Getting To And Around Tanzania
Getting to and traveling around Tanzania is fun. Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa with spectacular wildlife, mountains, and landscapes. But going upcountry can get chaotic. The nation’s poor road conditions and limited infrastructure can make overland travel extremely slow. So if you’re planning a road trip, it’s a good idea to have a good grasp of local transit times and plan how you will safely get from place to place. Here are the various modes of transport available:
Traveling by bus is common in Tanzania. The main bus terminal is located at Ubungo on the outskirts of the city. To minimize risk and maximize comfort, try to travel during the daytime and not at night. Sit in the middle seats inside the bus and keep your luggage with you. Buy your bus ticket from the central office a few hours before travel. Avoid buying tickets from the many touts who roam the terminal.
Traveling by train in Tanzania is slow but scenic. The trips are enjoyable although there are frequent delays. Bring along your water and snacks. If you plan traveling first class, it’s a good idea to book in advance.
You can hire a taxi in most major towns in Tanzania as they’re abundantly available. Before jumping into one, agree on the fare with the driver, since most don’t have meters. Tickets start at Tshs.2000 in Dar es Salaam to Tshs.5,000. If you don’t believe the drivers, ask the locals the going rates for taxis. If you plan to travel far, negotiate the fare based on the distance, road conditions and the price of fuel. Only use taxis that look reliable and are in good condition. Avoid using taxis that have other passengers already seated inside. Cases of theft at gunpoint are on the increase.
Although scenic and relaxing, Tanzania’s ferries are slow but an excellent way to travel. Overcrowding is common, and most ferries are filthy. But the ferries that ply Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, run by Azam Marine, are clean and fast.
- Dala Dala
Major Tanzania’s routes are serviced by Dala Dalas that venture deep into the mainland. They’re incredibly crowded and make many stops on the way either to pick or drop passengers. Accidents are common as the drivers’ race to outdo each other to collect new passengers. Fares are unregulated and largely depend on prevailing prices of fuel. Unfortunately, they’re so embedded into Tanzania’s culture that little can be done to bring sanity into the system.
There are many air operators who operate in Tanzania. Most cities like Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar have many flights landing and taking off every day. Some air operators fly to islands in the archipelago that can be reached only by air. Even some National Parks can be reached only by air and there are many air operators who do so. The most common aircraft is the Cessna. Though small, it does what it needs to do i.e., get you from one place to another.