Tanzania  is the largest country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south.
This is probably one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found dating back over two million years. Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably Cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2000 years ago, it is believed that Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived, and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century.
Travelers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and Western India have visited the East African coast since early in the first millennium CE. Islam was practised on the Swahili coast as early as the eighth or ninth century CE.
In the late 19th century, Imperial Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania (minus Zanzibar), Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into German East Africa. The post-World War I accords and the League of Nations charter designated the area a British Mandate, except for a small area in the northwest, which was ceded to Belgium and later became Rwanda and Burundi. British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful transition to independence. In 1954, Julius Nyerere transformed an organization into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Nyerere became Minister of British-administered Tanganyika in 1960 and continued as Prime Minister when Tanganyika became officially independent in 1961. After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighboring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the island merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania on 26 April 1964.
From the late 1970s, Tanzania's economy took a turn for the worse. Tanzania aligned with China, seeking Chinese aid. The Chinese were quick to comply, but with the condition that all projects be completed by imported Chinese labor. From the mid 1980s, the regime financed itself by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and underwent some reforms. From the mid 1980s Tanzania's GDP per capita has grown and poverty has been reduced.
A large central plateau makes up most of the mainland, at between 900 m and 1800 m. The mountain ranges of the Eastern Arc and the Southern and Northern Highlands cut across the country to form part of the Great Rift Valley.
A land of geographical extremes, Tanzania houses the highest peak (Mount Kilimanjaro), the lowest point (the lake bed of Lake Tanganyika), and a portion of the largest lake (Lake Victoria, shared with Uganda and Kenya) on the African continent.
Tanzania's weather varies from humid and hot in low lying areas, such as Dar es Salaam, to hot during the day and cool at night in Arusha. There are no discernible seasons, such as winter and summer -- only the dry and wet seasons. Tanzania has two rainy seasons: The short rains from late-October to late-December, a.k.a. the Mango Rains, and the long rains from March to May.
During the dry season, temperatures can easily soar to above 35°C in Dar. You should seek shelter from the sun during the midday heat and use copious amounts of sunblock, SPF 30+.
Best times to visit are:
No visa is required for stays of less than 3 months for citizens of Namibia, Romania, Rwanda, Hong Kong, Malaysia and all commonwealth member states (except the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Nigeria, India & South Africa). A Tourist Visa costs back US$50 or US$100 for a three-month single entry and a three-month double entry visa, respectively. The visa can be obtained upon landing in Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and ports of entry. Be advised that the wait can be especially long if your flight arrives at the same time with other international flights. Visas are valid for the duration from the date of issuance. However, obtaining a visa before arrival is highly recommended. Holders of a US passport can only obtain a US$100 multiple-entry visa. US travellers departing from the U.S. can pay US$20 for a rush service, which takes three working days. The website of Tanzania Embassy in the U.S. gives the current requirements, . Visas may also be obtained from any of Tanzania's diplomatic mission abroad.
There are two major airports; one in Dar es Salaam, Julius Nyerere International Airport (IATA: DAR) (formerly known as Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere International Airport and Dar es Salaam International Airport), and one in Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro International Airport (IATA: JRO) , which is halfway between Arusha and Moshi.
Tanzania is served Internationally from
And Domestically by
Domestic flights are often late but generally reliable.
A domestic railroad network links the country's major cities, including Kigoma, Mwanza, Dodoma, Tabora, and Dar es Salaam. The domestic train service is usually reliable, and ticket prices are affordable. Ticket prices differ, however, according to 'class', typically first, second, and third. First and second classes offer cabins with two and four beds, respectively. Third class is open seating. Hot meals and beverages are usually available from the dining car. It is not uncommon for the train kitchen to purchase fresh produce at many of the stopping points along the way. It is also possible to purchase fruit and snacks directly from local vendors who frequent the many train stations on each of Tanzania's many train routes.
Warning: If you are from the first world, you must be careful about driving in Tanzania, or throughout most of Africa, unless you have already experienced the driving conditions in developing countries. Nonetheless, here is some useful information for those thinking to undertake the challenge.
Drive on the left side of the road
Choice of vehicle
Driving in the city
Dangers and annoyances
FYI: In Tanzania, you can determine vehicle registration by the license plate colours. Yellow plates, starting with "T" and followed by three numbers, are privately owned vehicles. Official Tanzanian government plates are also yellow, but they display only letters and usually start with "S" (the fewer the letters, the higher up in the food chain the owner is). Green plates are diplomatic; Red are international development agencies; Blue are UN and similar organizations; White are taxis, buses and commercial (safari) vehicles, and Black are the military and the police. This coding does not apply in Zanzibar and Pemba.
