Zanzibar Travel Information
230 volts, 50Hz. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used.
Swahili and English are the official languages. Several indigenous languages are also spoken.
Waiters in the better restaurants should be tipped around 10 percent. 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.
Most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free. As in other East African countries, the threat from terrorism is quite high in Tanzania and visitors should be cautious in public places, 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, and 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. There have also been a number of ferry accidents in Tanzania in recent years. Caution should be exercised - if a bus or ferry seems overloaded or in poor condition, don't get on.
Tanzanians are known to be friendly and generally welcoming, but travellers should be sensitive to local cultural mores. Drunkenness is frowned upon and Tanzanians feel strongly about showing respect for their elders.
Visitors to Zanzibar should be aware that it is a predominantly Muslim region and visitors should dress modestly and respectfully. Beachwear is fine on the beach or around a hotel pool, but not acceptable elsewhere. Topless sunbathing is a criminal offence. Some tourists buys a local sarong, called a kanga, which can be used to cover shoulders when needed, or otherwise be used as a scalf or towel.
Smoking in public places is illegal. Tourists should be especially careful during Ramadan when public drinking, smoking and even eating should be avoided.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania.
Although Tanzanians come across as relaxed and friendly, it is important to observe certain formalities, especially with greetings. It is advisable to learn a few Swahili catch phrases when greeting, followed by a handshake. Women and men rarely shake hands in Swahili culture; however, if the woman extends her hand, the man is obliged to take it. Tanzanians are to be addressed as Mr, Mrs, and Ms, followed by the family name. Business dress is seldom very formal but lightweight suits are recommended for formal occasions. Business hours are similar to Western countries, but a longer lunch break is taken during the hotter months, and business continues later in the evening from Monday to Friday.
The international country dialling code for Tanzania, as well as Zanzibar, is +255. There is good mobile phone coverage in main cities and towns, while rural areas may have limited coverage. There are international roaming agreements with most international operators. Avoid making telephone calls from hotels; they can be very expensive. Internet cafés are available in the main towns and resorts.
Travellers to Tanzania do not have to pay duty on 250g tobacco or 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars and 500ml of alcoholic beverages. Restrictions apply to firearms, plants, plant products and fruits.