Hakuna matata and a warm welcome to Tanzania! Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime as we travel into the heart of this stunning country to get a true taste of African culture and community enrichment. We will get to know the country like locals as we embark on a week-long cultural exchange with a local school for girls, participating in activities with them as we grow to learn about both ourselves and our new friends. Together with our host students, we will participate in community enrichment projects, such as spending time with children at a local orphanage and learning about sustainable farming techniques.
As we head up north, we’ll learn how to live the rustic, African way of life as we spend our days in the bush viewing wild game and our nights camping under the clear, starry skies. Our encounters with local tribes will give us valuable insights into how people have existed in the area for thousands of years and the many ways that they continue to preserve their cultures today.
No trip to Tanzania is really complete without a visit to the idyllic island of Zanzibar! We will finish this epic adventure learning about the completely different cultures that live peacefully side by side while enjoying the picturesque beaches and ocean that surround this one of a kind island. When it’s time to leave, you’ll be able to say, “asante sana,” Tanzania, knowing that you have shared with her just as much as she has with you.
During this program, you will…
- Work alongside the students at a local school l and earn up to 40 hours of service credit while forming lasting friendships
- Join your new friends on a field trip to a stunning waterfall and strawberry fields
- Spend a day exploring an island marine reserve just outside of Dar es Salaam
- Spend a night in traditional African style igloo rooms!
- Descend into the world famous Ngorongoro Crater and go on a game drive in this haven for wild animals, including Black Rhino, elephants, lions, and wildebeests
- Go on a tracking adventure with the Hadzabe Bushman tribe and learn about how their hunter gatherer way of life is being threatened
- Visit the Datoga tribe to learn about their trade as metalsmiths and how they make arrows and jewelry
- Spend time at a traditional Maasai boma to better understand this ancient culture
- Discover the bustling city of Arusha at the base of Mt. Meru
- Take a breathtaking hike to a waterfall in the foothills of Kilimanjaro
- Wander through the narrow streets of Stone Town
- Witness a variety of cultures and religions peacefully coexisting
- Visit a local tailor to design and make your own outfit from traditional fabrics
- Learn about the history of slavery in East Africa and the rest of the world
- Snorkel through crystal clear waters and if you’re lucky, swim with dolphins!
- Enjoy a traditional island BBQ feast
- Learn about spices and how to cook traditional Swahili food from a village local
- Hang out with tortoises and snorkel through magnificent reefs
- Eat dinner on a traditional Arab rooftop terrace overlooking the city
This program is the extended version of our Tanzania Service program.
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAY 2: DAR ES SALAAM
Karibu! East Africa will welcome us with the bustling of this port city and its white sand beaches to explore near our hotel. We will spend the remainder of the day checking out the area or simply relaxing and basking in the late afternoon sun as we adjust to the Tanzanian pace of life.
DAY 3: BONGOYO ISLAND MARINE RESERVE
Wake up early to watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean before taking a motorized dhow across the water to Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve. Spend the day exploring sandy and uncrowded beaches, coral reefs, seagrass and algae beds, and even some lagoons. Snorkel through Shark’s Lagoon Cave, named after the young sharks that swim along the shores hunting for octopus – don’t worry…they don’t bite! After our picnic lunch you can go on a hike, keeping your eyes peeled for hawksbill and green turtles, or simply relax on the beach with a good book. Whatever you decide to do, you will have plenty of time to stretch your legs and prepare for tomorrow’s excursion into the heart of Tanzania and to the school where we will spend the service portion of our trip.
DAYS 4-10: MOROGORO CULTURAL EXCHANGE & SERVICE PROJECTS
Now our real adventure begins! We will travel to Morogoro with a private bus, having lunch en route. Upon our arrival, we will receive a warm greeting with a traditional welcome song from the students at the school. This week-long cultural exchange meets service projects at the school is the heart of this program. You will work on projects focusing on life skills and leadership training, as well as forming bonds with the students. We will work together inspire confidence and build leadership skills in each other through a variety of games and activities. You will work on hands-on projects around the campus including assisting with the organic gardens, Anti-Ivory Club activities, cooking lessons, and many others.
