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Africa Travel Tips

Everything you need to know to prepare for your African Adventure. Read more...

Golden light flooding across grassy plains; a lion stalking a kill; chimpanzees screeching in dense forests; palm trees swaying in the sea breeze - North East Africa is everything you imagine when you think Africa. It is the best place to see game in all its natural glory and surrounded by nature as diverse as sandy beaches to snow capped peaks with a safari tour in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania capturing the colourful and enriching essence of this vast continent.

For amazingly intact relics of ancient empires, the pyramids of Egypt cannot be surpassed while the mix of European, Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle Eastern cultures in Morocco makes for a diverse and fascinating country. But what are the travel essentials for any trip to Africa? We've asked our Africa specialists and on-ground team for their advice...

Choosing your Safari

For wildlife lovers a safari is a must and there is no better place to see wildlife than in Africa. The anti-poaching and conservation efforts of Tanzania and Kenya have increased the widlife density enormously, so you are sure to see some unique animals - many of which you can only find in these specific regions.

We have many different types of safari to choose from, from your classic drive safari to hot air balloons - each providing a unique experience and perspective. We also have a number of different standards of accommodation available and some special wildlife camps - from luxurious lodges to glamping to treetop living, Africa accommodation is varied and exciting.

 

Before you go

Passports and Visas

Travellers arriving in Africa are required to have permanent passports that are valid for at least six months from the date of arrival and contain at least three pages for affixing visas and arrival stamps.

For most travellers, visas may be purchased on arrival in Tanzania and Kenya. Visas may also be purchased in advance which will save time on arrival. Travellers visiting Tanzania and Kenya (and other African countries) will need to purchase a visa for each country. Travellers staying less than 2 days in a country may qualify for a transit visa. Generally, travellers arriving in one country, proceeding to another country and returning to the first country may re-enter on the original single entry visa unless they have returned to their home country.

Packing

Each tour member is allowed one soft sided bag and one day pack while on safari. The large bag should not exceed 15 kgs in weight. Should internal flights be part of the itinerary, bag weights are strictly enforced.

When packing, think about the possibility that your international airline might delay your luggage and consider what you need in the event this happens so you can carry those items in your carry-on bag. It is important that travellers check with their international airline for up to date information on what is allowed in carry-on luggage.

Travellers arriving in Nairobi, Mombasa, Arusha, Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar can arrange to store extra bags if arriving and departing from the same location.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR RECOMMENDED PACKING LIST

Climate

Some people expect that all of Africa is always hot and are quite surprised at the cold temperatures on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. Nairobi (at 1661 m) and Arusha (at 1403 m) are both at fairly high elevations and can be cooler than people expect. The coasts of Kenya and Tanzania including the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia Island have much warmer climates and it can rain any time during the year.

Generally, rain is more common in April, May and November. The April/May rains are usually heavier at night with some showers during the day. Around the month of November, showers are frequent but often short.

Back Up Copies

Tour members should make copies of their passports, visas (if purchased in advance), itineraries, emergency contact numbers names of prescription medication and other important information and carry the back up copies in a separate place.

Arriving in Africa

Health Requirements

Many countries in Africa now require proof of yellow fever vaccination for travellers arriving from or having visited countries listed as endemic for yellow fever. Though this should not pose a problem for travellers arriving from North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, as Kenya and Tanzania are both considered endemic, you are required to provide the proof of vaccination when travelling between these countries - both by air and road.

Travellers transiting in airports who are in a country for less than 6 hours and do not leave the airport are not required to provide the vaccination certificate. However, as travel plans may change (such as flight cancellations) it is a good idea to have this vaccination and carry the certificate when you travel. If you have been advised by your doctor that you should not have the vaccination, a letter from your doctor confirming this is generally accepted in lieu of the certificate.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR HEALTH, SAFETY AND SECURITY TIPS

Immigration and Customs

Travellers arriving from overseas must comply with immigration formalities on arrival. Travellers going between African countries (such as Kenya and Tanzania) need to complete immigration formalities both when leaving one country and on entering the next. Landing cards are generally provided by the airline in advance and must be completed for each traveller.

We can provide blank visa applications that can be completed in advance on request. Payment for the visas - generally between $50 and $100 for each of Kenya and Tanzania depending on the nationality - should be made in US currency using newer bank notes.
If you are not sure if you are able to purchase a visa upon arrival, you should confirm the requirements for visitors of your nationality well in advance of arrival.

On arrival, travellers must also pass through customs. Tourists generally are not questioned; however, customs officials have the right to inspect all luggage. Patience and courtesy are important.

Delays and Lost Luggage

Should events such as missed or delayed flights mean that a tour member will arrive late, the traveller should contact our on-ground team as soon as possible so arrangements can be made to join the tour member with their trip.

Should a tour member arrive without their luggage, a report must be filed with the airline before leaving the airport. If the bag has been locked, it is important that keys and combinations be left with the airline so they can open and clear it with customs. Once luggage has been located, we will work with the airline to help the bag catch up with the tour member.

