Tanzania is well-known for many destinations. The rich and home to many wild animals Serengeti National Park, the must-do climb of Kilimanjaro Mountain, and the oh-so stunning beaches in Zanzibar island to name a few.
It can be stressful to imagine if 3 weeks in Tanzania is enough to visit all these places. With enough planning – I tell you, it’s definitely possible. But of course, if you prefer slow travel that’s also not a problem. You can easily remove some days from other places or remove entirely a place from your itinerary.
If you are ready, let’s discuss how you can spend 20 days in Tanzania covering its most popular attractions.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO TANZANIA
There are a few things you should know before you book any flight ticket or buy a comfortable safari outfit. Here is a list of basic yet important things you should know about visiting Tanzania.
When is the best time to go to
The best time to visit Tanzania is between July to September. It is a short window but it’s easily the perfect time. It’s dry but not too hot. A perfect time to visit the Serengeti, hike Mount Kilimanjaro and soak on the beach of Zanzibar.
However, remember that it is also the busiest and peak season. This means accommodations get booked up quite easily, the prices may be a little higher, and places get crowded. I recommend choosing the beginning of July or even sometime in June and then the end of September or sometime in October.
The prices are back to normal, the crowd is thinner and still a safe time to avoid any heavy rains and super dry months.
What to pack
If you plan to do all the Big 3 locations, the items in your luggage will be very interesting. Spending 3 weeks in Tanzania visiting three locations offering very different activities can take quite a toll on your packing. The best way to tackle this is by having a packing list to make sure you don’t forget or overpack.
First, you want to have safari clothing. These clothes are off-colour like brown or green, in this way, you won’t spook the animals away. But of course, jeans and a shirt are not a problem either – there is no dress code. Bring a hat that could work both for the safari, hiking, and the beach.
Next, hiking items for Kilimanjaro might be heavy. This includes proper hiking shoes and a jacket good enough to keep you warm when you reach the top but light enough when you are still on sea level. It might be smart to get one of those trousers where you can zip and unzip the leg part and a lightweight windbreaker and scarf.
Finally, you want your clothes for the beach. You don’t have to pack sunscreen ad other toiletries if you want to save some space. You can buy these when you land in Tanzania. Make sure to wear bulky or heavy clothes on your flight to save space and not make your luggage too heavy.
How to get around
It’s best to start your trip in Kilimanjaro because this is where you can take a flight to Serengeti. There are two airports near Mount Kilimanjaro – Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). There is no big commercial airport near Serengeti. There are small planes you can take and they will land on a small airstrip. However, they are often can be pricey (about $350 minimum | £260).
The other option is to take the 7-9 hour bus ride from Arusha/Moshi/Kilimanjaro to Serengeti. The cost is about $85-$110 (£65-£85).
Keep in mind that you don’t need to get yourself to Serengeti on your own. You can book a tour from Arusha and the tour agency will arrange everything for you. This is much more convenient and time-saving.
Visa and COVID-19 protocol
Tanzania is a very welcoming country when it comes to visas. Almost all visitors can either enjoy a visa for free or get an evisa or visa upon arrival for a fee. Tourists can stay up to 90 days, the costs depend on how many days you plan to stay which is somewhere between $50-$100 (£38-£76).
There are only very few nationalities who are required to apply for a visa from the embassies or consulate. This includes some countries in the west, central, and east Africa and countries located in Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East.
Tanzania is open to all tourists. Vaccinated travellers must present their COVID-19 vaccination card while unvaccinated visitors must present a negative PCR test result 72-hour prior to departure. Everyone is required to take a rapid test upon arrival. Wearing a mask is not required but recommended.
Other travel tips
I also want to share with you a list of travel tools I personally use. These travel websites and services offer a wide range of options and a lot of them have great flexibility when it comes to cancellations.
MUST-SEE PLACES IN TANZANIA (pinned map)
Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google
3 WEEKS IN TANZANIA ITINERARY
Located in the east of Africa, Tanzania offers a lot of various activities. From sunbathing on the world-class beaches of Zanzibar island, outdoor challenges, and meeting animals in their natural habitat, there’s nothing more a person going on a holiday could ask for.
TIP: You could make your itinerary simpler. For example, after hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, you can book a tour that takes you to Serengeti and back to Arusha where you can take a flight to Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam. There are so many things to see between Kilimanjaro and Serengeti such as Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara.
Kilimanjaro for 8 days
It’s best to start here because Kilimanjaro has an international airport while Serengeti does not. Zanzibar is the place you want to leave at the end since it’s the perfect location for beach bumming and anything related to relaxing – it’s the ideal place to end your 3 weeks in Tanzania.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest point in the African content. Standing 5,895 metres (19,340 feet) tall, this destination is a must-hike. Believe it or not but many people thought that Kilimanjaro was located in Kenya. One, it’s right at the border between the two countries, and two, Kenyans did advertise Kilimanjaro from the Kenyan side.
