Located in eastern Africa, Tanzania borders eight countries – Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both ethnically and culturally diverse, the country has much to offer its visitors and residents.
The vast expanse of wilderness across Tanzania, are home to many of Africa’s exquisite wildlife species and unique geographical features including Mount Kilimanjaro (the continent’s highest peak), the Great Rift Valley, the world’s largest caldera, Lake Victoria (the world’s second largest freshwater lake) and the Ngorongoro crater.
Moving to Dar-es-salaam Tanzania – Everything you need to know: Are you wondering what life in Dar-es-salaam has in store for you and your family? In this guide on living in Dar-es-salaam, we first give a brief introduction to Dar-es-salaam and its people, and then discuss important topics such as health and safety, accommodation, and schools.
Dar-es-salaam City Location
Dar-es-salaam Climate & Weather
Dar es Salaam is situated on the equator and therefore experiences a tropical climate with hot humid weather all year round. It is marginally hotter between December and March, the hottest month being January, when average temperatures range between 77F (25C) and 88F (31C).
The city experiences its highest rainfall between April and May, with a milder rainy season in November and December. The best time to visit Dar es Salaam is from June to September, when the temperatures are milder and the humidity is low.
More About Tanzania
Tanzanian culture is a delightful mix of influences with over 120 tribes. Tanzania is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. From the tall graceful Maasai warriors, the ancient ways of the Hadza bushmen, the resourceful agricultural practices of the Wameru, the artistic talents of the Makonde to the Chaga farmers and traders. Each of the 120 different tribes in Tanzania have their own distinct ways of life but together, they gracefully unite to form Tanzania.
Languages: Over 120 languages are spoken in Tanzania, most of them from the Bantu family. After independence, the government recognized that this represented a problem for national unity, and as a result made the kiswahili language (Swahili) the official language. The government introduced it in all primary schools to spread its use. Kiswahili was the logical choice because a wide range of people were already informally using it along the coastal regions and it was a perfect language to help unify the country since it did not originate or belong to any particular tribe.
Given the conditions at that time, it was not possible to introduce the language in to the entire educational system, because the language was still callow and undisciplined. The task of formalizing kiswahili and writing kiswahili books for all schools was considerable.
The government decided to apply Kiswahili exclusively to all elementary/ primary education and use English (the colonial language since the end of World War one) in high schools and universities. Kiswahili is still taught as a course in high schools and Universities.
Today, a great majority of the population have accepted and fluently use Kiswahili, thus English is generally well known. As a result of this linguistic situation, many of the 120 tribal languages are slowly withering away with every new generation. Kiswahili on the other hand has grown into an international language that is widely used across multiple boarders. Kiswahili is ranked among the top 10 international languages. Apart from Tanzania, it is now used in Kenya, Uganda, DRC Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to name a few.
Kiswahili is also taught in universities around the world such as; Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Cambridge, Colombia, Georgetown, George Washington, Princeton and many more.
Music: The Tanzanian national anthem is titled “ Mungu Ibariki Afrika” (God Bless Africa), composed by a South African composer – Enock Sontonga. The song is also the national anthem of South Africa and Malawi.
The music industry in Tanzania has evolved over the years. Due to the mixture of various cultures in Tanzania, native music is morphing into new music that is a combination of the old, new and imported sounds and rythms. Tanzanian musicians are among the the best in Eastern Africa. You have legendary artists such as Remy Ongala, Dionys Mbilinyi, Sabinus Komba, Siti binti Saad, Bi Kidude, Saida Karoli, Hukwe Zawose Nasibu Mwanukuzi aka Ras Nas, Jah Kimbuteh and many others. You also have new vibrant artists such as Imani Sanga, Judith Daines Wambura Mbibo aka Lady Jaydee, Rose Mhando, Joseph Haule aka Professor Jay, Ray C, Saleh Jaber aka Saleh J, Mr. II/ 2-proud and many more. They mix native music with imported sounds and the result is a range of interesting flavors of music.
Traditional Tanzanian music includes; Zouk, Ngoma, Taarab and Ndombolo. Some of these traditional music types have been incorporated into exported music to create unique sounds that are refered to as Mtindo, Sikinde, Modern Taarab, Bongo flavor, African hip hop, Bolingo and Reggae.
Traditional music instruments include ngoma, marimba, coconut shell fiddles, Filimbi (whistles made of wood or bone) and Traditional trumpets made from bull/buffalo horns or ivory.
Food: Tanzanian cuisine is unique and widely varied. The coastal region cuisine is characterized with spicy foods and use of coconut milk. Such foods are; Pilau (wild rice/ mixed rice), Bagia, Biryani, kabab, Kashata(coconut or groundnuts rolls), Sambusa(Samosa).
