Local Transport in Tanzania
Public transport in Tanzania is cheap and getting around Tanzania is relatively easy as long as you remain open minded and embrace the unpredictable situations.
Getting Around by Bus
There are numerous bus lines that connect Tanzanian cities. Major express coach companies in Tanzania include Akamba bus company, Royal and Dar Express. Scandinavian Express is not operating anymore, although you might find outdated information on the internet about their schedules.
With travel in Tanzania you always have two options, either travel on the cheap side with small buses that stop frequently along the route or you can travel with big coaches that are more expensive and time saving.
Bus stations in Tanzania can be hectic, specially for first timers, so prepare yourself to be approached by annoying touts, pushy taxi drivers and other vendors. The best way is to have a local with you to help you with purchase of right ticket.
Oftentimes there is no bus office or cash register to buy tickets. You have to buy tickets from a street vendor, but be careful to check it twice as there are scams about false vendors, who sell you fake ticket and disappear. It is best to approach the bus and talk to driver directly. Always keep the ticket until you are on the bus and bus conductor checks it out.
International routes include connections with Kigali, Nairobi, Mombasa, Lilongwe, Lusaka. All trips are 12 hours plus, to Kigali up to 27 hours as you cross Kenya and Uganda. If travelling between Arusha and Nairobi, great substitute for bus is private shuttle that costs around 25 USD. Shuttle station in Arusha is on the grounds of Hotel Impala.
Getting Around With Moto Taxis
Some of you, more courageous ones, will take advantage of moto taxis also known as boda boda or piki piki. Its probably the fastest way to get around towns, but be aware that also the riskiest and unsafest mode of transport. Unlike in Rwanda, in Tanzania most of the times there is no helmet for passenger, so travel on your own risk. It can be fun though.
Getting Around by Dalla Dallas
Dalla Dallas are privately owned mini vans always packed with too many people. They usually leave when they are full and have no schedule. Each dalla dalla has set route. No matter what, the best thing about dalla dallas is that they stop whenever you need to step off.
Definitely a good way to get around in big cities and towns or for short distances between towns in Tanzania. Travellers with backpacks should know that there is usually no place for big backpacks, so keep this in mind when planning dalla dalla trip.
A dalla dalla price is between 300 to 600 TSH. Also keep in mind that dalla dalla conductors ( the guy who collects money and opens the door each time someone need to disembark or enter) speak poor or no English.
Getting Around With Taxi
According to what we’ve seen, everybody can be taxi driver in Tanzania. Taxis are unmetered and unregulated. You will need to bargain for a reasonable price and make sure to confirm the price with driver before you start the ride! To avoid problems, it is wise to ask your hotel to arrange taxi transfer for you.
Labeled taxis exist so far only in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Taxis come in all sorts of conditions and dont be surprised, if you cant fasten the seat belt or there is damaged windscreen window.
- Taxi prices from Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha: 50- 100 USD (depending on your bargain skills)
- Taxi prices from Zanzibar Airport to Stone Town: 15 – 25 USD (depending on your bargain skills)
- Taxi prices from DAR Airport to Dar es Salaam city: 25 – 40 USD (depending on your bargain skills)
Once you find a reliable taxi driver, take his number!
Ferries operate on Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa ,Lake Victoria, and between Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Pemba Islands.
Ferry Dar es Salaam – Zanzibar
Most important route to many travellers to Tanzania is Ferry between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
There are several companies operating ferry rides, but the safest choice is Azam Marine Ferries named Kilimanjaro.
Tourists can choose between economy class on lower deck or business class in upper open deck.
- Price for economy class ferry to Zanzibar: 35 USD
- Price of business class: 40 USD
Note: all passengers need to show passport when buying the tickets!
Schedule for Ferries from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar
ferries operate both ways on a daily basis, several times a day, the earliest ferry starting at 7 AM (be there one hour before!) The last daily ferry to either way leaves at 15:30.
- Ferry terminal on Zanzibar is in Malindi, very close to center of Stone Town.
- Purchasing tickets for ferries, could be like on bus stations, a bit hectic and intense. Keep an eye on your belongings and money!
- Luggage limit for ferries to Zanzibar is 25 kilos. According to our experience, luggage is treated poorly and make sure you additionally secure your suitcase or backpack. The men in charge for luggage literally throw luggage around.
- Once on the ferry to Zanzibar, enjoy the ride, it lasts about two hours
- On Zanzibar ferry terminal, you will have to fill in forms, show yellow fever certificate.
Train Travel In Tanzania
Two railway companies operate passenger services in Tanzania. TAZARA train route connects Dar es Salaam with Mbeya, and ends in Kapiri Moshi in Zambia. This route is known for scenic sights as train route is crossing the Selous Game Reserve.
Tazara train is quite popular among travellers that want to reach Zambia or Malawian border. To reach Malawian border, disembark the train in Mbeya and then take bus for Mzuzu.
Good to know about TAZARA train
- If you are tempted to take TAZARA train to Zambia, make sure you arrange Zambian visa in Zambian embassy in Dar es Salaam prior departure. Passengers without visa in passport will be rejected to enter Zambia.
- Train compartments are divided to male and female, couples cant be in the same car, unless they book the whole compartment.
- Have a stock of food and water for travel with Tazara train, train might break down or suffer other delays, be prepared for anything.
- Book TAZARA train tickets at least two weeks in advance, train is often fully booked.
- Passport is required for ticket purchase.
- Train fare for first calss currently costs 104. 000 Tanzanian Shillings / roughly 45 EUR
- More info on TAZARA WEBSITE
Travelling with Rent a Car
Many major car rental companies are present in Tanzania and rent a car experience shouldn’t be any different than in other countries in Europe. (Assuming you rent a car from international brand like Sixt, Europcar, Avis, etc)
To rent a car in Tanzania, you will have to have international driving license, passport and credit card.
All other regulations depend on car rental companies, but be advised to inspect the vehicle for dents and other before you sign the contract including some photos of the car.
Double check what is included in the car rental price
- Is it limited or unlimited mileage,
- Is it pick up full return full fuel policy or – good option, as you pay the fuel by yourself
- Is it pick up full return empty fuel policy – this is the less favourite option as car rental companies charge extra at the end of rental for full tank according to their internal fuel price list.
- Insurance coverage includes tyres, lost keys, undercarriage, glass?
- Insurance waiver limited to certain amount or not?
- Do you get a free additional driver
Those are some of most important things to note when renting a car in Tanzania.
Driving rented car in Tanzania outside of the country is prohibited. It is advised not to drive in the night, roads have no lightning. Be extra cautious to all people wandering the roads including cattle and wildlife.