Currency: Tanzania Schilling (1200 Tanzania Schillings to 1 US$)
Red Snapper kabobs and chips on Zanzibar
Cost of Goods and Services
Cost of goods and services in Tanzania were the highest in East Africa, especially the safaris. We talked to one person who did a 3 day/2 night Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater safari for US$500.
Safari, Serengeti and Kilimanjaro Beer – 1.00 – 1.50US$ per large bottle in restaurant
Fresh grill chicken and chips – 2.50US$
Double room with attached bath and breakfast on Zanzibar – 27US$
1.5 day Ngorongoro safari – US$80 per person
As in all of East Africa, take advantage of ATMs to get out money. Many banks have ATMS, but they are not international.
Aggressive touts in Arusha and Stonetown, Zanzibar trying to raise the price on everything by being the middle man. We even had the price of a soda double without our knowledge, because the person serving our food asked if we wanted a drink. The "waiter" went approximately 10 meters to retrieve the soda; seeing the floor of the Ngorongoro crater from the rim before we descended and knowing why this crater is included in the 8 natural wonders of the world; the hyena kill of a thompson’s gazelle just as we arrived at the floor of Ngorongoro crater; the red clay Usambara mountains and the relaxing environment around Leshoto; trying to get a truthful answer regarding our ferry ticket to Zanzibar in Dar es Salam; the slow boat ride to Zanzibar that took 4 hours longer than expected; grilled snapper and king fish kabobs in Stonetown on Zanzibar; the labyrinth of cobblestone streets in Stonetown; eating at the Garden Restaurent in Dar after being on the bus all day; seeing the azure blue waters of the beach on Kendwa and realizing we were going to spend 7 days in the beautiful paradise and forgetting about all the other troubles we had getting here; afternoon showers; swimming, sunning and relaxing in this tropical paradise. Yes, Zanzibar has some of the whitest sand and clear blue waters I have seen in a long, long time. In fact, we had a fierce debate that this beach should be included in the top 10 beaches of the world
From the quiet interactions in Kabale, Uganda, we went to the hectic environment of Arusha. Situated under the dominance of beautiful Mt. Meru, Arusha is the center for all safari companies organizing trips to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater, commonly called the Tanzanian north circuit. Because we did our safari in Kenya, we did not go on a safari to the Serengeti, but we did go on a 1.5 day trip to Ngorongoro crater. The crater lived up to it’s billing as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is a must see! In Arusha, we stayed at the 7-11 hotel across from the bus station. The place was clean, served breakfast and provided storage for our overnight trip. We only stayed in Arusha a couple of days and did not look around the city, because the purpose of going to Arusha was to see Ngorongoro crater.
Part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorogoro Crater is very worthy of its inclusion onto the seven natural wonders of the world. I could write many paragraphs about the crater and the abundance of wildlife on the crater floor. It is the perfect place to watch predator/prey interaction, because of the intimate enclosure setting of this dormant caldera that is approximately 32 kilometers across. This extinct caldera has dense rainforest as you enter the park, which gradually is replaced with upland savannah as we drove towards the road that descends into the crater. The concentration of plains animals and predators is some of the highest in the world. Therefore, seeing the classic prey/predator interaction is very high. We saw a hyena chase and kill a thompson’s gazelle, a pride of lions deploy and get into position for an attack on a herd of wildebeests, huge groups of buffaloes, zebras and wildebeest, and seeing 3 white rhinos was a real treat. In the Lijon Forest, we saw several large elephants, water bucks and vervet monkeys. The rains had just started, so the grass was green and the crater was like being in a bluish-green fish bowl. In addition, the 4 hour drive to the crater was filled with many sights. We stopped at a Maasai market, the farmlands of terraced corn against the red clay soil was very beautiful, stopping atop the Rift Valley embankment, and the lush rainforest as we drove up the outside of the crater.
Leshoto is a very quiet community tucked high in the Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania about half way between Arusha and Dar es Salam. We had been traveling hard for the last several weeks and did not feel like making the all day bus ride between Arusha and Dar. I am very glad we stopped. This area rises dramatically from the Maasai plains and is the home to numerous, small communities dominated by sustainable, terraced agriculture. The bright red clay soils in the forested area, along with the lighting and colorful people make this a dramatic and relaxing place to trek and walk. Walking is the prime activity for tourists in the area. This would also be a great place to mountain bike. I highly recommend this stopover before going to Zanzibar or on safari.
The exotic spice island of Zanzibar should be included on any itinerary to Tanzania. Our ferry stopped in Stonetown and we stayed there for two days. The labyrinth of cobblestone streets and vendors reflects the arab, African and muslim influence. The town is picturesque with numerous hotels and several eateries. Patience is the key to Stonetown, as we were constantly approached by touts trying to sell us something. From Stonetown, we decide to go to Kendwa beach and we were very, very happy with this choice. First, the beach is a bright white coral beach that feels like talcum powder on the feet. Also, the water is crystal clear. Second, no matter what the tide is doing, there is always a gorgeous beach that is swimmable. This can not be said for a majority of beaches on Zanzibar. Second, the beach is rather quiet and provides a great atmosphere to relax, read a book and work on that tan, while walking and swimming to keep the body toned up. Also, we stayed at White Sands resort, which had good rooms, a great restaurant, even though the food was pricey and was located right on the beach.