We will also have the unique opportunity to visit the homes of some local families who live in the area to learn about life in Morogoro. Our student hosts will accompany us to visit an orphanage and spend the day playing with the children who stay there. We will also go on a day trip together to a nearby mountain where we will hike to a waterfall and even take a dip for those who don’t mind the chilly water!
This portion of our journey is completed with a game drive in the nearby Mikumi National Park, a part of Tanzania’s lesser-known, but equally amazing, Southern Circuit. Try to spot the Big Five as we drive deep into the bush to take the roads less traveled before spending the last of our time with our wonderful hosts. We will enjoy our last evening together savoring a delicious Swahili meal, singing, dancing, and recalling stories of our time together over the past week.
DAY 11: MOROGORO > DAR ES SALAAM > ARUSHA
We will say farewell to our new friends and begin our overland journey to Dar es Salaam to catch our flight up north to Arusha. Let the safari adventures begin!
DAY 12: NGORONGORO CRATER
After an early breakfast, we will depart the lodge and and drive to Ngorongoro Crater, where the stunning ethereal blue-green vistas are simply breathtaking. The famous Crater is a World Heritage Site and situated at the eastern edge of the Serengeti. Though the views from above are beautiful, the real magic happens when you descend down into the world’s largest unbroken caldera, nearly three million years old and considered “Africa’s Garden of Eden.” It is a haven for thousands of wild game, including lions, elephants, wildebeests, zebras, rhino, Thomson’s gazelle, and buffalo. We will descend into the Crater for game viewing and drive among this unparalleled concentration of wildlife, including the highest density of both lions and overall predators in Africa, as well as the last of the remaining Black Rhino. After our game viewing and picnic lunch, we will ascend the Crater and drive to Lake Eyasi and the campsite where we will have dinner and spend the night camping in tents.
DAY 13: HADZABE BUSHMAN TRIBE
This morning our guides will introduce us to the Hadzabe Bushman Tribe that inhabits the area. This is a hunter/gatherer tribe that lives much as they have since the Stone Age. They hunt for small game with homemade poison arrows and gather berries, nuts, and honey. They have no permanent home, preferring instead to make shelter of leaves and other bush each night. As human activities and agriculture have increased, their very existence is under constant threat. It is considered a very special privilege to have the opportunity to learn firsthand about their culture and lifestyle. Following our visit to the Hadzabe, we will meet the neighboring Datonga Tribe. This tribe is known for their many metalsmiths who trade with the Hadzabe, providing them with the arrows that they use to hunt as well as beautiful metal jewelry. At the end of the day we will travel to Monduli Juu for dinner and will spend the night sleeping in tents under the starry African sky.
DAY 14: MONDULI MOUNTAINS > THE MAASAI
This day is full of cultural experiences as we trek through the Rift Valley and the forest of the Monduli Mountains. We’ll visit a Maasai boma (homestead compound) and Maasai villages along the way with our guide. Here we will learn firsthand about the Maasai culture from the Maasai people themselves, a very unique opportunity to gain insights into the most famous of the area’s tribes. Following our visit, we will return to Arusha for the night.
DAY 15: MARANGU MTONI > KILIMANJARO FOOTHILLS
Our morning starts early as we drive to Marangu Mtoni, where we will meet our guide and visit the home of the locals who accompanied the first recorded climber of Mt. Kilimanjaro as his guide in 1889. We will also have our choice of two beautiful waterfalls to hike to before visiting a traditional Chagga house where we will learn more about their culture as we enjoy a hot, local lunch carefully prepared by the women in the village who participate in this cultural program with us. After lunch, our guide will take us to see a historic site in the Makundi area where we will visit caves used to protect people during the Maasai-Chagga wars in the distant past. We will also visit blacksmiths who still use traditional methods to prepare tools as well as a local woodcarving school. At the end of this amazing day full of cultural experiences and our up-close encounter with Mount Kilimanjaro, we will head back to Arusha to enjoy our final night there.
DAY 16: ARUSHA > STONE TOWN
This morning we wave goodbye to the snowcapped peak of Kilimanjaro as we fly towards crystal clear waters that are more breathtaking than any others in Africa and possibly even the world!
