If you’re a seasoned backpacker, you’ll know that the best things in life are free – that apricot gold sunset, that deep conversation with the stranger you shared a cab with, or a dawn swim from a golden beach.
But, you’ll also know that money is useful and can buy you freedom and opportunity. If you don’t have a lot of cash, don’t worry. Tanzania has so much to offer backpackers on a budget. Here are a few hints and tips about cutting costs without cutting your safari, beach and trekking opportunities.
You can make massive savings on travel if you’re prepared to take it more slowly – and meet more people into the bargain. The big save is a bus instead of a plane. Yes, it can be done! Travelling to, from and within Tanzania has never been easier – and cheaper – and there are a range of services that you can choose from. For instance, the Kilimanjaro Express offers low-cost fares, online booking and a comfortable ride – and you get to see the country close up which will enrich your experiences. Travel from city to city for as low as $25 with some operators. You can choose an itinerary that can take in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Moshi, Morogoro, Mwanza, Tanga, Iringa and many more.
If you’re in the city, join the locals and choose the ‘dala dala’ for short trips. Dala dalas are an experience in themselves! You’ll be packed in with everyone else, and you can stop any time along the route so just make sure you tell the fare collector where you want to get off. We don’t recommend you travel by dala dala late at night – keep safe!
For every luxury hotel you can find a dozen cheaper alternatives that are comfortable and safe. If you’re in the mood to be sociable then there are many guesthouses and bed & breakfasts with friendly owners, delicious meals and services like wifi – some even have outdoor pools! Some guesthouses such as Arusha Backpackers offer communal kitchens free of charge, and others offer space for camping. Hostels are usually a very cheap option and you usually meet and share stories with backpackers like you. It’s a great opportunity to swop tips and team up for some adventures.
For those of you who like to set up home and who enjoy a little privacy, self-catering is another option, with a wide range of beach and town apartments to choose from. Some are in the hustle and bustle of city life, others only yards from the beach and others a short stroll away from the beauty of rural Tanzania.
Whatever kind of Tanzanian holiday you’d like, you’ll find clean and safe accommodation that will suit your budget.
The trick to keeping costs down when eating is to eat local or prepare your own meals. Local specialities are usually tasty, healthy and cheap – just make sure that it’s cooked or, if it’s fruit, you can peel it. If you’re in self-catering accommodation and are happy to cook your own meals, you’ll delight in foraging for your supper from the colourful and chaotic markets that offer a range of succulent fruit, all kinds of vegetables as well as rice and pulses.
Kilimanjaro is not the only activity in Tanzania- it’s famous, yes, but you’ll find there are plenty of wonderful things to experience that don’t involve a six day slog up a mountain. For the natural wonders of Tanzania, there’s nothing better than a budget safari to the smaller national parks of Arusha, Tarangire or Lake Manyara – lesser known beauties than the more expensive Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, but all the more delightful because they are less well known.
Arusha National Park contains Kilimanjaro’s baby brother Mount Meru, and although the park is small, it has three distinct landscapes all buzzing with its own flora and fauna. You’ll see giraffe, Cape buffalo, warthogs, zebra, and the forest birdlife is unsurpassed. Lake Manyara shimmers with millions of flamingo during the rainy season and if you’re lucky you’ll spot its famous tree-climbing lions.
If you’re passionate about trekking, then take a three-day hike from Lushoto to Mambo in the Usambara Mountains; it’s a delightful trek that takes in the beautiful, wooded scenery as you walk through winding paths, through picturesque villages via Mtae, a clifftop village with spectacular views.
Take a couple of days at Moshi, a busy, bustling and colorful town on the slopes of Kilimanjaro; you’ll get a stunning view of the mountain but there’s also a great opportunity to visit one of the many coffee plantations and you get to grind your own coffee! You’ll have a relaxed opportunity to see the farmers in action. If the rural life suits you then have an inexpensive stay in West Kilimanjaro; nestling between Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru you’ll find Simba Farm, a tranquil haven and working farm with breathtaking views. You’ll be able to explore on river hikes, bathe in the streams and try your hand at horse riding. Stay at the lodge or within the clean, inviting campsite. You’ll also have an opportunity to visit a Maasai village. It’s a mini-holiday in itself.
Kilimanjaro is only one part of Tanzania, and just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you should miss all the other delights that Tanzania has to offer. The team at Tranquil Kilimanjaro are always happy to recommend cheaper options for treks and accommodation, and arrange trips to the national parks and the beach, so give us a call!
TANZANIA BUDGET SAFARIS FOR BACKPACKING
Located in East Africa, Tanzania is blessed with some of the most stunning, natural landscapes in the world. It is known for its vast wilderness, making it a perfect place for a backpacking trip. Of course, Tanzania isn’t an expensive country, yet if you want to literally see every place and ‘do everything’ you might need to draw out a little more in your budget than you initially decided. Nevertheless, a backpacking trip doesn’t necessarily have to leave you with empty pockets. So, if you have big dreams of exploring the great plains of Tanzania, but have a small budget, follow these tips below to get the maximum value from your trip.
The Ngorongoro Crater
For a 1 day safari trip to the Ngorongoro Crater, you will have to pay a minimum of $700. These prices can vary, depending on the number of people (2 people – $410 per person, 4 people – $250 per person). During this trip, you will be given a tour around and inside the Ngorongoro crater where you can see spectacular views of the scenery and wildlife (that include warthogs, hippos, elephants, black rhinos, and lions). If you can afford the $100+ a night stay at the luxury camps, then feel free to indulge yourself completely, as this place is literally something else.
A world apart from the mainland of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an archipelago located off the coast of East Africa. If you avoid the 5-star hotels and resorts, you can truly get lost in the beautiful sceneries of the island. The water is bluer than any other place you have seen. You can also attend the full moon party, if you are in mood for a little fun with your family. There are giant tortoises to take pictures of and plenty of food markets to make your mouth water. Prices aren’t very high and you can even take tours at the Palace museum, the Old Fort, and Foodhani Gardens in Zanzibar City for a minimum of $5.
Backpacking to Kilimanjaro and its famous ‘snow-capped’ peak is another amazing experience you can enjoy while in Tanzania. The place is truly beautiful and you can even reach the top to see the iconic snow cap (which might end up being extinct by 2020). So, get a move on if you want to see it. However, only take a trip to Kilimanjaro, if you have some cash to burn. Why? Because of the finite time scale of seeing the snow cap (due to global warming), park entry and climbing fees have been increased significantly. This can range from $850 to $5000 depending on your bartering skills.
Tanzania Fast Facts
- Visa – $50 available on arrival by plane or land ($100 for Irish passports)
- Currency – 2200 shillings is $1 USD. Foreign ATMs are located in most major cities and towns
- People – The Tanzanians are really hospitable and friendly. You will receive a warm “Karibu” (which means – welcome) and people will try and help you as much as they can.
- Transport – Buses are around the standard dollar an hour (10 hours = $10).
- Food – For a semi-decent café/restaurant $2 to $5 and around $1 per meal for street food
- Budget – Around $20 to $30 minimum per day (excluding safaris)
- Accommodation – Ranging from $4 to $10 per night per person
So, now that you are familiar with the tips mentioned above, backpacking Tanzania on a budget won’t be a problem.
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