A Blonde's Blueprint of Africa

Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?
Planning for your African Safari will help make your adventure into the Serengeti a breeze! Below are my tips for a "no worries" trip, or as the locals say, "Hakuna Matata."


Visa & Passports

Visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Tanzania. Foreign nationals may apply for a visa online in advance of travel. Applicants may complete the e-visa application form and make payment online with a credit card or bank transfer at www.immigration.go.tz. If the e-visa is approved, the applicant will receive a “grant notice” via email. Present a copy of the grant notice to the Immigration Officer on arrival at the airport in Tanzania.

U.S. citizens may also obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport in Tanzania. The cost is $100 USD. Be prepared to pay in cash in case connectivity issues make electronic transactions impossible.

A passport valid for a minimum of six months beyond visa issuance and/or date of entry, and at least one blank visa page, is required. Visitors who enter on visas must present a roundtrip ticket and demonstrate they have sufficient funds for their stay.

Vaccinations & Health

You may be required to obtain vaccinations for your trip, depending on your country of origin. Most vaccinations on the CDC website are recommended for Tanzania, but not required. The only required vaccine as a US citizen is Malaria (as of Sept 2017). Malaria comes in a pill form and you must take days prior to your arrival, during your stay, and for a certain amount of days following your departure from Africa.

Visit World Health Organization website for an updated list.

Recommended but not required: Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Rabies, Yellow Fever. *(If you are entering Tanzania from a country that does not have Yellow Fever, vaccination is not needed.)

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is extremely important and necessary when traveling overseas because your regular health insurance does not provide benefits outside your country. You never know when an accident, illness, or travel cancellation may occur that could cost you thousands of dollars out of your pocket, so it's better to be prepared before your travels.

I carry a credit card that covers trip cancellation, but only 15 percent of credit cards offer trip cancellation coverage. Chase Sapphire, for example, reimburses up to $10,000 for trip cancellation, as long as the reason you or the carrier canceled the trip is one of the covered causes. I recommend GeoBlue Travel Medical Insurance, which covers anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000 in medical expenses. For a two-week trip, we paid $42 for my husband & I to have medical travel insurance up to $1,000,000. It's a small price to pay for an unexpected emergency or accident which could leave you in major debt.

If you do not have a credit card that covers trip cancellation, World Nomads is a highly rated company to cover both trip cancellation and medical travel insurance.

Local Currency

The local currency is Tanzanian Shillings. US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted. Click HERE to view the most up to date currency exchange between USD and TZS. ($1=2,304.92)

Most places will not accept older US dollar bills (anything printed before 2006). Most Tanzanian shops won’t accept U.S. bills dated 2006 or earlier. Why? Apparently, the older-issued bills were easy to forge. Good to know! Also, if you have bills that are extremely tattered, merchants will reject them.

ATM's | Credit Cards

ATM's aren’t found outside major cities (Arusha, Moshi, Dar, Zanzibar, etc.), so be sure and withdraw what you need before you go anywhere else (daily maximum of 400,000TZS, less than USD $200). Also, don’t forget to call your banks ahead of time and inform them of your trip dates. Using the Charles Schwab bank card avoids all ATM fees and foreign transaction fees.

The Charles Schwab bank card is THE card to have in your wallet while traveling abroad. This card does not charge ATM fees in any country and does not have any foreign transaction fees. It’s my go-to card for travel. You can set up an online checking account through the Charles Schwab website by clicking here. It's quick and easy! There are no minimum deposits required and no monthly service fees. You’ll never pay a fee with this bank. Their ATM card can be used in any bank machine around the world. To deposit money into the account, set up a transfer online between your bank and your Charles Schwab checking account so you can transfer money through their mobile app anytime. 

Arrival & Accommodation

Lion King Tour Company will meet you at the Kilimanjaro Airport upon your arrival for pick-up and will drive you back for your return flight home.

Kilimanjaro Airport is roughly a one-hour drive from Arusha, where you will be staying your first night, before the start of your safari.


Swahili is an official language alongside English. If you're planning a trip to East Africa, consider learning a few basic phrases of Swahili before you go. Whether you're embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime safari or planning on spending several months as a volunteer, being able to converse with the people you meet in their own language goes a long way towards bridging the cultural gap. With a few of the right phrases, you'll find that people are friendlier and more helpful everywhere you go. 

