There are plenty of opportunities for shopping during the course of your safari. Some popular souvenir items in Tanzania include wooden animal carvings, postcards, African masks and picture frames, hand woven baskets, dining sets with tablecloths, local paintings, jewelry, safari books, and Maasai arts and crafts (beadwork, shields, spears, jewelry, etc.). Tsavorite and Tanzanite are two popular gemstones in East Africa. Tanzanite, a bluish gemstone, is mined only in Tanzania (next to Kilimanjaro Airport).
Most lodges and camps have gift shops and some accept credit card. There are also a myriad of shops and markets in and around Arusha. One shop that we recommend is called ‘Cultural Heritage’. You can negotiate at most shops and roadside stands except Cultural Heritage and many lodge gift shops, which have fixed prices. Cultural Heritage accepts credit cards and they can reliably ship large items.
Some of the best deals and selections can actually be found at the airports including Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). There are several shops at JRO that you can peruse while waiting for your flight. Zanzibar also has great shopping opportunities and some good bargains. For unique items like tribal jewelry, small authentic carvings, etc., we recommend purchasing at one of the Maasai Villages you can visit in the Southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area or at the Esalali Women's Project in Karatu (between Lake Manyara and the Crater). Both places help the local economy including the Maasai and you can also help support the Women's Cooperative.
As discussed, you'll have some shopping opportunities during your safari, such as local crafts and jewelry from the Maasai Village or the various lodge gift shops that often contain some nice hand selected local items. You'll see some road side shops along the main road as you are driving from The Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha, near the town of Karatu; just ask your guide to help you find a reputable shop. But by far the most popular place to buy local crafts (woodcarvings, masks, artifacts, jewelry, etc.) is at the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha.
The prices at Cultural Heritage are reasonable, although probably not as cheap as the items you could find if you spent the day stopping at roadside shops, but the selection is out of this world. It makes a great 'one stop shop' place to purchase authentic souvenirs and has a HUGE selection! Sometimes they have local artists doing demonstrations too. You'll have the opportunity to stop by Cultural Heritage Center on your last day but since you'll have a few different activities competing for your attention that day, if you want to be sure and get some shopping in on your last day, please let your guide know early in the day that stopping here to get some shopping in is a priority for you!
The costs of souvenirs span a considerable range, you can buy a nice Maasai bracelet for $8-$10, or you may spend $20 or more for a more elaborate one. You can buy small and simple woodcarvings for a few dollars each, or you can spend hundreds of dollars on more elaborate woodcarvings made of ebony wood (a very hard and beautiful indigenous type of wood that is difficult to splinter or break). Usually the more detail, time and skill involved, the higher the price tag. Then of course there is Tanzanite, a very beautiful gemstone that can only be found in Tanzania; the cost is a function of size, color and clarity, and prices can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.
Please note that when you order items for shipping, the costs you pay are only for freight to the closest major international airport nearest your residence. When souvenir shopping in Tanzania, the best way to get any item home is to bring it back with you on the plane. Shipping large or fragile items home is not generally advised and will be at your own expense and risk.
Also, please note that we have had several recent complaints of carvings and other souvenir items being badly damaged during the shipping process (either through a carrier such as DHL or in checked luggage). This is obviously very disappointing, waiting weeks for an item to be delivered only to discover that the carving is broken beyond repair. We advise guests to pack any expensive or fragile souvenirs (such as wooden animal carvings) in your carry-on luggage or simply refrain from making expensive souvenir purchases.