African Adventure: Tanzania & Zanzibar
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: In order to enter Tanzania, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. See Visa information required for U.S. or Canadian citizens in the section below.
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
A Visa is required for all U.S. Travelers going to Tanzania. It is your responsibility to apply for this visa and obtain all necessary travel documents before you board your flight from the United States. EF Ultimate Break will not complete this process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below regarding this application process:
- It is possible to obtain a visa at the border, but we strongly recommend purchasing your visa in advance as wait times upon arrival can exceed 2 hours
- You can apply for the Tanzania visa with a rep from Visa Central for approximately $171. More information on this method will be provided by your Trip Consultant when they send you your visa letter and flight information
- It is less expensive (total cost $100) to complete the visa process on your own with your local Tanzania Embassy
- The visa application process can take 15 business days or longer to complete so be sure to start this process well in advance
Vaccinations and Health Precautions
When traveling to an exotic destination, vaccinations or health precautions other than your routine vaccinations may be required or recommended. Consult your primary care physician or local travel clinic at least 60 days prior to departure for the most up-to-date recommendations or requirements by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). While you're in Tanzania, keep these additional tips in mind to stay healthy:
- Drink bottled water only, avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they're cooked, washed, or you can peel them (like a banana)
- Bring a small first aid kit that may include antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, etc,
- If you have daily medication, make sure you have enough for each day of the tour plus some, in case of delays
Pack Like a Pro
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag, but years of customer feedback tells us the lighter you pack, the better; Aim for one piece of luggage no more than 30lbs, plus a smaller backpack or purse. Soft-sided luggage or duffels are preferable to hard luggage for storage on safari vehicles within East Africa, and your internal flights do not permit luggage heavier than 30lbs. Large suitcases of dimensions greater than 24"x 17"x 7" are impossible to store in vehicles and on aircraft and should not be used. (Baggage and personal effects are at owner's risk throughout the tour and baggage insurance for members is strongly advised). See more packing tips below to help you become a professional carry-on traveler:
- 1 light jacket or rain jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes and/or light hiking shoes
- Comfortable sandals for the beach
- 1-2 pairs pants, shorts, or skirt
- 1-2 long skirts or dresses for female travelers
- 2-3 shirts / t-shirts
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- 1-2 bathing suits
- Beach/Bath towel – we love the Microfiber travel towel ($5-$20, Amazon.com)
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine. Plastic bags are banned in Tanzania, so we recommend bringing your toiletries in a re-usable toiletry bag such as this ($12, Amazon.com)
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Reusable water bottle
- Binoculars for game drives
- Phone or camera
- Passport, Visa
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Adapter / Converter – type “D”, “G”, or universal
Respect for Religion: Some areas of Tanzania practice Islam and are more conservative. To avoid feeling uncomfortable or making locals feel uncomfortable, bring long skirts, pants, and avoid any shirts or slogans that might be offensive.
Hot Temps and Game Drives: Weather ranges from 75-80 degrees (F) in June-September; Loose-fitting, breathable layers are best for this climate. This season is also the best time for animal-spotting, and we recommend muted colors as bright clothing may scare animals away!
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Note: Travel from the U.S. to East Africa is a lengthy process (20 – 30+ hours travel time total). Read a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!
Arriving in Tanzania
Congratulations! You’re about to set foot in the land where the literal first footsteps of humankind were discovered. No. Big. Deal. Before you do arrive, your Tour Director or Trip Consultant will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group! Once you arrive in Tanzania it will be late evening so you’ll have time to sleep upon arriva
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Use Your Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider (Tanzania has a fairly strong 3G connection), or purchase a local sim card since they’re quite affordable in Tanzania. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars; but it isn’t as strong as Wi-Fi in the US. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter. Finally, remember that WiFi is not available in the safari vehicles; more reason to take in the views around you!
Note: You should use a “D” or ”G” adapter / converter on this tour. The plug looks like 3 flat prongs. A staff favorite for all travel is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
On The Ground
Money and Tipping
Cash in the local currency is accepted and encouraged everywhere in Tanzania and Zanzibar, but some upscale stores or restaurants will accept credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) or cash in USD (issued after 2006). If you exchange cash before the trip, check the latest exchange rates to make sure you’re getting the best rate. Otherwise, ATMs are available in most banks in Tanzania and are the easiest and best way to get cash while abroad. In Zanzibar, ATMs are only available in Stone Town.
Budget around $50 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities. When it comes to tipping, it’s customary to round up the bill to the nearest amount at a restaurant, or give the equivalent of $1-$2 for local guides. For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $40 - $60 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
- Tanzania: Tanzania Shilling (TSh)
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
Getting from A to B
All transfers between cities and islands are via private bus/safari vehicles, or local airlines; these transfers can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. Note that the road conditions in Tanzania and Zanzibar can be rough at times, and some stretches of roads may be dirt. Game drives are drives or safaris through the wild to see animals in their own environment. During game drives your group will be in safari vehicles, which are usually a 4x4 jeep, van, or Land Rover-style vehicle that can handle the off-road terrain. These vehicles typically accommodate 4-10 people so your group may be split up when driving.
Note: It’s a good idea to bring a great book with you for transfer days. Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting! We recommend By the Sea, Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, or keep it light with a local wildlife guidebook or map to stay in tune with your surroundings!
Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Optionals on this tour include (prices increase on tour):
- Sunset Dhow Cruise: $60
- Prison Island: $80
Live Like a Local
As you prepare to spend time in a new culture, here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of East Africa, and feel like a local Tanzanian:
- Tap water is not safe to drink. Instead, stick with bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth
- Animal protection efforts are strong in Tanzania, so keep this in mind when buying souvenirs and observing animals in their local habitats
- Tanzanians are known for being extremely welcoming and friendly; Chatting with locals is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the region!
- Tanzania is the land of safaris - get your contact lens renewed and your camera film ready.
- The Zanzibar archipelago is about 99% Muslim, so be modest with dress and public behavior
- It’s tempting to take photos of local life, but ask permission first, and know that some locals may ask for a few shillings in exchange
Wine and Dine
You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
- Spices: Zanzibar is known as “Spice Island”. Dating back to 2600 BC, the country has become a port of production and trade for some of the world’s best spices like pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and more.
- Ugali: This is a staple of Tanzania. It's a maize and cassava flour combo typically eaten with your hands. Try it out!
- Coconut Bean Soup: Coconuts are in abundance in Zanzibar and this dish is a fan favorite!
- Ndizi Kaanga: Fried plantains. As a snack, a side, doesn’t matter they’re DELICIOUS.
- Zanzibar pizza: This isn’t Pizza Hut pizza. It’s a savory crepe with meat, egg, onions, chili sauce, and more.
- Biryani: A rice dish cooked with a mixture of spices, Biryani is popular especially in Stone Town.
- Mandazi: Balance out all the savory spices with this sweet “donut”, aka a triangular form of fried coconut bread.
- Coffee and Tea: Tanzanians are one of the largest tea producers in the world, and coffee accounts for about 20% of the country’s income. What the country lacks in bars, they make up for in coffee shops.
Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.
Speak the Language
The local language of Tanzania is Swahili, though most locals speak some basic English too. While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic phrases to get started:
- Hello / Goodbye: Jambo / Kwa heri
- Please: Tafadhali
- Thank You: Asante
- Yes / No: Ndiyo / Hapana
- OK: Sawa
- How are you?: Habari gani?
- May I take a picture?: Naomba kupiga picha
- Do you speak English?: Unasema kiingereza?
- Toilet: Choo
- Hotel: Hoteli
- I’d like ___: Nataka ___
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi, and always have cash on hand.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.