Tanzania 101

“The distant roar of a waking lion rolls against the stillness of the night, and we listen. It is the voice of Africa bringing memories that do not exist in our minds or in our hearts.” Beryl Markham

Hemingway wrote of his journeys to Tanzania in the 1930s, “Now, being in Africa, I was hungry for more of it, the changes of the seasons…the discomforts that you paid to make it real, the names of the trees, of the small animals, and all the birds, to know the language and have time to be in it and move slowly.” Thanks to the fact that Tanzania has developed its tourism slowly, preserving close to 25% of the country in national parks and private reserves, that feeling can easily still be found.

When to Go

As Tanzania lies south of the equator, fall/winter is May to September and spring/summer is October to April, though daily temperatures remain quite comfortable throughout the year with midday temperatures in the 80s. In winter months, you will want to bring a warm fleece for mornings that can be in the 50s. The two rainy seasons are between February and May and October and December, but rainfall is usually only for short periods and often at night. I have traveled to Tanzania in March and October and the occasional afternoon shower didn’t last long or interfere with our itinerary. The annual migration of wildebeest generally passes through the Serengeti during June, July and August.

If you want to end your safari with time at the beach, bear in mind that Indagare's favorite island resort, Mnemba Island, closes in April and May for the rainy season.

Getting There

Most international travelers on safari fly directly into Kilimanjaro airport. There is a daily direct flight on KLM from Amsterdam. Another popular option is to fly into Nairobi from London or Paris, which requires an overnight in Nairobi, but allows for a visit to Giraffe Manor. It is also possible to fly into Dar es Saleem from numerous international destinations.

Getting Around

Scheduled or private charters are the preferred way, and in some cases the only way, to cover the great distances between the various camps. Most charters that land at camp airstrips are Cessna Caravans, flown by two pilots and carrying about a dozen passengers. Private charters will fly directly from one camp to another; scheduled charters, which may be considerably cheaper, make pick-ups and drop-offs at the various camps, so you may have a few landings and take-offs before you get where you are disembarking.

Unfortunately, some of the flights can be quite bumpy because of the thermals, so queasy fliers may want to pack Dramamine. Of course, if you have a large enough party, a private charter may not be much more than a scheduled one so you can fly direct. In some cases, helicopter service is also available.


Tanzania requires visas for most foreign visitors, including citizens of the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Processing time varies but usually requires at least a week.

Published onFebruary 6, 2012

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