Want to go on safari but can’t (or don’t want to) spend a ton of money on the posh lodges? Try a budget Tanzania safari and go camping in the Serengeti! If you like adventure travel and don’t mind roughing it a bit, this is an amazing, exciting way to go on safari in a way most other people never will.
This style of travel isn’t for everyone; it’s not glamorous, but if you’re up for it, this trip could be one you’ll never forget. So, how do you know if a budget Tanzania safari with camping is right for you? Consider how comfortable you are with:
- Sleeping in a tent (obviously, this is a big part of camping in the Serengeti)
- Using communal bathrooms
- The possibility of running into, or trying very had to avoid running into, wildlife during any nighttime trips you might need to make to said bathroom
- Wildlife (think, hyenas) being right outside your tent
- Dealing with changes in weather; it can be hot during the day and quite cold at night
While you think about these things, also consider what you can see and experience on a budget Tanzania safari:
- Sunsets in the Serengeti with nothing to distract you from the stunning surroundings
- How you will bond with your travel buddy and/or the other people in your group, who come from around the world, over the shared adventure
- The animals you will see and the safari experience you may not otherwise have
- The stories you will be able to share and memories (and pictures) you can hold onto
Consider how the overall sense of adventure will make the whole experience that much more fun and memorable.
Tanzania Budget Safari + 2 Days Itinerary
Are you ready to plan your budget Tanzania safari yet?!? Honestly, this trip is probably my favorite trip I’ve been on; being out in nature with animals that I have only seen in zoos before this trip was amazing. The camping was an adventure (like, hi to the lions on the other side of the hill from where I went to the bathroom) and I wouldn’t change any of it.
If you’re convinced this sounds like your type of adventure, or one you’re willing to try, I highly recommend going with G Adventures. My tour with them was well organized, the guides knowledgeable and friendly, the cooks made some amazing meals, and the overall experience was well worth the money. Plus, you don’t just get an exceptional safari on a budget, you can also get a tour that goes to Zanzibar for some quality beach time and exploration of Stone Town. *Note: it looks like the tour I did is no longer offered, but the most similar options are Tanzania to Zanzibar: White Sands & Wilderness , which is an 18-30 something tour (what I did), and Serengeti Safari & Zanzibar, which is Classic but seems to be the same route we took and include the same highlights.
Okay, I’m going to assume that if you’re still reading at this point, you’re really considering this adventure. But if you’re going to travel all the way to Tanzania and embark on this budget Tanzania safari, maybe spending a few extra days in the country to explore other areas is something you want to do.
I went with a girlfriend (shout out to Isa, my adventure buddy!) and we added a few extra days to our trip outside of the tour. Our 10-day budget Tanzania safari and adventure itinerary looked like this:
Day 1: Dar Es Salaam to Kilimanjaro to Moshi
We arrived SUPER early in the morning (1am) to Dar es Salaam Julius Nyerere International Airport. We hung around the airport for a few hours to catch out 7:30 am flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport
*Note: I booked these flights separately to save money
By 9:00am we had arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport. We took a car to The Secret Garden Hotel in Moshi where we would be staying for the night. Our double room was $29 and we loved this hotel!
Through the hotel we organized a tour of the local area for that afternoon. Our guide was a local guy who took us around the market, which I highly recommend checking out, and the town of Moshi. Plus, he helped us get sim cards so we could keep in touch with the outside world while on this adventure.
After exploring the local area we went back to the hotel, enjoyed a delicious dinner on their patio, arranged for a hiking tour the next day, and crashed.
Day 2: Moshi to Arusha
We took it easy in the morning and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast on the patio with some oh-so-good fresh juice. Following this, we got ourselves together and went on a waterfall hike and coffee tour. We hiked to nearby waterfall and then onto a coffee plantation where we saw how a small, local group processes coffee.
After the tour we returned to the hotel, grabbed our bags, and hopped on a local bus to Arusha to meet up with our G Adventures tour to begin our budget Tanzania safari camping adventure. The bus from Moshi to Arusha takes about two hours and costs $2 per seat. We weren’t comfortable being separated from our luggage which would have been put storage under the bus and so opted to each by two seats; one for our person and one for our luggage. We only brought carry-on, so it was easy enough to keep in the seats next to us.
