17 Days in Tanzania
DO NOT MISS
Mnemba Island national Marine Park, Zanzibar, Ngorongoro Crater
Day 1: Arrived previous night in Dar es salaam, take the first morning ferry to Zanzibar. Hitch a ride on a matatu to Kendwa and catch the Full Moon Party at Kendwa Rocks Resort.
If you are a guest at the resort you can attend the party for free. The resort has a nice beach but all the nice lounge chair/beds in the shades gets taken up quickly in the morning. The food is awful. Take the time to venture outside the resort. A quick 5 minute walk will lead you to cheap delicious food – especially during night time when the street food vendors come out.
Day 2: Chill by the beach, venture outside the resort for street food dinner.
Day 3: Scuba dive/ Snorkel at Mnemba Island National Marine Park.
If you plan on heading to Nungwi you may want to do the ocean activities there as it is closer to the marine park. Try to recruit a group of people as you can negotiate better price for the trip and share the cost of the boat.
Day 4: Head to Stone town. Wonder through the maze and visit the seafood night market.
You can negotiate the prices at the seafood night market. The fresh squeezed sugar cane and fruit juices are heavenly. The fish may not always be fresh. You can probably ask for samples too though I didn’t try. There are plenty of vendors selling the same thing so you hold the bargaining power
Day 5: Participate in obligatory spice tour, with a stop at Mangapwani Beach and slave caves.
The spice tour isn’t really that interesting if you know what your spices and fruits look like (vanilla is a bean, cinnamon is a bark..etc) The Mangapwani beach was beautiful but be careful there are sharp corals that can slash your foot open.
Day 6: See National Museum (house of wonders), more wondering around stonetown.
Day 7: Take ferry back to Dar es Salaam
Day 8: Shopping and wondering near Palm Beach.
Day 9: “Catch your breath” day
Day 10: Bus to Arusha,, attempt to catch glimpse of mt. Kilimonjaro when passing by Moshi.
Day 11: Book and repare for Safari the next day
Negotiating for a safari is really a pain in the ass. Talk to people in your hostel and try to recruit a group of people to get more bargaining power. The tour agents will calculate the park entrance fees into the price based on per person but in reality they only have to pay per vehicle. The companies are pretty much the same, the factors that should contribute to price differences should only be tent vs lodge, number of days. In the end you pretty much go the same route, eat the same things (you might get a slightly better tent and fancier salad). Furthermore, if companies cannot fill a vehicle they will subcontract you to another company
Day 12-14: 3 day Safari passing through the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park, ending up in Mwanza.
It was freezing on the edge of the crater and hot at the bottom so bring layered clothing. We arranged to be dropped off at a small town outside the Serengeti National Park’s east entrance to catch rides to Mwanza. Public transportation was really scarce. We ended up hitching rides parts of the way. The tour company recommended us purchasing bus ticket from Arusha to Mwanza and have them pick us up en route.
Day 15: Head to Lake Victoria in for morning walk to see the fish markets and rock formations. Visit the Sakuma Museum and check out local beach.
Sakuma Museum is overpriced and not really worth the value. It appears that there is lodging there and supposedly traditional dancing but I think that is for an additional fee. The perk of the museum is that they don’t really enforce and preserve well the artifacts so you can touch everything. Compared to Zanzibar the Lake Victoria beaches don’t look as enticing but the sunsets are still gorgeous.
Day 16: Mope around Mwanza
Day 17: Head to Kigali, Rwanda
In Dar es Salaam the YWCA is a economical place to stay if you want to catch the early morning ferry to Zanzibar otherwise Mikadi Beach Lodge has good reviews and is right on the beach.
In Zanzibar there is plenty of hotels in stone town. Karibu Inn was fairly cheap and located right next to the fort and the night market. In Kendwa stay at Kendwa Rocks – they hold a full moon party every month the friday closest to a full moon and guests attend for free.
In Arusha, Arusha backpacker was extremely cheap but the rooms are very small and noisy. The rooftop bar/lounge is nice for sunrise/sunset.
In Mwanza Lake Hotel is an inexpensive and relatively clean place to stay though you may not get hot water. Also the some of the staff can’t speak English and will ignore you until someone that can show up.
Ferries to/from Zanzibar – The fastest boats are the Klimanjaro (I, II, III) and consequently most expensive. There are slower, more rocky boats available but on a limited schedule.
Buses from Dar es Salaam to Arusha – Dar express was fast, not crowded and has many busses almost every hour. They even provide you with a free drink.
Buses from Mwanza to Kigali – There are several companies that have different buses that head to Kigali but they leave on different days so you do not have many choices. The bus route passes through parts of the lake so at one point you have to get off the bus, purchase a ticket for the ferry, get on the the ferry and then get back on the bus after you cross.
TRAVELING WITH LESS TIME…
- Focus on the areas around the Serengeti or Zanzibar
- Mwanza can be skipped. Lake Victoria has better view from Uganda.
TRAVELING WITH MORE TIME…
- Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
- Visit the island Pemba
- Check out ruins in the ancient town of Bagamoyo