(UPDATED 2020) I’ve been fortunate to travel to Tanzania multiple times now. It’s my favourite country! Based on my experience, I put together this Tanzania 2 week itinerary to help any visitors wanting to get the most out of visiting the country.
You’ll also find below a complete budget breakdown and some general top tips for travellers.
Tanzania really can provide visitors with the perfect vacation. Offering a combination of both safari, mountains, culture and beach. With a bit more time, though, you can really explore the islands and mainland, getting to know places untouched. Life in East Africa is slow so bear this in mind when you put together your Tanzania itinerary – you will hear the phrase ‘pole pole’, Swahili for slowly, a lot.
You might also like:
- Swimming with Whale Sharks in Tanzania
- Guide to visiting Zanzibar Island
- Guide to doing a safari in Tanzania – what to pack and where to go
The perfect 2 week Tanzania itinerary
Tanzania is a really large country – a lot bigger than most people realise. Getting around is not so easy so to make the most of your visit you are likely going to need to catch a couple of internal flights.
For first time visitors to Tanzania who have 14 days to work with, this what I would say makes the perfect itinerary. It combines safari, mountains and beach. You’ll find more details on the areas below, plus other suggestions if this doesn’t suit you….
1st Day: fly into Arusha
Most likely your fly will land in the capital Dar es Salaam. From here it is easy to catch an internal flight to Arusha which is where most fly into to start a safari
2nd – 5th Day: 4-day safari
I went with Misele African Safari who were brilliant. My personal recommendation is to do the 4-day Tarangire, Serengeti and Ngorongoro National park.
6th Day: Bus to Lushoto
Stay in Maweni Farm. Your safari will finish in Moshi or Arusha. From here you can catch a bus – I’d suggest you take the ‘luxury bus’ – to Lushoto taking 6 hours. The journey will give you some great views of the country and an insight into Tanzanian life.
7th – 8th Day: Explore Lushoto
Lushoto is lush and beautiful. There are a number of day hikes you can do including gentle hikes to visit waterfalls. There are no shortages of hiking guides in the town. Make sure you visit Irenete Farm for lunch one day!
10th Day: Fly to Mafia or Zanzibar Island
Most tourists choose to fly to Zanzibar. I’ll explain more in my detailed breakdown below, but my personal recommendation is to skip the crowds and head to Mafia Island for something more special. Stay in Bustani Lodge
11th – 14th Day: relax in Mafia
If it’s the right season you can’t go to Mafia Island and not swim with whale sharks (oct-feb). Make sure you also visit the lagoon, snorkel and take a tour of Chole Bay
15th Day: fly to Dar es Salaam
Take an internal flight back to the capital where you can jump on your connection flight home.
Other places you might want to visit on your 2 week stay in Tanzania…
I’m a budget traveller who also likes my home comforts. My ideal literary above has a good balance of must-see locations plus a few more unusual spots for a more authentic experience.
To help you put together an itinerary that is perfect for your needs, I’ve written a bit more about all the options available to you when putting together your itinerary for Tanzania….
I spent 1-month volunteering in a small village at a school. I had been fundraising regularly for a charity called ACE who is overseeing the build of the school and we also sponsor a boy to attend the school who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it (find out more about sponsoring and the charity here). I was able to volunteer setting up computers and training the staff how to use them.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world so there are lots of volunteering opportunities. Make sure you find an organisation that includes donations to the place you will be volunteering at as this is where you can make the most contribution.
I urge you not to work in orphanages or in any other place where you will be exposed to vulnerable children unless you are suitably qualified. Really think about how you will be adding value and vet the organisation as there is a lot of exploitation of volunteers in the country.
Mafia Island is one of my favourite places. I love the island and its way of life. The first time I visited I spent 5 days on the island. I swam with whale sharks (3 days in a row!), went snorkelling and enjoyed a private sandbank island to ourselves.
Stay at Bustani Lodge ($60 a night, 2 people sharing a double beachfront bungalow). It’s clean, comfortable and is one of the few places on the island that comes with a pool!
Check out: Guide to visiting Mafia Island
I’ve visited Zanzibar twice and was really sad to see the second time how badly the tourism has affect the island. I found it crowded and the sellers really hassled me while I tried to relax on the beach. The most disheartening though is the fact nothing has been done to protect the coral reefs and the marine life has depleted to dangerously low levels because of overfishing.
