Tanzania is in general a safe, hassle-free country. That said, you do need to take the usual precautions and keep up with government travel advisories.
- Avoid isolated areas, especially isolated stretches of beach. In cities and tourist areas take a taxi at night.
- Only take taxis from established taxi ranks or hotels. Never enter a taxi that already has someone else in it other than the driver.
- Never pay any money for a safari or trek in advance until you’ve thoroughly checked out the company, and never pay any money at all outside the company’s office.
- When using public transport, don’t accept drinks or food from someone you don’t know. Be sceptical of anyone who comes up to you on the street asking whether you remember them from the airport, your hotel or wherever. Take requests for donations from ‘refugees’, ‘students’ or others with a grain of salt. Contributions to humanitarian causes are best done through an established agency or project.
- Be wary of anyone who approaches you on the street, at the bus station or in your hotel offering safari deals or claiming to know you.
- In western Tanzania, especially along the Burundi border, there are sporadic outbursts of banditry and political unrest. Get an update locally before setting your plans.
- In tourist areas, especially Arusha, Moshi and Zanzibar Island, touts can be quite pushy, especially around bus stations and budget tourist hotels. Do what you can to minimise the impression that you’re a newly arrived tourist: walk with purpose, and duck into a shop if you need to get your bearings or look at a map.
- Arriving for the first time at major bus stations, have your luggage as consolidated as possible, with your valuables well hidden under your clothes. Try to spot the taxi area before disembarking and make a beeline for it. It’s well worth a few extra dollars for the fare. While looking for a room, leave your bag with a friend or reliable hotel rather than walking around town with it. Buy your bus tickets a day or two in advance (without your luggage).
- Carry your passport, money and other documents in a pouch against your skin, hidden under loose-fitting clothing. Or store valuables in a hotel safe, if there’s a reliable one, ideally inside a pouch with a lockable zip to prevent tampering.
- Keep the side windows up in vehicles when stopped in traffic and keep your bags out of sight (eg on the floor behind your legs).
- When bargaining or discussing prices, don’t do so with your money or wallet in your hand.
Government Travel Advice
Government travel advisories can be good sources of updated security information:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.travel.gc.ca)
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office)
US State Department (www.travel.state.gov)
Solo Travel in Tanzania
While solo travellers may be a minor curiosity in rural areas, especially solo women travellers, there are no particular issues with travelling solo in Tanzania, whether you’re male or female. The times when it’s advantageous to join a group are for safaris and treks (when going in a group can be a significant cost-saver) and when going out at night. If you go out alone at night, take taxis and use extra caution, especially in urban and tourist areas. Whatever the time of day, avoid isolating situations, including lonely stretches of beach.