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Zanzibar Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +3

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used.

Language

Swahili and English are the official languages. Several indigenous languages are also spoken.

Travel Health

Travellers are advised to take medical advice at least three weeks before leaving for Tanzania. Most visitors will need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, typhoid, yellow fever and polio. Those arriving from an infected country are required to hold a yellow fever vaccination certificate. There is a risk of malaria all year and outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever occur; travellers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should also be avoided, as meat and milk products from infected animals may not have been cooked thoroughly. Sleeping sickness is a risk in the game parks, including the Serengeti, and visitors should take precautions against bites by tsetse flies. There is a high prevalence of HIV/Aids. Cholera outbreaks are common throughout the country and visitors are advised to drink bottled or sterilised water only. Travellers climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro are at risk for altitude sickness. Medical services are available in Dar-es-Salaam and other main towns, but facilities and supplies are limited; visitors with particular requirements should take their own medicines. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Tipping

Waiters in the better restaurants should be tipped around 10%. 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.

Safety Information

As in other East African countries, the threat from terrorism is high and visitors should be cautious in public places and 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 where 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. In the most recent accident, a bus travelling to the popular tourist town Arusha plunged off a bridge into the river after the driver lost control of the vehicle, killing at least 47 passengers.

Local Customs

Visitors to Zanzibar should be aware that it is a predominantly Muslim area and a modest dress code, especially for women, should be respected when away from the beach and in public places. Topless sunbathing is a criminal offence. Smoking in public places is illegal.

Business

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. Tanzanians are to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., and Ms, followed by the family name. Business dress is seldom very formal, however 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.

Communications

The international country dialling code for Tanzania, as well as Zanzibar, is +255. The outgoing code is 000, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)24 for Zanzibar and (0)22 for Dar-es-Salaam. There is good mobile phone coverage in main cities and towns, with operators using GSM networks; 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 cafes are available in the main towns and resorts.

Duty Free

Travellers to Tanzania do not have to pay duty on 250g tobacco or 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 500ml of alcoholic beverages, and 473ml perfume. Restrictions apply to firearms, plants, plant products and fruits.

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