What to bring
The bus is a great way to get into Tanzania. Fly to a place like Nairobi, then you can catch a bus down to Arusha -- a great base for Mount Meru and Ngorongoro Crater. Also, you should not forget the south central part of Tanzania, away from tourist hawkers. Roads in Tanzania aren't in good condition; there are no highways, and there are very few multiple lane segments along main roads. Buses slow down or stop in most villages because of traffic, police, and speed calming tools. For your reference, the trip from Dar to Iringa takes at least 6 hours in a private vehicle. It's mostly a two-lane road, recently rebuilt by the Chinese, so it's in good condition for the most part.
Westbound and northbound buses leaving from Dar ply the same road (A7) until you get to Chalinze, which is about halfway, less than two hours, between Dar and Morogoro.
If you are going to Arusha, the bus will veer north on the A17. Other notable destinations along this route are Saandani National Park, Pangani, Tanga, Lushoto, Kilimanjaro, and Moshi. From Arusha, you can also take a bus to Mwanza and Kigoma, but once you've past the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the roads are in extremely poor condition, and you are in for a bumpy ride.
If you continue on past Chalinze you'll pass by Morogoro (also the turn off for Dodoma), the entry point into the Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park, the old main gate to Udzungwa Mountains Parks, and Iringa, which is the turn off for Ruaha National Park.
Iringa is the place to explore the southern circuit, with a new campsite at the Msosa gate to the Uduzungwas (the Iringa side of the park) and the gateway to Ruaha (possibly Tanzania's best park). It is a great place to stay for a few days.
After Iringa, you'll either go west, to Mbeya, or south, to Songea. Head to Mbeya if you want to either visit Lake Tanganyika, enter into Malawi, or head north to Kigoma. North of Mbeya, the roads aren't sealed, so it will be a long and very unpleasant trip. If you want to see Lake Nyasa (a.k.a. Lake Malawi), take the bus to Songea. Although you are within a stone's throw of Mozambique, there are no official entry points into Mozambique.
Finally, if you're headed south of Dar, then you'll take the B2. This is the main route to the Selous and the Rufiji River. Along the way, you can also stop in Kilwa, Lindi, and, finally, Mtwara. The road isn't sealed the whole way, so, again, bring on a cushion.
Outside Dar, roads between other cities and villages are in very poor condition, although they are slowly being improved. For instance, traveling from Arusha to Dodoma is slow. It can be faster to return to Chalinze and then board a bus to Dodoma. This is pretty much the case for any travel between cities that are not located along the road to Dar.
The border town of Namanga is a hectic outpost that epitomizes much of Africa. The bus even waits here for you to cross the border. You can even get off on the Kenyan side, walk across the border, and get on the bus again on the Tanzanian side.
From Dar by bus it is also possible to travel to Malawi, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Useful information on the Dar Es Salaam bus stand ("Ubungo") and some specific bus lines can be found in the Dar_es_Salaam article.
See specific cities for more information about the bus lines that serve them.
Azam Marine and Fast Ferries connect Dar es salaam and Zanzibar. And it's about 90 minutes sail.
The bus is the most common way to travel around in Tanzania. Most buses have a simple design, and the roads are poor, although 1st class air-con buses are available on the Dar-Moshi-Arusha route (Dar Express - ticket office on Libya Street downtown or office no. 45 at Ubungo). Nearly all buses go in and out of Dar es Salaam. The main bus station in Dar (where all buses go), Ubungo, is 8 km west of the city center. A number of the better "intercity buses" provide you with complimentary drinks and biscuits. In Dar, minibuses called Dala-Dalas can be taken cheaply to most places within the city. The fare is written on the front next to the door - currently it's usually TSH 250 for adults (2011) except for longer distances. The route of the bus is also stenciled on the front and sides of the bus, e.g. 'Posta-Mwenge' and there's a colour coding system. Posta (outside the central post office on Azikiwe/Maktaba Street) is the main downtown daladala hub. Others are Kariakoo, Mwenge, Buguruni, Ubungo etc. Hop on the daladala, take a seat if there is one, and pay the conductor ('konda') when he shakes his pile of coins at you in a meaningful way. The konda shouts the names of the stops - if you don't know where you are, or don't know the name of your destination stop, it'll be hard to know where to get off. If possible, it's worth asking someone at your destination, since the stops sometimes have no signs at all - people 'just know' that certain street corners are the daladala stop and the names are not obvious (e.g. 'Sudani' on the Masaki-Posta line - near the Sudanese ambassador's residence on Toure Drive). When you hear/see your stop and want to get off, shout 'Shusha!' (let me off), the konda will knock on the chassis twice, and the driver will immediately swerve to the side and stop. The daladalas don't run very late; on the east side of town the latest ones are the Msasani and Mwenge routes.
