1. Waiting for Food

It’s normal to have to wait for freshly made food all over the world. And in Africa we have learned no one is really in a hurry. But in Tanzania sometimes one cannot believe how long it takes to get your dish after ordering. One hour is the average time you have to expect to wait for your meal. But we have had the case where we waited more than one and a half hours. One does tend to wonder what they are doing in the kitchen…especially if you are the only guests.

2. Clean Eating

In Tanzania people eat with their hands in most simple restaurants. As Tanzanians are quite clean people, they want to have clean hands of course before eating. Therefore there are washbasins or some kind of washing facilities in most restaurants. In the most basic places someone even walks around with a plastic carafe and a plastic bowl permitting the guests to get cleaned up.

Washbasin Tanzania



3. The “I”

At first we had difficulties understanding what people were saying. In time we got accustomed to the fact that Tanzanians tend to hang an “i” on certain English words. When asking what side dish you want, for example, they will ask if you want “chipsi”. When telling you what desserts they have, they will offer you “fruiti” salad. When booking a tour on a river, you will be asked to wait for the “boati”.

4. Land of Coffee

Africafe Tanzania

Despite being a major coffee producer, it is almost impossible to get anything except instant coffee in Tanzania. In nearly every hotel or restaurant they serve the same tasteless Africafe. And if you ask for coffee with milk, you will probably get hot milk made of milk powder (containing big lumps as they never stir it properly before mixing) in your coffee… 🙁

5. Where’s the booze?

Local Restaurant Tanzania

Even though there are several different national beer brands in Tanzania (with colorful names as “Safari”, “Serengeti” and “Kilimanjaro”), a lot of restaurants don’t serve alcohol. Many areas in Tanzania are primarily muslim, so that surely is one reason. But even in a major city like Dar we had difficulties finding a place to have a drink before our non-alcoholic dinner.

6. Konyagi

Konyagi truck

I have already mentioned the clear local liquor named “Konyagi”, the self-proclaimed “spirit of the nation”. It’s sold in small 200 ml bottles throughout the country.


What I found interesting is the sachet version of Konyagi, which can be found empty lying on pretty much every street, dirt road or sidewalk in Tanzania.

Konyagi sachet

For those people that cannot afford the 1,50 Euros for a bottle, they offer plastic pouches of 100 ml for only 75 Euro Cents. Its like the “Capri Sun” of my childhood…just with 35 percent alcohol.

Naturally we gave the spritit of the nation a try and must admit it is quite palatable mixed with tonic.


7. Doors

I don’t know if this is something special to all of Africa or not, but this struck me as weird already in Madagascar. Not a single bathroom in a hotel room so far was completely shut off and had proper privacy. That could mean that instead of a bathroom door there is a curtain, a paravent or something like a saloon door. Sometimes there is a door, but then there is an open space at the top of the door or in case of our hotel in Mbeya in the wall between the bathroom and the bedroom. You might think this is for ventilation purposes, but this can be found even when the bathroom has a window. Let’s just say you become VERY close to the person you are traveling with.


Another weird door fact concerns the hotel room doors. I have no idea why, but almost all of them have an open space (most times with a window inside…but not always!) at the top of the door. This means that you will always enjoy the shine of the hallway light in your hotel room. How nice!


8. Time is relative

Get this: Tanzanians have their own time system! You would think everybody in the world has the same way of counting time, starting at midnight and going for 24 hours (or for 12 and 12). Not Tanzania! Their counting starts at dawn, so at our 6 o’clock. Just imagine you are at the bus station, buying a bus ticket for the next day and ask the guy selling the ticket at what time the bus is leaving and he answers at 3 AM. 😯 Thanks to our knowledgeable guidebook we knew that meant the bus was going to go at 9 o’clock. Makes planning a bit complicated though…”my time or their time…??”

9. For the love of soccer

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a country with so many people wearing soccer jerseys. Seriously, in some areas you get the feeling every second person is wearing one. I understand Tanzanians are huge soccer fans. One man explained when there is no match on TV, Tanzanian men are sad and bored. They watch any national and international match. And I guess they wish to express their love for the game through their clothes.



DSC08119 Kopie




10. Motorcycle security

In most places of the world it is custom or even demanded by law that motorcyclists protect themselves while riding their bike. In Tanzania it seems when you register your bike you need to buy a helmet and a protection pad (or you just wear your jacket the wrong way around….!).


Obviously there is no law though saying HOW the helmet needs to be worn. Several drivers wear their helmet front to back….yes! I am serious!!

And what really looks funny are the protection pads. These have the appearance of x-ray blankets at the dentist’s….



11. China everywhere

China plays quite a big role in Tanzania. The first time I saw a bus with Chinese signs on it, I was suprised. But you get used to the sight. You become aware that the Chinese not only send their old busses to Tanzania. They also are big in the construction and civil engineering business. Furthermore we learned that some of the busses that have been imported here are run by Chinese companies. In fact, the Chinese run busses are some of the best busses in the country.