Getting off the bus in Arusha late that evening was likely the most harrowing part of the entire trip. As we were attempting to exit the bus with our bags we were immediately accosted by a mass of drivers looking for their next passenger. They were a bit aggressive and made us a bit nervous, but we managed. We picked a driver but kept our bags in our hands and sent a picture of the license plate of his car to our friends back home as a precaution.
The driver was a nice guy, maybe a little bit of a wild driver, and we made it to Snake Park – our first campsite. Note, there were no loose snakes, much to my relief; the name comes from the snakes kept in glass homes in a special room behind the bar. We met our group, found our tent, had a drink and crashed for the night.
Day 3: Visiting the Masaii
After an early breakfast we embark on a walk around Arusha, from a banana plantation to local artisan shops.
After exploring Arusha, we head out towards to the Serengeti, stopping at a Maasai village on the way. Visiting a Maasai village and being introduced to their unique way of life was definitely the highlight of this day.
Honestly, visiting the Maasai people wasn’t just a highlight for this day, it was a highlight of the trip. The Maasai are an indigenous, semi-nomadic, ethnic group in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. The tribe has a distinct culture, dress, jewelry, and history which I found to be enthralling and beautiful.
We were able to go into some of their homes and view the work that G Adventures helps sponsor to put chimneys in the dome-like homes. There were also many children around who were curious about us and quite fun to play with. Somehow I was chosen by the children to play a game of catch: I went running after them and they scattered, slowly inching closer until I once again gave chase. This game continued for at least an hour and totally wiped me out, but was more than worth it for the laughs it brought.
Day 4: Into the Serengeti!
After another early breakfast, our Tanzania budget safari really begins!
Our group was split into two vehicles – the typical looking safari jeeps with open tops. One of the girls in our car was smart enough to pack a portable stereo which I’m not sure our guide and driver appreciated as much as we did. There was a lot of ‘Rains Down in Afrcia’ and ‘Waka Waka’ played during our trip.
We spent the day checking out the local wildlife – we were SO excited to see our first zebra! They are seriously cute, but their novelty wore off as we continued further into the park and see them by the hundreds.
Camping this night was a site within the Serengeti. Stunning sunset and attempting jump pictures with our group = priceless.
Day 5: Serengeti Camping Safari
The Serengeti camping safari continues for another day. We pack up camp and head out in our cars to take in all the wildlife. Some of our group opted to go on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti. I would have loved to this, but it was out of my budget at the time.
After another day exploring the vast Serengeti, we setup up camp in the park again that night.
Day 6: Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater
Our budget Tanzania safari continues in the Serengeti. We see more animals, have a picnic style lunch by a watering hole, watching the animals do their thing.
From the Serengeti we make our way to Ngorongoro Conservation Area where camp was setup camp on the rim of the crater for the night. Ngorongoro is a volcanic crater and provides a stunning landscape. The drive there had some pretty spectacular views as well.
Day 7: Ngorongoro to Arusha
Our safari adventure takes us down into the Ngorongoro crater where, according to our guide, we have the best chance at spotting the elusive black rhino. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the rhino, but we did see lots of other animals. Including more wildebeests, those sexy, sexy animals.
After getting our fill of Ngorongoro we head back to Arusha for the night. We enjoy the bar at the campsite with our group before crashing; if you like to try different drinks, try the local beer!
Day 8: Arusha to Stone Town, Zanzibar
We caught a flight to Stone Town and spent the morning exploring the local markets and historical sites, including the Old Slave Market and museum. Be aware that Stone Town is not a resort area; it’s not posh and much of Zanzibar is noticeably very poor.
The afternoon was spent relaxing on the beach and by the pool, followed by sunset yoga.
Day 9: Zanzibar Beaches
Our group took a boat out to Nungwi beach, hopping out and making our way to the sandbar island for a picnic lunch. Food, relaxing in the sun, and dipping into the water to cool off made for a good last day.
We spent the remainder of the day packing, relaxing by the pool and having drinks with our new friends.
