Head to the world’s safari Mecca, home to the lion-stalked plains of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater’s National Parks. Scale snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, dip your toes in the Indian Ocean and hop over to the spice island of Zanzibar.
It is an undeniable fact that Tanzania packs the punches on the wild and exotic front but, in our humble opinion, it’s true charm lies in the characteristic warmth and beauty of the Tanzanian people. There are more than 260 tribal groups in Tanzania, each with their own distinct culture and traditions, living peacefully side-by-side.
Over the course of this program you’ll volunteer in Arusha - a buzzing town in the heart of the bush - and Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast. You’ll also have time to explore Lake Manyara National Park for a taste of life on the wild side, Moshi - the lush green town on the slopes of Kilimanjaro - and not to be missed, Zanzibar.
You’ll fly in over the glistening frozen peaks of Kilimanjaro (pray for a clear day) before stepping out into a wave of equatorial heat. Arusha is the gateway to the northern safari circuit, boasting a busy trade in tourism. A true cosmopolitan city, strolling along the streets of Arusha you’re just as likely to see a briefcase-toting professional as you are an elegant Maasai warrior, armed with his traditional panga.
Home for the next few weeks is a purpose-built volunteer base in a quiet suburb, around 6km from the bars, restaurants and internet cafes - popular with trendy locals and backpackers alike. From here you’ll be in easy reach of projects for the coming weeks, with Jimmy the Driver on hand with his trusty minibus!
Next up is Lake Manyara – a gem of a game reserve, stretching along the base of the Rift Valley. The park spans 330 sq km, with lush jungle-like forests and open grasslands surrounding a giant salt-water lake, fed by hot springs and home to flocks of vivid pink flamingos.
Here you’ll go on day’s safari through this remarkable wildlife haven, which though compact compared to neighbouring Serengeti, offers a microcosm of the Tanzanian game viewing experience. Troops of baboon, vervet monkeys, herds of elephant, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, lion and even the elusive leopard have made this park their home.
For this week you’ll camp on the outskirts of the National Park, where you’ll get a taste of ‘life on safari’– living in raised, permanents tents and falling asleep to the sound of Maasai song.
Tanzania’s main port and economic centre. Huge, hot, humid and boasting rich Swahili culture laced with an exotic mix of African, Arabian and Indian influences - you’ll feel a world away from the bush.
Capital city in all but name, ‘Dar’ is a down-to-earth place, built around a picturesque seaport with all the historic buildings, shops and restaurants you expect with a population of over 4 million. Long stretches of sandy beach, fringed with palm trees frame Dar to the west, with safe, private zones belonging to hotels which make the perfect spot for sunbathing.
You’ll be staying in a team house in the quiet suburbs of the city’s eastern reaches with Jimmy the Driver again on hand to take you to the mainland beaches or into town at the weekends.
This is an optional extra but deserves its place here as everyone goes and it's not to be missed! A short hop over the Indian Ocean is the Island of Zanzibar – famous for its intriguing history, culture and people.
We suggest you head over to the beautiful northern beaches but before you get too settled into your book or cocktails, Stone Town is a must see. Described as the ‘soul’ of Zanzibar, it’s centre is a magical jumble of cobbled alleyways full of artisan shops, yummy street food, beautiful old Indian influenced mansions with their overhanging verandas and hidden courtyards, coffee vendors and families kicking about. A true assault on all the senses.
Islong is a private school set up with limited funds by a local community desperate to provide some sort of teaching environment for their children, as the government school is oversubscribed.
Our aim here is to contribute to their teaching facilities with simple but effective projects – such as painting murals, times-tables and other visual teaching aids all over the walls.
All the while impromptu English lessons and games of football are a standard part of the day.
These schools rely on private funds and local manpower to keep them going.
This is where we come in. Over the last few years we have helped with their renovation - laying floors, painting, fixing doors, painting wall charts etc and providing assistance to the teachers. Leapers have become a permanent feature so we need to keep going to help these school keep striving.
Building renovation, environmental clean up, clearing access to the classrooms, planting trees to create shade for children and watering plants to reduce dust and the risk of eye infections is all to be tackled.
You will spend time with a local women’s group learning to make traditional food and teaching English at the Maasai village school. You will also help at the Amani Orphanage, close to Lake Manyara, which was established in 2009 to provide a home to forty children aged between 3 and 12, from diverse religious and tribal backgrounds, many of whom lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, and have suffered a great deal of poverty and hardship during their lives.
The Leap has been working closely with Amani’s incredible manager Juma, constructing and continually improving their dormitories, classrooms and kitchen. But with all successful projects we can’t just stop – these kids now rely on the Leap volunteers to keep renovating their home, practice their English, arrange football matches but most of all provide them with love and cuddles.
The Maasai village is situated on the outskirts of Arusha. Here you will help with the school repairs - painting, laying floors and whilst there teach English to the kids.
You will also help with the tree planting around the village as its very dry and dusty - the trees help with land erosion and provide needed much needed shade. An amazing experience where you will become immersed in Maasai Village life and their unique culture.
Not to be missed. This incredible gem in the Indian Ocean is famous world over for powder-white sand, crystal turquoise seas and an underwater coral landscape that Nemo would never want to leave.
You’ll have the chance to kick back on the beaches, strap on a snorkel to track down a turtle, or head to the capital Stone Town, to explore the wonderful spice markets, ancient architecture and museums. At night, the legendary full moon parties draw backpackers from far and wide.
