Safety and security
Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing. The British High Commission continues to receive several reports each month of British nationals who are the victims of mugging and bag snatching (especially by passing cars or motorbikes) and armed robbery and burglary have increased throughout the country. In December 2016, a European family were robbed at gun point and their campsite guard killed at south Beach, 20km southeast of Dar es Salaam. 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.
Walk as far away from the road as possible. If you need to walk alongside the road, walk towards the traffic. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or other valuables including expensive jewellery or watches. Leave your passport in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy for ID. If you’re attacked, don’t resist. If you carry a bag, it is safer to hold it loosely by the handle or hanging off your shoulder rather than by securing the strap across your chest. 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 tourists. 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 at hotels and on popular tourist beaches.
Make sure residential property is secure and lock all doors and windows, especially at night. 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 2013, two British women were the victims of an acid attack in Stone Town, Zanzibar. This appeared to be the first acid attack in Zanzibar targeting foreigners.
You should remain vigilant at all times.
Information about travel in remote areas can be patchy. Invest in an up-to-date travel guide and only use reliable tour companies.
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.
On 1 July 2016, the Tanzanian government introduced VAT at 18% for all tourism-related services in Tanzania. The change means that services previously not taxed such as tour guiding, park fees, and transport are now subject to VAT. Prior to 1 July VAT applied to some services that tourists pay for such as accommodation and meals.
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/Kigoma region
Take particular care in the area bordering Burundi/Kigoma region. There have been armed robberies in this area, including vehicle hijackings. You should only drive in daylight hours. There are few facilities for visitors.
River & Sea travel
In the last few years there have been 3 ferry disasters in which hundreds of people have died. These were ferries travelling between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and between the islands of Zanzibar.
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.
Recent piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden highlight that the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.
Road conditions are generally poor and driving standards are erratic. 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.
If you plan to drive yourself during a visit to Tanzania, you’ll need your UK licence and an International Driving Permit. To drive in Zanzibar you’ll need your UK licence and a local Zanzibar driving permit (which you can get through your hire car company). Carry several copies of your driving licence, permits and insurance documents.
Self-driving in Tanzania can be challenging and the quality of car hire companies is variable. Consider using taxis instead. There are no roadside rescue or breakdown services. Road maps are hard to come by and not always up to date. Service stations are infrequent and may not have supplies of fuel.
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.
There are frequent police road blocks. If you’re stopped by the police, ask to see identification before making any payments for traffic violations. If you’re involved in a road accident, co-operate with the local police.
There have been several accidents on Tanzanian railways. Seek local advice for any long-distance train travel.
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.