By and large Tanzania is just as safe, and probably even more friendly, than any other country you’ve likely been to. But there are some difference you should be aware of.
Water and Juices
Unless you’ve grown up in a developing country, it’s likely your digestive systems isn’t well equipped to deal with some of the common things found in untreated foods and drinks in Tanzania. Therefore, it’s recommended that you always drink bottled water or boiled water while you’re in Africa. If you’re not sure, use your purification tablets or make sure the water is boiled before you drink it. Most outfitters will boil the water for you on the mountain.
While staying at lodges, you may be served fruit juice upon your arrival and it will be available at the buffets. Most people feel that it’s safe enough to drink fruit juices given to you at a tourist hotel. After all, they know that they are catering to tourists and it’s in their best interest not to make you sick. Again, use your common sense, and if you think it unwise, don’t drink it.
We advise the same thing for fresh fruit as we do for fruit juices–when in doubt, don’t eat it. We had no problems eating any of the food served at the buffets or while climbing Kilimanjaro. Just stick to fruits that are cooked or that you can peal.
You should expect that your body will need to adjust to the new food being served to you. The Tanzanians go out of their way to offer “Western” food, but it is still different than what you are used to. Once again, use your best judgment. No one wants you to get sick on your vacation!
Shots and Pills
A yellow fever certificate is required to enter the country by the Tanzanian government. They also recommend you take anti-malaria pills. Larium is the most common malaria pill prescribed. It needs to be taken once a week, beginning with the week before you leave for your trip and continuing a couple of weeks after you return.
Check with your insurance plan to see if immunizations and malaria pills are covered. On some plans, they’ll also give you the other major immunizations (typhoid, hepatitis A, tetanus, etc.) if you haven’t already received them, just to be safe. But get your immunizations early, since you may need to go back more than once.
It’s also wise to bring some sort of anti-diarrhea medication like Immodium AD or something stronger, just in case. Your doctor should be able to prescribe something. Anytime you travel to a foreign country, it may take your body awhile to adjust to the new food.
Is Tanzania dangerous?
Many people ask how dangerous is Tanzania and what can they do to mitigate the risks. While we’ve never had anything but smiles and warm greetings on any of our visits, it’s always best to be prepared and informed. There are a few things we recommend you do to ensure your safety:
- Stay at private hotels in Moshi and at lodges or camp sites within the national parks.
- Try not to look too much like a foreigner. Sorry, but it’s probably safer if you leave the red, white and blue bandanna at home.
- Fly in and out of Tanzania (Kilimanjaro or Dar es Salaam) and avoid Nairobi and Kenya. It is also advisable to avoid any transfer flights in and out of Nairobi Airport for security reasons.
- Keep the number of the local embassy handy in case of emergency.
- Keep a few phrases in Swahili on you in case you need to ask for help in an emergency.
- Contact the US State Department directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.