively and at limited speed, lock your doors and avoid driving after dark. Do not leave valuables in your car when the car is unattended and always carry cash, water and a charged mobile phone with you.

Is it hard to follow the route as described in the pre-booked tours or suggested loops?

All rental vehicles of Roadtrip Tanzania come with a Bradt Travel Guide, detailed and accurate roadmap of Tanzania and a GPS preloaded with Tracks4Africa. Almost every lodge and campsite is already plotted on Tracks4Africa, so finding your way around is easy. Always carry cash, water and a charged mobile phone with you.

What happens if our car breaks down?

In case of a breakdown, we will help you on your way as fast as we can. You can call us 24/7 for roadside assistance. We have a network of workshops to assist you in case of anything. We will direct you to the nearest workshop or we will send help to assist you on the spot. In case a car cannot be fixed on the spot, a replacement car from Arusha will come so you can continue your journey. Please keep in mind that arranging one of the above takes some time to organize and might require some effort and patience from your side. Good to know that breakdowns are rare...

What is the mileage / fuel consumption?

Driving a Roadtrip Toyota RAV4 is very cost efficient. The exact mileage / fuel consumption depends on the terrain and your driving behaviour, but is around 12km per litre. Petrol typically costs around Tsh 1,800 – 2,000 per litre. Keep in mind that fuel is paid for in Tanzanian shillings!

How much distance can I cover in a day?

Although asphalt roads are in good condition, you generally don’t make more than 60 km / hour, due to the many speedbumps, as you have to reduce speed when you’re passing through villages, and because you probably want to take a lot of pictures. Even the scenery from the highway is stunning! On gravel roads, you make an average of 25km/ hour only.

How to deal with traffic police?

There are a lot of traffic police in Tanzania. You can recognize them from a far distance because of their bright white uniform. We always wonder how they keep their uniforms so white on the dusty roads, but that is not answering your question. Advice which comes in handy when dealing with any kind of government official in Tanzania is to remain patient and friendly, great them in Swahili and make a joke, and you have a new friend. Traffic police will frequently pull you over to check if your car is insured, if the tyres look okay, and to see if you carry a fire extinguisher, triangle and first aid kit. Of course that is being taken care of if you rent a car from Roadtrip Tanzania. They also want to see your driving license. A valid driving license from your country of residence is accepted in Tanzania. If you didn’t violate the law (speeding, dangerous overtaking), there is nothing they can accuse you of. In our experience traffic police are friendly, curious and often just want to make chit chat. If you committed an offence, you have to pay the fine, which is usually around Tsh 30,000.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, you need to have travel insurance. Only the Roadtrip rental car is comprehensively insured for third party liability, fire, theft and accidents. You are not insured for loss of your personal belongings or any personal injury.

Do I need a visa to enter Tanzania?

Yes, you need a visa to enter Tanzania, which you can buy upon arrival at the airport or entering the country by land. The cost is US$ 50, cash only.

Can I get a visa upon arrival when crossing to Tanzania’s neighbouring countries overland?

In East Africa, you can usually obtain a visa when crossing a border overland, the exception being Rwanda. Visa applications for Rwanda can easily be made online at Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration. Within three days you receive an entry visa acceptance by email. Bringing this acceptance letter, the visa will be issued at the border. The visa fee is paid at the border.

Can I take the Roadtrip car across the border to Tanzania’s neighbouring countries?

Border crossing to the neighbouring countries is allowed, the exception being Mozambique. However, border crossing requests are dealt with on a case by case situation and the planned route needs to be discussed in detail as certain areas are off limit. Some paperwork and an extension of the insurance are mandatory to be able to cross the border. The insurance costs US$ 75 and lasts for three weeks. The hirer is not allowed to cross any national borders without our written permission and additional insurance coverage through the issuance of a valid COMESA card.

Are ATMs widely available in Tanzania?

Most restaurants and lodges in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and in the most popular tourist routes accept debit and credit cards. ATMs are widely available across the country in all bigger provincial towns. Stanbic Bank, Standard Chartered, Barclays, and CRDB are your most reliable banks accepting Maestro, MasterCard and Visa. These banks are not widely presented along the coast and the interior. We strongly recommend that you bring some additional Euros or US Dollars with you in cash, and reserve that for emergencies. Also, bring additional cards, as the daily uptake with a foreign card is limited at the ATMs. US Dollars (bills not older than 2006) and Euros can be changed to Tanzanian Shillings at any Forex Office in most provincial towns. Changing should be done in Arusha or Dar to enjoy a better rate. NOTE: Petrol can only be paid in cash in Tanzanian shillings.

