Travelling through Tanzania with backpack in public transport.

We went to Tanzania in February - March 2015,
during a complete trip (8 months), 
through Southern and Eastern Africa.

If you are planning a budget trip in Tanzania, the cheapest way to travel across the country is by public transport. Here you can find useful information about prices, routes, services, etc., as we experienced during our trip.

   BUSES IN TANZANIA   

Tanzania is full of buses on the most important roads. Many companies all over the country. Quality varies a lot depending specially of the region.
Really convenient for low-cost and independent travellers cause they are cheap and you will not have to wait too long.You don´t really need to book in advance, the offer is really big and there are buses passing all day long the main Tanzania bus stations.

Usually many stops on the way, to take and drop off passengers. Be patient!

Bus drivers often drive to fast, they like speed, 80 km/h in average! There are many trucks and buses on Tanzania roads. We saw many accidents! Fortunetly we didn´t have any problem, but during our trip, a big bus accident occurred and 50 people died...

  • Average price for bus: around 2.000 Sh/h. 
  • For shorter distances, also minibuses.
  • Usually buses have the destination or route written in the front. Check.
  • Buses usually have 3+2 seats rows, more or less new. Some expensive companies offer less seats and stops (in theory).
  • Distances are long in Tanzania, it´s a big country. Try to stop on the way if you have time not to get too tired.
Also international coaches, specially departing from Dar Es Salaam (long distances) to Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda,etc.

Bus stations in Tanzania: KEEP CALM!

Usually each town has a bus station. Sometimes, a few km outside the center, but connected by dalla-dallas.
Bus stations are more or less organised, with buses departing to the same destination parked together. Companies usually have offices.
But quite often, there are too many people around, yelling and you can feel stressedharassed, many guys following and asking you "where are you going?". Too many people touch a commission in Tanzania bus stations!! It´s quite commun they try to charge you more. Be patient!

This is the situation not only with tourists but also with local people.  
Try to ask about the price before, outside, in shops or hotels. If you think it´s too much, complain and bargain!
Always keep calm and don´t talk with too many people, just have a look around and try to ask directly to drivers or people from the companies about your destination bus and price.

Be always carefull with your valuables at the bus stations. Too many people: passengers, drivers, people selling food, taxi drivers, commissioners, staff… and very noisy. 

We never had any problem at the tough Tanzania bus stations. And most of the times we paid the fair price. Just keep calm!


REFERENCES PRICES ON TANZANIA MAIN ROUTES(trip February - March 2015).

  • Mbeya - Iringa: 12.000 Sh, small bus, 7h30. Prefer big buses, less stops, 5 h.
  • Iringa - Morogoro: 15.000 Sh, bus, 4h30.
  • Morogoro - Dar Es Salaam: 5.000 Sh, bus, 4 h. We negociated the price (usually 6.000- 7.000 Sh.)
  • Dar Es Salaam – Lushoto: 15.000 Sh, bus, 7 h. Departures early morning (6:00-9:00), in both directions, only a couple of companies.
  • Lushoto – Moshi: 13.000 Sh, bus, 6 h. Departures only early morning, in both directions, at 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30.
  • Moshi – Arusha: 3.000 Sh, bus, 2 h. All day long, many, different buses and prices.
  • Arusha - Nairobi: From 15.000 Sh, 6h.
  • Arusha - Kenya border (Namanga): 4.500 Sh.
  • Arusha - Babati: 6.500 Sh, bus, 2h15.
  • Babati - Singida: 7.000 Sh, bus, 2h30.
  • Singida - Mwanza: 20.000 Sh, 6h30 - 7h.

   Public transport around Tanzania towns   

Don´t worry, there´s always something in Tanzania for small distances, inside towns or surroundings.
  • Plenty of “dalla-dallas”(vans or minibuses, depending of towns). Prices are around 400-500 Sh for short distances.
  • Also many “boda-bodas” (mototaxis) and “bajajis” (tuctucs). Cheap but bargain.
  • Not so many taxis except in Dar and Arusha.

