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Vital Questions Before You Book An African Safari

Vital Questions Before You Book An African Safari 8 Top Reasons Why You Should visit Volcanoes National Park

Vital Questions Before You Book An African Safari or Vacation

The vital questions before you book an African Safari anytime during the year. Have you ever imagined yourself on a wildlife viewing safari in Africa? Now is the time to start planning your safari adventure of a lifetime to witness the gift of nature as you wouldn’t have expected! These magnificent and majestic animals will leave you BREATHLESS and in AWE!

But before you pack your bags and embark on your journey, a little planning needs to be done. And there are 35 essential questions you need to ask (and have answered) before you commit to your travel arrangements.

1. Which airlines access?

  • Uganda

Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport has the following airlines: Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, South African Airways, Fast Jet, Fly Dubai, RwandAir, South Supreme Airways and Fly-SAX.

  • Kenya

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the country’s main international airport, and it is located in Nairobi. It is one of the largest airports in the East African region, and the 9th busiest in Africa.

The following airlines access Kenya; Kenya Airways, British Airways, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Currently, there are no direct flights from the United States to Kenya.

Skyscanner allows you to find the cheapest flights to Kenya without having to enter specific dates or even destinations, making it the best place to find cheap flights for your trip.

  • Tanzania

Julius Nyerere International Airport (IATA: DAR, ICAO: HTDA) is the largest international airport in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro International airport (KIA), the second-largest in Tanzania,

Some of the flights & Airlines to Tanzania; KLM flights, SWISS flights, South African Airways flights, Emirates flights, Ethiopian Airlines flights, Air Italy flights, Delta flights, Etihad Airways flights, EgyptAir flights, Turkish Airlines flights, United flights, Qatar Airways flights, Condor flights, Kenya Airways flights, RwandAir flights, Oman Air flights, Air Mauritius flights.

Please check Skyscanner, or for multiple-destination flights check Expedia, to see which airlines can take you to Tanzania and what tickets would cost.

  • Rwanda

Kigali International Airport has the following flights: RwandAir, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Coastal Aviation.

2. Can I fly internally?

Yes, you can fly internally while on safari in any of the East African countries, there are internal scheduled flights to some of the safari destinations, and where unavailable there are charter flights to most of the safari destinations. Let us know you prefer flights instead of driving or a mix of both.

3. What is the road network like?

The main roads in East Africa are tarmacked but secondary roads vary in quality. Be prepared for long and sometimes bumpy car rides.

4. Do you provide Travel Insurance?

Kubwa Five Safaris does not provide travel insurance to clients. It’s the responsibility of the Agent/Client – All clients must have an adequate insurance for the duration of the tour, which should include evacuation cover in case of an emergency

5. Do I need to carry medication?

Please bring all personal medications required. Medical services and facilities are basic.

You are advised to take malaria ‘prophylactics’ (prevention medication) in addition to carrying a mosquito repellent. Be sure to use the mosquito nets, which are provided at your place of accommodation. Consult your doctor before traveling for more information

Clients must be fit and healthy to undertake adventurous activities such as mountaineering and hiking, gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking, white-water rafting, canoeing, and kayaking may pose additional risks and should be undertaken with care and caution.

6. Are vaccinations required for my safari tour?

There are a number of vaccinations recommended and/or required.

Courses or boosters usually advised: Diphtheria; Hepatitis A; Poliomyelitis; Tetanus. Other vaccines to consider: Hepatitis B; Meningococcal Meningitis; Rabies; Typhoid; Yellow Fever.

If you’re traveling to any of East African countries from a country where yellow fever is endemic (see an up-to-date list on the CDC website), you must have a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the country. This rule also applies if you have a long layover of 12 hours or more in one of these countries.

CDC recommends this vaccine for adults who are traveling to areas of active cholera transmission.

You may need a polio vaccine before your trip to Kenya, especially if you are working in a health care facility, refugee camp, or humanitarian aid setting.

Seek advice from your home country on vaccination and inoculation requirements.

Thankfully, our clients have been well prepared and have not run into any issues, but some travelers have been stranded at the border of East African countries and unable to continue their travels. That’s why it’s a good idea to always research the entry requirements for each country you visit!

7. Is tap water safe for drinking in East Africa?

Tap water is not suitable for drinking, use bottled water, which is available in your safari car and at accommodations.

