Tanzania has something for everyone. From beaches that stretch for kilometres to the rolling plains of the Serengeti to towering Mount Kilimanjaro, this East African country has no shortage of attractions for the adventurous traveller.
The country is just below the equator, and is bordered to the east by the Indian Ocean. Its location means Tanzania has some screensaver-worthy seaside views, and travellers flock to the beach resorts that dot the coast. Not to be missed are the Tanzanian archipelagos, the group of islands that speckle the ocean east of the mainland. The best known archipelago is Zanzibar, home to the narrow winding streets of Stone Town, a UNESCO world heritage site where the architecture is a mesh of Persian, Arabic, and European design.
In the north, the city of Arusha is known as the gateway to the natural splendours of Tanzania. Mount Meru towers over the city, and Arusha is the starting destination for trips to the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park, and of course, Africa’s tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tanzania is one of the most politically stable countries in East Africa, making it a relatively safe choice for travellers visiting the region. The ruling political party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), has been in power since December 9, 1961 when the country gained independence from British rule. New president John Magufuli has promised to stomp out corruption and has pledged to double tourism numbers during his term.
So whether you’re looking to wind down at the beach or be amazed by the flora and fauna of Africa’s rolling plains, Tanzania is the destination for you.
Based on personal medical history and advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the following vaccinations are recommended for travel to Tanzania:
- Yellow Fever– The Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you have travelled to or through a country where Yellow Fever occurs. Ensure you bring a copy of your Yellow Fever Certificate.
- Hepatitis A– Hepatitis A is spread to humans through contaminated food and water. This shot is recommended especially if you plan to sample some Tanzanian cassava or mishkaki, two popular street foods.
- Hepatitis B– Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease commonly spread through sexual intercourse, exchange of body fluids, use of an infected needle, or piercing tools.
- Typhoid– this disease occurs in Tanzania and is transmitted through contaminated food and water. The vaccination is recommended if you are staying in more rural areas, with friends or family, or will be eating street food.
- Measles– a respiratory disease that is prevalent in most parts of the world, including Tanzania. Most Canadian children will have been vaccinated as part of routine immunization.
- Rabies– the animal-borne virus is spread through the saliva or scratch of an infected animal, especially dogs, bats, and other mammals. A series of rabies vaccinations is recommended for travellers who will be participating in outdoor activities or who will be in frequent contact with animals.
- Malaria– the mosquito-bourne disease is risk in Tanzania, and anti-malarials are recommended for travel to the country. An appointment with a International Health Passport Travel Specialist can help determine which drug regimen may be best for your travel itinerary.
- Cholera– Tanzania experienced a cholera outbreak in 2015, with the region of Dar es Salaam experiencing more than 70% of cases and Zanzibar reporting 140 cases. The Public Health Agency recommends Dukoral, an oral vaccination which is effective in preventing up to 85% of cholera cases.
The climate of Tanzania differs greatly based on the region you are visiting. Here is what the climate is like in some of Tanzania’s most popular travel destinations:
Dar es Salaam has a temperature that remains consistent throughout the year, and ranges from 28º Celsius to 31º Celsius, with lows dropping to around 20º Celsius. Due to its position next to the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam has humid, tropical conditions.
Zanzibar’s temperature is cooled by strong sea breezes, and average temperatures range from 22º Celsius to 32º Celsius.
Arusha has more moderate temperatures and humidity levels due to its elevation (1,400 metres). The temperature ranges from 5º Celsius to 30º Celsius.
Rain gear can be essential based on when you’re travelling. The northern and eastern parts of Tanzania experience two rainy seasons, which are known as the short rains and the long rains. The short rains last from October to December and the longer period falls from March until May. The rest of the country experiences a longer rainy period, lasting from October through to April or May. The rainy season also leads to an increase in mosquitoes, so extra caution should be taken during this time to avoid malaria.
Due to its positioning close to the equator, the Tanzanian sun is very intense. Sunscreen with a minimum SPF factor of 15 is recommended, as is remaining indoors or well-covered between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Though safer than many of its East African counterparts, Canadian travellers should still be cautious in Tanzania.
