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Things to know

VISA AND PASSPORT INFORMATION

In general, Visa can be applied for on-entry or before the travel via the webpages below.

 

If you want to get the Visa before the travel (which is recommended) observe the following:

Tanzania:

You can apply for your three-month Tourist Visa at https://visa.immigration.go.tz/

A three-month Tourist Visa for Australians for example is currently priced at ~US$ 50 and is valid for three months.

A three-month Tourist Visa for Americans is ~US$100

 

Kenya:

You can apply for your three-month Tourist Visa at www.ecitizen.go.ke.

A three-month Tourist Visa to Kenya is currently priced at ~US$ 50.

 

Visitors should bring a:

  • Hard copy of a Tourist Visa

  • Valid passport which:
    a.    At least six months from the date of entry of the last country to be visited
    b.    has an empty page for each country to be visited
    c.    At least 2 empty pages minimum remaining after all countries have been visited.

 

We recommend you apply for your Tourist Visa at least a month or so from the time of your arrival in each country.

VACCINATIONS AND MEDICATIONS.

Yes! We strongly advise you to secure Travel Insurance for accident, sickness, emergency medical, baggage loss and trip cancellation.

 

COVID-19 ADVICE:

 

For entry into Tanzania and Kenya

As of the end of March 2022, visitors to Tanzania and Zanzibar no longer need to show a negative PCR covid test on arrival if they are fully vaccinated (and can present proof of vaccination with a Covid Vaccination QR certificate).

As rules might changes, please always check for official travel advisories, e.g. on the respective airport webpages.
The travel advisory for entry to Tanzania can be found for example on the webpage of Kilimanjaro Airport (https://www.kilimanjaroairport.go.tz/).

For Kenya you can consult Nairobi Airport (https://www.kaa.go.ke/airports/passenger-guide/)

 

 

YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION AND ANTI MALARIA MEDICATION:

Check with your doctor to get current recommendations and advice for travelling to East Africa.

Anti-malarial tablets are recommended as there is malaria in Africa. Whilst the probability of you getting malaria is low it is not worth the risk as nobody wants to be sick on their holiday.

 

Yellow Fever

A yellow Fever Vaccination card is compulsory for entry into Uganda (you must provide a copy of the card when applying for a tourist visa) and Zanzibar.

Depending on where you live, it might be difficult for you to get access to a Yellow Fever Vaccination through your doctor so plan early.

Make sure you have had your Yellow Fever Vaccination at least 3 weeks before you fly as it has been known that people who have had it just before departure have been stopped at the airport as it takes time for the body to get fully immune.

We understand however that doctors around the world may be giving advice that yellow fever is not required in Tanzania. Whilst it may be true in that there is a minimal health risk, they are still checking for yellow fever vaccination cards of passengers coming in on 50% of the arriving flights into Kilimanjaro.

 

More information on yellow fever vaccination can be found for example on the following webpage:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/tanzania

Countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission.

SAFARI PACKING LIST

It really depends on what level of luxury safari you have chosen but the list below should provide a good guide.

Please also note that many airlines within East Africa (especially those to and from Serengeti) have a check-in baggage limit allowance of 15 kgs. Therefore, your baggage should be packed in a small bag as possible so that it can fit into the small luggage compartment of the plane and in the back of the safari vehicle. If you have more than 15kg of check-in luggage, then depending on your itinerary, you can store excess luggage (at no extra charge) at our Porcupine Tours office in Arusha whilst you are on safari. Just send us an email if you think that this option can work for your individual trip. However, if worse comes to worst, and they do actually weigh your bags (as often they don’t) and its overweight, charges are only about $3/kg so nothing really to worry about.

When going on safari it is best to have two small bags:  one with most of your belongings for use at the camp/lodges that stays in the back of the vehicle; and a smaller one (daypack) for your photo equipment, sunscreen, hat, jacket and other personal items that will travel with you in the safari vehicle.

 

Take a picture/scan of important documents like your passport and Yellow Fever certificate. Bring a printed copy of each document with you (but pack the documents in a separate place to your handbag) and keep a digital copy of each document in your email inbox.

