Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive to Arusha to begin your journey.
Service buffs will enjoy this rustic, two-week intensive program. Spend most of your days completing service work in a village outside of the Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania. Work on infrastructure improvements at the local primary school, and lead English lessons with the students. Spend a day with a nomadic tribe, the Hadzabe, learning about their unique lifestyle. Reward your hard work with an incredible safari through the crater, spotting as many of the 25,000 species as possible that inhabit the area.
Your adventure in Africa begins as soon as you board the flight to Tanzania. All of Rustic Pathways’ scheduled group flights to Tanzania depart from New York and are escorted by a flight leader. After boarding the flight in the evening, you’ll have plenty of time to relax, get to know your fellow travelers, and sleep in preparation for your arrival to Africa. Team Tanzania will be ready and waiting to take you on the adventure of a lifetime when you arrive at the airport.
Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive into Arusha in the evening and transfer to the Rustic Pathways guesthouse. This first night in Africa will offer the chance to get to know the other students on your program, your staff members, and your new host country. Your guides will give you a quick orientation that will introduce you to the local culture and prepare you for an exciting week of service.
Today you will drive up to our northern base located in the heart of the village you will be serving, located about an hour from the town of Karatu. Your first day will be one of familiarizing yourself with the village and the people that you will be working closely with for the next two weeks including respected village elders, teachers from the primary school, the headmaster, masons and of course many of the children. You will also be introduced to the students you will be spending time with on an education exchange project. During the next two weeks, you will have the chance to get involved in a number of different service projects while you are here, giving you a broad perspective on life in Tanzania.
After a long day, filled with a lot of information, you will return to your campsite in the village for a delicious hot meal and discussion around cups of tea.
The next two weeks will offer you the chance to really dig in and get to know the community during your service projects. Each morning, you will be assigned to a specific project, and your team will work alongside and under the guidance of a Rustic Pathways staff member and various members of the local community. There will be plenty of time at the school, where you can get to know local students through activities designed to promote teamwork, citizenship, cultural competence, and communication. The heart of your time will be spent on infrastructure improvements, which will likely take the form of classroom renovations, teachers’ housing to improve student-to-teach ratios, or water access projects. Whichever project you end up on, the work you do here will have a direct impact on the community.
After lunch you will return to the project and continue to work for a few hours. When the service work ends, your afternoons will be filled with fun activities that introduce you to the area. You may play a village team in a soccer match, hike to a neighboring village or learn a local handicraft. Roughly every other day you will have time to meet with your education exchange groups to continue to build non-cognitive skills. As you sit with the students, share stories about your families, daily schedules, classes, hopes and dreams, developing a strong friendship along the way!
After an early morning breakfast, you will be joined by a guide who will lead us to a community-centered culture program to promote the culture and way of life of the famous Hadzabe, Tanzania’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribe. Today is a fascinating day of discovery! Once you arrive, you will head straight out on the hunt, possibly even bows in hand. Through observation, as the Hadzabe speak no English, you will learn about their unique culture; one of the few nomadic tribes left on the planet. You will learn how and where they make their fires, what type of animals live around Lake Eyasi, how their trained senses can track even the smallest of creatures and even visit a blacksmith who will show you how he makes the various arrowheads and tools of the tribe.
Back in the village, you will return to your various projects. By now you should be able to use a little Swahili and surprise the villagers and children with greetings and basic conversation. Now used to the area and projects, you will dig in twice as hard and focusing on service and cultural immersion as you learn to do things like make the local staple food, ugali, milk goats, or harvest maize.
After all that hard service work, a trip to explore the wilds will be well earned. Ngorongoro is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. Inside the crater is a thriving ecosystem of lush forests, vast grasslands, a freshwater lake, and some 25,000 wild animals, including lions, zebras, elephants, and gazelles. It is also the traditional home of the Maasai, who live both within the crater and around its rim.
As you climb in a safari vehicle and begin the short drive to the mouth of the crater, prepare to catch a glimpse of some of Africa’s most magical creatures. The famous Big Five game animals – lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalo and rhinoceros – all make their home here. You may also catch a glimpse of the Maasai grazing and herding their cattle.
Once again, return to the community and your various projects. You have two more days to complete your work and spend time with the students that have hopefully now become your good friends.
On your last evening in the village, enjoy a closing ceremony with the students, teachers, and community leaders. Exchange contact information with newfound friends, say goodbye to the community that has been your home for two weeks, and hopefully plan your return one day!
