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giblum May 26th, 2008 03:57 AM

ATMs in Tanzania vs Travelers cheques
We leave for a safari soon and are trying to decide about carrying money. Did anybody notice if there is an ATM at the airport? Should we just carry around lots of US currency in cash or is it easy to cash travelers cheques at the various lodges? Our trip is prepaid and meals are included, but I assume we still need a fair amount of cash for tips, snacks, etc.

sandi May 26th, 2008 04:41 AM

Travelers checks are difficult to exchange, poor rate, and high fees.

Supposedly there is an ATM at the airport (I've never seen one), or use an Exchange Bureau in town - guide can take you to one - for some local currency for small purchases at roadside.

Otherwise, USD are welcomed for tips for guide/driver, camps/hotel staff. That's all I ever use in Tanzania.

Nomadic_Adventures May 26th, 2008 06:30 AM

Cost of changing travellers cheques is quite high but the safest as you won't want to carry much cash with you. ATM's are in the main centres like Moshi, and Arusha but be warned that they don't always work. It is best to take a mix of cash and travellers cheques. Credit cards are not widely accepted and carry poor exchange rate changed. Have fun!

Patty May 26th, 2008 08:32 AM

Which airport are you flying into? I didn't see ATMs at JRO (but I haven't passed through recently). DAR had ATMs which accepted only Visa/Plus network cards.

climbhighsleeplow May 26th, 2008 08:45 AM

There is an ATM at JRO (just on the right as you exit the arrivals building), many, many in Arusha, a good one in Karatu and a new one near the crater rim at the NCA HQ building.

Travel checks are a pain and expensive. Since you are probably not bringing thousands of dollars for tips, I suggest cash and ATMs with a MasterCard as backup.

giblum May 26th, 2008 11:42 AM

Thanks, everybody, for the advice. I didn't want to carry around a lot of cash, but guess that will be the best way.

nhulberg Jun 3rd, 2008 09:16 PM

I carried lots of cash (dollars). Small denominations, stashed in various pockets. Worked out very well. We never felt at risk of getting robbed, but we also weren't walking in dark alleys at midnight. Most of your trip you will be in lodges and with your guide.

Dollars are accepted (or even preferred) at 95% of shops. Be sure to have "big head" (i.e. newer) bills, with no rips. Your bills will be scrutinized.

I don't recall whether there were ATMs at the airport, but there were a few in Dar.

giblum Jul 26th, 2008 09:44 AM

Now that I am back, I can answer my own question, in case anybody was interested.
We did not need the local currency. Dollars or Euros was fine. For big purchases, we paid by credit card and charged in Tanzanian shillings (used the Capital One card which does not charge foreign currency fees).
We took along a stack of 100 one dollars bills - great to peel them off for tips, which was about the only time we needed cash. I brought along two hundred dollars worth of five dollar bills as well, but hardly used any.
The fee for the visa to enter Tanzania was $100 per person, so I bought along 5 of them - 2 for the visas and the rest to tip our guide. We never bothered with an ATM or money exchange.

Leely2 Jul 26th, 2008 10:58 AM

Thanks for revisiting your thread with your findings. Hope you had a good time.

rachel_gb Jul 26th, 2008 12:59 PM

Thanks for this very helpful information--we are going in September and I was wondering the same thing about what money combinations to bring. About the visa--did you buy your visa upon arrival? Any risk in doing this (we are on U.S. passports and flying into Dar)? And you have to pay in cash but it can be American dollars? thanks!

giblum Jul 26th, 2008 03:04 PM

You can buy the visa at the airport - it is $100 for US citizens and they accept 100 dollar bills. We bought it at the Kiliminjaro airport - try to get on the Visa line ASAP, as it was very long. Even if you bought the visa in advance (which would mean sending away your passport, which I hate to do), you would still have a long line at passport control, which you skip if you are on the visa line.
We just posted our photos, if you are interested, to whet your appetite. The site is

hymjr Jul 26th, 2008 04:30 PM

Great photos. What lens did you use for most of these "portraits?" Also loved your suggestions for the US$ denominations to take. Very helpful. How long were you gone? Just trying to adjust accordingly. We leave 8/20 for 14 nights - 2 nights each Stone Town & Chumbe Is, then off to safari out of Arusha.

giblum Jul 26th, 2008 05:39 PM

The safari was 11 days - 2 nights in Arusha, 2 in Tarangire, 1 in Lake Manyara, 4 in the Serengeti (including a night in the Western Serengeti to see the migration and 1 night at the Ngorongoro Crater.
Our photo equipment was pretty extensive - 2 Sony SLR camera backs and 2 Minolta, a 400mm f4.5 lens, a 600mm f4.0 lens (usually used with a 1.4 teleconverter), a 500mm f8 mirror reflex lens, and a 100-300 zoom lens were the main lenses.
If you don't have long distance camera lenses, make sure you have a good set of binoculars, as many of the animals are pretty far away.
Have fun.

Leely2 Jul 28th, 2008 09:20 PM

Enjoyed your photos! Thanks for posting the link.

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