There are also three-wheeled tuktuks/baby taxis/CNGs/bajajis that zoom around. They are cheaper than a taxi, and can get past traffic jams. Probably not the safest option but I haven't heard of any bajaji-related problems. You can negotiate the fare in advance, but sometimes the driver doesn't know your destination 8there's no Dar es Salaam 'knowledge') and won't know how much to charge. The drivers I've taken have generally quoted pretty fair prices (maybe with a reasonable 'skin tax' for white people) at the destination and if they're trying to rip you off you can usually tell by the leer. It may be handy to know 'right' and 'left' in Swahili: kulia (right), kushoto (left), moja kwa moja (straight), simama (stop), asante kaka (thanks brother).
Private taxis are also a convenient choice, but be sure to negotiate the price before you use them. Fellow travelers might be able to offer advice about a reasonable fare. Some places (e.g. Dar Es Salaam Airport) have a strong taxi cartel and post fixed prices.
If you can afford it, flying around Tanzania is faster and safer. See Tanzania#By_plane section above. Even the busiest roads are in poor condition, and bus drivers are not known for their patience or great driving skills. Road accidents claim more lives in Tanzania than any other cause of death.
Car hire - rent a car for private use.
Car hire in Tanzania is affordable and there are many reliable 4WD jeeps like Landcruisers and Landrovers available for hire. 4WD cars are comfortable and can withstand all weather road conditions in Tanzania. When you want to travel comfortably any where in Tanzania, being rural areas or National parks, choose private travel in a Landcruiser or Landrover.
There are several local Tour Operators (like ) which have fleet of cars for hire in major airports like Dar es Salaam Julius Nyerere Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport, major cities and all towns which are peripheral to tourist destinations like Moshi, Mwanza, Arusha, and Karatu around Ngorongoro.
Tanzania is a country with great national parks, where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna. Tanzania is home to several national parks and game reserves. Safaris in Tanzania can be put into two categories, the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire) and the Southern Circuit (Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha). This is certainly an oversimplification and does not include other interesting but harder to reach parks such as Katavi and Gombe, just to name two. For tourist, the two first groupings are more accessible as several tour companies offer a variety a packages for these.
The cost of a safari can range from the basics (fly-tents, self-catering and guides with vehicles) to smaller parks like Manyara and Tarangire, to luxury lodges and tented camps in the Serengeti which can cost anywhere from US$250 to US$1,500 per person per night. You can use your own vehicle, provided it's a 4x4 with adequate clearance. There is a benefit to hiring a guide and a vehicle as safari vehicles are equipped with open rooftops which provide a much better vantage point for animal viewing. Also, many park will require that you hire a certified guide before you enter the park, even if you're using your own vehicle. Guides can cost around US$35 a day plus tip. Guides are good to have since they know the park and can help you locate some of the more sought after animals such as lions, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs and hyenas.
Budget camping safaris
This is basic camping safari where tourists visit national parks and game reserves and the accommodation is on budget tented camps. Budget camping safari differ from one Tour Operator to another. Tourists travel in 4WD Landcruisers or Landrover safari car together with cook and driver guide. Camping equipments, cooking materials, water and food will be in same car. On Arrival at Camp ground means cook, TENT CREW and driver guide will start erecting tented for tourists. Camp grounds in National parks are usually at Public campsites. Public campsites have kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Public campsites are usually for shared for all travelers there especially budget camping safari. The cook and camp crew will prepare food and warm water for bathing. Tourists will sleep on mattress on ground, mattresses, bedsheets and blankets will be provided. Tourists are advised to bring sleeping bags. Budget camping safaris is comfort, enjoyable and bring tourists close to nature experiencing real wildlife safari in the wilderness of African bush.
Some of the more popular safari companies are Warrior Trails, Ranger tours & Leopard tours. Other popular companies rated by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators include Ajabu Adventures, Bush2Beach Safaris, Bushmen Expeditions, Fay Safaris and Tanzania Tour Company. Serena and Sopa are popular lodging spots and have facilities throughout the Northern Circuit. However, don't discount using smaller tours and lesser known lodging facilities which are just as good if not better than the larger tours and lodges.