8. Do I need a visa to enter any of the East African countries?

Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya have a shared East Africa visa, which will gain you entry into all 3 countries for $100 USD. Travelers must apply for their visa online via the diplomatic mission of the first of the 3 countries they plan to visit. (See applications for entering Uganda firstentering Kenya first, entering Tanzania first, or entering Rwanda first.)

  • Uganda

You are required to purchase a visa before you enter Uganda. Single entry tourist visas (usually three months) are available on arrival at Entebbe airport priced for USD $50 and at the land borders – please state clearly that you require three months or else you can be given two weeks but they should be applied for online before your travel.

A single East African visa has been introduced for Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda costing $100. Your passport must have a minimum of six months’ validity remaining.  Contact the airline or your travel agent for more information.

Uganda follows a policy of reciprocity (if your Country requires a Visa for Ugandans to enter, Uganda will impose the same). In case of any changes in Visa regulations, you will be informed.

  • Kenya

You can either get a visa on arrival at the airport or before you travel. Single-entry visas are available upon arrival at Kenyan airports; however, Kenyan Immigration plans to end visas upon arrival in the near future. Multiple-entry visas must be applied for prior to traveling to Kenya.

Types and Costs. Transit eVisa/visa on arrival: US$21; single-entry eVisa/visa on arrival: US$51. These fees are for visas obtained in advance from the embassy/high commission. For more details, please take a look at this link.

  • Tanzania

Business visas allow Americans to stay in Tanzania for up to three months and cost$250. Single-entry visas are valid for up to three months for tourism, students, and business and cost $50. Multiple-entry visas are valid for up to twelve months for business or tourism and cost $100.

You can obtain single-entry and transit visas on arrival at the port of entry into Tanzania. However, you’re recommended to apply for a tourist visa in advance at a Tanzania embassy near you. As of August 2018, citizens from 66 countries can enter Tanzania without a visa. For more details, please take a look at this link.

  • Rwanda

Foreign Nationals wishing to obtain a Rwandan Visa, submit their applications to Rwandan Diplomatic Missions of their Country of residence for processing.

In the case where there is no Diplomatic Mission/ consulate, foreign nationals request for a visa acceptance letter online, which will be presented on arrival to obtain a visa upon payment of the visa fee ($50).

In view of bilateral agreements, nationals of the following Countries may visit Rwanda without a visa for a period of up to 90 days: Hong Kong, Philippines, Mauritius, Singapore, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A single East African visa has been introduced for Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda costing $100. Your passport must have a minimum of six months’ validity remaining. Contact the airline or your travel agent for more information.

9. Can I use my ATM card or credit card in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, or Rwanda?

You can use ATM and Visa credit cards for money withdrawal in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania but there is a limit to how much you can withdraw per day. The banks are available in major towns but it may be difficult once you start your safari. You may wish to alert your bank before using your card abroad to avoid it being blocked.

Some establishments do not accept credit cards for payments and in cases where they are accepted, it may attract 5 – 10% additional charges.

Traveler’s cheques are no longer accepted.

10. Is MasterCard accepted?

Very few places in East Africa accept MasterCard. Consider bringing cash, which you can change, upon arrival. Banks and Forex bureaus will exchange cash.

Please note: US dollars bills issued before 1999 are NOT accepted in East Africa. Bills below 2006 or small denomination dollar bills (anything less than a USD 50 bill) attracts a lower exchange rate. Poor quality foreign currency notes may be rejected. Please ensure you bring with you new or excellent condition notes with no stains or tears.

11. What is the currency 

  • Uganda

The currency in Uganda is the Uganda Shilling, which is issued in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 Uganda Shillings notes. Coins are available for smaller denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 shillings.

  • Kenya

The currency unit in Kenya is the Kenyan shilling (KES), and the currency symbol is KSh. It comprises 100 cents (c). Coins that are currently used for trade are available in denominations of 50c and 1Shs, 5Shs, 10Shs, 20Shs, and 40 shillings. Banknotes (bills) are available in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shillings.

  • Tanzania

Tanzanian currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. Coins have denominations of 50, 100, 200, and 500 shillings. The current series of coins are all made from brass, except for the 500 shilling, which is nickel-plated steel. Banknotes currently in circulation have 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 shilling

  • Rwanda

The currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Francs, which is issued in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 Rwandan Francs notes. Coins are available for smaller denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 francs.

