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Tanzania: Serengeti Safari and Zanzibar - FAQ

Safari means "journey" in Swahili, and no other word better sums up the experience of traveling in this East African country. But if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed before your journey, we're here to help! Here, you'll find some useful information as you prepare for your trip to Tanzania.

TIME 

Tanzania is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time year-round, which is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. Thus, during winter in North America, when we travel to Tanzania, when it's noon in Tanzania, it's 2 a.m. in San Francisco and 5 a.m. in New York.

New York

Arusha

PACKING 

Baggage allowance on this tour is restricted to 15kg/33lb, including all hand baggage per person in soft sided bags, and it is strictly enforced. Please be aware that internal flights are operated in small aircraft onto unpaved runways and therefore this is a strict safety regulation. The carriage of excess baggage is at the sole discretion of the airline after taking into consideration the aircraft being used and the number of passengers traveling. When excess baggage is carried it will be charged at the prevailing freight charges. All baggage and personal property are at the traveler's risk throughout the tour, and baggage insurance is strongly recommended. Packing light is essential, so you should pack smart: loose cotton clothing, especially long pants, will afford both comfort and protection from mosquitoes, ticks, and vegetation while you walk. Insect repellent, anti-malaria pills, swimwear, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are also handy, as well as a backup pair of glasses if you wear contacts and want to avoid the dust. It's important to have a good pair of walking shoes, but since walking in the national parks is usually not allowed, you can keep your feet cool in sandals for the game drives. You should bring any prescription or special medication with you, as pharmacies may not have exactly what you're prescribed. A light jacket is advisable for your visit to Ngorongoro, but for the most part the weather will be warm during our trip. All hotels where we're staying have hair dryers in the rooms. All accommodations have adapters, but to save the hassle of going to reception and paying a deposit, bring your own. Bringing safari colored clothing (khaki, beige) may sound cliche, but these colors are most likely to keep you cool. Please avoid white clothing and strong colors, such as electric pink, because they tend to startle the animals. Indigo colored clothing, such as jeans, are not recommended because they are the same color as traps used to attract tse-tse flies. For the time in Zanzibar, bring light-colored clothing and a swimsuit for snorkeling.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS  

Visitors to Tanzania are required to have a current passport, valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure and with at least three blank pages, marked "Visa". Visas are most easily obtained on arrival in Tanzania, although you can also get a visa prior to departure from a Tanzanian embassy. Most visitors can purchase a visa from the airport immigration desk upon entry. The payment is $100US in cash, using clean US dollars with no tears and printed after 2009. No other forms of payment will be accepted. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase. 

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION  

This tour starts and ends in Arusha at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code JRO).

You should make your flight arrangements to arrive in Tanzania on Monday, March 2, 2020, most likely leaving the US/Canada on Sunday, March 1, 2020. Most flights from the US connect through Amsterdam, Addis Ababa or Istanbul, and you will probably arrive in Kilimanjaro airport late in the evening. We have arranged for individual airport transfers, and you will be met by a chauffeur at the airport. If you are prone to jet lag and/or travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. 

This tour ends in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. Your flight home will be probably leaving in the evening. If you find a better connection departing from Dar es Salaam, we can arrange for a flight from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam for an additional charge. 

JET LAG 

To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT AND ROOMATES  

To avoid paying the single supplement, we offer guaranteed roommate matching. We will try to match you with a roommate of a similar age. Otherwise, there are a few single rooms available on this tour, but they tend to fill up early. Please keep in mind that all shared rooms are non-smoking.

THE TRAVEL GROUP  

The Tanzania tour group is limited to 16 women + the tour director. The travelers will be taken care of by the tour director, the ranger guide on the game drives and the staff of safari lodges during the Serengeti Great Migration Safari part of the tour. During the Zanzibar Island part of the tour, the travelers will be taking care of by the tour director, the driver and a local guide during daily excursions.

HEALTH 

It is imperative to take malaria precautions seriously. The threat of infection, the result of a bite from a disease-carrying mosquito, is present throughout the country, though the risk is reduced at higher altitudes (Ngorongoro Crater). Besides using prophylactic medication, such as Malarone, you should have strong mosquito repellents that can be safely sprayed or rubbed on skin, and make use of mosquito nets at night. Mosquitoes generally appear as the sun goes down, and you must do everything possible to prevent being bitten. Vaccination against yellow fever is also recommended. Yellow fever vaccination is required if entering the country within 6 days after leaving or transiting countries with risk of yellow fever transmission, including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. If continuing your travel to South Africa after visiting Tanzania, you will require a yellow fever vaccination for entry into those countries as well. Other vaccinations that might be considered before you travel include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, and tetanus. For more information, contact your doctor or travel clinic. Occasionally, cases of tick bite fever, Rift Valley fever, typhus, African sleeping sickness, plague, and relapsing fever have also been reported in Tanzania. None of these pose as great a threat as chloroquine-resistant malaria, but it pays to be vigilant and try to protect yourself against bites. You should never drink water from any tap unless you have been assured that it is completely safe to do so. Most food in Tanzania is safe to eat, but be wary of ice in drinks and washed salads and fruits. Tanzanians are big meat-eaters, but lodges can accommodate vegetarians, as well. It can get very hot under the African sun, so you should bring a high-factor sunscreen, a hat that will protect your face, and good sunglasses, and be vigilant to prevent overexposure to the sun. A cloth face mask can also be useful to protect you from dust during the game drives.

WATER 

Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Tanzania, so you should drink only bottled water. Hotels where we'll be staying will have drinking water available. There will be unlimited bottled water in safari vehicles during the game drives. It's advisable to avoid ice in drinks and to peel fruit and vegetables before eating.

