Health and Safety on Safari in Tanzania
Tanzania is, overall, a safe country to visit. This is even more so if your visit is primarily an organized safari. Almost a million tourists visit Tanzania every year and most visits are trouble-free. There have been several terrorist attacks in the past, but the last one, where a hotel was bombed, was in 2002. Unfortunately, terrorism has become part of life and it is very difficult if not impossible, to safeguard against it. Fortunately, incidents are very rare and the chance of being a random victim is almost negligible. As with many third-world countries, theft and muggings are relatively common, but most incidents are in cities like Dar-es-Salaam and Arusha. Walking alone around the city is not recommended. An overnight stay at a reputable hotel or an organized visit to one of the many attractions in or around the city is fine.
Medical health precautions
We recommends you consult your doctor before you travel for your Tanzania Safari. They will advise you on what is best to pack into your personal medical kit and what precautions you should take for the various risks. Most drugs are available without prescription in Tanzania, but you may not have time to reach a pharmacy, and therefore you should carry some basic supplies. It is required that you inform us in advance if you are allergic to any foods or medicines, or if you have any health conditions which may impact your Tanzania Safari.
As long as you stay up-to-date with your vaccinations and take basic preventive measures, you’re unlikely to succumb to most of the possible health hazards. While Tanzania has an impressive selection of tropical diseases on offer, it’s more likely you’ll get a bout of diarrhoea or a cold than a more exotic malady. The main exception to this is malaria, which is a real risk throughout much of the country. Road accidents are the other main threat to your health. Never travel at night, and choose buses or private transport over dalla-dallas (minibuses) to minimise the risk.
Food and Water
Many parts of Africa do have problems with their water and foods, however, the food and water in Tanzania is much safer than the rest of Africa, especially in the African safari camps and hotels you will be travelling to. We have never had a problem in these places though all our years of giving tours. Please do not over-react to the detriment of you own enjoyment.
As long as we’re discussing water, one thing you must be careful of, especially during the hotter summer months and in the desert areas, is dehydration. Plenty of fresh bottled water is always available at all of the camps throughout the day and should be consumed regularly and in quantity. We have seen many guests, even experienced African travelers, who forget to drink enough water and become dehydrated. A case of dehydration will usually put you out of action for up to a day – and is no fun. All the camps stock re-hydrating tablets which help to set you right again, but we wanted to mention it as this is the most common ailment we have observed among guests on African safaris. Drink lots of water!
Camps, guides and ground handlers
We only use the most experienced and vetted safari camps, guides and ground handlers throughout East Africa. We have been working with these companies for over 12 years and we know that, if there is an issue, they will get things sorted immediately and efficiently.
We have been sending clients out to East Africa for safaris for a long time, so we know where to send our clients when, and what problems they may have when they get there.
Strictly speaking, not being qualified doctors, we are not legally allowed to advise on Malaria and how to treat or prevent it. East Africa is in a malarial area of the world and, as such, we recommend that you take the recommended precautions when you travel here (mosquito repellents and coils are usually provided by camps locally…please check if you need further information). The main seasons that mosquitos breed are in and just after the rains (April and May) and so this can be an uncomfortable time to travel. Otherwise, while there are mosquitos present year round in East Africa, the drier months between June to October and January to March, are relatively mosquito free.
For further information on both Malaria and protection against it while you are travelling we recommend booking an appointment to see a specialist doctor.
Please be aware of the higher incidence of HIV/AIDS throughout Africa and take precautions to safeguard yourself as necessary. If you need medical treatment, we will ensure your care is in the best possible facility, but even in large hospitals it is your responsibility to ensure that you witness all syringes or other medical equipment being opened in front of you from a sterile packet.
We advise you take out medical and travel insurance before your Tanzania Safari begins. Should you wish to add on emergency medical evacuation from remote areas for the duration of your Camping Safari or Walking Safari, please contact us at Interlink Trails and we can help arrange this. This will cover the costs of a doctor to fly directly to wherever you are in East Africa for immediate medical attention and, if necessary, immediate air-evacuation to the nearest medical centre.
Safety in Africa
Safety in Africa is something that many people worry about, but this is without real foundation in our experience. It is true that the major cities can be dirty and crime-ridden in places, but this is not unlike any big city in the world, and we certainly don’t recommend staying in these areas. Tanzania is considered to be generally safe, but extra care should be taken in big cities. In the past there have been reports of muggings in game reserves. Although the government has stepped up security, it is better to be careful and to stay in close vicinity to other vehicles during your visit. Driving at night in Tanzania is not recommended.
Below are basic and sensible precautions should one make your Tanzania Safari completely trouble free;
- Take only photos on your Tanzania Safari and leave no footprint. Do not encourage the trade of endangered wildlife by buying products made using ivory, shells, marine turtle, coral or animal hide. These will be confiscated if found at the airport and a heavy fine will be levied.
- When on your Tanzania Safari, don’t forget that the animals are wild and are in their natural habitat. You must treat them with respect. Always listen to the instructions of our guide and when on a Camping Safari or Walking Safari, this is of paramount importance. Never get out of a vehicle without our guide’s permission.
- If you feel unwell, inform it to our staff immediately.
- Wherever you are, whether it be in a city, in the bush or on the beach, do not walk at night even with a friend. Stick to well lit areas and make use of the readily available taxis or bajaj (similar to motorised richshaws or tuktuks).
- Never exchange money on the street, always use the offices of a Bureau de Change.
- Regardless of the time of day, do not keep all of your valuables on you. Your hotel will have a safe deposit box or you are welcome to use our safe. Be aware of where your valuables are at all times and while in a vehicle it is advisable to keep the doors locked and the windows only open a small amount. When in transit, always keep an eye on your luggage.
- Keep a photocopy of important documentation separate from originals so replacement is easier should anything be lost.
- What is illegal in your own country is more than likely illegal here – respecting the law is as important in Tanzania as it is in your home country.