Is Crime a Problem in Tanzania? How To Travel Safely

Tanzania has amazing wilderness, incredible natural landscapes and friendly people. But to ensure you have a great trip, here are some tips to keep you safe.


View on typical narrow Stone Town street with souvenir shops on Zanzibar island Photo © Getty Images/borchee

With tourism comes opportunities for crims to make a quick dollar by stealing your stuff. While Tanzania isn‘t as bad as some other African countries, it still pays to be alert and take steps to protect yourself and belongings as you would traveling anywhere else.

Petty Crime in Tanzania

Pickpockets and con artists operate in crowded markets and transport hubs. Keep your valuables secure and well hidden.

Don't be fooled by the playfulness of small children; they may have been forced into a life of crime and may be there to distract you.

When you visit the beach,  only take what you need with you. Leave your valuables locked up back at your accommodation.

Most robberies are ‘snatch and run‘. Thieves wait for the opportunity to grab something and then disappear into the crowd.

Never carry anything of value in your pockets and don't dangle expensive camera equipment from your neck. Never leave bags unattended. 

The golden rule – don‘t try and be a hero in dangerous situations. Things can be replaced, but you can't.

Serious Crime in Tanzania

Violent crime against foreigners is not uncommon, particularly those walking alone at night. 

Only use registered taxis or those from established taxi zones or booked in advance. Also, avoid walking alone near the beach.

Take care when in Dar es Salaam, particularly on Toure Drive, as carjackings and muggings have occurred. People have also been mugged while taking an early morning jog in Mwanza city center.

Never accept food, drinks or cigarettes from strangers; there have been reports of tourists being drugged with laced candy while on long-haul bus trips, only to wake up later to find their luggage gone.

Tourists have also been kidnapped, robbed and forced, with the threat of violence, to withdraw cash from ATMs in Dar Es Salaam. Even though all the victims were released (a classic example of express kidnapping) all were shaken by the threat of violence, and some were assaulted.

Bribery in Tanzania

Police are poorly paid – many make less than $40/month – so you may be solicited for a bribe by an official willing to turn a blind eye to your infraction, fabricated or otherwise.

'On-the-spot-fine' is one term used for a bribe; those words are meant to initiate a conversation about money. If you don't want to participate in bribery offer to go to the police station to pay the fine – sometimes that can get you off the hook, especially if their supervisors are in the vicinity. Don't hand over any papers or important documents unless you really need to.

Fraudsters are known to impersonate police, sometimes in the guise of an "immigration official" who identifies a problem with your documents. They will flash official-looking papers at you. Ask them to explain the situation clearly and for their official ID.  If you are dealing with someone in uniform, they are almost certainly an actual officer, so don‘t question them too hard.

The worst of all situations is when a bone fide police officer oversteps the mark. Tanzanian police have an unfortunate reputation for being some of the most corrupt in East Africa. Some have been known to be drunk on the job and may become threatening. A night in a local jail is not worth a few bucks in bribes.

There have also been reports of police pulling over taxis carrying tourists in Dar es Salaam asking for bribes. Always remain calm, be polite and leave it to the taxi driver to handle the situation.

How to Avoid Bribes

Involve other people – fraudsters or corrupt officials are unlikely to carry out their schemes in front of an audience.

Ask a local for a translation of the situation – this could put the scammer off getting money out of you. Always ask to see an official government ID.

Suggest you both go to your country's embassy to have an official translate the conversation for you – tt this point, the scammer will usually have a look of horror on their face. 

Tanzanians are very polite people, so they won‘t normally ask directly for things. So playing dumb is often a good way to get out of a bribe.

Tell them you've only just arrived in the country, even if it's your 100th visit. If you know some Kiswahili, keep that to yourself. While this won‘t work every time, it will make them question whether they want to go ahead with the scam and hopefully the hassle of trying to communicate with you may deter them.

Tip: Split your money up into smaller amounts, that way if you have no other choice but to pay a bribe, the scammer won't see all of your money.

Troublespots in Tanzania

  • Arusha (the launching point for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro). Theft by armed bandits has occurred.

  • Stone Town in Zanzibar.

  • Dar es Salaam – bag snatching has increased in the city. Avoid hanging onto your bag if a thief rides past and grabs it or you could end up injured or at worst, dragged along.

  • Armed robberies have occurred at Ngorongoro Crater.  

Border Zones

    • Burundi: Considered a high-risk country by several government travel advisories due to continual political unrest, bandits and terrorism.

    • Rwanda: The border between Tanzania and Rwanda has a high risk of bandits, armed conflict and kidnapping. The Australian Government travel advisory recommends using a police escort or private security when traveling the Rusomo to Kahama Road.

    • Democratic Republic of Congo: Frequent clashes between armed rebel forces and the DRC military occur.

    Safety Tips for Tanzania

    • Get local knowledge on the dangerous areas.

    • Constantly remain vigilant. Travel can sometimes be confronting and noting your surroundings and who's around can help put you at ease.

    • Do your research when it comes to companies offering safaris, tours and other activities; this applies not just in Tanzania but across Africa. Some companies have a poor track record when it comes to safety such as equipment, transport, inexperienced/unskilled staff and more.