TOILETS 

Squat/pit toilets are the standard in Tanzania, except for western-style flushable toilets that are available in hotels and lodges, tourist attractions and other modern buildings. You may decide to carry your own supply of soap and toilet paper, as they are rarely provided in public toilets. Please keed in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them. 

SAFETY 

Driver/guides will look out for you and inform you of the rules (such as not alighting from the vehicle in a national park for any reason). At the safari camp, you will be advised to wait for an askari (usually a brightly garbed Maasai carrying a spear or machete) to come to your door or call out to escort you to the dining room and then back again after dinner. Some find it an exciting ritual, others rather tedious, but given that you are in an unfenced wilderness area where predators roam at will, it's best to follow the rules and move around only with an escort after dark. The time to be especially vigilant and alert to the potential dangers in the wilds is while out on bush walks or hiking safaris. Whatever the case, you will always be with an experienced and armed ranger/guide, or Maasai tracker. It is absolutely in your best interest to follow his or her instructions very clearly and be on full alert at all times. Unless you've been given an absolute thumbs up, do not swim in dams, lakes, or rivers. Hippos may be grass eaters, but they're Africa's biggest killers (after mosquitoes) and are known to snap humans in half with their powerful jaws. Always treat any and all wildlife with respect, and encourage your driver to keep a safe, respectful distance when viewing and tracking animals.

WOMEN TRAVELERS 

As long as you take the normal precautions when traveling, Tanzania as a whole does not offer significant problems for women. The mainland Tanzania is Christian, but Zanzibar is Muslim, so a modest dress, (i.e. no short skirts, sleeveless tops, see-through or overly tight clothing) will help you be respectful amidst the predominantly Muslim population on the island, as the local women will most likely be wearing bui-buis, a black Islamic dress with head-to-toe coverage.  

ACTIVITY LEVEL 

During the Serengeti Great Migration Safari and Zanzibar Island tour, we will travel by a private game vehicle and by plane, then by a private bus on Zanzibar. This tour is considered easy, as most of the safaris (game drives) are conducted from a vehicle. However, to be able to enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, especially during the Zanzibar Island tour, you will need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 3 miles throughout the day. You will need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you will need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous though it is busy. You must be prepared for some full days and early starts, especially during the safari when we leave the lodge early in the morning.

WEATHER  

Tanzania has a tropical climate. In the highlands, especially at Ngorongoro Crater, temperatures range between 50 and 68 °F during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 68 °F. The hottest period extends between November and February (77 to 87 °F) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (59 to 68 °F). The bi-modal rainfall in Tanzania is between October and December, then between March and May. The March–May rains are referred to as the long rains or Masika. While the rain may require wearing rain gear while on game drives, this is what brings about the Great Migration! During the wet season, from late March to May, afternoon downpours should be expected.

CELL PHONE AND INTERNET 

Cell phone network coverage and Internet hot spots are adequate in large cities, but very limited in rural and wilderness areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have easily available WiFi Internet access.

ELECTRICITY 
ELECTRICITY

Outlets in Tanzania supply 230 volts of electric current. New sockets take square three-pin plugs (the same as the U.K.), but you may find large round three-pin and small two-pin sockets in older hotels. Bring a multi-adaptor/converter with power surge protection, as Tanzania can experience power surges. 

LANGUAGE 

Kiswahili or Swahili is the official language in Tanzania with English being the official primary language of commerce, administration and higher education. Tanzanians in most tourist areas speak English, but knowing a few Swahili words and greetings will be greatly appreciated, going a long way to smoothing your travels. For starters, "jumbo" is "hello", "asante" is "thank you" and "Missouri" is "good".

MONEY 

The official currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling. The written abbreviation is Tsh. Notes are 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000, while coins are rarely used. Tanzanian shillings can be used to pay for most things, though U.S. dollars are accepted, as well. Plan your expenses so you are left with as little local currency as possible before your departure home, since Tanzania does not allow you to export currency. Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, exchange bureaus, and some hotels. When bringing US dollars, try to bring bills that are relatively new, printed after 2004, as banks have been known not to accept older U.S. bills. Do not change money on the black market; it is illegal and you risk going to jail. The easiest and best way to get cash is from an ATM. Most banks in Tanzania have ATMs, and they take four-digit PINs. However, in remote regions, they are few and far between. Credit cards are a safe alternative to cash and are widely accepted in hotels, upscale souvenir stores, and restaurants. Make sure one of your cards is a Visa or MasterCard, as these are most commonly accepted. Diners Club is unheard of, and American Express is accepted at only a few upscale establishments. Some restaurants may refuse credit card payments under $50 (or even $80). Everyone in Tanzania accepts dollars as payment rather than local currency, so it's worth bringing a certain amount of dollars in cash. If you bring Euros, you will have to convert them to Tanzanian shillings and then to dollars.

TIPPING 

Wages in Tanzania are generally low, so tipping for good service will be much appreciated. In general, you should leave a 10% to 15% tip at restaurants and bars, even if the service charge is already included. While staying at the hotel or lodge, a few dollars tip should be left to the luggage porter and chambermaid. Low-denomination US dollars are useful for tipping at each camp or lodge; some camps have a communal box so that tips are shared equitably. Specialized services such as a private butler or your driver/guide are usually tipped at $10 a day per person. 

TAXES 

Value-added tax (VAT) of 20% is included in all prices of goods and services.

SHOPPING 

Tanzania has a wealth of markets to explore, from the large markets to the small, rural village markets throughout the countryside. You can shop responsibly by choosing not to buy ivory, coral or animal products nor support businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals. Spices, handicrafts and jewelry are among some of the most sought after goods to buy in Tanzania. When on community visits, please refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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