East Africa's diverse geography means that temperature, rainfall, and humidity vary widely, but there are effectively four zones about which generalizations can be made. The undulating plateau of western regions are generally hot and fairly humid with rainfall spread throughout the year, falling mostly in the evenings. The greatest precipitation is usually during April, when a maximum of 8" may be recorded, while the lowest rainfalls are in January with an average of 2". Temperatures range from a minimum of 57F to 65F to a maximum of 86F to 93F over the year. The Central Highlands and Rift Valley enjoy perhaps the most agreeable climate in these countries, though there's quite a variation between the hot and relatively dry floor of the central Rift Valley. Rainfall varies from a minimum of .8" in July to 8" in April and falls essentially in two seasons: March to the beginning of June (the "long rains") and October to the end of November (the "short rains", when rainfall is lower and less Intense). Average temperatures in these areas vary from a minimum of S0F to 58F to a maximum of 72F to 80F.
The fourth climatic zone is the coastal belt, which is hot and humid all year round, though tempered by coastal sea breezes. Rainfall ranges from a minimum of .8" in February to a maximum of 12" in May. The annual average is between 39.4" and 49.2". Average temperatures vary little throughout the year, ranging from a minimum of 72F to a maximum of 86F.
It is difficult to be very precise about the climate. For the latest weather reports for where you are travelling we recommend the Norwegian climate website, www.yr.no as giving pretty accurate Information, Including a 7 day forecast.
Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda are 3 hours ahead of GMT, Rwanda is 2 Hours ahead of GMT.
We are sure that you will have a memorable holiday in Africa especially If you travel with patience, tolerance of widely differing ways of life, and realistic expectations. Due to political and cultural differences, as well as generally tougher physical conditions, travel to Africa involves risks other than those that we may take in our daily lives.
Please bear the following in mind:
Health and Hygiene - Local safety standards and regulations of the countries you visit will not necessarily conform to British or European health and safety standards. It is important you are aware of the risks involved as you are responsible for the suitability of your travel plans. Countries rich in the larger wildlife are always rich in smaller wildlife as well - insects, spiders and mosquitoes are common and their presence does not necessarily indicate a lack of cleanliness but rather is a fact of life.
On Safari - Although every precaution ls taken by game lodges and organizers to ensure the safety of their guests, it must be accepted that there can be a small risk as one is travelling in areas where wild animals wander freely. Some game lodges, safari operators and adventure sports operators will ask clients to sign an indemnity form on arrival. Bear In mmd that electricity and water may be erratic in very remote areas, and this may be beyond the control of the safari lodge. Expect travel in the dry season to be dusty and roads in the wet season to be muddy and occasionally flooded.
Malaria - Some areas of South and East Africa are designated malaria-risk areas, especially in the summer between October and May, so you need to take anti-malaria tablets and reduce the chance of being bitten with insect sprays and long sleeved clothing and pants. In the dry season from May to September, there is less mosquito activity. Happily, this is also the best time for game viewing. Babies and very young children should avoid malaria areas.
Safety - As in most countries worldwide, crimes against people and property are a fact of life in some parts of the countries featured here. Particular care should be taken to avoid possible threats to personal safety and the Incidence of crime. Whilst we will try to bring any concerns that we have to your attention, you are also advised to check the latest advice Issued by:
People are generally friendly and helpful in rural and tourist areas. We suggest that you avoid downtown districts at night, driving at night If possible and walking at night. Do not leave valuables on show or luggage unattended and do make use of the hotel safety deposit box. Ask for, and follow, the advice of our local office, local agent or your hotel manager
Packing & Clothing
Pack lightly Not only is excess luggage cumbersome (and costly if ft is overweight), it is simply NOT necessary. And besides, you'll want to leave plenty of space in your luggage to accommodate all your purchases. Inexpensive laundry fac111ties are available at the lodges, and "same-day" service is provided. Here is a short checklist of clothing essentials:
Clothes can be washed (weather permitting) and ironed at most lodges and hotels in Africa, where, unlike many other lodges and hotels in other countries around the world, laundry is usually inexpensive. Laundry at the lodges is provided as a same-day service for your convenience. They do not wash underwear so you can either bring a little detergent with you or ask the lodge to supply you some so that you can do your own under garments
Early morning game drives can be cool and crisp, so a sweater or jacket and trousers are recommended.
