RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL

Travel Tips

Climate


East Africa’s temperature is very stable and pleasant, with sunshine almost 365 days a year. The mean temperatures are between 20ºC and 30ºC all year round, with peaks both ways, with it being colder in the mornings and it can reach up to the 40’s during mid-day in the hottest month. East Africa’s dry seasons are from December/January through to mid March and from June through to mid-September. And there are two rainy seasons generally in all countries from March to April and October to November. Uganda and Tanzania all lie near the Equator which gives them an ideal climate with little variation. Although the climate is all similar please be aware that on the coast it is more humid than in the dry savannas. Mountainous areas tend to be much colder than the plains and receive more rain. Temperatures in mountainous areas can go down to 10°C in certain months. It rarely gets real cold in the savannas or coast, but it is advisable to carry lightweight rain gear in the rainy season, as well as a light sweater.

What is the best traveling time?


There is no bad time of year to visit Uganda and Tanzania! The dry months are the most popular with tourists, with July and August and Christmas and New Year being the peak seasons. Though there are rainy seasons, this doesn’t mean that it rains all day, nor does it mean it will rain every day. Usually there’s a tropical shower at night or a shorter shower during the day, but here you can trust that after rain comes sunshine! Travel is often slower in the rainy season and trekking is more difficult (sometimes impossible) during these months. Lodges and other facilities are open all year round.

What should I take?


Definitely a camera, but also binoculars widen your viewing scope on safaris. A hat, sunglasses and sun protection are items that cannot be missed on your packing list besides swimwear and Mosquito repellant is a must in your luggage. And lastly don’t forget to add your passport, air ticket with your vaccination card and some means of ‘money’. With all this and any necessities of your own, you’re bound to have a great trip … forgotten something anyway, you’re likely to find just that thing ‘with its own uniqueness’. And just for that one day: what about taking that alarm clock for the amazing view of sunrise over the Indian ocean, across the savannah pool where the animals have joined to drink for the day, or see the clouds slowly open up beneath you when climbing one of the mountains.

Clothing


Summer wear is advised, but take long sleeves and trousers against mosquitos or for various activities you could be taking. In some places it can be quite cool at night in high areas so bring a light jumper or a scarf. Take both closed shoes and sandals/slippers for the various activities. Informal dress is usual, although Ugandans and Tanzanians, appreciate modest dressing.

Cotton slacks and flat comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari. In the hilly and mountainous areas, waterproof jackets, strong waterproof walking boots and warmer fleece or heavy sweaters will be required in the evening. Mountaineering and other specific activities asks for its own specific clothes and shoe wear.

One last tip: Take clothes that you can leave behind and give / donate for the poor to use. You may hand them over yourself if you like (or we can help you find the best location). This way you have your luggage empty to fill it up again with beautiful souvenirs – and you’ve found another way to make your help count).

Luggage


Although airlines will offer you 20-40 Kg, or two pieces, of luggage on most flights, it is preferable for you to as less as possible and soft luggage as space in vehicles is limited. Incase much luggage is needed for the whole trip, we can check with the accommodation you’re staying in to arrange the storage of clothing that you will not need on safari.

Health/Medical


There are health clinics and hospitals around the countries with various standards, if you are in need of such we will guide you to the best solution for your situation as well as insuring a more international standard (when such is in the area).

We recommend that you don’t drink any water from any tap, but only bottled water, or if the source is trusted then also boiled water. Linked with this is also the eating of raw vegetables, be especially careful of eating raw vegetables in local restaurants and the like (or don’t eat at all).

Chimp tracking and Gorilla trekking are not allowed to those clients with signs of an airborne diseases like colds and flu. Chimps and gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases and it is therefore essential that you inform us in advance if you are unsure. National Park Authorities reserve the right to deny access to individuals they consider unfit to accompany any activity.

Adventure activities like gorilla trekking and chimp tracking, mountaineering and hiking, diving, white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking, may pose additional risks and should be undertaken with care and caution. We advise our clients to be healthy and fit. (Also such activities, as well as active and dangerous sports, are generally in need of additional travel insurance. Check with your insurance company if they cover these or if you need to book it separately).

Do I need to get vaccinations?


Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential. For other vaccinations, we advise for you to get advise from your medical centre as they have the most update information and will advise accordingly.

Uganda and Tanzania, are part of the Yellow Fever region, and so a Yellow Fever card is required by law, remember to take this with you on your beach holiday to Zanzibar as well!

Do I need to get vaccinations?


Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential. For other vaccinations, we advise for you to get advise from your medical centre as they have the most update information and will advise accordingly.

Uganda and Tanzania, are part of the Yellow Fever region, and so a Yellow Fever card is required by law, remember to take this with you on your beach holiday to Zanzibar as well!

Do I need a visa?


You are required to purchase a tourist visa before you enter Uganda and Tanzania. We recommend clients obtain them upon arrival at any International Airports or at any overland border. (ensure you have the right amount as they don’t have any change back!! Old US dollars are not accepted and they charge a higher amount if you pay in Euro’s!!). Be aware that tourists are sometimes only given two weeks visa so if you are planning to stay longer than two weeks, be ready to state this at the border. Tourist visas can be extended at the immigration offices in the country for an additional fee. Some nationalities though do not require visas or the visa is cheaper for their nationality. Check with us directly or contact the airline or your travel agent.

What are the required traveling documents ?


You must have a passport that has a minimum of six months validity remaining. And a health card showing any vaccinations taken. Take Note you will not enter Tanzania or Zanzibar without a yellow fever vaccination and proof of such, you could be asked to take the vaccine right at the border or refused entrance!!

