Filming in Tanzania

Filming in Tanzania

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for filming in Tanzania or photography production support or shooting crew in Tanzania? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

For an introduction to shooting in Tanzania see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

Tanzania Film Locations

Tanzania is a filmmaker’s paradise offering everything from famous wildlife parks to unique cultures, from snow-capped mountains to pristine white sand beaches.

Agricultural film locations include plantations of coffee, tea, sweet potatoes, corn, sugarcane, bananas, peanuts, sunflowers, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, coconuts, mangos, pineapples, cotton, and spices such as cloves. Industrial locations include mines of gold, diamonds, nickel, copper, uranium, kaolin, titanium, cobalt, and platinum.

Tanzania has hosted films such as Jane (2017), Amazing Race 29 (2017), The Amazing Race 20 (2012), The Bucket List (2007), The Amazing Race 11 (2007), The Amazing Race 5 (2004), Independence Day (1996), Congo (1995), and Baraka (1992).

Film locations can be divided into the following regions:

Coastal Tanzania

Includes the regions of Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, and Pwani.

Dar es Salaam, a commercial port located on the Indian Ocean is Tanzania’s largest city and main production service centre where crew and equipment are based. The city is known for its beaches, islands, seafood, and music. Film locations of note include Kivukoni Fish Market, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Azania Front Lutheran Church, University of Dar es Salaam, and Coco Beach. Mbudya Island, Bongoyo Island, Fungu Yasini Island are paradise island locations near Dar es Salaam.

The TAZARA Railway is a 1,860km (1,160mi) long railway linking Dar es Salaam to the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The journey runs through some of Tanzania’s most spectacular landscapes.

Mafia Island Marine Park in the Pwani Region is known for its coral reef underwater photography, green turtle breeding sites, deep-sea fishing, and diverse birdlife. October to March are the best months for underwater photography.

Selous Game Reserve in the Morogoro Region is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. Wildlife of note includes elephants, hippos and rhinos as well as buffalos, antelopes, giraffes, warthogs, wildebeests, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hundreds of bird species.

Zanzibar

Includes the regions of Mjini Magharibi, Pemba North, Pemba South, Unguja North, and Unguja South.

The semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar consists of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar is known for beautiful palm-fringed white sand beaches and underwater photography locations. Stone Town is located in the heart of Zanzibar and features old Arabian townhouses, winding colonial alleyways and a busy port. Pemba Island is home to The Manta Resort, a floating underwater hotel. The desert islands near Pemba Island offer some of the best underwater photography options in the Indian Ocean.

Lake Victoria

Includes the regions of Geita, Kagera, Mara, Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Simiyu.

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa. Rubondo Island National Park and Saanane Island National Park are located in this region.

The Serengeti National Park Great Migration attracts visiting wildlife photographers and filmmakers every year.

The Mara Region is home to the red-cloaked Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the region.

Northern Tanzania

Includes the regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, and Tanga.

Arusha is the largest city in this region and the gateway to many film locations.

Arusha National Park has a range of habitats including Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater, and Momela Lakes.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain.

Lake Manyara National Park comprises of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. The park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons in the world.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and a diversity of African wildlife. Olduvai Gorge hominin fossils are located in this area.

Tarangire National Park is known for its migratory wildlife and beautiful baobab trees.

Lake Natron is a bright red colored salt lake that’s home to flamingos.

Central Tanzania

Includes the regions of Dodoma and Singida.

Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania.

Swaga Swaga Game Reserve is home to elephants, lions, buffalos, greater kudus, and ancient Sandawe rock art.

Southern Tanzania

Includes the regions of Lindi and Mtwara.

Southern Highlands

Includes the regions of Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Ruvuma, and Songwe.

Ruaha National Park is home to the Great Ruaha River, spectacular gorges, majestic trees, as well as wildlife including cheetahs, lions, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas, giraffes, hippopotamus, buffalos, sable antelopes, and hundreds of species of birds.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park has tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe.

Western Tanzania

Includes the regions of Katavi, Kigoma, and Tabora.

The bustling town of Kigoma is the regional capital of western Tanzania and a central port on Lake Tanganyika.

Gombe Stream National Park is famous for filming chimpanzees and the work done by Jane Goodall.

Mahale Mountains National Park also on Lake Tanganyika has the largest known chimpanzee population.

Katavi National Park is a flood plain known for its hippos, crocodiles, lions, zebras, giraffes, and hundreds of bird species.

Tanzania Film Location Permits

Obtaining permission to film in Tanzania can be an expensive and time-consuming process, so make sure to allow plenty of lead time. A Film Permit costs $1000 and usually takes between 4 to 8 weeks to process. An expedited Film Permit costs $3000 but can still take around 2 to 3 weeks. Best to allow at least 8 weeks for a Film Permit to be approved.

