Health & Safety in Tanzania
- What precautions should I take to avoid stomach problems?
Do not drink water directly from the tap. Drink only bottled water, water that has been brought to a full rolling boil (for tea and coffee), or water filtered through a purifier (such as the Katadyn filter SENE uses on the mountain). All beverages served in bottles are fine. Be sure to wash your hands with soap regularly and always before meals or touching food. Avoid eating food sold by street vendors. Eat only fruit that can be peeled, such as bananas and oranges, unless it is fruit prepared by SENE staff. We take pride in the care and sanitary practices with which we prepare all our food.
- What immunizations do I need before visiting Tanzania?
For current immunization recommendations and requirements for travel to Tanzania, please check the United States Centers for Disease Control and consult your physician or a travel health specialist. We suggest immunizations for the following: Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever. Make sure you are also current with your tetanus/diphtheria, MMR (mumps/measles/rubella), and polio vaccinations. Allow at least two months time to receive all necessary vaccinations. For malaria prevention, please consult your physician or a travel health specialist. Common malaria prophylaxes include mefloquin/lariam, malarone, doxycycline, cloroquin and paludrin, and primaquine.
- Does SENE provide health insurance?
Health insurance is not included in tour quotes. We recommend that you check with your health insurance provider about coverage for medical services incurred abroad. If you wish to purchase additional international medical insurance we suggest Seven Corners, and for evacuation insurance we suggest International SOS.
Tanzania Travel Logistics & Money
- Will I be able to use my ATM or credit cards in Tanzania?
There are ATM machines for several Tanzanian and international banks in both Moshi and Arusha. Most, but not all U.S. banks permit withdrawals from these machines; check with your bank for accessibility. You can withdraw Tanzanian shillings using a Visa or MasterCard in many bureau de change offices. Most restaurants and hotels do not accept credit cards; the few that do may charge a steep commission. Notify your credit card company before you leave for Tanzania to inform them of your travel plans.
- Should I change money into Tanzanian shillings or can I pay in foreign currency?
We recommend changing some money to Tanzanian shillings to pay for small items during your trip. Local stores and restaurants charge in shillings, and if you use dollars you will pay a higher rate. At souvenir shops in particular, we recommend paying in shillings as the price will be lower. Any shillings that you have leftover can be used to tip staff during your trip. Be sure to carry small notes in whatever currency you choose to use as it can be difficult to get change.
- Should I bring travelers checks?
We recommend bringing some travelers checks for safety purposes, although the fees to cash them can be high. American Express are the only travelers checks accepted at bureau de change offices in Tanzania. Exchanging U.S. dollars or taking out Tanzanian shillings at ATM machines is the most convenient and cost effective.
- Are batteries available in Tanzania?
Battery sizes AAA, AA, and D (including Energizer and Duracell brands) are available in Moshi and Arusha and at most lodges. Specialized camera batteries will be hard to find. Batteries are generally cheaper in your home country, so you may want to bring extras with you.
- Will I have access to electricity (for charging camera/video equipment, batteries, shavers, hair driers, etc.)?
Most lodges and campsites have electric outlets, although the strength of the current may vary and those that use generators may turn them off at night. Tanzania uses 230 voltage AC. If you are bringing 120 voltage appliances you will need a converter as well as the proper plug adapter. Tanzanian outlets accommodate three prong UK style plugs. We recommend you bring as little electrical powered equipment as possible. Electricity is not available on Kilimanjaro.
- Can I make phone calls or use the internet in Tanzania?
Phone calls are expensive and unreliable (approximately 50 cents per minute to the U.S. using a mobile phone). If you would like to use your guide’s phones while on safari or Kilimanjaro, you can purchase phone cards in denominations of 5,000 or 10,000 shillings (approximately U.S. $4 or $8) that will allow you to place international calls.
Internet cafes are readily found in all major cities, including Moshi and Arusha. The connections are relatively fast and cheap (about U.S. $1 per hour). You will not have internet or email access while on Kilimanjaro or at Simon’s Mbahe Village cottages. Some safari lodges now offer internet access, though it is significantly more expensive than at the cafes in town.
- Do I need a visa for Tanzania?
You are required to obtain a visa to enter Tanzania. This can be done in advance through the Tanzanian embassy in your country or using a visa service. You can also obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport in Tanzania. The cost for the visa is $100 cash for U.S. passport holders, $50 cash for all others. Passport photos are not required.
Tanzanian Culture, Customs & Language
- What are the tipping customs in Tanzania?
A small tip is appreciated by service staff such as waitpersons in restaurants, bellhops, etc. At restaurants, usually a small amount that rounds out a bill is sufficient (5-10%). For bellhops and other service individuals 500-1,000 shillings (around 50 cents) is adequate. Tipping is not expected for meals at lodges which are included with the accommodation. Prices for taxis are negotiated in advance for the complete price, which includes any tip. For tipping SENE guides and porters please read our tipping guidelines.
- What is Tanzanian food like and will I be able to try some?
Staple foods found throughout Tanzania include ugali (a maize meal stiff porridge), chapati (thick naan-like bread), kachumbari (tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper salad), nyama choma (barbecued meat – beef, goat, or chicken) and mchiche (spinach-like greens). Dishes specific to the Kilimanjaro area include ndizi nyama (banana and beef stew) and makande (maize and bean stew). After every Kilimanjaro climb SENE has a celebratory meal with the crew that includes several Tanzanian dishes. On the camping safari we include some local foods on the menu.
- Are souvenirs available for purchase?
You will have many opportunities to purchase souvenirs in curio shops in Moshi and Arusha and at lodges while on safari. If you are interested in buying Tanzanite, a rare and beautiful purple-blue gemstone found only in northern Tanzania, please ask your driver to stop at the Cultural Heritage Center near Arusha where they sell genuine Tanzanite.
- What should I know about Swahili, the national language of Tanzania?
Swahili, the language spoken by all Tanzanians, is the most widely understood language in Africa after Arabic. Swahili has over 50 million speakers and is spoken not only in Tanzania, but also Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, eastern Zaire, and parts of other neighboring countries. Swahili originated along the East African coast of southern Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, northern Mozambique, and on the islands of Lamu, Zanzibar and Pemba. Swahili has only 2 million native speakers, so the first language of most Tanzanians is still that of their ethnic group. However, the number of first language speakers of Swahili is increasing since Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first president, implemented a policy after independence making Swahili the language of instruction in all Tanzanian primary schools in order to help unify the country.
Here are a few Swahili word to get you started . . .
Hujambo? - How are you?
Karibu - Welcome or You’re welcome
Maji - Water
Sijambo - I am fine
Asante - Thank you
Maji moto - Hot water
- What is the best way to get from Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar?
There are several daily flights between Kilimanjaro International Airport and Zanzibar, as well as flights from the Moshi and Arusha regional airports. The flight takes a little over an hour and costs approximately U.S. $225-250 one way. Several airlines offer these flights.
- Can SENE help me with my Zanzibar hotel reservations?
SENE can arrange flights and hotels for Zanzibar. We can also arrange airport transfers as well as many special tours and activities. We would be happy to prepare a complete Zanzibar beach and cultural excursion for you.