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Spotlight on Tanzania – Everything you need to know before you go

Written By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer

Tanzania, a country celebrated for its vast wilderness areas, from the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by the “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), to the Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain, is a dream destination for many adventurers and travelers. Beyond its natural wonders, Tanzania offers a rich cultural tapestry, including the iconic Maasai communities, known for their vibrant traditions and close ties to the land.

If you’re considering travel to Tanzania and Zanzibar, planning and preparation are key. Here’s everything you need to know to make your journey safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable.

Tanzania vs. Zanzibar


When you’re thinking about visiting Tanzania, you might also hear about Zanzibar. Both places offer unique experiences that can make your trip unforgettable. Here’s a closer look at what makes Tanzania and Zanzibar special, and why you might want to include both in your journey.

Exploring Tanzania: Wild Adventures Await

Tanzania is home to some of the most famous safari parks in the world, like the Serengeti, where you can see wild animals like lions, elephants, and giraffes living freely. Imagine watching thousands of animals migrating across vast plains—it’s a sight you’ll never forget!


Then there’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a big challenge, but reaching the top feels like standing on the roof of Africa. 

Tanzania has a rich history too, with diverse cultures blending together over centuries. You can learn about the Maasai people, known for their vibrant clothing and traditional ways of life that respect nature. To enhance your experiences, explore volunteer projects to learn more about their culture and history. Read more below! 

Zanzibar: A Spice Island with Sandy Beaches

Zanzibar is a group of islands off the coast of Tanzania known for its beautiful beaches with soft, white sand and clear blue water. But Zanzibar isn’t just about relaxing by the sea; it’s also full of history and culture.


The island was once a center for spice trading, earning it the nickname “The Spice Island.” You can go on tours to see where spices like cloves and cinnamon grow, learning how they’re harvested and used.

Stone Town, the heart of Zanzibar, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This historic city is filled with narrow streets, ancient buildings, and markets selling everything from spices to handmade crafts. It’s a great place to explore and feel the island’s rich history, influenced by African, Arab, and European cultures. In fact, there is a volunteer project based here for a fully immersive cultural trip! 

Visas and Entry Requirements

For individuals interested in traveling to Tanzania, including Zanzibar, obtaining the appropriate visa is a crucial step. 

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  • Tanzania Visa Options: Tanzania offers two primary visa options – the Online Visa Platform and the On-Arrival Visa Platform. Since visas are no longer issued at embassies following the introduction of the Online Visa System, volunteers are encouraged to use the online platform for application.
  • Eligibility and Application Process: The On-Arrival Visa is mainly for applicants whose nationalities are not in the Referral Visa category. Travelers are advised to apply online through the Official Tanzania Immigration website.
  • Passport Requirements: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months with at least one unused visa page before applying.
  • Choosing the Right Visa: Most travelers will require an Ordinary Visa, suitable for tourism and leisure activities. Note that American passport holders must apply for a Multiple Entry Visa.
  • Fees: Be prepared to pay the visa fee, which varies based on the type of visa – $50 for an Ordinary Visa, $100 for a Multiple Entry Visa, etc.

Holding a visa does not guarantee entry. Travelers must also meet all immigration requirements upon arrival and should be prepared to show a return ticket. Keep updated with any changes in visa regulations and conditions by frequently checking the Tanzania Immigration Services website.

Vaccinations and Mosquito-Borne Illnesses Prevention


Before embarking on your Tanzanian adventure, it’s essential to ensure you’re protected against common travel-related illnesses. The CDC recommends various vaccinations for travelers to Tanzania, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, and rabies. Malaria is a risk in Tanzania; thus, antimalarial medication is advised. Additionally, using mosquito repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net can further protect you from mosquito-borne diseases.

Money and Budgeting


The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is the local currency, though USD is widely accepted in tourist areas. It’s wise to carry some local currency for small purchases. ATMs are available in larger towns and cities but always have cash on hand when traveling to more remote areas. Tanzania can be explored on a budget, with options for all-inclusive travel packages to Tanzania and Zanzibar that offer value for money.

Travel Tips and Advice for Tanzania

  • Best Time to Visit: The best time to travel to Tanzania for safari is during the dry season, from late June to October when wildlife viewing is at its peak.
  • Safety: Tanzania is generally safe for tourists, but it’s important to follow standard travel safety advice. Be cautious with personal belongings and avoid isolated areas after dark.
  • Health Insurance: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and evacuation, should you need it.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Respect local customs and dress modestly, especially when visiting rural areas or religious sites.
  • Local SIM Card, International Phone Plan, or eSIM: Consider getting a local SIM card for easier communication within Zanzibar or ensure your phone has an international plan. If your phone is eSIM compatible, check if you can download and use an eSIM instead. 
  • Backup Documents: Keep digital and physical copies of important documents like your passport, visa, insurance, and any medical prescriptions.
  • Language Preparation: While English is widely spoken, learning basic Swahili phrases can be beneficial for daily interactions and showing respect for the local culture. Researching the language requirements of your chosen program is essential.

