Everything You Need to Know About: Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is home to two renowned tourist destinations: Kilimanjaro, also known as the 'Roof of Africa' and it’s national parks, which are rich with wildlife. But there is much, much more. From it’s beautiful beaches to it’s welcoming people; there's no doubt that you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.
A Brief History
In the late 19th century, Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania (minus Zanzibar) and incorporated them into German East Africa (GEA). However, after World War I, the GEA was transferred officially to Britain, Belgium, and Portugal.
British rule came to an end in 1961 and the following year Tanganyika became a democratic republic under an executive president. Since its independence, Tanzania has displayed more political stability than most African countries.
About 40-45% of Tanzania's population is Christian and about 35-40% are Muslim. A small number follow traditional religions. The culture is an Arab-African mix, but there are also big Asian communities in towns and cities. Tanzanians like small talk and shaking hands. The country is quite conservative so dressing appropriately is encouraged. This includes covered shoulders and knees.
The national language is Swahili, although only approximately 10% of Tanzanians speak Swahili as a first language, with up to 90% speaking it as a second language. The standard greeting of 'hello' is jambo, and the Tanzanian people appreciate when visitors can greet them in Swahili, so it’s a great idea to learn a few words.
In Tanzania, the official currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. However, $US are also widely accepted. Dollar notes printed before 2003 are usually not accepted, and make sure the notes you use are good quality with no rips or stains as these won't be accepted. There are a good number of ATMs in both Moshi and Zanzibar. Tipping is a social custom in Tanzania and you will be expected to tip for any service you receive.
Most parts of Tanzania use the British three-pin plug, though some hotels will use the round European plugs. It is advised to bring several pre-charged battery packs for phones and charged camera batteries as you may not always have access to electricity.
1. Over a hundred different languages are spoken in Tanzania, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in all of Africa.
2. The name 'Tanzania' was created as a combination of the names of the two states which were unified to create the country (Tanganyika and Zanzibar).
3. Tanzania gained the world’s attention when Ernest Hemingway wrote about his time in the country in 'The Green Hills of Africa'.
When you arrive at Kilimanjaro airport, you'll meet the in-country staff and they will transfer you to your accommodation in Moshi: Springlands Hotel. Moshi is a medium-sized town located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Many people from the Chagga and Pare ethnic groups live in Moshi. Moshi is always considered the cleanest town in Tanzania. To see the authentic side, you simply have to go exploring around the bustling local markets and go bargain-hunting, which you will have a chance to do during your stay.
Food and Drink
The food at the hotel is wholesome and delicious. All meals are served as a buffet with plenty of options, for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. A typical breakfast includes things like eggs, toast, sausage and beans, whereas lunch and dinner will be something along the lines of chicken, pizza, rice and pasta. Springlands also have a well-stocked bar, so you can always enjoy an ice-cold Kilimanjaro beer if you fancy something refreshing!
Rooms in your hotel in Moshi are on a twin share basis. The staff at the Springlands Hotel work very hard to ensure you are having the best possible time. At all times the grounds, the rooms, and the communal areas are kept clean, neat and beautiful. There's wifi at the hotel, however, it is limited to the central garden area and can be erratic. And did I mention there's a pool? Feel free to take a much deserved dip once you've completed your climb!
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest peak and often referred to as the 'Roof of Africa'. The experience of climbing it is unforgettable, the bonds you make are forever, and the views are breathtaking. Especially during Summit night when you'll be climbing to Uhuru Peak whilst the sun rises. It is a sight you will never forget.
The first known summit of Kilimanjaro was in 1889. The fastest round-trip ascent of Kilimanjaro is 6 hours 42 minutes and is held by Karl Egloff.
On the trek you will be staying at designated camping areas on the mountain. You will have good quality three-person tents on a twin share basis so there will be plenty of room for all of your kit. There will also be a kitchen and dining tent and (extremely) basic toilet huts near the camping areas. There are no washing facilities at the campsites but the staff will provide bowls of hot water daily for washing.
Whilst climbing Kilimanjaro, you will have a group of guides and porters with you the whole way. They are your mountain family! The group of guides is made up of one head guide who's in charge, and one guide who is the leader at the front of the group, setting the pace. Your porters carry all your heavy trekking gear, tents, cooking supplies and water up the mountain. Despite this, they are often racing ahead of you to have the next camp ready. Whilst all your guides will speak English, the local language is Swahili. Here are some words and phrases that will be quite useful whilst trekking:
'Karibu' – Welcome
'Jambo' – Hello
'Asante Sana' – Thank you
'Pole Pole' – Slowly Slowly (this phrase will be repeated almost constantly whilst on your trek!)
'Ni umbali gani?' – How far is it?
There's mobile signal on Kilimanjaro, although there are a few black spots and it is unlikely that there will be enough for data streaming. What you should also keep in mind is your mobile provider's roaming charges. We advise you to check with your phone operator before you go to find out what your roaming charges will be in Tanzania. If you need to use the phone frequently, it may be worth investing in a local SIM card to keep the costs down - there are shops in Moshi where you can buy a pay as you go SIM to see you through your time in Tanzania.
The time you spend in your dining tents will form part of your fondest memories. It's a chance to relax after your long, hard day of trekking, but also it's a chance to spend some time with your team, when you're not focussing on climbing the largest free-standing mountain in the world. For more information on this, you can click here.