As you move inland you will find foods that are less spicy; Wali(rice), Ugali, Chapati(a bread), Kuku choma(grilled chicken), Nyama Choma(grilled meat), Nyama pori(wild/ bush meat that is either sun dried, grilled or cooked), Kiti Moto(grill pork), Mishikaki(skewed meat), Samaki(fish), Ndizi( Plantains/ bananas), Bamia(Okra), Mchicha( greens/ spinach), Njegere(peas), Maharage(Beans), Kisamvu(cassava leaves), kisusio(soup from boiled animal bones and meat or blood) and many dishes prepared the Tanzanian way.
Famous Snacks include; Maandazi (bread-like rolls), Visheti, Kashata (coconut or groundnuts rolls), Kabab, Sambusa (Samosa), Mkate wa kumimina, Vileja, Vitumbua ( rice cakes) ,Bagia, Firigisi (grilled gizzards), Tende (dates), Korosho, karanga ( groundnuts), Daga (fried nut-sized fish), Senene (pan grilled grasshoppers), kumbikumbi (pan grilled …) many others.
Modern Tanzanian Beverages
Native beverages include; Chai ( tea ) which is usually a breakfast beverage taken with Chapati, Maadazi, Mkate (breads), Ugali and/or Mayai (eggs ). Kahawa (coffee) is also another beverage. It is more commonly taken in the evenings, when the sun is cool and people are on the front porch, playing cards, Bao or just chatting. Many people drink coffee with Kashata (coconut or groundnuts rolls).
Other native beverages are specific to certain regions and tribes. These are; Mnazi/ Tembo (Coastal region), Mbege ( Kilimanjaro region ), Wanzuki, Gongo. There also various beers, wines and spirits produced in Tanzania. These include Kilimanjaro beer, Safarai beer, Serengeti beer,Konyagi, Banana Wine and many more.
The most popular way to get around Tanzania is by road. The country has road networks of over 53
miles which are maintained by the Tanzania National Roads Agency, making it quite easy to get from A to B in a car. If you choose to rent a car, most often you will have the option to have a driver which can be a safe way to navigate this unknown terrain, at least to begin with.
However, local routes are also accessible by dalla-dallas (minibusses used for public transport). In more rural areas you can expect public transport to include the use of jeeps and trucks. Whilst this is a budget-friendly option, you should bear in mind that these modes of transport are often overcrowded, make frequent stops and accidents are a fairly frequent occurrence. In order to minimise risk, it can be advisable to travel early in the day rather than at night.
If the bus options don’t hold much appeal, there is an abundance of Taxis available in all major towns in the country. Taxi’s in Tanzania don’t have meters as you might be used to, instead, you simply agree a fare with the driver before setting off. In larger cities you may also experience some companies that have a fixed price list. For safety, avoid hailing street taxis and use the ones stationed at legitimate taxi stands and hotels.
Although Tanzania has a rail network for freight and passengers, it isn’t the most efficient mode of transport. Train speed is slower than you might be used to and delays to services are commonly experienced. However, if you need to travel a long distance and have plenty of time, train routes can offer a unique scenic opportunity.
In terms of medical risks in the country, Malaria is endemic in almost all of Tanzania and cholera and typhoid are relatively common diseases. Therefore, expats should take necessary precautions and take preventative measures. Tap water is not deemed safe to drink and it is advisable to always opt for bottled water.
Moreover, before you travel to Tanzania you must visit your GP prior to travel to ensure all necessary vaccinations are administered, these include – tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria, rabies, polio, hepatitis A and B and MMR.
As you might expect from one of the poorest countries in the world, healthcare standards are low, and facilities are limited. This is in part due to the country continuing to suffer from insufficient funding and resources – technology, staff and medical supplies.
Urban areas are by far the most established in terms of available medical facilities and the best hospitals can be found in Arusha and Dar es Salaam. However, in some cases of serious medical emergencies, it may be necessary to transport patients to Kenya or South Africa.
As such International Health Insurance is usually a preferred option, providing that much-needed reassurance to expats living in Tanzania.
For more minor health complaints, you will be able to be treated in the major hospitals where most doctors speak English. It’s also worth bearing in mind that payment for treatment is often expected upfront and in cash.
Pharmacies are also found across the main cities but are unlikely to stock certain medications for chronic conditions. In comparison to the UK, medications are often in short supply.
The official currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling. You’ll need this to pay for everyday items such as groceries, bus tickets, etc. However, in most of the tourist areas, you will find that US dollars – except for those issued prior to 2006 – are also accepted and in some way, even the preferred currency.
Banks and ATMs are easily accessible with the major cities so accessing money shouldn’t be a problem. Although, to be on the safe side, opt for ATMs that are located within a bank. If you need to exchange any currency, this can be done in the usual places such as bureau de change and local banking facilities.
Furthermore, credit cards and VISA cards are accepted in larger establishments and this can be a safer option for many, but small shops, cafes, and markets will generally only accept cash.
