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Tanzania Travel Guide
The largest country in East Africa, Tanzania boasts the highest mountain on the continent, the exotic spice islands of historical Zanzibar, and the famous Serengeti National Park whose seemingly endless plains stage one of the greatest spectacles of animal behaviour, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra followed by their predators. The Great Rift Valley gives rise to the unique geological formations found in the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater and Mt Kilimanjaro. It is also home to the world's largest game reserve, the Selous, covering an area larger than Switzerland. Tanzania is richly endowed with many animal and bird species and offers some of the finest game viewing on the continent. Dar-es-Salaam is the largest city, a hustling, bustling and surprisingly scenic tropical seaport that is a common starting point for trips into the country. A dusty safari into the vast wilderness is superbly complemented by time spent on the refreshing Zanzibar islands, with white palm-fringed beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and historic Stone Town - an exotic reminder of its days as a major spice and slave trade centre.
Tanzania is home to hundreds of different ethnic groups and cultures, from the red-clad herders of the Masai tribes on the Serengeti plains to the modestly veiled women of Zanzibar's Islamic Stone Town. The warmth and smiling faces of its friendly people will touch the heart of every traveller.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used.
The official unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS), divided into 100 cents. The tourism industry prices everything in US Dollars and they are the preferred unit of currency. Major currencies can be exchanged in the larger towns. Foreign exchange bureaux in the main towns usually offer a better rate on travellers cheques than do the banks. ATMs are available in major cities only. Major lodges, some hotels and travel agents in urban areas accept credit cards, but these should not be relied on and can incur a 10% surcharge.
Swahili and English are the official languages. Several indigenous languages are also spoken.
Waiters in the better restaurants should be tipped around 10%. Guides, porters and cooks in the wildlife parks and on safari trips expect tips. The amount is discretionary according to standard of service and the number in your party.
Travellers are advised to take medical advice at least three weeks before leaving for Tanzania. Most visitors will need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, typhoid, yellow fever and polio. Those arriving from an infected country are required to hold a yellow fever vaccination certificate. There is a risk of malaria all year and outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever occur; travellers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should also be avoided, as meat and milk products from infected animals may not have been cooked thoroughly. Sleeping sickness is a risk in the game parks, including the Serengeti, and visitors should take precautions against bites by tsetse flies. There is a high prevalence of HIV/Aids. Cholera outbreaks are common throughout the country and visitors are advised to drink bottled or sterilised water only. Travellers climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro are at risk for altitude sickness. Medical services are available in Dar-es-Salaam and other main towns, but facilities and supplies are limited; visitors with particular requirements should take their own medicines. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
As in other East African countries, the threat from terrorism is high and visitors should be cautious in public places and tourist sites and hotels, particularly in Zanzibar's Stone Town. The area bordering Burundi should be avoided. Street crime is a problem in Tanzania, especially in Dar-es-Salaam where tourists should be alert and cautious. Lonely beaches and footpaths are often targeted; women are particularly vulnerable to attacks. Visitors should leave valuables in their hotel safe and not carry too much cash on them at any time.
Armed crime is on the increase and there have been serious attacks on foreigners in Arusha and on Pemba Island. There have also been reports of robberies and kidnapping on Zanzibar, and piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden is a serious concern with commercial and tourist vessels being fired upon and several British tourists taken hostage.
Road accidents are common in Tanzania due to poor road and vehicle conditions, violation of traffic regulations and exhaustion among long-distance drivers. In the most recent accident, a bus travelling to the popular tourist town Arusha plunged off a bridge into the river after the driver lost control of the vehicle, killing at least 47 passengers.