17 Top Tanzania Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018 Update)

Updated on August 7, 2018 by Asher Fergusson

If you’re considering a trip to Tanzania, you’re in for a real treat. This is a country with stunning mountains and beaches, thrilling adventure activities, and incredibly friendly people. But if you’ve never traveled to Africa before, preparing for a trip like this can be overwhelming. After falling in love with the country when I visited, I put together this Tanzania packing list to help make sure you’ll be ready for anything.

Since many people overpack when visiting Africa and tend to bring some really unnecessary gear, the bottom of this post also has a list of things NOT to bring. Scroll down for some tips on what to wear in Tanzania and some frequently asked questions about traveling there as well.

No matter what your itinerary in Tanzania includes, remember that you’re visiting a developing country where things might not always happen according to plan (or on time). Consider a dose of patience and an open mind just as important everything else on this list of things to bring to Tanzania.

What should I bring on my Tanzania trip?

1) Power adapter – If you’re coming from the U.S. and your packing list for Tanzania includes a camera, phone, or laptop, you’ll need an adapter to charge them. For the most part, Tanzania uses the same type of electrical plugs as the U.K., so that’s the main adapter you’ll need. However, outlets that take either two or three round pins also exist in Tanzania, so you should bring both adapters just in case. This universal one will have you covered for visiting Tanzania and going just about anywhere else.
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2) Camera – Traveling to Tanzania is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, and you’ll come home disappointed if you didn’t get stellar pictures of your trip. The Canon Powershot is compact and requires no special knowledge, but those giraffes and elephants will look a lot better with this camera than they would with an iPhone.
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3) Flip-flops: Women’s and Men’s – If you’re visiting a beach or staying somewhere with a pool (or with shared showers), a pair of flip-flops is one of the essential things to take to Tanzania. These Sanuk sandals are super comfortable and pretty sturdy to boot.
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4) Hiking shoes: Women’s and Men’s – It’s home to the tallest mountain in Africa, so it should come as no surprise that Tanzania has boasts great hiking options. If you’re planning to hit the trails while you’re there, make sure you bring some sturdy, supportive hiking shoes. These Merrells are great for most hikes, although if you’re actually planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, you’ll want to invest in a pair of full boots instead.
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5) Swimsuit: Women’s and Men’s – Tanzania is known more for its wildlife than its beaches, but both the Tanzanian coast and the island of Zanzibar have soft white sand and clear turquoise water. Many lodges in and around the national parks also have swimming pools, as do plenty of hotels elsewhere in the country. No matter what regions you’re headed to, when you’re packing for Tanzania, make sure to bring a swimsuit.
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6) Rain jacket: Women’s and Men’s – Though it varies by region, Tanzania’s rainy seasons typically occur from mid-March to May and from November to mid-January. If you’re visiting during these months, consider a rain jacket as essential clothing for Tanzania. Even during other times of year, it’s still a good idea to bring one, just in case.
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7) Sunglasses: Women’s and Men’s – Despite the heavy rains it sometimes gets, Tanzania is largely a sunny place, so a pair of sunglasses will be important for protecting your eyes. As a bonus, they’ll also help keep dust out of your eyes when riding in the back of a dalla-dalla (retrofitted pick-up truck used for public transportation) or an open safari vehicle.
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8) First-Aid kit – If you’re planning to spend time outdoors in Tanzania, which you almost certainly are, you may end up getting some scrapes, bites, or blisters. To be prepared, a small First-Aid kit should be part of your checklist for traveling to Tanzania. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to pack supplies for every possible scenario that might come up; a simple kit like this one probably has everything you’ll need.
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9) Activated charcoal – As in most of Africa, hygiene standards in Tanzania are lower than they are in the West. Even if you’re careful about what you eat and drink, there’s a chance you could still end up getting sick. Bringing activated charcoal is a good way to be prepared in case the worst happens. These capsules will absorb the toxins in your system and help put an end to the dreaded travelers’ diarrhea.
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10) Electrolytes – If you do end up getting sick, taking electrolyte tablets like these can help mitigate some of the symptoms. Travelers’ diarrhea often leads to dehydration, which is especially serious in hot climates, so it’s critical to replenish the electrolytes you’re losing. Even when you’re healthy, dehydration can still be an issue if you’re visiting one of Tanzania’s hotter regions and spending a lot of time outside, so it’s not a bad idea to take electrolytes on a regular basis.
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11) Hand sanitizer – Washing your hands is one of the top ways to avoid getting sick in Tanzania, but you’re likely to find yourself in places where that’s not possible. To make sure you always have a second-best option, a bottle of hand sanitizer is one of the essentials to take to Tanzania. Just remember to keep it in your purse or daypack so you have it when you need it.
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12) Sunscreen – Sunscreen is a must in Tanzania’s often sunny weather, especially if you’re hiking or spending time at the beach. But it can be hard to find in Tanzania and is notoriously expensive if you do, so make sure you bring enough for your trip.
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13) Insect repellent – Malaria is prevalent throughout Tanzania, as are the mosquitoes that cause it. While taking a malaria prophylaxis should prevent you from getting sick, you still don’t want to get tons of itchy bites while you’re out exploring. Put a good insect repellent on your Tanzania packing list, and be especially diligent about using it in the evenings.
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14) Sarong – A sarong might seem frivolous, but I actually consider it one of the essentials to take to Tanzania. Depending on the situation, sarongs have a ton of different uses – sheet, scarf, towel, picnic blanket, swimsuit cover-up, and more. Plus they’re super lightweight and take up almost no space, making them a perfect travel item.
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15) Travel insurance – Travel insurance might not be a physical item for your checklist for traveling to Tanzania, but it’s just as essential as the other things listed here. Really, whenever you’re traveling abroad, it’s smart to invest in a good travel insurance policy. Things can go wrong when you’re on the road, and you don’t want to end up having to pay for emergency medical care or to replace stolen electronics. World Nomads is one of the most popular travel insurance companies, and I normally purchase their plan when I’m traveling abroad.

