- On April 9, 2021
- In Tanzania Travel Guide
Tanzania Souvenirs Shopping Guide
This breathtakingly beautiful country will take you back to the origins of man (Olduvai Gorge), to the sources of life. As much as a trip to space, a safari in Tanzania is an amazing experience in lifetime, an unforgettable foray into the animal world.
The national parks in Tanzania are much more extensive (especially the Serengeti national park) and the animals are born, grow up, and reproduce as in a kingdom of animals. After experience your safari in Tanzania you will always wish to bring something with as a memory of your experience. Below we have listed number of things you can bring home from Tanzania as a souvenir.
Tanzanian coffee which are grown in the large plantations of the North part of the country (around Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions), is the excellent one. Try to consider buying it. Another thing is, Tanzanian tea which is also as good as that from Kenya, they are both significantly better.
All kinds of small wooden objects (Wooden trinkets)
Get one which is space-saving and light-weight, from the big five wildlife to the games of small animals for children, including key rings, you will find all kinds of figurines representing African fauna.
Ebony wood carvings (The Makondes)
The most beautiful, the best known are the makonde carvings. The Makonde tribe group lives in southern Tanzania (Mtwara), the border region with Mozambique. These sculpted works from craftsman are often represent different style of human beings (Maasai tribes) wild animals, scenes of everyday life in the form of entwined figurines. Most of the sculptures sold in souvenir shops are mass-produced, which means that it is difficult to buy original sometimes.
Soapstone is a soft stone with a pinkish beige color (ivory-colored), which comes mainly from the Lake Victoria area. You can draw all the possible and imaginable objects from it, they are really exceptional and beautiful. Sculpted animals vary from a few grams to several kilograms. Among the best buys: boxes, ashtrays, vases, candle holders, some in rough stone, others dyed black and engraved with geometric patterns. The main downside, you guessed it, is the weight.
Precious and Semi-precious Stones
Tanzanite is the “favorite” stone of the country, from which its name is inspired elsewhere. Brown in color in its raw state, it turns blue, pink, and even purple after passing through heating. You can find, mounted or not, in jewelry stores run by the locals. Besides that, rubies, amethysts, malachites and many others can be bought retail or cut or already mounted.
In some well-stocked shops, you can find showcases divided into small boxes containing twenty or thirty samples of stones and minerals, which will real amuse the gems collectors. Gold is not very expensive in Tanzania. Among the good souvenir you can find is the little Africa Map as a pendant.
Jewelry in colored glass beads
This you can find it in every roadside stall. We recommend bracelets, necklaces, belts, compact, light and inexpensive. The other items take up space and are quite expensive. The Maasai spears, the ornaments of the young Morans in ostrich feathers, the machetes, the shields, all these wonderful pieces from the Maasai culture, are today produced industrially, and are sold everywhere. Massais souvenirs are innumerable and inexpensive. Anything that looks like leather — untreated — is likely to be left with a stubborn smell sometimes.
Drums come in different shapes and sizes. A tam-tam pointed downwards is intended to be planted in the ground. Otherwise, it is placed between the knees. The marimba is more original. It is a light wooden box, forming a small sound box. On the top, the craftsman fixes side by side a series of thin metal rods, of decreasing size, which, once activated, produce very nice tones.
To play, hold it with both palms and vibrate the rods with your thumbs. The size of the marimba varies depending on the number of metal rods it carries. The average is 8 to 12 stems. The largest marimbas can have about 50 stems. The price varies depending on the size. A great gift idea for friends.
Bantu crafts. The most beautiful pottery comes from the Kisi ethnic group, in the Lake Nyasa region.
The smoking pipes
The famous "Meerschaum pipes", simple, beautiful, not cumbersome. Some have stoves lined with a layer of foam
When visiting the island make sure you remember to bring back from Zanzibar your package of spices. Read more about Spices here.
Clothing, traditional fabrics
Swahili cotton loincloths generally wear stripes of dark, almost dark colors. For women, there are kangas, rectangular fabrics in which African women are draped. Kitenges are colored fabric dress (and kitenge shirt for men). The kofia (barkashe) is the traditional headdress for Muslim men.
The kiondos: these are sisal fiber tote bags. Some are quite simple, others with a leather background. Most are striped. Convenient and pretty cool, although a bit expensive. Don't hesitate to haggle.
Batiks: smaller (and very beautiful) like in Asia, they are generally covered with geometric patterns or animated representations.
The kikois and kangas: the sarongs of East Africa. The first come from the coast — they are slightly thicker — the others from the interior. They are always sold in pairs: one is used for clothing, the other for hanging a baby on the back. Most are illustrated with colorful designs and Swahili proverbs.
Cars made with pieces of salvaged wood, models, simple objects for collectors of naive art.
Objects or souvenirs from animals. Ostrich eggs, zebra skins, trophies, turtle shells, whatever else, all those pieces torn from the nobility of the wild life, which often only come after killing animals. This spirit disgusts us! Out of respect for nature and the animal world, do not buy these kind of souvenirs.