Optional extra - budget $20 per day and $40 for the ferry, each way.
You’ll be treated to a day’s safari around Lake Manyara but if you need more you’re in the right part of town. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are arguably two of the best known game parks on the continent.
The Serengeti is Tanzania’s oldest park, a land of vast grasslands punctuated by the silhouettes of Acacia trees stretching as far as the eyes can see. One of the best places to track the wildebeest migration (December-July), it’s possible to see all of Africa’s wildlife here.
The Ngorongoro National Park by comparison is cradled by the crater of a mighty extinct volcano and is home to Africa’s critically endangered species.
Sadly with all good things this doesn’t come cheap – it’s an optional extra and booked on the ground you’ll need to budget about £550 including all fees, transport, game drives and so on.
If you’re interested in taking the challenge of a lifetime, it doesn’t get much tougher than climbing to the top of Africa’s highest mountain at 19,333 feet. Climbing the mountain takes about 5–7 days and our only advice is ‘the fitter you are, the better’.
Unfortunately, as with all exceptional things in life, it’s pretty expensive (approximately £950) due to the National Park and climb fees, but this includes food, porters and accommodation.
You‘ll be busy volunteering 5 days a week, and for pretty much most of the day, but the evenings and weekends are your own for downtime or exploring a few of our favourites:
Arusha National Park The closest to Arusha, this wildlife haven is an under-visited gem, often overlooked by safari goers who are more interested in hitting Tanzania’s more famous parks. This is the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen.
Tarangire An easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara, Tarangire is suited to safaris year round but particularly amazing between June and September when the annual migration bring masses of animals to its gates.
The Maasai Bomas The Maasai Bomas in Arusha are found in the Maasai plains between Arusha and Lake Manyara. They depict a true authentic Maasai way of life, with a community of Masaai living in the traditional way inside the homestead.
Climb Mount Meru Kilimanjaro’s smaller cousin and Africa’s fourth highest mountain, Mt Meru is close to Arusha and part of Arusha national Park.
Swimming Pools and Beaches Both Arusha and Dar es Salaam boast luxurious hotel complexes with 5* amenities that even non-residents can enjoy. For the price of a beer you can spend the day relaxing in splendour by a pool or private beach.
While in Arusha, it is possible to focus purely on teaching in one of our schools. Leapers have done this as teaching may be their chosen career (work experience required) or they just want to stay put to build deeper friendships with teachers and pupils.
One of the schools where this is possible is in the Moshono Primary School. This is a large government school, founded in 1958. It only has 11 classrooms for 800 students ages 3 – 13, so expect classes of about 70, with at least 3 pupils to a table! Busy, big BUT happy kids.
Inside The Classroom We'll try to make sure you teach your favorite subjects but it is hoped you'll be able to teach English, Math’s and Science.
Outside The Classroom Many find this the most rewarding part of their internship as it’s an opportunity for you to be creative with your time and engage with the kids in imaginative ways… playing sport, art projects, music and dance classes are just the tip of the iceberg. Leap teaching guides will be we provided, written exclusively for us by teachers and past teaching volunteers.
Another career-focused internship available is with The Access Attorneys - a small firm based in Arusha covering a wide range of law including criminal, corporate, civil and family for a large number of clients ranging from corporations, NGO’s, government departments and individuals.
They'll happily take in two interns at any one time for two days a week and will encourage you to participate in a variety of tasks involving attending court, writing reports, research, monitoring and reporting on proceedings, visiting clients and general office admin.
On the other days you’ll help with the community and conservation projects based in Arusha, Moshi and Dar es Salaam.
Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Tanzania, earning the country about 20% of foreign currency. Over the last five years the number of visitors each year has grown from about 500,000 annually to about 900,000.
We work with Sunset Tours and Safaris, a small travel company with clients from Europe and the USA. They would love an intern for 2 days a week to help with planning and organising itineraries, liaising with local agents and camps plus general office administration. Through this internship you’ll learn basic business skills, which are transferable to other business disciplines in an exciting environment.
On the other days you’ll help with the community and conservation projects based in Arusha, Moshi and Dar es Salaam.
Dymphana was set up and run by the wonderful Sister Mary, an expert in autism and special needs. She’s an inspiring lady who spent her life savings building this home and on-site school for children with intellectual impairment such as autism and Down syndrome.
Sister Mary is ever grateful to our volunteers who turn up full of energy, love and ready for action to help her feed, wash and dress the children. Help teach basic hygiene, as simple as brushing their teeth! Help teach basic English, reading and writing to improve their social skills and brighten their lives through music, sport, games, and arts and crafts.Helping prepare their meals and taking the kids on little outings is all part of the daily routine here.
It’s possible to work here for five days a week while you are in Arusha – getting fully stuck in and building long lasting friendships with the staff and teachers.
We have four different teams departing for Tanzania each year: January, April, July and September. Typically programs are ten weeks long, taking in all the sights and experiences you'll find described on this page with plenty of downtime for you to explore the country as you please.
The exception to this is the July departure date, which is a six-week program and aims to pack as much into that shorter period as possible. It's an ideal fit for that gap between A-Level exams and results day, or for those on university summer holidays.
Want to join a ten-week program in January, April, or September and leave early? No problem, get in touch and we'll help you sort something out.