16) Passport holder – Your passport is one of the few things that you literally cannot travel to Tanzania without. Use a passport holder like to keep it safe, and organize some of your other valuables as well. This one can hold your passport, as well as your credit and debit cards, cash, and even a cell phone.
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17) LifeStraw – The tap water in Tanzania isn’t safe for Western visitors to drink, and it should be avoided. While bottled water is available for purchase, it results in a lot of plastic garbage, and the costwill start to add up. The LifeStraw solves both problems and is one of the easiest options for filtering your own drinking water. Plus, it will hardly take up any space in your bag.
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18) Water bottle – Staying hydrated is key in Tanzania, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors and in the sun. Pack a reusable water bottle that you can refill with purified water and carry it with you when you’re out exploring.
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19) Travel backpack – I usually find backpacks to be the most convenient luggage for traveling, especially in a place like Tanzania, where the roads and sidewalks are often uneven. Venture Pal is a super popular brand among travelers, and this model is both sturdy and comfortable. If it’s not large enough for your trip, you can also attach a smaller pack to the outside, giving you more storage space.
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Other packing list items to consider bringing to Tanzania

What should I wear in Tanzania?

If it’s your first trip there, you’re probably wondering about the best clothes to wear in Tanzania. This is a conservative country, even in the cities, and it’s generally considered inappropriate for women to reveal their cleavage, midriff, and especially thighs. For the most part, things like camisoles, crop tops, short-shorts, and miniskirts should be avoided. Capris or full pants and skirts or dresses that are at least knee-length are more appropriate in Tanzania. One exception to this is at the beach, where it’s acceptable to wear a regular swimsuit, although it’s still a good idea to err on the side of something more modest.

Another thing to keep in mind, and this tends to be an issue throughout Africa, is that the typical dress is probably nicer than you might imagine. Many people think of Tanzania as dirty and poor, and assume that it’s acceptable to wear unclean clothes or dress super casually. But dressing well is important to most Tanzanians,who see it as a symbol of status and pride. Dar es Salaam also has quite a few upscale restaurants and trendy nightclubs where overly casual clothes will be seriously looked down on.

For many parts of Tanzania, lightweight and breathable fabrics like linen and cotton blends will be the most comfortable. However, it can get chilly in certain areas, and morning safari drives are notoriously cold, so make sure you bring at least one warmer outfit. If you’re planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, you’ll need significantly more warm clothing, including a base layer, a fleece, and windproof, waterproof jacket and pants.

What NOT to take to Tanzania

1) 🚫 DON’T PACK short-shorts and miniskirts – The Tanzania dress code is conservative, and women should generally avoid exposing their thighs (except at the beach). Leave the short skirts and shorts at home, and opt for something at least knee-length instead.

2) 🚫 DON’T BRING lots of warm clothes – Tanzania can get cold in the mountains, but unless you’re planning to spend all your time there, you won’t need tons of warm clothes. Just bring enough for those days, and you’ll probably want to wear lighter weight clothes the rest of the time.

3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE excessive electronics – Tanzania is a safe country for tourists, but there’s always a risk that things can get stolen or lost while traveling. There’s no reason to risk bringing unnecessary electronics and having something happen to them.

4) 🚫 DON’T BRING a mosquito net – Many packing lists for Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa include a mosquito net, but it’s generally not worth it. If a net is necessary, hotels will normally provide one. If they don’t, it’s usually not possible to hang up your own anyway.

5) 🚫 DON’T PACK a bath towel – A towel definitely belongs on the list of things to take to Tanzania, but choose the quick-dry kind that are designed for travel. A regular bath towel will take up tons of space in your bag and will take forever to dry.

6) 🚫 DON’T TAKE lots of cash – Except in the most rural areas, there are ATMs throughout Tanzania, so you should have no problem accessing cash once you get there. Just don’t forget your debit card!

7) 🚫 DON’T BRING expensive jewelry – If you have jewelry that’s expensive, or just sentimental, it’s better left at home. There’s always some risk of getting pickpocketed or otherwise having things lost or stolen while you’re traveling, so don’t bring anything you’d be too upset to lose.