12. How do you deal with tipping?

Tipping in Uganda and Rwanda is usually according to the level of service and there are no fixed rates. Salaries are generally low in both countries and tips are highly appreciated. On average tips are in the rage of 5-10% in restaurants; USD 5-10 per day, per client for safari driver/guides and Ranger Guides; USD 5 per day for porters on mountaineering/hiking safaris, and USD 3-5 for Forest Walk guides.

Remember that tips are very personal and ultimately you decide how much you want to tip.

13. Is East Africa safe?

Generally, the East African countries are safe but occasional security issues may arise as in any other country therefore basic precautions should be taken. Do not leave bags or money unattended to avoid displaying expensive jewelry.

Our primary objective is to keep our safari guests as close to the animals as possible while simultaneously exposing you to safe interactions with the wide varieties of our land animals. Observing these animals interacting in close proximity to our adventurers is simply breathtaking.

14. Is Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali, and Dar es Salaam or Mombasa safe cities for tourists?

They are all some of the safest capital cities in  Africa – but again do not leave valuables unattended. Ask your driver/guide where unsure.

15. How safe is it for homosexuals to visit any of the East African countries?

Despite some negative press, East Africa is a safe country for gay and lesbian travelers. However, we recommend discretion as East Africa is a conservative region.

16. Can I do gorilla trekking in Uganda and or Rwanda?

Yes and you are required to buy a gorilla permit in advance of your trip.

Please be informed that gorilla tracking is dependent on the availability of tracking permits at the time of your booking. Gorilla permits in all parks are on very high demand and sale out pretty fast so we advise that you book them as early as possible.

All gorilla permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Uganda and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) – tourism body of the Rwandan government. Kubwa Five Safaris only secures them on your behalf.

To buy your gorilla permit, you will need to provide us with your full names, nationality, birth-date, passport number, preferred date of trekking, your home address, and gorilla permit fee. The minimum age for visiting the gorillas is 15 years. A certain level of fitness is required for the gorilla tracking, and you may not be allowed gorilla trekking if you are suffering from a communicable disease.

17. How much is the Gorilla permit?

A Gorilla permit in Uganda for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park costs USD $600 per person. A Rwanda gorilla permit for Volcanoes National Park costs USD $1500 per person.

18. What should I wear when gorilla trekking?

We recommend a lightweight rain jacket, a warm jacket for overcast days and evening, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers, waterproof walking boots, leather gardening-type gloves, sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, comfortable day pack for carrying water, and the minimum amount of personal items. In the case of sighting Gorillas, no flash photography is allowed and fast film is therefore recommended.

19. What items should I bring for my safari?

General: Antiseptic hand washComfortable day Pack for carrying water and some personal itemsSunscreenFlashlightInsect repellentWaterproof bags to protect equipmentElectric plug adapters for 240 volts AC 50 Hz – UK style square-pin in plugs are used

Clothing: It is preferable for you to use soft luggage as space in vehicles is limited. Good walking shoes/bootsSun hat or capSandals or other light shoesWaterproof jacketLighter clothing with layers for the eveningWarm clothing for mountainous regionswaterproof walking bootsSunglassesSwimsuit.

Equipment: Binoculars(waterproof ones)Cameras, changes of batteries, several 1GB cards instead of one large one to avoid losing all your photos in case something goes wrong.

Find out more in our blog: Things To Pack For Your African Safari

20. What should I know about photography?

No photographs of, or near, military buildings or soldiers are allowed. It is polite to ask people before taking their photographs.

21. How long in advance do I need to book my safari?

All tours will be booked and confirmed only upon receipt of a 40% deposit of the basic program rate. For gorilla permits, a full advance payment of the permit fee (US $600 per permit/person for Uganda and the US $1500 per permit/person for Rwanda,) and the chimpanzee permits (the US $150 per person) is required in order to make the reservation.

The payment balance is due no later than 42 days prior to the safari unless agreed otherwise.

Bookings made within 42 days before arrival must be paid in full at the time of confirmation.

If payment is not received in accordance with the above, Kubwa Five Safaris has the right to cancel the booking.

Find out more in our blog: Terms and Conditions

22.How can I pay for my safari?

Most of our clients pay by wire transfers. Bank details are available upon request.

Note that the availability of accommodation and Gorilla/ Chimpanzee permits is not guaranteed until Kubwa Five Safaris officially confirm the safari. Accommodation, permits and activity reservations will be made as soon as payment has been received on our account.

Please note that all bank charges are at the expense of the client.

23. What is Safari accommodation like?

We will work towards finding the perfect accommodation for your needs. The majority of safari lodges and hotels are small-scale, offering a unique experience with few rooms.