After settling into our accommodation we will wander through the city with our local guide who will take us on a historical and cultural journey through Darajani Marketplace (for amazing souvenir shopping), the House of Wonders, the Old Fort, and the Sultan’s Palace. You will discover that Stone Town is a very lively place where you’ll find a mixture of Arabic, African, Indian, and European cultures living comfortably together. As you walk through the labyrinth of streets too narrow for cars to pass, you will see mosques, churches, and temples built side by side.
We will visit the Former Slave Market Site, where slavery was put down in the late 1800’s. As more people learn about the issue of modern-day slavery, this International Site of Conscience becomes an increasingly poignant reminder that millions of people around the globe are still denied freedom and basic human rights. We will finish our first day of island life with dinner at Forodhani Gardens, one of the best street food markets in all of East Africa.
DAY 17: SPICE FARM VILLAGE TOUR > PRISON ISLAND
Time to get your spice on in true Zanzibar spice culture fashion! Today we will enjoy a spice tour on a local farm and afterwards explore a nearby village. A local woman will show us how she farms and together you will collect cassava leaves to make a local coconut milk-based sauce. We’ll cook the sauce together in her outdoor kitchen and then eat a delicious Swahili-style lunch in the village, sitting down together as Zanzibaris traditionally do.
After our spice tour and lunch we will journey to Changuu Island, though better known to most as Prison Island. Our dhow will pick us up from the shores of Stone Town, setting down anchor three miles away on the beautiful beach of Prison Island. The prison, now owned by a hotel, was built in 1893 and was originally intended to house violent prisoners as well as sick people from the mainland. You will get the opportunity to visit the tortoise sanctuary, which contains a large colony of giant tortoise imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century. The average weight of these creatures is 440 lbs, and many of them are said to be over 150 years old. If you’re lucky, you will get a chance to meet the oldest of them all – keep an eye out for the scarred shell of this 193-year-old tortoise! Get your spinach leaves ready for feeding the tortoises and taking some awesome tortoise selfies. After we say farewell to our new tortoise friends, you can either enjoy the marine life as you snorkel around the coral that fringes Prison Island or simply relax under the warm glow of the sun until you head back to Stone Town.
DAY 18: EAST ISLAND VILLAGE VISIT
Today you will have the unique opportunity to experience rural life in Zanzibar. We will head to the east side of the island, renowned for its stretches of beautiful beaches and low tides that can go out almost as far as a mile!
The village locals will show us their seaweed farms and teach us about the many uses in Europe and the United States for the seaweed that they harvest. We will also visit a women’s pottery and handicrafts group and then have our choice of visiting a local school or a local clinic and its herbs doctor. A favorite for students is also learning about the process of making rope out of coconut fibre – you will be amazed how strong it is too!
Our village visit finishes with lunch at a small family-run restaurant where we will taste authentic Zanzibari cuisine seasoned with many spices and herbs from the community. There is also a possibility to visit a soap factory that uses the local seaweed as the main incredient for their soaps. We will then have the rest of the afternoon to relax on the infamous east island beaches or explore more of the village crafts markets.
DAY 19: SAFARI BLUE CRUISE
Get ready for a full day of Zanzibar’s favorite pastime: a Safari Blue Cruise! We will spend the entire day travelling on a traditional dhow boat around the southern coastline of the island. This magical journey will take you on an exploration of the Indian Ocean from Fumba Fishing Village to the Menai Bay Conservation Area. Our day will include snorkeling at a sand bank, swimming, relaxing, exploring the Kwale Island lagoons, refreshingly cool drinks, and a seafood buffet.
In the sandbank we will snorkel, sunbathe, and swim. There are experienced snorkeling instructors who will show you the coral reef and point out the tropical marine life that we will encounter. There is a chance that you will see and even swim with both Indo-Pacific humpback and bottlenose dolphins! After snorkeling, there are ice cold drinks, fresh coconut, and local snacks to enjoy on the dhow. In the afternoon we will take the dhow to Kwale Island, where we will feast on a barbeque buffet of fresh fish, lobster, calamari, and fries with a variety of sauces, all served from a sizzling hot grill.
For the rest of the afternoon, you can either relax and sunbathe or swim in the natural lagoon surrounded by beautiful mangrove forests. We will set sail back to Fumba in the late afternoon for our last night in East Africa, where we’ll enjoy a delicious Zanzibari dinner at one of the most famous rooftop restaurants in all of Stone Town, watching the glowing African sunset over the ancient town and the ocean beyond.
