How to Bargain with Touts When Traveling in Tanzania

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Like many other countries, touting and bartering are a way of life in Tanzania. Find out how to hold your ground and barter with the locals with these tips.


Crowded streets in a small town in Tanzania Photo © Brian Rapsey

Tourists are usually the recipients of this forceful, often quite annoying form of selling, so don‘t think you won‘t be targeted by a keen salesman.

Experiencing Tanzanian Touting

Most touts will corner you the minute you jump out of your bus or safari vehicle.

Remember, you are going to stand out in African marketplaces, so you will be spotted and followed with offers, deals and a large display of products.

Most touts will yell Mzungu (white traveler) at you until you respond.

That will of course keep them interested and it will be hard to shake them.

Another tactic is to introduce themselves and ask for your name. While this might sound harmless, before you know it you will have 20 people screaming your name, each offering a fantastic bargain.

The deals are always inflated ridiculously above the product's true worth.

How to Avoid Touts in Tanzania

The quick answer, you won‘t always be able to avoid touts, but a good way to lessen the constant nagging, is to learn Swahili.

Always remember Hapana Asante which is "No, Thank You" in Swahili. This should keep most touts at a distance.

They will be impressed you know basic Swahili and they will know you aren‘t going to be a typical tourist they can manipulate or convince.

The other tactic is to be forceful in your ‘No‘ and keep walking. Don‘t be rude, but make it clear you don‘t want the product they are trying to sell. Usually they will give up and won‘t continue to pester someone who‘s not interested in buying anything.

But these folks are persistent, so prepare for a few minutes in saying ‘No‘.

Bartering in Tanzania

If you decide you do want to buy something from these street sellers, learn how to bargain. The prices you are inflated and the sellers will try to take as many crisp notes from your wallet as possible. Negotiation and bartering are culturally allowed and expected. But what you think will be a good deal, will most likely be a standard price. Don't forget to barter on your taxi fares too otherwise you be charged double.

It‘s quite common for a person to buy a product, only to find it cheaper around the corner. But this is Africa, local people are in need of your dollar and will work hard to get it.

Tanzania has a lot of poverty, so if you do decide to barter with local touts, decide on a price that is fair, and don‘t try to force the price too low. Many of the locals don‘t have what many travelers have, so operating in a respectable and honest way means you will be greeted with a smile and a good deal. You get a wonderful reminder of your trip, and they get to feed their family or send their kids to school. It's a win-win!

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