TRAVEL TIPS

Affection

Public displays of affection are disapproved of. Kissing, holding hands and hugging in the street are unacceptable. Yet friendly affection between members of the same sex is considered perfectly fine, such as holding hands among the same sex. However, homosexuality is not only taboo in Tanzania but is also illegal. 

Dress

There is no such thing as a dress code in Tanzania. In the workplace, some women wear a skirt with strapless sandals and t-shirt. Other women wear a more formal outfit with shoes and jacket. In some offices, trousers are not allowed. For men, shiny polished shoes, long sleeves shirts, and tailored pants are common. In an academic environment like a university, it is common to see female students wearing party dresses or working outfits to class and male students dress like office workers. Jeans are rarely seen. 

Seeing men in a suit and vest are also common at church and as a daily outfit. This dressing style indicates that Tanzanians, despite their low income and poor condition, like to appear and dress well. For some areas where Muslims are dominant, women are supposed to wear decent clothes that cover the whole body. Tourists, showing their bare legs and shoulders, and chest are tolerated but not liked in public.

Bargaining

It is common to bargain in the markets and shops but not in supermarkets. Vendors usually raise up the price when they see foreigners coming. Therefore, shopping with a local friend who knows the price and the language is a good idea. Criticizing people in public is considered not polite. In fact, criticism is considered offensive.

Eating

From childhood, Tanzanian kids are taught to wash their hands before eating. Therefore, Tanzanians will not start eating until they have washed their hands. If you invite a guest to dine at your place, it is better to prepare water for hand washing. 

Or, if you are invited to dine at the home of your local friends, they will offer you warm water for hand washing. The hand washing ritual is interesting. The hosts will pour the warm water saying karibu [“welcome”] while their other hand is holding a bowl for the dirty water. This ritual refers to the old days before spoons and knifes had been introduced. After eating, they will do the ritual again to clean their hands. As a traditional way, it is still practiced in rural area. The family eats together and share from the same large plate while they usually sit together on the floor surrounding the plate. Traditionally, men and women eat in separate place even though they are family. 

Greeting

There are some many phrases and words to greet people depending on the degree of the relationship, age and status. If you do not know Swahili, it is okay just to say “Hi” or “How are you”. The most important thing is to greet anyone whenever you pass by, either in the waiting room, stairs, or other passages, whether you know the person or not. Greeting is very important and if is possible, asking about the wellbeing and families are very well appreciated. If you only greet your friends and ignore others who stay in the room, you are considered to be impolite. In certain tribe, greeting an older or more respectable people is followed by bowing or kneeling. Bowing or nodding head are not part of Tanzanian style so try to avoid this.

Foreigners

If you are Asian, people will probably call you Chinese. No offense. This is understandable since Tanzanians have hardly met or seen any Asian except those of Chinese descent. As for white people, they will call mzungu. Tanzanians are very warm and friendly so they will try to talk to you in whatever occasion to practice their English. Yet, be cautious for they may have different motives.

Friendship

While Tanzanians place great importance on friendship, it is second in line to family. Friends are for socializing; family is where Tanzanians turn in times of need. Attending local events [weddings, funerals, and religious activities] will help build your social confidence. Volunteering with money is important.

Guests

In the well-off households, guests will be seated in the living room but the simple people will usually seat their guests outside the house. For simple people, guests should sit at the bench or chair but not on the ground while they sometimes, if no more chairs available, sit on the floor. Providing foods for guests is also part of honoring the guests although it sometimes takes time to prepare the food. If you do not want to eat, at least make a promise to eat another time. This is part of African hospitality. When you leave, the host will escort out or to the gate. Better not to reject this politeness.

Hospitality

Tanzanians are basically warm, friendly people who sometimes welcome strangers with acts of enormous kindness. Yet, beware of the second motive. Undugu = Brotherhood/Sisterhood conveys the Tanzanian spirit and includes the notion of extended family, generosity, consideration and compassion toward others in the family and community. It refers to the safety net where the haves share with the have nots. One person who is working might support a dozen friends and relatives who are not.