Money 

What to Carry

Our tour packages generally include most costs. The exception is beverages, laundry and items of a personal nature such as cigarettes and telephone calls. Tips to the hotel staff, camp crews and driver-guides are also not included but are expected. How much to carry depends on individual tastes and needs. Someone who likes champagne and cognac will certainly need to bring more money than someone content with a bottle of water and a slice of lime!

The same is true with gift purchases. Some travellers may be happy with a few small carved animals where others might purchase gemstones or large intricate carvings. The amount you carry depends on what you feel you will purchase.

It is best that you bring a mix of smaller and larger notes. Many places offer a better rate of exchange for larger bills, but sometimes lodges cannot change larger bills and can only deal with smaller notes. US Dollars are the most commonly accepted currency however you can also choose to pay with other major currencies. Visa fees are always payable in US dollars when purchased on arrival. US bank notes must be issued after 2000 and contain the most current anti-counterfeit measures (these are the ones with the larger photos of the presidents).

Though travellers’ cheques offer security, they are not accepted by most establishments. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many locations, but you may be charged a fee for using them. ATMs are available in larger towns and cities. Your bank may charge a fee for using an international ATM. Money is issued in local currency from ATMs.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR TIPPING GUIDE

Cultural Considerations

Where possible, we try to reduce the impact of visitors on local cultures and customs.

Children

Many visitors like to bring gifts for the local children. It is more than likely that children will be encountered during the trip and that they will look to visitors to share gifts with them. Confectionery is not a good idea. Gifts such as school supplies or clothes are much better options.

We also suggest that gifts and donations be made through local schools and orphanages. This gives tour members a chance to help the local community without reinforcing the culture of begging. Our on-ground team have contacts with excellent organisations that can make sure the children with the most need get the benefit of visitors’ generosity.

On private tours, visits to these organisations can be arranged.

Street Beggars

We do not recommend that tour members give anything to street beggars and street children encountered in the towns and cities.

Dress Codes

Our holidays are generally relaxed experiences with casual dress codes. There are a few places where cultural considerations might dictate conservative dress. This is especially true in Zanzibar and Mombasa. Here, shorts and swimming attire should not be worn outside of the grounds of the hotel or resort.

Some lodges and luxury camps request that guests wear “smart casual” attire at evening meals. Long trousers for men are recommended in the evenings both to honour dress codes and protect against mosquito bites.

Other Information

Electric Current

Africa uses 240 volt electric current. Plugs may vary from the UK standard square pin to European standard round pin. Some lodges and camps generate their own electricity and may not generate 24 hours per day. The electric current is subject to voltage fluctuation and power cuts are possible, even in larger cities.

Water

We do not suggest drinking tap water. Bottled water is provided by most hotels and lodges either free of charge or at a modest cost.

Food

You should feel confident in eating the meals at the restaurants and hotels that are included in your travel package. Your guide or local representative can give you advice if you are dining on your own. We can assist with special dietary requests given advance notice.

Conservation During Travel

Naturally, any excursion in Africa is bound to have an impact on the continent’s natural and cultural surrounding. Tempo Holidays works with local suppliers in a continuing effort to reduce the impact our safaris have. We make the following recommendations to our tour participants:

      • PACKING - When packing, leave any unnecessary packaging at home.
      • WATER - There are times when water is in short supply so please limit your use of water at hotels, lodges and camps by avoiding wastage where possible.
      • ELECTRICITY - Much of the electricity in the bush is generated by the lodge or camp. Using electricity sparingly will reduce the amount of fuel burned by the generators.
      • FOOD WASTE - There is a good chance that you will encounter a few buffets during your safari - take smaller portions and return as many times as you like to reduce wastage.

Conservation during Game Drives

      • DRIVING - In many cases, the driver-guide will switch off the engine while people are observing wildlife on game drives. This is both to create a quieter environment for observation and to save fuel.
      • LITTER - Litter should never thrown from vehicles, including bits of food such as banana peels. At picnic sites, all litter should be collected and placed in bins provided and if there is no bin, it should be carried to the next lodge.
      • SMOKING - Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle operated by our on-ground team. Smokers will have opportunities for breaks during their trip, but it is imperative that no lit matches or cigarettes be left behind. An accidental brush fire in the bush could cause grave damage to the environment and wildlife.
      • PHOTOGRAPHY - Our safaris often provide amazing opportunities for photographers to capture some remarkable images. We ask tour members to respect the privacy of people they encounter during their trip. In some places, it is permitted to take photographs of people in tribal attrire such as organised visits to Maasai villages. In some cases, a “negotiation” of a small fee is required before you can take photographs. Always negotiate before taking the photos. The driver-guides will be happy to assist.

Make sure to check out all the information pages on Africa but if you still have any questions, do not hesitate to contact one of our agents and we will help you as best we can. Africa awaits!