Tanzania Local Customs

  • A Maasai woman Ngorongoro crater
    A Maasai woman Ngorongoro crater
    by babar_1
  • Maasai herder
    Maasai herder
    by toonsarah
  • A beer with the team
    A beer with the team
    by fishandchips

Tanzania Local Customs

  • Masaai People

    Maasai people are basically graziers with unique customs and culture. They live in northern Tanzania and Kenya. Their men always keep spears with them and women wear bright cloths. It was really interesting to see that thay also live very close to the wildlife. They have their villages in Ngorongoro conservation area and also frequently go to...

  • Some Swahili Greetings

    In Africa one of the things to practise is good manners when meeting anyone, even if you don't know them and are unlikely to meet them again, if you don't greet them they will feel they have offended you in some way. Also before any conversation can begin it is good manners to greet the person first. So, here are a few words :JamboHarbari yako -...

  • Listen to "taarab" music

    We stayed in Stone Town for 4 nights, it was interesting but without our "taarab experience" our stay there wouldn't be so fantastic...Just by asking and by some luck we managed to find Huseyin's house. Huseyin is a "ney" player and a room of his house is allocated for the rehearsals with his group, one of the oldest taarab groups in Zanzibar,...

  • Village school

    During our drive from Ngorongoro to Tarangire we stopped for petrol in Karatu village, and Reginald suggested that we might like to visit a local primary school. We agreed and so we stopped off at one where he knew the teacher and knew that she would welcome the interruption. Some of the children were naturally shy, but others were keen to try out...

  • dress accordingly

    there is no dress code, but the people are very modest people so the women are mostly covered. there is a % of muslims so they tend to cover their shoulders and arms., no mini skirts or shorts its not forbidden but you are looked down upon for being so scatterly dressed. there are alot of tourists and they tend to wear their shoulders out and...

  • Visa

    Depending on how patient you are. It doesn't take that long. Don't forget some systems that could speed up some procedures have not been fully implemented in some developing countries,some manual operations are still in use which of course are slow.My clients have been severally issued with visa at border entry points [Namanga & Tarakea]from Kenya...


    PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS FOR BUDGET TRAVELLERS, NOT SOMETHING AGAINST LOCAL PEOPLE. You have to haggle EVERY price in Tanzania, except some restaurants. So, you can play the money trick to make sure you always get a good price. Tanzanian Schillings are weak against the U.S. Dollar, which everyone will take. Make sure you take some single $1 notes for...

  • Clothing for Women

    To feel comfortable as a woman in Tanzania here are some general guidelines for clothes to wear. 1) Pack skirts. Especially if you will be in any type of professional suitation.2) Pants are good, jeans are growing in popularity in the country. However, it's mostly teenage girls wearing jeans. It's is acceptable for female tourist to wear pants. No...

  • General Rules For P.D.A.

    General Rules for Personal Displays of AffectionTanzania is very conservative when it comes to affection. Affection between couples on the street is pretty unacceptable. One example is, I saw a white couple kissing good bye at a bus station and it attracted alot of negative attention. Although is seems acceptable to members of the same sex to hold...


    Basic SwahiliAs you walk down the road, your conversations will go like this:You will hear (shouted at you) – “Jambo!” (Hello)You reply – “Jambo!””Habari?” (what is the news or how are you?)”Nzuri” (I am fine)You usually hear “Karibu” (you are welcome here) sometimes the name of the village is said as well. I often heard “Karibu Jmbiani.” OR...

  • The national language in...

    The national language in Tanzania is Kiswahili, but this is only the mother tongue of a part of the population, mainly on Zanzibar and the coastal areas. Each tribe speaks their own language or dialect, and Kiswahili is a kind of lingua franca understood by everybody. Although most of the people you will interact with speak very good English, it is...

  • Maasai culture: Kalabash

    Maasai feed their children with cow milk mixed with cow blood. They keep this coctail in natural jar -"kalabash" (sorry if this word is misspelled). Inspite of insanitariness conditions childred does not look starving or hungry.

  • English is not widely spoken...

    English is not widely spoken in Tanzania, especially in rural areas so some useful words and phrases in Kiswahili will not only help you in getting by but will be widely appreciated by the Tanzanian people. There are plenty of Kiswahili guides and phrasebooks available both in and out of Tanzania. Some important phrases are: Habari Yako = How are...

  • Maids

    My friend Margaret is not very rich, she did not have any children at the time of my visit and her husband was studying in another country. But she did have a maid. This is a common way for those who have an income of helping their family or neighbours, to pay their daughters to help around the house. It is also quite convenient when you are away...

  • Education in Tanzania

    Low wages, heavy workloads, disrespect amongst the social strata of Tanzania and HIV/AIDS have helped to diminish what was once a reputable profession.There are a large number of interrelated reasons that contribute to the substandard quality of education in Tanzania.According to several reports, some of these problems are partly related to the...

