Arusha, Tanzania Travel Tips: Pip’s Take on Health, Safety and Romance
Traveling to Arusha, Tanzania? Pip Harvey Ross presents her travel tips about health, romance, women’s rights and safety:
Arusha, Tanzania Travel Tips: Health Information
Feminine Hygienic Products in Arusha: What’s available/what’s legal/where to buy them?
Feminine hygiene products are available for sale at supermarkets in the town of Arusha – but not available in local-style shops. Tampons are (in comparison) more expensive, and are available in limited shops. I would advise tampon users to bring your own.
Birth Control in Arusha: What’s available/what’s legal/where to buy them?
Condoms are available at almost all shops, and are legal and cheap. Some of the more westernized pharmacies (called Duka la Dawa in Swahili) will stock a few brands of birth control pills. If a pharmacy does not stock the pill, the pharmacist should be able to refer you to somewhere that does. These pharmacies also stock the morning-after pill.
Gynecologists in Arusha: Are there any that you recommend? How, if at all, is a visit different from at home?
There is a women’s health clinic in Arusha town – close to Impala Round-about – which is clean and treats a lot of western women. You may find the staff to be a little abrupt and rude with patients. They do not have the same customer care that exists in the Western world. If you can, try to take someone you know with you.
Please also be aware that there is an anti-abortion sign at the entrance to the clinic. Abortion is very illegal in Tanzania.
Breastfeeding in Arusha: What are accepted places for women to breastfeed? Is it accepted to do so in public?
Local women will breastfeed in public – but as a white woman in Tanzania I would not be comfortable doing so. The looks you get for showing too much leg is one thing, but more skin showing on a western women may start a fuss.
Arusha, Tanzania Travel Tips: Romance
Dating Locals in Arusha: What are the norms and traditions? What should women look out for?
There are many local Tanzanian men looking to date a western woman. Many men have the mindset that a western woman will take them out of Africa, or help finance their lives. These men however, will continue to date like Tanzanian men – cheating is acceptable and expected of men. Men in Tanzania are very conscious of their pride and appearance to others – so they will assert their authority and can often be very hypocritical.
Tanzanian Men: Describe a few “typical” types of men.
The Hunters – men who have learnt English, and know how to be charming for the sole purpose of sleeping with/dating a western woman. You can find these men hanging out in the town’s hot spots with a new western woman each week.
Masaai – the Masaai men can be very forward with their desires and plans, which can make women quite uncomfortable. Their culture is very different, as are their dating rituals, marriage etc.
It is very rare for a man to be ‘just friends’ with a woman in Tanzania.
Is Arusha LGBTQ-friendly?
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania and punishable by a lifetime in jail. Arusha, in general, is quite lax about this rule, but hotels will often not allow two men to share a room together.
You will often see men holding hands in public in Tanzania, and this is a sign of friendship. Old friends, colleagues and relatives will often hold hands with one another.
Homosexuality is not discussed and is treated as if it does not exist.
Arusha, Tanzania Travel Tips: Women’s Place in Society
Women’s Rights in Arusha: Do Tanzanian women have the same position in society as men? How can you tell?
A women’s place in Tanzania is very much to be a typical housewife. There are some women who have broken out of this mold and have become successful business women, but it is very rare. It is expected of women to stay home to raise the children, cook and clean for their husband. Women often also have jobs cleaning other people’s houses for a very small salary. Men are respectful of older women in public.
Local Tanzanian Women: What are some clear cultural differences between you and them?
Tanzanian women are very conservative. Most women will have their shoulders and knees covered at all times when in public. They are respectful of men, but at the same time are strong willed and will argue for what they believe in.
Perception of Foreign Women in Arusha: How do local men/women react to you when you say where you’re from?
Local women do not tend to interact with foreign women on the street. They will not talk to women they have not been directly introduced to. Many women have the mindset that foreign women are there simply to take all of the ‘good’ men, be disrespectful and leave. This is a mindset unfortunately created by young volunteers. If you are lucky enough to get to know local women, you’ll find that they are strong, lovely and caring women with curiosity and a desire to grow.
Local men are usually very excited to meet foreign women, and to get to know them as well as possible…
A lot of locals will ask where you are from, and and have little sayings when you reply. For example if you are Australian, they will respond with ‘Kangaroo Country’ and if you are American, they will respond with ‘Obama Land’.
Arusha, Tanzania Travel Tips: Safety
Transportation in Arusha: Any that are safer/less safe for women to take?
The most used transportation are called dalla dallas. These are mini buses with certain routes through town. They cost about 20 cents per ride. Although thieves can act on dalla dallas, they are mostly safe. Do not take a dalla dalla at night.
Boda bodas or piki pikis are motorbike taxis. These are extremely dangerous and are often involved in accidents. I would advise against ever taking a boda boda.
Dangerous area/s in Arusha: Any specifically for women?
It is unsafe for women to be out alone after dark – but there are no specific places that are unsafe.
Clothing in Arusha: What to wear/what not to wear?
If you would like to be as anonymous as possible in town and in Tanzania, it is advised to keep your shoulders and knees covered at all times. Locals are used to foreign women wearing shorts and singlets, but you will still be stared at on the streets, and most likely catcalled by young Tanzanian men.
Photo credit: Diana Robinson