Honest review of accommodations we tried in Tanzania

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Lisa & Pol
by Lisa & Pol

We traveled all over Tanzania in a search of unique and less touristy places, but that didn’t mean we would skip its highlights as Arusha and Zanzibar. In this article we want to share with you some accommodations that we stayed at and that are worth mentioning, ranging in price from 0$ to 50$.

We can start right off with the most expensive place (47$), where we stayed only for one night. It was a very basic room in an extraordinary setting – Gombe National Park. Settled on the shore of the Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake of Africa, this place is a small paradise on Earth! Its remote location meant we had it all to ourselves, sharing the space with baboons and enjoying dips in the clear lake waters. The purpose of our visit was a chimpanzee trek, one of the highlights of our trip to Tanzania that deserves its own blogpost. You can read all about our adventure to Gombe National Park.

Alone in Gombe National Park, swimming with the baboons
Alone in Gombe National Park, swimming with the baboons

Rating: 8/10 – the basic room was really overpriced for what it was, but our stay was unique and memorable thanks to its unmatchable setting!

Hostels

To be honest, in Africa we don’t stay in many hostels. Travelling as a couple, we usually find better value in accommodations for locals, hotel rooms and lodges.

But in Tanzania we stayed in 2 hostels, and we were very happy with both our stays.

First was Arusha Backpackers Hotel.

We booked a private room, with shared bathroom and the value for the money was very good! It felt comfortable, with the central location, strong wifi and the breakfast was included ! Price for 1 night for 2 was 14$.

The awesome rooftop of Arusha Backpackers, overlooking Mount Meru
The awesome rooftop of Arusha Backpackers, overlooking Mount Meru

Rating: 7/10 – this place is all you need as a backpacker but also it isn’t exceptional in anyway. We were slightly annoyed with the staff that kept suggesting that they would be happy with a tip, a bit too pushy to sell us a group safari to Serengeti and very slow in the rooftop bar area.

On the other hand, our second hostel in Tanzania in Iringa was an exceptional stay!

Hidden Valley Backpackers in a truly hidden gem and the slightly higher price (24$ per night for 2) was adequate for its service.

We booked a private room, breakfast was included but with a twist, you must prepare it yourself! We loved the concept. It’s been so long since we prepared our own breakfast, we really enjoyed having the option to cook it ourselves with all the necessary ingredients provided. Moreover, the place is situated in the outskirts of the city, tucked in the nature, with a possibility to go hiking right from its doors. Our favorite place was a net on the terrace.

Chilling on the nets at Hidden Valley Backpackers, overlooking the city
Chilling on the nets at Hidden Valley Backpackers, overlooking the city

Rating: 10/10 - we loved it here! Plus, Erick, the owner of the place is super friendly and helpful so there is really nothing to complain about! :D

Zanzibar

If you are visiting Tanzania, you probably won’t miss Zanzibar! We were skeptical about the island as we were worried that it would be too touristy and pricey but we ended up absolutely loving it and we for sure want to come back! Here are the places where we stayed and our thoughts about them.

You can’t miss Stone Town on your visit of Zanzibar, but be prepared, the accommodations over here are on the higher end (pricewise at least). The cheapest place we found (as a couple) was Stone Town View Inn.

We booked our room last minute for 24$ with breakfast included. The room we got was quite old, with a little bit of smell of mothballs, not really worth the value but this is Stone Town, so for 1 night it was fine. There is A/C.

Stone Town View Inn room, one of the cheapest options in town
Stone Town View Inn room, one of the cheapest options in town

Rating: 4/10 – cheapest thing we could find, location was good, but the room was worn down and smelly, compared to other places where we stayed in Tanzania this one was not worth the money

There is a nice-looking hostel called Zlife Stown Town where we would probably rather stay next time. The price for one is 16$ in mixed dormitory and 38$ for 2 with a private room.