The following is recommended

  • Good quality sunglasses: if you wear contact lenses, it’s a good idea to bring along a pair of glasses in case your eyes become irritated by the dust

  • Sun hat

  • Small torch (regardless of the level of accommodation)

  • Good binoculars

  • Camera with zoom lens + spare film/memory card and batteries.  Make sure all batteries are fully charged and if you’re going to a lodge, you have your charger with you (as well as an adaptor for Tanzanian plugs) + waterproof/dust-proof bags to cover your cameras

  • Towel for budget lodges and camping.

  • Soap for bathing

  • Swimsuit as some of the lodges have swimming pools

  • Toiletries

  • Flip flops/thongs for wearing into shower areas or around the camp/your room in the evenings

  • If you are camping, then you need to bring a sleeping bag. We provide the mattress and sheet to cover the mattress and pillow. If required, a clean, second-hand sleeping bag can also be provided at no extra cost.

  • A small daypack to keep with you in the car during the day

  • Wildlife books if you want

  • Insect repellent

  • Sunscreen, moisturiser and lip balm

  • Prescription medications

  • Basic first aid kit. Our guides carry a first aid kit, however, should you need something, you might be more comfortable using your own (for diarrhoea, headaches….)

  • a roll of toilet paper can be good for any level of accommodation as the public toilets inside the national parks and at public campsites do not always have toilet paper in them. Budget to luxury lodges generally have toilet paper at them so no need to bring for overnight.

  • Wet wipes

  • Clothing should be lightweight, loose-fitting, and of “breathable” fabrics, such as cotton. While out in the bush you will find that neutral colours are best as they blend in with the natural surroundings and less likely to show the dust.

  • A sports bra for women is recommended as the roads can be bumpy and uneven.

  • If you are travelling during rainy season (March-July) it can rain heavily, but also outside this season you might encounter wet days. Light rain clothes are recommended.

 

For the daytime

  • Shorts

  • Pants in case of rain or if tsetse flies are around

  • T-shirts or golf shirts

  • Comfortable shoes or sandals (shoes are recommended in case it rains during your safari or if tsetse flies are around)

 

For the evenings

  • Long sleeved shirts

  • Trousers to protect yourself against the cold and mosquito bites

  • Fleece, sweater or jacket, as the nights can be quite cool depending on the season

FOR WOMEN TRAVELING IN THE CITY OF ARUSHA OR ZANZIBAR STONE TOWN

 

While traveling on safari or on the beaches of Zanzibar, the above-mentioned clothing rules apply. However, when residing in the city of Arusha pre and/or post safari, or while visiting Zanzibar’s Stone town, the following cultural rules apply to clothing for women.

  • knees must be covered.  Capris and skirts covering knee is acceptable.  No shorts.

  • midriff covered.

  • tanks are acceptable if not tight fitting and with more than a spaghetti strap.

  • comfort fitting around butt and thigh- no skintight.

  • for visiting a mosque in Stone town- a nice cloth head covering of sheer or solid fabric, or local “kanga” is appreciated out of respect for Muslim culture.  A bandanna or ball cap is not adequate.

While you will find other foreign guests “breaking” the above rules of attire, it is considered culturally insensitive to ignore.  Additionally, you may find yourself the recipient of some unwanted comments and ogling.  If caught in an emergency where you are unable to adhere to the above recommendations, wrapping a local fabric called a “kanga” or long scarf around your waist is considered very respectful and any Tanzanian women will be more than happy to assist you with one. The “kanga” also makes for a fantastic authentic souvenir!

Power sockets

 

As is with the UK, East Africa utilizes three flat-pronged sockets called BS-1363 (see picture).  If you have a three-flat prong adapter, that will be all you need.  For guests bringing expensive electrical materials like iPod or laptops, a surge protector is also recommended, as the electricity here can sometimes be unreliable and unstable. On a good day, the electricity supply is the same as Australia (220 V), just don’t bring your toaster oven!

UK power socket as it is used in Tanzania

Internet

Some selected lodges have internet facilities, although it can be slow and unreliable. It is best to ask hotel / Lodges workers if it is working that day and how you can connect to it. There are also internet cafes in most larger towns/cities. We would advise you to travel expecting little internet access, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised whenever you are able to get online!

