About Tanzania (TZ)
Tanzania (TZ) is the largest country in East Africa, and one of the oldest known inhabited regions on the planet.
Bordered by Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Zambia, the area has been popular with travelers since merchants from Persia and Western India began arriving at the beginning of the Common Era.
Today, most travelers refer to Tanzania as the home of Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, the sprawling city of Dar es Salaam, and the exotic island of Zanzibar. Its climate is standard equatorial Africa, with no delineation between seasons. January and February are typically the hottest months, while March to May and October to December are the wettest.
One of the most popular activities for visitors is going on safari, but all sorts of natural and adventure attractions are open to high-spirited travelers. Of course, Tanzania’s rich cultural history is worthy of investigation, but it’s collection of crater lakes, volcanoes, waterfalls, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, and famed grasslands are the main stars of the show.
Getting around is far more convenient when you rent a car in Tanzania, but not just any car. Seasoned visitors to Tanzania are recommended that fullsize SUVs are by far the best option for navigation, and specifically warn against smaller all-wheel drive vehicles, which don’t have a high enough profile to deal with road conditions.
Ironically, most national park and game reserve roads are paved, but a huge number of regular routes to and from are not. Meanwhile, a high percentage of top attractions close during long rainy seasons, and getting around the country is generally a muddy mess of going nowhere — fast.
Driving in Dar es Salaam is the only trouble spot for congestion. And to top it off, there are no highways in Tanzania, at least, not in the traditional sense of the word. The country’s two main routes between Mbeya and Serengeti National Park are two-lane roads. Local driving habits can be as bad as the roads, and there are an extensive number of contingencies involved with pedestrians, roundabouts, police, and convoys of government vehicles.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Tanzania are found with Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, Hertz and Europcar. As mentioned previously, SUVs are the wise choice, but you’re free to rent minicars, compact sedans, economy hatchbacks, fullsize sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, or any other car on offer.
Tips and advice
If involved in any sort of traffic incident, pedestrian and or otherwise, do not get out of your car hire. You’re advised to call for police or — if possible, drive immediately to the nearest police station.
Do not head into a national park without a full tank of fuel, and carry at least 25 liters of emergency fuel in the vehicle as a precaution. Ask your car rental supplier for a can.
Prepare an emergency kit with a shovel, tow rope, bottled water, food, and a first-aid kit if you’re going into rugged areas.
If you’re getting the idea that driving in Tanzania is not for beginners, you’re getting the point. But common sense should be enough.
Most Tanzania car hire companies will have vehicles to rent for specific purposes of city and town driving, game and camping safaris, and general use. It’s in your best interest to be upfront with the vendor about your plans. Be advised that any sort of deviation from the rental agreement could cost you a lot of money.
Be forewarned of eye-popping entry fees to national parks, which really start to get expensive when you’re bringing in a private vehicle.