TRAVEL TIPS AND INFORMATION
Guidelines for travel to East Africa: Monja & Ndoti Safaris strives to keep up with the latest information and recommendations about travel to East Africa, and we hope the guidelines below will be helpful to you.
All visitors require a passport with a validity extending for at least 6 months after the travel dates. Visitors from certain countries may also require a visa. Visas may in most cases be obtained at the point of entry, depending on your nationality and country of origin, and requirements do change.
1-2 blank pages may be required in the passport for the visa stamps.
It is advisable to carry copies of your travel documentation, either scanned as an image then stored on your phone or tablet, or as paper photocopies. These should be carried separately from the originals. In case you misplace your documents during your trip, the copies will assist you considerably in the process of reporting the loss, and obtaining eventual replacements.
For those paying for the visa on arrival, it is advisable to have the correct amount in US Dollar cash ready, and to have notes issued after the year 2009. Payments can also be done in Euros and Pound Sterling, based on the current local exchange rate.
Monja Safaris Ltd. does not issue travel documents and does not accept any responsibility for changes in the visa requirements or procedures. It is up to the individual traveler to ensure all required travel documents are in order.
UGANDA: visas must be applied for online prior to arrival, however at the moment (27 Sept 2017), it is still possible for most nationalities to obtain the tourist visa on arrival. Please read the immigration website for the updates and information on visa requirements. https://visas.immigration.go.ug/
KENYA: In almost all cases, visas for Kenya can be obtained on arrival, or via the online portal indicated. http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html
TANZANIA: In almost all cases, visas for Tanzania can be obtained on arrival. http://immigration.go.tz/index.php/en/services/visa-information
EAST AFRICA TOURIST VISA
There is an East Africa Tourist Visa available, enabling travelers to visit Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya for a one-off visa payment of USD100 for visits to two or all three countries.
IMPORTANT: the application must be made with the country (Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda) that you are first arriving into. The visa is not valid in Tanzania. The East Africa Tourist Visa expires upon entry into Tanzania so if you are planning to visit Tanzania in the middle of an itinerary, you should get separate visas and not the East African visa.
Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania are considered to be Yellow Fever endemic areas, and a valid international Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required of all visitors travelling from, and between these countries, or from another Yellow Fever endemic area in the world. All the four countries are considered to be Malaria Endemic Zones. Your personal GP should advise you on suggested vaccinations/ medications.
Travel Insurance is strongly recommended, valid at least for the duration of the safari. This should cover aspects such as unforeseen cancellations, medical expenses, theft, curtailments etc. Monja Safaris includes temporary membership to the Flying Doctors emergency medical evacuation service to all its clients travelling within Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Reachable 24hrs of the day, this provides for assistance throughout your stay with us. In case of serious illness or injury, the service covers emergency first aid treatment and air transportation to the nearest hospital. The membership only covers evacuation and transfer to major hospitals and does not include the cost of any medical treatment and hospital fees incurred.
Visitors requiring special medication should pack sufficient supplies in their hand luggage. Chemist shops in the major cities are well stocked, but the same generic medication may not be readily available. Medical services are very good in Nairobi. Medical treatment and hospital fees must be paid for direct.
Some lodges and camps require that guests sign a disclaimer during their stay, especially in areas where wild animals wander within the property’s grounds, and providers of adventure activities usually have the same requirements.
When is the best time to visit East Africa?
All year round, is the answer! it all depends on your individual interests and on what you would like to experience. Many believe that the “dry season” months from June to October are the best, as the drier conditions generally make it easier to spot animals in the shorter grass or thinner vegetation, however this period also coincides with the high season in East Africa- more visitors and higher prices! The Christmas and New Year period is busy as well, and some beach resorts may have a minimum stay requirement over Christmas.
The “green season” offers you the chance to experience many accommodation and activity options that would be restrictive in pricing and availability during the busier months. We expect the rains during the green season, running roughly between November and May, however there is so much to see at this time. The land becomes alive with newborn baby animals, the vegetation is all green and in flower, bird watching is spectacular, and more time can be spent observing the animals while out on a game drive as there are fewer visitors around.
The weather in East Africa is fairly consistent, and the temperatures rarely varies much between day temperatures of 25º C and night temperatures of 10ºC in the interior, and between day temperatures of 30º C and night temperatures of 15º C at the coast – which has a high level of humidity. The evenings and early mornings can be quite cool, and some of the areas, which stand at over 2000m ASL, have chilly and humid nights. The coolest months are July and August, while the hottest are January and February.
Luggage is limited to soft-sided bags on safari. A small overnight bag/ backpack is essential. All city hotels provide secure storage for excess luggage. Travellers visiting The Ark and similar lodges in Kenya are only permitted to carry one small overnight bag to these establishments, with the rest of the clients’ luggage stored for the night at the respective base hotel.
When the safari includes flights in small aircrafts, note that there is a maximum of 15kg luggage allowance per person for these flights. Soft bags or duffel bags are recommended, as some airlines won’t carry hard shell suitcases. Any excess luggage may be charged for, or left behind at no responsibility to the airline.