DAYS 20-21: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Afterwards, we will have time to shop for any last-minute souvenirs and enjoy the beach one more time before we grab some lunch and then head to the airport to catch our flight home. Kwaheri, Tanzania! Until we meet again!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Dar es Salaam our hotel is located outside of the bustling city and on its very own stretch of beach. In Morogoro we will stay at a guesthouse in a very secure area that is under the supervision of the local girls’ school with whom we have partnered for the project. During our time in Arusha we will stay at a game lodge with two-three people in a room. During the gamedrive portions of our trip we will have the opportunity to stay in African-style igloos for one night and in tents under the African sky for two nights. We finish up the trip staying in a hotel right in the heart of Stone Town, walking distance to all major sites and the infamous, white sand beaches of Zanzibar.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Students love that this program takes them out of their comfort zones and on an incredible journey through all the best parts of this enthralling country. The broad range of experiences and sights gives them unparalleled nature and wildlife, incredible vistas of unbelievable locations and a boatload of cultural experiences and activities. They form close bonds with their fellow travelers and the locals they meet and work with on this unforgettable journey!
What is unique about this program?
The community service component of this trip is nothing short of captivating. The days are incredibly rewarding; making friends with the girls you will work and helping them build self-confidence and leadership skills while learning firsthand about each other’s cultures. This is also one of our more adventurous programs that captures the best of this diverse and fascinating country.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
Tanzanian food is colorful, interesting, and unlike anything you’ve tried before! Ugali is the national dish of Tanzania. It is a thick, dough-like mass and varies in flavor and consistency depending on the flours used and how it is cooked. It is usually served with a sauce containing meat, fish, beans, or greens. Rice and ndizi (cooked plantains) are other staples. Three meals a day is usual, although breakfast is frequently nothing more than kahawa (coffee) or chai (tea) and mkat (bread). We will have the chance to enjoy a few traditional Tanzanian meals, so participants can try a lot of different local foods found nowhere else but here.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need to bring anything special for the community service portion of this program?
Female participants will need to bring loose trousers or skirts/dresses that fall below the knee as well as shirts and blouses that cover the shoulders and are not too low cut. Male participants should bring shirts with sleeves and either pants or shorts at or below the knee. Items such as soccer balls, decks of cards, nail polish, etc. are always great to bring to share and pass time with the students and people you meet along the way!
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
US citizens require a visa to enter Tanzania. The cost of the visa is $100 (multiple entry) valid for one year, 90 days at a time. Participants under 18 years of age will also need to have parental approval. All information for U.S. citizens applying for the visa can be found here.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Will we encounter dangerous animals during our game drives?
Participants will be able to see all wildlife from a safe distance. On every safari/game drive, there will be guides in order to keep participants safe. Outside of the game parks, there is almost no chance of encountering any dangerous animals.
Is Tanzania a safe country?
We only visit and stay in the safest places and hotels in Tanzania. We have carefully avoided any areas which are prone to crime. Safety is our number one priority at all times.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do.
Eat, stay, and travel like a local. Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded Top Youth Travel Organization in 2017.
"Thank you so much for everything. he texted this morning that Tanzania was so much fun and she thanked me! Thanks so much. TFT has been a wonderful communicator and I appreciate so much your guiding Ellie through a wonderful experience safely."
"Just wanted to say the photos are so amazing. Cali is having a fabulous trip/experience. She’s already planing to do the Medical one with TFT!!!! I look forward to the rest of the pictures and I love to read your views on what they also experienced. Just wonderful."
"We are thoroughly enjoying the newsletters and photos!!! Finn's younger brother and sister (as well as Chris, I, and Finn's extended family and friends!!) are enjoying the narratives and the great images of your day's experiences! Such an incredible place and the kids seems to be very engaged and enjoying their travels! We look forward every day to receiving the correspondence! It is the highlight of our day as we crowd around the computer!! We miss Finn so much but are so thrilled to feel like we are part of his adventure and are pleased to see the smiles on all the faces! Big hugs to the group for safe travels and a huge one to Finn!!"