Enhancing Your Experience with Volunteer Programs


Volunteering is a fantastic way to enrich your travel experience in Tanzania. All-inclusive volunteer programs offer opportunities to contribute to local communities while immersing yourself in the culture. Such experiences transform your visit into a profound journey, blending cultural immersion with impactful work.

Explore enriching programs with IVHQ, GoEco, Projects Abroad, and more, each offering unique insights into Tanzanian life and opportunities to contribute meaningfully across various fields, from education and environmental conservation to healthcare and women’s empowerment. These programs not only support local advancements but also offer you a chance to grow, learn, and explore Tanzania’s magnificent landscapes and communities.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) 

Volunteering in Tanzania with IVHQ embeds you in the heart of local communities around Arusha. Each project aims to contribute meaningfully to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, supported by inclusive, affordable programs that cater to individuals and families, enhancing your journey with cultural immersions, safaris, and more. Program fees include accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, and more.


Explore the following IVHQ Volunteer Programs in Tanzania:

  • Animal Welfare Volunteering: You can work alongside a local vet, caring for farm and domestic animals in shelters and on home visits. It’s a chance to learn about veterinary care in a developing country, offering both clinic work and hands-on treatment experiences for a variety of animals including donkeys, chickens, and pets.
  • Construction and Renovation Volunteer Program: Dive into a project that improves the infrastructure of local schools and community spaces. You’ll assist with tasks like bricklaying and painting, under the supervision of a qualified professional. It’s a physically rewarding opportunity to see the direct impact of your efforts on the community.
  • Maasai Immersion Volunteer Project: Immerse yourself in the life of a Maasai village, supporting a wide range of community projects. From education to agriculture, you’ll help tackle rural poverty and gain a deep understanding of Maasai culture. It’s a holistic experience that connects you closely with the community’s daily life and traditions.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer Program: Join local farmers to learn and share sustainable farming practices. Your work may include educating families on maximizing small plots and supporting schools with food growth. This outdoor adventure is ideal for those passionate about farming and looking to make a tangible difference in food sustainability.
  • Women’s Education Volunteer Program: Support disadvantaged women by sharing knowledge and skills that could lead to employment and greater self-sufficiency. Whether you have expertise in business, health, teaching, or simply an open mind and heart, your contribution can empower women to overcome gender inequality and achieve financial independence.

IVHQ’s Zanzibar programs provide volunteers with the opportunity to engage in two primary projects: 

  • Coastal and Marine Conservation in Zanzibar: Protect turtles and coral reefs while engaging in hands-on conservation, environmental education, and community outreach. The program is set in the stunning Matemwe area and is suitable for individuals passionate about marine life and conservation, seeking a blend of impactful work and cultural immersion.
  • Rainforest and Coastal Conservation in Zanzibar: This project offers a unique experience in the Jozani Forest, focusing on wildlife protection, including the endangered Red Colobus Monkey, and environmental education. Suitable for outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists.


Founded in 2006, GoEco offers over 150 volunteer programs in 40+ countries, including Zanzibar, and Tanzania. As a volunteer, you’ll immerse in traditional ways of life, learn Swahili, and contribute to vital projects. This program allows you to explore Tanzania’s diverse landscapes, from the Serengeti to Kilimanjaro, and engage deeply with local communities, addressing educational and environmental challenges.

tree planting volunteer in Zanzibar
  • Teaching and Community Involvement: Partner with local educators to teach basic English, contribute to a variety of after-school activities, and possibly assist in teaching math and science. You’ll engage directly with students aged 6-14, helping to foster their development and enrich learning with creative arts and fun activities.
  • Educational Volunteer Program in Stone Town: Help communities by teaching English and leading fun art and sports activities for kids. You’ll get to teach, and learn about local culture, and this program is for volunteers aged 25 to 70 with good English skills.
  • Community Support Initiative in Jambiani: Take part in a fulfilling project to help with education and women’s empowerment in Jambiani, a beautiful village. You’ll teach English, help with child care, and join in community efforts like planting trees and fixing schools.
  • Dolphin and Marine Conservation: Help protect dolphins and the environment in Zanzibar. This program involves swimming with dolphins to observe them, studying their behavior, and teaching about marine conservation.

