East Africa Fact Sheet

Prepare for your trip to East Africa with the guidelines below. They will help you keep healthy, safe and travel responsibly. Please inform us, if you feel some essential information is missing here and you would like to share with future guests to this inspiring region!

 

Health

Visitors arriving into East Africa must have valid vaccination certificate for yellow fever!

This is particularly important when crossing from one East African country to another.

Typhoid and cholera vaccination certificates are also recommended.

Malaria is rare in Nairobi and the highlands but prevalent in hot and humid low altitude areas such as the Coastal region, Lake Victoria and the savannah.

Visitors are advised to consult with their doctor on the best time to take Malaria prophylactics when visiting East Africa.

It is safe to swim in the sea and swimming pools but it is not recommended in lakes, rivers and open reservoirs as you risk getting infected with bilharzia.

We encourage visitors to East Africa, to drink bottled water which is widely available in supermarkets and general stores.

The Flying Doctor Service, which covers the entire East African region, provides highly effective emergency response and ambulance services in case of accidents.

The Intensive Care Air Ambulance (ICAA) also provides emergency evacuation services to the nearest hospital. We can arrange an independent rescue cover for you if this is not included in your package. East Africa’s top medical facilities are in Nairobi. The Aga Khan Hospital and Nairobi Hospital have highly qualified medical personnel available to deal with any emergency.

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Weather & Climate

Because of East Africa’s geography, the temperature, rainfall and humidity vary widely. The region experiences different climatic conditions.

Kenya:

The area around Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in Africa is generally hot, fairly humid with rainfall spread throughout the year. The area receives the highest rainfall of 200mm in April while the lowest is in January. Temperatures range from 180C to 280C. The highlands around Mt. Kenya, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Rift Valley enjoy perhaps the most agreeable weather in the country. There is a great variation of climate between the hot and relatively dry floor of the central Rift Valley and the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. Rainfall varies from 20mm in July to 200mm in April and falls into 2 seasons (Long rains March – May and Short rains October–December). Temperatures vary from a minimum of 100Celsius to 280 Celsius. The coastal belt is hot and humid all year round with coastal sea breezes. Average temperatures vary little throughout the year ranging from a minimum of 240 C to 300C.

Tanzania:

The semi arid areas of Northern and Eastern Kenya and Eastern and Southern Tanzania experience the most extreme variations of temperature ranging from 400C during the day to 180C at night. Rainfall is sparse but when it falls, it often falls in form of violent storms.

Ethiopia:

Rainfall season in Ethiopia is between July and October if you are visiting the northern circuit which covers Ethiopia’s Historical attractions. If you are visiting the South, the rains are experienced in April and May. The average temperature in Ethiopia is 250C.

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Customs & Visa Requirements

Tourist Visas can be obtained at most entry points though visitors are advised to obtain their visa from their home countries to avoid delay at the entry points.
The visa fees vary between Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda.

The single entry visa allows multiple entries within the East African countries. However, applications for a Kenyan visa can be done online.

Tourists travelling to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda can also apply for the East African Tourist Visa, a multiple-entry visa which covers travel to these three countries.

To apply for the Rwandan Visa online visit: https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=203

To apply for the Kenyan Visa online visit: http://evisa.go.ke/single-entry-visa.html

Visitors are not allowed to engage in any paid or unpaid employment during their stay except with written permission from the Department of Immigration.

Apart from personal effects visitors may bring with them cameras, binoculars, cigarettes, perfumes and spirits in such quantities as are in the opinion of the authorities consistent with the visit. Gifts are subjected to duty while firearms; illicit drugs and obscene literature are prohibited

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Security

As elsewhere in the world, visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in their hotel rooms but make use of the hotels safe deposit box.

Visitors should also not carry large amounts of cash while walking on the streets.

They should also be careful with handbags and other valuables while in crowded places and busy streets. It is advisable to take a taxi/cab if you are visiting the city after 6pm. Walking alone at night should be avoided. Besides an efficient police force and a special Tourist Police Unit, most hotels employ experienced security personnel.