For better prices and some of the most beautiful parks avoiding the traffic jams of safari vehicles, head for the southern circuit, particularly Ruaha National Park where fees are still only $20 per person and the range of wildlife is much greater and the scenery spectacular. Iringa is a great place to base yourself to explore this area and sort out your safari trips.
*When visiting wildlife parks be sure to stay as close to the viewing areas (center of the parks) as possible and leave as soon as you can in the morning as animals are typically most active soon after sunrise.
Mount Kilimanjaro importance increased recently after entering to 7 natural wonders africa competition in August 2012 among 12 natural attractions in Africa. In Febr 2013, Mount kilimanjaro was announced as one of 7 natural wonders Africa and hence pinnacle of Africa. Other natural wonders which make 7 natural wonders are serengeti national park, ngorongoro crater, sahara desert, okavango desert, Nile river and red sea reef. Now, Tanzania is great tourist destination for mountain climbing which include Kilimanjaro, mount meru and Oldonyo lengai trekking.
For any of these tours looking online you will find reputable companies such as Worldlink Travel and tours,Kilimanjaro Tanzanite Safaris- who are reasonably priced and make the trip enjoyable and stress free.
Things to do in Tanzania mountains include climbing, trekking, rock climbing, hiking, walking safaris and game drives
Kiswahili or Swahili (official); Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar); English (official, the primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education); Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), plus many local languages. Tanzanians speak Kiswahili and, to a much more limited extent than in Kenya, English. (As elsewhere, English is more commonly spoken in larger cities and tourist destinations.)
Most Tanzanians learn their local tribal language first. Then, in primary school, they learn Kiswahili. When they go to secondary school, they are taught English.
Time of Day
This is where a little knowledge of Kiswahili can cause some inconveniences. Tanzanians don't function on the same time as Westerners. This doesn't mean Africa time, which is the notion that appointments are flexible and people can arrive when they please. For Tanzanians, it's illogical that the day would start in the middle of the night.
Since sunrise and sunset happen pretty much at the same time all year round, 6a.m. and 6p.m., the day starts at 6a.m.which is 0 hours. So when telling time in Kiswahili, Tanzanians always subtracted 6 hours for western time. 11 a.m. is 5a.m to a Tanzanian. To avoid any confusion, a Tanzanian will tell time in English if they want to use the western standard and in Kiswahili if they use local standard.
If you want to practice your Kiswahili, just keep this in mind if you discuss appointment times with a Tanzanian. If you say Saa tano asubuhi (11 a.m.), instead of Saa kumi na moja asubuhi(5 a.m.), you'll end up waiting for 6 h if the person arrives on time, plus however long it takes to arrive fashionably late!
The currency of Tanzania is known as the Tanzanian Shilling (TSH, /=). There are 5 notes and 6 coins:
Notes and coins vary in size and color. In descending size order, 10000 is the largest note, and 500 is the smallest.
In April 2011, one US dollar was worth about 1504 Tsh.  Note that Tanzanian currency exchangers usually have a different exchange rate for different US$ denominations, larger and newer bills having a better exchange rate than older and smaller bills. The difference in exchange rate between $1/$5 bills and $50/$100 bills may exceed ten percent. Older US $100 notes are no longer accepted in Tanzania, and any note older than 2003 will most likely be refused everywhere. Also, it's best to avoid attempting to exchange notes with pen marks or any writing on them. Finally, be advised that if you withdraw a large amount of money, in the range of $400 US, you'll have to carry over 40 notes around!
The 10000 and 5000 notes can be difficult to break when shopping in small shops, a.k.a. dukas. In Tanzania, it's usually the customer's responsibility to provide exact change. But if they do agree to provide change, you could be left with several 1000 and 500 notes of very poor quality. However, you won't have such problems in the large hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners.
In general, stores, restaurants, and hotels in Tanzania expect payment in Tsh. Exceptions include payment for travel visas, entry fees to national parks (which must be paid in US dollars by non-residents), and payments for safaris and Kilimanjaro treks, which are generally priced in US dollars (though payment will be also accepted in other currencies). On Zanzibar, prices are generally in US dollars (including the ferry fare from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar), and non-residents are required to pay for hotels with foreign currency (although the hotel will change Tsh for you). Make sure your US currency is current--US dollars older than 2001 will not accepted by most places in East Africa.
