Welcome to our Travel Notes. Get to know more about our destinations here..
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda have a wide range of standards when it comes to accommodation. They have lush lodges, five star to one star hotel in the big cities, bush lodges, guest houses, motels, campsites and tented lodges, hotels and guesthouses. The service in these 1-5 star hotels is not as luxurious as in highly developed countries. Out of the big towns, the service and facilities also differ although we have some that are it is of varying standard with no electricity and running tap water and perhaps poor cell network coverage. Payments are made in dollars in most places save for a few where you may need Ugandan shillings or Rwandan Francs. In some city hotels, credit cards and cheques are widely accepted although if you book a safari or tour with us, all these are paid for beforehand and you do not have to pay for accommodation separately.
Most countries in East Africa experience tropical climate which is highly dependent on the altitude. Places with higher altitude like areas around Mt.Kenya and central Kenya, Kasese, Kisoro and Kapkwai in Uganda and Ruhengeri in Rwanda have cooler weathers due to their high altitudes. The hottest months during the year are December, January to February when temperatures go up to 29.5 Celsius although it could rain anytime because of their tropical ecosystems. The rainy seasons fall during the months are April, May, October and Part of November with the wettest being April. Eastern Africa are a bit warmer although others can be hotter than usual. December-February and June-July come up as the driest months when roads become dusty.
International communications, Postal and courier services are well organised in Kenya, Uganda Tanzania and Rwanda. Receiving letters, sending a package within in and out of these countries is not a challenge anymore. When trying to contact people outside of Africa, It is advisable to have an unlocked phone card and phone with international roaming data and call plans, use of VOIP, international video calling like Skype or Viber, purchase a phone card or use public pay phones. When dialing to other neighboring countries, you will need an International digit dialing (IDD) number which has 4 sets of numbers. The IDD code for Kenya is +254, Uganda is +256; that for Rwanda is +250 and Tanzania is +255. International telephone communication remains developed in all the 4 countries and other parts of Africa. Outside of the big cities or in places with limited telephone communication coverage, the use of two-way radio communication is applied.
When travelling to the 4 countries, to advisable to buy a travel adapter. These can be obtained at local stores in Walmart, Target among others if travelling from the US. Local voltage in Uganda is 240volts, 5.0V output AC. 3-pin (square) sockets. Electric switches generally switch on upwards. Some camps and lodges upcountry do not have electricity but rely on solar power. For such cases, charging of your batteries and phones will be improvised.
Most African countries have more than one international airport. Kenya’s main international gateway is Jomo Kenyatta international Airport is a 30 minutes drive from the Nairobi CBD with no traffic. Although, you can decide to fly directly to other international airports like Kisumu, Eldoret and Moi in Mombassa if its where you have start of activities or tours.
In Uganda, the main gate way is Entebbe international airport which is a 40Km drive south of Kampala and is adjacent to Lake Victoria, a water body and this is very similar to London Haethrow. Rwanda’s international gateway is Kanombe International Airport while Tanzania has Julius Nyerere International Airport. A number of International and regional carriers operate regular flights to and from East Africa: From Europe, You can fly with SN Brussels, Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Qatar and Etihad airways.
From the US, you can fly with Delta Airways, which does code sharing with KLM, Lufthansa, South African airways, Emirates, Qatar and Etihad airways. Regional flights that still offer international flights include Rwanda Air, Air Tanzania, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airways, Gulf Air, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Precision Airways and SAS Airlines, Please note that most international carriers do not have daily flights to all countries but do code sharing with flights that fly daily in and out of East Africa.
For domestic visits, Air Kenya, Jambo jet, Fly 540 in Kenya, Aerolink Uganda operates to air strips and even offer charter services.
Gorilla Tracking and permits
You need to have a day’s gorilla tracking permit in order to track mountain gorillas. The permits are to be paid for in full 8 months in advance and are subject to availability. Each gorilla park (Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda and Parc National des Volcans [PNV] in Rwanda) has different numbers of permits per day. No person is allowed to track more than three times in three consecutive days. Permits are non-refundable except for medical reasons on condition that a medical certificate has is provided. Young trackers below the age of 12 and those with illnesses are not allowed to track. Ensure to follow the following rules during tracking;
- Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other Infectious illness.
- Human waste should be buried 30cm (12”) deep
- Maximum number of visitors is eight persons per gorilla group
- Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla
- Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted on the tour
- If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans
- Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day
- Do not use flash photography
When visiting and staying in East Africa, it is expected that you produce a valid International Certificate of Vaccination on arrival. It is also recommended that all travelers be vaccinated against Meningitis, Typhoid, Hepatitis and Yellow fever. Visitors in transit through a yellow fever, Tuberculosis and cholera zone (most of tropical Africa and South America) may not need to produce a valid international certificate but it’s still highly advisable that you get vaccinated. East Africa lies in the tropical climate; which implies that malaria is prevalent and visitors should take prophylactics against malaria although the best way to avoid catching malaria is to avoid bites by using mosquito repellent and sleeping under treated mosquito nets. Mosquito nets are provided in most hotels, lodges and camps but travelers should carry along mosquitoes or insect repellants. Heavy precautions should be taken against malaria both when visitors are in the country, and when they return home. It is advisable to drink only boiled or bottled water and desist from swimming in still pools or ponds.
