If you are visiting a number of parks and reserves in Tanzania, you can either drive or fly between them. Roads in most of the wilderness areas are in poor condition and unmarked, and self-driving is not recommended. Operators will supply you with a driver who doubles as an informal guide; alternatively, you can arrange to fly to your destination and utilize a car and driver supplied by the lodgings. Elsewhere in Tanzania, towns and cities are linked by a steady stream of buses and dala-dalas (minibuses), and in the cities, there is public transport in the way of buses, dala-dalas, taxis, and, in some places, bicycles or tuk-tuks.
If you can afford it, getting around Tanzania by plane is the quickest and most comfortable option. There are a few domestic airlines that link the most popular safari destinations and provide services to the coast. Some of the more upmarket safari lodges have their own airstrips and use small planes operated by private air charter companies to ferry their guests in, which is a good alternative to long drives on dusty roads. The national airline, Air Tanzania (www.airtanzania.com), was grounded in 2008 because of issues over maintenance. Since then, they have resumed some domestic flights between Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, and Mwanza. However, the airline desperately needs new planes, timetables frequently change, and there can be long delays. In most cases, the private airlines offer much more reliable service, with aircrafts in good shape and excellent pilots. Precision Air (tel. 022/286-0701; www.precisionairtz.com) links the major cities and towns and flies between Dar es Salaam, Bukoba, Mwanza, Kigoma, Tabora, Lindi, Mtwara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Seronera and Grumeti in the Serengeti National Park. They also fly to Nairobi. Coastal Aviation (tel. 075/262-7825; www.coastal.cc) links the upmarket lodges in the game parks and reserves, as well as the islands, flying between Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, Selous, Ruaha, Mikumi, Lake Manyara, and to several airstrips in the Serengeti, as well as to Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia islands. Air Excel (tel. 027/254-8429; www.airexcelonline.com) links the parks with the coast and flies between Dar es Salaam, Arusha, several airstrips in the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar. Zan Air (tel. 024/223-3670; www.zanair.com) links Arusha and Dar es Salaam with Selous, Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia, and Mombasa in Kenya. Regional Air (tel. 027/250-2541; www.regionaltanzania.com) links eight airstrips in the Northern Circuit with Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar.
If you're headed for less-visited parks or simply prefer to set your own schedule, then air charter is the best option. Companies at Dar es Salaam Airport include Flightlink (tel. 022/2137885; www.flightlinkaircharters.com) Zantas Air (tel. 022/2137181; www.zantasair.com); and at Kilimanjaro International Airport, Kilimanjaro Air Safaris (tel. 027/275-0523; www.kiliair.com).
On some flights using small planes, luggage is restricted to 15kg (33 lbs.) per person, but you can leave excess luggage at hotels in Arusha or Dar es Salaam, for example, for a small fee (if you are returning to these destinations). Don't schedule any domestic flights too close to your international departure from Tanzania, in the event internal flights are delayed or canceled.
Driving in Tanzania can be dangerous because everyone does pretty much as they please, and traffic in Dar es Salaam is especially chaotic. The roads are not always well maintained and frequent potholes are a problem, so keep your speed down and avoid driving at night because of the danger of domestic and wild animals on the road. Many of the roads in rural areas and in the parks and reserves are not tarred, so a four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential, particularly in the wet seasons, when these roads often become impassable. If you're confident that you can hold your own on Tanzanian roads, you can either book a car at your country of origin from one of the large agencies or contact them once you arrive. Avis (www.avis.com), Budget (www.budget.com), and Hertz (www.hertz.com) have several offices in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. A popular way for independent travelers to reach the north or west coasts of Zanzibar from Stone Town is to hire a jeep or motorbike from a travel agent in Stone Town.
To hire a car, you must be over 23, and while you don't necessarily need an international driver's license, your license must be in English. Driving is on the left, though on badly potholed roads it is customary to drive all over the road to avoid them. Parking in the towns usually involves paying a parking attendant on the street a small fee, and they will display a ticket on your windshield. Dar es Salaam also has some multistory car parks.
There are two railways that cross Tanzania and offer three to four services per week. Clean bedding is provided for cars with sleeping berths, and there are dining cars. However, the rolling stock is very old and dirty, and the trains get very crowded with not only people, but sacks of vegetables and livestock. Thefts are common (stewards even hand you a piece of wood to jam your window so it can't be opened from outside during night stops), and it takes an inordinate amount of time to get around. Traveling by bus is generally safer, quicker, and cheaper. If you insist on traveling by rail, you should opt for first class, always lock your door, and never leave your possessions unguarded.
Tazara (Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority; tel. 022/226-2191) runs from Dar es Salaam through the south of the country and on to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The average journey from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya in the southwest of Tanzania is 23 hours. However, we have heard recently that this company is close to financial collapse and not all the trains have been running, so inquire locally at Dar es Salaam's railway station. Tanzania Railway Corporation's Central Line (tel. 022/211-7833; www.trctz.com) runs from Dar es Salaam across the middle of the country to Tabora, where it splits into two lines that end in Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika and Mwanza on Lake Victoria. It takes 36 hours to get from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma.
If you're on a budget, buses are the best and cheapest way to travel. Large buses and dala-dala crisscross the country and link the major towns, and longer routes link Dar es Salaam with Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. Some of the vehicles are quite old, can be driven rather recklessly, and can be overcrowded. The most reasonably efficient and comfortable buses are operated by Scandinavian Express (www.scandinaviagroup.com). They have modern ticket offices in each of the towns and cities, you can choose your seat onscreen, buses are speed governed, most have air-conditioning, and complimentary drinks and biscuits/cookies are offered onboard. The only other reputable bus company is Royal Coach (tel. 022/212-4073 or 075/488-5778), which runs a dedicated route between Dar es Salaam and Arusha. Always exercise caution around the bus stations, as petty theft can be a problem.
By Taxi, Tuk-Tuk & Boda-Boda
Regular taxis are found easily on the street and outside hotels. Tuk-tuks can be used over short distances in the beach resorts along the coast. Boda-bodas are a cheap and fun way to travel over short distances, but you need to hang on tightly. With all of these, prices should be negotiated before setting off.