The three categories are mainly; budget, mid-range (moderate), or luxury (upmarket).

Budget accommodation may be simple and basic rooms, bandas, or tents, with double/twin beds and mosquito nets when necessary. You may have to share bathroom facilities, as private bathrooms are not always available. Electricity and piped/mains water supply may not always be available. Some remote locations may have ‘long-drop’ or compost (Eco) toilets.

Mid-range or Upmarket accommodation offers comfortable rooms or furnished safari tents with a private bathroom. Flush toilets and hot and cold running water are available.

24. What vehicles does Kubwa Five Safaris use for safaris?

Kubwa Five Safaris provides ‘pop-up roof’ 4WD safari vehicles for game viewing. The 4WD are either minibusses or Land cruisers where we ensure that everybody has a window seat to enjoy the best views. We limit the number in the minibus to seven while for land cruiser some carry seven, five, and three depending on size, to allow plenty of legroom and luggage storage. Groups of twelve and more people who would like to travel in one vehicle use the 25-29 seat Coaster buses that have approximately 16 window seats.

25. I am traveling on my own. Can I book my safari with Kubwa Five Safaris?

Solo travelers are welcome but please note that the cost of the safari will generally be higher than if you joined a group. We shall advise in case of scheduled safaris but group dynamics will be at play.

26. How many people are in your group safaris?

We offer tailor-made safaris for any number of participants. Considering the sitting arrangement concerning the cars – the maximum is 9 people for minibus but for everyone to have a window seat we recommend 7. For Land cruisers they range from 3 – 7 individuals. For 25-30 people we use coaster buses.

27. What other expenses should I expect after quoted safari costs?

Unless otherwise stated, tour prices quoted include; airport/hotel transfers, transport with fuel and driver/guide, accommodation, drinking water in a safari vehicle, National Park, and activity fees associated with your itinerary.

The quoted price does not include; airfare to/from Uganda, Visa fees if applicable, optional activities not included in the itinerary, refreshments and beverages (between-meal snacks, alcohol, other refreshments), personal items (porterage, telephone calls, and souvenirs), tips and gratuities.

In most cases, we will specify the extra charge of optional activities in your itinerary. If it is not clear to you, please contact us so we can confirm any additional fee(s).

28. Do you have scheduled Safaris?

Our scheduled safaris are published on our web site. Most of our scheduled safaris are based on festive seasons such as Easter holiday, Christmas, New Year, and public holidays.

Please note that our safaris happen throughout the year.

29. Do you cater for a special dietary person?

We take care of your dietary needs as far as the hotels cooperate which is usually positive when you let us know in advance so we make the necessary arrangements with the different lodges in your itinerary. Make sure that your driver-guide contacts the reception on arrival at the lodge.

30. What’s the best time of year to come to visit?

There is no bad time of year to visit East Africa. Even during the rainy seasons (April-May and October – November), it may rain for a short while before the sun shines again. For information when to visit East Africa, please look at our blog: When To Go And Where In East Africa/

31. Do the drivers/guides speak English?

Yes but if you require drivers or guides who speak other international languages, we can organize for German, Spanish, Chinese speaking guide, or translator, but you are required to inform us at the time of inquiry.

The success of your safari will largely depend on your driver/guide. It is because of this that we have a great team of carefully selected drivers /guides, well trained.

32. How much time should I expect to spend in the vehicle in any one day?

  • Uganda

The longest day of travel is for a three-day gorilla tour and this can be up to eight hours in a vehicle. During this journey, several stops will be made, including a visit to the Equator, a stop for lunch, and other stops for other facilities. Most itineraries will not require any more than five hours in a vehicle in one day – various stops are made to ensure your comfort.

  • Rwanda

The longest day of travel is for a three-day chimpanzee tour and this can be up to 6 hours in a vehicle. During this journey, several stops will be made, including a stop for lunch, a national museum, and or Kings Palace. Most itineraries will not require any more than three hours in a vehicle in one day.

  • Kenya and Tanzania

You will take between 4-6 hours in a vehicle.

33. How can I communicate home while on safari?

International telephone calls are made from most areas in East Africa and local SIM cards can be purchased. International roaming facilities are available.

Internet services are widely available at internet cafes, although the quality and speed of the connection vary. Some lodges have Wi-Fi.

All our drivers/guides have cell phones and maintain contact with the Office throughout safaris.

Please also see our Terms and Conditions for more information.