Getting around in Tanzania is relatively cheap and easy. Although buses travel between most major towns and cities, air travel is a safer option due to the poor road conditions and the vast distances.
Most expats living in Tanzania will need a vehicle, especially if they're planning to travel outside the main city centres. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended, and many city-dwelling expats opt to have a driver for daily commutes.
Public transport in Tanzania
Most Tanzanian towns have basic public transport in the form of buses, taxis and dala-dala (minibus taxis). Dar es Salaam is the central transport hub for the country, with intercity buses and trains travelling to local and regional destinations daily.
Buses are the most popular and cheapest means of getting around in Tanzania and operate between all major towns.
Long-distance buses also run between Tanzania's major cities and the main centres of neighbouring countries, including Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya and Lilongwe in Malawi.
Minibus taxis, known locally as dala-dala, are an affordable means of public transport in Tanzanian towns. These taxis generally operate set routes and will stop when hailed along the road. They are normally overcrowded and have a reputation for speeding and aggressive driving, so expats should use them with caution.
Taxis are available in all major towns and cities, but they usually aren't metered, so it's best to negotiate the fare before setting off on a journey. Compared to buses and dala-dala, taxis can be rather expensive in Tanzania. They are identifiable by their white number plates, are normally independently operated and can be hailed off the street – although a safer option is to find one at a designated taxi stand.
Ride-hailing application Uber is also available in Tanzania's capital city of Dar es Salaam. This may be a fantastic option for newly arrived expats, as using this service will mitigate any language barriers they may experience.
Driving in Tanzania
Tanzanian roads are largely in poor condition, especially in rural areas where roads are not tarred, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary. Traffic can be chaotic in the cities, especially in Dar es Salaam, and Tanzanian drivers are notorious for disobeying the rules of the road.
Expats moving to Tanzania will likely need to purchase a vehicle. Many living in the main centres hire a driver for their daily commutes to avoid having to navigate the poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion. Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Tanzania.
Expats who will be living in Tanzania for more than six months will need a Tanzanian driving licence. During their first six months in Tanzania, expats will need an International Driver's Permit along with their home country licence to drive legally in the country. Thereafter, they must enrol in a Tanzanian driving school, apply for a learner's licence and receive a competence certificate from a driving school. Expats can then take a driving test as well as an eye test to secure their local driving licence.
Ferries in Tanzania
As a country with lakeside towns and coastal islands, Tanzania boasts ferries and water taxis to transport passengers between the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Expats will need to purchase ferry tickets in US dollars, and it's recommended to travel by ferry only during the day.
Domestic flights in Tanzania
Due to its large size, limited public transport, and poor road condition, flying is the most convenient option for travelling long distances in Tanzania. Several airlines, including the national carrier, Air Tanzania, offer services between the major cities, and there are many charter companies that fly to smaller destinations as well as the country's numerous game parks. If booking in advance, expats will find air travel to be fairly inexpensive in Tanzania.