Handshake

Tanzanians do not really handshake. If they make a handshake it is just very brief and light, far from a firm handshake. Some youngsters like to make a handshake, then twist their thumb up and hold the palm. Or commonly, people will offer their wrist to be touched as a sign of greeting instead of a handshake.

Laughing

Tanzanians can laugh about things and events which are funny and surprising, even if it hurts people. They don’t laugh about the people concerned but about the strange and funny event.

Time

The concept of time in Tanzanian is very different from Western countries. There are 12 hours during the day and 12 hours during the night. The day Swahili time is started when the sun rises, and the night time is started when the sun sets. Tanzanians have lots of free time. Therefore, do not be surprised if they are one or two hours late for an appointment! Better consider an hour ahead for the appointment instead of the exact time. For example, if the appointment is at 9 am, better to say 8 am to prevent the delay. It is best to confirm the time of appointments to avoid any confusion.

Alcohol

Alcohol Consumption in Tanzania is not Prohibited, However, drinking while driving is highly PROHIBITED. Here is some recommendation Alcohol; Konyagi. (Local Gin usually from sugarcane.) Local Beers, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti etc., are good and reasonable. Anything imported is going to cost and due to the remoteness may not have travelled well Costs? $3 for a “Softee” such as Fanta, Sprite or Tangawezi/Stoney (Ginger Beer.). Beer up to $5 depending on establishment (much less in village stores.) Wine around $20-$30 upwards. The lodge bars will mostly have South African wines available there. They will have a variety of distilled alcohol and probably several brands of scotch. And they will have various brands of Tanzania alcoholic beverages.

Touch

Tanzanians are touchy, feely people. They are likely to put a hand on your shoulder, touch your hand or look in the general direction of your face during conversations. Prolonged eye contact is unwelcome and regarded as an invasion of privacy and downright rude.

Mzungu

“A person who walks in circles” or “restless”, or “explorer” = name reserved for Westerners. Abandon any irritation with the tag early in your stay.

OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS

Safety

Tanzania is in general a safe, hassle-free country. Since Independent it has been Politically stable country and Safest Country to Travel among other African Countries. That said, you do need to take the usual precautions. 

▪ 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 skeptical 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.

Food

Tanzania’s tourism industry means that there is a great variety of high-quality food available. Hotels and restaurants provide cuisine from all around the world as well as local cuisine, so you can immerse yourself fully with Tanzanian food or sample the comforts of home. Traditional Tanzanian food features plenty of meat (especially beef, chicken, and fish), rice, and vegetables. It’s simple, hearty food often accompanied by ugali, a flour and water-based dough similar to polenta and eaten by hand. Tanzanian’s love seafood, and Zanzibar is a culinary paradise for those who love freshly caught fish, shrimp, and the like. You’ll also notice the Indian and British influences on Tanzanian cuisine, with everything from spicy curries to old British staples such as fish & chips popular with locals and visitors alike. In larger cities you’ll encounter steak houses, burger joints, and stores selling cuisine from around the world. Vegetarians are also well catered for in Tanzania. With fresh fruits such as mangoes, coconuts, and pineapples available in abundance. With Tanzanian food so rich in vegetables, legumes, and rice – you’ll be able to find delicious vegetarian food without any trouble. For the most part, food in Tanzania is perfectly safe to eat. It would be advisable to avoid eating cold, pre-prepared foods.

Banks and Currency Exchange

Currency can be exchanged at banks, currency exchange offices (which are plentiful in the city), and in most hotels. Hotels generally offer the least favorable exchange rates. Banks in Tanzania are open from 9am until 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am until 11am on Saturdays.

Electricity and Plugs

Most lodges and camps use generators for electricity, and many do not operate their generators 24 hours a day; the power may be turned off during the day when most clients are out game driving and again late at night. Please inquire at check-in as policies vary with each lodge or camp. 

