Kilamanjaro, Tanzania
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Kilamanjaro, Tanzania

© www.123rf.com / Paul Hampton

Tanzania Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

945,087 sq km (364,900 sq miles).

Population

55,155,473 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

54 per sq km.

Capital

Dodoma.

Government

Federal republic.

Head of state

President Samia Suluhu Hassan since 2021. Zanzibar is semi-autonomous and has its own parliament and president (President Hussein Mwinyi since 2020).

Head of government

Kassim Majaliwa since 2015.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are mostly used, but plugs with three round pins are also in use. Power cuts are common in the rainy season, though most large hotels and businesses have back-up generators.

If you close your eyes and conjure up the quintessential romantic image of Africa, what you’ll most likely imagine is Tanzania: the drama of the wildebeest migration along a seemingly-endless savannah; the incongruous snow and glaciers of Mt Kilimanjaro; the iconic and statuesque Maasai warriors; the exotic palm-fringed beaches on the spice islands of Zanzibar. It’s all here.

Tanzania boasts some of the most impressive national parks and game reserves in Africa. The Serengeti National Park is considered the continent’s premier spot to see wildlife roam unheeded across vast open plains.

Nearby, within the steep walls of the Ngorongoro Crater lies the most densely concentrated population of African mammals on earth. Not to be forgotten, the Selous Game Reserve is larger than Switzerland, and is wild, remote and still virtually untouched by humans.

Even further from the beaten path are parks in the extreme west of the country which offer the unique opportunity to track chimpanzees in their natural habitat on the fringes of Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes.

Beyond its safari stalwarts, Tanzania has no less than 804km (503 miles) of sublime coastline and pearly-white beaches with some magnificent islands offshore. Known as the Swahili Coast, this was a favoured stop on ancient trading routes between the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East. Spices, jewels and slaves once passed through, bringing with them a mélange of cultural riches that remain today.

Tanzania’s not short on mountains either. The striking and snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa's tallest at 5,895m (19,341ft) and climbing it is an unforgettable experience. Its slightly smaller sister Mt Meru is arguably even prettier, and a quicker climb.

Tanzania is home to more than 120 different ethnic groups and cultures, but it has seen little of the ethnic or religious-based violence that has afflicted certain other nations in the region. In fact the country is an inherently peaceful place and embraces its multicultural heritage, which adds to its broad appeal.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against all but essential travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.

Mtwara Region along the Tanzania-Mozambique border

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 20km of the Tanzanian border with Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique.

This is due to attacks by groups linked with Islamic extremism.

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Tanzania set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Tanzania High Commission in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Tanzania.

Passport validity requirements

To enter Tanzania, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive and at least one blank page.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You must have a tourist or business visa to enter Tanzania.

If you are planning to work or volunteer, you will also need a work permit. Information on how to apply is available from the Tanzanian Prime Minister’s Office.

Your employer or volunteer organisation should help you arrange this before you travel.

If you overstay your visa or permit you can be arrested, detained and fined before being deported.

The Tanzanian Immigration Department has more information on visas.

Applying for a visa

Apply for an ‘e-visa’ before you travel. It is no longer possible to get a visa from the Tanzanian High Commission in London.

You can also get a tourist or business visa for a single entry on arrival at the main ports of entry to Tanzania, subject to meeting all immigration requirements. You may be asked to provide proof of your return journey. You will not be able to get a multiple entry visa on arrival.

Checks at border control

You must be ready to show your return or onward ticket at border control.

Vaccination requirements

To enter Tanzania, you must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country listed as a transmission risk.

For full details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Tanzania guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Tanzania. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking wildlife products into and out of Tanzania

Do not bring animal skin accessories into Tanzania as you risk questioning or detention when leaving the country.

Border officials have arrested foreigners for trying to take wildlife items they’ve bought, including horns and seashells, out of the country. It’s illegal to do this without a certified export permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. If you’re caught you can be detained or fined.

This guide also has safety advice for regions of Tanzania.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Tanzania

Terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in Tanzania.

Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreign nationals, such as:

  • places of worship
  • transport hubs
  • embassies
  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • bars
  • major gatherings like sporting or religious events
  • crowded places

Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. 

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. Attacks by IS-Mozambique, who are based in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, are possible near Tanzania’s border with this area of Mozambique. There is also thought to be some support for Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). The Tanzanian authorities have successfully made a number of arrests in connection to terrorism. However, many incidents in Tanzania are of unclear origin and may be conducted by criminal gangs.  