For expats working in Tanzania, you’ll likely require a Tanzanian bank account for your wages to be paid into. It would also certainly be cheaper to open an account to avoid bank card charges.
You can open a bank account in Tanzania as long as you have a work or residence permit. For a private bank account, you will also need confirmation of your employment and a minimum of 50,000 Tanzanian shillings to open the account with. Thankfully, all banks use English as well as Swahili in their communications and correspondence.
Tanzania’s education system is both private and public and includes pre-primary, primary, secondary ordinary, secondary advances and university level. The curriculum is standardised, yet due to the system being catered toward wealthy families, many children fail to make it to secondary school. Children most often drop out in order to help their families and this has increased charity efforts with the aim of achieving improvements in this and other areas of concern.
The Tanzania school system continues to be a high priority on the government agenda and has subsequently seen much improvement over the years. In 2005, education was a key component in achieving the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty and the important role education plays in Tanzania’s social and economic development.
As educational facilities can vary widely across the country, most expats living in Tanzania choose to enrol their children in one of the International schools. There are several to choose from – Hazina International School or Kwanza International School for primary education, Dar es Salaam International Academy, International School of Tanganyika Ltd for up to secondary and International School Moshi specially set up to serve local expat communities for children aged 3 to 19.
In doing so, expat families can be sure their children will receive a stable education programme, on a par with more western standard teaching practices.
Overall, most visitors to Tanzania have a trouble-free experience. However, armed crime is on the increase and muggings, burglary and armed robberies do frequently take place.
As with most other developing countries, crime hot spots are usually within the major cities and Dar es Salaam is no exception.
It is imperative for visitors to keep their wits about them and take sensible precautions, such as avoiding walking and cycling alone, after dark, in remote areas, and near the roadside, carrying large volumes of cash, valuables and your passport.
Historic robberies have occurred when tourists have used unlicensed taxis and travelled with strangers. To reduce this risk, be sure to arrange transport through reputable companies and check their identification. Under no circumstances should you accept lifts from any unknown individuals.
Expats residing in the country should ensure their residential property has adequate security, especially at night. As a rule, most residents have both security guards and dogs.
When travelling across the region, check local travel advice and be cautious with your choices. Be wary of public transport which doesn’t appear to be fit for purpose and always follow on-board safety instructions. For road travel, you can expect lower driving standards than you might be used to. Large numbers of accidents occur, and these often involve long-distance buses.
Perhaps more obvious is the need for care to be taken with regards to local wildlife. When visiting national parks, always follow regulations and use reputable travel companies and tour guides.
What is there not to do in Tanzania, that is the question! As you might expect, the country has much to offer in terms of natural landscapes and incredible wildlife encounters, all of which will are not to be understated and once witnessed, the memories and magic will remain fondly etched in your mind.
Serengeti National Park
During the wildebeest migration – between January and February – the plains of Tanzania’s largest national park – the Serengeti, come alive with great herds of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra as they embark on an epic journey in search of lush pastures to graze upon.
A popular way to truly capture the magnitude of this unique natural wonder, is to get a bird eye view in a hot air balloon.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Home to famous volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is a must for wildlife lovers. This protected area is one of the most popular locations in Tanzania for viewing wildlife – lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, buffaloes, wildebeest, zebras, hippos, flamingos and other bird species – all thanks to the permanent water supply which sees a vast array of native species popping in for a drink. Moreover, the 3-million-year-old crater also happens to be the largest intact caldera on the globe.
Also laying within the conservation area is the Olduvai Gorge which has been an important archaeological site for early human remains and evolutionary evidence.
The largest peak in the entire African continent can be found in Tanzania. Not surprisingly, this makes Mount Kilimanjaro an extremely popular attraction and the park welcomes masses of visitors every day.
This world heritage site was formed over one million years ago. The mountain is quite the spectacle. and the towering snow-capped peak certainly stands out against the flat savannahs of the Tanzanian landscape.
Beaches of Zanzibar
The island of Zanzibar is an extremely popular holiday destination, boasting beautifully pristine, white, sandy beaches, which many claim to be some of the best beaches on the planet. For those looking to relax and unwind among a serene landscape, will certainly not be disappointed.
In the heart of Zanzibar, visitors will find Stone Town which has remained relatively unchanged for more than 200 years. This provides a unique opportunity to glimpse the country’s historic past and glimpse agriculture built in the 19th century.
Lake Manyara National Park
A visit to the interesting landscape of Lake Manyara National Park, is a superb opportunity for a close-up view of some of Tanzania’s most iconic species, with tree-climbing lions, huge herds of elephants and vast troops of baboons.
The landscape is a mixture of grassland, woodland, forest and swamps, which is not on offer in many of the other Parks. Visitors typically enjoy jeep, canoe and mountain bike tours in the Park and bird and wildlife watching are among the most popular activities.
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