Last time I went I stayed for a week. I stayed for 3 nights in Stone Town (2 nights would have been enough). Visiting Prison Island, the slave market, wandered Stone Town and, the markets. I also fitted in a day trip to Kendwa and Nungwi beach, the most beautiful beaches on the island. I then stayed on the quieter east coast for 4 nights near Uora beach.
Stay at ‘The Blue House’ on Airbnb (follow this link to get £34 off your first booking) – $20 a night, 2 people sharing a double en-suite. This is a homestay with a local. The place is clean, centrally located and has a nice charm. It is worth noting that it is also noisy as you are living right in the residential area and next to a mosque.
Also, Kaure Sands Beach Lodge ($50 a night, 2 people sharing a double). An extremely relaxing stay in a room right on the beach. They have a wonderful chill-out area with loungers and hammocks and a nice sea view.
Check out my Guide to visiting Zanzibar
If you do decide to visit Zanzibar please don’t do a dolphin tour (many charities have deemed the aggressive tactics used by operators as inhumane) and really try to limit your seafood and fish intake as overfishing is a serious problem!
I joined a 4-day game drive safari with Misele African Safaris. This included a stay the night before in Arusha. The safari I chose to do was 1 day in Tarangire, 2 days in Serengeti and 1 day in Ngorongoro crater. It was the perfect length and combination of 3 very different parks. If I had an extra day, I would have liked to also add a trip to Lake Eyasi to see the Bushman tribe. We decided not to do the add-on to see the Maasai village as we know that these are very touristy and staged.
Stay at Arusha Tourist Inn (included in the safari price). The hotel was central, basic and clean.
If you are planning to do a safari check out my African safari guide
Loshoto is a great place to base yourself to explore the beautiful Usambara region. The scenery here is hilly and lush. I did a day hike to see the Irenete viewpoint and on the way back stopped in Irenete Farm for lunch which was great. If I had a few extra days I would have liked to of done a multi-day hike. From the town, you can easily organise this with the guides (rough price $20 per person per day) and they will take you village to village.
Staying at Maweni Farm ($25 a night, 2 people sharing a double en-suite). Although not right in town this old colonial mountain retreat is in a serene environment and worth the visit.
Alternatively, for something cheaper and closer to town, stay at Tumanai Hostel ($15 a night, 2 people sharing a double en-suite, Tumaini@elct-ned.org). A great value hostel right in the centre of town. Clean and has a nice garden area to relax in and profits go to local projects run by the church. It’s worth bringing earplugs as the local church preaching can get a bit noisy in the evenings!!
If you don’t want to take the internal flights to Zanzibar or Mafia Island you can visit Pangani on the mainland for a slice of beach paradise. The beaches here are secluded and extremely peaceful and void of sellers. Ideal if you are looking for some quiet. There isn’t much to do in the area although diving and snorkelling are available but at a high cost as you need to pay park fees.
Staying at Beach Crab Resort ($43 a night, 2 people sharing a double with a shared bathroom). The resort is nice, with good areas to relax and the rooms clean. The food here is extortionately priced with tiny portions and the management not very friendly, so I don’t think it is a great option for budget travellers even if the beaches are gorgeous.
Dar es Salaam
There’s not much to do in Dar es Salaam so you won’t want to spend long here. There is a bike tour of the city which I’ve heard is good. If you are there on a Sunday make sure you catch a service and all the increidble singing. The best thing about the city in my opinion though is the Ethiopian restaurant Addis in Dar.
Staying at Seashells Hotel ($50 a night, 2 people sharing a double en-suite). A clean and comfortable hotel with a pool (Dar es Salaam is very hot!)
If you want to see the famous Tanzanian chimpanzees then you’ll want to visit Mahale Mountains. It’s an internal flight to reach the area. Most tourists opt for a trekking safari to get close and personal with the Chimps. As most tourists don’t venture this far you’ll get a nice quiet experience although you’ll also pay for the luxury as prices are high.
Are the expensive National Park fees worth it?
Doing a safari in Tanzania, although expensive, is one of the most memorable things I’ve done in my life. The small parks are great but I don’t think anything beats the vastness of Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
Do not forget travel insurance!
The airline lost my bag on one visit. On another, there were massive delays and I missed my connection flight. Then the airline lost my bag again. And I accidentally dropped my camera in the sea.
Get your trip insured. The day you book your flights!
Tanzania 2 week budget breakdown
How much does it cost to spend 2 weeks in Tanzania?
This will depend entirely on your spending habits of course. But here’s an indication of the sort of costs you might incur. And below is a complete breakdown of how much you might spend based on my preferred Tanzania 2 week itinerary above.
