Before you leave home, check what injections you might need and buy international travel insurance. You are responsible for arranging any flights to get here (or buses if you are already in Africa and are trying not to fly). If you arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport, arrange beforehand if you would like us to meet you at the airport. When you land, you should buy a tourist visa ($100 for Americans, $50 for others. Bring the dollars with you in cash as cards aren’t accepted by the border staff.) Whoever meets you will have a sign with your name on it. The project doesn’t have a car, so the person meeting you will come by taxi from Arusha, which costs $50, payable by the volunteer.
Most transactions are made in cash using Tanzanian Shillings. ATMs are available in the Arusha town centre at most banks but not in the suburbs. The maximum withdrawal in one transaction is Tsh 400,000. Arusha banks seem to charge about 8,000 TSh for every transaction at an ATM. (Depending on the day’s exchange rates, $1 is approximately TSh 2,320. 1 euro is approx. TSh 2,610, 1 British pound is approx. TSh 2,970.) A 1.5 litre bottle of water costs TSh 1,000.
The Tanzanian system for communicating electronically is usually by mobile phones using cellular data. WiFi is only available at cafes and restaurants in the town centre (or at hotels). Volunteers are advised to buy a local sim card with the assistance of project staff or helpers, which will give you access to the internet. Many locals use WhatsApp for calls and messages. Otherwise you have to buy data separately on a phone network.
Local public transport is by dala dala vans, costing 400 TSh per journey, which will get you into Arusha to a supermarket, bank and local market, but if you want to go to the main centre of Arusha (the Clock Tower) or other parts of Arusha, you need to catch a 2nd dala dala.
Where you’ll stay
If in Arusha, you will stay in volunteer accommodation near the Support Centre (near Salim’s family home) or in the home of a local family. Discuss which you prefer before you arrive. This is a poor neighbourhood. Most homes lack central plumbing. Water comes to a tap in the yard or a shared standpipe. Toilets are in the yard. Showers are usually in a private room next to a toilet and require filling a bucket of water for washing. Beds will have a mosquito net. Electricity power cuts happen quite frequently. Aim to be as independent of mains electricity as possible (perhaps with solar-powered items). If you are going to one of the rural villages, you will stay with a local family.
We charge $70 per week for volunteer accommodation which also includes three meals a day, providing local Tanzanian cuisine – rice or ugali (stiff corn meal porridge, kind of like mashed potatoes) and beans or vegetables, sometimes with some fish or meat.
What to pack
- Loose, lightweight clothes, for women preferably trousers, and tops that cover shoulders
- Day pack
- Hand disinfectant
- Sun cream and sunhat
- Bug spray
- Towel and facecloth
- Hand mirror
- Toilet paper if you don’t want to use water as is the local custom.
- Flip flops or sandals and walking shoes
- Torch/flashlight/solar light
- Possibly a solar pack for charging phone