Need-to-knows before visiting Tanzania
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by Chloe Green (@SharedBucketList)
Sometimes, the most desirable destinations have complicated entry requirements, rules and regulations or are just a bit different to what we're used to. To save you some time (because we spent hours researching before our trip and stressing about what we needed to do), we've compiled a list of all the important details you'll need to get your head around if you're planning to visit Tanzania, Africa. Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that some of the advice listed below applies to certain areas, e.g. Zanzibar. We do recommend that you carry out extra checks for wherever it is you are visiting to ensure there isn't anything critical that you miss. Furthermore, we understand that travel requirements are often changing so it is worth noting that the information in this article could quickly become out of date or redundant. Much of the content in this article has been informed by external sources (trustworthy institutions, e.g. Gov.uk) with some additional anecdotes from our own experience. We do not accept any responsibility for incorrect information and implore that you take personal responsibility for your own travel and health.
#1 Scrap the Plastic Bags!
For environmental reasons, you are not allowed to take plastic bags into Tanzania - even in hold luggage. We'd suggest getting a proper container for your toiletries (e.g. products like sun cream, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.)
Something like this clear travel bag from Amazon is ideal for different sized liquid bottles / make-up.
Although the local currency is Tanzanian shilling, US dollars are most commonly used by visitors and accepted in tourist areas.
Depending on which part of Tanzania you are visiting, you will need to be mindful of predominant religions in that area. According to government statistics, 63 percent of the population identifies as Christian, 34 percent as Muslim and 5 percent practice other religions. In Zanzibar, for example, the population is almost entirely Muslim. This information is useful to know so that you can respect and be mindful of traditions/beliefs while you are visiting. E.g. women should dress discretely if leaving their hotel resort, avoiding revealing tops with open shoulders and/or cleavage and should try to keep their legs covered.
Malaria is common in Tanzania. There is no vaccination for Malaria so you will need to take antimalarial tablets as it is a high risk area. We would advise making sure that your accommodation has mosquito nets as well and investing in some insect repellant. There are several different types of antimalarial tablets you can choose from however make sure you are aware of the side effects! We experienced some pretty trippy dreams and hallucinations at various points during and after our stay. (Not the most fun when you're camping in the middle of the Serengeti, surrounded by lions and hyenas!) We were given (well, paid for) a prescription of Doxycycline. If you've been given Doxycycline, they should be started 1 to 2 days before entering Tanzania (or any country with a risk of malaria), taken daily for the entire duration of your stay and continued for 4 weeks after leaving the affected area. Warning: these made us feel so sick and a bit 'off' for a few hours afterwards. We found they were much more agreeable when taken after a big meal (e.g. breakfast). They also advise not to lie down for at least 30 minutes after you have swallowed a tablet. Taking these every day does seem excessive and isn't the most joyous when they make you feel dodgy but it is important that you do follow the advice as you might not necessarily know you've been infected.
#5 Travel Vaccinations
It is recommended for you to have the following travel vaccinations/boosters before visiting Tanzania: Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid. Check your medical history as you may have already had these. (Ours were out of date so we had boosters) Other vaccines you may be offered/want to take are: Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Meningococcal Meningitis and Rabies. These largely depend on which activities you will be undertaking and the areas of Tanzania you plan to visit. Selectively advised vaccines (only for those individuals at highest risk) are: Cholera and Yellow Fever. A pharmacist should be able to assess you and provide the most suitable advice for your trip.
#6 Watch out in the water!
No, not for sharks (although there are harmless reef sharks which can be seen in the waters along the Zanzibar coast). We're talking about a less feared but more illusive species which one of us had an unfortunate encounter with...
...the sea urchin!
If you're not familiar, sea urchins are animals that are typically small, spiny and round. They live on the seabed of every ocean but it just so happens that there are loads of them in the Indian Ocean. The sea in Zanzibar, in particular, is beautiful and inviting - with its multiple shades of blue, shallow waters and occasionally appearing sand banks, you'd be missing out not to go for a swim. But here's the catch: PLEASE WEAR SHOES! Stepping on a sea urchin is painful and the removal of its spikes is equally unpleasant. (Side note: Definitely take out travel insurance for unforeseen events such as this. We weren't expecting to be making a claim for anything during our time on 'paradise island' and, yet, we did. $485 to be precise!)
Some species or sea urchins are poisonous but their stings are rarely fatal. Try to remove them as soon as possible and keep the area clean.
Other marine life to be mindful of are jellyfish and coral reefs.
We had the pleasure of coming into contact with both of these too, during a snorkeling trip. Snorkeling was incredible and we'd highly recommend it in Zanzibar but - we won't lie - the stings left a nasty rash (which, strangely, didn't appear until a few days later). Also, if you're planning to do some snorkeling, don't forget to pack your own snorkel!
#7 Entry Requirements
If you're fully vaccinated, you must present a valid Covid Pass (in the form of a QR code). If you're not fully vaccinated, you must do a PCR test within 72 hours of departure from the country you are flying from (at the start of your journey) and present a certificate (with a QR code) of your negative result. If you don't present a PCR test result upon arrival, you will be required to complete a rapid antigen test at the airport which you will be charged for. A positive result will then mean you will need to take a PCR test (at a further cost). Isolation will be required if the PCR comes back positive. In short, don't risk this before your holiday. Get one sorted and stay up to date with the latest requirements as we all know how often they can change.
All British passport holders need a tourist or business visa to enter Tanzania. Tanzania has introduced an ‘e-visas’ system through which applications can be submitted and approved online in advance of travel.
Surveillance Form -
The Tanzania Traveler Health Surveillance is a screening document to monitor the health of travelers entering Zanzibar only. This can be done when you arrive at the airport or in advance. Note: there were so many queues when we arrived at ZNZ airport so we'd advise getting yours sorted in advance. Having said that, it must be completed no earlier than 12 hours before you arrive.
We believe that's it for the most urgent need-to-knows but do let us know if there's anything else you would like to find out. Tanzania is truly a stunning part of the world and we would highly encourage you to book a trip there. Whether it's for an African safari or exotic beach holiday, you are honestly in for a treat.
Looking for the perfect hotel? Check out our full review of the Riu Palace Zanzibar which, genuinely, blew our minds!