Return to Arusha early in the morning for a hot shower. Enjoy a Swahili meal in town for your last taste of local cuisine, and then hit the markets and barter prudently as you browse the stalls for popular souvenirs like paintings, Tanzania soccer jerseys, wood-carved masks, the Masai tribal blanket called the shuka, and more! Options abound. Compare your purchases with your friends as you prepare for your journey home in the evening.
Return home to the sights, sounds, and smells you grew up with, and the loved ones who will greet you at the airport as you say goodbye to your newfound friends. Take a moment to pause and reflect on what you and your group accomplished. What challenged you? How did you engage with the place and the people that you visited? And more importantly, how will you amplify their stories as you tell others about the growth-filled experience you’ve just had?
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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All programs in Tanzania connect well with other programs in Tanzania. Any programs that run consecutive weeks can be combined. (Remember: start and end dates are inclusive of travel times from the United States, so the listed start and end dates of consecutive programs will overlap by two days.)
Tanzania’s geographical location makes it difficult to connect seamlessly with the other countries we operate in. We suggest any student interested in connecting programs should first return home and wait for the following week until the next program begins. This will allow enough time to smoothly integrate into the upcoming trip.
In previous years most students visiting Tanzania have been able to purchase and receive their visa upon arrival into Arusha. However due to recent changes we have been advised to require travelers to apply for their visas in advance of travel.
Students attending a service oriented program in Tanzania (Faces of East Africa, Culture and the Crater, or African Wildlife Conservation) must obtain a travel visa for “Other Business” for their entry.
For travelers on adventure programs (Climbing Kili or Safari and a Splash of Paradise) a travel visa for “Leisure, Holiday” will suffice.
Once again, we have partnered with G3 Global Services to assist in the visa application process. You can review the updated visa requirements on their site at www.g3visas.com/rusticpathways.html. Since requirements for visas vary by nationality, G3 is only able to process applications for US citizens. However, they have provided additional information to assist families residing outside of the United States.
Should you choose to apply for your visa directly through the embassy or via another visa service agency please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require additional assistance.
A Flight Leader will meet all the students originating from the United States at JFK airport, and will be with them until their arrival into Tanzania. A Flight Leader will also be present on the return flight home.
This flight includes about 21 hours of travel, starting from your take-off in New York.
The advertised trip does include international travel time. To get a sense of the true in-country time, note that our programs start and end on Wednesday evenings.
Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater, and Karatu and its surrounding areas,including the village of Mongola Juu. Most of your time will be spent in Mongola Juu.
Each program in Rustic Pathways will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. On Culture and the Crater, at least two staff will have the more advanced Wilderness First Responder certification.
Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.
Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques or purchases bottled water to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, (whether as a camera or as a means of communication) nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
Tanzania uses United Kingdom-style plugs at 220-250 V / 50 Hz (the USA is 120 V / 60 Hz).
We are in Tanzania in their winter, so in the villages and cities, the weather will usually be sunny and warm during the day (high 70s F), and cool at night (50s F). It is the dry season, so we do not expect heavy rain.
On the first night of the trip, you will stay at Themi Valley Guesthouse, a charming and comfortable guesthouse in Arusha. During the buik of the program, you will sleep on safari mattresses in tents or in a common house or classroom donated by the village, within the community. The conditions will be rustic – you will not have running water, showers, flushing toilets, or electricity.
We have cooks that provide most of our meals and have worked with us for a number of years. They do a wonderful job of creating familiar dishes for the students, while also fixing the occasional local meal. Meals typically include soup, salad, main course and dessert. Special circumstances, such as being a vegetarian, can be accommodated.
Bathrooms are simple outhouses and pit toilets. Wet wipes are strongly recommended, and hand sanitizer is required.
You will not have access to internet or phone during this trip. On your last day, during brunch with the rest of the students on programs in Tanzania, you will have the option of visiting an internet café if you so choose.
You will have the chance to do laundry once guaranteed, and possibly twice, during this program. We pay some of the local women in the village to do our laundry, charged on a per-piece basis (laundry is not included in the program cost).
Generally speaking, there are usually a several more girls than boys, but it is difficult to say with each trip being different.
Parents and students who have not carefully read the itinerary tend to be surprised at how rugged/rustic the living conditions are. If you are excited to get off the beaten path, away from modern amenities, and are okay showering twice in two weeks, then this is a great program for you!
The drive to and from the Mongola Juu from Arusha takes 4-5 hours, depending on the condition of the roads. There are also short drives on the safari day and on the cultural experience day with the Hadzabe tribe.
Usually by private bus that we contract. For safari, you will travel in land rovers/safari vehicles.