In Tanzania, there are several options and providers of mobile internet services.

  1. Vodacom Tanzania: Vodacom is one of the leading mobile network operators in Tanzania. They offer mobile internet services through 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE technologies. Vodacom has a wide coverage across the country and provides various data packages and plans to suit different user requirements.

  2. Airtel Tanzania: Airtel is another major mobile network operator in Tanzania. They provide mobile internet services through 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. Airtel has a significant coverage area and offers data bundles and plans for prepaid and postpaid customers.

  3. Tigo Tanzania: Tigo is a prominent mobile network operator in Tanzania. They offer mobile internet services through 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE technologies. Tigo provides data packages, plans, and promotions to cater to different user needs. They have a wide coverage area across Tanzania.

SIM cards can be bought for little price in one of the various telecom stores or huts.

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL IN EAST AFRICA?

 

If we felt that traveling in East Africa was unsafe, we would not encourage visitors to come. Yes, petty theft exists in major towns and cities in East Africa, as it does all around the world. However, if you are sensible and use common sense with taking care of your items, then your visit to East Africa will be a wonderful and safe one. Avoid walking alone at night and keep a close eye on your camera, phone and handbag whilst around popular marketplaces.

INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL FLIGHTS

We are happy to help you plan for your East African safari of a lifetime.

Visitors always fly into East Africa using one of the following airports as their point of entry:
• Julius Nyerere International Airport Dar es Salaam-Tanzania (DAR) • Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)-Tanzania
• Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi-Kenya (JKIA)

 

Which point of entry to use should be determined by the safari itinerary you have planned, therefore booking international flights should not be completed until a draft itinerary has at least been organised (as you can save money by ensuring you choose the closest and most direct point of entry and exit).

 

From the International airports above, you may need assistance organising regional flights within countries to destinations such as Zanzibar, any National Park, Mombasa or
any other domestic airport within any of the East African countries.

Please note that most regional airlines operating within East Africa have a 15kg check in luggage allowance.

If you need our help, simply send us an email on  info@porcupinetours.com

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BOOKING MY INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT?

Before booking your international flight, it’s best to have a draft safari itinerary already in hand, as internal East African traveling costs can be reduced with some careful planning. Together, we can save you money by being clever and innovative regarding your itinerary, so you can afford that extra glass of wine whilst you overlook a river full of elephants.

 

CAN PORCUPINE TOURS HELP ME BOOK FLIGHTS?

Yes. Porcupine Tours help booking local flights,  road transfers and any accommodation required whilst you are in East Africa. For international flights outside East Africa, we recommend going through a travel agent in your home country.

SEASONS OF EAST AFRICA

Summer - Calving Season (Dec-March)

Even though this is considered the ‘hottest time of the year’, the highest average temperature is only 28C and the average coolest temperature is 15C. Inland East Africa is at a high altitude but also sits on the equatorial belt, therefore it has one of the best year-round climates in the world. You may obtain more detailed weather information by going to the following link: Arusha weather

However not everything is perfect and there are some year-round weather extremes in Tanzania which you should know about:
• In the Ngorongoro Crater area (especially on the rim), evenings and early mornings can be quite cold so dressing in layers is a good strategy (so you can shed or add layers as required)
• Zanzibar is down on the Tanzanian coast (a 12-hr drive and a ferry trip away from Arusha) so it has a typical tropical climate. Swimming is on the agenda every day all year round in Zanzibar.

 

From around late November, the short rains start marking the end of the dry season. Even though the short rains are usually sporadic and don’t last long, we still recommend adding an extra day to safari itineraries during this time as an insurance against possible bad weather. Heavier rains usually start in late March. Tanzania is a year-round birding destination with over 1000 species, but it’s especially good during December to February when approximately 160 species of migratory birds make their way south.

January, February and early to mid-March are also good months for climbing Kilimanjaro.

