Tanzania on the Cheap

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Lets make it clear first.  Tanzania is not cheap.  I repeat, Tanzania is not cheap.  I have never spent this much money on a trip before.  However, I feel that although Tanzania is expensive in general (and perhaps not what you would expect for traveling in Africa) there isn't much way around it.

Tanzania was amazing, people are friendly and very hospitable, the land of “Hakuna Matata” (in Swahili this means “no worries”).  As you some of you may know who have been following along with my posts, one of my dreams was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world).  I was lucky enough to accomplish it this year, and made it to the top (astonishingly enough).

Here are some things to do while you are in Tanzania.

Getting Around

Flights to Africa from North America cost at least $1500 US dollars or so.

On the mainland, I did not do much getting around as I had booked tours already (e.g. safari and Kilimanjaro tour).  These tours came complete with transfers, a lot of meals, and accommodation.  Most of the time I was driven around by private car from the tour agencies.  This is especially the case if you are doing a safari.

Related: How To Get Cheap Airfare

Things to Do

Safari It Up

I went to the Ngogorogoro crater and the Serengeti.  It was a few day safari and frankly it was all the safari that was necessary.  It is cheaper if you go camping (how cool is it to camp with the animals all around you).  Usually these tours include the accommodation, the park permit and pass, food, and your transportation and a guide.  Seeing giraffes, zebras, lions, and African elephants in their natural habitat was amazing.  I spent $900 for a three day tour which I think is pretty standard.

Hike Mount Kilimanjaro

Hiking mount Kilimanjaro was amazing to say the least, but it was very very difficult.  I guess it really depends on how you react to altitude.  It was beautiful, breathtaking, and to be at plane level and above the clouds was a once in a lifetime experience.  There are a variety of routes that you can take to Uhuru peak and I think that in this case it's worth it not to cheap out.  One of the most popular routes (and shortest) is the “Coca Cola” route taking about 4-5 days, however, because of the quick ascent many people are unsuccessful and succumb to altitude sickness.  Therefore, it may be a good idea to use another route or take longer, an extra few hundred dollars a day is worth it if you spent thousands on your trip, your airplane ride and you can't make it to the top because of altitude.  The costs can be anywhere from $1000 to $2000 US dollars depending on which route you take and how many porters you use.

Visit Zanzibar

Of course, Tanzania isn't complete without Zanzibar (after all, the “ZAN” in Tanzania is comprised of Zanzibar).  I have another post on how to visit Zanzibar on a budget.

Where to Eat

I must admit most of  the time the food was prepared for me on the climb and on the safari, therefore I had very little opportunity to look for places to eat.  Cassava, maize (they eat corn fluffed up to look like mashed potatoes), and goat were some of the tastier Tanzanian staples I had.

Most meals in Zanzibar cost approximately the same price as an entree in North America, or around $10 US dollars.

Related: Exotic Doesn't Always Mean Expensive

Where to Stay

Staying in camp sites (though it can get tiring after a while especially if you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and camped for an entire week straight) during the safari can reduce the cost of your safari.  Many camp sites have a building for eating and rest rooms for you to use.

Some fancier lodges are ridiculously expensive but include food and unlimited drinks (like alcoholic drinks).  For example, the Ngogorogoro crater lodge costs $2000 US Dollars a night and for that price you have your own personal assistant while you are staying there.  Personally I could not fathom paying $2000 US dollars a night!

Readers, have you visited Tanzania?  What was your favourite animal?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

3 Comments

  1. Joe on December 4, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Wow, that sounds amazing! I guess you have to pay the tourist price. I wonder if it’s possible to backpack and go a little cheaper.



  2. Leigh on December 5, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Congrats! I was wondering if you’d done the climb since it was no longer listed in one of your net worth updates 😉



  3. Christine @ The Wallet Diet on December 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Oh man, Ngorongoro Crater…it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life! We were fortunate enough to spot “The Big 5” and “The Ugly 5” too. Would love to see some of your photos!



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