It gets chilly in the evening, so take a sweater or a jacket along on a game drive. For dinner, a long-sleeved shirt, sweater or jacket, trousers and thick socks help protect against Insects and cooler temperatures. Always apply Insect repellents on exposed areas.
The number one rule is to Be careful of drinking water and especially iced. If you don't know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are generally fine. Only use water from containers covered with a serrated seat, not just with tops or corks. Bottled water is freely available, and your safari driver/ guide will provide bottled water daily.
Rwanda & Tanzania uses the 240-volt system. The power supply is usually reliable in most places, though there are occasional failures. Power sockets are of the three-square-pin variety as used in the United Kingdom, although some older buildings have round pin sockets. If a power supply is important to you, be sure to bring a universal adapter with you.
Not all lodges provide a hairdryer, so bring one along.
You can expect "buffet"-style meals whilst on safari in large accommodation properties. Typically, breakfast includes juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, a selection of cereals (hot and cold), eggs to order, breakfast meats (bacon, ham, sausage), potatoes, and more. Lunch and dinner start with the soup of the day followed by a sumptuous buffet boasting a variety of cold salads, cooked vegetables, and at least 4 varieties of fish and/or meat dishes. Bread rolls and various other pastries are available, as is a selection of deserts to please every palate. Decaffeinated coffee/tea, herbal tea, and sweeteners are not always available, so carry small quantities with you If you like.
East African products are as diverse as the countries that make up the region. There are traditional artifacts, fantastic jewelry, beautiful wood carvings, the world's best coffee, precious stones, furniture, brightly colored doth, clothing and textiles, musical instruments, wonderful modern art, and much more. There are also excellent gift shops in many hotels and lodges throughout east Africa where prices are not usually negotiable. But for the dedicated bargain hunter, the markets are the place to be, and there visitors are expected to "haggle". The art of bargaining is deeply rooted in east African culture- It's considered an essential business skill. Starting prices are always exaggerated and the negotiating process can be lengthy, which frustrates some westerners. If you do become Impatient, you can finalize proceedings by declaring your "absolute final price and asking for the sellers. If you both agree on this amount, the deal is done, and you will probably have ended up paying approximately 50% to 60% of the vendor's starting price. The bottom line is, bargain hard but be reasonable ... don't forget that good carvings and beaded jewelry in particular are works of art, both difficult and time-consuming to create.
It is vitally important to have protection against malaria (malaria protection is not an inoculation but a tablet, and it must be prescribed by your doctor). Always consult the appropriate medical authority for the latest Inoculation and medicine requirements for any country you plan to visit. Vaccination, Inoculation, and medical certificates or receipts should be carried on the trip at all times. All Inoculations should be done 4 to 6 weeks before your departure.
Yellow Fever vaccination / certificate is required in Tanzania, Zanzibar and Uganda if you are arriving from an endemic country
Travelers on special medication should carry ample supplies at all times. It is also advisable to carry wrist tags, your physician’s address, and instructions as well as prescription details for emergencies.
Although our vehicles and lodges usually carry first-aid kits, It Is advisable that travelers also carry their own. The kit could include Band-Aids; gauze dressings and tape; alcohol prep pads; ant1septlc cleansing wipe; anti-fungal powder; antihistamines; antidiarrheal agents; pain killers; antibiotics; children's medicines; sunburn creams; thermometer; and toothache and oral pain swabs.
Contact lenses can become uncomfortable during game drives due to dusty conditions. Bring sunglasses.
U.S. cash is valuable in this part of the world and comes in handy. Please bring US dollar bills that were printed after 2002. Travelers Cheques are not acceptable in most places and not easy to exchange therefore bring cash. Cash should either be kept with you or locked up in a secure hotel safe.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by shops, restaurants and hotels. Some merchants may add a surcharge. Credit cards are NOT accepted by market traders or government Institutions, so travelers should keep some local and foreign notes with them at all times.