Regarding the two million wildebeest and zebras (who often graze together because each animal prefers a different part of the same grass) who participate in the greatest wildlife show on earth – the annual 3,000km cyclic migration, the herd is generally in the southern part of the Serengeti during December through to March. This time of the year coincides with “calving season” because zebras usually give birth in January and then from late January through to mid-March, over 90% of the wildebeest give birth. Wildebeests have evolved so that most of their calving happens within a three-week period, where 8,000 wildebeest calves are born each day! Wildebeest calves can run minutes after they are born and can keep up with the herd when they are only days old. With such a sudden and massive surge of available food, predators do not make any real dent in the new born calf population.

 

 

 

Autumn -Green Season. (March-June)

The long rains usually start in late March, but don’t be put off, as safaris are still good. Wildlife concentrations are at their highest in southern Serengeti, and there’s the bonus of having no dust around! With fewer crowds, lower accommodation prices and abundant wildlife, this can be the best time to go on safari (we simply recommend adding an extra day onto safari itineraries as an insurance against possible bad weather).

By June however, the skies have cleared, and all the parks have begun their season of change as the dry season sets in.

Regarding the wildebeest/zebra migration, by April and May the southern Serengeti plains have been eaten out and are no longer able to sustain the large herd with its new offspring. So, magically, the herd starts to move (in lines which can be kilometres long), towards the long grass plains and woodlands of the Serengeti’s Western Corridor. For the migrants, there is a high mortality rate due to injury and perhaps fatigue, so large numbers of vultures follow the herds along their journey as well. Over the complete 3,000km cyclic migration trek, an estimated 250,000 wildebeest won’t survive.

During this movement towards the Serengeti’s Western Corridor, the wildebeest “rut” takes place during a period of about three weeks from mid-June to early July. It is both chaotic and spectacular as approximately 250,000 males strive to mate with as many of the 750,000 plus females as they can.

 

Rainy season - The Great Wildebeests Migration. (July - August)

Even though it’s ‘winter’, most days you still only need a t-shirt by lunch time.
The rains are long gone, and the air is cool and dry. This time is considered by many to be the best time for game viewing as most water holes have dried up and animals (and their predators!) are concentrated around the few remaining. However, this time also coincides with the Northern Hemisphere summer holidays so it’s very crowded and advance bookings are essential as accommodation is in short supply.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is great during these months.

Regarding the wildebeest/zebra migration, from July onwards Serengeti’s western Corridor is eaten out, so the herd starts to move north as they look towards the Masai Mara in Kenya. Their first big obstacle is crossing the Grumeti River, which can get quite deep in places, especially if the rains have been good. The depth of the river makes drowning a real possibility and there are plenty of crocodiles happy to take advantage of any distress. After jump crossing the Grumeti River in Tanzania, the herd moves further north towards the Masai Mara. However, before they can get to its sweet grasses, they must jump cross a second river, the Mara River, which again is filled with hungry crocodiles and river lions waiting for them on the opposite side.

Please note that most visitors do not witness the wildebeest crossing of the Grumeti and Mara Rivers as the timing and duration varies widely from year to year. It is difficult to predict when the crossings will take place as it depends on the rains, global warming and sadly the wildebeest don’t know how to read itineraries.

 

Dry season (Sept- Nov)

Temperatures are perfect and water holes are almost dried up. However, the summer holidays are still on in the northern hemisphere, so it can still be crowded, although numbers are greatly decreased by November.

If you want to climb Kilimanjaro, September is a perfect time to do it.

Regarding the wildebeest/zebra migration, most of them are now in the Masai Mara in Kenya (with some remaining in the north of Tanzania). However, by November the Masai Mara pastures have been exhausted and like magic, the short rains start in the Serengeti sometime in November. This marks the end of the dry season and the migratory herd senses it. They now start to surge back down to the new green pastures of the Serengeti South.

November to May is a great time to see the wildebeest/zebra migratory herd in the Serengeti.

By December, most of the migratory herd is back in the southern Serengeti and early in the New Year they give birth once again….and so the circle of life continues.

Please note that the migration routes, timing, and direction changes from year to year as it is influenced by global warming, rains, and grass growth. The main herd also often splits into two or more smaller groups and depending on when you visit, seeing the migration cannot be guaranteed.