    • Keep your valuables close to you or locked up in your accommodation.

    • Snatch and grabs occur in busy places including markets and even in traffic. if you feel like people are a bit too close, duck into a building or shop to get some breathing space. Keep windows closed and belongings stowed out of view while traveling.

    • Try to keep cameras concealed, muggings are common and you don't want to lose all your holiday memories.

    • Avoid walking or traveling after dark on isolated roads. Take registered taxis in downtown areas.

    • Avoid traveling at night in rural locations. Aside from the presence of bandits, there is a danger of accidents caused by potholes.

    • Look out for scams – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to your itinerary and don't be too trusting.

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    • Alfredo BROCCOLO said

      I would warn tourist approaching the central bus station i Dar Es Salaam.

      DO NOT trust people offering you a ride by taxi especially if evening/night or early morning to take you to the bus station or airport.

      My girlfriend and I were kidnapped by a fake taxi early in the morning who has taken us the previous evening to a hostel from the station and offered to take us to the station next day early in the moring. We were taken into a sort of small slam, robbed of what we had then taken to the cash point to withdraw all they could, then 'gently' taken near the bus to Nairobi.

      So my recommendation (I leave in Nairobi and visited Tanzania a few times) is to NEVER take a non-licensed taxi from the main Bus terminal in Dar Es Salaam.
      DO NOT board any taxi with more then one person (the driver) in the taxi.
      If like us you are offered an early morning or late night service DO NOT accept any taxi who is not someone you know and can trust or a certified one.
      Look at travel advice in tanzania found in the UK travel advise website ( as there are good tips.

      For the rest, be vigilant but also enjoy your trips without being too worried.


    • john paschal said

      Am a Tanzanian and what has been said above its true you should be very carefull

    • Rahim Ibrahim said

      I am a Tanzanian as well and all that's been mentioned is true. But like any other country around the world, minor crimes as such do exist. So just don't go along with the first person thats polite to you, they do notice your not a local and would be willing to take advantage of that, without even doing anything to harm you, simply just over charge you or the sort.

      All in all, Tanzania is a great country and I personally have never been robbed or had any crime committed against me.

      Enjoy your stay and do come back again :)

    • Chris said

      We, My wife and i are planning to travel to Dar es Salaam and from there to Nairobi. Should we consider ?

    • Darlene Parker said

      Crime in Tanzania is opportunistic as in most countries. There are many schemes that even the locals fall for so common sense goes a long way!

      As previously mentioned, all the main bus stations are hives of activity and crime. Beware of touts pressuring you to buy tickets or 'escorting' you to the bus. They often overcharge for the fare (sometimes double) and also sell fake tickets. Buy your ticket either at the bus company office or from the bus representative standing at the bus with a clipboard/seating plan

      Unfortunately, the reality on the ground is that people who are helpful to tourists often have a price at some point as they get a commission from the hotel, bus, ferry etc. Best to negotiate with the taxi driver before getting in, as they will charge exorbitant fare and be quite threatening if you don't want to pay.

      An important safety fact that is not mentioned in any travel advisories is that if you are injured as the result of a crime, you must obtain a PF3 form from a police station before proceeding for medical treatment. It is free of charge and if you are very seriously injured someone may go on your behalf and request the form. Please note that hospitals will not generally administer treatment without this form.

    • Oya said

      I just came back from Tz today im from Cape town luckily i never got robbed and the people there are supper friendly and have ubuntu .Im coming back again to Tz loved staying there but while i was in town esp the bus station i was told to look after my fone .All in all I was happy inTz except the Airport customer service that needs to change.Thanks Tanzania

    • Jenna said

      Is it safe for a woman to travel solo to Zanzibar?

    • Lauren said

      I'm Gonna travel to Zanzibar from Dar es salaam. As a single woman with a small kid is it safe to travel with a public bus.

    • Felix Achebe said

      The comment posted in this site are negative against Tanzania, and it is wrong. There is no country in Africa as Tanzania in terms of peace, and hospitality. There is no single city in Kenya you can compare to Dar es salaam in terms of security. Can you tell me Nairobi is safe than Dar es salaam? That is politic. The crime you mentioned is not for foreigner only, that is misleading, it can happen to anyone, in any city around the world. Don’t we have crime in New York, DC, Chennai, Las Vegas, London, Goa, Karachi, Moscow, Manila, Brasilia, or Miami? Still Tanzania kids are walking to and from school with no kidnapping, no single school shooting since independence as of Today? With more than 120 tribe no single incident of one tribe fight against another tribe since Independence like in Kenya (Nairobi) with “Mungikis’, How many assassinations of University professor in Kenya compare to Tanzania(none). Biases post above is to attract tourist to visit Kenya but not Tanzania, and it is wrong. Kenya is the most corrupt country in East Africa. This is exactly what Kenyan and their enablers are doing, look Kenya Airways Logo of “ Ngorongoro”, which is northern central of Tanzania, is not even in the border, but they advertise it as if it belong to Kenya, including Kilimanjaro.
      Since western country Invested a lot in Kenya, propaganda is obvious to attract customer to occupy their hotel room in Nairobi for profit purpose but to damage image of peaceful country in Africa as crime area shall be quelled.
      All precautions mentioned is the same for anyone visiting any foreign country.

