Safety and security
Terrorism and Political Unrest
The political situation in Tanzania is reasonably stable but terrorist incidents, including the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, as well as occasional attacks by extremists on police stations and mosques, among other targets, highlight the threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and underscore the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out such attacks against foreign nationals.
Extremists linked to the Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab based in Somalia pose a threat across the east Africa region, and are thought to be active in Tanzania. However, many security incidents in Tanzania are of unclear origin and may be conducted by criminal gangs. Most attacks of this nature target the local security forces, although attacks against foreign nationals cannot be ruled out.
Be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events, as attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreign nationals.
Demonstrations and political rallies happen occasionally across Tanzania (including on the islands of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba). Some have turned violent and resulted in fatalities. Police may use tear gas and/or live ammunition 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.
Most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free but armed crime is increasing so you should take sensible precautions, and exercise caution, especially in popular tourist areas in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together
- Don’t make yourself an obvious target for muggers and pickpockets – leave spare cash and expensive-looking jewellery or watches in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary, rather carry a copy for id purposes, and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Avoid walking alone, especially in isolated areas and on beaches and particularly after dark.
- Walk as far from the road side as possible to avoid bag snatching. and If you need to walk alongside the road, walk towards the traffic
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- If carrying a bag when walking it is safer to hold it loosely by the handle or hanging off your shoulder rather than by securing the strap across your chest
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
- Be alert to the risk of thefts of personal property from cars and taxis stationary in traffic
- If you are attacked or if someone grabs your bag, don’t resist
Petty and violent crime
Muggings, bag grabs from passing cars, and robberies including forced ATM withdrawals, sometimes accompanied by violence or the threat of violence, have increased throughout Tanzania and Zanzibar, especially in areas frequented by backpackers and expatriates.
Book taxis if possible through your hotel reception desk, or arrange transport in advance if you’re going to arrive at your destination late at night. Always ask to see the driver’s ID.
Don’t hail taxis in the street, use unlicensed taxis, or accept lifts from strangers. Even if a taxi appears to be licensed you should be cautious, and under no circumstances get into a taxi if there is anybody other than the driver in the vehicle.
Credit card fraud
Credit card fraud is increasing. Theft of credit cards and isolated incidents of cloning (also called 'skimming') do occur. When paying by credit card, don’t let it out of your sight. Keep your cards safe, and do not let anyone know your PIN numbers.
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Tanzania, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Tanzania, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles and inadequate lighting. During the rainy seasons (late March to mid-June and mid-November to mid-December), many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked, windows up, and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
- Avoid driving out of town at night.
- 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.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly advises all citizens to exercise caution when travelling by sea ferries to offshore isles as overloading of ferries both with passengers and cargo is very common.
If travelling by passenger ferry either between Dar-es-Salaam and the islands of Zanzibar, or on one of Tanzania’s lakes, only use reputable ferry companies. Purchase your tickets inside the ferry terminal, not from vendors outside. If you have any concerns about the seaworthiness of the vessel or feel that it’s overloaded, get off immediately. Once aboard, familiarise yourself with emergency procedures, especially the locations of life jackets and emergency exits.
There have been three passenger-ferry disasters involving ferries travelling between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and between the islands of Zanzibar resulting in large loss of life, including foreign tourists. Reports indicated that these ferries were seriously overloaded.
Tanzania’s national parks are popular destinations for tourists. Careful planning is important to get the best out of your safari. 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.
Information about travel away from areas regularly frequented by foreigners can be patchy. Be aware that some parks are also extremely remote, and emergency access and evacuation can be difficult. We advise you to invest in an up-to-date travel guide and use only the services of reliable tour companies.
When camping, use official sites only. Make sure you’re properly equipped and seek local advice when entering isolated areas.
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. Heed the advice of the professionals organiszing the ascent. The extreme altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro can cause altitude sickness. If you experience altitude sickness, descend immediately and seek medical help.
Thu, 06 Sep 2018 16:39:43 BST