Tanzania is considered the most stable country in East Africa and now sees over a million tourists every year! Safety tips for traveling here are much like traveling anywhere – be conscious of your belongings, keep money hidden, travel in groups, and do your research beforehand. All of which we do and teach you to do as a young traveler.
There are a couple of health issues to note specific to Tanzania. The country is considered endemic for malaria and dengue fever. Both are vector-borne illnesses spread by mosquitos; malaria has both prophylactics and antibiotics available for prevention and treatment, but there is no cure or vaccine for dengue. Those most at risk for serious complications from dengue are those who have contracted it before. These diseases present the greatest risk during the rainy season (March-May), and near large bodies of water or in low-lying areas, such as the more southern city of Dar Es Salaam. Risk in the inland north where we operate is much lower. The risk on Zanzibar, where Safari & Splash students visit, is somewhat elevated in comparison, though Zanzibar has not had some of the outbreaks that have afflicted Dar Es Salaam. The fact that we travel during the drier and cooler winter months in Tanzania helps reduce that risk. Nevertheless, students should be vigilant on all programs and Zanzibar in particular to use bug spray with DEET and to wear long sleeves and pants, particularly at dusk and dawn. Our hotels on Zanzibar do provide bed nets.
Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Center for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
For entry, we will note that yellow fever or other vaccinations are currently not required to enter Tanzania. The exception is if you have spent time in a yellow fever-endemic country (such as Kenya). You will want to review the countries to which you have previously traveled to determine if you will need to show proof of vaccination for entry.
International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access toInternational SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.
As a member you will have access to International SOS’ extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.
Mongola Juu is only an hour from Karatu which has relatively modern healthcare facilities. While on safari or visitng the Hadzabe, that journey might take a little longer by a few hours depending on location.
In Arusha, there are good clinics with English-speaking staff within a ten-minute walk from the basehouse, and as the primary launching point for tourism in the region, there are a number of well-equipped hospitals in the city.
Special circumstances can be accommodated as long as we have ample warning. Note that vegans can be more difficult to accommodate based on the food available in Tanzania, though not impossible. Vegans and those with severe allergies should consult with the Country Director or a Personal Travel Advisor before committing to this program.
There may be some mosquitos, but generally in those regions and at that time of the season the mosquito population is much lower. We do not carry bed nets, but we do encourage the use of bug spray if mosquitos appear.
Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
$100 for visa (or $50 for non-USA citizens). Bills should be clean, unwrinkled, and dated 2006 or later.
$200-300 to buy snacks on the way to the village, and souvenirs on the last day. In the past, some students have also made donations to the school such as goats, school supplies, uniforms, etc., or supplemented our tips to the safari guides with additional tips of their own.
Note: students should only bring monetary donations, not items from home! Imported donations tend to crowd out local businesses and impair the local economy. A more sustainable practice is to bring money and use that to purchase goods (school supplies, etc.) from local suppliers.
Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.
Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. For the community in Mongola Juu, you will join a long-term education enhancement program designed to both improve the physical quality of the education facilities, build or improve housing for teachers to leverage government resources and attract more teachers to the village, and enhance the students’ English education with hands-on teaching, tutoring, and 1-on-1 language exchange partners. You can also plan on learning some Swahili!
A reusable water bottle, sleeping bag, and headlamp with spare batteries are required.
Students do not need to have any prior experience, just a comfort level with rustic living conditions.
Tanzanians in general dress modestly, and as polite visitors we will also dress relatively conservatively. While Arusha town can be a little more relaxed, it is important that we show respect at all times and particularly in Njoro village. The requirements are fairly straightforward:
Shorts – basketball-style only; no running or soccer-style shorts. Rule of thumb is that the bottom of the shorts should be approaching the kneecap for both boys and girls
Leggings or yoga pants – not to be worn by either boys or girls. If the pants are paired with a truly long T-shirt, then leggings will be acceptable.
Loose-fitting pants, capris, and long skirts – acceptable and preferred
Tops – shoulders must be covered on both boys and girls. No tank tops or spaghetti straps.
If you arrive and your garments are deemed unacceptable by your program leaders, you’ll have to purchase appropriate wear before service work starts in the village.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal. A wheeled bag is only suitable if it can be carried like a duffel over rough terrain.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive to Arusha to begin your journey.
Located in the beautiful highlands below the Ngorongoro Crater, this friendly community will be your home for the next two weeks.
Home of the nomadic Hadzabe Tribe, you will learn how they hunt in the flatlands around the lake.
The home of our friendliest staff member, Jackson, Karatu will be where you can rest from your service and obtain a hot shower.
Descend into the famous Crater, rimmed by lush forests and filled with zebras and wildebeest.