Most hotels will exchange US dollars, Euros and British Pounds for Tanzanian Shillings. Other currencies, such as Canadian or Australian dollars, may be accepted but at rates far below the going rate. ATMs are mostly located in the city center and on the Msasani Peninsula. For those wishing to withdraw money from bank accounts back home, in general, Barclay's, Standard Charter, "'Exim"', CRDB and NBC ATMs work with PLUS and Cirrus compatible cards. Additionally, if you have a PIN code for your credit card, almost all Tanzanian banks with ATMs will allow cash advances on credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. If the ATM reports your home balance in TSh, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you're a "shillionaire".
Traveler's Checks have become virtually impossible to cash in almost all banks in Tanzania. For some odd reason, banks will only accept those TCs they have issued. Only hotels will accept checks from their guests, but at a far lesser rate than hard currency -- usually at the same rate they give for US$1/$5 notes. Since ATMs are much more prevalent, using credit cards and withdrawals from your personal accounts is much easier and less time consuming.
Credit Cards can only be used in large hotels, resorts, and with certain travel agents. In short, Tanzania is still a cash society.
There are many markets in tourist cities that sell standard "African" goods. Beaded jewelry, carved soapstone, and Masai blankets make interesting gifts. Be aware that most "ebony" wood is fake (shoe polish) - the exception being in the far south-east of the country, where the Makonde tribe of Tanzania and Northern Mozambique create masks and other carvings from ebony and mpingo wood. Be prepared to bargain for everything. Masks are not typical of most East African groups, and the ones you find in the markets are either imported from West Africa or are strange things made just for tourists, with the exception of the Makonde masks.
Tinga Tinga paintings, named after the painter who originated that style, are for sale everywhere. Their distinctive style and colors make for attractive souvenirs. A standard size painting can be had for TS 5,000 - 10,000. There is a Tinga Tinga school in Dar es Salaam, where you can purchase paintings from the artists themselves.
If you happen to buy too many goodies during your travels, it is possible to send them home air freight. Many airlines will allow you to check additional parcels when you fly, for a fee, which probably makes the most sense if you're going straight home. But if you're continuing on, air freight might be the way to go. Note that many listed rates do not include 20% VAT, or a "fuel surcharge", 13.5% as of December 2008.
Sunrise and sunset are always the same time (about 7) at the equator.
Be sure to avoid touts. If you are travelling as a couple, a good idea is for one person to sit in a lobby or restaurant with the bags, while the other scopes out rooms. You are likely to get a cheaper price without the bags, and not be targeted by sneaky touts that will raise the price $5-$10 for you for their commission.
Various schools and volunteer programs offer courses ranging from Beginners Swahili to Economic Development. Dar es Salaam also has a well-established University, which has exchange programs with several universities in the US and other countries.
There is a wide assortment of volunteer organisations sending volunteers and interns to Tanzania to do work in health care, orphanages, education, and development projects. Finding a paying job may be more of a daunting task, taking more time and making use of local connections, but a job could be certainly obtainable when sought hard enough.
As in many impoverished countries, caution should always be exercised, particularly in tourist areas, such as Arusha, Stone Town (Zanzibar), and Dar es Salaam. Violent crime against foreigners is not uncommon, particularly against those walking alone at night, which is not recommended. Pickpocketing and con artists are also common. Pickpockets work crowded markets, like Kariakoo, and bus stations. Don't be fooled by small children who are often forced into a life of crime by older kids or parents -- never carry anything of value in your pockets and don't let expensive camera equipment dangle from your neck. Don't leave bags unattended or even out of your sight when on the beach.
See specific area or city articles for details.
In general, avoid isolated areas, especially after dark. Travelling in large groups is safer. If there are many people or security guards around (e.g. city center areas) you should be relatively safe.
The safest way to travel is by taxi with a driver you know, especially when it's dark out (late night or early morning). Although it's uncommon, taxi drivers have been known to rob tourists. Get the number for a taxi you trust, from your hotel or a local.
Buses have infrequently been stopped by robbers on long-distance (often overnight) routes. If you have to travel a long distance by bus, it might be better to break it into multiple day-only trips, or to travel by plane or train.
In the event of an incident, the police may or may not make a strong effort to identify the culprits, but obtaining a police report is necessary if you plan on filing an insurance claim later, or if important documents are stolen. Make sure the police report indicates if your papers were stolen; otherwise you may have difficulty leaving the country. You should immediatly contact your local embassy or consulate in the event that your passport is taken.
