Tanzania, blessed with some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Not an expensive country yet if you want to ‘do everything’ here you’ll spend a fortune and be heading home before broke before you know it! Highlights include:
The Serengeti with it’s mesmerizing annual Wildebeest Migration (a sight to behold, I assure you, one of the coolest things I have ever seen) starting around January in the south Serengeti, moving north to Kenya and the Masai Mara around August/September. Safaris generally start at $300 for 3 or 4 days if you do you homework and stick to your guns.
Kilimanjaro and its soon to be extinct ‘snow-capped’ peak. Truly beautiful and if you listen to the experts the glacier at the top which give Kili its iconic snow cap is said to melting at exponential rates and by 2020 will be gone, so get a move on if you want to see it! Maybe this finite time scale explains their extortionate climbing fees and park entry (currently (2010) $850-$5000 depending on your bartering skills and willingness to rough it, read here for more details about how to climb it cheap).
Zanzibar. A world apart from mainland Tanzania, it’s a hidden Arabic alcove where, if you avoid the resorts and 5* hotels, you can truly get lost in an island forgotten by time. Bluer water than you can ever imagine, giant tortoises, food markets to make your mouth water and a full moon party to rival Thailand’s commercialized Ko Pha Ngan.
The Ngorogoro Crater. More animals than you can shake a stick at a price that excludes most backpacking budgets. If you can afford the $100+ a night to stay at the luxury camps then indulge yourself because this place is something else. To be brutally honest though, if I had to choose between a safari and climbing Kili, Kili gets it every time. Although, I’m a dude and we like to climb things, conquer things, beat things so maybe that’s not anything to go by!
Tanzania has everything and the month or so I spent here went in a heartbeat. I’ll go into the logistics about climbing Kili as soon as I get some better internet (the internet in Somalia isn’t as good as I expected :P) because I know I was fed up googling “how to climb Kilimanjaro cheaply”, “the cheapest way to climb Kilimanjaro”, “climbing Kilimanjaro on a budget” etc, I’ll give you the lowdown on genuine ways to do it on the cheap. One thing to remember for now – don’t book it on the internet, wait until you arrive to sort it out!
Tanzania Fast Facts
Budget: $20-$30 per day (excluding safaris and other excursion like Kilimanjaro)
Food: around $1 per meal for street food and $2-$5 for a semi-decent café/restaurant
Accommodation: $4-$10 per night per person
Transport: Buses are around the standard dollar an hour (i.e 10 hours = $10) however, they are ALWAYS 1-3 hours late, always! There are 2 types of buses – a 2×2 and a 3×2 basicallly how many seats across a row. Two seats and an aisle and two more seats OR 3 seats, an aisle and 2 more seats. The 3×2 is cheaper, if you get this TAKE AN AISLE SEAT! You’ll have more space, and if there’s more than one of you, don’t sit beside each other on a 3×2, there won’t be enough room – be warned!
People: really open in the majority of the country but around the tourist centres (Zanzibar, Moshi, Arusha they can be pretty pushy :S)
Religion: Zanzibar is pretty much 100% Islamic so try to be culturally sensitive in terms of behaviour and dress. Mainland is more of a mixture but cultural awareness is always important in any part of the world.
Currency: 1500 shillings is $1 USD. Foreign ATMs in most major towns and cities
Visa: $50 available on arrival by land or by plane. ($100 for Irish passports!! :S)