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Tanzania is a spectacular country in East Africa, which fits every stereotype of the romantic image of the continent; from the dramatic wildebeest migration through the famous Serengeti, to the beaches of the Zanzibar Archipelago, and Mt Kilimanjaro.

This is an adventurous destination which has fewer cheap packages than its neighbors; tourism infrastructure is well laid out here, and it’s attractions are far from low-key.

But that doesn’t mean it’s totally impossible for backpacking students, and there are definitely ways you can experience Tanzania on a budget, like keeping your itinerary simple, and your accommodations basic.

So clear some time in your semester break, the following are tips for experiencing Tanzania on a student budget.

Tips for Experiencing Tanzania on a Student Budget

Getting There on the Cheap

Tanzania Flight Plane RF

Tanzania is well connected to the rest of the world, and Julius Nyerere International Airport sees regular flights from most countries. That said, flights to Kenya tend to be cheaper because they have more flights available.

If you’re keen to save money on your flights to Tanzania, consider flying into Nairobi and then catching a connecting to Tanzania. This often proves to be a much cheaper option and the savings can be put towards your itinerary.

Even cheaper than a connecting flight for those who have more time than money, is the bus from Kenya to Tanzania. It’s a long and arduous journey, and if you do have the money for a connecting flight I recommend this instead, however it’s a good cheap option.

For getting between cities once in Tanzania, the bus is your cheapest option, and you can get between cities like Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Moshi, Morogoro, Mwanza, Tanga, Iringa for as cheap as $25.

Wildlife Viewing

African safari elephant RF

One of the main benefits of Africa is a wildlife safari, and this is probably the main reason you want to go. Luxurious safaris here are among some of the best in the world, but what about viewing wildlife on a student budget?

Tanzania’s National Parks and Reserves are the best in the world, with northern parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, and Kilimanjaro united in the “Northern Ring”, and the “Southern Ring” formed by such parks as Rungwa, Mikumi, Selous, Ugala, and Katavi.

But you can still experience the best while, for instance, sleeping in tents (and experts say that tents might be the best way to sleep anyway!).

Choosing a budget tent safari where you camp out in National Parks (as opposed to returning to luxury lodges), is not only kind on the backpacker budget, it’s also far more immersive, and you’re getting the most out of your trip by doing this.

And to cut down your costs even further, make sure you’re booking directly with the local company, as opposed to through a third party international tour agency (ie a well known travel company will be re-selling the safari, often with a considerably large mark-up).

It’s also wise to aim to join a small group tour as opposed to booking privately, as this will drop the cost of your trip quite significantly, because more people equal less per-person costs.

Some Experiences are Free

Maasai Warriors beach Zanzibar Africa RF

While you have the costs of getting there, it doesn’t cost anything to sit on the beach. And the beaches in the Zanzibar Archipelago are stunning! Think snow-white sand and bright teal water – your photos from Tanzanian beaches won’t need any filters.

And like-wise, it doesn’t cost anything to explore a city by foot and appreciate the architecture, or soak up local culture. For instance, exploring the historic Stone Town on Zanzibar Island, with its maze of narrow alleys lined by houses, shops, bazaars and mosques.

Wandering around Stone Town, the architecture here is a mix of Arab, Persian, Indian, European, and African traditions and influences, fringed by the beach, and a particularly fun activity to is to check out the beautifully carved wooden doors throughout the city.

Watching sunset? Free (though you can visit sunset bars and buy a drink which is still cheap). Visiting a market? Free! Talking to locals? People watching in main hubs? All free. You can plan your itinerary accordingly.

Local Culture

Massai Warriors Tanzania Culture RF

It’s always fascinating to dive into a foreign culture, and immersing yourself in Tanzanian culture doesn’t have to be expensive. Just striking up a conversation with locals in the street can be immersive.

Tanzania is a country full of people from all different backgrounds, and the locals are some of the friendliest and warmest people you’ll meet. Culture here is Swahili, which is a mix of Arab/African, but you’ll also find big Asian communities, particularly Indian, in towns and cities.

Tribes are a big draw for Tanzania, and still inhabit rural areas, the Maasai of the Great Rift Valley of the north being the most famous (some offer tours of their villages). People watching is free, but always ask first if you’d like to photograph the locals.

Another great way to immerse yourself in local culture on the cheap is eating like the locals, or visiting a market and cooking for yourself if you have kitchen facilities, as most hostels do.

You may not be adventurous enough to go for street food (and it’s typically hit or miss how street food will sit with your stomach), but local restaurants often offer fantastic feasts for as cheap as $1-2.



Kilimanjaro is a bucket list experience for many; to climb the highest mountain in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

But it’s not a cheap climb.

Our best advice would be to make sure you’re booking directly with a local company – just as with your safari, a local tour group will be much less expensive than booking through an international tour company who add a mark up (for instance, I climbed with G Adventures, who booked with local company Zara Tours – I could have booked directly with Zara Tours if I’d known about them).

Though if this is still out of your price range, consider climbing Mt Meru as an alternative; part of Arusha National Park, this peak is considered to be Kilimanjaro’s baby brother. At 4566m it’s Tanzania’s second highest peak, and trekking is considerably cheaper.

Final Tip: Remember to Budget ALL Costs

Every dollar counts when you’re traveling as a student, so remember to take into consideration all costs when planning out your budget. People frequently overlook / forget about things like vaccinations, anti malarial, insurance, and visas.

Have a great trip to Tanzania!

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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