Nature, Travel

Tanzania on a Shoe String

A few weeks ago we had a three-day weekend due to Mashujaa Day (Heroes’ Day), so my buddy and I decided to go to Tanzania for a bit of fun, food and sightseeing. I’ve been to Tanzania a handful of times before, and I like it more and more every time I go back.

Culturally, Tanzania is very similar to Kenya — food, language, dress, transportation, etc will all be very familiar for anyone who has spent time in Kenya (and East Africa in general). For the backpacker, Tanzania is more interesting than Kenya because it’s cheaper, but part of that might just be because I’m used to Nairobi prices!


Tanzania’s cheap and easy to get around. I jotted down some notes about what my buddy and I spent over the three-day weekend as we wandered around Arusha and Moshi. Part of that was because I bet him that we could do it for less than 5,000 Kenyan shillings (~$58), but it’s also nice for future travelers to be able to see how we did it, so they can plan their routes and wallets ;).

Prices in Tanzanian Shillings unless noted KES:

  • NBO to Namanga: 500 KES
  • Namanga to Arusha: 7000
  • Arusha hostel: 7500
  • Chipsi mayai: 2000
  • Khan’s chicken: 8500
  • Chai and vitumbura (fried rice thing): 1000
  • Arusha to Moshi: 2500
  • Hostel 12500
  • Chipsi mayai and Coke: 2500
  • Moshi to Marangu: 2000 (overpaid) Marangu to park gate in shared taxi 1000
  • Back down in taxi: 1000
  • Chai: 400
  • Marangu to Moshi: 1500
  • Chipsi mayai and Swahili pizza and Pineapple soda 3000
  • Coffee Shop house coffee 2000
  • Moshi to Arusha: 3000
  • Chipsi mayai and Mirinda mweusi: 2500
  • Arusha to Namanga: 7000
  • Namanga to NBO: 500 KES

As you can see Tanzania’s very cheap, and you don’t have to skimp too much. For a seasoned backpacker, wandering around Tanzania on the cheap is very easy! The most costly items are for transportation.

Getting to Kilimanjaro

It’s super easy to get to Mount Kilimanjaro, but it’s not entirely obvious. While the town of Moshi is sitting right at the base of the mountain, the national park entrance is on the other side, just up the hill from a town called Marangu. A matatu from the Moshi bus stage takes ~1.5 hours to get to Marangu, and will cost you 1,500 shillings.

Once you’re in Marangu, you can get a shared taxi to the park gates for 1,000 shillings, or around 10,000 if you don’t want to share/wait. After that you’re free to wander around the village, talk to people, and even enter the park gates to look at signs and stuff.

Beautiful View From Marangu

From Marangu village, just below the park gates. Nice and green!

Panorama from Marangu
Panorama from Marangu

Time Lapse of Kilimanjaro From Moshi

From the roof of our hotel in Moshi, a ~3 minute time lapse in the evening. I wish I had a tripod and could have stayed for several hours to watch the clouds come and go and expose the two peaks of Kilimanjaro.

Random Pictures

7 Comments to “Tanzania on a Shoe String”

  1. Yo Alan!

    Been a while, but it’s amazing to see that you are still in Kenya after a number of years–you must really dig it! After coming back from Mongolia and doing the career thing (engineering) for a few years, I’m now in northern Ghana for the next year or so. After that chances are good that I’ll make a move south and east and end up more in your neighbourhood. Hope all is well and I’ll resubscribe to this blog and keep following.


  2. Saichovksy

    Were you going for budget accommodation facilities or are hotels in Tanzania usually that cheap? I think I will have to pay a visit one of these weekends if that is as little as it can cost me :)

  3. Emie

    I think Tanzanians are very polite, i also visited Arusha and the people are very friendly and everyone says, Tafadhali naomba. Hey it seems chips mayai is quite popular there especially how its served…

    I loved Arusha!

    1. Alan Author

      Yeah, I think everyone is nicer than Nairobians! Also, chips mayai is delicious; my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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