Tanzania is truly breathtaking and offers seemingly endless opportunities to learn and grow. Nearly one quarter of Tanzania’s land mass is dedicated to National Parks. Tanzania has the finest game viewing of any country. From the majestic Serengeti to the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to see chimpanzees in the wild and catch a rare glimpse of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, which is 19,340 feet high. The Serengeti ecosystem (just the Park itself covers 5,700 square miles!) is an unbeatable sight.
Tanzania is often referred to as the “birthplace of Man” and may in fact be where the human race first developed its unique consciousness and started pondering the majesty of the world. With its varied habitats and vegetated zones, a wonderful 497 mile coastline on the Indian Ocean, and three main tropical islands: Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia (not to mention its exceptionally friendly peoples), Tanzania is easy to fall in love with. Take your gap year in Tanzania and experience a country where you will feel strangely at home and yet caught off guard by a whirlwind of new experiences.
Types of Programs
While Tanzania is one of Africa’s most politically stable countries, extreme poverty, lack of educational resources, and the persistence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic continue to plague the country. As a result, there is a variety of opportunities in many different sectors for the passionate volunteer to get involved in. Whether you already have training or would simply like to gain experience in a new field, there are many established NGO’s and non-profits operating in Tanzania that would gladly take your support. Your efforts would be truly appreciated (no matter your skill level). Whether you choose programs in medical care, childcare, teaching, or environmental protection, Tanzania’s cultural diversity, and rich East African history will not disappoint.
Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and has plenty of adventures to satisfy even the most extreme case of wanderlust. For those adventurers who love the beach, Tanzania offers the gorgeous white sand beaches of Zanzibar. And for those who love backpacking, mountain climbing and hiking, gappers can stand on top of the “roof of Africa” after the long climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro or go on safari in the majestic Serengeti.
Tanzania’s wildlife varies with the topography, which ranges from forests to swamps. Only in Tanzania can you see the black and white Colobus monkey, wild baboons (red butts included), elephants, giraffes, buffalos, hippos, leopards, hyenas, antelopes, and zebras all in one day. Take part in conservation efforts. Perform scientific research while experiencing one of the most unique countries in the world!
Tanzania offers a wide range of internships, from art and design internships to journalism opportunities. Intern during your gap year and gain valuable experience! Your internship will have a direct effect on local communities as you gain valuable professional experience in Tanzania.
During your internship you’ll meet new people and establish long-lasting friendships. When taking a gap year it’s important to get outside your comfort zone! Employers are looking to hire people who have proven that they are adaptable and willingly to explore new options. Gain new skills while exploring this diverse and astonishing country!
Planning Your Trip
Cost of Living in Tanzania
1,200 Tanzanian Shillings are equivalent to 1 US dollar. This exchange rate makes it very easy to live in Tanzania. The electricity bill is very low and public transit is less than half the cost of public transit in the US. Cost of living always varies depending on one’s lifestyle. Nevertheless, a city gapper can have a very fancy lifestyle on less than $2000 a month and a good life on less than half of that. For example, $700 is more than enough for a 3-4 member family to pay their monthly bills. For one person, those bills are significantly cheaper.
Culture and Etiquette in Tanzania
A total of 128 languages are spoken in Tanzania. This has lead to an explosion of artistic genres that often blend together several cultural styles. With the mix of outside culture and the original feel of rich Tanzanian culture, Tanzanian musicians have become the best artists in East Africa. From artists such as Dionys Mbilinyi, Sabinus Komba, and many others, to new vibrant artists in R&B, pop, Zouk, Taarab, and dance music, Tanzania offers a creative blend of artists. Tanzanian artists are responsible for inventing the Tingatinga style, in which the subjects are usually animals and flowers in colorful and repetitive designs. This style has expanded both in Tanzania and worldwide.
When greeting men in Tanzania, a handshake is appropriate in most situations. Handshakes tend to be energetic and very often linger a bit. It is also appropriate for two men to walk hand in hand in public (this has nothing to do with one’s sexual preferences). In meetings between men and women, it is appropriate to bow to a Muslim woman, but handshakes are not appropriate. For all others, a handshake and/or bow is appropriate but it is best to wait for the woman to extend her hand.
Health and Safety in Tanzania
Unfortunately, Tanzania suffers from pandemic illnesses that are typical of other tropical countries, these include: malaria, schistosomiasis, gastrointestinal disorders, typhoid fever, and hepatitis. You will need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, meningitis, tetanus, typhoid fever, and rabies. Because malaria is endemic in Tanzania, many volunteers are required to take antimalarial medication. Luckily, most programs offer top notch on-site medical assistance. Tanzania is also one of the countries most affected by AIDS/HIV. Always try to avoid blood–to-blood contact and make sure to carry a medical kit with you.
In comparison to many other African countries, Tanzania does not have a very high rate of crime and violence. There are always reports of petty crimes by con artists, pick-pocketers, and muggers, but on the whole Tanzania is a safe country. That being said, some militant groups do travel in and out of the country. Always be aware of which areas are safe and which are not. Asking locals for help is always a good idea.
Why Take a Gap Year in Tanzania?
Tanzanians are an exceptionally friendly peoples. Since English one of the main languages (the main language of commerce), traveling through the country isn’t too difficult for gappers. If you’re prepared to be thrown head first into a new and exciting culture, then Tanzania is the perfect country for you! Tanzania is the home of Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti national Park, the Victoria Lake, the island of Zanzibar… and much more. Taking a gap year in Tanzania is a once in a lifetime experience. Where else can you see elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hippo, 1000 species of birds, zebra and giraffe in their natural habitats? Where else can you mountain climb, game view, or spend a relaxing week on a quiet beach? Tanzania is a country that truly has it all!