I was in Tanzania between the 23 of August 2018 and 18 September 2018. The information and prices were correct at the time of writing
For daily distances and a brief description of each day follow this link
All prices are in Tanzanian shillings except when the charge was in USD.
When I was there the exchange rate was as follows:
1 GBP = 2,962 TZS
1 USD = 2,286.83 TZS
1 EUR = 2,651 TZS
I got my visa on arrival at the Rusumo border. The one question the officer kept on asking me was how much money I had. I wrote 3000 USD in the form and got a 3 month visa.
Have the address of a place to stay at the ready. I used the Kigali hostel.
You don’t hand the money to the officer. Once you fill in the form you pay 50 USD at the bank across the hall.
Entering the country
Entering the country was quick and very straight forward.
At the border, the exchange rate from the men outside is much better than the one at the Bank in the Customs building. Be prepared to negotiate though. I showed the man the exchange rate online and I had to go down a bit from it but still got a better exchange than if I had used the Bank.
There are ATMs next to the bank.
Some banks charge a big fee. NMB charged me 11000 shillings to withdraw 395,000 (max withdrawal in less than 400,000). Exim Bank charges 7,000 for the same amount. Worth shopping around.
Tanzania SIM card
I got Vodacom as I was told by locals that it was the network with best coverage.
The SIM card is free and 15,000 shillings got me 2 Gb for one month. When I was there there was a special offer so I also got free for 14 days the following:
50 mins calls to other Vodacom
10 mins calls to any network
And in addition
Free FB, WhatsApp and Instagram for 30 days
Food and drink
I spent my first 10 days cycling in a fairly remote area where food stalls were few and far between. Fruit and vegetables are not easy to find in this area and I bought then when I saw them.
Staple breakfast is a soup with boiled goat, quite tough at that and with some unrecognisable and very chewy bits. This is accompanied by chapatis and in those villages where you can find it, it costs around 1500 TZS and 3000 (bowl of soup + 2 chapattis. The price is higher in the towns and also the quality. On those stalls they also have omelettes, a two egg one is 1000 TZS.
Rice and beans are sometimes available for the same amount a bit more in towns
Chapattis are between 500 and 200 TZS a piece and samosas (beef) 500 TZS.
Bananas between 1000 and 500 TZS for about 8 pieces
Avocados around 300 to 500TZS one piece
Sodas 1000 TZS but I paid as little as 500 for the smaller bottles (350 ML) TZS. A 1.5 lt of water is 1000 TZS.
In the towns you can find a wider selection of food and a meal in a local restaurant is around 3500 to 5000 and up to 11,000 TZS
On the Road
The first half of my stay I cycled on dirt roads. By the end of the day I was covered in dust. Other vehicles don’t slow down when they pass you and the cloud of dust that covers you is quite substantial. A buff and glasses are a must.
Things are changing quickly though as the Chinese are building new roads everywhere. The advantage of being on a bike is that contractors are quite happy to let you cycle on the roads they are building which makes a big difference.
The dirt roads have sections, sometimes quite long, with washboards but sometimes you will find a single track by the side of the road made by other bikes, it’s always worth giving it a go.
Like in other countries in the continent you need to be aware of the hierarchy of the road and be ready to get out of the way of any vehicle bigger than you, including motorbikes.
Please note what follows is the personal experience of one individual and it does not intend to provide any authoritative account with regards to safety in the coutry or account to recommendation to travel there. We are all different, our attitude to risk and our perception of safety is different too.
Always check your government’s travel advice for Tanzania before making your decision.
As a solo older female I never felt unsafe during my time in Tanzania even though I spent most of my time in really remote places. I found people to be really warm, welcoming and friendly. Children will spot you at a distance, scream mzungu and run to the road to see you go past. If you don’t want them around you all you need to do is stop your bike and they will get scared and run away ( at least they did in the areas I cycled).
I have listed where I spent the night at each location and the cost. For the exact coordinates check here.
Kasulo – Star max – Clean basic guesthouse – 15000 TZS negotiated for bfast to be included. Squat toilet and cold shower – but they will give you a bucket with hot water just need to keep on asking. OK mosquito net – no WIFIBfast in the morning was pathetic, two tiny bananas and 3 slices of stale white bread. I complained and got freshly made chapattis and a nice omelette.
Nyakanazi – 45 – Medy One Motel good value at 15000 TZS without brakfast- spotlessly clean – hot water – western flushing toilet – mosquito net -music goes on until late. If you can choose one room away from the bar. Jamii food point round the corner (and in IOverlander) is clean and does decent Bfast and dinner. The women there speak English.
