Why You Shouldn’t Bring Drones on Safari in Tanzania

Written by Thomson Safaris
drone on safari

We love panoramic shots and aerial views as much as anyone else, but there’s a good reason we don’t suggest bringing drones on safari. Actually, there are many reasons.

1. Drones are not allowed in Tanzania’s national parks

None of Tanzania’s national parks allow drones. Flying them in places like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater is illegal, and nearly all our safaris visit these locations.

2. Drones bother wildlife

If you’ve flown a drone before, you know they can be noisy and intrusive. This can be particularly bothersome for wildlife. We try our best to “never disturb of harass wildlife,” and drones unfortunately don’t support that mission.

3. Drones can annoy people

It might not be in our Wildlife Code of Conduct, but we try very hard not to bother people either. In our experience, drones unfortunately annoy some safari enthusiasts by whirring, obscuring photographs and bothering wildlife.

4. There are heavy fines for interfering with or harming wildlife

Even the most conscientious drone operator can face severe penalties for inadvertently harming or disturbing Tanzania’s animals.

5. Drones can be dangerous to wildlife and other safari goers

In a worst-case scenario, a drone can be dangerous. There are plenty of opportunities to become distracted and lose control during flight. If that happens, your drone could come down in a herd of animals or onto other safari vehicles.

6. If your drone comes down unexpectedly, retrieving it may be impossible

It’s not uncommon to lose signal to a drone or see it sail off in the wind. If that happens, and it comes down away from the road, there may be no way to retrieve it. Driving off road in the parks is strictly prohibited, and, for obvious reasons, exiting the safari vehicle is not an option.

7. Special permits are required to fly drones and are costly and require advance application

Applying for permission to fly a drone in Tanzania as a foreigner is a long and complicated process. You will need:

  • A certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration or an equivalent authority corroborating your experience as an operator
  • Permission from the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority
  • Permission from Tanzania’s Ministry of Defense and National Service
  • A cover letter explaining what you will be operating a drone for and where you will be flying
  • Liability and third-party insurance from an insurance broker with unmanned aircraft operations insurance experience

8. We cannot help you apply for drone permits

While we regularly help travelers with visa applications, we do not help with drone applications. We do not have staff with drone experience and do not regularly communicate with the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority or Ministry of Defense and National Service.

9. Your drone may get stuck in customs on arrival or departure

Even with the necessary certificates and applications, drone equipment may be held at customs during arrival or departure. Customs officials may ask you to pay substantial fees before it is returned.