In the South East of Africa, within the region of the African Great Lakes, lies Tanzania.
Aside from being pointed by many historians as the cradle of humanity, the country is mostly known for its paradisiacal beaches, captivating cultures, incredible wildlife, and iconic sites such as Mount Kilimanjaro or the Ngorongoro Crater.
Perhaps due to these very reasons, this particular region of Africa is also increasingly popular among adventurous female solo travelers who seek to explore both the nature and culture of Tanzania – something that invariably raises questions about the safety of the country.
In times like the one we live in, it is only natural that travellers (especially women, who in more patriarchal cultures are forced to mind their behaviour) have the need to feel safe when visiting an unknown land. However, it is important to not let carefulness turn into distrust – so no matter where you go, keep your eyes and heart open and leave preconceived ideas behind.
Tanzania is a relatively new country, only becoming a sovereign state in 1964. The territory is currently divided into 26 regions, with Dodoma being the capital, Dar es Salaam the largest city and port, and the archipelago of Zanzibar as its most popular tourist destination. Despite being included on the popular “dangerous Africa” misconception, Tanzania is a safe place to explore even for women travellers, provided you take common sense for granted (much like everywhere else).
Thus, things like not walking around in random areas at night, avoid using unlicensed cabs, or keeping cash in different places, go without saying. Also, for the less experienced travelers who often feel diffident to get out of uncomfortable or dodgy situations, it is worth reaching out to local women for help or advice, since they are more likely to relate to whatever you may be going through.
Alternatively, you may want to stick to areas with at least a bit of tourism infra-structure (like Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Pemba Island, among others) and try to organise trips with fellow travellers you meet on the way. All that being said, locals are usually friendly and very generous, and as long as you are respectful they will go out of your way to make sure you are safe and well. Plus, an honest smile can also go a long way.
As some of the features that attract travellers from across the globe to Tanzania are:
- Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches
- curious Arabic influences,
- the popular Stone Town – ancient part of the city and the islands’ former capital, known for its labyrinth of historic buildings
- the Mafia Marine Park, which boast an impressive colony of coral reefs and is home to mighty creatures like the whale shark.
On the mainland, the country is famous for its high-altitude landscape, dotted with vast plains and plateaus that give life to an incredibly diverse fauna and flora, as well as dramatic scenery. Arusha is the gateway to some of the country’s best natural attractions. From here, you can go on a safari through the plains of the Serengeti National Park, which concentrates a great number of mammals living freely, including the famous “big five”; the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the largest boilers intact the world; as well as to climb points such as Mount Kilimanjaro – the culmination of Africa with its 5,895 meters of altitude and “eternal” snowy peaks – and Mount Meru.
In order to make the most out of your adventure, you can get a professional help from tour companies who can to organise everything from transport to accommodation so you can focus on taking it all in. With tons of experience and local knowledge, they offer trips across the country with packages to suit every palate: wildlife safari tours, camping safaris, cultural and historical tours, mountain climbing, among others.
Aside from exploring Tanzania’s natural beauty, one of the most rewarding experiences of your journey will be to know a little about the culture and customs of the Masai people, who have been inhabiting the region for millennia.
Although Tanzania hosts various ethnic groups, languages (Swahili as the official language but English is widely spoken), and religions, the country is relatively conservative, making it important to bear some things in mind so to respect their customs and traditions, especially when it comes to clothing.
Hence, try not to walk around in bikinis and mini-skirts, as it may be seen as disrespectful (especially in areas along the coast, where people are predominantly Muslim), and when possible tuck your hair under a scarf. Another useful clothing-related tip is to bring (or buy) a couple of sarongs, so to protect the skin from the intense sun, keep your legs and waist covered, and not sweat with heavy shirts or trousers.
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