    • Jessica Schnegg said

      Same here...

      The day we had our flight back home, 3h before our flight we took a taxi on the way to the airport. It was a guy from the streets who offered us his service. He seemed nice, a bit older, short and innocent. Once picked up they were saying they want to go a shortcut because of so much traffic..they stopped the car in a side street, the two men jumped on the back and to other men came in the car from the front side and another men also at the back, we were 7 people in a small car, locked up and with dark windows.
      Give us money or you will die! .....We didnt have any since it was the last hours in this country, so we had to give them our credit cards, they went to a ATM and withdrew the money, then they started investigating our bags....after more then one hour in the car they decided to also steal our camera equipment, then they let us free...
      It was the most life threatening experience, your freedom is taken from one second to the other and you dont know if they ever let you go again.

      Please never take not registered Taxis in countries like this and be very very careful!!

    • Shabani said

      Most of what has been told here is wrong.
      Tanzania is safe place in EAST AFRICA and Southern part of AFRICA, no drugs, murder cases etc.
      Most of this fake news is from the one who are from KENYA

    • Obasi said

      I had nothing but wonderful experiences in Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar. If you're stupid enough to hop in cars with random people and let someone "gently" rob you, just stay in America lol!! Sounds like you have ZERO street sense and im from California

    • Grace Diamond said

      To the comment above that states this is false news etc .. give your head a wobble . There is murders and crimes there just like anywhere else!! Ask the father that is without his daughter due to her being murdered in Mozambique..left with sand filled lungs and the corrupt police that hid evidence .that man had to buy the envidience of his own daughter from people in the streets . The wages are low in a lot of parts of Africa so yes money is what they /you want the most .


      Be careful with anyone you don’t know .and look after yourself and your travel buddy’s

    • Katie L said

      I also experienced this, although with a different set up. I was on a long distance bike trip with two friends but due to a knee injury I had decided to skip ahead by bus and rest in a hotel for a couple of days. Whilst there I crossed the road one day to get my passport photocopied for future visas (a waiter at the hotel pointed out a place I could get this done directly opposite my hotel). I also needed a charger cable so was looking for that at local stalls/shops.

      A young (20s), friendly and helpful guy of small build approached and asked what I was looking for. He then said he could show me a shop around the corner that would have the cable I was looking for. As we got walking he asked if I had visited any craft markets. I said no, he offered to take me to one a short bus ride away. I politely declined as I was tired and just wanted to rest. He was really friendly though, told me he was a student but also worked at tourist information, asked about my trip, gave me some travel advice for Zanzibar etc. Eventually I decided that it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to see something interesting, to be shown around a bit by a local and that getting on a public bus would be safe since it would be crowded with other people and I could then just make my own way home if I didn’t want to stay long at the market. My new ‘friend’ was clever enough to subtly show concern for my welfare when crossing a busy road, checking I was ok etc before we got on the bus.

      The bus ride was longer than he’d said but probably only by 10mins. He then said we were there, which seemed strange as we’d pulled into a stop with no market on site. He explained that we would just walk up the road to it. As soon as we got off the bus a car pulled up and he said it was his brother (who he’d already told me was a taxi driver) and that he would just take us the rest of the way. He opened the door for me and whilst I wanted to say I’d prefer to walk, I had no real time to think, didn’t want to be rude and also didn’t have a chance to say no.

      As soon as we started driving I knew it didn’t feel right — “Christian”, as he had introduced himself, tried several times to wind my window up. The driver drove strangely slowly, never said hello and he and Christian spoke in Swahili with “carving market” thrown in in English. Christian had checked earlier that I didn’t speak Swahili.

      We turned into a dead end side road and two huge guys opened the doors either side of me and got in. Christian said they were his classmates and were joining us, then one of them stuck his arm across my chest and held the other door. I asked Christian to ask his friend to move his arm and suddenly his face changed, he told me they were “very bad people” and that I needed to do as they said and that they needed money.

      Long story short, I was held for an hour or so while Christian went to an ATM, took out what money he could and they all became increasingly threatening with regard to 2 travel money gift cards they found in my wallet which I was unable to give them PIN numbers for (I did have the PIN numbers but they didn’t believe me and thought they were credit cards). They hit me a few times, threatened rape, use of a weapon and to kill me. Once they’d got what money they could, they released me.

      The police wrote a report saying I was robbed at 2am. In reality I was kidnapped at 12 noon. Fortunately my insurance company paid out for the financial loss which included my camera. I recognise my nativities and mistakes here but these guys are very clever and good at what they do. I’ve lived and worked in West Africa and had an amazing experience living among locals in Ghana and travelling there extensively. Cycling through Kenya was also a wonderful experience. Crime can happen anywhere for sure, but express kidnappings are common in certain parts of the world and it is worth knowing about them. I had never heard of it before or I would have been more aware.

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