Barclays Bank has a huge network of ATMs covering most major towns. They support MasterCard®, Visa®, Pius® and Cirrus® international networks. Visa card seems to be the most widely accepted credit card, but the Master card is gaining popularity.
Heavy or expensive jewelry is not recommended-It attracts unnecessary attention.
A snapshot camera is recommended, together with a zoom camera with full lens and filter kit. Bring lots of extra film (especially fast film) and spare batteries because these Items can be very expensive if purchased en route. Early mornings and late afternoons provide the best light for wildlife photography. Digital cameras have limited memory, so do not forget to bring extra memory cards along. You are also advised to carry a dust-proof bag for all your camera equipment. A small, light video camera is better. Bring extra tapes and batteries. Batteries can be charged in lodges with the right adapter (see "Electricity" under the General Information section for more information).
Light, powerful, auto-focus binoculars are recommended; however, your driver/guide usually carries a pair along on game drives.
Tipping is an extremely personal matter; it is not compulsory, so what follows is merely a guideline. Most people working in tourism do rely on tips, so if in doubt, don't hesitate to ask your guide/driver for advice. In restaurants and hotels, a 10% charge has almost always been added to the cost of your accommodation (the menu will state whether a surcharge has been added), but most travelers throw in another 5% or so for good service. Otherwise, 10% is considered usual and customary for waiters, bartenders, hotel room service, and taxi drivers. For porters and museum guides, US$2 to US$3 is appropriate depending on degree of service rendered.
- If you have a guide during your stay, we would recommend $8-10 for a half day tour per person and $10-15 for a full day tour per person. If the guide is accompanying you for several days then the norm is to tip him or her at the end of the tour.
Since gratuities for safari guides or camp staff Is NOT included in the price of your tour, tips are customary and most welcome. For safari drivers/guides, US$10-US$15 per person per day payable at the end of safari is customary. For camp staff, US$5 to US$8 per day, as a pooled tip to be shared among the staff (housekeepers, waiters, bartender, etc.), is the norm.
If you are also flying on private flight aircraft charter flights, please note that luggage space on board these small aircraft is very limited. (If you are unsure, check whether the words fight aircraft or charter flight are used in our itinerary.) The baggage allowance on your charter flights is restricted to 15kg (±33lb) In East Africa per person in a sort bag INCLUDING any hand luggage such as handbags or photographic/ video equipment.
This should be in squashy bags, small enough to fit into the luggage hold and NOT hard Samsonite-like suitcases. Any excess luggage may involve the use of an extra aircraft to carry such luggage and may result in additional costs, which must be settled direct
For Tanzania & Uganda - USA, UK, Canada and Australian passport holders are required to be in possession of a valid visitor's visa for entry into these countries. You do not need to make application for this visa prior to your arrival; you can easily obtain one at Immigration upon arrival within the airport/border concourses.
For Kenya: USA, UK, Canada and Australian passport holder s are required to be in possession of a valid visit's visa for entry into Kenya. This should be applied in advance online before travelling - Click register on www.ecltlzen.go.ke.
American & Irish citizens only, please be sure that you have US$100 per person with you for Tanzania visa in US$ Bank notes.
All other Passport holders pay US$50 per person for Tanzania, Kenya and Ugandan visa.
Traveler's checks, Credit Cards or any other Currency will NOT be accepted tender for the processing of your visa. Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your intended departure from either of these countries or you will NOT be issued a visa. YOU DO NOT REQUIRE A PHOTOGRAPH TO APPLY FOR YOUR VISA UPON ARRIVAL IN THESE COUNTRIES!
For Rwanda: Travellers with British passports, as well as American citizen s, generally do not need to purchase a visa when travelling to Rwanda; currently passports are just stamped on arrival.
Canadian and Australian passport holder MUST apply for entry visa into Rwanda prior to arrival. This is done online
However please always check with your nearest embassy for current visa requirements