There are very few sidewalks in Tanzania, always pay careful attention to the traffic and be prepared to move out of the way, as vehicles do not make much effort to avoid pedestrians. In Tanzania, cars have priority.
The best way to avoid touts, sellers, dealers etc, when they inevitably come up to you and say "jambo" is to either say nothing, or to say "thank you" or "asante", and to keep moving. Some may be offended by 'no', and persistent touts will be encouraged by any kind of interaction at all.
Tanzania, like many developing countries, suffers from corruption. Police are poorly paid - many make less than $40/month. You may be solicited for a bribe by an official willing to turn a blind eye to your infraction, fabricated or otherwise. Some travellers are very much averse to paying bribes to anyone, especially in a country with so many needy but honest citizens.
Fraudsters are known to impersonate police, sometimes in the guise of an "immigration official" who identifies a problem with your documents. They will flash official-looking papers at you. But there are many plainclothes officers as well. And if you are confronted with someone in uniform, they are almost certainly an actual officer.
On-the-spot-fine is one term used for a bribe. Those words are meant to initiate a conversation about money. You may be told that the real fine is TSh40,000 or more and that for TSh20,000 or 30,000, paid immediately, you can be on your way and avoid a trip to the Police Station to pay a higher fine.
If you are certain you are in the right, and do not want to pay a bribe, some strategies are:
Also keep in mind that:
Finally: Incidents of excessive force involving tourists are rare, but that doesn’t mean it cannot happen. For instance, police have been known to be drunk on the job, which can seriously inhibit their ability to reason. As in any situation where someone is trying to get money out of you, by force or threat of force, it's better to be safe than sorry; it's only money.
Illnesses and diseases
As in most African countries, the AIDS/HIV infection rate is high. Tanzania's HIV/AIDS infection rate was 9% at the end of 2003 UNAIDS . This figure is deceiving, however, since several distinct segments of the population, such as artisanal miners, itinerant fisherman, truck drivers, and sex workers, have HIV infection rates significantly higher than the national average. Do not have unprotected sex in Tanzania or anywhere else, for that matter.
After food-borne illnesses, malaria should be your greatest concern. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes and is endemic to Tanzania. You may find yourself at risk in almost every part of the country, although this risk is diminished at altitudes above 2000 m. Care should always be taken between sunset and sunrise, especially during the rainy season. Always sleep under a treated net; wear trousers and closed footwear, and use an effective repellent. It's amazing, but many large hotels don’t automatically install mosquito nets in their rooms. However, a call to the reception requesting one is seldom ignored. In some cases, the nets have several large holes, but a bit of adhesive tape or tying a small knot to cover the hole should do the trick.
Prior to leaving for Tanzania, you may also wish to consult a physician about taking some anti-malarial medication -- before, during, and after your trip. If, in spite of your best efforts, you do contract malaria, it is usually easily treated with medication that is readily available throughout most of the country. If you plan on being in isolated locations, you may wish to drop by a clinic and purchase a batch. Note that symptoms associated with malaria can take up to two weeks before manifesting themselves. The rule of thumb for ex-pats living in Tanzania is this: Any fever lasting more than a day should be cause for concern and necessitate a trip to the clinic for a malaria test. Upon your return home, should you show signs of a possible malaria infection, notify your doctor that you’ve visited a malaria-infected country.
Other major illnesses to avoid are typhoid and cholera. In theory, typhoid can be avoided by carefully selecting food and drink and by avoiding consumption of anything unclean. Typhoid infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , is marked by 'persistent, high fevers...headache, malaise, anorexia, splenomegaly, and relative bradycardia.'
Cholera infection is marked by vomiting and sudden, uncontrollable bowel movements, which can dehydrate and ultimately kill the sufferer within 48 hours. It is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Cholera is more or less a seasonal phenomenon in Zanzibar, where outbreaks frequently occur during the rainy seasons. Vaccines and/or oral prevention are available for both typhoid and cholera.
