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Travel Tips for East Africa

Home » Travel Tips for East Africa
Tanzania has changed the process of issuing visas on arrival.

Tazania has changed the process of issuing visas on arrival.

The new visa process in Tanzania

Tanzania has changed the process of issuing visas on arrival.

The new visa process in Tanzania
On 26th November 2018 The Tanzania Immigration Service Department launched a new Online Visa Service allowing prospective visitors to the United Republic of Tanzania to easily apply, make payment and receive their Visa Grant Notice online.
Please be aware that with immediate effect Kilimanjaro airport has changed the process of issuing visas on arrival. Clients arriving in Kilimanjaro without a visa now need to complete the following process:
•  Queue for a Government Control Number
•  Queue to pay for this at the bank
•  Queue for Immigration to check and issue the visa
We strongly recommend that those that still have time before they travel apply for their Tanzania visa online at www.immigration.go.tz. The online process asks for more information than a visa on arrival, and are issued within 2 – 3 weeks.
Language

English is the official language in East Africa; though Kiswahili is considered the second official language.

Passport & 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 for online.

ONLINE VISA APPLICATION LINKS

Below 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 | Rwanda 

  • Kenya, Tanzania & Rwanda charges US$ 50.- per passport while Uganda charges: US$ 100.- per passport (In Kenya, 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 entries/airports for a fee of US$ 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.

  • 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

Sample Documents
Kenya: VISA Application form on arrival Click here

Prohibitions

PLASTIC BAGS
The government of Kenya and Tanzania has taken an exemplary step to aid in sustainability by banning the use, manufacture, and importation of plastic bags. Be advised that you should not bring plastic bags into Kenya or Tanzania. The ban applies to carrier bags with handles & with or without gussets and flat bags without handles & without gussets.
There may be checks at international airports in Kenya and Tanzania and the fines for being caught with a plastic bag are quite severe.

SINGLE USE PLASTIC BOTTLES & STRAWS
As the war on pollution gains momentum, Kenya announced a ban on the use of single-use plastic bottles, straws, and related products within the protected areas in the national parks, national reserves, conservation areas, and any other designated wildlife protected area. The ban shall take effect from the 4th June 2020.

UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES
Please be advised that the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) is not allowed in any of the countries we take you on safari and beach stay.

Health & Immunisations
  • 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 & Kenya
  • For visitors from Asia and India, yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for re-entry purpose 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 in the ocean.
  • If on medication, it is best to take a supply of medicines to last the entire trip.
Currency
  • 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, 1000 Shillings. Coins are issued in denominations of 500, 200 & 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’ are available at all airports and in the cities.
  • A commission is levied for changing of the foreign currency.
  • However, most of the Banks and establishments including African Quest Safaris will not accept US Dollar bills printed prior the year 2006.
  • ATM’s 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.
Customs

Visitors may import, duty-free, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and one litre of spirit.

Baggage Claim

All the bags arrive on the conveyor belt.
Each person picks his/her bag, onto a trolley and then clear 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/ Rendez-vous point.

Meeting Point on Arrival

Once you clear immigration and customs – our 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/ Rendez-vous point.

Power

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 own 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.

Telecommunications

Auto roaming of mobile phones is available in all East African Countries with 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 land lines.

There is a cost for usage of the phones.
You may also buy a Pre-Paid line from the various mobile operators with easy switch over from Kenya to Tanzania to Rwanda and or to Uganda whilst on holiday here. This is the cheapest option.

Water

Piped water in the East African region is chlorinated and safe to use for showering and washing of 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.

BRING YOUR OWN BOTTLE
Since 01st January 2018, African Quest Safaris stopped supplying individual mineral water bottles on safari. Instead, we request all our visitors to bring their own refillable water bottles. We undertake to supply 1 liter of purified water on a daily basis just as we always did.
As a Travelife 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 in 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, 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.

To visit Flying Doctors Website, click here

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.
Tipping & Gratuities

Tipping is customary and in many occasions, actually ‘paves the way’. It is indeed a way of life in our part of the world. Please note that there are variations between all the EA countries on tipping and gratuities.

Whilst the actual amount of money to tip is left at your discretion, we would like to offer some guidelines here below:

KENYA
> Porter – per bag: US$ 1.- each time
> Server in restaurant – per meal: US$ 1.50- per person
> Driver-guide – per day: US$ 10. to 30.- per vehicle

TANZANIA and RWANDA
> Porter – per bag: US$ 1.50- each time
> Server in restaurant – per meal: US$ 2.- per person
> Driver-guide – per day: US$ 25.- to US$ 40.- per vehicle

UGANDA
> Porters: US$ 0.50 per piece of bag.
> Trekking Porters: US$ 10.- per person.
> Waiters – For drinks waiters: 10% of consumption.
> Server in restaurant – per meal : US$ 2.00 per person per meal or if service exceptional 10%.

On average, we would recommend that you budget for US$ 100. per person on a trip of 7-10 days, which would comfortably cover all tipping & gratuities.

Shopping
  • 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 “kiosks”, if you like something, BARGAIN and BUY.
  • At 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. Latest in African Fashion is available at select outlets.
Value Added Tax
  • Nearly everything has a Value Added Tax component.
  • There is no facility for tax refund except in Tanzania which has introduced this for passengers exiting at their International Airports.
  • Duty-free items can be purchased from the duty-free shops located at our international airports.
Cost of Living

The average cost of eating out is equivalent to that in most developed countries. Lunch costs around US$25 per head and an “a la carte” dinner is between US$ 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 actually very good and costs around USD $3 for 300ml bottle.

Public Holidays

KENYA :
> January 1, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1, June 1, October 20, December 12, and December 25 & 26.
> Religious Holidays: Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Easter and Christmas Day.

TANZANIA :
> January 1, January 12, April 7(Zanzibar), April 26, May, July 7, September 10, December 9 , December 25 & 26
> Religious Holidays : Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha , Easter and Christmas Day.

RWANDA :
> 1 January ,1 February (National Heroes Day), 7 April (Genocide Memorial Day),1 May (Labour Day),1 July (Independence Day),4 July (National Liberation Day),15 August (Assumption Day),1 October (Patriotism Day), 26 December(Boxing Day)
> Religious Holidays: Easter & Christmas Day

UGANDA :
> 1st January, 26th January (Liberation Day), 8th March(International Women’s Day), 1st May(Labour Day), 3rd June (Martyrs’ Day), 9th June(Heroe’s Day), 9th October(Independence Day), 26th December(Boxing Day )
> Religious Holidays: Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Easter & Christmas Day

Suggested Packing List for Gorila Trekking

CLOTHING
> Waterproof Jacket
> Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
> Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight
> Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight
> Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
> Shorts (optional)

FOOTWEAR
> Hiking Boots or Trail Shoes
> Sandals

ACCESSORIES
> Sunglasses
> Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
> Gloves, gardening or similar Poncho, during the rainy season (optional)
> Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, to keep items dry

EQUIPMENT
> Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear
> Flashlight

OTHER ( for trek and safari)
> Toiletries
> Prescriptions
> Sunscreen
> Lip Balm
> Insect Repellent, containing DEET
> Binoculars
> First Aid Kit
> Hand Sanitizer
> Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
> Camera, with an extra battery