Africa Lifestyle

Scary Travel Moments To Have Abroad

The Most Scariest Moment I Have Had Abroad To Date!

Location: Tanzania, Western Africa 

6th September 2015

Ok so we all have those moments when we are travelling where things can go wrong, and in some instances go a little bit further than we expected. For me the most scariest moment in my eight months of travel just so happened to be within the first three days of this world trip, ironically this was the time when I was super inexperienced in solo travelling, didn’t really know the customs of other countries and was just way too excited to realize how serious some situations can be.

I was on a six-week overland expedition across Africa and we happened to be passing through Tanzania. On day number three of the trip myself and some of the other passengers where intrigued with the culture of Tanzania, here where locals carrying lambs, chickens, even baby cows on the back of their motorbikes! We thought it was interesting and sat up the front of the bus taking photograph’s, I wanted to take a video so I stuck my hand just outside the window and record the street in front of us.

All of a sudden a police offer steps out in front of our moving bus and is going crazy! He is blowing his whistle pointing and yelling at the bus, I pulled my hand in and everyone was really confused, this police offer literally jumped out into the road for no apparent reason and was pulling us over. My tour guide spoke the local language and shouted, who took a photo of the policemen! Myself and the two other ladies froze, I went stone cold, had he seen our cameras and assumed we were taking photos of him? Because we hadn’t even seen him! We where taking photos of the motorbike riders and the animals they were carrying!

The next thing I know is the police jumps onto the bus and is shoving his baton in my face yelling at me in local languages, I said I didn’t take photos of him (in Tanzania its illegal to take photos of personal in uniform such as guards, military and policemen) he insisted that I had (luckily he hadn’t seen my friend Katie’s camera or the other ladies, market and only had seen me and my camera – most likely because I had my hand out the window!) I then just went into total shock, I was frozen in fear and surly thought this would be over in less than a few minutes. But I was horribly wrong.

This interrogation and total humiliation went on for over an hour, the policeman brought his friends on the bus and they were demanding bribes, they wanted $40US then $60US, they where threating to take me to jail, at one point the policemen grabbed me and tried to pull me off the bus! My tour guide stepped in and said, we are on a tour, she has to stay with us, we don’t have any of her documents they are back at the campsite, she cant go with you. I was of course just totally numb, so confused and even at different points broke down In shock and just cried. Marget, the elderly lady was yelling at the policemen saying we didn’t take photos of him, demanding he look at the camera! “look at it, your not on there!” The policemen just ignored her and continued to yell in my face, shoving his baton in my face and demanding I broke the law, and that I was now going to jail and he would arrange a court date for the following day.

 After an hour of this torment, our driver and tour guide stepped in and said, that’s enough, you have your bribe money, she doesn’t even have her documents on her, they are back at the campsite, leave us.

And they did.

To me this was of course a massive shock, I was only three days into a 12 month trip, and it would have easily ended that morning. The policemen in Tanzania are corrupt, unfortunately like most poverty stricken countries in the world, my tour guide later told me they Bung it on to get money, which is fine if you can walk away from it. But being a 21 year old blonde white female, in the middle of Africa, you can imagine, like anyone, I was absolutely petrified!

This was, at the time and still is one of the most traumatizing moments in my travels, let alone my life! Not only has this experience changed the way I view Tanzania, but it has also ensured I will never take a photo without looking around and checking that there are no police near or around me, that may want to arrest me. Even in countries where it’s ok to take photos of officials, I will still ask them first, or just not take my camera out at all.

I think it’s sad how badly this experience effected me, I was very over cutious and probably stayed inside a lot more during those first few months of travel. I understand different countries have different laws, and totally respect that! I was young and inexperience at travelling compared to how I am now. Just be careful in forigen countries,you wouldn’t want to end up in a jail cell, especially in a place like Tanzania.

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    Elizabeth Therese @liztherese
    April 30, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Your story is absolutely terrifying. I would be quivering in my seat if that were me.

    I also have a pretty scary travel story. I have been in Australia, living in Sydney for the past three months and there is a beautiful touristy spot on the coast called the figure 8 pools which I wanted to visit. Two of my Canadian friends had just arrived from Canada and were willing to take the 2 hours train out of the city with me to find the pools. We stopped at the last stop on the train line and hopped out walking towards the signs that pointed towards the national park. We figured since this was a very touristy spot, this trail would take us there and would have tons of signs to show us the way. We had no idea how wrong we were. We hiked for 2 hours into the national park and the trail kept getting smaller and smaller. We couldn’t here a single sound around us and we did not pass a single person. Weird for a touristy spot like the figure 8 pools right? So after two hours we stopped on the trail and were debating whether or not to turn back. My friend Rachel then jumped and said “OUCH!” as she realized there was a leach stuck to her ankle. Then the three of us looked down and found leaches all over the path. They were climbing onto our shoes and onto our feet. We turned back and almost ran back. After having hiked for a total of three hours away from and back to the train station we decided we could not leave without seeing the pools. We googled the trail and found out that if we took a different train two stops down there was a trail that was about 3 hours long to reach the pools. This time of year the sun sets at about 5:30 in Australia and it was about 2pm at this point. We figured it wouldn’t take as long as it said on the internet because we were fast walkers. We hiked through a forest and a jungle for three hours before we saw signs for the figure 8 pools. Once we got there we couldn’t figure out how to get down the cliff edge to reach the pools. We eventually saw two people over the cliff walking by the water who pointed us in the direction of the beach a km a way. We walked another kilometre and finally met this couple by the rocks as the water reached low tide. It was getting dark and we hopped in and out of the pools and took our pictures and walked along the beautiful coast. They then let us know that there was a car park a mere 30 minute hike from the pools. Our frustrations were off the charts. We decided to follow them back after having seriously considered sleeping by the beach since it was so dark and our previous route would take us 2 hours in the Australian jungle where there are leaches, snakes and spiders. Lucky for us, when we got to the car park and it was still too dark to see the road and we didn’t have a cell signal or enough battery in our phones to keep the flashlight on, our new friends (our guardian angels) crammed us in the back of their camper and drove us to the train station. When we got on the train for the 2 hour ride home, we checked our phones which said we had hiked 35 kilometres (up and down the mountains) all for the 10 minutes we spent at the figure 8 pools. We thought we would have to camp out overnight without any gear or water left, and after my friend had twisted her ankle. It was absolutely terrifying and we only made it back on the chance that we saw the couple from the UK who helped us along. Who knows, we mightve hiked all that way and never made it to the figure 8 pools. Check out my instagram @liztherese for the pic. Worth it?

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      Aussie Blonde Abroad
      May 1, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Wow, that is absolutely horrifying! Coming from Australia myself I know how dangerous it can be to get lost in the bush, and lucky you found your way back! And for that couple to be there at the same time!!! I’m glad your all ok!
      I’ve never been to the figure eight pools, but by your photos I will surly have to go and check them out when I’m back home 😛

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