Want to Volunteer in Africa? You Should Consider Tanzania
Tanzania is not just a friendly and affordable country in which to volunteer but also the kind of place that lets the imagination run wild. For instance, it is here in Tanzania that you can climb the tallest mountain in Africa or perhaps take a wildlife safari in the most famous national park in the world. That said, Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Park are just two of the many reasons why volunteers descend on Arusha, Moshi, and other towns throughout Tanzania. In this article, I would like to give you a brief introduction to life in Tanzania and why I believe it is one of the best places to volunteer.
A Quick Overview of Tanzania
Tanzania in East Africa is home to more than 63 million people. It is also one of the most visited countries in Africa which is largely due to Serengeti National Park and the tallest mountain in Africa – Kilimanjaro. You can encounter many different ethnic groups in Tanzania and there are said to be more than 120 indigenous peoples which includes the well-known Maasai tribe. Despite the large population, rural areas are often characterized by wide open landscapes and the low density of settlements has allowed for an abundance of wildlife. While this wildlife is best evidenced in the Serengeti and other wilderness areas, it is common to see monkeys, zebra, giraffe, elephant and much more in between the towns and cities. Just so you know, you can also see the likes of lion, hyena, hippo, and buffalo in Tanzania, and this is most certainly true if you go on safari. Due to the tourism infrastructure, you can find a high standard of living in the major towns of Arusha and Moshi and the island of Zanzibar is a great place to holiday if you decide to take a break from volunteering.
Let’s take a quick look at a few examples of the types of volunteer roles in Tanzania.
Volunteer at Hospitals/Clinics
Medical volunteers in Tanzania are exposed to a wide range of situations which require skills, patience, and dedication. While many such experiences will be sad or shocking, volunteers can spend less time ‘reading about situations and more time acquiring a wealth of first-hand experience. Days can be hectic as a medical volunteer but there are lots of volunteer organizations in Tanzania who would be more than happy to have you on board.
Teach at a Local School
Books are often scarce when it comes to schools in rural Tanzania. This is why teachers will mostly stick with using a chalkboard and other practical methods which don’t really exist in the western world. With this in mind, teaching at a school in Tanzania is a very hands-on experience and one from which the volunteer can gain lots of invaluable experience. This is also a great opportunity to meet the locals and better understand the culture in Tanzania.
Build a School for Local Community
You don’t need any previous experience to volunteer with a renovation or construction project in Tanzania. Each day is typically spent digging foundations, mixing cement or laying bricks and all training is provided on site by experienced builders. This type of volunteering requires a lot of manual work in hot conditions, but nothing compares to the reward you should feel after building a classroom
Check out this volunteer website for more information. The above are just a few examples of the many volunteer opportunities that you can find in Tanzania.
More Reasons You Should Consider Volunteering in Tanzania, East Africa
1.Tanzania is Easy to Reach and Airfare is Affordable
Tanzania is located to the south of Kenya. I mention this because Nairobi, Kenya is an affordable airport to reach and accessible from almost anywhere in the world. You can take a bus ride from Nairobi to the major towns in Tanzania but if you don’t mind spending more, you could always fly into Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). Either way, Tanzania is easy and affordable to reach.
2. Swahili is the Easiest Language to Learn in Africa
Swahili is an incredibly fun language to learn, and the locals will absolutely love you for it. Lessons can be taken in almost any town and teachers are common because more than 15% of the population can speak fluent English. If you plan to volunteer for more than a week or two, it’s a good idea to learn some of the language and Swahili is said to be the easiest language to learn in Africa!
3. The Locals are Extremely Friendly
East Africa is renowned for friendliness, and you should feel this during your stay. Many locals can speak English but at the very least, they most often take time to ensure you feel welcome. In fact, a lot of people talk about how Africa can ‘get under your skin’ and I believe it is the nature and kindness of the people which most often leaves people wanting to come back time and time again.
4. You Can Go on the #1 Wildlife Safari on the Planet!
Serengeti National Park is the most famous in the world and often the location for the best-known wildlife documentaries. The park is approximately the size of the country Wales and home to the Big Five (Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard & black rhino). That said, the variety and diversity of animals here is unrivalled and why people travel to Tanzania from all over the world to take a wildlife safari. If you decide to volunteer, it is quite easy to find a discounted safari in the major towns and I cannot think of a more exciting adventure or a better way to get up close and personal in the African bush.
5. Climb Kilimanjaro: Take on an Epic Challenge
It won’t be for everyone but if you fancy a huge challenge, it is possible to climb to the top of the tallest mountain in Africa. Kilimanjaro is situated near the towns of Moshi and Arusha and the summit is 5,985metres above sea level. However, there is no technical climbing involved in this climb and Kilimanjaro is widely regarded as the most achievable of the infamous Seven Summits.
6. Zanzibar is a Really Cheap ‘5-Star Vacation’
Zanzibar is easy to reach from the mainland and this stunning island is where you will find white powdered sands at every turn. Stone Town is a colourful encounter with endless restaurants, craft shops and food stalls, and the vibe is always laid-back no matter where else you go. You can find many affordable places to stay on Airbnb and there are hostels in Stone Town and a popular beach resort called Nungwi. Either way, Zanzibar is the perfect spot to enjoy a holiday from volunteering!
7. Getting a Visa for Tanzania is Straightforward
The volunteer visa is very straightforward for Tanzania. It lasts for 90 days and typically costs between $50-$100. When you consider volunteering abroad, this visa situation is often a stressful piece of red tape you need to figure out. However, arriving in this part of the world is quick and easy and another reason why I think Tanzania is the best place to volunteer in East Africa – maybe even the world!
Tanzania is full to the brim of natural and cultural attractions which is a huge part of the volunteer experience. The locals offer a warm welcome and the standard of living is reasonably good, while the country itself is easy to reach. If you want to volunteer in East Africa, this is also where you will find many of the best volunteer experiences and when it comes to time off, I simply cannot think of more exciting places to visit than Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, and the wilds of Serengeti National Park!
Search, compare, and book accommodations at the best prices that are pulled from major booking sites like Booking.com, Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Vrbo and more.
Derek Cullen is an adventurer and travel writer from Dublin, Ireland. Having traveled the world in search of new experiences since 2008, Derek now spends most of his time leading adventure tours through Africa.