Difference between revisions of "Tanzania"
Revision as of 15:00, 18 August 2006
See also African National Parks
A large central plateau makes up most of the mainland (at between 900m and 1800m) and the mountain ranges of the Eastern Arc and the Southern and Northern Highlands cut across the country to form part of the Great Rift Valley.
A land of geographical extremes, Tanzania has the highest peak – Mount Kilimanjaro, the lowest point – the lakebed of Lake Tanganyika, and shares the largest lake – Lake Victoria - on the African continent.
There are two major airports; one in Dar Es Salaam and one in Kilimanjaro, in addition to several smaller airports. KLM and BA  have daily flights from Europe. In addition, flights are also offered by Emirates [htpp://www.emirates.com], Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airlines , Kenyan Airlines and Swiss International Airlines .
A domestic train network links the country's major cities, including Kigoma, Mwanza, Dodoma, Tabora and Dar es Salaam. The domestic train service is usually reliable and ticket prices affordable. Ticket prices differ, however, according to 'class', typically first, second and third. First and second classes offer cabins with two and four beds, respectively. Third class is open seating. Hot meals and beverages are usually available from the dining car. It is not uncommon for the train kitchen to purchase fresh produce at many of the stopping points along the way. It is also possible to purchase fruit and snacks directly from local vendors who frequent the many train stations on each of Tanzania's many train routes.
Not recommended unless you are an experienced third world driver.
Bus is a great way to get into Tanzania. Fly to somewhere like Nairobi then you can catch the bus down to Arusha (a great base for Mount Meru and Ngorogoro Crater). Scandanavian is the most reliable bus company.
The border town of Namanga is a hectic outpost that epitomises much of Africa. The bus even waits here for you to cross the border. you can even get off on the Kenyan side walk across the border and get on again on the Tanzanian side.
Tawfiq Buses also connect Mombasa with Tanga and Dar in Tanzania.
Scandanavian also has service to Lusaka Zambia.
It is also possible to travel to Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda from Dar by bus.
Bus is the most common way to travel around Tanzania. Most buses are simple and the roads are poor, although on the Dar-Moshi-Arusha route, 1st class air-con buses can be taken. Nearly all buses go in and out of Dar Es Salaam. The main bus station in Dar (where all buses go), Ubungo, is 8km west of the city centre. A number of the better "intercity buses" provide you with complimentary drinks and biscuits. In Dar, shared taxis called Dalla-Dallas can be taken cheaply to most places.
For those wanting to look at the animals there are loads of National Parks. Where for around US$100 you can gain entry and also benefit from a tour (and perhaps a nights accommodation. The better parks are found in the north of the country while Ruaha National Park is the best in the south.
Scuba diving in and around Pemba and Zanzibar is a good experience.
You can also visit numerous historical Slave Trade sites which make for an interesting, if a little depressing, excursion.
Beaches - Did you know that Tanzania has some of the best, most unspoilt beaches in the world? White sands, palm trees and the cooling Indian Ocean.
Tanzania is a country with great national parks where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna
The primary attraction in Tanzania, aside from the warm welcome of the people, is the scenery. It is the world in miniature there us everything from lunar looking dessert scrub land to tropical rainforest. Stunning!
Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages Tanzanians speak Kiswahili and, to some extent, English. Smaller regional languages are also very common.
There are many markets in tourist cities that sell standard "African" goods. Beaded jewelry, carved soapstone and Masaai blankets make interesting gifts. Be aware that most "ebony" wood is fake (shoe polish), and make sure to bargain hard for everything. Masks are not typical of most East African groups, and the ones you will find in the markets are either imported from West Africa, or are strange things made just for tourists.
Tingatinga paintings, named after the painter who originated that style, are for sale everywhere. Their distinctive style and colors make for attractive souvenirs. A standard size painting can be had for TS 5,000 - 10,000. There is a Tinga Tinga school in Dar es Salaam where you can purchase paintings from the artists themselves.
Boil water before drinking. Konyagi is a wonderful gin-like beverage, sold only in Tanzania. Tusker, Kilimanjaro and Safari beers are western-style and very good. Locally produced banana-beer is also sometimes found. Traditionally, you will drink this out of a hollowed gourd. Guests drink first, and then pass to the elders. In some parts of of Tanzania fermented bamboo juice (Pombe) is the common tipple.
Sunrise and sunset are always the same time (about 7) at the equator.
Various schools and volunteer programs offer courses ranging from Beginners Swahili to Economic Development. Dar es Salaam also has a well established University which has exchange programs with several universities in the US and other countries.
There are a wide assortment of volunteer organizations sending volunteers and interns to Tanzania to do work in health care, orphanages, education, and development projects. Finding a paying job may be more daunting and take more time and local connections, but is certainly obtainable if sought hard enough.
Be very careful driving. Some 90% of all accidents involve drunk drivers.
As in most African countries, the AIDS/HIV infection rate is high. Tanzania's HIV/AIDS infection rate was 9% at the end of 2003 UNAIDS. This figure is deceiving, however, since many subpopulations such as artisanal miners, itinerant fisherman, truck drivers and sex workers, have HIV infection rates significantly higher than the national average. Do not have unprotected sex in Tanzania or anywhere.
Other major illnesses to avoid include malaria, typhoid and cholera. Malaria is the most common and widespread. Sleep under a treated net, wear trousers and closed footwear, and use an effective repellent. In theory, typhoid can be avoided by carefully selecting food and drink, and avoiding consumption of anything unclean. Typhoid infection, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is marked by 'persistent, high fevers...headache, malaise, anorexia, splenomegaly, and relative bradycardia.' CDC
Cholera infection is marked by vomiting and sudden, uncontrollable bowel movements which can dehydrate and ultimately kill the sufferer within 48 hours. It is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Cholera is more or less a seasonal phenomenon in Zanzibar, where outbreaks frequently occur during the rainy seasons. Vaccines and/or oral prevention are available for both typhoid and cholera.
As always, avoid succumbing to gastrointestinal distress by washing fruit and vegetables before eating them. Do not eat street food or restaurant food that appears to have been left in the open air for extended periods of time. Boil water and eat freshly fried or steamed food.
Tourists should wear modest or conservative attire in general, and especially in Zanzibar. Theirs is a conservative Muslim society. Western women especially should take care not to wear clothing that reveals too much skin. 'Kangas', affordable, brightly-colored wrap-around cloth, are available throughout the country and can serve as a discreet covering.
It is common practice among Swahili-speakers to use 'shikamoo' (prounounced 'she ka moe' and literally meaning, 'I hold your feet') when greeting elders or superiors. The usual response from an elder will be 'marahaba'. The 'shikamoo' equivolent in Zanzibar is 'chei chei'. The traveller will get along very well when using these verbal expressions of respect. In addition a title after the 'shikamoo' is also a useful indicator that you are not just a dumb tourist. 'shikamoo bwana' for the gents, and if you are addressing an elder female 'shikamoo mama'.
Tanzanians will also comment if you are doing any work while they are not with the phrase "pole na kazi" It literally mean I'm sorry you have to work. A simple "asanti" or thanks will suffice in reply.
Many Tanzania sellers are persistent and ordinarily a simple shake of the head accompanied by an "asanti-sana" is enough. However, as a last resort a firm "Hapana", meaning "no", will do the trick. Tanzanians find the word "hapana" quite rude so please don't use it too casually only as a last resort. Whatever you do, do not tell someone you will come back and buy from them later when you have no intention to; better to be honest and say 'no' than have to avoid someone for days. They have a funny way of finding you when you have promised to visit their stall or shop!
The most polite way to refuse something is to say "sihitaji" - I don't need.