The Best Gifts from Tanzania

Some countries offer an abundance of scenic landscapes, beautiful weather, and fascinating fauna and flora. The Swahili-speaking nation of Tanzania is one such country. The country’s coastal area offers some of the best beaches in the world. We are talking miles upon miles of sandy beaches against a turquoise background of the ocean.

The national parks and wildlife in Tanzania are quite popular for safari holidays. For example, you can witness the Big Five and other wildlife in their element at the world-famous Serengeti National Park. Also, we recommend visiting Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Nyerere National Park, Mahale National Park, and more.

But Tanzania’s cultural diversity is worth mentioning, too. With over 120 ethnic groups living peacefully side by side, prepare for plenty of unique customs and traditions.

As you tour Tanzania, take it as an opportunity to shop for fascinating authentic Tanzanian gifts. Check out our recommendations for the best Tanzanian gifts below.

Maasai Cultural Artifacts

The Maasai are one of the most colourful tribes in East Africa, and they have managed to hold on to most of their traditions in the modern world.

The pastoral community maintains a traditional life of cattle rearing. You will find them moving cattle, goats, and sheep herds in search of water and pastures.

Their manyattas (huts) design allows quick movement from location to location. However, traditions, like the rites of passage, still form a critical part of their culture.

You will also notice their clothing – they wear traditional ‘shuka’ in bright colours. Their adornments are equally colourful: necklaces and earrings made of intricate beadwork. This jewellery can be an excellent Tanzanian gift for family and friends.

Other Maasai cultural gifts include:

  • A shuka
  • A traditional Maasai spear

Ask your tour guide to help negotiate the best pricing for Tanzania gifts. The local guides will help bridge the language barrier. Some Maasai will speak Swahili, although many only speak their mother tongue Maa.

Ask us to help organize unique and authentic Maasai experiences. Get ready for plenty of meat and practice your leaps as well. The Maasai dance incorporates plenty of high jumps and undulating body movements.

Please check travel restrictions for items like spears.

Spices from Zanzibar

Zanzibar lies off the coast of mainland Tanzania, just across from Dar-as-Salaam. A ferry or plane ride will bring you to this delightful island, and herein lies one of the best sources of Tanzanian gifts for family and friends.

Many call Zanzibar Spice Island, and a tour of one of the many spice farms should definitely be on your travel itinerary. You will see how farmers grow black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and nutmeg, to name a few. You will also get hands-on experience in the process.

Original spices make excellent Tanzanian gifts for family and friends.

Take time to find out about traveling with spices. There should, in most cases, be no problem with dried and packaged spices

Tanzanian Coffee

Your caffeine-loving family/friends will surely appreciate a Tanzanian gift of Arabica coffee beans.

If you know about East African coffee, it is all about its distinct and vibrant taste. But Tanzanian coffee has some interesting fruity notes and an outstanding flavour profile. You may also catch a hint of cedar or the rustic sweetness of brown bread.

The sweet taste and aroma are due to the volcanic soil and varying altitudes of the coffee plantations. These range from 1400 to 1800m above sea level.

Coffee from the northern region is sweet. From the south, beans tend to have higher acidity and a floral or fruity profile.

Tanzanian Jewellery

Here is a fun fact: the only global source of tanzanite is a mere 4 km strip of land near Mount Kilimanjaro, which makes these gems a thousand times rarer than diamonds – so much so that experts predict that in the next 10 to 1 there may be no more tanzanite. And that is why tanzanite jewellery makes it onto our list of Tanzanian gifts for loved ones back home.

But Tanzania also produces diamonds, rubies, emeralds, garnets, tourmaline, and sapphires. Get advice from your tour operator on where to buy jewellery. They will refer you to reputable dealers who offer authentic gemstones.

Tinga Tinga Paintings

Tinga Tinga paintings originated in Tanzania and are easily recognizable by their bold shapes, intricate patterns, and vibrant colors. Edward Saidi Tingatinga was the brainchild behind the creative artworks. Each painting is a rich expression of African cultures, folklore, and storytelling.

The playful artistic expressions of the animals, humans, and scenery are unique. Tingatinga stayed away from the formality of most artwork. He gave free rein to compositions lacking perspective.

Tingatinga also embraced plenty of form and pattern exaggeration. The primary material is muslin cloth and enamel paints. The popularity of Tinga Tinga pieces has seen the art embraced worldwide. But what could be better than buying the paintings right at the point of origin? Each piece will add a decorative element to your home, office, or wherever you display them.

Tanzanian Wood Carvings

You will find some pretty interesting wood carvings in Tanzania. These include masks, jewelry, figurines, and more. Always go straight to the source. That allows you to cut out the intermediaries who make the items more expensive and ensures you are purchasing an authentic piece. But remember to haggle to get the best pricing. Local guides can show you the best places to buy wood carvings and help you negotiate prices.

Final Thoughts

We have shared some fantastic Tanzanian gifts you can buy for family and friends back home. A trip to visit the Maasai alone will give you so many options. But spices, jewellery, coffee, and Tinga Tinga paintings also make great gifts to take home as a souvenir or gift.