Informing yourself about what to expect and how to prepare for your trip to Tanzania is one of the best things you can do to make sure your journey is enjoyable and goes without a hitch. Here is the Tanzanian Tourist Board’s official information about everything you will need to equip yourself for your trip: bank information and details about how to change money, health precautions to take with extra information about malaria prevention and awareness, travel insurance, where to find hospitals and clinics, how to arrange your visas, and a brief overview of security. Once you know the basic facts, you will be well-informed and prepared for your stay in Tanzania, confident in every situation and ready for the trip of a lifetime.
The unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh) and there are no smaller denominations. It’s best to carry as little cash as possible when travelling to avoid further inconvenience if anything should be lost or stolen.
That said, major currencies (like the US Dollar, the English Pound, and the Euro) are easily changed in large towns, although US Dollars are sometimes preferred.
Forex bureaux offer faster service than banks and although the exchange rates are only nominally different, the bureaux usually offer a better rate on travellers’ cheques. Standard Chartered banks around the country have ATM machines that allow you to withdraw cash from your VISA card and Barclay’s Bank ATMs allow you to withdraw on both VISA and MasterCard accounts. Credit cards are accepted only at major lodges, hotels, and travel agents.
Tanzania is located in a tropical climate with different bacteria, flora, and fauna than most visitors are accustomed to, so it is advisable to take a few health precautions when travelling to make sure that your trip goes as comfortably and smoothly as possible.
Malaria: This is usually top on the list of visitors’ worries, and prevention goes a long way towards keeping you protected. Although it is believed that the anopholes mosquito (the species that carries malaria) hunts only at night, make sure that all exposed areas are well slathered in insect repellent at all times. Sleep under a net – there are some very good travelling mosquito nets available now, but budget travellers are well-advised to bring their own since the nets at most low-end guesthouses have holes or are invariably too small. If you’re sleeping in a tent that doesn’t have a net, spray insect repellent inside, close the flap, and leave for a few minutes.
Make sure to visit your doctor to get a prescription for the antimalarial drugs that best suit your health and condition – there are some very good ones available on the market now, but tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding. If you feel achy, have chills and hot flushes, headaches, or a fever either during your trip or up to two weeks afterwards, visit a doctor immediately to be tested for malaria. If your symptoms persist, don’t hesitate in seeking a second opinion. A malaria test only takes about fifteen minutes and involves a simple finger prick, and it’s available around the country. Treatment is widely available and recovery times are fast, provided that you get diagnosed as soon as you notice any possible symptoms. After all this advice, it’s worth noting that not every mosquito has malaria and that if you’re conscientious and take precautions, it’s unlikely that you will be exposed.
Vaccinations: The yellow-fever vaccination is no longer officially required when entering Tanzania, yet because the disease is endemic many doctors will recommend it as a precaution. Other vaccinations that might be considered before you travel include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, and tetanus. For more information, contact your doctor.
Food and water: It’s best to drink bottled water when travelling through Tanzania – numerous brands are widely available and served in all restaurants and lodges. Steer clear of ice, raw vegetables, and salads when eating at street restaurants. High-end lodges and restaurants will clean their produce in antiseptic solution, but should you feel wary about anything on your plate, leave it. Try to avoid eating in empty restaurants – the food may have been sitting out for some time – and order your meat well done. On the coast, seafood and fish are usually fresh, but again, make sure everything is well-cooked. While on holiday, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Precautions are a necessary part of staying healthy, and while you will of course make every effort to stay healthy and safe during your trip, it’s always wise to plan for emergencies. International travel insurance and emergency medical evacuation plans are available for purchase before you even leave home, so be sure to provide for yourself in the event of unforseen circumstances.
It is important to have a medical policy that will insure you while travelling, and cover any theft, loss, or medical emergencies you may experience while away from home.
Check your policy’s evacuation criteria and notify your travel agent of any necessary details.
Hospitals and Clinics:
For minor aches and pains during your travels, there are many hospitals and clinics around the country who will care for you and prescribe any medicine you may need. For emergency or out-patient cases, Dar es Salaam’s new Aga Khan hospital provides excellent care, as does the Nairobi Hospital and the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.
African Air Rescue (AAR) have clinics and out-patient care in both Arusha and Dar es Salaam, and smaller clinics offer consultations and laboratory services around the country.
Major lodges may also have doctors on-call to assist. In the event of a medical emergency, contact your country’s embassy or consulate for extra assistance.
Tanzania is a safe country to travel in. Tanzanians are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Tanzania is a true example of tolerance and cooperation in our modern world, with an evidenced multicultural diversity that has co-existed for centuries and has a lot to offer the world by its example.
As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe, which frees your mind to absorb the natural beauty and incredible sights that will stay with you forever.