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Safety in Tanzania

Discussion in 'Africa' started by marpacifica, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. marpacifica

    marpacifica Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Once upon a time in Micronesia, but now bubbling i
    469
    0
    0
    Hi,

    Does anyone have any information on security in Tanzania? My fiancee and I will be traveling to Zanzibar and the mainland in February 2008, and would like to know what precautions to take to protect our dive gear, camera and video equipment and housings.

    We will be flying from Amsterdam directly to Arusha. How is the airport there? Do we have to worry about baggage handlers or others shopping through our gear before we get it?

    After traveling overland with a safari tour, we'll be headed to Zanzibar for some diving. Any concerns there about safety? What about the airport at Dar es Saalam?

    I lived in Malawi about twenty years ago so am familiar with the general precautions I have to take when traveling in East/Central Africa, but I certainly could use any up-to-date information that anyone has about Tanzania.

    Zikomo kwambiri!
     
  2. Adriaan557

    Adriaan557 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: London, UK
    246
    0
    16
    We were in Zanzibar in Feb this year. Flew there from Nairobi and our bags got left behind in Nairobi - got the bags the next day, and nothing was missing. When arriving in Zanzibar the airport is so small, that they carry the bags from the plane to the 'terminal' building at put it down on a wooden counter where you can collect it. So the bags are out in the open the whole time, so no chance for someone to take something.

    We never felt unsafe in Zanzibar, the locals are very friendly, and we never felt that someone were going to try and steal our stuff. In our guesthouse we had a walk-in closet which we could lock (had my own padlock). I would not recommend leaving anything of value lying around in your room.

    Another tip, take cash(US$), because ATM's can only be found in Stone town, and exchange your US$ for Tanzanian Shillings at the local shops. We were told that $ is the preferred currency but when we got to Nungwe all prices were in Shillings, and if you pay by $ they divide by 1000 so $1 = TS 1000, at the shops you can exchange 1$ for TS 1200 - quite a saving in the long run!

    Hope this helps!
    Adriaan

    PS you have to try and dive Leven Bank, absolutely an amazing dive
     
  3. marpacifica

    marpacifica Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Once upon a time in Micronesia, but now bubbling i
    469
    0
    0
    Thanks, Adriaan,

    Good tip about bringing $, and certainly appreciate the update on safety and security during your stay there. We will be staying in Stone Town so will have access to the ATMs there, but we will also visit other parts of the island and don't want to be caught empty handed.

    When you exchanged $ at the shops, was this official or do I have to give a wink wink like in some African countries with foreign currency restrictions?

    We'll definitely ask to dive Leven Bank. I've heard great things about it. What did you see there?
     
  4. Adriaan557

    Adriaan557 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: London, UK
    246
    0
    16
    Exchanging money is as unofficial as you can get. Just picture a real basic kinda rundown shop with a wooden counter and no cash register...you say how much you want to exchange ($50 or more gets you a better rate) then he opens the crooked wooden 'cash drawer' and ruffles through a pile of notes looking for the big ones...

    I've heard that the diving in Stone Town is not that great after years of dynamite fishing - so don't plan too much diving in Stone Town. The best diving is up north from Nungwe (about 90mins/$50 taxi ride from Stone Town) The local reefs were great with plenty of turtles, and healthy corals. It's never crowded, we were between 4 and 8 divers at a dive site at a time. Mnemba Atol is just around the corner with a 90min boat ride away, which has really good diving as well.

    Just shout if you have any more questions.

    Adriaan.

    PS
    Here is a link to some photos of Nungwe: Picasa Web Albums - Adriaan - Zanzibar
    And here are some diving photos...I've just started Uw photography (bought a housing for my point and shoot) so it's not anywhere close to the awesome photos you and some of the great photographers here on SB take.
    Picasa Web Albums - Adriaan - Diving - Zanz...
     
  5. stefo2

    stefo2 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hannover, Germany
    259
    2
    18
    Agree with the above, Tanzania in genral and Zanzibar in particular are very safe countries as far as Africa goes. Just use your common sense and the usualy precautions and you wil be fine.
    Regarding the money - hotels, diving, souvenirs in the expensive tourist shops etc. will all be quoted in $, and if you pay in Tsh they'll convert the prices at an o.k. rate. Price in restaurants and local shops are in Tsh, and if you want to pay in $, it may well be that they ask for a 1:1000 conversion - usually no problem if it's only a dollar or so anyway, but not recommended for larger amounts.
    There are some things that must be paid in $, like flights and visas. The ferry from Dar to Znz is also officially $ only, but they will usually rather accept Tsh than nothing.

    So if you keep your $ for diving, accomodation etc. and get money at the ATM before you leave town, you will have no problems.

    I dived Leven Bank twice a while ago - one time there was absolutely nothing there, onec it bwas a great dive. My favourite dive in the north is Hunga Reef - a patch reef with loads of fish of all sorts. Mnemba can also be very good and you are almost guanranteed to see turtles there. If you have the time, try and make it to Pemba - some great diving there!
     
  6. marpacifica

    marpacifica Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Once upon a time in Micronesia, but now bubbling i
    469
    0
    0
    Wow, thanks so much for the useful tips. This is the kind of information you just can't get from a guidebook.

    Adriaan, I appreciate seeing your photos of Zanzibar. Particularly liked the local woman on the beach, the sunset shots with the boat silhouetted, and the ox cart tank ferry. Stick with it -- I started out just like you four years ago with a point and shoot and plastic housing. Nice equipment is helpful, but I found that the information I got from people on scubaboard benefited me more than any other source. That, and taking LOTS of images b/c the mistakes are free and you're bound to get some good shots....

    I just talked to my fiancee and we've decided not to take our underwater housings b/c we just won't have room to take everything after the almost two weeks will be spending on the mainland. Stay tuned in a few months for a trip report and photos, which is the least I can do to return the many favors I've gotten through scubaboard.

    M.
     

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