Visas for Tanzania
Visas are required by most visitors to Tanzania, including UK and US passport holders, and cost US$30–60, depending on your nationality. Visas can be obtained on arrival at any international airport, or at any border post. This is a straightforward procedure: no photographs or other documents are required, but the visa must be paid for in hard currency.
The visa is normally valid for three months after arriving in the country, and it allows for multiple crossings into Uganda and Kenya during that period. Note, however, that the regional East African travel visa that can be issued by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and that allows freedom of movement between these three countries, does not include Tanzania.
Getting there and away
There are two international airports on the Tanzanian mainland. Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam (airport code DAR) is the traditional point of entry for international airlines, and it is generally convenient for business travellers but less so for tourists; many visitors who arrive in Dar transfer directly on to a flight to elsewhere in the country.
The more useful point of entry for most tourists is Kilimanjaro International Airport (often abbreviated to KIA although its official airport code is JRO), which lies midway between Moshi and Arusha, and is now used by several international airlines.
Budget travellers looking for flights to East Africa may well find it cheapest to use an airline that takes an indirect route. London is a good place to pick up a cheap ticket; many continental travellers buy their tickets there.
It is generally cheaper to fly to Nairobi than to Dar es Salaam, and getting from Nairobi to Arusha by shuttle bus is cheap, simple and quick. Several airlines also operate daily flights between Nairobi and Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Several private airlines run scheduled flights around Tanzania, most prominently Fastjet, Regional Air Services, Precision Air, Coastal Aviation, Auric Air and Zanair. Between them, these carriers offer reliable services to most parts of the country that regularly attract tourists, including Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Mwanza, Rubondo Island, Kigoma and most of the southern parks.
There are also regular flights between Kilimanjaro and the Kenyan cities of Mombasa and Nairobi. Several of the airlines now offer a straightforward online booking service.
The main carriers for the southern safari circuit are Coastal Travel and Safari Airlink, and the latter also operates scheduled flights to Katavi and Mahale. Auric Air is the only carrier servicing several relatively obscure destinations, for instance Mpanda, Mbeya, Tabora and Kigoma.
By public transport
Good express coach services, typically travelling at faster than 60km/h, connect Arusha and Moshi to Dar es Salaam and Nairobi (Kenya). Dar and Kilimanjaro Express are particularly recommended, approaching (although far from attaining) Greyhound-type standards, and they operate several buses daily between Dar es Salaam and Arusha. Express coaches also connect Arusha to Moshi, Lushoto, Tanga, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam.
For long trips on major routes, ensure that you use an ‘express bus’, which should travel directly between towns, stopping only at a few prescribed places, rather than stopping wherever and whenever a potential passenger is sighted or an existing passenger wants to disembark.
Be warned that as far as most touts are concerned, any bus that will give them commission is an express bus, so you are likely to be pressured into getting on to the bus they want you to get on. The best way to counter this is to go to the bus station on the day before you want to travel, and make your enquiries and bookings in advance, when you will be put under less pressure and won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on your luggage.
The alternative to buses on most routes is a dalla-dalla – a generic name that seems to encompass practically any light public transport. On the whole, dalla-dallas tend to be overcrowded by comparison with buses, and they are more likely to try to overcharge tourists, while the manic driving style results in regular fatal accidents.
By private safari and car rental
The most normal way of getting around Tanzania is on an organised safari by Land Cruiser, Land Rover or any other similarly hardy 4×4 with high clearance.
It is standard procedure for safari companies to provide a driver/guide with a fair knowledge of local wildlife and road conditions, as well as some mechanical expertise.
Self-drive car hire isn’t a particularly attractive or popular option in northern Tanzania, but it is widely available in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.
More info on travel and visas for Tanzania
Read more information about travel and visas for Tanzania, what to see and where to stay in our guidebook: