Tanzania. Journey to the country of Hakuna Matata

The White Man and the Akuna Matata: everything you need to know about Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a new, exotic and even a bit wild destination. Tourists there are called “mzungu” and the locals live by the principle of “akuna matata”. Ilya Babii, travel-expert of the YouTravel.me authoring service, which organizes tours to Zanzibar, told about the specifics of preparing for the journey and shared useful tips.

Tanzania has stirred the minds of Russian travelers by becoming the first country where they were allowed to resume flights! Since late October, Russian airlines have put charter flights to Tanzania from Moscow and the regions. In addition, Utair airline announced the launch of regular flights Moscow-Zanzibar from November 27. It is also possible to fly with a connection in Qatar, Dubai, Istanbul. Tickets will cost 50 thousand rubles round trip.

Why are they flying to Tanzania? Holiday resorts and paradise beaches await you on the island of Zanzibar, African exoticism on the mainland, adventure and extreme climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and safari tours, for example, the famous Serengeti National Park

When to go?

Zanzibar has a rainy season. If you want to get a good tan and avoid overcast days (or at least keep them to a minimum), avoid trips to the island from mid April to mid June. All other times in Zanzibar are considered good for recreation, rainfall is very low and rains are brief.

Zanzibar will appeal to those who want to lie on the beach and relax, and those who want an active holiday and get the most out of the trip. For the first type of holiday a week is usually enough, for the second option – 7-11 days.

How to get a visa?

A visa is necessary and costs $50 per person. The tourist visa is valid for 3 months. You can apply for it at the airport upon arrival or at the embassy in advance. It is quicker and easier to obtain it locally. When passing through passport control be sure to check that you have a visa stamp in your passport. Remember that this is Zanzibar, “hakuna matata” can strike a local employee even at the checkpoint and he may forget to put a stamp.

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How to get there?

There are no direct scheduled flights from Russia. The fastest option is Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Oman Airlines, Etihad, FlyDubai with one connection. The current prices range from 33,000 rubles round trip.

Take into account that the number of those who want to go to Tanzania during the winter vacations is off the scale, which affects the prices of air tickets. So if your goal – the New Year holidays, then get tickets in advance – six months before the trip or more.

You can look for tickets to the airport in Dar es Salaam on the mainland. If there are good deals, take them and then take the ferry to Zanzibar. The ferry for foreigners costs $35, so put that amount in your transportation costs and another $10-15 for a cab to the ferry around town. The ferry takes about 2 hours to reach the island, and it docks on the main promenade in the heart of Stone Town, the island’s capital.

It is best to book tickets for the ferry in advance, at least 1-2 weeks before the trip date, and you can do this on the official website of the transportation company.

Lifehack! Check out tours to Tanzania. Sometimes they are cheaper than just flights, while including direct charter flights, transfers, accommodation and insurance. For example, with a flight on December 7 for 7 nights from 29 thousand rubles per person.

Do I need a vaccination?

Officially, to enter Zanzibar and Tanzania vaccinations are not needed. Vaccination against yellow fever is a recommendation. The truth is that the last case of yellow fever was recorded 30 years ago. But there is a “BUT”. If you come to Tanzania from the countries where this vaccination is obligatory, it becomes obligatory for entry into Tanzania.

You can get vaccination in Moscow in state medical institutions, the cost is approximately 1500 rubles. This vaccination is given once for life. You will be given a yellow book, which should be carried with you as a document certifying vaccination.

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But I do not recommend that you neglect insurance. Be sure to get it before you travel.

What do I need to know before I travel?

Tanzania was formed from two different countries: Tanganyika (modern continental Tanzania) and Zanzibar, a well-known island. Therefore, in the past, the countries each developed differently, were influenced by different cultures, wars, religions, especially Zanzibar. Northern Tanzania is for the most part a Christian region. Zanzibar is 85% Muslim.

Try not to drink alcohol in public places outside the hotel, restaurant or bar. Girls are not advised to go in revealing attire, the exception is a swimsuit on the beach. Of course, a violation of this rule is likely to entail a maximum of a reprimand.