Useful Words & Phrases

Hello: jambo/ hujambo/ ​salama

How are you?: habari gani

Fine (response): nzuri

Goodbye: kwa heri/ kwa herini (more than one person)

See you later: tutaonana

Nice to meet you: nafurahi kukuona

Goodnight: lala salama

Yes: ndiyo

No: hapana

Thank you: asante

Thank you very much: asante sana

Please: tafadhali

OK: sawa

Excuse me: samahani

You're welcome: starehe

Can you help me?: tafadhali, naomba msaada

My name is: jina langu ni

I'm from: natokea

May I take a picture?: naomba kupiga picha

Do you speak English?: unasema kiingereza?

Friend: rafiki

Airport: uwanja wa ndege

Bank: benki

Market: soko

Toilet/ bathroom: choo


Although not mandatory, tipping is an admirable way to share your satisfaction with your guide and varied staff service you will receive while in Tanzania. Your tips not only help boost the confidence of those in the service industry, but also allow you to give back to the communities on an individual basis. Guides: If you feel you have received good service, a typical tip is USD $10-$15 per person, per day. The guides work extremely long hours and tips supplement their income significantly. Anything you can afford is appreciated.

Guide to Africa Travel, African Safari, Safari Landscapes


In Tanzania, the year is loosely divided into the 'short' rains (November) and the 'long' rains (March to May). The 'rains' usually last for one or two hours each day followed by hot sunny weather. Nights can be surprisingly cold at higher altitude e.g. Ngorongoro Crater.

Wildlife viewing is generally best during the Dry season from late June to October. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is usually during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February.

Dry season –June to October

There is very little rainfall during this period and humidity is very low. It cools off at night; be sure to pack warm clothing because morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold, especially in the northern parks.

June, July, August, September & October – Afternoon temperatures are usually between 68°F and 86°F and vary greatly according to altitude and location. Most days have a fine, clear sky and sunny weather.

Wet season –November to May

During most of the Wet season, afternoon temperatures are consistently hot (a bit above or below 86°F) but it is colder above 4,265ft. Mornings are cold in most northern parks due to the high altitude.

November & December – 'Short rains' – A period of about a month of short rains which occurs sometime between November and December. Its timing is unpredictable and, in Northern Tanzania, it can even happen in October. The rains will rarely interfere with your safari.

January & February – The northern parks and coastal areas tend to have a break in the rainy season. The other parks don't really experience a dry spell.

March, April & May – 'Long rains' – These are the wettest months. It tends to rain heavily almost every day, although not often for the whole day. Humidity tends to be high, especially in the hotter southern and western parks.


Choose a duffel bag or soft-sided bag. Ideally, the fabric should be hardy and waterproof and the bag should be lockable.


Pack for hot days and cool nights. Tanzania can be hot and dusty by day but it is often cool and crisp by night. Layers are ideal for safari days. Pack clothing that is able to keep you cool but protect you from the sun and biting insects. Choose mid-tone colors and avoid white or bright colors that may distract the animals and dark colors like black and blue as these can attract tsetse flies.

The best colors for a safari are olive, green and khaki.

Check the temperature before you travel to make sure you have clothing that is warm enough for the season.


(Click links to purchase items pictured below.)

Womens Safari Hat | Womens Boots | Safari Dress | Safari Vest

Tan Jeans & Dusty Sage Jeans | Men's Vest | Men's Hat


As long as you are not trekking on your safari, you should be comfortable in ankle boots. Make sure to bring flip flops for showering.

Sun Protection

The African sun can be brutal, so be sure to bring a good pair of sunglasses so you can protect your eyes. You’ll also need a hat that shades your face and covers your ears and neck so you have maximum sun protection. Of course, take plenty of high-protection sunscreen.

Photography & Electronics

• Strong bag/carry case to protect the camera - zip lock/plastic bags are useful for dusty/sandy conditions.

Spare/extra batteries/memory card.

Binoculars will be essential to spot wildlife.

Guide to Africa Travel, African Safari, Ngorongora Crater

Photography Etiquette

It is forbidden in Tanzania to take photos of anything military. Bridges, border posts, and airports are also sensitive, so be careful or be prepared to have your film/camera confiscated. Please act with discretion and respect when taking photos of people - it's always courteous to ask first before you snap away!


Some campsites have wifi, but this should not be relied upon. We didn't have wifi at most campsites or during game drives.


With the proper planning, you will experience an unforgettable adventure!

No one can return from the Serengeti unchanged, for majestic lions will forever prowl our memory and great herds fill our imagination




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