In 2020, the village of Kitaya in the Mtwara region was attacked, close to the border with Mozambique, the attack was claimed by Islamic extremists operating from northern Mozambique. Most attacks target the local security forces, although attacks against western interests are also possible.

Political situation

On occasion demonstrations and political rallies across Tanzania have turned violent, resulting in fatalities. Police may use tear gas or live ammunition for crowd control. If you’re in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, be aware of what is happening around you and move away if there are signs of disorder.

Crime

Violent crime

There is a risk of armed crime, including armed robbery, throughout Tanzania. Take particular care in places frequented by tourists and foreign residents. In Dar es Salaam, tourists and residents have been targeted:

  • in the city centre
  • in the Masaki and Oysterbay peninsula area, particularly at Coco Beach
  • along Toure Drive

In Zanzibar incidents have taken place in Stone Town and at hotels and on popular tourist beaches throughout the island.

Bag snatching is a well-known tactic of criminals, who may operate from cars or motorbikes. If you are walking on the street:

  • walk towards the traffic so you can see vehicles approaching
  • walk as far away from the road as possible
  • carry bags loosely by the handle or hanging off your shoulder and do not secure the strap across your chest
  • avoid walking or cycling at night or alone

Do not carry large amounts of cash or display valuables such as expensive jewellery or watches. Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a copy for ID checks.

When in a vehicle, keep car doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight. Be particularly careful at night when there is a higher incidence of crime. Do not stop if pedestrians or hitchhikers try to flag you down.

Express kidnap

In Dar es Salaam, tourists have been ‘express kidnapped’. This means they’ve been assaulted, robbed and forced with the threat of violence to withdraw cash from ATMs. Some have been forced to arrange cash transfers of up to £5,000 through Western Union after being befriended by strangers or getting into unlicensed taxis.

Protecting your property

Burglary is a risk. Make sure residential property is secure and lock all doors and windows, especially at night. If where you’re staying has a security guard, they should insist on official identification before allowing anyone to enter your property or compound. If in doubt, do not let strangers in and raise the alarm.

Harassment

There have been cases where women travelling alone and in small groups have been verbally harassed.

Laws and cultural differences

Religion

There is a high proportion of Muslims in Tanzania, particularly in Zanzibar and Pemba. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Make sure your actions do not cause offence, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

Personal ID

Always carry copies of your passport photo page and visa. Carry your work permit, if you have one. Immigration officials or police can request these documents at any time, so make sure you can get the originals quickly if you need them. If you’re a resident or longer term visitor, consider getting certified copies.

Ramadan

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country. During this time, avoid eating or drinking in public, outside of hotels or restaurants. Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.

Dress code

Dress modestly throughout Tanzania. Women wearing shorts or sleeveless tops away from tourist resorts in Zanzibar and Pemba, particularly in Stone Town, may cause offence to the local population.

Zanzibari authorities can fine you 700 US dollars or more if you’re wearing what they consider inappropriate clothing in public. For guides or tour operators, the fine can be at least 1,000 US dollars.

Environmental laws

Plastic bags are banned for environmental reasons. If you arrive by air you’ll be asked to hand over all plastic bags on arrival. The ban does not include ‘ziplock’ bags for airline security procedures.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Tanzania has strict laws on drug use and if you are found in possession of even a small amount you will be fined. There are severe penalties, including prison sentences, for possessing an amount that indicates possible intent to supply (drug trafficking). Tanzanian prisons tend to be dirty and overcrowded. 

Discrimination and harassment

Reports made to the British High Commission by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) British passport holders suggest that they are experiencing additional levels of harassment from immigration officials. If this happens, stay calm and ask that the British High Commission is immediately informed.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Tanzania, including Zanzibar. Same-sex relationships are not tolerated in Tanzania’s conservative society. If you show affection in public, like holding hands or kissing in public places, you could be arrested or put in prison.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Money

US dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted.

Most banks in major cities have ATMs that accept foreign debit cards and issue Tanzanian shillings. They sometimes break down or run out of money.

To minimise the risk of card cloning, use ATMs located within the bank. If you try to exchange non-Bank of England pound notes, you may get a reduced exchange rate.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism  

Trekking and climbing 

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.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you’re planning to drive in Tanzania, see information on driving abroad.

