Your Guide to the Best Safari Souvenirs in Tanzania

Written by Thomson Safaris
maasai beaded jewelry for sale in tanzania

Souvenirs are palpable reminders of the incredible memories we make on safari. Art pieces, wood carvings, jewelry, beadwork; a piece of the adventure lives on, always, in the keepsakes on our shelves.

Tanzania is choc-full of souvenirs for every taste, style and budget. And when you buy any of the following keepsakes on a Thomson trip, you support the local economy and the artisans who make them.

Here’s our guide to finding the best safari souvenirs in Tanzania and where you can get them. But first…

 

A Word on Bartering

Bartering is an accepted and expected part of Tanzanian commerce. In most places, prices for souvenirs are inflated with the expectation that you will barter for a lower one. Learning how to handle these situations will ensure you and the seller agree on a fair price. A win-win! Plus, your Thomson guide will always be with you to help if you are unsure what to do.

Now, let’s look at some souvenir options.

 

Wood Carvings

Hand-carved wooden pieces are popular souvenir choices, brimming with Tanzanian character. Artists sell pieces that come in many forms–animals, human figurines, masks, candlesticks, bowls and other kitchen items.

animal wooden carving souvenirs
wooden carving statues tanzania souvenirswooden salad tongs and bowl from tanzania

Where to get it: Cultural Heritage, Gibb’s Farm Boutique, African Galleria
Packability: Moderate

 

Art/Paintings

Tanzania is home to a rich cultural background of artists and artisans. The highly saturated, wildlife-depicting Tinga Tinga style of painting is among the most popular with Thomson guests, and can be found widely in Tanzania. But different artistic mediums and styles abound wherever you go.

Collage of small paintings in the Tinga Tinga style

maasai chanting at moon painting by artist peter rayMaasai Chanting at the Moon by Peter Ray

painter happy robert artist in residence at gibbs farmHappy Robert with her artwork during her stay as the Artist in Residence at Gibb’s Farm

The eco-lodge and coffee farm Gibb’s Farm hosts East African artists through its residency program; be sure to see the work and meet the artist during your stay. On a similar note, Cultural Heritage in Arusha has a large collection of African paintings, sculptures and photography in a gallery shaped like a drum, shield and spear.

Where to get it: Cultural Heritage, Gibb’s Farm Boutique, African Galleria
Packability: Please talk to vendor about international shipping

 

Beadwork, Honey and Leather Products

On safari, Thomson guests have opportunities to buy hand-made goods that offer a rare combination of quality and sustainability. These items are produced by members of Community of Conservation Banking (COCOBA), a micro-finance program operated by Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FOTZC) that helps Maasai women learn a trade, start a small business and support their families.

maasai beaded braceletsBeaded bracelets and jewelry

maasai beaded coasters from tanzaniaBeaded coasters

maasai beaded napkin ringsBeaded napkin rings

maasai woman beading with cocobaMaasai woman creating a beaded collar

The women of COCOBA produce a variety of goods: baskets, bracelets, beaded Maasai collars, pet collars, honey and an assortment of leather items. Buying these products not only provides you with a memorable safari souvenir, but also directly supports the women who produced them.

Where to get it: Eastern Serengeti
Packability: Easy

 

Textiles

Tanzania’s vibrant, versatile textiles are a characteristic part of its East African cultural heritage. Among the most well-known is kanga cloth. Kanga is worn as traditional African clothing, but can be fashioned into curtains, tablecloths and more.

tanzania women wearing bright fabricsWomen wearing brightly colored kanga cloth

Mud cloth is another go-to textile: it’s a handmade cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud. Though the style is of Malian origin, mud cloth has become immensely popular and available throughout Tanzania.

african textilesKanga cloth and mud cloth patterns


Buy these textiles by the yard, fold them into your suitcase, then use them to make throw pillows, wall hangings, home décor, anything! The uses of Tanzanian textile are limited only by your imagination.

Where to get it: Cultural Heritage, African Galleria
Packability: Easy

 

Tanzanite

Tanzanite is a rare gemstone found in only one place on earth: northern Tanzania. While the stone is usually a lush blue, it also comes in shades of violet, green or even gold. Tanzanite can be purchased as a single stone or set in jewelry. If you decide to purchase some, make sure to handle it carefully, as it chips easily.

tanzanite stones and necklace

Where to get it: Cultural Heritage, African Galleria
Packability: Easy

 

Glassware, Jewelry and Homeware

High-quality, handcrafted glassware, jewelry and homeware is available at the Shanga Shop in Arusha. Shanga is a community enterprise that employs people with disabilities to make items with recycled materials. All profits are invested back into developing communities to employ more people with disabilities, ensuring your tourist dollar reaches those in need.

glassware from shanga tanzania

Where to get it: Shanga Shop at Arusha Coffee Lodge, Arusha
Packability: Easy to Moderate

 

Coffee

Generations of Thomson travelers have ventured to Gibb’s Farm after their safaris to luxuriate in a haven of flora and fauna. Many return home with a bag of Gibb’s coffee beans, grown organically on 30 acres of sustainable farmland.

roasting coffee at gibbs farmCoffee is roasted daily at Gibb’s. While you’re there, watch a demonstration and enjoy the fresh aromas!

gibbs farm coffee souvenir

The farm also enjoys the advantages of East Africa’s volcanic soil. When you visit Gibb’s Farm, grab a bag and try their roast–there’s nothing quite like it.

If coffee isn’t your thing, the Zawadi Boutique at Gibb’s Farm carries an extensive catalog of souvenirs to carry home.

Where to get it: Gibb’s Farm Boutique
Packability: Moderate

 

Zanzibar Souvenirs: Spices, Carvings and Textiles

The island of Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast is popular among safari travelers for its sugar-white beaches and beautifully balmy weather. It’s also a historic trade port, known for exporting high-quality spices grown on the island. Turmeric, ginger, peppers, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and more can be found in most Zanzibar markets!

spices on spoons

Other notable souvenirs available on Zanzibar include wooden sculptures carved from the island’s iconic dhow boats, and textiles with a distinctly Indian influence.

Where to get it: Markets on Zanzibar
Packability: Easy