Although Tanzania is very cheap, it is worth noting that flights and safaris will considerably raise your costs. If you live like a local, transport, accommodation and food cost next to nothing. Activities and tourist areas are expensive though and a large part of this is due to the government putting in place really high taxes for the national parks (you will need to pay the fees for hiking, safaris and marine activities in protected areas).
All the costs below are for one person.
Return flights from UK-Dar: $740
Flights Dar – Mafia: $75
Mafia – Zanzibar – $110
Zanzibar – Arusha – $70
Prices below are an indication of costs based on 2 people sharing a double room.
Mafia Island – Bustani Lodge ($60 a night)
Zanzibar, Stone town – The Blue House ($40 a night)
Zanzibar, Uroa beach – Kaure Sands Beach Lodge ($50 a night)
Pangani – Beach Crab Resort ($43 a night)
Dar es Salaam – Seashells Hotel ($40 a night)
Average daily food costs: $6
(mostly I choose to eat in local restaurants where a vegetarian meal would be between $0.75-$3. If breakfast wasn’t included in the hotel we would have fruit. During the volunteer placement, we shopped in the market and cooked ourselves. We splashed out on 3 amazing restaurants which I can really recommend: Spice House in Zanzibar, Irenete Farm in Loshoto and Addis in Dar in Dar es Salaam)
Drinks: $40 (in a local bar a beer costs $2 and a soft drink between $0.30 – $0.50)
Safari with tip (including a night before and after in Arusha): $1500
Whale Shark diving on Mafia: $60
Snorkeling and tour on Mafia: $40
Snorkeling on Zanzibar: $18
Visit to Prison Island: $11
Transport: $78 (mostly we would use the dala dala’s which are very cheap or, if this wasn’t available, we would use a tuk tuk. We would use a ‘luxurious’ bus for the longer travel days as they were much more comfortable and worth the extra dollars)
Budget for 14 days in Tanzania
Return flights from UK-Dar: $740
Return flights Dar – Mafia: $150
Luxury buses (Moshi to Lushoto then Lushoto to Dar): $45
Safari total: $1500
Accommodation, 3 nights in Lushoto: $90
Accommodation, 1 night in Dar es Salaam: $20
Accommodation, 4 nights in Mafia Island: $120
Excursions on the island: $120
Food & drink total: $200
OVERALL TOTAL (without international flight): $2,295
OVERALL TOTAL (with international flight, from UK): $3,035
Most of this goes towards the 4 day safari so if you are on a tight budget you can seriously reduce your costs by cutting this out!
Top Tips for Traveling in Tanzania
- Assume the worst when arriving in Tanzania and expect delays and, possibly lost luggage. We experienced both which resulted in us missing our connection flight to Mafia and having to book another one. We met lots of tourists who experienced the same and didn’t leave enough time for their connection flight/ferry to the islands. Keep your valuables and a change of clothes in your hand luggage.
- Most of the ATMs in Tanzania can be found in the main towns and cities. It’s worth having plenty of cash on you. The maximum you will be able to take out from an ATM is $200.
- In the tourist areas, people will try to overcharge you when visiting local restaurants and bars or booking tours from beach boys. If you are ever unsure, ask a friendly local what they pay and this will give you a guide.
- You might want to avoid meat. Fridges are not common and hygiene practices to be desired.
- You will need to buy bottled water as the tap water can make you ill. For the best deal, buy this in packets of 6 (should cost roughly 4,500TSH for 6×1.5 litre bottles).
- An excessive amount of people were walking around sunburnt on the islands. Put more sunscreen on then you need and wear a t-shirt for snorkelling (especially if you are taking Doxycycline malaria prevention which makes you more sensitive to the sun).
- Wear long sleeves in the evening and DEET (at least 50%) bug spray to help prevent malaria. We took a mosquito net which proved useful, although most places we stayed had one, they were often covered in holes making them ineffective.
- Dar es Salaam is hot and very bad for mosquitos!
- Don’t pay for any activities in advance, with the exception of safaris. Be very clear when you strike a deal what is included and what your expectations are – especially on Zanzibar were ripping off tourists is common practice.
- Dress modestly in towns and villages. On the beach and swimming, it is fine to wear your usual swimwear.
I hope this blog will help you put together your own amazing schedule for visiting this incredible country. If you have any questions please use the comments box below.
If you found this blog helpful, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. I give all my advice out for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!