   FERRY LINES   

Lake Tanganika:
NOTE: We didn´t Travel in that area but here´s some information we took.
MV Liemba. 
Only 2 Wednesdays/month from Kigoma heading south.From Kigoma (departure Wednesday 16:00) to Mpulungu (Zambia) (arrival Friday 12:00). And the way up from Friday to Saturday.
Prices: 100 $ (1st class), 90 $ (2nd class), 70 $ (3rd class seat).
Booking telephone: 0282802811

Lake Victoria:
Ferry Mwanza - Kamanga: Price: 1.000 Sh, 30 min. 

Ferry Mwanza - Bukoba: Price: 36.000 Sh.
Fast ferry Dar-Zanzibar

Zanzibar island: 
Dar Es Salaam- Stone Town
Prices for "speed" boat (1h30 - 2h).
Differents companies.
- Business class - Foreigner: 35$
- First class - Foreigner: 40$
- Economy, only for residents: 23.000 Sh

Prices for "slow" ferry  (3h navigation, but you have to stay all the night on board coming back from Zanzibar).
Only 1 company, Flying Horse.
- VIP class - Foreigner: 20$ or 38.000 Sh (we paid 35.000 Sh in Dar, small discount).
- Economy, only for residents: 15.000 Sh

All the useful information and details about public transport in Zanzibar are in the right sidebar menu.

   FLIGHTS IN TANZANIA   

We didn´t fly in Tanzania.
International airports in Dar, Zanzibar, Arusha-Moshi (Kilimanjaro airport).
To get a good deal, you can buy in advance or super last minute.

Fast jet has domestic and international flights, it´s the Tanzania low-cost company. Also Zanair, Coastal Airways with smaller planes.
fly540, Kenya low-cost company, has flights from Nairobi to Zanzibar.

Flights to Zanzibar: the ferry is cheaper... but if you are short in time, the less expensive flights are from Dar Es Salaam around 60 $ one way, Kilimanjaro airport for around  100 $ one way. Also connections to neighbour island, Pemba. Also flights to Zanzibar from Johannesburg via Dar. And some months charters from Italy, Spain, France.

You can check with Skyscanner, before buying to compare prices.

   TRAIN   

We didn´t use the train in Tanzania.

Quite limited options in Tanzania for the traveller and really too slow.
Local trains Dar Es Salaam: not convenient for tourists.
Central Line: Dar-Tabora and then north Tabora-Mwanza or west Tabora-Kigoma. Slow, not always in operation.

Tazara Train: international train Tanzania - Zambia, Dar Es Salaam-Mbeya-Kapiri Moshi (around 2 days trip).
Good news: now complete information, with schedules, prices, in the website: www.tazarasite.com

Express and ordinary trains (cheaper but more stops). From 1st to 3rd class. Sleeper is the best for that long trip. Prices in Tanzania shillings or Zambia Kwachas (now much cheaper to travel from Zambia cause currency is down). Around 30-50 $ trip.
Departure Express from Dar Es Salaam tuesday 15:50, arrival at Kapiri Moshi thursday 14:00.
Same in the other direction.
Ordinary trains leave Dar and Kapiri on fridays.
You can do booking via phone and they keep your booking till a few hours before departure (when you are supposed to arrive in advance before departure and pay) or you can go to the train station and buy the tickets in advance. 
(Central railway station Dar Es Salaam, tel: 2110600).
 Note: if sleeping class, usually 4 beds in 1st class and 6 beds in 2nd class. If 2 travellers man-woman travel together it´s not possible to share with other people and you will have to book and pay all the compartiment.
 

   ROADS IN TANZANIA  

Main roads in Tanzania are tarred and in quite good conditions. Roads in rural areas (Usambaras, Western Tanzania, etc.) are dirty roads.
Some roads specially the Tazam (Mbeya to Dar) and Dar - Arusha, have a very heavy truck traffic.

We saw many accidents, specially trucks over, on many of the Tanzanian roads. 
Better avoid travelling at night!

Rent a car in Tanzania:
Not usual, it´s expensive, at leat 100 €/day. 
More usual to get a driver+car in some places like Arusha, but bargain hard.

Petrol prices: 1.720 Sh/l diesel,1.760 K/l unleaded.
More expensive in remote places and in Zanzibar.

Entering Tanzania by car you have to pay a tax fee (no list of prices at the border post).
You don´t really need a 4WD, except if going to remote places or some game parks.

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