Medical assistance is available throughout the region but modern medical assistance is available in the major towns. Its advisable that you bring special medical supplies you may need or want. If possible, you can also have a medical insurance plan that involves medical evacuation if need be. Most hospitals in larger cities work 24/7 but chemists open at 08h00 and close at 17h00 while a few work on weekends.
It is a condition of booking that all clients must have, and demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour. Such insurance should fully cover death; personal injury; loss; accident; medical expenses; repatriation in the case of accident, illness or death cancellation of the tour by the company or client; and loss of, damage to, or theft of the clients’ personal property. Activities with a greater inherent risk, such as mountaineering, animal tracking, water rafting, swimming in lakes, should be covered.
Trip cancellation can occur due to various reasons not limited to:
Unexpected illness or injury of you or a traveling companion that deems you unfit to travel, by order of a licensed physician, hospitalization or death of a non-traveling family member, Weather or common carrier related issues that deems travel impossible, Unforeseen natural disasters or acts of God at home or at the destination, legal obligations among others.
In case you need to cancel your trip for any reason, please contact James Safaris Africa and also note that our cancellation policy states that amount refunded only depends on the time of cancellation.
Cancellations are only effective on receipt of a written notification (s). If cancellation is prior to 8 weeks before departure your deposit is forfeited. If your cancellation is made after the due date for full payment of your tour fare, charges will be levied. The scale of charges, expressed as a percentage of the tour prices, is as follows:
More than 12 weeks’ notice -70% of deposit refunded
Less than 8 weeks’ notice – 50% of deposit refunded
Less than 4 weeks’ notice – 25% of deposit refunded
Less than 2 weeks’ notice – NO amount of deposit is refunded.
Kindly note that these payments exclude payment made to gorilla permits as it is another entity.
Should you fail to join a safari or join it after departure or leave it prior to its completion, no safari fare refund can be made.
Before taking pictures of people it is polite to ask. Photographs should not be taken of people or religious ceremonies without their consent. Photography of the airport or strategic buildings, military installations and soldiers is NOT allowed. Bring sufficient films, including fast film for gorilla tracking and batteries although these can readily be bought in Kampala and Kigali. Only print film and processing is available in Kampala/Kigali, not slide. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari. Commercial photographers should consult the Ministry of Information for a permit.
A visa is a clearance permitting an individual to proceed to visit another country. Kenyan/Ugandan/Rwandan/Tanzanian visas are issued at our Embassies abroad and also at the Entry/Exit Points such as Jomo Kenyatta, Moi, Entebbe, Dar es saalam and Kanombe international Airports and at exit points of Malaba, Busia, Gatuna, Cyanika and Namanga. Currently, East Africa Visa $100.00 – allows travels between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with the same multiple entry visa. The holder of the East Africa Tourist Visa shall enter the region from the country that issued the visa and move within the two other countries without applying for another visa or paying another visa fee for a period not exceeding 90 days. As of July 22- 2016 Uganda Tourist Visas are 50 Usd. As of August 1 -2016 you can apply for a Tourism Visa online – or get your visa on Arrival.
For Tanzania, it’s advisable to apply for a Visa online or at the missions in their respective countries as a multiple entry visa cannot be obtained on arrival. A valid passport is mandatory in all cases. Must have enough leafs for visa stamping and monitoring. For more info please visit:
http://www.tanzaniaconsul.com/visa.html – Tanzania
Insurance is a condition of booking, that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependents/travelling companions for the duration of their trip to Africa. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities: can-collation or curtailment of the safari, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, and repatriation expenses, damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods. James Safaris Africa, including their representatives, employees and agents will take no responsibility for any costs, losses incurred or suffered by the guest, or guest’s dependents or travelling companions, with regards to, but not limited to, any of the above mentioned eventualities. Guests will be charged directly by the relevant service providers for any emergency services they may require, and may find themselves in a position unable to access such services should they not be carrying the relevant insurance cover. James Safaris Africa can upon request provide insurance quotes for Travel Guard Insurance.
Guests not wishing to purchase comprehensive travel and medical insurance, will be asked to sign a liability release form.
Neither James Safaris Africa nor any person or agent acting for, through or on behalf of the Company shall be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising from any cause whatsoever and without restricting the generality of the afore-going shall particularly not be responsible for loss or damage arising from any errors or omissions contained in its brochure or other literature, loss or damage caused by delays, sickness, theft, injury or death.
In addition the Company shall have the right at any time at its discretion to cancel any safari or the remainder thereof or make any alteration in route, accommodation, price or other details and, in the event of any safari being rendered impossible, illegal or inadvisable by weather, strike, war, government or interference or any other cause whatsoever, the extra expenses incurred as a result thereof shall be the responsibility of the passenger. The Company may at its discretion and without liability or cost to itself at any time cancel or terminate the guest’s booking and in particular without limiting the generality of the afore-going it shall be entitled to do so in the event of the illness or the illegal or incompatible behavior of the guest, who shall in such circumstances not be entitled to any refund. The person making any booking will, by the making of such booking, warrant that he or she has authority to enter into a contract on behalf of the other person included in such a booking and in the event of the failure of any or all of the other persons so included to make payment, the person making the booking shall by his/her signature thereof assume personal liability for the total price of all bookings made by him/her.