Below is a checklist of important things to do in preparation for a relaxed, worry-free Tanzanian adventure.
Visas are compulsory for all visitors travelling to Tanzania. Application forms, cost (usually from US$50) and requirements are available online; consult the website of the Tanzanian embassy closest to you. We advise you to obtain your visa before leaving home. However, if this is not possible, visas are also obtainable at the airport on your arrival in Tanzania: you will be asked to present 2 passport photos, 2 completed application forms, and the appropriate fee (US$50+).
Consult your physician as soon as you know you will be travelling to Tanzania. Your physician will inform you of required and recommended precautions to keep you healthy on your trip. Requirements and recommendations often depend on the areas you intend to visit in the country (e.g., some places may be malaria-free, some not); and some vaccinations need to be administered as a course of injections, over time, before you leave home. Be sure to speak to your physician about any health concerns and on-going health problems, as medical facilities in Tanzania are restricted. A ‘Flying Doctor’ service is available in emergencies but is costly and is not always able to respond promptly, especially when the emergency occurs in more remote areas.
Yellow Fever Innoculation Certificate: Most African countries require the presentation of a valid Yellow Fever Certificate on entry. Never be without it when travelling in Africa. Carry it with you, in a safe place, wherever you go. Obtain your Yellow Fever Innoculation and Certificate through your physician in plenty of time before your departure date.
Malaria Tablets: Inform your physician to which parts of Tanzania you will be travelling. Your physician will be able to advise which malaria medication is right for you, inform you of possible side-effects, and instruct you on the way in which the medication needs to be taken.
Depending on where in Tanzania you plan to travel, your physician may recommend other preventative procedures (for example, vaccinations for tetanus, rabies, hepatitis, etc.). Requirements and recommendations change from time to time in response to how a disease may be introduced to, or eradicated from, a country, so do consult your physician in plenty of time for him or her to research the preventative procedures best suited to protect you on your Tanzanian adventure.
It is imperative that you purchase adequate travel insurance. Make sure you are covered for the “Flying Doctor” service in the unlikely event of a medical emergency while in a remote area.
All embassies are located in Dar Es Salaam; there are a few consulates on Zanzibar island.
The US$ is the preferred currency but it is advisable to pay for goods and services in Tanzanian Shillings whenever possible, always bearing in mind the current exchange rate. Bureaux de Change usually offer more favourable exchange rates than hotels; there are many Bureaux de Change in town and their rates are better than the rates of those at the airport. If you travel with cash, be aware that large bills ($50, $100) often receive a better exchange rate than smaller denominations. Use your Debit or Credit Card to withdraw cash at ATM machines. Most ATM machines dispense cash in either US dollars or Tanzanian Shillings. When shopping, feel free to haggle and bargain like a native! But remember to keep a little cash as you will be required to pay a departure tax of $30 when you leave the country.
Mosquitoes, like little vampires, favour night conditions! Be sure to pack an effective repellent and cover all exposed areas (especially neck, wrists and ankles). We recommend that you wear full-length trousers and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors at night. If the heat is intense and you wear a short-sleeved shirt, remember to cover your arms with repellent. At night, before you go to bed, ensure your mosquito net is either touching the ground or tucked in, and that any exposed areas (especially your ankles) are protected with repellent. Bring anti-histamine cream to relieve the irritation if you should be bitten.
There are many internet cafés in major towns and at some hotels and resorts. Charges range from Tsh1,000 to Tsh5,000 (about US$1 to US$5) for an hour’s connection. The local telephone company (TTCL) is unreliable. If you need to make an international call it is best to ask at an internet café. Internet cafés often have facilities for international calls and, if not, can usually direct you to a nearby location where you can make your call. Be aware that an international call can be expensive.
The voltage (220/230 V) is the same as that found in the UK and South Africa. Travellers (from the US and Europe, for example) whose home countries do not use 220/230 voltage will need to pack an appropriate adapter and, if necessary, a converter. Do not leave appliances or devices plugged in all day as there are frequent power fluctuations which might damage your equipment. It is advisable to travel with an international adapter.
What to Pack
- Insect repellent
- Anti-histamine cream
- Adapter and, if necessary, converter
- Light sandals or rubber flip-flops (some places require you to remove your shoes before entering)
- Good walking shoes (if you plan on doing a lot of sight-seeing or hiking); and shoes that properly cover and protect your feet when on safari
- Rain gear and umbrella if travelling in the rainy season
- Flashlight (power cuts can be frequent)
- Light, ‘breathable’ clothes such as ventilated safari shirts (it can be very hot and humid), cotton under-garments, shirts, skirts, tops, shorts and trousers
- A jersey or windbreaker (for cooler ‘winter’ evenings)
- A hat to protect your face and neck from the sun
- Binoculars and camera (or other device on which to take photographs)
- Women are “frowned upon” should they wear revealing clothes, so pack shorts but not ‘hot pants,’ knee-length or long skirts but not ‘mini-skirts,’ and tops that ensure the shoulders are covered. It is particularly important to respect this dress code when in a town.