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Tanzania Travel Guide

Essentials

Communications

Phones

If you run across a number with only five digits, it's a remnant of the old system that was changed in 1999. Because telephone communications are difficult, many people in the travel business have mobile phones.

Calling within Tanzania: The "0" in the regional code is used only for calls placed from other areas within the country.

Calling Tanzania from abroad: To call from abroad, dial the international access number 00, then the country code 255, then the area code, (e.g., 22 for Dar es Salaam), and then the telephone number, which should have six or seven digits.

Mobile Phones: Vodacom, Airtel Tanzania, and Zantel are the main service providers in Tanzania. The best option is to bring your own phone (if it's not locked to a particular network) or rent a phone and buy a SIM card on arrival. The starter packs for pay-as-you-go cell phones are very reasonable. You'll have to buy credit for your phone, but this is easily done at shops or roadside vendors.

Contacts

Airtel Tanzania (www.africa.airtel.com.)

Vodacom (082/111. www.vodacom.co.za.)

Zantel (www.zantel.co.tz.)

Tigo (www.tigo.co.tz.)

Customs and Duties

You can bring in a liter of spirits or wine and 200 cigarettes duty-fee. The import of zebra skin or other tourist products requires a CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit. Although you can buy curios made from animal products in Tanzania, your home country may confiscate them on arrival. Don't buy shells or items made from sea turtles.

Health and Safety

Malaria is the biggest health threat in Tanzania, so be vigilant about taking antimalarials and applying bug spray. Consult with your doctor or travel clinic before leaving home for up-to-date antimalarial medication. At time of writing HIV/AIDS is less a risk than in some other African countries, but the golden rule is never to have sex with a stranger. It's imperative to use strong sunscreen: remember you're just below the equator, where the sun is at its hottest. Stick to bottled water and ensure that the bottle seal is unbroken. Put your personal medications in your carry-on and bring copies of prescriptions.

The Flying Doctors Service offered by AMREF provides air evacuation services for medical emergencies in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda or anywhere within a 1,000-km (621-mile) radius of Nairobi. The planes fly out of Nairobi's Wilson Airport 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They also provide transportation between medical facilities, fly you back to Europe, Asia, or North America, or provide you with an escort if you're flying on a commercial carrier.

Shots and Medications

Be up-to-date on yellow fever, polio, tetanus, typhoid, meningococcus, rabies, and Hepatitis A. It's not necessary to have a cholera jab, but if you're visiting Zanzibar it's sensible to get a cholera exception form from your GP or travel clinic. Visit a travel clinic eight to 10 weeks before you travel to find out your requirements. If you're coming to Tanzania for a safari, chances are you're heading to a malarial game reserve. Millions of travelers take oral prophylactic drugs before, during, and after their safaris. It's up to you to weigh the risks and benefits of the type of antimalarial drug you choose to take. If you're pregnant or traveling with small children, consider a nonmalarial region for your safari.

Embassies

U.S. Embassy (686 Old Bagamoyo Rd., Msasani, Dar es Salaam. 022/229–4000. tanzania.usembassy.gov.)

German Embassy (Umoja House, Garden Ave. & Mirambo St., Msasani, Dar es Salaam. 022/211–2944. www.daressalam.diplo.de.)

Italian Embassy (316 Lugalo Rd., Upanga, Msasani, Dar es Salaam. 022/211–5938. www.ambdaressalaam.esteri.it.)

United Kingdom Embassy (Umoja House, Garden Ave., Msasani, Dar es Salaam. 022/229–0000. www.gov.uk/government/world/tanzania.)

Emergencies

Police Hotline (112.)

Medical-Assistance Companies

The Flying Doctors Service (022/211–6610 in Dar es Saalam; 022/212–7187 in Arusha. www.flydoc.org.)

Money Matters

The regulated currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh). Notes are 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000. At this writing, the exchange rate was about Tsh 1,574 to US$1.

To avoid administrative hassles, keep all foreign-exchange receipts until you leave the region, as you may need them as proof when changing any unspent local currency back into your own currency at the airport when you leave. Don't leave yourself with any Tsh—you won't be able to change them outside of Tanzania.

Bargaining, especially at marketplaces, is part of the shopping experience. But always be aware of the exchange rate and pay appropriately—you don't want to underpay, but you also don't want to be charged exorbitant "tourist" prices.

Most large hotels accept U.S. dollars and Tanzanian shillings and take all major credit cards; some budget hotels will also accept Tanzanian shillings.

ATMs and Banks

There are banks and ATMs in all major cities; you can draw cash directly from an ATM in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, and Stone Town in Zanzibar. Most ATMs accept Cirrus, Plus, Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa, and MasterCard. The best place to withdraw cash is at an indoor ATM, preferably one guarded by a security officer. Most machines won't let you withdraw more than the equivalent of about $150 at a time.

Tipping

For a two- or three-night stay at a lodge or hotel, tip a couple of dollars for small services and US$2-US$5 per day for room steward and waiter. A good guide should get a tip of US$15-US$20 per day per person; if he's gone out of his way for you, then you may wish to give him more. It's a good idea to carry a number of small-denomination bills. U.S. dollars are acceptable almost everywhere, but if you're planning to go to more remote places, then shillings are preferred.

Passports and Visas

Most visitors require a visa to enter Tanzania. You can buy one upon arrival—make sure you have at least $100 cash as the visa price increases all the time, and two passport pictures. However, if possible, get your visa ahead of time to avoid long lines and headaches. Visas are valid for three months and allow multiple entries. Passports must be valid for six months after your planned departure date from Tanzania.

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