The condition of cars rented out by some car hire companies is variable, so use a reputable firm. 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. Consider using reputable taxis as an alternative.

You can drive in Tanzania with a UK driving licence for up to 6 months. For stays longer than this, an international driving permit (IDP) is required. Keep this with you in the car. To confirm the correct IDP to use, contact the Tanzanian High Commission in the UK.

To drive in Zanzibar, you’ll also need 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.

Driving standards and road conditions

Road users often drive dangerously, ignoring the rules of the road. Accidents resulting in death and serious injury are common.

Watch out for:

  • vehicles and motorbikes trying to undertake or overtake using any lane, including on the hard shoulder
  • drivers making manoeuvres without signalling
  • poor attention to rules at roundabouts

Many roads need repair, including in major towns and cities. During the rainy season, flooding can cause landslides and road surfaces can deteriorate.

Roads in Tanzania’s national parks, mainly dirt tracks, can become hazardous or impassable after heavy rain. It may be essential to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Avoid driving outside major towns and cities at night.

Police checkpoints

There are frequent police checkpoints. If you’re stopped by the police, ask to see identification. If you are issued with a fine, the police should give you a government control number for payment. The police should not ask you to make any on the spot payments for traffic violations. If you’re involved in a road accident, co-operate with the local police.

If you see an unusual incident, or if somebody in plain clothes tries to flag you down, it is often safer not to stop.

Buses and taxis

Local buses (‘dala dalas’), motorbike taxis (‘boda bodas’), and tuk-tuks (known locally as ‘bijajis’) do not meet western safety standards. They are often poorly maintained and badly driven. They rarely have proper insurance cover. There are frequent accidents, some of which result in fatalities.

Do not accept lifts from strangers or anyone offering to find a taxi for you. It is safest to arrange a taxi through a hotel or travel operator. Always ask to see the driver’s ID and use reputable taxi services. 

Pickpockets and bag-snatchers operate on overcrowded buses and at bus stations.

Rail travel

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

Lake and sea travel

In the last few years there have been several ferry disasters. Hundreds of people have died when travelling:

  • between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar
  • between the islands of Zanzibar
  • in the Lake Zone area

If you think a ferry is overloaded or not seaworthy, do not get on. If you do board, 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.

Continual pirate attacks on vessels sailing off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden show that the threat of piracy remains significant. The threat assessment of the combined international naval counter-piracy forces is that all sailing yachts under their own passage should avoid the designated high-risk area or accept the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see Piracy and armed robbery at sea. 

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Rainy seasons

The length of rainy seasons can vary, but they generally run from:

  • the end of March to May
  • October to mid-December

Heavy rainfall and strong winds can affect travel. Flooding and landslides can occur during heavy rain. If travelling to affected regions, you should take extra care and follow any advice given by the local authorities.

Monitor local and international weather reports and the TMA website for the latest updates. If travelling, plan your journeys carefully and make sure to follow local guidance.

Avoid walking, swimming, or driving through floodwater.

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes and tremors are a risk in Tanzania. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

The last significant earthquake (magnitude 6.0) happened on 12 August 2020, 66km north-east of Mafia Island.

This section has safety advice for regions of Tanzania. It only covers regions where The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.

Mtwara Province

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the southern strip of Mtwara Province to within 20km of the border with Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique.

The presence of groups linked to Islamic extremism in Cabo Delgado is creating cross-border tensions and instability. There is a risk of violent attacks. An attack on Kitaya village in October 2020 was claimed by groups linked to Islamic extremism operating from northern Mozambique.

Tanzania-Burundi border and Kigoma region

There have been armed robberies in the area bordering Burundi and in Kigoma region, including vehicle hijackings. Drive only in hours of daylight. There are few facilities for visitors.

National parks

Some parks are extremely remote, and emergency access and evacuation can be difficult. If you choose to camp, only use official sites. Make sure you are properly equipped and seek local advice when travelling to isolated areas.

There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Always follow park regulations and advice from wardens, and make sure you have the correct documentation or permit before entering a national park.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

At least 8 weeks before your trip:  

See what health risks you’ll face in Tanzania, including:

  • dengue
  • malaria
  • cholera

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Tanzania. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

Healthcare facilities in Tanzania

Medical facilities are limited, especially outside Dar es Salaam.

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Tanzania.

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Tanzania.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Tanzania

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Tanzania and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.