It’s true, the tallest mountain in Africa can indeed be seen from Kenya’s side, however, it can only be accessed through Tanzania and only the Tanzanian government is legally allowed to sell Kilimanjaro trekking permits. If you enjoy hiking tall mountains, you should also consider trekking Mount Everest Base Camp during your 3 weeks in Nepal.
There are seven routes you can take to hike Kilimanjaro:
- Lemosho Route – the most scenic and picture-perfect route
- Machame Route – it is the most popular way to trek the mountain
- Marangu Route – known for hut accommodations (it’s the only route that offers it)
- Northern Circuit Route – it is a new route and not surprisingly the longest one to take
- Rongai Route – is undeniably the easiest trail to take, also it ascends ib the northeastern side, which is along the Tanzania-Kenya border
- Shira Route – the least popular route and approaches the mountain on the west side
- Umbwe Route – shortest and fastest yet steepest and hardest trail
Types of Mount Kilimanjaro hikes and other things to do:
- Marangu Route for 5 days – check the price
- Uhuru Peak
- Machame Route for 6 days – look at the itinerary
- Umbwe Gate
- Rongai Route for 6 days – join the hike
- Arusha National Park
- Materuni Waterfalls – get on a tour from Arusha
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Tarangire & Ngorongoro Crater – 2 days and 1-night trip
- Tarangire National Park
Accommodations near Kilimanjaro
- Affordable: Rafiki Backpackers & Guesthouse or Kilimanjaro Mad Monkey’s Hotel
- Mid-range and Luxury: Kaliwa Lodge or Kilimanjaro White House Hotel
Serengeti National Park for 5 days
Serengeti is one of the must-do safaris in the world. It’s different in its own way compared to Kruger National Park. For one, it’s easier to find big cats in Serengeti compared to Kruger which is the best spot for elephants.
It is indeed easier to get to Kruger and manage things on your own but Serengeti is definitely a place you have to visit if you love wild animals in their natural living. Serengeti also offers luxury camping – which many people find a romantic getaway for couples as well.
REMEMBER: Don’t geotag your photos or post them right at the location it was taken. Poachers are using social media geotags or coordinates to hunt for wild animals to poach. Share your photos once you left the country or simply change the location to “Serengeti National Park”.
Serengeti safari tours:
- Serengeti and Ngorongoro for 3-days – from Arusha, check the itinerary
- Balloon Safari at Dawn – look at the price
- 2-day Luxury Safari – from Arusha, book a tour
Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar for 7 days
3 weeks in Tanzania is incomplete without visiting Zanzibar. For people who don’t enjoy busy cities, you may skip Dar es Salaam, some people thought this is the capital of Tanzania. This is technically true until 1974 when the government decided to change the capital to Dodoma.
If you are on the leg of your trip where all you want is to relax, get a massage, and read a book, skip Dar es Salaam and go straight to Zanzibar. The island of Zanzibar is known for its world-class spices. It’s also an ideal spot to do some dolphin watching and lots of snorkelling.
Zanzibar Island is pretty huge and choosing where to go and spend a few days can be challenging. It’s best to make a decision first about what you are after. For example, if you want serenity but with restaurants around head to Michamvi, while Stone Town is a very popular and busy place. Matemwe is also a quiet area with a long stretch of fine white sand.
Things to see in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar:
- Mwenge Woodcarvers Market
- National Museum and House of Culture
- Dar es Salaam city tour
- Makumbusho Village and Museum
- Coco Beach
- Mbundya Island
- Stone Town – join a city tour
- Mnemba Island – a great spot for snorkelling with the Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve trip
- Pungume Island
- Jozani Sea Turtle and Tortoise Sanctuary – book a tour
- Old Fort
- Jozani Forest National Park – you can visit this plus a dolphin encounter tour
- Zanzibar Spice Community Shop
- Dine at Rock Restaurant – plus a sinkhole cave tour
- People’s Palace Museum
- Prison Island – tour plus lunch at Sandbank
- Kuza Cave
- Kizimkazi Beach – is an awesome spot to see dolphins or try a buggy ride
- Try parasailing
Accommodations in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar:
- Affordable (Dar es Salaam): L&J Modern Backpackers or The Nest Haven Hostel
- Mid-range (Dar es Salaam): Peninsula Hotel or Chelsea Hotel
- Luxury (Dar es Salaam): Sea Cliff Hotel or Hyatt Regency
- Affordable (Zanzibar): Habibi B&B or Lost & Found
- Mid-range (Zanzibar): Mizingi Seafront Hotel or Antonio Garden Hotel
- Luxury (Zanzibar): Baraza Resort and Spa or Sunshine Marine Lodge
SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN TANZANIA
Tanzania is a country full of diverse destinations to offer. From safari adventures, hiking the highest point in Africa, and soaking in the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar. It might require a little bit of planning in advance, but Tanzania is relatively easy to explore.
Spending 3 weeks in Tanzania is worth every moment and penny. It’s an experience that lasts a lifetime. On your second visit, perhaps you can explore the southern and western parts which are also rich in areas full of wildlife.