Tanzanians have invented the motto “akuna matata” (Hakuna Matata in Swahili) or “life without a care” and carefully observe it. Be prepared for the fact that everything is done here lazily, slowly, and sometimes sloppily. The average wait time to order at a cafe is 40 minutes.

Do not forget that you’re going to Africa, which means the local population will look at you with curiosity. The white man here (“mzungu”) is the man with the dollars. Therefore, selling anything, haggling, and offering obsessive help are loved here. And children (however, sometimes adults as well) can simply come up and say “Uncle, give me a dollar”.

The level of education in Tanzania is quite low, due to the fact that only in 2015 there was officially introduced free education in schools, and not everyone could afford a paid education. But this drawback is well compensated by the high employment of the population in the tourism industry – sociability, friendliness, sales skills – this is what is learned on the streets, not in schools.

It is recommended to avoid dark deserted places, because robberies happen here. Even if you have to walk from the bar to the hotel, it is better to call a cab or ask one of the employees to walk you. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, jewelry, and other valuables, especially at night. Hotels often have safes – use them and keep valuables there, and don’t forget to lock your room when you leave.

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You can save in Zanzibar on almost everything, wherever bargaining is appropriate. Just keep in mind that whatever price you, a white person, are told, it is expensive. The exceptions are hotels, stores with fixed prices, cafes and restaurants – there is no bargaining. As for souvenir shops, food markets, tours, cabs – everywhere you can and should bargain. Sometimes you can easily knock down the price by 2 times, you just need to be patient and confident.

What shall I take with me?
  • Sunscreen: the greater the protection factor, the better, not less than FTP40, and actively use it. It’s easy to get burnt, especially if you spend time by the ocean.
  • Money. Bring dollars or euros. Take newer bills – 2006 and younger. Old bills you risk to change to Tanzanian shillings (local currency) at a very competitive rate and lose during the holiday a couple of hundred dollars on it. Also take high denomination bills – 50 and 100. Smaller denomination banknotes are also changed at a less favorable rate. You can exchange currency at the airport, the exchange rate is quite acceptable. Sometimes the Tanzanian authorities carry out various economic inspections (especially in Zanzibar), at such times it may be difficult to find a working bank, so if you can change money at the airport, change it there.
  • Bank cards are accepted at Barclays ATMs. The currency of withdrawal is the Tanzanian shilling. Don’t forget to tell your bank that you plan to make transactions abroad, otherwise the card may be blocked for suspicious transactions.
  • A three-pin English plug adapter is another useful thing to have. It happens that even the hotels do not have adapters for our usual domestic two-pin round outlets.
  • Driver’s License. It is quite common in Zanzibar to rent a car. And for this you do not need an international license, will do the usual. The main thing is to issue a transport company a so-called permit (permission) to drive on the island. The transportation company may include this permit in the rental price, and may require an additional $10-15, both options are acceptable.
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Top 3 must do’s in Zanzibar

Safari Blue excursion.

It’s a full day on a boat in the ocean, ghost islands disappearing underwater, an insanely delicious lunch under the oldest baobab on the island, snorkeling and dolphins – basically a must try for yourself.

Kendwa Beach

This is the best beach on the island. Many travelers consider it one of the best on Earth, even the Maldives pales in comparison to this ashy azure contrast.

The island’s capital, Stone Town

Tight labyrinthine streets, peddlers from Oriental fairy tales, prison island with giant tortoises. Creative people often leave their hearts in this extraordinary city, which is unlike any other city on Earth.

Top 3 tips

Tip 1 – Don’t be afraid of Africa! Akuna matata, but don’t lose your head either.

Tip 2 – Try to visit both Zanzibar and Safari or/and Kilimanjaro at the same time. Otherwise you have to fly twice and overpay for the flight. Believe me, it’s worth it to be able to do both.

Tip 3 – If you are not sure about something, ask for help or advice from those who know . Cultural sensitivities and views on the same things can be very different.

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