Tanzania travel advice

There is a general threat from terrorism in Tanzania. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing, with incidents reported both on the mainland, Zanzibar and the islands. Muggings, bag grabs (especially from passing cars) and robberies, including forced withdrawal from ATMs, sometimes armed and accompanied by violence or the threat of violence, have increased throughout Tanzania especially in areas frequented by backpackers and expatriates. All visitors, particularly women, should avoid walking alone and close to the road, especially in isolated areas and on beaches, particularly (but not only) after dark. Do not make yourself an obvious target for muggers and pickpockets. Do not carry cameras or large sums of cash in the streets or wear expensive-looking jewellery or watches. Do not accept transportation with strangers or in unlicensed taxis and if possible ask your local hotel to arrange your transportation; always ask for official identification before accepting transport.

Travellers should also exercise caution at the Ubungo bus station and places frequented by backpackers, especially around the city centre in Dar es Salaam where muggers, pickpockets and unlicensed taxis with the intention to commit robbery, have singled out tourists.

Information about travel away from areas regularly frequented by foreigners can be patchy. You should invest in an up-to-date travel guide and use only the services of reliable tour companies.

Tanzania's national parks are popular destinations for tourists. Careful planning is important to get the best out of your safari. If you choose to camp use official sites only. Ensure that you are properly equipped and seek local advice when entering isolated areas. Some of the parks are extremely remote, and emergency access and evacuation can be difficult. There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Always follow park regulations and wardens' advice and ensure you have the correct documentation or permit before entering a national park.

Be aware of the risks involved in the more hazardous activities in Tanzania. If trekking or climbing, you are advised to use reputable agencies, to remain on established routes, and always to walk in groups. Ensure that you are well prepared and equipped to cope with the terrain and low temperatures. The extreme altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro can cause altitude sickness. If you are elderly or have a heart condition, pulmonary or bronchial problems seek medical advice before travelling to Kilimanjaro or other mountains in the region. Take out full insurance cover for medical treatment, accidents and evacuation by helicopter.

You should exercise particular caution if you intend to travel to the area bordering Burundi. There have been a number of armed robberies in this area, including vehicle hijackings. There are few facilities for visitors.

Take extra care when driving. Road conditions are generally poor and there are a large number of accidents, often involving inter-city buses. In 2008 and 2009 overland buses have been involved in serious crashes that resulted in numerous fatalities and injuries to several tourists. If you have concerns over the safety of the vehicle, or the ability of the driver, use alternative means of transportation.

Keep doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, as vehicles are sometimes targeted by thieves.

Be particularly careful driving at night, as there have been isolated incidents of attempted thefts from cars and there is a higher incidence of drunk driving at night time. Avoid driving out of town at night. If you are driving and become aware of an unusual incident, or if somebody out of uniform tries to flag you down, it is often safer not to stop your car and to continue on your journey.

If you are stopped by the police, ask to see identification before making any payments for traffic violations.

Local laws and customs

Tanzanians are welcoming and well disposed towards visitors; but be sensitive to local culture. Loud or aggressive behaviour, drunkenness, foul language and disrespect, especially towards older people, will cause offence.

There is a high proportion of Muslims in Tanzania, especially along the coast and on Zanzibar and Pemba. Dress modestly. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops away from tourist resorts, and particularly in Stone Town and other places where the local population may be offended. There have been cases where women travelling alone and in small groups have been verbally harassed in such areas.

Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar).

Carry identification (e.g. a copy of your passport) at all times.

All drugs are illegal in Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and those found in possession will be fined. There are severe penalties, including custodial sentences, for drug trafficking.

Entry requirements

You need a visa to travel to Tanzania and you should obtain one prior to travelling from your nearest Tanzanian diplomatic mission. It is possible to obtain a tourist visa for a single entry at the main ports of entry to Tanzania but this is subject to the fulfilment of all immigration requirements. If you need a multiple entry visa arrange this through a Tanzanian diplomatic mission before your arrival in Tanzania. Otherwise you will have to buy a single entry visa each time you enter the country. There is now a requirement for all visitors to Tanzania to provide biometric fingerprints and photographs on arrival and departure.

Please note that working as a volunteer in Tanzania requires a Class C work permit. This should be obtained from your nearest Tanzanian diplomatic mission before you travel. If you overstay the validity of your visa, or work without an appropriate permit, you will be liable to arrest, detention and a fine before being deported.

You must hold a valid passport to enter Tanzania. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six in order to apply for a visa for Tanzania.

Travellers from non-endemic countries travelling to Tanzania (including the Zanzibar islands of Unguja and Pemba) do not require a Yellow Fever Certificate. Please note, however, that travellers from non-endemic countries that travel through an endemic country are subject to yellow fever vaccination only if they stay outside the Airport or have a long connection up to twelve hours.

As some countries list Tanzania as a Yellow Fever endemic country you may also be asked for a certificate after departing Tanzania and arriving at other destinations.

Basic Swine Flu checks are carried out at the main points of entry to Tanzania.

Health

Be aware that medical facilities are limited, especially outside Dar es Salaam.

Malaria is common to Tanzania. There have also been recent cases of sleeping sickness occurring after bites from tsetse flies in Northern parts of Tanzania, including the Serengeti. Other diseases, such as cholera and rift valley fever, occur periodically, largely in rural areas where access to sanitation is limited. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during or after a visit to Tanzania seek medical attention immediately.

Seek medical advice before travelling to Tanzania and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.

General

You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. This should cover you for medical repatriation by air, if necessary. Check for any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

The Tanzanian Shilling is the official currency of Tanzania, but US Dollars are also widely accepted (please be aware that dollar notes printed before 2003 are usually not accepted). Money can be changed freely at many authorised dealers, banks or bureaux de change. You should obtain a receipt after transaction. Most banks in major cities have ATMs. However, these are not always reliable and sometimes break down or run out of money. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted by banks and bureaux de change in Tanzania.
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