All in all it is advisable to take precautions as anywhere in the world.

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Currency & Banking

There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you bring into any of the East African countries. It is advisable to change the foreign currency into local currency only in banks and Forex Bureaus. Before your departure visitors can change the local currency back to their original currency but visitors may be asked for the initial exchange receipt. US$ are acceptable for payments in most tourist establishments and are commonly used than the Euros. Many hotels and National Parks quote their rates in US$ for visitors.

The present Exchange Rates are as follows:

  • 1 US$ = 102.21 Ksh
  • 1 US$ = 2104 Tsh
  • 1 US$ = 3530 Ush
  • 1 US$ = 724.14 Rwandan Franc
  • 1 US$ = 20.92 Ethiopian Diir

The exchange rates are constantly changing, for live exchange rates you can refer to http://www.x-rates.com/. Credit cards such as Visa Card, Master card and Chinese Union Card are widely accepted in tourist establishments; with a 5% surcharge for processing card payment. In Kenya, there are many ATMs where you can use credit cards to obtain cash. The banking system in Kenya & Rwanda are very advanced as compared to Uganda, Tanzania & Ethiopia. Banking hours are usually from 8.00 am – 4.00pm from Monday – Friday. At the Airports the banks are open 24 hours.

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Photography

East Africa is a photographer’s haven. It is abundant in wildlife and bird life in their natural habitat, magnificent scenery, diverse culture and unlimited sunlight. It is difficult not to capture its beauty. While on safari, one must remember that the animals are not tame and it is advisable to keep a distance or remain in the vehicle.

When taking shots of local people, respect their culture and always seek permission from them first. Photography around government institutions and premises is prohibited. Tourists intending to film and take photos in parks and public city space for commercial purposes have to apply for a permit beforehand. The use of drones is not allowed.

A UV filter and lens hood is required to redu ce the glare while a camera bag comes in handy to protect the equipment from the dust.

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Media

International newspapers as well as local English Newspapers are available. International television stations are available in all major urban centers. Most hotels will have television in the rooms and/or visitors lounge.

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Driving

For a first time visitor to East Africa self-drive vehicle are not advisable. Some of the tarmac roads are in poor condition and the traffic is heavy. Most of the roads to the National Parks and Reserves are gravel roads, which are very rough and can become a treacherous sea of mud during the rainy season. If you still insist on driving on your own, you need an international driving licence. Self-drive vehicles are commonly available in Kenya but not in Tanzania and Uganda. Crossing international borders in East Africa is also not possible with rented self-drive vehicles.

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Time

X. TIME

Nairobi- Kenya Arusha- Tanzania Kampala- Uganda Kigali- Rwanda Addis Ababa-Ethiopia
G.M.T+3 (Greenwich Mean Time) G.M.T+3 (Greenwich Mean Time) G.M.T+3 (Greenwich Mean Time) (C.A.T)+2Central African Time G.M.T+3 (Greenwich Mean Time)

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Telephone and Postal Service

East Africa has good telecommunication networks for local and international services. International STD system is fully operational in most urban centers and there are mobile phone networks in most urban centers too. Radio call equipment is available in most lodges and tented camps located in remote areas where telephone facilities have not yet been installed. Radio call communication is not available in Ethiopia.

Kibo Slopes Safaris also has VHF/HF radios installed in all safari vehicles while guides regularly carry along mobile telephone handsets where networks exist and even outside the urban centers. Internet services are available in most lodges although the speeds may not match those in other parts of the world and the prices are high due to long distance calls to the service provider.

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Tipping

Most hotels, game lodges and tented camps include a service charge in their tariff, as do most restaurants. Most workers expect a tip for services offered.

Driver guides and other safari and hiking crew will generally expect some form of gratitude if you are happy with their services. The amount is at your discretion. Recommendation for tipping can be obtained from our office and varies from program to program.

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