Texting or Emailing US from Tanzania

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Jun 4th, 2014, 12:13 PM
  #1
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Texting or Emailing US from Tanzania

I'll be in Tanzania for 2 weeks in July. I'm trying to find the least expensive way of occassionally staying in touch with family in the US while gone. I have an iPhone through AT&T. I know I can buy a small international text package but I seem to recall reading about a way to text or pseudo-email for free/close to free however I cannot find that post.

Does anyone have suggestions? I usually don't worry about texting/calling family while travelling internationally but I'll be climbing Kilimanjaro and want to let everyone know we made it!

Would it be best to find an unlocked phone and buy a local SIM card? Has anyone done this?
elburr is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2014, 12:52 PM
  #2
 
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I believe mobile phones will work on Kili though there may be some inconsistency. Buying an unlocked phone, here or there is cheap enough, and then you can buy a sim card from a local service, such as Vodacom. I suggest you contact your Kili climb company to see what they say about reception for the route you're taking and which service provider's sim you should purchase, if you decide to go that way. They might even suggest you use your guide's phone, perhaps with you buying the time. Worth s message to the climb company.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 01:06 PM
  #3
 
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www.att.com/global

If you are just going to text or call once or twice, get one of att's plans. Less "stuff" to deal with, everyone has your #, and it's just easier than finding a phone, getting a SIM card (where - at the airport?) and it's probably cheaper if you really only make a couple of calls/texts and keep it in airplane mode. They let you do it for just a month. Easy.
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Jun 4th, 2014, 03:29 PM
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jgg
 
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We are headed to Tanzania for two weeks on sunday and also have iPhones with AT&T. We are getting one of the small packages for one of our phones. The free way to call or text is through an app called Viber. It can be used to send text messages or phone calls for free where you have wi-fi (won't be free if no wi-fi). We have used it quite a bit while traveling internationally and while my daughter was studying abroad. It really works quite well. Never had any problems with texting, a few times the phone calls would disconnect but we would just call back - and not too terrible, considering it was free.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 12:32 AM
  #5
 
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You and the people you want to text should get the "WHATSAPP" application. It is fantastic!!!!! Free app, and free to use. As JGG said, Viber is another one. You can do free phone calls too, but i didn't use that feature.

Christabir, I'm gong to check out your recco also.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 09:31 AM
  #6
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Thanks everyone! I figured the AT&T plan would be easiest but I'll definitely check out the Viber and WHATSAPP apps too.
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Sep 15th, 2015, 02:34 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: May 2006
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We're heading to Tanzania on October 1st, and because I have elderly parents, I am concerned about communicating.
Our iPhones are Verizon, so I believe they will not work there. My iPad is AT&T and I was able to communicate from Australia via Skype there with a SIM card purchased at the Sydney airport, but I don't know if these cards are available at KMJ or in Arusha.

Help, Please!
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Sep 15th, 2015, 02:35 PM
  #8
 
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Additionally, I don't know if Whatsapp or Viber will work because there is very little WiFi in the camps we'll be staying in. So... I need to call or text without Wifi. Thanks again.
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Sep 15th, 2015, 08:25 PM
  #9
 
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If you must call, and wifi is unpredictable, you ought to get an unlocked phone and local sim for peace of mid to reach your family if needed.
I'd still download at least viber or whasapp--use the phone as a backup in case of no wifi. You probably know this already, but the folks you are phoning /texting while using the the apps, must also have the app (and the phone call isn't free otherwise).
Are you using a TZ travel company? They should be able to help you get both SIM card and phone, if you don't bring an unlocked one with you. It's pretty easy to get a sim card in E Africa. Check local registration rules though--Uganda's government started requiring SIM card registration a couple yrs ago, although i don't recall what it entailed. I assume whomever you buy it from will handle that.
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