All foreigners from non-Commonwealth and some Commonwealth countries are required to have a valid visa unless their countries have a visa abolition agreement with Tanzania. Tourist visas are valid for 3 months and for one entry only.
Visas can be obtained as follows:
Directly upon arrival at the airport in Dar es Salaam. Traveller’s should declare they are in Tanzania as a tourist. Cost is US$50/visa. Please go straight to the visa counter to avoid long wait times.
Through private services available in most countries that will do all the necessary paperwork to obtain your visa. In Germany, for example, see www.visaexpress.de. Costs run at $ 50,00 (plus service charges). It will take approx. 2 weeks to be issued.
Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Tanzania: (http://www.tanzania.go.tz/embassies.htm)
The Songwa coffee estate is located in an African country and although in certain regions there is risk of danger from the surrounding environment (predators, reptiles, insects, etc.), there are NO dangerous animals present in Songwa. Indeed, all animals are more frightened of humans than we are of them.
Three companies felt compelled to get more involved. in the often overlooked continent of Africa, in the origin of coffee and the coffee chain, often described as „from seed to cup“ and represented by a trilogy: „green coffee - roasting - preparation“. The business focus of these companies is on roasting and/or preparation, since grinding focuses on both roasting and preparation. For more information please see:
„Songwa is a beautiful and traditional East African coffee farm. Located on fertile land in the Rift Valley in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, it is producing Arabica Coffee of finest quality. It’s a good farm in a good country“ (Hans Fässler, owner).
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age coming from areas with risk for yellow fever transmission. Independently of the requirement, vaccination against yellow fever is recommended. See www.who.int/ith/countries/en/ to determine whether a certificate is required.
Other recommended vaccinations: tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis and hepatitis A.
Please check with your foreign ministry for further information.
Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country below 1800 m.
Protection (including mosquito nets and window screens) are provided at the Utengule Coffee Lodge on the Songwa Coffee Estate.
Exposed skin should be covered by insect repellent, especially at dusk and during the night.
For prophylaxis please see your national health recommendations.
The nearest qualified doctor is 15-20 min from the hotel in a newly opened Swiss run hospital. This facility provides very good, basic medical care in case of an emergency. In any case, a standard first-aid kit should be packed as follows:
Sun protection (sunscreen cream, sunglasses, hat)
Anti-histamines and other allergy medication in case of existing allergies
Please also check with your local pharmacist or primary care physician for further standard medication
There is no grocery shop at the Utengule Coffee Lodge, so eventually please pack your own preferred sweets, chocolates, snacks, etc. At the same time, good chocolate or cigars are always welcomed by hotel management.
The food served at the hotel is freshly made European-African cuisine. Each meal includes three courses, including soup/bruschetta and bread for starters, a meat or vegetarian dish as a main course and a choice between two desserts. All food is local produce. The organically home grown fruit and vegetables are from the hotel’s garden. All vegetables and salads are washed with clean water and do not pose any threat to digestion.
The bar in the hotel is equipped with all drinks, like any other hotel bar. Tea and coffee, standard sodas and a range of very good red and white wines, as well as a wide selection of spirits are available.
The wonderful staff and management at the Utengule Coffee Lodge will do everything to supply all the food and drinks that are needed for an enjoyable stay on the farm. Anything you would like to have that is normally not available at most hotels, you should pack yourself. The city of Mbeya is a 45 minute, 20 km bus-drive away. Mainly local food is available at the local market.
Souvenir shopping is easiest while at the airport in Dar es Salaam, which has three shops with a very nice selection of items.
What kind of coffee trees are planted at Songwa?
The 25 ha of coffee plants are for the most part Caturra, a modern hybrid of Coffea Arabica. It is a well-known and widespread plant in this area. It is chosen for its reliability and robustness at approx. 1400 m above sea level and a climate that has a good amount of rain, as well as a long-lasting dry season.
Years ago, a survey was carried out at Utengule/Itimba and 80 tree species were found. According to Thomas Plattner (M.Sc. Agronomy ETH Zurich - Utengule Managing Director), there are currently around 100 to 120 species at Songwa and in its vicinity. Typical species include the Cordia (Tulip tree), various types of figs (Liana), diverse types of Acacia, and the Cassia (with light yellow blooms).
You will be lodging at the Utengule Coffee Lodge, which is 15 km from the Songwa coffee farm
This spectacular estate has 16 rooms with en-suite facilities, and a terrace or balcony. The restaurant has a striking view over the Rift Valley, providing the perfect setting for homemade breakfast and dinner. (for further information please see www.riftvalley-zanzibar.com/ucl_index.html. Lunch and coffee will be provided at the farm house located on the property. While visiting the national game reserve, you will stay in a spacious bungalow or tent-like cabin with en-suite facilities right in the middle of the surrounding environment. Depending on arrival, the hotel in Dar es Salaam is a standard business hotel.
Generally, there is good coverage throughout the whole area. Some Blackberries work, while others do not, often depending on the roaming agreement you have with your provider. We have learned from our own experience that although the phones work, the connection is sometimes interrupted due to general network disruption. Coverage is not available in all areas of the national park.
