In countries with rampant poverty and police departments that are often seen to be ineffective, crime can be a problem. However, much of the crime around Tanzania is not directed at tourists and is in areas most tourists wouldn't visit or are in transit through (Dar es Salaam and Arusha). The biggest threat to visitors is petty theft, particularly in Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar. In Dar es Salaam, theft is sometimes accompanied by an armed threat and violence, and carjacking is a particular problem (although, to put this in context, this particular crime is usually targeted at expats with expensive four-wheel-drive vehicles). Nevertheless, if driving, be alert and vigilant at all times. Pickpockets operate in cities and crowded areas, and travelers should be wary of "snatch and run" thieves who routinely snatch jewelry and other objects from people in the street or through open vehicle windows. Vehicle windows should be kept up and doors locked regardless of the time of day or weather. Thieves on matatus, buses, and trains may steal valuables from inattentive passengers. Never leave any luggage unattended. It is safer not to carry valuables -- store them in your hotel room safe -- and try to limit the amount of cash and valuables that you carry with you. Make every effort not to flaunt items such as cameras and mobile phones. Walking alone or at night, especially in downtown areas, in public parks, along footpaths, on beaches, and in poorly lit areas, is dangerous and discouraged.
Be aware that political demonstrations occur from time to time in East Africa. In late 2007 and early 2008, following the presidential and parliamentary elections held on December 27, Kenya was hit by intense unrest and violence. The violence, which made its way into news headlines around the world and portrayed a situation that many believe was far worse than the reality, followed the announcement by the Electoral Commission that incumbent candidate Mwai Kibaki had retained the presidency. Violence flared up in opposition strongholds and most heavily impacted the Nyanza, Rift Valley, and western provinces, as well as Nairobi and parts of Coast Province; more than 1,000 people were killed in the conflict and 300,000 were displaced. In previous general elections in Tanzania, there were some violent protests on Zanzibar and Pemba between supporters of varying political parties, but elections have passed peacefully in recent years. That said, safari destinations are not affected in any way during political elections, and as long as you avoid lengthy stays in populated areas (and, naturally, public demonstrations, which tend to happen in public parks, near government buildings, and around university campuses), protest activity is unlikely to affect tourist attractions outside Nairobi. For up-to-date information, contact the State Department (tel. 202/501-4444; www.state.gov/travelandbusiness). For more safety tips, download the Department of State's pamphlet "Tips for Travelers Abroad," at http://travel.state.gov.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.