How to arrange park entry permits?

Park permits are paid at the entrance gate of National Parks. Cash is NOT accepted, neither are debit cards. The best is to pay by credit card (Visa or Mastercard).The payment method to enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (you’ll pass this area on your way to the Serengeti) and the Ngorongoro Crater has changed as from February 2017. You can now pay for your entrance fees at the entrance gate using a credit card. However you need to visit the Ngorongoro office in either Arusha or Karatu before proceeding to the gate to receive a quote. You will take this quote with you to the gate for payment. Kindly note that the Ngorongoro offices are closed on Saturday and Sundays. We’ll be happy to arrange your Ngorongoro quote. Just let us know the amount of persons you’ll be travelling with and the amount of days/nights you intend to visit. We charge a fee of $25 for this service. We will give you the quote when we hand over the car.

Are campsites widely available?

Tanzania is very suitable for camping. Not known by many, there are numerous campgrounds all over the country catering to all levels of adventure and more and more continue to pop up. Moreover, the opportunities to camp extend year round because of the warm climate. Some are private campgrounds, often adjacent to a lodge, allowing you to stay at a secured site with good amenities whilst sleeping in your own tent. Other sites are basic bush camp grounds within the wildlife reserves and national parks, managed by TANAPA. The campsites vary in terms of level of facilities and amenities offered. The more fancy lodges will charge about $10 USD pp. Basic nature camp sites costs as little as US$ 5 / tent. Wild camping is not recommended. Kindly refer to our Campsites & Lodges page for more information on nice campgrounds. Also, the Bradt Travel Guide has excellent, detailed and updated information about most campsites.

When is it tourist peak season?

Tourists come to visit Tanzania year-round, but there is a peak from December to January, and from June to September. April and May is low season, because of the long rains. Most lodges drop their rates during that time of the year.

Do I need to book my accommodation in advance?

In case you go camping, you do not need to book in advance. In case you sleep in a lodge, booking in advance is recommended. Especially during high season, lodges tend to fill up quickly. Most lodges will ask you to make a deposit.

When is the best time to visit Tanzania?

Tanzania is nice to visit year-round. The country as a whole has a pleasant tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations, most significantly influenced by elevation. The hottest and most humid part of the country is the coast, with temperatures around 30C and little temperature drop in the evenings. Low-lying areas like Lake Eyasi and Moshi are also hot, but less humid. In general, the hottest time of the year is from November till March. The coolest months are from May to July, when it surely gets cold in the evenings at higher altitudes (Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha), whilst the coast is more pleasant than during the hottest months. Most of the rain falls between November and May, with the short rains over November and December, and the long rains from March to May. April and May are not a good time to visit the coast, as most lodges close down because of the rains. Peak tourist season is around Christmas and July and August.

Do people speak English in Tanzania?

In the bigger cities and in lodges along the touristy routes, residents and staff understand and speak English. When en route or travelling of the beaten track, this is usually not the case. Therefore, it comes in handy to travel with a small Swahili phrasebook, like the ones from the Rough Guide.

What should I pack?

Have a look at the camping gear list posted on this website to see whether it contains all you need. Bring your iPod with audio cable (mini-jack) and / or USB stick to listen to your favourite Roadtrip songs. Audiobooks are also great fun to listen to during long drives, or to listen to whilst sitting at a campfire or laying in your tent (try a thriller…!). The Rough Guide Swahili phrasebook comes in handy whilst travelling off the beaten track. A Swiss knife or good pocket knife with ribbons is handy for cutting tomatoes etc. A fleece blanket and warm jumper is nice for chilling on the grass or to cover up during the chillier nights. Definitely bring insect repellent and a good sun block, as this is also more expensive in Tanzania. Note that Arusha and Dar have many well-stocked supermarkets and pharmacies, where you can buy almost everything in case you forgot something. Obviously, this is not the case for the provincial towns.

Do the cars have a radio?

All our cars have a radio / MP3 player / SD card / and take a mini jack for easy access to all your favourite music. Cables to connect equipment you'll have to bring yourself. TIP: Audio books!

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