Always pay the national parks by card in Tanzania

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Lisa & Pol
by Lisa & Pol
This post is linked to the following video :
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What to do around Arusha on a budget | Tanzania vlog [2024]

Filmed on : february 2024

Filmed in : Arusha, Tanzania

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In Tanzania, cash is king. You should always have shillings on you for small and big purchase as many places don't accept credit cards, and when they do, they often add a 5% surcharge. But taking cash has a cost as well as most ATMs will charge a rather high fee (between 10000 and 20000 TZS, from 4$ to 8$ !).

When at the entrance of a national park, you are greeted by the officer in charge and together you will list all the fees you might need to pay for your experience. Something along the lines of : entrance, accommodation, guiding and any special extra.

It happened a few times to us that the credit card terminal wouldn't work (or so they said) and it that case they may ask you to pay cash. It's always a bit unclear if this way is fully transparent (there is a LOT of corruption in Tanzania) and it is annoying to be in that situation, sometimes it's a lot of money to pay in cash.

However, there is a way !

When preparing your invoice, the officer will generate a control number, which is a unique identifier for your bill. And the good news is that the Tanzanian government developed a system to pay these kind of bills online, by credit card, very easily directly from your phone. A few officials didn't know about this system, but they trusted it since the bill is marked as paid on their system when they refresh.

The link to pay the bill is, and you just need to input your control number and verify that the amount matches what you determined. There is a tiny surcharge when using this system to cover for the credit card fee. Don't be impatient when validating your purchase, it takes around 20s to auto-refresh and process the transaction.

We used it twice on our trip to Tanzania in march 2024, and it we really liked the system. There is a similar process in Kenya, from which you can prepare and pay for your national parks fees online ase well.

We're writing this article because this system doesn't seem so promoted and even officials might not know about it. It is a good option to have if you're missing some cash and their machine is broken (which happens quite often).

Lisa & Pol
Lisa & Pol
We're a Slovak-French couple in our twenties currently backpacking across Africa for a year. One of our goals is to inspire travellers to go explore this often forgotten continent. On this blog we're focusing on providing up to date info about prices and itineraries, especially geared towards backpackers on a budget. We also create content on Youtube and Insta if you prefer a more visual approach 😉
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