Locally grown (Utengule Rift Valley) coffee that is roasted, ground and brewed with professional equipment
Two coffee blends: Prime and Standard Estate
Two espresso blends: Espresso Blend and Zanzibar Blend (with robusta, arabica and liberica)
All beds at the Utengule Coffee Lodge and at the game reserve are protected by a mosquito net. All windows are covered with screens. In addition, the rooms are specially sprayed every evening and sprays are available (depending on the season) for use. Occasionally harmless geckos, lizards or spiders might enter the room.
Remember, you are in the African bush, so naturally there are animals. Do not frighten them and keep your distance. It’s rare, but possible to come across a snake in the bush. Keep in mind that they are afraid of you before you even see them. Use common sense.
The Utengule Coffee Lodge is connected to the national power supply (220-240V / 50Hz). In case of interruptions, a 55kW generator will supply electricity to the hotel. The sockets are three pin square (please see next question). Please bring your own adapters for your electrical equipment. There are no adapters available at the hotel.
The management of the Utengule Coffee Lodge suggests that you do not tip individuals. Instead, tip at the end of your stay. In this manner, tips will be shared among all staff members (gardeners, chefs, and other “invisible” staff) at the end of the month. There is a tipping box at the reception desk.
The Songwa Estate is part of the Rift Valley Coffee Estate (www.riftvalley-zanzibar.com), which is located in the mountain range of the Mbeya district, about 900 km southwest of Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam. Songwa is about 15 km from the Utengule Coffee Lodge. Other Estates (Utengule, Itimba, Tegemeo and Punguluma) and small villages lie on the mainly dirt road running from the hotel to Songwa, partly along the Munvwa river, which is normally calm and shallow, but during the rain season is quite full with water and sometimes valuable top soil.
The recommendation for clothes is to wear long trousers and of course sturdy shoes (preferably boots). During the day t-shirts are sufficient, but long sleeve shirts and/or pullovers are recommended in the evening. In addition to packing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses are highly recommended. There is a luggage weight restriction of 15kg on the charter flight.
Depending on the time of the year, temperatures and rainfall varies. The following overview gives a closer look on the weather conditions at different periods of the year:
May: end of rainy season; last showers before the middle of the month; day: 20-25°C, night: 10-15°C
June: beginning of dry season; day: 20-25°C, night: 10-15°C
July: completely dry, no precipitation, landscape drying up, clear sky; day: 20-30°C, night: 15-20°C
August: dry weather, clear sky; ; day: 20-30°C, night: 15-20°C
September: end of dry season; clear, hot and dry days; dusty, misty view; day: 25-35°C; night: 10-20°C
October: end of dry season/beginning of rainy season; by the end of the month first clouds and isolated showers; day: 25-35°C; night: 10-20°C
November: rainy season, showers; day: 25-35°C, night: 15-20°C
December: full rainy season; rainy days interspersed with dry days; warm showers, mainly afternoon and night; high humidity; day: 25-35°C, night: 15-20°C
January: middle of rainy season; frequent showers; full rainy days seldom; high humidity; day: 25-35°C, night: 15-20°C
February: rainy season continues; high humidity; day: 25-35°C, night: 15-20°C
March: rainy season continues; high humidity; day: 25-35°C, night: 15-20°C
April: end of rainy season; less precipitation than Jan-March; day: 25-35°C, night: 15-20°C
Included: transportation within Tanzania, accommodations, food, seminars, visits, park fees, hand-outs.
Excluded: Visa, flight to/from Tanzania, drinks (excluding the bottled drinking water provided in rooms free of charge), tips, souvenirs, airport tax for charter flight (see next question, approx. US$5.00), possible taxi shuttle from one terminal to another at airport (approx. US$5.00).
For all scheduled national and international flights, the airport tax is included in the ticket price. However, for national charter flights (such as the flight scheduled from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya), the airport tax (approx. US$ 5) must be paid in cash. Therefore, please carry some US$ with you. There is a luggage weight restriction of 15kg on the charter flight.
The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSh). On the basis of previous experience, U.S. dollar bank notes are very convenient in Tanzania. Tips can be paid in USD.
For updated exchange rates, please see www.oanda.com/convert/classic
A spreadsheet is available also at www.oanda.com/convert/cheatsheet which is convenient while travelling. It is not possible to pay by credit card!
Allowance for local flights (charters and scheduled) is 15kg. For your own comfort, travel with a little luggage as possible, preferably with one soft bag up to 15kg plus a normal hand luggage
Local flight companies follow international standards, with good aircrafts and qualified pilots.
Songwa has an area of 58 hectares, including 24 hectares of coffee, approximately 1 hectare with buildings and scarcely 10 hectares are farm for other crops. The remaining land of approximately 23 hectares (~ 40 %) is an ecological compensation area in the form of forest and bush, with trees for shade and trees surrounding the borders of the estate. The estate applies IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Biodiversity is consequently protected to create biotopes for the natural enemies of various pests, such as birds or certain insects. Hunting is strictly prohibited.