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A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

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Augusta
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A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

Hello:

I keep coming back here with 'dumb' questions, so I thought I would start a thread that I can add to as I ask more and more questions.

-Dumb first timer questions.

1. I have read I will have to pay a Visa fee, $100 per US citizen. Is it cash only? Do they take travellers checks or credit cards?

2. On the topic of cash: I have read that I should not use my credit cards, I have read I might not be able to use my ATM, I have read that there are lots of pick-pockets. So how should I deal with cash while in Dar? I figure I will need $300 visa fee, $70+/DayTransportation, another $100/day food and then trips or fun stuff I will need $100/day (there are 3 of us). I think I am going to need about $3,000 for the 10 day trip. How should I plan on bringing it.

3. In Morocco kids would run along with the cars begging for dimes/ Should I take some dime (quarter?) rolls?

4. Tel-com. I have T-mobile. The hotel I am staying has Free Wireless internet, and I have a blackberry. If I turn off my network connections (roaming, etc) can i still search the internet/use Facebook on my phone, etc, at no added cost from my provider?

5. I read where someone went to the area where the ferry leaves and got a private sail boat ride to a secluded island, swam, snorkeled, had lunch, etc. The boat was a hollowed out tree trunk. I have also read that in the same area the "Touts" are not to be trusted. Any suggestions? I love beaches, love to snorkel. I hate being mugged or raped.

Thanks to anyone reading this, and thanks to all that have answered prior questions. It may sound dumb, but this is a very big deal for us, we are not world travellers, and the closest I have been to this type of trip was a ride through "Lion Country Safari" or Epcot! (kidding).

san francisco
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1. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

I have not been to Africa yet, but by reading TA, I have the following plans in regards to Marty's questions. Maybe I will find out if I am wrong!

1. I thought it was $50 and cash only.

2. My current plan is to take new, crisp USD bills for large tips and use an ATM upon arrival for Tanzanian (and Ugandan) money. Of course one must be careful (as everywhere) in using ATMs. My trip is pre-paid, so all I need is money for tips and extras like drinks. I agree that credit cards are not going to be particularly useful. I am somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 per day for myself AND my wife. $100 per day -- WOW!

3. I subscribe to the "no work, no pay" rule. Personally I don't give gifts to individuals unless they do something for me, no matter how fast they run. (I keep my charity to established organizations).

4. This is nearly the last thing I want to do on vacation!

5. I try to ignore touts everywhere. Mostly I seem to be successful at it.

Thanks,

Bill

Stanley, Falkland...
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2. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

Good idea for a thread of FAQ.

1. I thought it was $50 for most people, and $100 for US citizens. The Consulate site will tell you or th eFAQs on the right.

2. I think you are being too strict. "Be wary" of using credit cards, and ATMs. Prepay most big things, and carry cash in various places, not all in one wallets bulging in your pocket.

3. Absolutely NOT. Unless you want to find that African kids associate tourists with free money. Why not take a football and watch them play football/netball/soccer/volleyball or whatever. You'll be a hero, instead of a rich tourist throwing money at kids.

4. Way too complex. Avoid roaming charges, if possible. I agree, it is probably best to avoid internet use for a couple of weeks.

5. Ask your hotel to recommend a good local operator who is providing work for the local community.

Or tell us where you are staying and someone might be able to suggest some.

nyc
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3. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

DAR! You're spending 10/days in DAR?

Any particular reason why?

Is this where you plane gets you? Which carrier?

What are your ideas of what you plan to do? Wing-it? or maybe Safari?

If for safari, most visitors plan to arrive at Kilimanjaro/JRO for the northern circuit parks - Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti and maybe the beach.

DAR is close to the southern parks - Selous, Ruaha - is this where you plan to safari, if you do plan to safari?

Why are you waiting to make plans only once you arrive?

Best to pre-plan and pay ahead so you don't have to deal with lots of money/cash/cards! Pre-planned, you'll be met on arrival, with transfer to hotel and any/all activities.

Is $3K, your entire budget? For lodging, meals, activities? 10/days for 3/people? If this is a backpacker-type holiday, if so, best you be using local currency, Tanzanian Shillings (Tsh), obtainable at ATM (your debit card).

Yes, the Visa cost for US citizens is $100 in CASH.

NO you do not hand out anything to children - coins, candy or other - they shouldn't be beggers. Only if visiting a school/orphanage and there best thing is a cash donation so they can purchase what is needed.

And, you ignore touts here as you would anywhere in the world.

Augusta
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4. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

The why is a long story, but yes, 10 non-safari days in Dar.

Findlay, Ohio
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5. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

1 - Cash only in correct denomination, no change can be expected. $100 for a US passport holder.

