things to get used to in Tanzania

10 things to get used to in Tanzania

10 things to know before traveling to Tanzania

Beautiful, wild and varied. Tanzania is THE COUNTRY par excellence where you can go on incredible safaris and be able to admire the so-called up close Big 5 – that is, the 5 large animals of the savannah: lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos and leopards, the most dangerous and feared animals that correspond to the five most coveted trophies by hunters, a term born when the safari was understood as a hunting trip.
Tanzania is also the country with wonderful Swahili coasts such as Pangani, dizzying islands, Zainzibar to mention a well-known name and the less famous, but no less attractive, Mafia Island or the wild, and open to tourism for just a few years, Pemba.

A voyage in Tanzania but for those who are there visit for long periods and backpack on the shoulder more than safari and Zanzibar means trip to Africaor a different world and way of traveling that is tough and delicious at the same time, exaggerated and simple, smelly and spicy, wild and quiet and not always very simple.

A journey through contrasts, which we need to get used to and which we will appreciate over time, we will come to terms with them and they will, in the end, be the beauty and adventurous aspect of the whole journey.

To travel to Tanzania you need to shed preconceptions but above all you need to change the standards you were used to, even when you are a veteran of traveling with small budgets and believe you are truly flexible and very spartan. Exactly, here you don’t have to believe it, you have to be it, no half measures, or you go home 5 days later.

A trip to Africa is not cheap (it costs at least double what South East Asia would cost with the same standards), even less so if you don’t want to give up the safari which plays an important role in the total cost (6 days of safari cost me as much as a month and a half of travel), and perhaps the first thing to get used to, which is true here as in other African countries, are the low standards for the prices you pay.

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Read also: Documents for going to Tanzania – Guide 2024

Poverty of diet

It’s useless, I really tried to find something super good to say that Tanzanian cuisine is worth it but honestly this is the country I ate in the same 3 things for 1 monthand I think the next one won’t have any other great culinary surprises in store, and it didn’t excite me.

These three things are: rice and beans with vegetable ideas, omelette with chips (mayai chips) and meat skewers.
In truth I can also add chicken which instead of grilling for some reason they drown it in pots of oil (hence fried chicken) and some street snacks. Everything else is boring.

Fruit and fish depends. In some areas I found them, in others it seemed like a feat.
In the southern areas I found many corn on the cob cooked on the grill but I repeat, you have to get used to a cuisine that isn’t exactly varied.

a man standing in front of a counter preparing food

Restaurants for strong stomachs

Just to stay on the topic of food, once you leave the tourist routes and big cities, forget about “clean” restaurants of Italian or European standards. You can search all you want but you won’t find any of this and if you are a person from “oh god no I’m getting diarrhoea” you will most likely spend your stay in this country eating bananas and bagged bread because everything that is served to you is cooked in the street and in some places the flies that flutter here and there will be your snack companions.

In fact, I would like to point out that I have always been treated like a queen in these places and they are very happy to have you sitting at their table, you just have to get used to it.

In the photo a typical restaurant in southern Tanzania (like on the coast or on the islands).

a man in an apron is cooking food on a grill

Bus departures before dawn

It is not guaranteed that they leave on time, unless you travel on the main tourist routes which are busy, punctual and also have quite good buses but Dar Es Salaam already prepare yourself for fear and loathing buses in Las Vegas but above all very variable timetables.

Generally they tell you to be at the station at 4.30 or 5.30 (this is luck) in the morning, only to then leave as soon as the bus fills up.

By filling up in the African sense we mean bursting, so not only seating but also standing. This is why the law actually applies, first come, first served.
So get used to waking up early in the morning and waiting for the bus in the dark of the station without knowing what time you will leave.

Toilet paper this unknown

In the cheapest hotels they don’t even know what it is but the worst thing is that it isn’t always found so easily even in small shops, it is therefore worth stocking up when you find it because in the next village we don’t know!

Don’t be afraid though, you reckless backpacker, in truth if you look carefully they are better placed here than in England, they generally have bidet showers which at least allow you to clean yourself well.

Hot water, I would like but I can’t

Maybe it’s because I travel on small budgets so I can’t afford hotels of a certain category, in some cases I have slept in taverns, this one in the south which, being not at all touristy, is not yet ready for this leap into the world of white adventurers, in other cases in guest decent house but I had a shower with hot water in the first 4 weeks of travel 0 volte.

Even the hotels that claimed to have it for some reason didn’t have it. So calm and blood and cold and like it or not already cold water even when it’s not all this hot.
I admit that on some occasions I washed like cats…just a little.

WiFi in hotels

Another chimera of Tanzania, excluding Dar, Arusha and Zanzibar (which in truth is perhaps the Tanzania you are about to discover… but I went much further).
Almost no one has wifi, those who say they have it then for some reason don’t have it, a bit like hot water.

On the other hand, however, it is very easy to make one sim card with a data connection that works practically everywhere and for those like me who need to work with emails and therefore have to check them quite frequently, a modem costing 20,000 shillings which works quite well everywhere, except on the Newala-Songea (South of Tanzania), and allows me to do many things without spending a fortune but above all using my computer.

Hotels that offer wifi often charge for it but to use it for a day it is better to avoid uploading photos and watching videos.

Time – European Time VS Tanzano Time

I didn’t know that even in Tanzania, like in Ethiopia, they had different timetables from ours.
If a bus is at 6 in the morning, for us, most likely at the station if the operator does not speak English he will tell you that the bus leaves at 12.
If the bus is at 10 then it will tell you that it leaves at 6 and so on.

The buses always leave very early in the morningbe suspicious if the time is always too much later than 7 in the morning or in any case you ask “European or Shwahili?”, they will understand that you are a little confused, they will get confused too, but at least in the end you will know for sure what time you have to leave .

Endless stops but no stops

I know it may seem counterintuitive but the buses in Tanzania are strange, stranger than elsewhere.
I was used to the continuous stops to let more and more people get on but it had never happened to me that on journeys lasting 7 or 8 hours they don’t even stop for a lunch, dinner or tea break or to go to the bathroom (the stops in this case are to the “bush”, in nature).

It’s true that both food is sold by street vendors directly at the window and that the food, alas, here is always the same but forget about stretching your legs, even in the most uncomfortable buses, the goal is to arrive and considering that they average 50km per hour you understand that stopping to eat would make a long journey…very long.

Hostels and backpackers… maybe further down the line

It is no mystery that Africa is the last continent left on earth where the phenomenon of backpacking is not customary and for this reason everything they did in Latino America for example, it doesn’t happen here.

There are NO hostels, there are no dormitories, except in very rare cases (but really rare) and you will not meet other backpackers who travel like you do who cannot be counted on one hand.

I am sure that by now a good part of the world has been explored far and wide by my “colleagues” backpackers and that this is the last continent to discover that offers 100% adventure, we are increasing, as a matter of fact, but to avoid any misunderstanding, always bring books with you to read, the times you will spend in your own company will be enough (I’m boring, I know, but I repeat, if you stay outside the usual tourist circuits).

five boys beside brick wall

I am sure that as I continue my journey others will come to mind, at the moment these are the ones I have come to terms with to date and yet they have not compromised in the slightest this wonderful adventure in a country to which more than two academic weeks should be dedicated.

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Click the button and find all search platforms and book your next trip yourself.

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Read also: Where to sleep in Bangkok

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