A Guide to Backpacking in Tanzania

Backpacker in Tanzania. A Guide to Backpacking in Tanzania
Tanzania is a perfect safari holiday even for backpackers. Find out what you need to know about backpacking in Tanzania to have that dream safari experience!

Lush, verdant, rich in history and home to some of the most magnificent wildlife species on this part of the planet, Tanzania’s simply got it all! Here you can climb Africa’s highest peak (Mount Kilimanjaro), explore stunning plains packed with wildlife, swimming with dolphins, and kitesurf across the clear, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. And that’s just to name a few activities you can look forward to in Tanzania.

It promises to be one of those trips of a lifetime. But what if your wallet isn’t so sure? No worries, you can always go backpacking. It’s much cheaper and way more immersive anyway. Plus you’ve got this guide to help you have an amazing trip in the wondrous country on a budget.

Getting around – reconsider public transport

The cost of plane tickets can often be the most expensive part of any trip, so consider opting for ground transport like buses and the dala dalas instead. Traveling by road between cities is one of the biggest ways to save a whole heap of money when backpacking across Tanzania. Choose an itinerary that includes the bustling cities like Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Moshi so it’s easier to get a bus. While in the cities, you can ride the dala dalas, local mini buses used throughout Tanzania. It is an interesting experience in itself and you get to save on exorbitant fares.

Travel light

This goes without saying, of course. The idea is to make sure you don’t get bogged down with tons of luggage that will eventually limit your mobility or require additional expenses in the form of baggage fees. That being said, there are some essential items to pack for your trip to Tanzania — sturdy walking shoes, a hat, prescription sunglasses, and lightweight khaki clothing that covers your skin and help you blend in with the natural surroundings of the safari parks and reserves that you’ll visit. This is in addition to the usual necessities for an outdoor adventure, like binoculars, cameras, insect repellents, etc. The list of what to pack for your safari can easily be made long so it is important you prioritize what is most important for you.

Pick the ideal time

Tanzania is brimming with destinations that are available year-round. As a backpacker, however, it pays to be aware of the country’s peak and off-peak seasons so you can time your trip accordingly. Generally, peak season (June to October) rates are significantly more expensive so if you’re only looking to enjoy the usual safari experience, then you might be better off traveling during the off-peak season (November to March) when rates are much cheaper and there are fewer people. The good thing about Tanzania is that even if you’re after a particular spectacle like the annual Great Migration, you can still catch a glimpse of it during the off-peak season. Read here for more information about the Great Migration.

Be strategic about the parks you’ll visit

Tanzania boasts a stunning lineup of world-class safari parks, including the Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Naturally, the entrance fees to these destinations will be on the high side so you may want to consider visiting less-traveled locations that offer a similar breathtaking safari experience like the Tarangire National Park, Selous Game Reserve, and the Mikumi National Park. If you want to witness the Great Migration, however, then you’ll have to enter the Serengeti National Park as this is the only place in Tanzania where you can view this mind-blowing spectacle.

Tanzania Park. A Guide to Backpacking in Tanzania

Another great option is to join a group tour so you can benefit from the lowered rates and still have a blast on your safari tours. If you still have some funds to spare after traversing the wild African bush and sleeping under the starry skies, you could head on to the coast for some R&R at the famous spice islands of Zanzibar. It’s the perfect way to end a Tanzanian holiday experience.

Choose your accommodation carefully

Most tour operators can help you sort out your accommodation based on your budget, but if you’re backpacking through and through, then you’ll need to be creative with your choice of accommodation. Thankfully, there are several backpacker hostels across Tanzania where you can retire to at the end of the day without breaking the bank. Many safari camps and lodges also offer dorms or tents that you can rent so you don’t have to travel all the way to your hostel in the city. Another great option is to volunteer your services with local tour operators and NGOs in exchange for free boarding and meals. This is where your creative thinking will come in handy.

Backpacking in Tanzania is one of the best experiences any traveler can have as you’ll not only get to learn about the thrill of exploring the landscapes and culture of a new country, but also discover your inner strengths and creativity along the way. Give it a go today and strap in for the experience of a lifetime.