Anyone who has been raised with any access to the media and popular entertainment undoubtedly harbors some misconceptions about the vast continent of Africa. Did you even know this continent is made up of 47 different countries? It’s not our fault; these misconceptions are innocent reactions to countless influences – both subtle and overt – that we have all been exposed to throughout our upbringings. If you follow world news, which doesn’t tend to report much about the day-to-day affairs of a typical African neighborhood, you probably have a general image of Africa that applies far more accurately to certain areas than others. And if you’ve ever watched Blood Diamond or The Lion King, you may subconsciously view Africa as a place full of violence, corrupt governments, and animals with very big teeth on the loose .
Tanzania has not escaped the broad generalizations thrust upon the continent as a whole, and we present here 5 myths this unique land often falls victim to:
1.) It is sweltering hot. Nope! Africa is an enormous continent with a huge range of climates. Some areas do tend to record some very high temperatures, but Tanzania is generally a pretty comfortable tropical country; it is temperate and spring-like on the interior, hotter and more humid near the coast and extremely cold at high altitudes (do NOT wear a t-shirt and shorts to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!)
2.) It is unstable. There are definitely some unsafe countries in Africa plagued by political strife and unstable governments. Tanzania is not one of them. Travelers to Tanzania have a very low risk of encountering any violence or danger – the 120+ ethnic groups in the country maintain cordial relationships with one another, and Tanzania has earned the unofficial title “Switzerland of Africa” for its use as a neutral international meeting ground.
3.) It is full of animals looking to eat me. You are not going to get eaten. The places we’ll take you to view the incredible wildlife Tanzania has to offer are national parks created to protect the natural habitat of these animals. Because this is where these animals live and roam freely, you are never allowed to wander outside of your custom-designed safari vehicle. And you will always be accompanied by expert guides who know these regions intimately and value safety first. Besides, you probably don’t even taste that good.
4.) Sleeping conditions will be uncomfortable. Will you be staying in the Four Seasons? No. Families go on safari to witness wildlife and nature in its remote beauty, not for hotel amenities. That being said, you won’t exactly be roughing it by safari standards. Your family will be retreating each night to comfortable lodges and our exclusive nyumba campsites with en-suite toilet tents, gourmet cuisine, hot showers, and real beds with 400 thread count sheets. Who says pampering isn’t possible in the wild?
5.) The place is crawling with disease-ridden insects. Not the case. The places we’ll be traveling to do not carry a high risk of contracting diseases from insects. You should consult a doctor or travel clinic for advice on which shots to get beforehand, but with the appropriate yellow fever and anti-malarial vaccinations, you’ll be perfectly fine.
So, as you consider a family trip to Tanzania, remember that you probably encounter more danger on your drive to work or a stroll around the nearest major American city than you will in the “Switzerland of Africa,” and that drive to work definitely doesn’t offer as many opportunities to see lions, wildebeest, zebra and majestic gazelle.
Thanks to our colleague Joe O’Riordan for this contrubution to the blog!