There are loads of “fly catchers,” as the locals like to call it, roaming the streets of Arusha, Moshi, and Marangu looking to find an unsuspecting, trustworthy tourist looking to purchase a trip up Mt. Kilimanjaro or maybe go on a safari. They mainly hang out outside of tourist restaurants, near bus stops and in the carving markets.
You see, every fly catcher in Northern Tanzania has a “friend” or a “brother” that does safaris or treks on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Since tourists are hard to come by, if a fly catcher meets you, he will take you to his friend, who will give him a nice commission if he sells the trip. He won’t tell you this, but this is how the process works.
Usually flycatchers look for backpackers who have just arrived in Tanzania, fresh off the bus from Nairobi or Dar es Salaam. They approach you by usually walking next to you, and starting a conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the flycathers are just trying to survive, in a place where jobs are hard to come by. Personally, I rarely have trusted fly cathers, just because they have this fake fascade about them – and it feels like they trying to scheme on how to get your money.
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Some tourists have had great success with flycatchers, others have been scammed and lost all their money. You can use flycatchers to your advantage, if you are looking for something and don’t have time or energy to search it out.
If you decide to trust a fly catcher, you should do the following:
1. Do not give any money
2. Ask to visit the office
3. Ask to see the license for tourism in Tanzania
4. Go over a detailed itinerary
5. Check out other tourism operators and compare notes and prices
6. Ask to see the vehicle and meet the guide
If it all looks good, and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, then you should be fine. There are some great nice fly catchers, but after walking around for a few days and hearing “hello my friend,” it kind of gets old and you don’t really trust people anymore.