Crime in Tanzania - How to Stay Safe

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.

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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 have often 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 opportune time 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 car jackings and muggings have occurred. People have also been mugged while taking an early morning jog in Mwanza city centre.

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.

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 probabaly is. Stick to your itinerary and don't be too trusting.

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    7 Comments

    • 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 (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) as there are good tips.

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

      Alfredo

    • 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
      Xoxoxo

    • Jenna said

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

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