Thin plastic carrier bags are prohibited in Rwanda, and your luggage may be searched in some cases upon arrival. Zip-Lock bags are allowed, and are useful for protecting documents and cameras from moisture and dust.
Casual and comfortable clothing is recommended. Dressing in layers is an effective method of compensating for the wide variations in temperatures during the day. It tends to be cool in the morning, warm or hot during the day and cool again in the evening. A sweatshirt, and a jacket/fleece is needed for evenings and early mornings, as it can be quite cold especially at high altitudes. Include a hat, sunglasses and swimwear. All hotels, lodges and safari camps offer an inexpensive or free (basic) same day laundry service (washed by hand in most cases). Camouflage clothing is not allowed in East Africa. Khaki, brown and subdued colours are only really necessary if you will be taking part in walking safaris, when you would need to blend in with the environment. A suggested packing list tailored to your safari experience is provided when you book with us.
There is no official star rating system in place yet, however we will guide you in choosing the best possible accommodation style to suit your preferences. Accommodation in the cities and in major towns can fall under the western three to five stars standards. While there is a wide range of accommodation levels and styles available on the safari, you might be limited by a specific location’s options.
In some cases, the more authentic and exclusive safari camps and lodges and mobile camps may lack 24hr electricity or running hot water, and rely on kerosene lamp-light and safari ‘bucket showers’. Their exclusivity in this case comes down to the high levels of personalised services, privileged locations and their provision of the classic safari experiences. There are a few ultra luxurious lodges and tented lodges available, with WiFi, private pools, butler services, champagne on the house etc that provide for unbelievably luxurious and pampered safari experiences.
All safari vehicles either fitted with roof hatches for unobstructed viewing and photography of wildlife and scenery. At the parks, some camps and lodges offer the game drives in open sided vehicles. You may only get out of the vehicle at designated points during the game drives. Taking photographs at airports, near police or military installations, of policemen, the President or government ministers and/or their respective entourages, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners etc., is prohibited. Out of respect for the local communities, it is best to ask for guide’s advice before taking any photos of any person.
Binoculars are unbelievably useful on safari, and it is recommended that you carry your own! Knowing how your camera works also helps! Learn how to adjust the settings for better pictures, before you travel. Carrying extra camera batteries and memory cards is highly recommended. Few lodges offer charging outlets in their game drive vehicles. You could carry a car charger that fits into the cigarette lighter in the vehicles. Cameras and lenses should be protected from dust and moisture. The use of camera flashes is not allowed when photographing wildlife from observation hides, and when tracking Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Golden Monkeys.
Food and Drink
All the hotels, lodges, and camps serve delicious freshly prepared meals based mainly on international cuisines, and special dietary requirements or preferences are catered for. All the foods served within the establishments are safe to eat. It is best to stick to drink bottled water, which is always available in the guest room and for purchase. The ice served in the hotels is prepared with filtered, treated water, and is safe to consume. All lodges and camps stock a range of refreshments and alcoholic drinks.
220/240 volts, with British type (square 3-pin) plugs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and 220/240 volts, with French type (round 2-pin) plugs in Rwanda. Adaptors are available at all lodges and camps, though you may prefer to carry your own. While on safari, most lodges and camps run on solar power or generators that function at specific hours of the day. At lodges or camps where the generator is switched off at night, all the rooms are equipped with flashlights and candles. Some properties do not have sockets in the rooms, or 24-hour power, but arrangements for recharging camera/ phone batteries are always provided, usually in the main lounge area.
The mobile phone network is excellent and the local mobile operators have roaming agreements with most operators abroad (unlocked mobile phones). Local SIM cards are ready available. There are however, some areas with limited and intermittent mobile phone coverage. All drivers-guides have mobile phones, the safari vehicles have communication radios, and most lodges and camps have a satellite phone for emergency calls.
Rwanda is two hours (+2) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Kenya, Uganda Tanzania are three hours (+3) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Most establishments accept US Dollars/Euros/GBP for payments, however the rate of exchange is at their discretion and change is given in the local currency in most cases. Coins cannot be exchanged. Large US$ denominations ($50 and $100) get a better exchange rate and bills must be from year 2009 onwards or they may be rejected. While on safari, VISA and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards. Credit cards cannot be used for cash advances. Charges may be around 5% and are automatically added to the bill. A small amount of cash should be carried for daily expenses (drinks, and other small expenses, shopping and tipping), especially in Rwanda. ATM machines can be found at the international airports and in most major towns. The machines dispense the respective local currency only. You may consider informing your credit card providers of your travel plans so that they don’t decline transactions you may carry out in the countries you will be visiting.
Tipping & Gratuities
A tip is an indication of appreciation for the services given and it is given after all the services have been completed. While not mandatory, it is customary and generally expected in East Africa. We provide guidelines on tipping and gratuities for every trip.