Is Tanzania A Safe Country To Visit? Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is the largest country in East Africa and is located in the African Great Lakes region. It has many borders, including Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. A large portion of the country is made up of a central plateau with elevations ranging from 900 to 1800 meters. Tanzania, however, is not geographically monotonous: mountain ranges of the Eastern Arc and the Southern and Northern Highlands, which form part of the Great Rift Valley, cut across the country.
Traveling to this country is a unique experience for any visitor because it is not only monotonous but also geographically extremely diverse, home to the largest lake in Africa (Lake Victoria), the lowest point on earth (the lake bed of Lake Tanganyika), and the highest peak in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro).
Tanzania is not only the biggest country in East Africa, but it is also regarded as the region’s best safari destination and most tranquil nation. You might be hesitant to visit Tanzania, especially in light of recent health concerns on a global scale. Additionally, according to some websites, visiting Tanzania could be risky due to the possibility of terrorism and violent crime. Are these worries legitimate, you might be wondering? What is Tanzania really like? Is it safe to travel to Tanzania?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently more concerns about traveling anywhere. All travelers, however, travel at their own risk prior to, throughout, and even after COVID-19. We advise visitors to use reasonable caution and common sense, but not to be afraid to explore a new place and appreciate Tanzania’s wonders. The following issues are ones we would like to address in particular: crime and claims that LGBTQ people face risks.
WHY SHOULD I TRUST YOU?
It is a good idea to consider why you might rely on our Tanzania safety travel suggestions. The simple explanation is that we are writing and offering advice based on what we observe because we were born and raised in Tanzania and are therefore familiar with everything and everyone in the area. It’s one of the reasons why you ought to have faith in us and why so many tourists choose to book and journey to Tanzania with us.
ALLEGED DANGERS OF VISITING TANZANIA
“Crime, terrorism, and targeting of LGTBQ persons” are reasons to stay away from Tanzania, according to several travel advisories. We can say with certainty that it is an exaggeration and does not accurately represent the main tourist destinations in Tanzania, with the exception of a few exceptional cases.
Petty crime exists in Tanzania, just like it does in every other tourist destination. We wouldn’t, however, say that it is more typical than, say, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Egypt, or Kenya. However, we would say that it is probably less frequent than in locations like Paris, France, Venice, Italy, or Barcelona, Spain, which have developed a reputation for skilled pickpockets or passport thieves near the most popular tourist attractions. It is advised to use reasonable caution when traveling. All travelers are urged to be aware of the following:
Pickpockets frequently operate in crowded areas like markets and transit hubs. It is strongly advised to leave cash and other valuables at the hotel when visiting such locations. If you need some cash for these outings, keep it in a discreet pocket, your front pocket, or a purse that is carried in front of your body. Avoid keeping your purse at your side or behind your body or placing your wallet in your back pocket.
We advise tourists to use caution when visiting beaches, especially in Dar es Salaam; keep your belongings with you at all times; and stay away from the “beach boys,” who are typically overly amiable young men trying to strike up a conversation or hawk cheap trinkets (as a ruse to find out where you keep your wallet).
Robberies occasionally occur in Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, as well as other sizable cities. The “snatch and run” strategy is almost always used, in which the assailant simply takes a bag and tries to blend in with the bustling city crowd.
As a result, avoid carrying your valuables in your bag and instead lock them in the hotel safe. Don’t forget to watch your luggage, of course. We advise guests to use hotel taxis rather than venture out on their own at night and to only hail official white-and-green taxis—never private vehicles.
Every visitor to Focus East Africa Tours is accompanied by a driver or guide who is familiar with the surroundings and who helps guard against all kinds of mishaps. Without a guide or driver, a guest may be permitted to visit a location or take a city tour if they specifically request it, but only at their own risk.
Although there are many false articles about violent crime against tourists available online, including some that were regrettably published by reputable sources, it is extremely uncommon in northern Tanzania, including the well-known tourist cities of Arusha and Moshi.
We have been operating in Tanzania for many years, and during that time we have only heard of a handful of isolated armed robberies, all of which have taken place in coastal areas of eastern Tanzania, not northern Tanzania.
Another one-time incident we’ve heard about involved people being hassled as they withdrew cash from an ATM in Dar es Salaam at night. To our knowledge, these individuals weren’t hurt, but money was stolen from them. We advise against using ATMs after dark and advise people to only use those that are guarded by security personnel (which is the case for almost all banks and ATMs in Arusha and Moshi).
It’s also important to note that the vast majority of Tanzanians are kind, peaceful, and welcoming to visitors from other countries. The general Tanzanian population hardly ever resorts to violence to resolve disputes. Additionally, the tourism sector—particularly in the towns of Arusha and Moshi—plays a significant role in the economy of northern Tanzania. Since many people value and welcome visitors and want to uphold a positive perception of their country, they will often go out of their way to help a lost traveler or a foreigner who is having trouble communicating.
All things considered, there is no greater risk of robbery or mugging for tourists in Tanzania than there is in popular tourist destinations in the United States or Europe. Exercise common sense, stay away from sketchy areas, use taxis instead of walking at night, go to banks and ATMs during the day, don’t carry a lot of cash, and keep your personal items close to you at all times if you want to avoid such incidents.
It is debatable whether Tanzania qualifies as a nation where terrorism is a threat. Tanzanian terrorist attacks last occurred in 1998, more than 20 years ago.
More recently, a small Tanzanian village near the Mozambique border in the country’s southernmost region came under attack. According to reports, the extremists are from Mozambique and have a history of violence and attacks there. This raises more concerns for Tanzania’s safety and security than for Mozambique, which is Tanzania’s neighbor. In order to apprehend and prosecute these attackers, the Mozambique Army and the Tanzanian military are cooperating.
