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 conditions of the roads and the vast distances.
Most expats living in Tanzania will need their own vehicle, especially if planning to travel outside of 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 on a daily basis.
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 popular and cheap 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 generally aren't metered so it’s best to negotiate the fare before setting off on a journey. Compared to the buses and data-dala, taxi's can be rather expensive in Tanzania. They are identifiable by their white number plates, are normally independently operated and can be hailed on the street – although a safer option is to find one at a designated taxi stand.
Driving in Tanzania
Tanzanian roads are generally 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 living in Tanzania will likely need their own vehicle. Many living in the main centres hire a driver for their daily commutes in order to avoid having to navigate the poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion.
Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Tanzania.
Domestic flights in Tanzania
Due to its large size, limited public transport, and poor condition of the roads, flying is the most convenient option for travelling long distances in Tanzania. A number of 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 rather inexpensive in Tanzania.
►Learn about navigating the business world in Doing Business in Tanzania.
Are you an expat living in Tanzania?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Tanzania. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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