Travel Alert Status
Level 4: Do Not Travel
Safety and Security:
Past terrorist incidents highlight the continued threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and underscore the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out such attacks against Westerners. Although the lethal 1998 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi may seem remote, U.S. citizens should be aware of the ongoing risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets. Avoid political rallies and public gatherings throughout Tanzania. Peaceful demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning, not only when riot police clash with demonstrators, but also when crowds gather.
This past year, the media has reported on several incidents which posed safety and security risks, including:
a daytime rape of a U.S. citizen in northwestern Zanzibar;
incidents of looting and burning of churches in Dar es Salaam and Stone Town;
two shootings that targeted Catholic priests in Stone Town, one of which resulted in a death;
an attack with an explosive device at a Catholic church opening in Arusha, resulting in seven deaths and several injuries;
an incident during which incendiary devices were thrown at a Lutheran church in Dar es Salaam;
a bomb threat at a Lutheran church in Dar es Salaam;
an acid attack on two female tourists in Stone Town;
a separate acid attack against a Muslim imam also in Zanzibar;
a report of corrosives thrown at a Tanzanian businessman from a motorcycle in Dar es Salaam;
demonstrations in Dar, Arusha, Stone Town, and Mtwara, some of which led to clashes between demonstrators and police, occasionally resulting in loss of property, injuries, and deaths;
an explosive device tossed into a crowd gathered for an opposition political rally in Arusha resulting in three deaths and several injuries;
an acid attack on a Catholic priest in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
This list of serious security incidents over the past twelve months underscores the importance for visitors and residents to be mindful of their safety, especially in public areas.
The population in Zanzibar is 98 percent Muslim and generally holds traditional values. The U.S. Embassy has learned of women being harassed for dressing immodestly in public. U.S. citizens are advised to dress modestly (upper arms and legs covered, no exposed midriffs) outside of their hotel or resort and when arriving and departing the island, and to keep a low profile in public. The incidence of criminal and violent activity continues to rise. Travelers should exercise caution at all times. During the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast during daylight hours, avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum in public except in hotels or restaurants. Traveling alone, even during the day, may pose risks.
U.S. Embassy officials are required to request police escorts on segments of the Rusomo-Kahama road border near the Rwandan border because of armed bandit attacks.
Inter-city transportation between major destinations, such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam, are serviced by a variety of carriers that offer differing levels of safety and comfort. U.S. citizens who travel by bus are urged to select carriers with modern equipment and avoid riding in vehicles that are in obvious disrepair. U. S. citizens report being robbed on long-distance buses in Tanzania after accepting apparently drug-laced food and drink offered to them from other passengers. Secure your belongings and passport if you disembark for a short break en route to your destination. Road travel in Tanzania is extremely dangerous, especially at night.
Travelers are strongly encouraged to use taxis or hire a driver from a reputable source for transportation. Do not ride in a taxi hailed for you by someone you do not know well. Ask the hotel or restaurant to recommend a driver. U.S. citizens have been victims of robberies when using taxis in Dar es Salaam. A common scenario involves the driver picking up another passenger who then threatens and robs the victim, forcing the person to make a series of ATM withdrawals until reaching the daily maximum limit. Do not ride in taxis which already carry a passenger. If a taxi stops to allow another person to enter, exit immediately. We have received reports of assaults originating at the Tazara train station, Ubungo bus station, Dar es Salaam airport, downtown ferry terminal area, and the Slipway on the Msasani Peninsula in Dar es Salaam. If you are in a dangerous situation, your best strategy is to hand over all your valuables immediately, comply with the demands, and not to make eye contact with the aggressors. Victims who remain docile during such an ordeal have survived with minor injuries. Please follow this link for more information on taxis.
Travelers should also avoid using dala-dala microbuses and bajaji three-wheeled taxis which are poorly maintained and unsafe. When traveling in a car, lock your doors and hide your valuables from sight.
Ferries traveling between the mainland and Zanzibar have been known to capsize, resulting in drowning deaths and injuries. Marine rescue and emergency response capabilities are limited. If you travel by ferry to Zanzibar, opt for the high-speed ferry. Purchase your tickets only inside the ferry terminal, not from vendors outside. As you approach the terminal, you will be approached by aggressive salesmen. Do not hand them your bags nor accept any assistance from them. When you purchase a ticket, it should include your name, date of travel, and class of travel. Travel during daylight with good visibility, fair weather, and calm water. Avoid overcrowded vessels or those which lack sufficient life vests, easy access to exits, and a functioning communications system. Some vessels are not maintained regularly and may lack basic safety and navigational aids. Beware of pickpockets aboard the ferry, and be wary even of uniformed personnel who seek to assist you.