Electrical sockets in Tanzania are a three-square pin, Tanzania we use UK Sockets, and that’s is 220-240 Voltages (Type G Electrical Outlet, Type I Electrical Outlet and Type A Electrical Outlet). Type D Electrical Outlet is hard to find in Tanzania unless you carry adapter along with you or Multiplugs.

Postal Services

The postal service in Tanzania is well organized. Sending and receiving letters poses no problem at all, however telegrams are less reliable. Most hotels offer fax, email, and internet services for guests to use. Stamps can be purchased at the post office, in souvenir shops, and in most hotels. 

Telephone and Internet

The international code for calling Tanzania is +255.Almost all campsites and lodges in Tanzania offer phone and internet services. Internet cafes can also be found in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam, and Karatu. All of Excellent Guides vehicles are equipped with HF radio, used for both tracking the movements of animals and in cases of emergency. 

There are four mobile providers in Tanzania: Zain, Zantel, Vodacom, and Tigo; all of which offer roaming services. Mobile network coverage for both data and phone calls is quite good across Tanzania. 

You should still be able to access your phone while on safari, although some areas of the national parks do not receive coverage. You can buy prepaid Zain cards for $5 to $50, and you can even purchase cheap phones for as little as $35-$80. Vodacom offers an unlimited data pack for your phone for 25,000 Tanzanian Shillings (approximately $13) that is quite popular as well. In emergencies, your relatives can also reach you by calling our telephone numbers or emailing us in the office. 

Dress Code on Safari

Casual, comfortable and easy to wash clothes are recommended. The goal is to pack lightly as most lodges and camps will launder clothes for a small fee. Safaris are informal, and there is no need to dress up. Do plan to dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes as early morning game drives can be quite cold depending on the time of year while daytime temperatures can get quite warm. Stick to neutral or khaki colors and avoid wearing dark blue or black clothes as these colors tend to attract tsetse flies. Wide brimmed hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent are a necessity. After sunset, we recommend that you wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks and spray insect repellent to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Recommended safari clothing: There is no dress code for safari, however it is advised that you were inconspicuous clothes in brown, green, beige, khaki, or other neutral colours so as not to draw attention to yourself or frighten the animals away.

Health and Pharmacies

As a developing country, Tanzania has issues with a number of potential harmful diseases. Thankfully, many of these can be vaccinated against before you travel. Before departing for your trip, it is advisable that you speak with your physician about getting vaccinated against the following: 

  • · Typhoid 
  • · Hepatitis A & B 
  • · Meningitis 
  • · Rabies 

These are in addition to the vaccinations that all travelers should have up to date regardless of where they are traveling, such as: MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox, polio, and a flu shot. It is also advisable that you speak with your physician about measures that you can take to minimize your chance of exposure to malaria and cholera. 

Finally, if you are traveling from an area where yellow fever is a problem, you will be required to have a yellow fever vaccination as a condition of entry. If you are traveling from such an area and do not have a vaccination certificate, your visa application may be denied. 

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Malaria is prevalent throughout Tanzania, except in high altitude areas (above 1,800m) such as Mt. Kilimanjaro and Ngorongoro. Malaria medications differ from country to country dependent on conditions, so be sure to advise your physician that you’ll be traveling to Tanzania. Saying you’ll be traveling to Africa is not enough, as conditions differ greatly between countries. You should begin taking your malaria medication a few days before your trip, and continue to take it for a short period after you have returned home. 

HIV/AIDS are no more a problem here than they are anywhere else in the world. Provided you are not taking undue risks, you have nothing to fear. 

When it comes to medical attention, nurses and doctors in Tanzania are highly qualified, especially in cities such as Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. Most camping sites, lodges, and hotels have on site physicians and are in close contact with the Flying Doctors Service should an evacuation be needed. 

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