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Getting around in Tanzania

By Air Air Tanzania operates regular services to most regional towns in the country. Apart from the national airlines, a number of private airlines operate light aircrafts (6-8 seaters) between Zanzibar, Pemba, Dar es Salaam, the main towns and the national parks. The national parks have their own airstrips for easy accessibility, two charter companies operating single and twin-engine aircraft to any town or bush land in the country with an airstrip.

By Road

Tanzania has an enormous road network of over 54,000 km, of which less than 3500 km are paved. Most roads are not all weather ones; making travel very difficult during the rains and only the roads connecting the important cities are all weather ones. Public bus services run by the State Travel Service connect different parts of the country at very reasonable fares but do not ply after 10pm. Luxury tourist coaches run by private bus companies, minibuses and hired vehicles travel between all major destinations.

Self-driven rental vehicles cost quite a bit more than chauffeured vehicles; most rental companies actively encourage the latter. An International Driving Permit is required for car hire and driving and must be endorsed by the police on arrival in the country. Temporary Tanzanian licenses can be obtained from the police on presentation of a valid national driving license. If you plan to drive yourself, then make sure you pick a sturdy MUV/SUV or 4WD, check its roadworthiness and stock up on spares and essential supplies. Also, always bear in mind that while technically traffic drives on the right of the road, goats, cattle and villagers seem blissfully unaware of it and tend to meander across the entire road.

Within the cities, buses and minibuses operate on a flat-fare basis but service is sadly lacking as most buses follow an erratic schedule and the ones that turn up are overcrowded and ramshackle. Taxis can be hired at fixed fares from outside most hotels in Dar Es Salaam but in other places, negotiate fares in advance.

By Train

The Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) operates the main internal train service linking the capital Dar es Salaam to most destinations including places in Northern and Central Tanzania. The TRC runs a daily service from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza on Lake Victoria, Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika and to Moshi and Arusha. Most trains are comfortable enough with the added facility of restaurant cars, but tourists are advised to stick to the upper classes, as the general compartments are extremely overcrowded. Advance reservations are recommended.

By Waterways

Ferry and steamer services operate on the many lakes in Tanzania including Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi. Steamers offer three classes for travellers, first being the most comfortable and also costing the most. Speedboats plying between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar take around 2/3 hours one way. Pemba Island is connected to the mainland via Zanzibar. Schedules for ferry and steamer services can be obtained from the office of TRC at Dar es Salaam, Tel# 112 695 or fax # 116 525.

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