  • That Tanzanian Style

    Tanzanian people pay particular attention to their appearance. No matter what the economic situation a person has, they strive to be clean and well-groomed. This was evident everywhere I went and as soon as I stepped off the plane.Traveling down the main road, you can see lots of folks on foot carrying heavy gear on their heads or...

  • Tipping

    For Tanzanians, and many other Africans, the white man is incredibly rich - just because he can afford to travel long distances. This and other factors have contributed to the mentality that a tourist is someone to ooze money from - so tips are not only expected, but sometimes demanded!In an airport, hotel, near a bus or near a taxi, your luggage...

  • Always ask permission!

    One thing that I have been told, is never under any circumstances try and photograph the Maasai without prior permission, particularly when in rural areas. They can turn very nasty, and it is not worth upsetting them or injuring yourself for the sake of a photo.

  • Stirring up the workers

    It looked like this drummer did the biggest job at the work site, stirring up the other workers with his drum. Also in other parts of Africa people use to support and stimulate workers by singing and clapping hands.We did it in Ghana - where I was volunteering for some weeks- especially if there were not enough tools for everybody to do the work.

  • Lamadi, watertower with drums

    At the Lake Victoria near Lamadi Jan Willem our tourleader built a new lodge with two partners from Denmark. At the moment of our visit they were busy with the water tower. The watertower had to be covered with soil. Afterwards it will be planted.During the job a drummer was stirring up the hard workers !

  • The doors of Zanzibar Town

    In the 19th century the doors and doorframes became the favoured means of expression the grandeur of one's mansion. The elaborately carved Zanzibar doors in the white-washed walls became the most important feature of the external appearance of the house. Its quality and size were a mark of status and wealth of the owner.In Zanzibar are 277 such...

  • Dhows

    The traditional dhows became the maritime symbol of East Africa. The art of sailing was allready known for two millenia to the east Africans. The main dhow building centre was at the north coast of Zanzibar Island, where the teak forests were.In Zanzibar town you can book an one-day cruise at a dhow, visitng a sandbank, a reef and two islands. Also...

  • Learn some words

    The people of Tanzania are the warmest, most friendly people you will ever meet. I thought at first that it was an act for tourists, but they really are wonderful. They truly love to teach you words in Swahili and appreciate your using them.Do not take photos of individuals without asking first. This has caused problems in the past. They may want a...

  • Learn some Swahili words

    Learn some Swahili words so you can at least say hello or thank you to the people. Most people working in tourism speak very good english, so it is not necessary but it is polite and will earn you some smiles.Some basic words:hello - jambothank you - asantewelcome - karibu

  • Masai boys in black

    The Masai are very traditional people. A young boy already knows what is life is going to look like. First at a young age of about 4-5 years old he gets responsibility of the young cattle, the lambs and calves. Then at about 8 he becomes responsible for the older animals, getting them to water and good grazing lands. Between 13 and 16 he gets a...

  • Ugali

    Ugali is made of maize meal cooked up into a thick porrige until it sets hard. Everyone is eating from the same plate. When I was eating there was a green sauce and yoghurt to dip the ugali in. I have also eaten ugali made of sorghum, but maize is more common.

  • Taking pictures

    As you have probably heard, people do not like their picture taken or they request money (especially children) for you to take it. I am not one to support that, I would rather give money to people than encourage activities that pester tourists. What did work for me is smiling. MANY people approached me and asked me to take their picture. Below is...

  • Crops

    Mayor food crops in the Kondoa area (where I stayed for some time) are maize, bullrush millet and sorghum. Other crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, groundnuts and sunfowers.Many of the fields are far from the house of the farmer. From the field the harvest is mainly carried on the head in kihares (bowles made of...

  • Stoves

    In Tanzania many people in the villages are using three stones as a stove. Between the stones they put the firewood and then the saucepan on top. This is of course consuming a lot of energy. The women often spends many hours every week to find the firewood and can carry home big loads weighting 25 - 30 kg on their head. In the beginning of the dry...

  • Drying crops

    After the harvest the crops are put on the roof or on a "table" to dry. Hopefully they are out of the way for the rats.The grains are then stored in bags or Kelindos. Kelindos are big wooden boxes made of the bark from trees with a wide diameter. The lid of the kelindo can be covered with earth to make it tight and more difficult for insects to...

  • Water

    Many people in Tanzania don't have running water in taps at home. They get the water from a diggged well or from a hole digged in a dry riverbed.It's incredible how the women can carry a bucket full of water on the head. So much hard work to get something that many of us take for granted.

  • Peoples - Languages - Religions

    East Africa - it is a land of tremendous variety. The 150 million people who live there are divided into more than 350 ethnic groups. Tanzania alone has about 125 such groups. In Kenya, there are about 40 different groups, ranging from the Kikuyu, well represented in Nairobi’s modern business district, to the Masai, a pastoral people who feed...