Beyond these infrequent attacks, Tanzania is a generally safe and peaceful country that also accepts refugees from its neighbors because UNICEF regards Tanzania as a safe haven. Refugees fleeing violence in neighboring countries are still taken care of in camps close to Kigoma. Tanzania has quickly become the most well-liked safari destination out of all the nations in East Africa for this reason, among others.
TARGETING OF LGBT PERSONS
It is untrue to claim that Tanzania is a nation where LGBTQ people might be persecuted. First and foremost, famous LGBTQ couples—like Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi, who spent time in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park in 2018—visited and openly shared their safari experiences there. However, it’s possible that this is a bad representation of Tanzania’s traditional culture.
In Tanzanian culture, intimacy and love are typically very private, and public displays of affection are uncommon among Tanzanian couples. Openly showing affection is frowned upon in Tanzania, for both heterosexual and non-heterosexual relationships, and is not meant to be discriminatory; rather, it is seen as inappropriate in this traditional culture.
With this knowledge, we are able to state with confidence that during the time we have lived in Tanzania, we have never once witnessed a case of a tourist being mistreated because of their sexual orientation. We can guarantee that, so long as common decency standards are upheld, nobody will experience any problems as a result of the partner that someone prefers to be with.
SO… HOW SAFE IS TANZANIA REALLY?
Tanzania is generally safe to visit, though extreme caution is advised, particularly in tourist areas such as Arusha, Stone Town (Zanzibar), and Dar es Salaam.
Apart from petty crime on Tanzanian streets such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, and common scammers operating in crowded areas such as markets such as Kariakoo and bus or train stations, there is also violent crime though very rarely, so be cautious.
When it comes to pickpockets, be especially wary of children, who are often forced into a life of crime and may try to steal from you. Another source of concern is taxi drivers, and it is strongly advised that you call a taxi you trust rather than hailing one on the street.
If you must take an unknown taxi, take its number and send it to someone you trust so that they can track it in case something goes wrong. Also, keep in mind that there are scammers who pose as police or government officials and try to extort money from you while flashing “immigration papers” at you. Remember that real officers usually wear uniforms.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING TO VISIT TANZANIA
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when traveling in Tanzania to ensure you have an unforgettable and safe safari tour:
Protests and civil unrest are common in Tanzania, particularly on the island of Zanzibar. They are generally peaceful, but it is best to avoid protests and large crowds just in case.
Make sure to consult a doctor before traveling to obtain the necessary vaccines against common diseases such as malaria. Other communicable diseases that are prevalent include cholera and HIV/AIDS.
Road conditions in Tanzania are poor, and drivers are frequently reckless, so avoid renting a car if possible.
Flooding is common during the rainy season, which lasts from March to May and November to January.
Visas: All visitors to Tanzania must have a valid visa to enter the country, and the visa you receive is valid for up to three months from the date of issue. However, receiving a visa does not guarantee entry into the country; the immigration officer reserves the right to grant or deny admission. If you are unsure about your visa status contact us at Focus East Africa Tours, so as we can tell you whether you need a visa based on your nationality and the country you intend to visit.
The Tanzanian shilling is the country’s official currency. It is advised that you collect your money directly from an ATM because this is the safest option.
Tanzania has a tropical climate, with hot and humid weather along the coast and cool and temperate weather in the highlands. Tanzania experiences two rainy seasons: short rains from October to December and long rains from March to June.
Airports: The largest international airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, is Julius Nyerere International Airport. The airport is about 12 kilometers southwest of the city center.
Travel Insurance: We recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Tanzania, just like anywhere else, because it covers not only the costs of medical problems but also theft and loss of valuables.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT VISITING TANZANIA
If you still have questions about your visit to Tanzania, these answers might address them.
Is Tanzania safe for tourists in 2023/2024?
Tanzania is safe for tourists in 2023. You still need to take basic precautions against theft and violent crime, but nothing has changed significantly.
Is Tanzania good for tourists?
Tanzania is good for tourists because it has many beautiful places to visit and people who are dedicated to helping visitors enjoy their country. However, avoid situations that appear dangerous or people who appear overly friendly.
Is Tanzania a welcoming country?
Tanzania is known for being a welcoming country. Many people are friendly to foreigners and want to show them their hospitality. However, be wary of people who appear overly friendly and invite you to stay in their homes or take a ride. These are frequently scammers or criminals who prey on unsuspecting tourists.
How safe are tourists in Zanzibar?
The island of Zanzibar is one of Tanzania’s most popular tourist destinations, but theft, assault, and sexual harassment do occur. You can join the many visitors who enjoy themselves in Zanzibar by taking precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings and avoiding the beaches after dark.
What is the biggest problem in Tanzania?
While most travel articles refer to street crime in Tanzania, the biggest problem for most locals is official crime in the form of corruption. Foreigners may encounter this when customs or police officers expect bribes in exchange for pursuing cases.
CONCLUSION: SO, IS TANZANIA A SAFE COUNTRY TO VISIT?
It is, indeed. Inquire with Focus East Africa travelers who have recently visited Kilimanjaro, Tanzania safari parks, and other wonderful places in Tanzania. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact one of our knowledgeable travel consultants. We are passionate about Tanzania and believe that it is not only a safe country to visit but also one of the most beautiful, natural, and interesting places on the planet! Don’t let inaccurate information deter you from experiencing the adventure of a lifetime in East Africa.