OUR TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOU
Itinerary /travel plan
From time to time, our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from clients comments and our own research.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
A few of the activities and lodges have age restrictions.
In Uganda, children below the age of 15 are not permitted to view the gorillas; while children below the age of 12 are not permitted on chimpanzee treks.
In Kenya, children below the age of 7 are not permitted at Serena Mountain Lodge.
In Tanzania, children below the age of 7 are not permitted at lodges in the Selous.
In Zanzibar, children below the age of 16 years are not permitted at The Palms.
Banking hours are generally from 0900 until 1600 hrs Monday to Friday. Most the big hotels within the cities have foreign exchange bureaus.
The official currency of Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (UG).
The official currency of Rwanda is the Rwanda Franc (RWF).
The official currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS).
The best way to manage your money in Africa is a mixture of cash and an ATM card (best to have both Visa and MasterCard).
Cash is easily changed at exchange bureaus and they generally offer the best rates.
***please note: many businesses and banks in east Africa do not accept us dollar notes older than 2006. if you are bringing USD, we strongly recommend large bills in good condition, 2006 series onwards only. Any old or damaged notes may not be accepted. if your kitty payment is required to be paid in USD it must be paid with bills no older than 2006 series***
EUR or GBP are also widely accepted. The South African Rand can also be used widely in countries of Southern Africa. When changing money, only use reputable authorised money exchange vendors and never anyone on the street. There are many instances of travellers being given counterfeit notes or being tricked when money is being counted out.
Some people like to carry traveller’s cheques for back up emergency cash. While traveller’s cheques are undoubtedly the safest way to carry money, they are becoming harder to cash around the world and can often result in unfavourable exchange rates and commission charges. They are no longer accepted in many locations in Kenya & Tanzania. It can also be tricky to reach banks during banking business hours which are often short in many African countries. Note: Receipts for traveller’s cheques are required by banks and money changers.
Visa and MasterCard
With ATMs being increasingly available in the many major towns and cities and even some campsites, credit or debit cards are a convenient way to access money. Throughout Africa, cards with the Visa logo are most readily recognised, although MasterCard is also accepted in most places. A charge is made for each international transaction - please check with your bank how much this fee will be. Check with your bank before leaving home that your card can be used as a debit card in Africa. You may also want to notify your bank that you are visiting Africa as it's not unknown for banks to freeze cards which show sudden transactions in other countries. If you're on a multi-country tour, your tour leader will be able to give you an approximate idea of how much money you may need for your stay in each country.
Much of East Africa is considered to have the perfect climate, with generally warm sunny days, minimal humidity and cool evenings. Temperatures vary with altitude. The climate along the coast is tropical, being hot and humid most of the year round. The highlands can get quite cold in the evenings.
Hotel check-in / check-out
Check-out time at most hotels and lodges is at 1000 hrs. Check-in time varies between properties, but is usually at around 1300 hrs. Early check-in and late check-out can be requested at a few properties subject to availability of rooms, but can only be guaranteed if rooms are reserved from the evening before.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many safari destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group or individual, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your driver guide or leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
If on a group tour, your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Luggage on safari
Luggage should be kept to a minimum as space in vehicles is extremely limited. One main lightweight bag and an overnight bag are more than adequate. Most city hotels have space for storing luggage while on safari. On scheduled air safaris where light aircraft are used, the luggage allowance is limited to strictly 10 kg per person. On charter air safaris, the amount of luggage depends on the aircraft type and group size, and is communicated with passengers at the time of making reservations.
Park entrance fees and conservation fees are included in some safari packages and payable direct for others. Please go through the package details to see if park fees are included or not.
Protect your camera from dust on safari. A lens hood and ultraviolet filter are also advisable. A 200 mm to 300 mm telephoto lens is recommended for game and bird photography. Digital camera memory cards and batteries may not be available even in large towns. Hence it is recommended that you carry these items with you. National parks do not charge for personal cameras and movie recorders. However, there may be a charge for using commercial camera equipment in some places. If taking a gorilla safari, it is important to note that flash photography is strictly not permitted when in the presence of the gorillas.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
On the 2nd of July 2012 the Tanzanian Government announced an increase to its passenger airport service charge from 5,000TSH to 10,000TSH for domestic departures, and from 30USD to 40USD for international departures. This change comes into effect from 1st of July 2012 and will be included in any new airline ticket costs. Passengers who have already purchased tickets will be required to pay the difference on departure.
There are many long hours spent driving on rough roads on all African itineraries. While most people love the chance to watch the changing landscape and daily village life, feedback shows that long periods of inactivity does not appeal to all clients. We provide the approximate distance covered each day and how many hours this normally takes to drive so that you can choose the safari experience which is right for you. If flying to a national park, game drives will be taken in customised safari vehicles, with open or pop-up roofs for ease of game viewing. If taking a safari which does not include game drives (for example a gorilla tracking safari), we will provide you with a regular four wheel drive vehicle.
African conditions are extremely tough on vehicles. While we fastidiously maintain our vehicles at our workshops, you should not expect Africa to be your traditional touring experience. While it's certainly our aim to avoid them, it's important that you set off on your trip knowing that the occasional breakdown can happen and are best treated as part of the African adventure. Due to wet weather there may be times when we have to take an alternative route which will mean longer travel times.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania Visas can be obtained at point of entry for most nationalities, although some are required to purchase visas in advance. You MUST check before departure. If you plan to purchase your visa on arrival you'll need new (post-2003), clean US dollars cash. The cost is around US$50. Currently you don't require a multi-entry visa between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda due to an agreement between the three countries (eg. if you exit Kenya to Tanzania you can re-enter Kenya on the same visa). If your trip visits Rwanda and re-enters Kenya you may require a double entry visa to Kenya, depending on the border guard on the day. This can easily be purchased at the border if required.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your driver guide or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your driver guide may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the driver guide to speak direct with our tour manager or operation manger.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within some few days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Accommodation and meals on safari
Accommodations are per the client’s choice. Rooms in hotels and lodges are singles, doubles, and in some other area triples and suites. Most of the properties offered for our packages have good services with bars and restaurants, some of high budget facilities do have swimming pools as well. The smaller lodges will need to know of any special dietary requirements beforehand, to enable them to make the necessary arrangements.
On safari, meals are provided on full board basis (except where specified), with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided. City hotels are on bed and breakfast basis.
Electricity in East Africa is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to East Africa with a device that does not accept 240 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. It is recommended that you carry a three pin square adapter (type G) to charge any electronic equipment, as plug sizes may vary from the type your equipment uses. 3 pin square plug used in East Africa.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in soft bags. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. Pillows are not provided so please bring a travel pillow along. While we provide a mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer and choose to bring their own mattress.
You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. We suggest you bring a mix of normal and rechargeable batteries and the appropriate recharging unit. Hotels and many hospitality establishments have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
As the trip some time includes bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Water consumption should be about 2 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your driver guide will give you details on all included activities; however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your driver guide will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Lionking itinerary, and Lionking makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your driver guide has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Traffic and driving on the other side of the road
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts people at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Lionking travellers. Lionking philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.