One question I am frequently asked by clients prior to their safari is “will my cell phone work in Tanzania?” Often times people just want the option to periodically touch base with family, friends or even work colleagues back home.
Guests need to check directly with their cell phone service provider to see if their personal cell phones will work in Tanzania. The ability to use a personal cell phone is a direct function of what coverage each guest’s personal cell phone company can provide, and may also be influenced by the specific phone device. It’s important to check before trying to use one’s personal US cell phone in Tanzania because even though it may “work”, one wouldn’t want to be surprised later with some nasty roaming fees or other expensive international charges.
Guests can also use a Tanzanian cell phone, which seems to work out as the best option for most people. As part of our standard procedure, Africa Dream Safaris will lend each family or group a “local” Tanzanian company cell phone during their time in Tanzania so they have a way to contact our staff in the event of an emergency. The phone comes pre-loaded with approx $10 worth of “time”, which is plenty of credit to make several calls within Tanzania. They can use this phone to make outgoing calls to the US, but be aware the international fees to make these calls are pretty expensive and causes the pre-loaded credit to run out pretty quickly. An alternative would be to have the clients’ family or friends call them directly on the Tanzania cell phone, as it will be free for them to receive calls and probably a lot less expensive for someone in the States to call Tanzania than vice versa. They can buy more time as they go in the form of calling cards, which are typically available for sale in Arusha and at many of the lodge gift shops.
The clients will be given this cell phone immediately upon arrival in Tanzania. Then… they can send an email from the hotel or make a quick call to a family member or friend to give out the number. These seems to be the easiest way to get the cell phone number out there to family and friends.