Currency


US dollar, GB Pound and EURO’s are readily exchangeable, in which large US dollar bills attract the best exchange rates. Currency exchange rates vary and are posted at all banks and forex bureaus around major cities and in the local newspapers. It is recommended that you change money before going to safari where more favorable rates are offered as attempting to change money upcountry can be frustrating and the rates are not good.

ATM


ATM’s can be found around the country, in big cities and towns and occasional in smaller settlements (but do not count on the latter). Depending on the time of month and year, various amounts can be withdrawn, but with a maximum. Check with your local bank before traveling to East Africa to find out that your card can work in the country and if they have any recommendations. Possibly your bank could be having closer relationships with some banks in East Africa and so giving you better rates.

Travelers Cheques


Travelers Cheques are accepted in Uganda and Tanzania, but at a less favourable rate than cash. Most lodges and hotels upcountry will accept TCs although rates are generally poor.

Credit Cards


Credit cards may be accepted at a few choice establishments in Uganda and Tanzania, and some upcountry hotels and lodges. Please note that credit cards are not widely accepted and most organizations reserve the right to levy a surcharge on credit card transactions on top of the original cost.

Transport


Depending where you are and where you are traveling to, the roads can be in a generally good condition (generally in the main cities and the highways). Though expect some of the roads to be either mud/dust roads and bumpy. Four-wheel drive vehicles may be required for upcountry use though, depending where exactly you’re venturing to and especially during the rainy seasons. We have available to us various cars including: saloon cars, mini-buses and four-wheel drive vehicles; all available on chauffeur driven basis. Please inquire for further details and tariffs.

Accommodation


There are various types of accommodations and something for everyone to meet their needs. Anything from a 5-star hotel to a backpackers lodge. If you prefer sleeping in tents, this too can be a 5-star lodge or camping out in a simple tent on the plains. Real local accommodations can have question marks to its cleanliness and safety and so in general we suggest for you to keep to that which we recommend.

Food and Drinks


The foods served to you at the tourist hotels and upper class restaurants are safe to eat and has a wide variety from local to western, Indian, International foods. We suggest however that you also go and enjoy some real local food at a more local place. For good and clean restaurants we could suggest some to you. With raw vegetables we urge you to only enjoy these in the surroundings where you feel it is safe to eat them. Watch out too for drinks, especially water – do not drink any tap water. While traveling keep to bottled water.

Security


Occasional security issues may arise as in any other developing countries. Precautions should be taken, as in all countries, and common sense should be used; guard yourself and your valuables as you would anywhere in the world. Stay aware of your surroundings and be cautious but friendly where possible. It is not advised to display expensive jewelry, leave bags unattended or money lying around. Most hotels and lodges have safe deposit boxes available, we recommend that you leave original travel documents and passports in the safe provided and only travel with photocopies. East African residents will need to show copy a copy of their passports and work permits to obtain resident discounts.

Telephone/Internet


International telephone communication is good from major capital cities but more difficult in some rural areas, and be prepared for possible hick-ups. Uganda and Tanzania have a good mobile phone network throughout most of the country and local SIM cards can be purchased throughout. International roaming facilities are available. Internet services are widely available in major cities through internet cafes, and most major towns will have access, although the quality and speed of the connection varies.

SIM cards and mobile internet devices can be bought or rented at our TGU offices.

Electricity


Uganda and Tanzania all work with 240 volts and 3-pin (square) sockets. It is recommended that you bring your own adapter along. Most hotels, lodges or camps can make arrangements for recharging batteries if so needed. At the TGS offices we have a supply of universal sockets for sale. Renting out is also a possibility if you think you’ll not be in use of such again. If you will be in need of one, please inform us in advance, so we can supply you without you necessarily having to drop by the office.

Photography


Please consider the fact that you’re in a different culture and so it is only polite to ask people before taking photographs. Some people believe that you want to use it commercially, so are not happy with people taking pictures uninvited. Others might ask for a small fee. If you have special requirements, then we strongly suggest that you check with us first.

Tipping


The countries tip according to level of service, yet there are no fixed or assumed rates. If you’re thinking of a tip, on average tips are in the region of: 5-10% in restaurants and US$5-10 per day for a tour, though tips are very personal and this is only a guide. If you would like to give tips but are not sure what is appropriate feel free to ask management or guide/driver for advice. Just so you are aware: Culturally people may not feel it appropriate to outwardly show their appreciation for money given, but you can be guaranteed they are thankful.

Begging/Donations


Giving money to beggars or street children is not recommended as this only leads to the culture of begging and dependency. We therefore recommend that if you want to help the ‘helpless, then donations can be made to established charities that work with the homeless, street children or orphans. We can even arrange visits to local projects or institutions on request. If you would still like to give something, we would rather suggest exercise books, pens or pencils as useful gifts, these can easily be bought at small bookstores within the country. This way you also help stimulate the economy.

One other way of helping the less fortunate is by visiting our souvenir shop, where we sell crafts from those that depend on it for their livelihood, those that use the income to support their (extended) family, and others that are saving money for going to school.

With this we have tried to give you some answers on some of the questions that might already be playing in your mind. If you have any other questions though, please do not hesitate to Contact Us

However please be aware that the above is for general information only and cannot be held against us if you find a difference in your expectation with the actual sense. We do appreciate your feedback if you find something differs from your experiences.

We look forward to welcoming you to East Africa!

Have questions?

With this we have tried to give you some answers on some of the questions that might already be playing in your mind. If you have any other questions though, please do not hesitate to

Contact us