Just because money’s tight doesn’t mean you should miss all the delights that Tanzania has to offer. Your travel ambitions might be bigger than your wallet, but with a little careful thinking you can enjoy your Tanzanian adventure as much as any billionaire would.
So, where are the big savings?
1. Jump on a bus
We love bus travel in Tanzania because you can get from A to B to X for a fraction of the cost of a flight – and you’ll really get up close and personal to the land and its people. Travelling to, from and inside Tanzania has never been easier – and cheaper. For instance, the Kilimanjaro Express offers low-cost fares, online booking and a comfortable ride. Travel from city to city for as low as $25. And road transport is more flexible than by air – you can choose an itinerary that can take in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Moshi, Morogoro, Mwanza, Tanga and you can nip over to Nairobi in Kenya, too.
In the cities, it’s daladala all the way. You’ll be packed in with everyone else, and you can stop any time along the route but just make sure you tell the fare collector – we’ve found it’s very difficult to jump off at speed. We don’t recommend you travel by daladala late at night – keep safe!
2. Hostels, hostels, hostels
These days most hostels are like mini-hotels. Tanzania welcomes backpackers and this is reflected in the good standards of the hostels. They’re cheaper than hotels or lodges and great for meeting new people and perhaps teaming up for a tour. Some guesthouses such as Rafiki Backpackers & Guesthouse offer communal kitchens free of charge, and others offer space for camping.
3. Budget safaris and hikes
Safaris aren’t all about posh lodges and chauffeur driven 4WDs (well, actually, you will be chauffer driven!). If you’re open to off-the-tourist-map places there are plenty of amazing things to experience. For the real Tanzania, take a budget safari to the smaller national parks of Arusha, Tarangire and Lake Manyara – still beautiful and rich in wildlife but cheaper than the trips to the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. You’ll see everything you ever wanted, including zebra, lion, wildebeest, a ton of antelope, giraffe, Cape buffalo, warthogs, and don’t forget the birdlife.
Try the three-day hike from Lushoto to Mambo in the Usambara Mountains is as cheap as chips and it’s a spectacular trek that takes in wooded scenery as you wind through picturesque villages via Mtae, a clifftop village with views you can’t forget.
4. Cheap and tasty eating
Wherever you are in the world, it’s usually cheaper to prepare your own meals, and it’s the same in Tanzania. And it’s fun, too. Self-catering accommodation or camping is plentiful in Tanzania and you can enjoy the process by visiting colourful markets. If you don’t fancy cooking then try the local specialities which are usually tasty, healthy and cheap – just make sure that it’s cooked or, if it’s fruit, you can peel it. Avoid street food because your digestive system might not be able to handle it, and no one wants to experience the consequences. But local restaurants can feed you cheaply so look for wali na maharage – rice and beans Tanzanian style – or pilau, beef stew, or the ubiquitous ugali! Veggies won’t starve, either.
5. Join a group
Team up with others (perhaps your new besties you met in the hostel) and you can save a fortune on trips and tours. Make sure you book with a reputable local company because, again, there are savings to be made. Local booking agents (like Viva Africa Tours! Yay!) don’t need middle men to book trips so your cost is automatically lower.
6. Beaches on a budget
If it’s a white sand beach with tropical palms and crystal clear waters you’re after (and who isn’t?) then stay on mainland Tanzania. With all the mountains and grasslands you’ve probably forgotten its east coast has the blue, blue Indian Ocean lapping at its hundreds of beautiful beaches. Yes, Zanzibar is a gem but why fork out on a plane trip when you can hop on a bus and travel to beautiful castaway places like Pangani, a little beauty of a beach town on Tanzania’s northern Swahili coast. You’ve a wide choice of places to stay – you might like a thatched roof tent directly on the beach, for instance – and there are many clean and welcoming hostels and guesthouses with their own restaurant and pool to choose from.
No money? No problem. The team at Viva Africa Tours are always happy to recommend cheaper options for treks and accommodation, and arrange wallet-friendly trips to the national parks and the beach, so write us an email!