East Africa travel tips – Find the latest travel information from a responsible tour operator
East Africa travel tips – The East African Community people (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) are very friendly, polite and generous in general and will make every effort to have foreign guests feel comfortable, but knowing a bit more about Ugandan people and their cultures before your travel will enrich your experience. see below most important travel tips
English is the official language in East Africa; though Kiswahili is considered the second official language.
- Passport and Visas
A valid passport is required. It is advisable to seek information from our Mission in your respective country. Visas are required by all.
The Kenyan and Tanzania Governments have approved both processes (manual visa application on arrival and E-visa) to run side by side.
Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda Visas can now be applied online.
Online Visa Application Links
Some links take you to online VISA Application sites for the relative countries. Take note of the documents required before you embark on the filling process;
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda charge USD 50.- per passport (In Kenya, a VISA for Persons below the age of 16 years is free of charge)
There is an East African Community single visa available for Kenya-Uganda-Rwanda, at the port of entry/airport for a fee of USD 100. – per passport.
NB: there are exceptions and different prices for different countries. Please refer to the immigration websites or the Embassy for specific information.
East Africa travel tips – Also for guests combining Kenya and Tanzania, please note that only a single-entry visa for each country will suffice.
Guests visiting Kenya on a stay shorter than 24 Hours, can apply for a Transit Visa (delivered at the discretion of the Immigration officer) for a cost of USD 20.- per passport
- Health and Immunizations
A course of anti-malarial tablets is essential; please seek advice from a GP.
A mosquito repellent is also advisable.
Yellow Fever Vaccination is now obligatory for all visitors to Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya
For visitors from Asia and India, yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for re-entry purposes to their home countries.
Travelers out of India visiting Kenya now require vaccination against Polio.
Please ensure that you have this before your arrival.
Swimming is not recommended except in hotel pools and the ocean.
If on medication, it is best to take a supply of medicines to last the entire trip.
The Kenyan Shilling (KSH or KES) is denominated in notes of 1000, 500, 200,100, 50, and coins of 40, 20, 10, 5, and 1.
The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is denominated in notes of 10000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, and coins of 200,100, and 50.
The Rwandese Franc (RWF) is denominated in notes of RWF 5000, 2000, 1000, and 500, while coins are RWF 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1.
The Ugandan Shilling (UGS) is denominated in notes of 50000, 20000, 10000, 2000, and 1000 Shillings. Coins are issued in denominations of 500, 200, and 100 shillings.
US Dollars, Sterling Pounds, and Euros are acceptable everywhere. However, we advise you to have a certain amount of local currency at all times.
Bureau de change is available at all airports and in the cities.
A commission is levied for changing the foreign currency.
However, most of the Banks and establishments including African Quest Safaris will not accept US Dollar bills printed before the year 2006.
ATMs are also popular and seen in most areas ( you may only draw in the local currency)
Exchange Rates check with XC.COM – note that actual rates may vary.
Visitors may import, duty-free, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and one liter of spirit.
- Baggage Claim
All the bags arrive on the conveyor belt.
Each person picks his/her bag, onto a trolley and then clears Customs – where he/she presents their passport.
This is just a formality – nothing more than that.
And immediately in front of them are the Exit doors to the Public Waiting Area/ Rendezvous point.
- Meeting Point on Arrival
East Africa travel tips – Once you clear immigration and customs – Great Adventure Safaris representatives will meet you on arrival entry outside the Arrival Halls.
The common name on the MEETING board will read the name of the Family, Individual, or Group.
And immediately in front of them are the Exit doors to the Public Waiting Area/ Rendezvous point.
Our National grid power supply ranges between 240v-220v. Many of our lodges/camps in the parks and reserves get this supply from the National grid. Most of them generate their power supply from generators and power ranges 240v –220v.
However, a variety of plugs are usable and an adaptor is available upon request.
For stress-free travel, we recommend you carry a universal adaptor.
Auto roaming of mobile phones is available in all East Africa travel tips – Countries with an excellent network in the cities and in and around some of the national parks and reserves. This will however depend on whether there is a reciprocated agreement with your country. Otherwise, most lodges/hotels are connected to landlines.
