After living in Tanzania for 10 months I have discovered some very useful information, which may be helpful when travelling to East Africa.
The 5 travelling tips I am referring to are solely based on Tanzania, East Africa; Africa is an extremely large place, so I am not referring to the whole continent.
1. We all like to travel with some cash on hand
Tanzania’s currency is TZ shillings. American dollars is accepted in most places. The one thing that you may not be aware of that may cause some issues is. All foreign exchange outlets will not accepted any US currency older than the year 2000.
The logic behind this is to try and fight counterfeiting.
Please check all your American Dollars and save the inconvenience.
As a side note credit card vacillates are available but always have plan B.
2. Tipping in Tanzania is not compulsory but it is expected
If you are willing to tip then please add this cost into your budget. This can become a costly exercise.
If you ask for directions, dine out; use public transport any kind of service then you will be expected to tip. If you take a photo of any local Tanzanian, you may be expected to pay. It is wise to always ask permission first.
If you choose to tip, how much you tip is entirely up to you.
3. If you are with a tour company please be aware that your driver or your tour leader will often earn commissions on any purchases you make, such as gift items, activities etc. The places that your driver or tour leader suggests that you go to could possibly be where they earn the best commissions, not necessarily the best option available for you. If possible do your own research before you leave on places you may wish to visit. Don’t be afraid to tell your driver or tour leader on places you may wish to visit.
4. It is always good when travelling any where in the world to learn a little bit of the local language. In Tanzania the language spoken is Swahili. While most people do speak pretty good English it does pay to no some of the basics in Swahili. It can be to your advantage especially when you are shopping. The local people appreciate that you have taken the time to learn their language.
5. If you are intending to shop, price haggling is common. You shouldn’t always accept the first price offered. One example of this, I entered a store and was interested in a piece of clothing. I asked how much for the item, the first price offered was $80 US dollars, I declined, I was then offered the item for $60 US dollars, I declined again, as the item was not worth any where close to this amount. I was just about to exit the store when the store owner yelled out ok $10 US dollars. Now that seemed more like it. Keep your wits about you when shopping.
All in all Tanzania is a wonderful and interesting place to visit, friendly people, fantastic game parks, with a rich and diverse culture. If you do decide to visit Tanzania, I hope you find these tips useful.