Projects Abroad

Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad offers extensive volunteer and educational programs in over 25 destinations, including Tanzania. Based in Arusha, you’ll receive full support and have weekends free to discover the enchanting island of Zanzibar. Program fees include airport pickup, accommodation, three daily meals, and comprehensive orientation. Transport to your project, 24/7 local staff support, project materials, emergency assistance, and training workshops are also covered. 

Volunteer in Tanzania with Projects Abroad
  • Building Volunteer Work: Immerse yourself in a Maasai community, where you’ll contribute to constructing classrooms and school buildings. This hands-on project offers a chance to see the direct impact of your efforts, providing children with a safe learning environment. No experience is needed; a professional builder will guide you.
  • Volunteer with Children: Engage with children in Arusha, supporting their early development through educational activities, games, and sports. Your presence will be a significant boost in overcrowded care centers, enhancing children’s learning and growth. This experience is valuable for those considering a career in teaching or childcare.
  • Women’s Empowerment: Support women in Tanzania to reach their full potential. You’ll provide training to help them secure a sustainable future, raise awareness of women’s rights, and promote gender equality. Living with a host family offers a deep dive into local culture, enhancing your volunteer experience.
  • Volunteer Sports Coaching in Schools: Share your passion for sports by coaching children at disadvantaged schools in Arusha. You’ll help develop their fitness and teamwork skills through various sports.
  • Volunteer Teaching English: Assist in teaching English to disadvantaged children, supporting local teachers in primary schools, including a school in a Maasai community. Your work will focus on improving English standards and helping with extracurricular activities. This project offers practical teaching experience and the chance to make a meaningful difference in children’s lives.

African Impact

Volunteering in Zanzibar with African Impact is a unique chance to get involved in activities that help the community and achieve personal growth while exploring a beautiful place. African Impact focuses on meaningful volunteer work for a rewarding experience.


Check out these programs:

  • Marine and Dolphin Protection: Volunteers help protect dolphins from tourism harm by studying dolphin behavior, checking coral reefs, and promoting responsible dolphin watching. They also teach locals how to care for the ocean and its creatures. You can join for anywhere from 10 days to almost three months.
  • English Literacy and Teaching: In Zanzibar, volunteers can help the community by teaching English, a key skill for jobs in tourism. They work in schools and a learning center, offering free English classes to adults. This helps people get better jobs and supports community growth.
  • TEFL Teaching Internship: This is for those who want to earn a TEFL certificate while helping out in Zanzibar. Interns teach English to various groups, including kids and women, especially at the Kizimkazi Education Centre. This experience is great for career growth in tourism and supports women’s empowerment, offering education for all.

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)

Join Involvement Volunteers International (IVI) in Tanzania and get a unique chance to immerse yourself in local cultures, including the Maasai tribe, while engaging in meaningful projects. Experience life in a Maasai village or support projects in Monduli, nestled between iconic African landscapes. IVI offers comprehensive support, including accommodation, meals, airport pickup, and extensive preparation, ensuring you make a real difference during your stay.

  • English Teaching: Dive into teaching English to eager children aged 6-14 in the Monduli district. Your creativity in lesson planning and activities like sports, drawing, and handicrafts enriches their learning experience. Support from local teachers ensures your impact is aligned with the curriculum. No experience required, just enthusiasm!
  • Environmental Conservation: Join efforts in Monduli to educate communities on environmental conservation. Your work includes teaching, tree planting, and working in a tree nursery. Engage with a local school’s environmental club to inspire conservation awareness. Ideal for those passionate about nature and sustainable living.
  • Maasai Tribe Community Support: Immerse yourself in a Maasai village, participating in daily activities and gaining insights into this unique culture. Help with herding, water fetching, and teaching basic English. This project offers a deep cultural exchange and the opportunity to support the Maasai people’s way of life.
  • Maasai Women’s Empowerment Program: Empower Maasai women by teaching basic English and financial literacy, helping them to become financially independent. Engage in discussions to address their challenges and promote the importance of education. A profound opportunity to contribute to gender equality and community development.
  • Hospital Internship in Tanzania: For medical students or those in related fields, work in a local Arusha hospital, shadowing professionals and providing community health outreach. Gain invaluable experience in international medical practices and contribute to the well-being of local residents. Experience in healthcare and a medical background is required.
Volunteer Abroad for Women’s Empowerment & Girls’ Education

 Volunteering in Zanzibar with IVI offers a variety of meaningful projects that address crucial needs in the region. Here are some of their projects:

  • Construction and Renovation in Stone Town, Zanzibar: Make a big difference by improving schools. They help fix up buildings, update libraries and play areas, and do other construction work. It’s perfect for team players who enjoy hands-on work.
  • Turtle Conservation in Nungwi, Zanzibar: This program offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the protection of endangered sea turtles. Volunteers help with cleaning, measuring turtles, collecting seaweed, and maintaining lagoons. Based in a beautiful village, this project helps save turtles and teaches about the ocean.
  • Hospital Medical Support in Stone Town, Zanzibar: This project offers a significant opportunity for medical professionals and healthcare students to expand their knowledge and experience in a real-world setting. Participants work with local staff, helping with various medical tasks and improving community health. This is a great way to have a real impact on global healthcare.
  • Sports Coaching with Kids: Volunteers work at local schools, encouraging students and enhancing their education through sports activities. This program is ideal for those passionate about sports, teaching, and making a positive impact on young lives.
  • Childcare Support in Stone Town, Zanzibar: This program is an enriching experience for those who love working with children and aspire to make a positive impact in their early education.  Volunteers teach, assist in classrooms, and help with lesson plans, focusing on English and creative learning. It’s a great option for those looking to positively affect children’s early education and development.

Volunteering Solutions (VolSol)

Volunteer with Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) in Tanzania and engage in transformative programs, experience living with host families, make a real difference, and immerse yourself in the authentic Tanzanian culture away from tourist areas.

Volunteer Forever - Volunteer Vacations in Africa
  • Coral Restoration & Sea Turtle Conservation by Scuba Diving in South Tanzania: Dive into marine conservation in Mtwara, restoring coral reefs and protecting sea turtles. With top-notch instructors, learn about marine ecosystems and contribute to safeguarding them. Ideal for those passionate about the ocean and looking for an adventure off the beaten path.
  • Protect the Sea Turtles in South Tanzania: Join efforts in Mtwara to conserve endangered sea turtles. Educate local communities, participate in beach patrols, and enjoy the underwater beauty of Tanzania’s reefs. A chance to make a significant impact on marine biodiversity.
  • Medical Volunteer Program in Arusha: Work under experienced medical professionals in Arusha’s clinics and hospitals. Suitable for medical/nursing students and professionals eager to provide healthcare and gain field experience in a developing country.
  • Volunteer Teaching in Arusha: Assist in teaching English and other subjects in Arusha’s schools, enhancing students’ futures. Perfect for those with a passion for education and cultural exchange.
  • Childcare Volunteer Program in Arusha: Care for children in Arusha’s childcare centers. Assist with meals, education, and play, creating a nurturing environment. Ideal for those who love working with children and wish to make a difference.
Volunteer Forever - Find the Best Trips with Abroadly

Here are two VolSol programs available in Zanzibar:

  • Volunteer Teaching: This program is perfect for those passionate about education, and looking to help young students in Zanzibar improve their English. Volunteers work in both elementary and secondary schools, teaching subjects in English using fun and engaging methods like games and art, helping students get better at reading, writing, and speaking English. This opportunity is great for anyone wanting to gain international teaching experience and make a difference in the community.
  • Medical Volunteer Program: Designed for medical students and professionals, volunteers get to work in various hospital departments, including maternity, internal medicine, and surgery. This program helps volunteers understand and contribute to a healthcare system with limited resources, involving them directly in patient care according to their skills. Volunteers must provide a criminal background check, and qualified professionals must pay an additional fee for certification by the Zanzibar Medical Council.

Global Vision International (GVI)

Join GVI in Tanzania for a unique volunteer opportunity focused on business and micro-enterprise development in Arusha. This program empowers communities through sustainable skills in handcrafted work and eco-friendly fashion, aiming to enhance livelihoods and foster entrepreneurship. As a volunteer, you’ll participate in activities ranging from graphic design to weaving, contributing directly to the community’s growth.


GVI’s program fee includes a stay in a local volunteer house with meals, airport pickup, 24/7 mental health assistance, project transport, and more, ensuring a meaningful and seamless experience.

A Land of Natural Wonders and Cultural Splendors


Travel to Tanzania and Zanzibar offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore some of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders and cultural treasures. By preparing adequately—taking care of health precautions, understanding visa requirements, managing your finances wisely, and respecting local customs—you’re set for an incredible journey.

Whether it’s the thrill of a safari, the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro, the relaxation of Zanzibar’s beaches, or the fulfillment of volunteer work, Tanzania promises an adventure of a lifetime. So, why travel to Tanzania? It offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and unforgettable experiences. Safe travels!