Tanzania and the Swahilli Coast

Volunteering in Tanzania is such a great way to get to know this wonderful country. Tanzania is one of the most popular tourist destinations in sub-Saharan Africa. While those that are not so well acquainted with Tanzania may struggle to place it on a map, everyone has heard of its major attractions- the Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. These make up the Golden Triangle of Northern Tanzania and are the basis of any two week itinerary. Without doubt, it is a wonderful trip and for many, the trip of a lifetime.

The drawback, however, is that with all these great attractions there is very little time to step outside of the itinerary and enjoy the subtleties and peculiarities of this nation. The volunteer, on the other hand, gets the opportunity to spend time in a town or small village, learning a little about the way of life and asking the important questions, such as:

  • How come every Saturday there are bridal parties taking photos on the roundabouts? (a nice roundabout can charge up to 75 usd for one hour!)
  • Is everyone on the dala dala talking about me (yep, they generally are)
  • Is it just me or do the male fruit sellers always charge me more than the females (its not just you. I find women will charge me 20% more than the local rate, men anywhere between 200% and 400%)
  • What does "Anytime from now" mean? (It means that thing you are waiting on? Its on its way and will be here any time between now and next year)

Tanzania will teach you many things, but something that everyone can learn is patience, and to be happy with what you have. Pole pole, slowly slowly, it's the way of life in Tanzania and you have to be there long enough to learn to appreciate it.

The seven hour hike up the active volcano, Oldonyo Lengai, and yes, it is as steep as it looks

Oldonyo Lengai


Accommodation: see individual project page for local accommodation or go to the accommodation section of the site



MVP, Lushoto

Cheka School, Arusha


Quick Facts:

Capital: Dodoma, though Dar es Salaam is the financial capital, and arguably the real capital for all intents and puposes.

Getting there: International flights into Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro, buses from Nairobi

Airlines: KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenyan fly to Kilimanjaro, while these companies along with Qatar and BA fly to Dar es Salaam. To save money you could consider flying to Nairobi and taking the bus into Tanzania.

Within Tanzania:

Airlines: Precision Air and Air Tanzania have relatively inexpensive daily flights within Tanzania and between Tanz its neighbouring countries.

Buses: Dar Express has a better reputation than most, buy tickets in the office only the day before. If travelling outside of the main intercity roads, expect long bumpy journeys.

Currency: Tanzanian Shilling . Roughly 1500 Tsh= 1usd

Budget: While the cost of living (food, transport) is very low, accommodation can be surprisingly high, and personally I reckon it?s because tourism has arisen from the early days of luxury hunting safaris and therefore started at the top end rather than the lower end. However, if you are self catering and staying in a volunteer house with dorms you can budget 20 usd per day for food and accommodation, with another 5 for internet, lunch and transport.

Languages: While the primary language is Swahili, English is the language of business and all school classes are taught through English at secondary level. This doesn?t mean students are fluent, as teaching standards are poor, but you can certainly get around with English, esp in the bigger towns.

Visas: You need a volunteer work permit for Tanzania. Your hostel/project will have to assist you in organizing a visa. In general you need a Class B before arriving and then you must apply for a Class C once in country. The process can be swift or prolonged, depending on the immigration officers, and the cost of the Class C is 120 usd.

Malaria tablets: Some places, such as Moshi and Arusha, have very little malaria. However, once you step outside these places and go to the Serengeti or to the coast, for example, the chances of being infected can be up to fifty times higher. Malaria tablets can be bought in the major towns for minimal cost

Economics: Agriculture, while accounting for around 25% of GDP, employs up to 80% of the workforce. Outside of the cities, Tanzania remains decidedly rural with many surviving on subsistence farming. On the other hand, Tanzania?s service industry is the largest contributor to GDP, with tourism on the rise and being identified as one of the main engines for economic and social development. Responsible, sustainable tourism can greatly add not only to social development but also to conservation, as the battle between capitalism and conservation is often decided by how much revenue can be generated from tourism.
However, an ineffectual judicial and administration system and pervasive corruption continue to undermine progress. This is perfectly exemplified by the problems with volunteer visas; while tourism is welcomed, volunteers often come up against a brick wall when applying for visas, with applications put on hold or volunteers fined in order to solicit bribes. Corruption is oftentimes the system in Tanzania and this, coupled with the gap between rich and poor widening, often means the poor are not benefitting from any economic advancement that may be reflected in the figures for the country.


  • Trek Mt Kilimanjaro or her stunning-but-less-popular sister, Mt Meru.
  • Join a 2/3/4/5/6 day safari and camp out in the National Parks.
  • Rent a car and go off the beaten track to see the lunar like landscape of Lake Natron and climb the active volcano Oldonyo Lengai (this is a killer by the way, only attempt if fit!!).
  • Visit Lushoto and organize a pleasant, and not too taxing, three day hike through these lush and cooler mountains.
  • Relax at a quiet beach resort in Pangani.
  • Get lost in the maze of streets in Stone town, Zanzibar.
  • Try the local mix of cows blood and milk in a Masai village

Volunteer Opportunities


Assisted Learning


  • Business development, assisting with the set up of small local manufacturing business including cheese and jam making, MVP, Lushoto
  • Business start-up, working with families of school children developing income generating projects, Cheka, Arusha

Computer Training

  • Teacher, Computer skilling, MVP, Lushoto


  • Engineer: working with local groups to improve road access and bridges, MVP, Lushoto