EASILY PLAN YOUR TRIP TO EAST AFRICA!
So you are finally through booking your trip to East Africa! Now it’ time to prepare for the trip! We have put together some great tips and insights to help you with your travel preparations. Of course, our team of travel advisors are available and happy to provide any additional information you may require.
Most guests to East Africa arrive by air, landing at any of the several International Airports in the region. The airport to land at depends on your tour itinerary. Mahanda Africa Safaris will, of course, arrange your transfers to and from the airport for you or your tour group.
We go to great lengths to select the best accommodations in the region with the best available facilities. However, the available facilities at any hotel vary depending on its location and standards. If you have any preferences, please speak with our travel advisor in advance and we will be sure to book a suitable hotel for you.
Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables abound throughout the region. A wide range of dishes, both traditional and international, are served in East Africa’s hotels and restaurants. If you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, please advise us in advance and we will be sure to make necessary arrangements.
Drinking tap water in East Africa is not recommended. Most hotels and restaurants provide bottled mineral water which is also readily available throughout the country. Our tour guides will be happy to recommend the most trusted brands of bottled water available.
English is the most widely spoken international language in East Africa. French and Kiswahili are also commonly spoken. East Africa is a cultural melting pot so there are over 200 local languages spoken throughout the region.
Several brands of local and international beers are available. Most spirits and wines are imported and are readily available at shops and supermarkets throughout the region. The legal drinking age is 18 years for most countries in the region.
Temperatures vary little throughout the region and average about 26°C during the day and about 16°C at night, throughout the year. The rainy seasons are, in general from March to May and again from October to November. During the rainy season, the average rainfall is 175mm per month. Humidity is generally low outside of the wet seasons.
Several international banks operate in East Africa including some of the biggest like Standard Chartered and Citi Bank. Many local banks and forex bureaus also operate across the region. In general, banking hours are from 8.30am to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday. A few banking institutions are open longer hours and on Saturdays.
On most flights, airlines allow 20-40kg of luggage, or two pieces. We advise use of soft luggage since space for luggage is limited in safari vehicles. We can easily arrange for the storage of those items that you will not be using while on safari.
VISA and MASTERCARD payments are widely accepted in East Africa and some up-country lodges. Credit card cash advances are available at VISA and MASTERCARD ATMs. Most ATM bank cards are accepted in Ugandan’s automatic teller machines.
Most non-African passport holders require a visa to enter East Africa. Visas are generally available at all entry points, including Entebbe airport. The cost is US$50 for a three-month single entry tourist visa. The visa will be discounted for students (with the proper ID) to US$30.
Travellers cheques can be exchanged at most banks in Uganda (though you may run into difficulties exchanging TC’s in smaller towns). However, they may not necessarily be exchanged at the foreign exchange bureaus. Exchange rates on travellers cheques are generally slightly lower than those for cash.
Ugandan’s main roads are generally in good condition. Four-wheel drive vehicles may be required for up-country use, especially in the national parks during the rainy seasons. We maintain a fleet of saloon cars, mini-buses, and four-wheel drive vehicles, available on the chauffeur-driven basis (self-drive vehicles, other than saloon cars, are generally difficult to obtain).
As in any other major city, the usual precautions should be taken in Kampala to ensure one’s safety and protection of one’s personal belongings. We recommend that you do not walk alone late at night. Taxis are readily available and not expensive. Unless safely deposit boxes are available in your hotel or lodge, carry travel documents, traveler’s cheques, cash and other valuables with you at all times. We can arrange the safekeeping of your passport and ticket in our offices upon request. Sports
Light summer clothing, supplemented by a sweater or jacket, should be sufficient at any time of the year. Cotton slacks and flat-heeled comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari. Don’t forget to bring a hat for sun protection and a swimsuit. Umbrellas and windbreakers are recommended in the wet seasons. Request additional details at the time of booking.
Currency: The Ugandan shilling (USh) is a relatively stable currency. It is issued in denominations of 1000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 USh notes. Coins are available in smaller denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 UGX. There are no legal restrictions of foreign exchange transactions and the shilling is fully convertible (i.e., you can buy Ugandan shillings with US dollars or US dollars with Ugandan shillings). Smaller US bills attract a much lower exchange rate than larger bills (e.g., $50 and $100 notes). It is recommended that you carry only US dollar notes issued after 2000.
Though certain brands and speeds of the film are available in many of the lodges, it is advisable to bring film and batteries with you (or to purchase them in Kampala). The high-speed film is recommended for photographing gorillas and chimps and high altitude filters are best for climbers. Check with your photo shop for more information. There is no charge for the use of personal cameras and video recorders but there may be a charge for commercial cameras in some places (e.g., national parks). Clients are responsible for any such fee. A pair of binoculars will greatly enhance your safari experience and it is recommended that you bring a pair along with you.