Where to begin?
I had an incredible time staying at Hostel Hoff! I was there as a solo volunteer for 12 weeks at the end of 2019 and loved every second of it.
The hostel is based in Moshi which is a reasonable sized city in the North of Tanzania. As a white female, I felt safe walking around town on my own during the day, just be sensible, don't show your valuables and dress appropriately! Don't be scared to say no to men on the streets who will try to sell you things you do not want. Do not go out walking at night, even in groups, it is not safe. Use trusted transport.
There are lots of trips available that can be organised through the hostel, you can visit the hot springs, go on safari and even climb Kili if you're brave enough! It's also easy to organise a trip to Zanzibar yourself as you can fly from Kilimanjaro airport.
The Hostel itself is beautiful. On a clear morning you can view Kilimanjaro. The gardens are well cared for by the wonderful gardeners who are always friendly. I was staying in a four person tent outside, it was nice and cool at night. There is plenty of storage space for clothes and a fan in the tent if needed. There are also smaller tents and indoor rooms available. Inside the Hostel there is a kitchen where you can prepare food and a living room with a TV for watching films. Power cuts are frequent (this is Africa!) so take a power bank and a torch. There is an outdoor toilet and shower block and indoor bathrooms too. There is a board in the communal area outside where any important information will be written. The hostel is a great place to meet other travellers and experience living with people from cultures around the world.
Water is available from the hostel for 15USD per month. I'd recommend this as it is cheaper than buying from town. If you do not have a reusable water bottle you can buy one from the supermarket. Unfortunately for the duration of my stay the wifi only worked for two days. Data is available to buy - buy a local sim card, it is not too expensive and wifi is sometimes available at local restaurants.
It's worth noting that in general all staff and volunteers at the hostel speak at least some english and it is generally the language used as there are volunteers from all over the world. It's also worth learning kidogo kiswahili as it will come in handy both in town and at the projects!
The food was lovely! Breakfast and dinner are provided at the hostel each day. Breakfast includes eggs, pancakes, toast, fruits, tea and coffee. The dinner menu went in a two week rotation and the food is tasty! The hostel caters for vegetarians but it's worth mentioning that Tanzania in general doesn't offer great vegetarian alternatives. You can use the kitchen during the day to make your lunch but I'd recommend going into town and trying some of the local food! The market is great fun and you can haggle the price of your food. It's worth mentioning that if you're not a swahili speaker you'll be charged quite a high price because the locals associate foreigners with having lots of money.
The staff at the hostel were great, there are two guards who are always around - even if it is just to kill a tarantula! They are very friendly and knowledgeable about their country. The rooms and tents are cleaned every day and there is a laundry service available too. The hostel has a manager who lives on site and is available to answer any questions. All staff are very approachable and welcoming! They will help you to learn swahili too!
I volunteered at a project which supports girls who have been affected by early marriage and female genital mutilation. The project was a short walk from the hostel. I loved every second of my project, the girls were amazing and the staff care a lot about what they do. It's worth mentioning that for some projects, there can be a lot of travel involved and this can become expensive if you are staying there for a long time.
Things I wish I'd known before going:
Don't bother taking loads of toiletries with you, you can buy soap, shampoo, conditioner etc there very cheaply.
It's not easy to find sun cream or after sun in Moshi because the locals don't use it.
YOU WILL NEED FACTOR 50.
Female travellers - it is VERY difficult to find tampons as they are not generally used in Tanzania.
There was an ongoing debate about whether malaria tablets were needed whilst staying in Moshi. Malaria does not seem to be present in Moshi however many of the trips involve leaving the city and travelling into rural areas where it is common.
It's also worth having very good travel insurance. The local hospital is good and the staff speak english. If you need the hospital someone local will come with you to help. The nearest "western" hospital is Nairobi.
I hate to mention any negatives but no trip is perfect!
It was a shame the wifi didn't work whilst I was there, I am not somebody who is on my phone a lot but I think some travellers struggled without it.
Obviously Tanzania is full of various snakes, spiders, insects etc and you will be covered in mosquito bites - take lots of repellent and long clothing!
Generally the trips from the hostel are somewhat expensive in comparison to Tanzania as a whole. They are worth doing but try to haggle down the prices if you can.
It can become a bit tiring living at the hostel for a long time and having a constant turn over of other volunteers coming and going. This is the nature of staying somewhere like this but I promise you will make many lifelong friends throughout your stay. I'd recommend staying for at least 4 weeks to fully experience Tanzania!
All in all I fully recommend Hostel Hoff! It was an incredible experience and now I have a second family in Africa. I will go back to visit someday!