East and South Africa Travel Information

Affable Tours and Safaris East Africa, is a registered Tour Operator in the Republic of Kenya. The following travel applies for East and and South Africa travel.

01

HEALTH

Visitors arriving from yellow fever and cholera infested countries must have valid vaccination certificates. This is particularly important when crossing from one East African country to another one.

Malaria is rare in Nairobi and the highland but prevalent in hot and humid low altitudes around the costal region, Lake Victoria and the savannah. Malaria prophylactics should be taken when visiting East Africa and must be started 2 weeks before the intended date of travel and 2 weeks after departure. 

It is safe to swim in the sea and swimming pools but it is not recommended in lakes, rivers and open reservoirs as they maybe infested with bilharzias parasites. Tap water is usually safe for drinking but is advisable to use bottled water during your stay in East Africa. Bottled mineral water is widely available. 

The Flying Doctor Service provides a very effective air ambulance in case of accidents and covers the whole of East Africa. We can arrange an independent rescue cover for you if this is not included in your package at an extra cost of 30 US$ per person for a two week membership. East Africa’s top medical facilities are in Nairobi. At the Aga Khan Hospital and Nairobi Hospital there is highly qualified medical personnel readily available to deal with any emergency.

02

CLIMATE

Because of East Africa’s diverse geography, temperature, rainfall and humidity vary widely. There are effectively 4 zones about which generalizations can be made. 

The area around the Lake Victoria is generally hot and fairly humid with rainfall spread throughout the year. The greatest precipitation with 200mm is usually during the month of April while the lowest are in January. Temperatures range from 18 C to 34 C. 

The highlands around Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro and the Rift Valley enjoy perhaps the most agreeable in the country though there is quite a variation between the hot and relatively dry floor of the central Rift Valley and the snow capped peaks of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. The rainfall varies from 20 mm in July to 200mm in April and falls essentially into 2 seasons (March – May, long rains and October – December, short rains). Temperatures vary from a min of 10 degree Celsius to 28 degree Celsius.

In the vast semi arid bush lands and deserts of northern and eastern Kenya and eastern and southern Tanzania the most extreme variations in Temperature are found ranging from 40C during the day to 18 C at night. Rainfall is sparse and when it falls it often comes in the form of violent storms. July is generally the driest month while November is the wettest. 

The costal belt, the fourth climatic zone is hot and humid all year round though tempered by coastal sea breezes. Average temperatures vary little throughout the year ranging from a min of 24C to 30C.

03

CUSTOMS & VISA REQUIREMENTS

Kenya has three international airports; Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Moi International Airport, Mombasa and Moi International Airport, Eldoret.

These airports service numerous international carriers including the national airline Kenya Airways. Kenya has good connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Asia- Pacific region, USA and Africa.

Kenya can be accessed by road from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia. Immigration should be processed at land border stations. Entry by sea is possible, and immigration should be processed at a port facility.

Visa Information -  Most visitors require a visa to visit Kenya. Single- entry tourist visas are available upon entry (by road or air) for US$ 50. Multiple-entry visas cost US$ 100. The costs vary at Kenyan embassies and consulates – the fees for single -/multiple-entry tourist visas at the Kenya High Commission in London are 30 /60 pounds respectively.

Visa fees for Tanzania are US$50.00 for single entry, and US$100.00 for double entry. For American citizens however, visa fees will be US$100.00. The new fees will apply to single and all multiple entry visas.

* Note: The visa fee is subject to change

Citizens of the following countries need to have a visa prior to arrival in Kenya;

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Jordan
  3. Senegal
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Lebanon
  6. Somali
  7. Armenia
  8. Mali
  9. Syria
  10. Cameroon
  11. North Korea
  12. Tadjikistan
  13. Iraq
  14. Nigeria (residing outside Nigeria)
  15. Ivory Coast
  16. Stateless Persons

For those whose country doesn't appear in the list above, visas can be obtained at the Airport upon arrival. It's advisable to obtain the visa from the Kenyan Embassy/High Commission in your country prior to departure.

* Note: The list of countries shown above is subject to change

04

PHOTOGRAPHY

East Africa is the photographer’s dreamland since there is abounded wildlife and bird life in their natural habitat, magnificent scenery, colorful people and reliable and unlimited sunlight. 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 always permission from them should be sought and the local culture respected. 

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

05

DRIVING

For the first time visitor to East Africa self-drive vehicle are not advisable. The few tarmac roads are mostly 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 treacherous seas of mud during the rainy season. If you still insist on driving on your own you need an international driving license. 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.

06

CURRENCY AND BANKING

There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you may 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 you leave you can change the local currency back into your currency but you may be sometimes asked for the initial exchange receipt. US$ are acceptable for payments in most tourist establishments and are more commonly used than the Euros. Many hotels and all National Parks quote their rates in US$ for visitors. 


Credit cards are widely accepted in tourist establishments, however often a 5% surcharge for processing card payments is charged. In Kenya there are many ATMs where you can use credit cards to obtain cash. The banking system in Kenya is very advanced as compared to Uganda and especially Tanzania. Banking hours are usually from 8.00 am – 3.00pm from Monday– Friday.

07

SECURITY

Like 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 obvious valuables while in crowded places and busy streets. Walking alone at night should be avoided. Besides an efficient police force and a special Tourist Police Unit, most hotels employ experienced security personnel.

08

MEDIA

International newspapers as well as local English Newspapers are available. There are several television stations in all the major urban centers airing international and local news at regular intervals. Most town hotels will have television in the rooms or visitors lounge.

09

TELEPHONE AND POSTAL SERVICE.

East Africa has relatively good telecommunication networks for local and international services. International STD system is fully operational in most urban center and there are mobile cell 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.

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

10

ELECTRICITY ON SAFARI

The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 v 50hz. Plugs are 3 point square. If you are planning to bring a video camera charger or any other electrical advice, please bring voltage and plug adaptors where appropriate. Most lodges and camps on safari are situated in remote areas and have to generate their own electricity, which is done in a number of ways.

Each camp has a generator that runs for about six hours per day (three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon when guests are out on activities). These generators then charge batteries located at each tented room or supply power to each guest lodge room. Typically, power will be available when you are in the lodge or camp, except for overnight. Therefore, it is imperative that you have your own flashlight handy. Electrical plug outlets are not usually available in guest rooms and therefore it is not possible to use appliances such as hairdryers or electric shavers during your stay. Solar heated water is used for showers in many camps and lodges.

11

TIME

East African local time Local time zone is G.M.T (Greenwich Mean Time) plus three hours excepting for Rwanda and Burundi which are G.M.T plus two hours.

12

TIPPING

Most hotels, game lodges and tented camps include a service charge in their tariff, as do most restaurants. Though not mandatory, tipping is well appreciated if you are inspired by exceptional service and wish to express extra appreciation. 

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

13

LOCAL LANGUAGE

JAMBO is one of the most common words you will hear spoken throughout Kenya. This is the simplest Swahili greeting, and is often the first word learned by visitors to Kenya.

Swahili (locally referred to as Kiswahili) is Kenya's national language and spoken in all of East Africa. Swahili originated on the East African coast, as a trade language used by both Arabs and coastal tribes. The language incorporated elements of both classical Arabic and Bantu dialects, and became the mother tongue of the Swahili people who themselves rose from the intermarriage of Arab and African cultures.

A little Swahili goes a long way in Kenya. It is worth learning a little, and most Kenyans are thrilled to hear visitors attempt to use any Swahili at all.