There are some serious safety and security concerns for you to consider. Mzungus (white people) are at increased risk of robbery and kidnap due to their skin colour. There exists the stereotype that all Westerners people are well off, so you must work under the assumption that people may think you’re always carrying something valuable. Do not carry a lot of money on you and avoid taking out your smartphone in public places. If you must take your passport information, have a photocopy rather than the physical passport.
Crime rates are high, and theft, robbery, sexual assault, and muggings are prevalent throughout major cities and towns. Drive-by thefts and “draggings” are unfortunately a common occurrence: a car or motorcycle will drive by and hook your bag strap with the side mirror or someone can grab it. If you are unable to get untangled, they will drag you until they get the bag. Though it seems unintuitive, carry your bag slung over only one shoulder so you can untangle it in a hurry or try not to carry a bag at all. Change purses and pouches clipped onto the inside of one’s clothing is usually a good way to avoid potential muggings. Pickpockets also operate in major city centres, particularly markets.
On average Zanzibar is much safer than major cities such as Dar es Salaam. There has been some instability in the semi-autonomous islands following a national election in October 2015 when the vote was annulled. Several homemade bombs were detonated after polls closed, including in Stone Town, the UNESCO site popular with tourists. A new election has not yet been announced for the archipelago.
Licensed taxis are the recommended form of travel in Tanzanian cities. Licensed taxis are ones marked with white plates, and have a single-colour stripe up the side of their car body. Ensure you are travelling in either a licensed taxi or one recommended by your hotel.
Travellers, especially women, are best to venture out only during the day, even if you’re in a group. Power outages are frequent in major cities and towns, and many streets are poorly lit after dark. Police and other officials can be complicit in crimes, so it’s recommended you speak with a senior official or the Italian High Commission’s office if you are being detained or solicited for a bribe.
Tanzania is home to the roof of Africa: the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. While mountain climbing can offer unparalleled views and diverse ecosystems, there are several additional medical risks that can come with trekking at altitude.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), more commonly known as altitude sickness, can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level, age, and climbing experience. It most commonly occurs in thinner oxygen levels at altitudes higher than 3,000 metres, and can be threatening to both your trek and your life. Early symptoms can include insomnia, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Travellers can be prescribed Acetazolamide (shelf name: Diamox) to protect themselves against the effects of AMS. Altitude sickness can be fatal, and it is recommended that travellers experiencing symptoms descend to lower altitudes.
In addition to your swimsuit, guidebook, and any medication recommended by your Passport Health Travel Medicine Specialist, here are a few additional items you should consider packing:
- Sunscreen with a SPF factor of 15 or higher: Ensure you are reapplying sunscreen often, especially if you’re swimming at the beach or getting sweaty in the sun. Aloe vera lotion isn’t readily available in all pharmacies in Tanzania, so proactive protection against the sun is best.
- Mosquito repellant with a minimum 30% DEET content: Mosquitoes infected with Malaria are most prevalent around dawn and dusk, so ensure you’re protected. Common bite areas include ankles, feet, wrists, and neck.
- Eye drops: Tanzania’s cities are dusty, as are safaris. Eye drops will help your eyes be less strained in the heat and dirt.
- Conservative clothing: Bring clothing or a scarf that covers your shoulders and knees, especially if you will be spending time in Zanzibar. The islands are much more conservative, particularly for female travellers.
- A small change purse or fanny pack: Less conspicuous than a backpack or purse, these a change purse or fanny pack should be used to carry just the essentials: a minimal amount of cash, your phone, and a photocopy of your passport.
All Italians visiting Tanzania should register with the Italian Embassy in Tanzania before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
P.O. Box 2106 - Lugalo Road, 316 – Upanga - Dar es Salaam
Tel. +255 22 2115935 / 36 - 2123010/11
Emergency only: +255 754 777701
Visit the Embassy website prior to your departure.
All Italian travellers visiting Tanzania require a visa, and it is recommended that travellers apply prior to departure. To get a visa, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure. For more information about visa types and associated costs, visit the Tanzania's Embassy website.
It is also possible to obtain a visa upon entry, including at the Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, and Mwanza airports and a number of over-ground border crossings.
The typical tourist visa is valid for 90 days and costs $50 USD upon arrival. If you are paying for your visa in-country, ensure your American bills are in pristine condition – torn or folded notes may not be accepted by border officials.
If you have any questions about travelling to Tanzania or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport travel specialist today.