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Self-Driving Around Tanzania



Renting a car in Tanzania can be a great way to explore the beautiful country and its many attractions. The type of car you choose to rent will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your group and the type of terrain you plan to drive on.


If you are traveling with a large group or plan to tackle rough roads, a 4x4 vehicle such as a Land Cruiser or a Safari Cruiser would be a good choice. These vehicles are rugged and capable of handling the challenging conditions often found in Tanzania. If you plan to stick to paved roads and are traveling with a smaller group, a compact car or a sedan would be a suitable choice.


In terms of transmission, both automatic and manual cars are available for rent in Tanzania. If you are not familiar with driving a manual transmission, it is best to stick with an automatic car.


When it comes to insurance, make sure you have a policy that covers you for any potential accidents or damage to the rental car. This is especially important in a country like Tanzania, where the roads can be unpredictable and the driving conditions can be challenging. Most rental car companies will offer insurance as part of their rental packages, but it is always a good idea to check and make sure you are adequately covered.


As for where to rent a car, there are several companies in Tanzania that offer rental cars. Some of the more well-known companies include Avis, Europcar, and Hertz. You can typically rent a car at the airport or in major cities such as Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar.


Driver's License

In order to drive a car in Tanzania, tourists will need to have a valid driver's license from their home country. International visitors are permitted to drive in Tanzania for up to three months using their foreign driver's license. After that, they will need to obtain a local driver's license from the Tanzanian licensing authority.


It is important to note that many rental car companies in Tanzania may require that drivers have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to their foreign driver's license. An IDP is an official translation of a driver's license that is recognized in many countries around the world. It is recommended that tourists obtain an IDP before traveling to Tanzania, as it can make it easier to rent a car and may be required by law in some cases.


Traffic Laws

One of the most important traffic laws in Tanzania is the requirement to use your headlights at all times, even during the day. This rule is in place to improve visibility for all road users, and failure to use your headlights can result in a fine.


Another important traffic law in Tanzania is the rule of the road. In the country, vehicles on the left side of the road have the right of way, so it is important to yield to oncoming traffic when turning or entering a road. This rule may be different from what you are used to, so it is important to pay attention and follow it carefully.


Additionally, it is important to remember that seatbelts are required for all passengers in a moving vehicle in Tanzania. This law is in place to protect everyone in the car in case of an accident, so make sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up before setting out on the road.


Speed limits in Tanzania are generally lower than what you may be used to. In urban areas, the speed limit is typically 50 km/h (31 mph), while on highways, the speed limit can range from 80-100 km/h (50-62 mph). It is important to pay attention to speed limit signs and make sure you are driving at a safe and legal speed.


It is also important to be aware of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in Tanzania. Pedestrians have the right of way, so make sure you yield to them when turning or entering a road. It is also a good idea to be cautious when driving near bicycles, motorcycles, and animal-drawn vehicles, as these can be difficult to see and can be easily startled.


Tanzania's Road Network

There are several different types of roads in Tanzania, including national roads, regional roads, and district roads. National roads are the most important and are maintained by the central government. These roads are usually trunk roads, which are the main highways that connect the country's major cities and regions.


Some of the major highways in Tanzania include the Great North Road, which runs from the port city of Dar es Salaam in the east to the Zambian border in the west. The Tabora-Mwanza Road is another important highway that connects the cities of Tabora and Mwanza in the western part of the country. The Dar es Salaam-Mbeya Road is a major highway that runs from the country's largest city, Dar es Salaam, to the city of Mbeya in the southwest.


Regional roads, on the other hand, are maintained by the regional governments and connect the various districts within each region. District roads are the lowest level of roads in the country and are maintained by the local district councils.


Tanzania's road network is a mix of paved and unpaved roads. According to the World Bank, about 44% of the country's roads are paved. The remaining roads are mostly unpaved, which can make travel difficult during the rainy season.


There are currently no toll roads in Tanzania, but there are plans to introduce them in the future to help fund the maintenance and improvement of the road network.


Self-Driving in a National Park

Some rental car companies in Tanzania allow their cars to be used for safari trips, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your trip goes smoothly.


First, be sure to speak to rental car companies before making a booking to confirm which vehicles they permit in the National Park you are interested in. Many companies put GPS trackers on their vehicles to ensure you do not drive into a restricted area to protect their vehicles from damage.

Confirm the vehicle you choose is suitable for the road conditions in the national parks. Many of the roads in the parks are unpaved and can be challenging to navigate, so a 4x4 vehicle with good clearance and sturdy suspension is a must. Compact cars and sedans are not recommended for safari trips, as they may not be able to handle the rough terrain.

Be prepared for the challenges of self-driving on a safari. Wildlife can be unpredictable and may be difficult to see, especially at night. It is important to drive slowly and carefully, and always be on the lookout for animals on the road. It is also a good idea to bring a map or GPS device, as cell phone coverage may be spotty in some areas of the national parks.

Make sure you have the necessary permits and fees to enter the national parks. Most national parks in Tanzania require visitors to pay a fee and obtain a permit before entering, and some parks may also require that you hire a guide. It is important to check with the park authorities and make sure you have the necessary documents and fees before setting out on your safari.

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