“Traveling is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity, and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” – Pico Iyer (Source).
This quote is one that I try and live by, to conceive of a journey as tightening up my vision, to sharpen to the textures and smells and sounds around me: a wild landscape, that bustling marketplace, the softness of an ocean at twilight. These are memories that last, the ones that etch into your heart. Tanzania is like falling in love.
Here your interactions will stay with you forever: the sizzle of Tanzanian cuisine, the lapping of warm, Indian Ocean tides far too beautiful to be true, that cheetah racing across the savannah, hungry. To prepare you for your own life-changing immersion, we put together some things you should know about Tanzania. From cultural etiquette to must-know factoids, to respect a place is to speak it, to learn of its nuance and history. Let’s do some learning:
For photos: Ask first, pay maybe
As is customary for most countries, sticking your camera in someone’s face is never really a respectful thing to do. Tanzania might be the most picturesque country on the planet, and you’ll be tempted to take lots of photos of people and place. Just be sure to ask permission first, and don’t be off-put if locals ask for a few shillings in exchange. This is normal.
In Zanzibar, think modest
One of the best ways to turn your adventure up a notch is with a stopover to Zanzibar. It’s easy-to-reach with world-class beaches and a laidback culture. The archipelago is 99% Muslim, so minimize public displays of affection in town, and be sure to keep your attire modest and covering (except when you’re lounging on the beach with that daiquiri). View More
National languages? Swahili and (whew) English
There are upwards of 2,000 distinct languages spoken in Africa. That’s a third of the world’s languages! This is due to the millions of years of evolution that have unfolded on the continent, as well as environmental factors (Source). In Tanzania there are 26 languages spoken, but worry not, English is one of them and its used widely. That said, try and impress your guides and locals with some Swahili phrases like these: View more.
Greetings are important
Karibu! Habari za asubuhi! Asanti sana! Greetings and salutations are a big deal in Tanzania. When entering a household you will undoubtedly be greeted with a long procession of hello’s and how-are-you’s. Be sure not to rush this important cultural activity. Here’s a short video covering some common greetings:
Just say no to ivory, skins, and shells
Despite recent efforts to end the ivory trade in Tanzania, it remains an issue, along with other illicit wildlife markets. In the past decade, 20% of elephants have been lost to this trade, and poachers don’t seem to be slowing down. Don’t participate in supporting economies, and do your homework to learn about the ecological fragility of the wonderful creatures you will see on safari. Here’s more about the African elephant: View More
Africa’s all-star: The deepest, the tallest, the wildest
When you travel to Tanzania, you’re headed to a country full of superlatives. Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak; Lake Tanganyika is Africa’s deepest lake (and the world’s longest freshwater lake). There are over 4 million wild animals roaming the country and 1,200 different bird species. Simply put: you can’t get more all-star than Tanzania.
A top grower of the world’s best coffee
With specialty coffee taking off around the world, Tanzania has been inching its way forward as a leader in this strong brew. The main coffee-growing regions rest at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro with its rich volcanic soils and mild climate. Coffee accounts for 20% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings as a cash crop, with upwards of two million people directly or indirectly employed in the coffee sector. Pick up a bag of beans while you’re there; it makes for a great gift! I mean, who doesn’t want the gift of caffeine?. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Earliest known footprints
An adventure to Tanzania is like reaching back into time, to the first known literal footsteps of our species. In Laetoli, you can go see footprints 3.6 million years old! First discovered in 1978 by Mark Leakey and Paul Abell, these tracks confirm that humans have been wandering the planet upright for a long time, and Easy Travel offers day-trips to wander along with these bipedal signatures. View More
Only active volcano in East Africa (and you can climb it!)
Near Tanzania’s ancient footprints, Ol Doinyo Lengai stands near Lake Natron and will command your attention with its beauty. The name is Masaai for “The Mountain of God,” and it is the only active volcano in the country. It spews black carbonatite lava, considered“the coldest lava” on the planet (Watch This!). For adrenaline junkies, Easy Travel can organize climbs to this sacred mountain’s summit.
Tanzania is your best option
With sky-scraping volcanoes and deep lakes, biodiversity and cultural vibrancy, you can’t find a better location to chase your safari dreams than Tanzania. Period. And with these must-know facts you’ll be able to navigate the country with a little more respect and knowledge of the country. Being informed before traveling always ends up in a richer experience, and Easy Travel can help with logistics for getting there. Contact us today.