A Tanzania Safari is a place of wonder and discovery. Tanzania was the entry point for many early explorers and the same is true today; there is much on offer and there are many places to discover. To embark on a safari here in Tanzania is to discover the wonder of this friendly African paradise. Beware the tourists who tend to rush by from one high point to the next; like sheep who never lift their head out of the grass and thereby miss the splendor around them. After a day or two of such a hectic schedule each day becomes the same as the last. This saddens me as Tanzania is the place in which to fall in love with Africa. Tanzania is a place that lives inside you; and calls you back again and again.
There are many unusual National parks such as the Udzungwa Mountains which is a national park with no roads. This park has wildlife but was created primarily for the protection of the wonderful pant life that blanket the tropical rainforests. Because there are no roads here it is a must here to get out your vehicle and walk in the mountain rain forests. Like all places it takes time to discover and a half day stop here on the peripheries of a great adventure is simply not enough.
It is possible to find many places to walk and discover the delights of this East African paradise without ever stepping inside a National Park. There are the East and West Usamabara Mountains or the Pare Mountains with a prolific birdlife, these very African mountains are a delight to discover and explore. If you travel by road from the Southern Safari circuit to the Northern Safari circuit take a day or two to break the journey half way in one of these mountain rangers.
There are villages around Kilimanjaro, high above Moshi Town where it is possible to explore; here the local people grow coffee and bananas. Some villages such as my favorite, Uru, are close to the tourist circuit but not part of it. It is easily accessible yet not commercialized.
Cultural visits can expand your whole experience; add time and experience to your itinerary in Tanzania without costing a fortune. It is important to do this with gentleness and respect; remembering that you are the visitor here. All too often this simple truth is forgotten; remember to respect local customs and dress codes.
When we talk about cultural tour I am not talking of the organized cultural tours but genuine encounters with Tanzanian people. This is best done though a charity that is willing and eager to organize cultural visits. If you have the luxury of time a day or two spent working voluntary will enable you to experience Africa in a way most people will never know. To volunteer even for a short time will be the experience you will share with friends for the rest of your life.
To move around Tanzania on local transport is something you should do with care. If traveling by road on local transport select your bus company with caution. A general guide would be the cheaper the ticket the less safe the bus. There are good bus companies that travel around Tanzania and I would advise you pay the extra money for both comfort and safety – Scandinavia or Dar Express being two of the best operating between Arusha and Dar es Salaam. Trains are not usually an option for tourists, with a few exceptions they are normally unreliable and slow. The few destinations that are usable have first class tickets sold out well in advance; especially at holiday time; to book in advance is advisable. However, since early 2007 most train services are so unreliable to book in advance is quite impossible.
You may get hassled as you walk around the cities by taxi drivers or young people selling curios. Remember, Tanzania is a poor country and these young people are attempting to earn a living to feed a family; and competition is fierce. To know a few words in Swahili, such as si-ombi [I don’t need] will come in handy. Remember not to be rude, be firm but friendly. To get rid of a persistent young man selling curios should be done with respect and without showing any anger.
The towns and villages are a cultural dream with the warm friendly people welcoming visitors. Tanzania is a country where hospitality is a tradition; the traveler is welcomed and honored. In the big towns such as Dar es Salaam it would be advisable to take the normal precautions any tourist must take. Tanzania is a safe country and its people are peace loving.