The first step is to complete all necessary applications with the help of your Tanzanian production service producer/fixer. You then submit your application at your closest Tanzanian embassy or consulate so that they can stamp the application. Once that is done you scan and email the application including the traveling crew passport information pages, script, shoot dates, shoot locations, and a letter addressed to the Tanzanian Film Board. The Film Board then reviews the application by committee. The Tanzanian production service producer/fixer will liaise with the Film Board on your behalf throughout the process.

Additional licenses may be required to film locations such as wildlife parks. Allow plenty of lead time for these applications too. Note, that filming with drones is not permitted in national parks.

If you need to film with a drone anywhere in Tanzania it is best to hire a local drone operator. Bringing in your drone from abroad is a long process that requires approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Unauthorized photography is illegal. Penalties may include fines, arrest and confiscation of film equipment. 

Please contact us for more location-specific information.

Best Time to Film in Tanzania?

Tanzania has a tropical climate. Coastal areas are hot and humid. Inland areas are warm and dry. Tanzania is suitable for filming all year round although filming is best avoided during the the long rains from March to May.

The best time to film the Serengeti Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and eland is as follows… The dry season from June to October is peak season for general migration photography and good weather. Wildebeest usually cross the Grumeti River in June / July, and the Mara River in September. Wildlife concentrate around dwindling water sources towards the end of the dry season making September / October a good time to film prey. From November to May the landscape is lush. This is also the best time to photograph migratory birds. Wildebeest calve from January to February. March to May is the wet season.

Mount Kilimanjaro is best climbed either from June to October, or January to March. The latter is generally colder and there is a higher probability of encountering snow on the summit.

The best time to visit Tanzania’s coast, its islands and Zanzibar is between August and October.

For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Tanzanian festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

• Wanyambo Festival in January.
• Kiliman Adventure Challenge in February.
• Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival in May.
• Mwaka Kogwa Festival in July / August.
• Ongala Music Festival in August.

Tanzania is a predominately Christian country with a large Muslim community particularly living on the coast. Ramadan is widely observed in Muslim areas such as Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, with many services closed during this period.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Tanzania.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Bringing in crew and equipment can be costly. Local costs in terms of supporting crew, local equipment, talent, and locations are reasonable. Our Tanzanian fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Tanzania.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. There are a small number of locally based directors, videographers, and stills photographers in Tanzania. Most productions choose to bring in their key crew. Tanzania has good supporting crews. Kenya and South Africa are the closest countries if you need to source additional experienced crews.

Contact us if you are looking for a director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman/camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA/runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in Tanzania.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable.

English and Swahili are the official languages. Tanzania has over 100 different languages with Swahili being the main language locals use to communicate.

Tanzania has about 125 ethnic groups with the largest groups being the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, and Haya people. The famous Maasai warriors are a tribe of hunter-gatherers.

Tanzania Film Equipment

Equipment. Basic lighting and grip packages are available locally. Best to bring in new cameras and lenses. Additional equipment can easily be brought in from Kenya or South Africa.

Once you have your Film Permit our Tanzanian producer will hire a trusted local customs clearing agent to arrange for your equipment to legally enter the country. The cost of the bond is 10% of the value of the imported equipment, so bringing in your gear to Tanzania can be very expensive. Customs fees for bringing in even a small kit are usually around US$1,500. The bond is returned to you upon the gear’s departure from Tanzania.

Communication. Our Tanzanian fixer organizes local cell phones and online communications to help you avoid the high roaming costs of calling to and from Africa.

Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction. Traditionally local art department looks are available in abundance but anything foreign is best brought in from abroad.

Studios and Backlots. No purpose-built studios at present. Visiting productions come to film in Tanzania for the locations and stories.

Post Production. Tanzania only has basic post facilities. Most crews choose to capture local footage and post it abroad. 

Tanzania Visas & Work Permits

Most nationalities require a visa to enter Tanzania. Arriving on a business visa is recommended but visiting crews also enter the country on tourist visas. Most nationalities can obtain tourist visas on arrival at the port of entry. Proof of yellow fever vaccination may be asked for if arriving from affected countries. See here for more information on visas to Tanzania.

Tanzania has an agreement with Kenya and Uganda to waive visa re-entry fees if traveling between the three countries.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change regularly. Contact your local Tanzanian embassy or representative for the latest information.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Major roads are paved but once you leave cities roads are slower going. Avoid road travel by night. Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro are the main ports of entry by air. Several international airlines service flights to Tanzania.

Accommodation. Recommended film-friendly hotels in Dar es Salaam include:

Slipway
Coral Beach Hotel
The Oyster Bay Hotel
Moevenpick

Eco film fixers will be glad to work with you and help handle all your pre-production professionally. From getting a proper location to securing your filming permits as well as clearing in your filming equipment into Tanzania or hiring equipment for your project. Feel free to contact us for more information about filming in Tanzania.