Next, we stayed in Jambiani beach at Kasuku Villa, which is a place owned by a rasta man called Kim, so naturally, the place has a very chill vibe. It was one of the most affordable places in the area, we paid 26,5$ for 2 per night with breakfast included. The reviews were praising Kim’s kitchen, but we found the one dinner we ordered rather average.

Kasuku Villa, a very laid-back place in Jambiani
Kasuku Villa, a very laid-back place in Jambiani

Rating: 6/10 – the place looks nice on pictures and its owner Kim is a very friendly guy who even helped us to arrange scooters for a very good price. We loved its proximity to the beach, but the service was very slow, and room was extremely hot during the night.

On the other hand, we found an amazing place on Michamvi Sunset Beach. Karanga bungalows was the cheapest accommodation we had in Zanzibar and easily the best one! We paid only 18$ for 2 per night with breakfast included. We loved the design of the place, proximity to the beach and lovely delivery of the breakfast to our private patio.

The reception of the very fancy Karanga Bungalows
The reception of the very fancy Karanga Bungalows

Rating: – 9/10 at the beginning there was a communication problem with the only person at the reception who didn’t speak any English. They clearly didn’t expect us as we booked last minute, but everything was forgiven once we settled in our lovely room. Value for the money was amazing and everything felt nice and new.

Most unique and original stay we found on the island was bustani ya maajabu - Garden of wonders. Located near the Kizimkazi beach we felt like we found something unique and hidden. The concept of this place is “Vacation for donation”, which means you can stay over there for a donation. We stayed just for one night, camping in their beautiful garden full of birds and bats but you can also reach out to them and arrange you stay in one of their private chalets.

Camping in the garden of wonders, a nature paradise
Camping in the garden of wonders, a nature paradise

Rating: 7.5/10 – It’s bit hard to get the info about this place and even though we sent an email 5 days in advance we haven’t heard from them, but we decided to give it a shot anyway and it worked! There are not many camping spots in Zanzibar so we were very happy to find this place, we enjoyed its outdoors shower and covered camping spot in the middle of the wild garden. PS: come prepared with your own food, their kitchen is fully at your disposal.

On our way from Tanzania to Malawi we decided to stay 2 nights in Mbeya. This town in south of Tanzania might be overlooked by most of the travelers but we were happy to stay in the beautiful Peace of Mind Hotel. This place should be in all travel books and in the Routard! We stayed in the Yellow room, beautifully designed from ceiling to floor. For the 19,50$ for two with breakfast (in the garden next to the pool) included, this place was a best sleep we had in Tanzania!

The Yellow room at the Peace of Mind Hotel in Mbeya
The Yellow room at the Peace of Mind Hotel in Mbeya

Rating: 9/10 – the only missing star is for the slowness of the service, we waited 1h for our dinner order.

Bonus

So, if you are wondering about the 0$ stay in Tanzania here it is. We are big fans of Couchsurfing, it’s also how we met! And so we are trying to stay with locals at least once in each country we pass through. We usually create a public trip and wait to see if someone wants to host us.

Staying in someone's home might be more uncomfortable than hotels, but overall so much more memorable
Staying in someone's home might be more uncomfortable than hotels, but overall so much more memorable

And the invitation came from King, father of 2 in the outskirts of Moshi. We stayed with him and his family for 3 nights and immersed ourselves in a family life. Doing groceries together at the local market, playing with his kids in the evening … stuff lthat you wouldn't experience in hotels or hostels. That’s why we would love to encourage you to give Couchsurfing a try, not to save money but to engage with locals, learn more about the daily life, and make friends all over the world.

Lisa & Pol
Lisa & Pol
We're a Slovak-French couple in our twenties currently backpacking across Africa for a year. One of our goals is to inspire travellers to go explore this often forgotten continent. On this blog we're focusing on providing up to date info about prices and itineraries, especially geared towards backpackers on a budget. We also create content on Youtube and Insta if you prefer a more visual approach 😉
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