Kakonko – Harakeye Guest House – Pretty basic, drop toilet that doubles up as the shower (bucket and cold water) but at 5000 sh you can’t ask for the moon! they do have rooms with ensuite but they where not available. The bed was clean and had a ok mosquito net. To eat you need to go to the village down the road or can cook in the patio. The market is further down the road on the right hand side.
Kibondo – Hotel Swidish Modern Hotel – A special treat at 50000 TZS en suite and bfast for two included. Western standards. nice hot shower – WIFI. Not sure it was value for money!
Kisogwe – No name Guesthouse – We are talking basic -5000 TZS -tent on bed after I saw a couple of flies and a mouse scampering away -drop toilet outside and cold bucket shower. Friendly owners – he speaks English
Kitagata – No name Guesthouse – Basic again but good mosquito net. Shared squat toilet which doubles up as the room for bucket shower. 6000 TZS – Some rooms have ensuite squat toilet/bucket shower room for 10,000 TZS very basic English – music started playing at 9 pm but stopped after one hour.
Kasulo – Hotel Ndituye Highway Hotel A very clean and comfortable place. Hot water – en suite with squat toilet – small room negotiated down to 17000 TZS including Bfast (one boiled egg and one chapatti) – initial asking price 20000. Doubles for 25000. Nice food in the restaurant downstairs at very reasonable price.
Kidahwe – Nsimwa Guesthouse – Another basic guesthouse. ensuite squat toilet that doubles up as the bucket shower (cold) room – 7000 TZS – cold drinks and beer available as are chips!
Kigoma – I stayed in two different places
Blue Castle Guesthouse 25000 TZS for a big double room. Spotlessly clean, hot water, great bathroom, breakfast included, no WIFI. Views of lake Tanganika. Excellent value for money.
Jakobsens – 20,000 TZS pppn with own tent. Jakobsens has two camping areas. The one by the permanent tents and the cottage is further away from reception but has better facilities including a fully equiped kitchen and access the sandy beach with stunning views of the sunset. No power plugs. WIFI, power plugs and cold drinks in reception. It is only self catering so you need to bring everything with you. Beware of the monkeys they are extremely skilled thieves.
MV Liemba to Kasanga – 100 USD for first class. A fabulous experience spending three days ‘cruising’ in Lake Tanganika between Kigoma and Kasanga. The accomodation is basic, as for the toilets and shower!!! Don’t raise your hopes and enjoy seeing life on the lake.
Sumbawanga – Hotel Moravian Church Hotel 10000TZS Shared bathroom with hot water. Bfast not included. spacious, very clean room. Comfortable bed with mosquito net. Decent WIFI. The restaurant is OK but eating in town is much better. Zam Zam bakery down the road makes some fabulous brown bread and the restaurant on the side road where Sky Club is is excellent and great value for money.
Mpui – Vijana Guesthouse 10000TZS for an en suite or 7000 for shared ablutions. Basic squat toilet and cold water bucket shower but the place is clean and the bar has cold drinks incluing beer. if you are going to do your own cooking/hot drinks ask for clean cooking water, they have some in their kitchen which is the lean to to the left of the entrance to the rooms.
Myunga – Dar Es Salam Institute of Technology Asked whether they rented empty student accomodation. The head of campus welcomed me in for free. Great room with running water, western toilet and shower (cold). No mosquito net and electricity after 7pm when the water heater also goes on
Chiwanda – Soloheka Guesthouse – 5000 TZS Shared squat toilet and ‘shower’ room’ for cold water bucket shower. Again a pretty basic number. No mosquito net so tent on bed. Loud music on till late.
Chapwa – Tunduma was too hectic so decided to push on – 10,000 TZS. Spotless. En suite squat toilet and cold bucket shower. One of the best I’ve been to in Tanzania
Mbalazi – ICC Community Campsite 15000 TZS with a lot of negotiating. In their price list it is marked 20000 pppn but in iOvelander everyone leaving a comment negotiated it down. They open a room for hot shower, toilet and electricity. It has WIFI but when I was there it didnt seem to be working. The single rooms are 35000 and are really nice.
Mbeya – Catholic Centre – Great value for money. 15,000 TSH En suite western flashing toilet and hot shower. Very clean and quiet. Rooms at 20,000 have satellite TV. No bfast or WIFI but plenty of eateries around. The Ridge Cafe round the corner has great coffee and fast WIFI.
Tukuyu – Catholic Centre – I had high hopes bu this one is very different from the one in Mbeya. No running water, squat toilet, cold bucket shower and 15,000 TSH. I wish I’d stopped at the Bongo Campsite just before Tukuyu. Much cheaper and good reviews in iOverlander