Yellow fever is an acute viral disease transmitted through the bite of a particular mosquito. Although not as common as malaria, it is nonetheless a serious disease, and travelers to Africa should consult a physician about being vaccinated against it. If you plan on traveling to other countries after your stay in Tanzania, be advised that some countries, such as South Africa, may require proof that you’ve been vaccinated against Yellow Fever before allowing you to enter the country. If you aren’t or can’t prove it, you will be offered two options: 1) receive the Yellow Fever vaccination at the airport, and 2) immediately leave the country. The Yellow Fever vaccine (as any cavvine) can have side effects for some people, so you may wish to get the vaccine in your home country, under controlled conditions. Most physicians will not administer the Yellow Fever vaccine to children under the age of 1 year, and a letter from a physician explaining this will ensure that your infant child will not receive the vaccine at the airport. - People travelling to Tanzania from INDIA, There is acute shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in India so please get yourself vaccinated at the airport in Dar-ES-Salaam as soon as you land there.
Gastrointestinal Distress, a.k.a. traveler’s diarrhea, is the result of one, some, or all the following factors: Unhygienic food preparation and storage, changes in diet, fatigue, dehydration, and excessive alcohol consumption. Prevention is your best defense. Eat only raw vegetables and fruits you can peel and which have been rinsed in clean water. Avoid street or restaurant food that appears to have been left in the open for an extended period of time. Eat only freshly fried or steamed food. You should drink only bottled water, which is available throughout the country. You should even brush your teeth with it. If you must drink tap or well water, boil it for a minimum of 10 minutes or use a high quality filter.
Rift Valley Fever: In January 2007, there was an outbreak of RFV in the Kilimanjaro area. Consumption of unpasteurized milk and improperly cooked meat from infected cows led to a number of deaths in the area. Following the deaths, beef sales dropped sharply all over the country, despite the limited scope of the infection. In general, meat served in upscale restaurants is of superior quality. However, care should be taken when indulging in street foods or when eating in remote areas.
Insects and Animals
Tanzania has its fair share of venomous and deadly insects and animals, such as Black and Green Mambas, scorpions, spiders, stinging ants, lions, sharks, and others. You should take care when walking through high grass; when visiting national parks, or when shoving your hand under rocks or into dark holes -- unless you know what you are doing. In actuality, the likelihood of encountering these and other similar dangers is remote.
The insect/animal most residents fear is the mosquito.
Hospitals and dispensaries in Tanzania do not meet western standards. If you require surgery or any complex medical procedure you will have to be evacuated to Kenya, South Africa or Europe. You should ensure your medical insurance covers such expenses. Outside of Dar es Salaam, and especially outside of the larger cities and towns, you will be hard pressed to get even basic medical help as many doctors are poorly trained and/or have limited equipment and medication. You should ensure you have your own medical kit to hold you over in case of an emergency. Misdiagnoses are frequent for even common ailments such as malaria, as high as 70% of the cases.
Dar es Salaam is served by a few clinics staffed by western trained physicians. However, some surgical procedures still require evacuation out of Tanzania.
Mbeya Referral Hospital, PO Box 419, Mbeya, Tanzania Tel: +255 65 3576. Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, PO Box 338, Zanzibar, Tanzania Tel: +255 54 31071.
Other Government run hospitals used for electives:
Hindu Mandal Hospital, PO Box 581, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Tel: +255 51 110237/110428. Agha Khan Hospital, PO Box 2289, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Tel: +255 51 114096. Nachingwea District General Hospital, Nachingwea, Lindi, South Tanzania Teule District Designated Hospital, Muheza, Tanga Region, Tanzania.
Berega Mission Hospital, Berega, Morogoro, Tanzania. St Anne’s Hospital, PO Box 2, Liuli (via Songea), Tanzania (connected via USPG charity). St Francis Hospital, Kwo Mkono, Handeni District, Tanzania.
For any medical issues please don't hesitate to contact: Ministry of Health, PO Box 9083, Dar es Salaam Tel: +255 51 20261 Fax: 51 39951
In Moshi Municipality (Kilimanjaro Region) there is the renowned KCMC - Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre which is in the foothills of the snow capped, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. It was opened in March 1971 by the Good Samaritan Foundation, who planned and raised large funds to build and equip it.
In general, tourists should wear modest or conservative attire, especially in Zanzibar, which is a conservative Muslim society. Western women should not wear clothing that reveals too much skin. 'Kangas', brightly-colored wrap-around cloth, are affordable, available throughout the country, and can serve as a discreet covering.
The Masai people, with their colorful clothing, are tempting targets for any tourist with a camera. However, they expect to be paid for it, and you should always ask before taking pictures.