2 - I never use a credit card there, you are inviting identity theft and it's a big risk all IMO. You can use it at an ATM to withdraw cash, but sometimes the ATM is empty and sometimes very long lines. I've only ever encountered a thief once in Dar and they weren't a pick pocket, they tried to mug me and when I reacted violently they were scared off quickly; and this is from over 16 years being there many times each year. But do be cautious there are thieves as there are anywhere especially in large cities. If you exchange your money into local currency you are probably about right on the transportation costs, and I would suggest that you hire a taxi for the duration and negotiate a price for the duration, it will be less costly and you will have a car and driver for the whole time your there. Breakfasts will be included in most hotel room costs, lunches will be in the $3 - $5 range, and dinners will be in the $5 - $10 range not including drinks. Beer in local establishments will be about $1 - $1.50, soda pop will be about $.50 - $1, water the same as soda pop, Now this is for the more local places and not hotel dining rooms, go to a hotel dining room and double or triple this amount.

How should you bring cash, conceal the biggest share on your person and have smaller amounts in local currency to use for the day in your wallet or where you keep it. Don't flash cash at any time, and always act like you have nothing on you. Divide it up among the three of you so that if someone get's mugged you don't lose it all.

I would advise you to exchange your USD into local currency T Shillings and always work with that, you will find that your cash goes further if you do.

3 - Do not bring any change to hand out, it's worthless to them. I would never provide any money to a child there teaching them how to beg. They might ask but don't give them anything. If they are school age, I always tell them to get themselves back into school. On Fridays there will be beggars out looking for alms. Do what you wish with them, but if I give them anything it's more then likely a 100 schilling coin.

4 - You will probably not be able to use your phone there. If you have a note book that is something handy to take with you if you want Internet access to connect to their WiFi. I have a blackberry with Verizon and data service. I switch my domestic data service to International data service (about $50 a month for me) while I'm there and switch it back when I return. With this I get my e-mails and whatever else I want to do on my Blackberry - however I take along a note book for internet access for other then emails; easier to use and rather easy to carry.

5 - I would be very cautious about going out on a dug out. First the water around Dar is not to be swimmed in, they empty their sewage just offshore and you will be able to tell that when you're around the beach area. So I wouldn't go out in anything which went out further then I could swim back in, and I wouldn't swim in that water, at all, never. You need to remember that while there might be safety rules that most boat operators are regulated by, there are few who adhere to them. When a ferry sinks there it is not unusual for half or more of the people on board to drown. I would never take chances in a place which lacks good hospital care if something happens - keep that in mind when you want to do something adventurous.

if you want to snorkel and swim then I would advise you to take the ferry over to Zanzibar some day, cost will be about $45 each way, and there are places over there set up to do that. I wouldn't do it from Dar.

Touts are never to be trusted and there are plenty of them at the ferry docks, at the airport, and on Samora street in Dar. Put them on ignore, completely. If you say anything to them they will hook onto you like glue and will be difficult to get rid of.

Mugging and raping makes a good day turn bad.

And lastly, there is really no such thing as a dumb question, only dumb people who think there are. And don't expect to see a lion walking down Samora street in Dar, won't happen.

Edited: 8:02 am, June 03, 2011
Augusta
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6. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

OK...Thanks so Much Karl...You really do provide great information.

Now onto a new question:

Do you think the US Embassy is doing anything special for the 4th of July?

Do you know if the Embassy does tours?

Thanks.!

Findlay, Ohio
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7. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

I have been to the US Embassy many times. It is a very secured place where they have a camera on you all the time. You can get into some parts of the Embassy, such as the library; but generally speaking you must be invited into the Embassy by one of the people who works there. I don't know of any tours that they offer. They are very busy. I get there because I do work on grants which are provided by the US Dept. of State and I need to go there when I'm on one of those and let them know what I'm doing.

If you want to try to get into the Embassy I would suggest that you email someone there and ask them, perhaps the Public Affairs Officer or the Ambassador.

On the 4th I've been invited to some of their parties but these are by invitation only, and like I said I knew some of the people working there.

Remember, this is an Embassy which was bombed over 10 years ago (not the same one which was bombed they have now moved into a new Embassy building), thus they are very secured.

I guess if you really want to see the inside of the Embassy building compound, I would go in front of the Embassy on Bagamoyo Road, stand in front of the sign which says No Photographing, and begin to take pictures. You will soon be introduced to a US Marine Guard and he will take you inside, probably before you got the 2nd or 3rd picture shot.

UK
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8. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

If your data roaming is turned off you can use WiFi to use the net. The other alternative is to have an unlocked phone and get a local sim card (I have used both Vodacom and Zantel successfully) and buy airtime / data time as you go. Getting local currency from ATMs is the way to go - just make sure that your limits are set in relation to your expected expenditure.

Saint Paul...
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9. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

Like Karls says, email the embassy to find out if they have any events open to the public for the 4th. You never know, they may well invite you to a private party if they're having one. I was once invited to a party at the Marine's compound and we had a good time.

Saint Paul...
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10. Re: A thread for "First Timer" questions-Dar

You could bring an unlocked phone, but it may be much cheaper and easier to just buy a simple phone in Tanzania for about $40.