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Gap year in Tanzania


Tanzania At a Glance

When many people think of Africa, they are actually thinking of Tanzania. It is one of the most beautiful and politically stable countries in East Africa. It contains some of Africa's finest game reserves (Ngorongoro, Serengeti) as well as the roof of Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro. From the palm-fringed sands of Zanzibar on the coast, to the fabulous bush scenery near Arusha, there is no better way to experience Africa in safe and happy surroundings. The GapGuru volunteer programmes of teaching in schools, vocational training and child care are all based in cities which offer a centre point to explore East Africa during your gap year abroad.

Tanzania borders Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda and Mozambique. Modern day Tanzania was formed in 1964 with the merger of Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar. Migrating tribes from across Africa settled on the land as early as the first century BC, while Arab traders occupied the coastal regions from around the 8th century onwards.

The Portuguese added to the mix when they colonised the country from the 16th century. By the 19th century, a European presence was stronger than ever; explorers, notably Stanley and Livingstone, were arriving and the country became part of the German Empire until the British took control after WWI. This combination of influences makes Tanzania a culturally-rich country. The coolest months are from June to October and the warmest from December to March. Along the coast, there's high humidity and temperatures averaging between 25°C and 29°C. On the central plateau, temperatures range from 20°C to 27°C between June and August. Between December and March they can soar above 30°C.

There are two rainy seasons, with the masika (long rains) from mid-March to May, and the mvuli (short rains) during November, December and into January. The best time for gap year travel in Tanzania is between late June and October, when the rains have finished and the air is coolest. The most opportune time to see lions roaring and wildebeest roaming is to visit the Serengeti from January to March, or the beginning of June and mid-November, when the great migrations to and from Kenya takes place.

Getting Around

Precision Air flies the main domestic routes, including flights to Zanzibar (around 20 minutes flying time from Dar es Salaam), with the main flight hubs based at Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro. Zan Air, Zanzibar's airline, also flies to the mainland and to the island of Pemba. Coastal Aviation specialises in Safari trips and has a fleet of small planes varying from 3 to 12 seaters. Ferries also serve Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam. Ferry operator Azam Marine provides a daily service that takes around 2 hours, while its route from Zanzibar to Pemba takes just over an hour and runs a couple of times a week. Faster services are available from companies such as Sea Express and Flying Horse.

Dalla dallas (minibuses) are in abundance and often travel to more remote areas though they don't have the best safety records.

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