There is a cost for usage of the phones.
You may also buy a Pre-Paid line from the various mobile operators with the easy switch over from Kenya to Tanzania to Rwanda and or Uganda whilst on holiday here. This is the cheapest option.
Piped water in the East African region is chlorinated and safe to use for showering and washing hands but should not drink directly from the tap.
It is highly recommended that you use the purified or mineral water provided for you at the hotel or you may buy some at the hotel bar/shops and service stations.
On 01st January 2018, Great Adventure Safaris stopped supplying individual mineral water bottles on safari. Instead, we request all our visitors to bring their refillable water bottles. We undertake to supply 1 liter of purified water daily just as we always did.
As a Travel life partner, we are committed to sustainable tourism and hope you can help us save water and the fragile environment.
- Flying Doctors
The temporary membership cost is US$ 15 per person and is valid for a 3 months visit to East Africa. It entitles the subscriber to one free Air Ambulance flight from a radius of 1000 kilometers within East Africa. The areas we are traveling to fall within this range of mileage.
The Air Ambulance consists of, depending on the emergency, a nurse, a doctor, a flight attendant, and of course the crew. The aircraft is equipped with Blood, Oxygen, etc.
So, if we had an accident or somebody fell ill, we could call upon the Flying Doctors and within a turn-around time of a maximum of 40 minutes to one hour, they would be at the nearest airstrip to our location.
- What to carry
Baggage: the ‘mantra’ is TRAVEL LIGHT
Clients should be encouraged to carry soft bags as opposed to hard or roller cases such as Samsonite, etc. This saves time during the loading and offloading of the safari vehicles.
Don’t forget the camera, camcorder, and a plentiful supply of storage memory and spare batteries.
A pair of binoculars will greatly enhance game viewing while a torch to find your way around camp after dark is a good idea.
Books, pencils, crayons, and crackers are very welcome as gifts to the children of local villages that you would pass (or visit) whilst on safari.
- What to Wear
Summer clothing is worn throughout the year, although at times a jacket and light raincoat may be necessary.
Early morning and evening temperatures at altitude (most national parks are located 1000m plus asl) are cool. So we recommend a sweater to keep you warm especially during your dawn and dusk safaris.
On safari; Sensible walking shoes are also recommended and since laundry is only possible where you are staying for 2 nights, try to carry the quick-dry type of clothing.
Casual wear is the norm during the day, a short-sleeved shirt for men, light cotton dresses, or a skirt and top for women. In the evening, all hotels and restaurants require long trousers for men in particular.
Sunglasses and a hat for protection against the sun are recommended and swimsuits should be packed for the swimming pool or beach.
Topless sunbathing is not permitted.
We have below appended a packing list for Gorilla Treks. For any other specific activity, we can provide you with details on request.
There is a big variety of souvenirs to take home. Most hotels have licensed souvenir shops and there are a large number of such outlets in the main towns.
Popular items are wood carvings, African art, African clothing, soapstone carvings, wax batiks, tie and dyes, African jewelry, gemstones
As you move along from point to point, you will come across many souvenir shops or “kiosks”, if you like something, BARGAIN and BUY.
In several places, barter is also possible. You may want to bring your used T-shirts, caps, sneakers, etc and in exchange pick up Masai bead bracelets, small animal carvings, etc
As your time can be limited, don’t put off your shopping till the ‘last day’.
Often some of these ‘kiosks’ may stock items that are not available in the city.
The traders accept all major currencies in cash and some of the bigger outlets also take International Credit Cards.
If you like, you may also visit the goldsmiths where there is a wide range of beautiful jewelry made from gold, silver, and diamond. The latest in African Fashion is available at select outlets.
- Cost of Living
The average cost of eating out is equivalent to that in most developed countries. Lunch costs around US$25 per head and an “a la carte” dinner are between US$ 30 and US$50 per person.
Diners can choose between Local, Indian, European-Continental, and Asian cuisine. There are also fast food outlets and fish-and-chip shops!
Kenyan & Tanzanian beer is very good and costs around USD 3 for a 300ml bottle.