Day 10: Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam
After enjoying the morning on the beach we made our way to Stone Town to catch the ferry to Dar es Salaam. A VIP ticket for the ferry, which we splurged on, costs $50 and a standard ticket costs $35 for the the two-hour ride.
Once we arrived in Dar es Salaam we grabbed an Uber, which is significantly less expensive than a taxi (no tourist up-charge) and allows for tracking.
We took ourselves and our luggage to Addis in Dar, an Ethiopian restaurant that we found randomly online. Neither Isa nor I had tried Ethiopian food before, but it is SO GOOD. I highly recommend checking out Addis in Dar (and Ethiopian food in general).
From there, we caught a car to the Triniti Airport Hotel, which I recommend if your looking to stay near the airport. We arranged a car to take us to the airport the next morning and organized our stuff for the trip back home.
Summary: 10 Days in Tanzania
Summary of an AWESOME Tanzania budget safari & 10 day Tanzania itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive early – catch flight from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro. Get a cab to Moshi. Explore Moshi. Sleep.
Day 2: Go on waterfall hike and coffee tour. Take a 2 -hour bus from Moshi to Arusha
Day 3: Maasai Village
Day 4: Serengeti
Day 5: Serengeti
Day 6: Ngorongoro Crater safari
Day 7: Explore Arusha and head to Zanzibar
Day 8: Zanzibar
Day 9: Zanzibar
Day 10: Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam
Tanzania Budget Safari: Who to go with & where to eat and sleep
Tanzania budget Safari: Tanzania to Zanzibar: White Sands & the Wilderness or Serengeti Safari & Zanzibar ( or just check out all G Adventures Tanzania trips)
Where to stay in Moshi: The Secret Garden Hotel
Where to stay in Dar es Salaam: Triniti Airport Hotel
Where to eat in Dar es Salaam: Addis in Dar
Important Details for Travelling in Tanzania
As with anywhere you go, there are things to consider before travelling to Tanzania and during your stay.
Yellow Fever – Certificate of this vaccine is required for anyone travelling from a country with a high risk of yellow fever. If you are travelling through through a high risk country and have more than a 12 hour layover, you will need to provide the certificate. If you’re not sure if your home country or country, country of residence, or transit country is considered high risk check out the information provided by the UK’s NHS.
Malaria – This is optional but I will tell you that I took antimalarial tablets before, during, and after my trip. The US CDC advises that all areas of Tanzania have malaria and the NHS also lists Tanzania as high risk for malaria; both generally recommend taking antimalarial medicine. If you’re unsure whether or not to take antmalarials, have a quick conversation with your doctor and get their input.
CDC recommendations include Hep A and Typhoid vaccinations for most travellers to Tanzania as well as other vaccinations for some travellers.
Most visitors can obtain a visa upon arrival in Tanzania, including those travelling on US passports. Visas typically cost USD 50, though the cost for US nationals is USD 100 at the time of this post.
Be sure to tip your safari guide and staff! Our tour provided the following recommendations (USD):
- Guide: $5 per day
- Driver: $5 per day
- Supply crew: $2-5 per day
- Local guides: $1
This is, of course, at your discretion and may vary depending on your satisfaction with your tour. However, it’s important to consider this as an additional cost when working on a trip budget.
In addition to tipping during the tour, its customary in Tanzania to tip 5% at restaurants and $1-2 at hotels.
If you read the whole big post you’ll know I didn’t let anyone else handle my luggage, except the crew of our safari tour. If you’re going to be taking public transit at all, as I did from Moshi to Arusha, I highly recommend buying an extra seat on the bus for your luggage rather than putting it under the bus where it can be taken.
Safety really comes down to being aware of where your are and being careful. Be in tune with your surroundings, keep important documents and money either stored safely away or on your person. I generally have trust and faith in other people, but I’m also careful about where I’m going and when, especially in places where I know I stand out as not being local.
Get it. World Nomads is one of my favorites, as is Safety Wing. I’ll be honest, I don’t always get travel insurance, especially when travelling around Europe where I know health care is generally good and affordable. For Tanzania, the tour required it, though I would have purchased it for this trip anyway. Also, if travelling to the US, get it; our health care system is very expensive without insurance.
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