8) 🚫 DON’T PACK heavy books – Between the long flights to Tanzania and the downtime at the beach or during safaris, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on some reading. But even just a couple books will be heavy and bulky in your luggage. Opt for a Kindle instead, and you’ll save on space and weight, and be able to carry as many books as you want.

10 frequently asked questions about travel in Tanzania

1) Is traveling in Tanzania safe?

Tanzania is one of the safest countries in Africa, and also among the most commonly visited. There are risks some involved, of course, as there are with traveling anywhere, and it’s important to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Though pickpocketing happens in certain areas, violent crime against foreigners is incredibly rare.

2) How can I avoid getting sick in Tanzania?

Poor hygiene standards can pose a risk to Western travelers in Tanzania, so it’s important to take a few precautions.

Make sure you’re up to date on all the basic vaccinations: hepatitis A,hepatitis B, polio, chickenpox, MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), and Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis). The two additional vaccinations recommended for travel to Tanzania are typhoid and yellow fever; a rabies vaccine is only needed for people who will be coming into contact with animals or taking extended trips to remote areas. Malaria prophylaxis is also recommended, as is sleeping under a bed net in areas where mosquitos are prevalent.

Although it’s fine for brushing your teeth, Westerners in Tanzania should avoid drinking the tap water. Bottled water is widely available, or you can treat your water by boiling, filtering, or chlorinating it. You should also be careful to avoid beverages made with water or ice. Lastly, make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked and is hot when it’s served to you, and skip raw fruits and vegetables unless they have a peel or skin you can remove.

3) What is the weather like?

Tanzania is a large enough country that its weather varies considerably by region. Temperatures in the capital of Dar es Salaam typically range between the mid-60s and the upper-80s, though the interior of the country tends to be cooler and less humid.While most people think of Tanzania as a tropical country, it’s also one of the few in Africa that has glaciers and gets snow. Due to its proximity to the equator, Tanzania does not experience the four seasons. Rather, the country has two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The main wet season is from March to May, and a shorter one lasts from November to January.

4) What is the best way to get around in Tanzania?

When it comes to getting around Tanzania, travelers have a few options. The most common (and cheapest) way to get around is by bus, and buses connect most of the country, although they’re less frequent in remote areas. Bus options range from rickety and overcrowded dalla-dallasto air-conditioned luxury buses that provide drinks and snacks. Or, if you can afford it, flying is much faster and more comfortable, and also safer than taking the bus. Over a dozen towns in Tanzania have commercial airports, including all the main tourist destinations. Tanzania also has a train system, although it’s incredibly slow and only runs a few times per week.

5) What kind of visa do I need?

For Americans visiting Tanzania, a tourist visa is required and costs $100 ($50 for most other nationalities). Visas can be obtained in advance at Tanzanian embassies or on arrival in Tanzania. If you plan to get your visa on arrival, make sure you bringnew, undamaged U.S. dollars to pay for it.

6) Are there ATMs in Tanzania?

Yes. You’ll find ATMs in all major towns throughout Tanzania and shouldn’t have any problem accessing cash. If you do plan to spend an extended amount of time in very rural areas, though, you’ll probably want to withdraw enough money ahead of time to cover those days.

7) How reliable is the Internet in Tanzania?

Many cafes and hotels in Tanzania’s major towns have Wi-Fi connections, though they can be slow at times. Much of the country also has 4G cell service, which you can access from your phone with a local SIM card. Again, it may be slow, but it’s usually sufficient for emails, texting apps, and basic websites.

8) What language do Tanzanians speak?

Over a hundred languages are used across Tanzania, but Swahili is the official language and the most commonly spoken. Most Tanzanians speak their ethnic group’s language as their native tongue and Swahili as their second language. English is the second official language in Tanzania and is widely spoken, especially in major towns and by those working in the tourism and hospitality industries. Tourists who speak only English will be able to travel in Tanzania without too much difficulty.

9) How can I respect the local culture?

One of the most important things to keep in mind about Tanzanian culture is that it’s quite conservative; women should generally dress modestly, and public displays of affection should be avoided. Travelers should also be aware of settings where smoking or drinking to excess might be frowned upon, especially in rural areas.

Greetings are important in Tanzania, and it’s customary to greet each person in a group individually. Tanzanians also take hospitality seriously. It is considered rude to turn down things that are offered to you, especially food, so travelers should acceptthings that are given to them whenever possible. Lastly, the left hand is considered unclean in Tanzania, so do your best to use your right hand for eating and for handing things to people.

10) What are the top things to do in Tanzania?

Tanzania is best known for its wildlife and is one of Africa’s premier safari destinations. The country has over a dozen national parks, but the Serengeti is by far the most famous and is especially known for the annual wildebeest migration. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, site of a 100-square-mile volcanic crater, is one of the country’s other top places to see wildlife.

Active travelers will have plenty of options to choose from as well. Mt. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain, although Mt. Meru is actually a more technical climb. There are also great trekking options near Ngorongoro Crater and in the Usambara Mountains. Lastly, the island of Zanzibar is an incredibly popular tourist destination and is home to stunning beaches and fascinating history and culture. There’s plenty to do on the island, including snorkeling, diving, and kitesurfing, as well as great shopping, spas, and food.