MONEY, CREDIT CARDS AND LOCAL CURRENCY 

(Tanzanian or Kenyan shillings)

 

Kenya and Tanzania both use “Shillings”, while Rwanda uses the “Franc”. We advise you to check www.xe.com for current exchange rates. Normally the only way to change US, Euro, or Pound cash is to take the cash to a bank and ask the bank to give your local currency. Note however that banks are only open Monday to Friday 9 am-4 pm and are normally closed on the weekends, so you need to plan accordingly so as not to be out of cash. Banks prefer to change large denominations such as $100 or $50 notes, with lower denominations normally attracting a lower exchange rate. Notes also need to be quite new (i.e., produced no earlier than 2015; the newer the better).

VISA and MasterCard are accepted at many ATMs around larger towns as well as at larger city hotels.

It is recommended that you bring some USD cash which you can exchange into local currency at nearly any bank in East Africa as well as a VISA or MasterCard as a backup to get local currency at almost any of the many ATMs in the larger towns in the country where you are visiting.

 

WHAT SPENDING MONEY SHOULD I BUDGET FOR?

As you know, the cost of your safari is covered but you will want to have some spending money for drinks, laundry, souvenirs, and tips.

There is information, here you can access ATMs or get local currency cash for spending.

 

HOW CAN I PURCHASE ADDITIONAL DRINKS WHILE ON SAFARI?

You can get basic alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks at all safari spots by paying directly to their bar. Most places will accept local shillings or US currency as payment. A beer is around $2 USD or so, for example.

Some hotels and camps have a credit card machine which you can use to pay your bill but note that if you do use this option, you will be charged at least 5% bank fee. Best to carry cash as electricity and network inhibit credit card machines often from working.

 

HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP?

Tipping: Tipping in Tanzania is like the USA system. Whilst it is impossible for us to provide a detailed guide (as every safari has different elements of service and we don’t want to limit your generosity, below may help with your trip planning.

Re tips, local community members prefer local currency as changing USD into local currency is not easy. However, if USD is all you have available, then it will be accepted with a thankful smile.

 

Transfer Driver: ~$5-10 in local currency per car for drivers doing airport transfers.

Luggage carriers ~$1-2 in local currency, per person when checking in or out

Night guides who walk you to your room ~$1-2 in local currency per night guide

Waiters and hotel staff: Feel free to tip individual waiters as you wish. There is also normally a “tip box’ for hotel staff to share. It is suggested that $2 per person in the group could be put into the tip box on check out.

Driver guide: We suggest ~ $10-$15 US in local currency, per person (client) per day.  If the service is good give more, if not adjust your tip accordingly. Generally, tips are given at the end of the safari.

 

ARE OLDER USD NOTES ACCEPTED?

USD notes will need to have been produced in the year 2015 or later. Some banks may accept older notes but don’t risk it as even if they do accept your older notes, the exchange rate will not be good. Also remember that bank hours of operating are 9am to 4pm only and they are not open over the weekend and so you need to plan accordingly as there are no banks out in the national parks.

Most banks however have an ATM these days that accepts Visa and possibly other credit cards. ATM dispense local currency and can be found in towns or outside the arrival’s hall at Tanzanian airports.

 

CAN I GET LOCAL CURRENCY ON ARRIVAL?

Yes, there are ATMs (where you can use your credit card like Visa to withdraw local currency) and local forex shops (where you can change USD/EURO/POUND cash into local currency) normally at the airport or close by. Just ask your airport pickup Porcupine Tours driver to assist you in locating them.

Having some local currency is good as it will help you in paying for smaller items such as drinks or snacks during your trip. Local stores, restaurants and souvenir shops usually charge in local currency although some may accept visa card (often with a surcharge %) or USD cash (however if you pay in USD cash you will normally be charged at a higher rate forex wise).

Then, any local currency you have leftover may be used to tip local community people who assist you during your trip.

If you do carry foreign currency, be sure to carry small notes for things such as tips and drinks in whatever currency you choose, as it is difficult to get change on safari.

 

WHAT ARE THE BANKING HOURS IN EAST AFRICA?

Generally, banks are open Monday thru Friday 9am to 4pm only and some open Saturday mornings.