It is common practice among Swahili-speakers to use 'shikamoo' (prounounced 'she ka moe' and literally meaning, 'I hold your feet') when greeting elders or superiors. The usual response from an elder will be 'marahaba'. In Zanzibar, the equivalent of 'shikamoo' is 'chei chei'. The traveler will get along very well when using these verbal expressions of respect. In addition, a title after the 'shikamoo' is also a useful indicator that you are not just a dumb tourist -- 'shikamoo bwana' for the gents, and, when addressing a female elder, 'shikamoo mama'.
Tanzanians will also comment if you are doing any work while they are not, with the phrase "pole na kazi". It literally means "I'm sorry you have to work". A simple "asante", or "thanks", will suffice in reply.
Many Tanzanian sellers are persistent and, ordinarily, a simple head shake, accompanied by "asante sana", should settle it. However, as a last resort, a firm "hapana", meaning "no", will do the trick. Tanzanians find the word "hapana" quite rude, so please don't use it casually -- only as a last resort. Whatever you plan to do, do not tell someone you will come back to buy from them later when you have no such intention; better to be honest and say 'no' than having to avoid someone for days. They somehow have a funny way of finding you when you promised to visit their stall or shop!
The most polite way to refuse something is to say "sihitaji" (pronounced see-hih-tah-jee)- "I don't need it".
Keeping in touch while traveling in Tanzania is rarely a problem. You can get decent mobile phone reception even in some national parks.
The "Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd" (TTCL) is the state owned telecom, operating all pay phones and landlines in Tanzania. As it is the case with most developing countries, telephone fixed-lines are not affordable for many ordinary people. However, the mobile network has blossomed throughout Africa in the past five years, and this is equally true of Tanzania. With many used mobile phones for sale and the very low cost of getting a SIM card, 2000 Tsh, this is the popular choice of most Tanzanians. For many, a mobile phone is the first large purchase when they get a job. The major mobile service providers operate all over the country, even in some of the most remote areas, although service interruptions are common.
If you find a taxi driver or tour guide that you like, ask for his/her mobile number. This is often the best way to reach them.
Using a mobile phone If you have an "unlocked" GSM 900/1800mhz frequency mobile phone (the same frequency as used in the rest of the world, apart from USA and Canada), you can purchase a local SIM card for 500 Tsh from a series of Tanzanian service providers. The most popular are Celtel , Vodacom , and Tigo . Zantel  is a new arrival on the mainland and, through the national roaming agreement with Vodacom, currently has the largest network coverage.
Air Time You can recharge your "Prepaid" mobile phone account by using "scratch-cards", which are available everywhere. Just look for shops or even small tables set up along the road, with posters for the various mobile service providers. Those cards come in the following denominations: 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, and 50000 Tsh. If you plan on making frequent calls outside of Africa, you will need at least a 10000 Tsh-card.
In October 2006, Vodacom changed the second digit, not counting the first "0" or the "+255" country code, in their phone numbers from "4" to "5", e.g.: 744 is now 754. Some magazines, books, travel guides, and advertisements may not have made the necessary corrections. All Vodacom mobile numbers starting with 744, 745, or 746 should be changed to 754, 755, and 756.
Internet cafés are more and more common throughout Tanzania. They are easy to find in major urban areas, like Dar es Salaam and Arusha.
International telecommunications have low capacity, and can be unreliable.
Some mobile providers have started offering wireless internet service. Zantel, Vodacom, and Zain are the main providers. All urban areas and many rural areas that have mobile phone coverage also have mobile internet coverage. Wireless 3G coverage is available in many areas of Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Zanzibar town. For the Zanzibar Archipelago Zantel seems to be the best option. On the continent there is more competition between the operators.
To use this service you can use your phone's mobile browser. To use it with a computer, you must first purchase a CDMA PC Card or USB mobile receiver which plugs into your computer. This will set you back about 200,000 Tsh. If you have an unlocked CDMA phone with a modem cable, that will also work.
Airtime is obtained using scratch cards just like mobile phones. Connection rates are dropping dramatically and there are packages of "unlimited" access for some period of time. For example, Zantel offers 3 days of unlimited transfer for 5000 TSh.
In 2006, there was a huge scandal involving the emergency service number, a scandal that saw the resignation of the Chief of Police. During an armed robbery at a popular Indian restaurant, an employee dialed 112 to notify the police that a crime was in progress. He let the phone ring for over 30 minutes before hanging up. The following day, the media reported that the emergency number had been disconnected for over a month, and the police had not advised the public.
Luckily, the emergency number has been reactivated; however, if you can, it's probably better to go straight to the nearest police station, instead of dialing 112.