Safety and security

Crime

Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing. Mugging, bag snatching (especially from passing cars) and robbery have increased throughout the country. In Dar es Salaam, British tourists have been kidnapped, robbed and forced with the threat of violence to withdraw cash from ATMs and arrange cash transfers up to £5,000 through Western Union after being befriended by strangers or using unlicensed taxis. On 25 July, a group of British citizens were the victims of an armed robbery while travelling by bus in the Tabora region and on 10 November two British nationals were involved in a violent robbery on a stretch of beach between Bahari hotel and Kunduchi hotel to the north of Dar es Salaam. There have also been reports of armed robberies at hotels on the island of Zanzibar.

Walk as far away from the road as possible. If you need to walk alongside the road, walk towards the traffic and keep your bag facing away from the road. Don’t carry valuables in the street or wear expensive jewellery or watches. Don’t accept lifts from strangers or use unlicensed taxis. Ask your local hotel to book a taxi and always ask to see the driver’s ID. Avoid walking alone, particularly in isolated areas and on beaches.

Take particular care in places frequented by backpackers. In Dar es Salaam, tourists have been targeted in the city centre, at Ubungo bus station, the peninsula area and Coco beach. In Zanzibar incidents have taken place in Stone Town and on popular tourist beaches.

Make sure residential property is secure. Your security guard should insist on official identification before allowing anyone to enter your property or compound. If in doubt don’t let them in and raise the alarm. In an isolated incident in August 2012 a Swiss national was killed when suspected robbers entered his property on the Peninsula area of Dar es Salaam. A British national was also assaulted in the incident. In June 2012, a Dutch national and a Tanzanian camp manager were killed when a group of Western tourists were robbed at gunpoint while camping in northern Serengeti.

On 7 August 2013, two British women were the victims of an acid attack in Stone Town, Zanzibar. This appears to be the first acid attack in Zanzibar targeting foreigners. The Tanzanian authorities have publicly condemned the attack and committed to find the perpetrators. The motive remains unclear. You should be vigilant at all times, especially after dark.

Demonstrations happen regularly, sometimes without warning, across Tanzania (including on the islands of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba). Some have turned violent and resulted in fatalities. Police may use tear gas for crowd control. You should avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately and monitor our Travel Advice, Twitter and local media for up-to-date information.

Local travel

Information about travel in remote areas can be patchy. Invest in an up-to-date travel guide and only use reliable tour companies.

There is a risk from unexploded ammunition and ordnance following explosions at depots in the Gongola Mboto and Mbagala districts of Dar es Salaam. Be vigilant and avoid picking up any metal or suspicious objects. Report anything suspicious to your local police station.

National Parks

Careful planning is important to get the best out of your safari. If you choose to camp, only use official sites. Make sure you are properly equipped and seek local advice when travelling to isolated areas. Some 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 make sure you have the correct documentation or permit before entering a national park.

Trekking

If you are trekking or climbing, only use a reputable travel company, stick to established routes and always walk in groups. Make sure you are well prepared and equipped to cope with the terrain and low temperatures. The extreme altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro can cause altitude sickness.

Burundi border

Take particular care in the area bordering Burundi. There have been armed robberies in this area, including vehicle hijackings. There are few facilities for visitors.

River & Sea travel

In the last few years there have been 2 major ferry disasters in which hundreds of people have died. In July 2012 a ferry travelling from Dar es Salaam to Stone Town in Zanzibar capsized. In September 2011, a ferry travelling between Pemba and Unguja (Zanzibar) sank. On 5 January 2014, a number of passengers were blown overboard in bad weather on a ferry travelling from Pemba to Unguja (Zanzibar). This resulted in a number of deaths.

Use a reputable ferry company and if you believe a ferry to be overloaded or unseaworthy, don’t get on. Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures on board and make a note of where the life jackets and emergency exits are located.

You should also beware of aggressive ticket touts at Tanzanian ports.

Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean and has occurred as far as 1,000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Shipping which has not complied with industry best practice on self-defence measures, including on routing, is most at risk. There have been a number of piracy attacks in the waters immediately off Tanzania. Pirates are increasingly attacking smaller vessels, including tourist and fishing vessels, and coming closer to shore. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and low freeboard.

The capacity of the Tanzanian Navy to respond to pirate attacks is very limited. If you are intending to sail through high risk areas, consider alternatives like transporting the vessel by yacht carrier.

See our Piracy in the Indian Ocean page.

Road travel

If you plan to drive during a visit to Tanzania, you will need an International Driving Permit.

Take care when driving. Road conditions are generally poor and there are a large number of accidents, often involving inter-city buses. There have been a number of serious bus crashes that have resulted in fatalities and injuries to tourists. If you have concerns about the safety of the vehicle, or the ability of the driver, use alternative transport.

Driving conditions in Tanzanian’s national parks can be unpredictable as the roads around the parks, mainly dirt tracks, are generally poor and can become hazardous or impassable after heavy rain. A 4x4 vehicle is often required.

Keep doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, as vehicles are sometimes targeted by thieves. Be particularly careful at night when there is a higher incidence of crime and drunk driving. Avoid driving out of town at night. If you become aware of an unusual incident, or if somebody out of uniform tries to flag you down, it is often safer not to stop.

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

Train travel

There have been several accidents on Tanzanian railways. Seek local advice for any long-distance train travel.

Political situation

Demonstrations and political rallies happen regularly across Tanzania (including on the islands of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba). Some have turned violent and resulted in fatalities. Police may use tear gas for crowd control. Keep up to date with local and international events and avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately and monitor our Travel Advice, Twitter and local media for up-to-date information.

On 15 June 2013 there were reports of at least 3 people dead and many more wounded after a number of explosions during a political rally in Arusha.

On 22 May 2013 violent disturbances occurred in the district of Mtwara. Since then there have been sporadic minor incidents, which may continue.

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