LEARN SOME SWAHILI (East Africans Language)

 

Just pronounce the words the way as it is written. Easy!

 

Well done on trying to learn a few words of Swahili before coming to East Africa!
Best of luck!

 

Greetings

Greetings are important in East Africa, and you don’t launch into a conversation or even ask a question without first saying “hello, how are you?”

Greetings

Goodnight
Lala salama
Nice to meet you
Nafurahi kukuona
See you later
Baadae
Goodbye
Kwa heri
Fine (response)
Nzuri
How are you?
Habarin gani?
Hello
Jambo or Salama

Civilities

Friend
Rafiki
I don't understand
Sielewi
How do you say in Swahili?
Unasemaje kwa Kiswahili
Just a little bit
Kidogo tu!
Do you speak Swahili?
Unasema Kiswahili?
Do you speak English?
Unasema kiingereza?
May I take a picture?
Naoma kupiga picha
I'm from ...
Natokea ...
Where are you from?
Unatoka wapi?
My name is
Jina langu ni ...
What is your name?
Jina lako nani?
Can you help me?
Tafadhali, naomba msaada
Your're Welcome
Karibu
Excuse me
Samahani
OK
Sawa
Please
Tafadhali
Thank you very much
Asante sana
Thank you
Asante
No
Hapana
Yes
Ndiyo

Getting around

mosquito net
chandarua
How much is it per night?
ni bei gani kwa usiku?
reservation
akiba
room
chumba
hotel
hoteli
How much is the fare?
Nauli ni kiasi gani?
Where are you going?
Unakwenda wapi?
ticket
tikiti
Over there
pale
there
huko
Is it far?
Ni mbali?
Is it near?
Ni karibu?
I'd like to buy a ticket
Nataka kununua tikiti
Is there a bus going to ...?
Kuna basi ya ...?
train
treni or gari la moshi
Minibus
matatu (Kenya)
Minibus
dalla dall (Tanzania)
bus
basi
what time is the ... leaving?
inaondoka saa ... ngapi?
toilet/bathroom
choo
tourist office
ofisi ya watali
police station
kituo cha polisi
market
soko
bank
benki
train station
stesheni ya treni
taxi stand
stendi ya teksi
bus stop
bas stendi
bus station
stesheni ya basi
airport
uwanja wa ndege
Where is the ...
ni wapi ...

Days and numbers

100,000
laki
1000
elfu
200
mia mbili
100
mia
90
tisini
80
themanini
70
sabini
60
sitini
50
hamsini
40
arobaini
30
thelathini
20
ishirini
12
kumi na mbili
11
kumi na moja
10
kumi
9
tisa
8
nane
7
saba
6
sita
5
tano
4
nne
3
tatu
2
mbili
1
moja
Sunday
Jumapili
Saturday
Jumamosi
Friday
Ijumaa
Thursday
Alhamisi
Wednesday
Jumatano
Tuesday
Jumanne
Monday
Jumatatu
every day
kila siku
later
baadae
now
sasa
yesterday
jana
tomorrow
kesho
today
leo

Food and drinks

vegetables
mboga
fruit
matunda
beef
nyama ng'ombe
fish
sumaki
chicken
nyama kuku
meat
nyama
milk
maziwa
beer
bia
soda
soda
drinking water
maji ya kunywa
hot water
maji ya moto
water
maji
hot/cold
ya moto/baridi
food
chakula
I'd like
Nataka ...

Health

medicine
dawa
vomitting
tapika
diarrrhoea
harisha or endesha
headache
umwa kichwa
malaria
melaria
fever
homa
It hurts here
naumwa hapa
I need a doctor
nataka kuona daktari
I'm sick
mimi ni mgonjwa
medical center
matibabu
hospital
hospitali
doctor
daktari
Where can I find a ...
Naweza kupata ... wapi?

Animals

zebra
punda milia
wildebeest
nyumbu
warthog
ngiri
rhino
kifaru
lion
simba
leopard
chui
hyena
fisi
hippo
kiboko
goat
mbuzi
giraffe
twiga
elephant
tembo
cow
ng'ombe
cheetah
duma
buffalo
nyati
animal
wanyama
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