  • Children are watching you!

    The people are extremely friendly. In regions with less tourism they are still not used to see white people, so you become a lot of interest. Especially for the children it is very exciting to see white people, and so you get proclaimed over the streets before you see yourself anybody or the village. On the photo, the guys presented us fresh young...

  • United Colours of Tanzania

    People in Tanzania are hospitable and kind. This multicultural society is very tolerant and peaceful.

  • This is a photo of a girl I...

    This is a photo of a girl I met in Iringa in October 1999. I spent a lot of time with her family....collecting water with the children and cooking meals with the mum. One evening I went to visit, and the father had just returned from being away looking after his cattle for a few weeks. He brought back 3 eggs and about 1 pint of milk. The mother...

  • You will see notices...

    You will see notices everywhere asking tourists to dress modestly. This is not enforced but will be appreciated. Most of the population of Zanzibar is Muslim but they are Ismailia, i.e. quite liberal. Sunbathing topless or nude is a no-no.

  • Swahili is the common language...

    Swahili is the common language and there are more than 50 or more local tribal languages, Here are some e.g in the national language swahili---Kwanza= first (also African American new year)Jambo=Hello,Hi.habari gani=what's up or how are you.Shillingi gapi=How much?Kwaheri=Byeetc,etc.

  • There's also some unscheduled...

    There's also some unscheduled weddings where you are wellcome to attend. Sometimes you'll meet some FC Barcelona football players ;-)

  • What intrigues me the most in...

    What intrigues me the most in my travels is the difference in culture. Obviously,being American,the Tanzanian culture was WAY different than my own! But isn't that the beauty of traveling? While I found some things to be frustrating,others were just wonderful. The biggest things I noticed were that the Tanzanian in general are the most generous and...

  • This goes anywhere in the...

    This goes anywhere in the world, so I’m going to mention it under every country. Neverphotograph people without asking them first. It’s rude and disrespectful. By all meansphotograph your friends, and get to know local people, but remember that people are not touristattractions. They don’t exist solely to give you a more “authentic experience” and...

  • Tanzania has a very strong...

    Tanzania has a very strong Muslim presence, especially on the Island of Zanzibar. Although veilsare not required, and local women often don’t wear them, it’s still important to dressconservatively. In Stone Town, Zanzibar, they receive a huge amount of tourists every year, sothey may be used to seeing girls wander around in tank tops and shorts....

  • Tanzanian women, like most...

    Tanzanian women, like most African women, work extremely hard, long hours. It isn’t unusual tosee a heavily pregnant woman with an infant tied to her back and an enormous bundle balanced onher head; sometimes she is accompanied by a man who carries nothing. Nothing frustrates memore than the old racist adage, “Africans are lazy”. I don’t know how...

  • If someone should steal...

    If someone should steal something from you on the street, think for a moment before you yell out 'thief'. In some places local people, frustrated with crime levels, have been known to attack the thief and beat him. Some thieves in Nairobi have been beaten to death. It's an ugly thought, but it happens. The upside to this is that your stuff is...

  • When greeting elders, try to...

    When greeting elders, try to adopt the local custom, and say “shikamoo” (I respectfully greetyou). I have found that elders really appreciate this, and will usually answer with an enthusiastic“Marahaba!” (I am delighted). Likewise, if a child says shikamoo to you, you should respondwith marahaba.

  • In Swahili culture, it isn’t...

    In Swahili culture, it isn’t rude to ask for something outright. It also isn’t rude to refuse aperson’s request. If someone asks you for money or your camera, they will do so withoutembarassment; you should answer in the same way.


Tanzania Hotels

See all 126 Hotels in Tanzania

Top Tanzania Hotels

Dar es Salaam Hotels
159 Reviews - 349 Photos
Zanzibar Town Hotels
245 Reviews - 643 Photos
Arusha Hotels
43 Reviews - 107 Photos
Zanzibar Island Hotels
419 Reviews - 953 Photos
Moshi Hotels
58 Reviews - 101 Photos
Jambiani Hotels
33 Reviews - 114 Photos
Serengeti National Park Hotels
140 Reviews - 503 Photos
Dar es Salaam Hotels
23 Hotels
Pongwe Hotels
10 Reviews - 26 Photos
Tanga Hotels
2 Reviews - 2 Photos
Sengerema Hotels
33 Reviews - 26 Photos
Selous Game Reserve Hotels
15 Reviews - 43 Photos
Paje Hotels
23 Reviews - 15 Photos
Ngorongoro Hotels
143 Reviews - 484 Photos
Mwanza Hotels
72 Reviews - 47 Photos

Instant Answers: Tanzania

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

101 travelers online now


Tanzania Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Tanzania local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Tanzania sightseeing.
Map of Tanzania

Tanzania Members Meetings

Aug 12, 2014 

see all Tanzania member meetings