Frequently Asked Questions
East Africa especially Uganda, is a land of captivating people, dramatic landscapes, unique wilderness, intriguing cultures, great food, and vibrant music. This enchanting region in Africa is home to many world landmarks that allure travelers from around the world
From the endless open Savanna of Queen Elizabeth Np, Murchison falls In Uganda, Masai Mara and Serengeti plains, to forested Bwindi impenetrable Forest, to Kidepo valley National Park with vast unfenced wilderness areas. It is worthwhile planning ahead to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Our FAQs attempt to answer most of your questions.
what are the accommodations like?
Up market safari lodges, tented camps and hotels in Africa provide world class accommodations. Rooms have proper beds with mattresses and duvets, en suite (attached, in room) flush toilets, basins and showers with hot and cold running water. Other amenities include mosquito netting, lamps, purified water, insect repellent, flashlights, wardrobes, and ethnic furnishings. Abacus African Vacations hand picks lodges and camps famed for their quality service.
Will we be “roughing it” if we stay at a luxury tented camp?
Absolutely not! While staying at a luxury tented camp you will enjoy the comfort of a proper room with the sights and sounds of camping – the best of both worlds. Most tented camp rooms consist of very large walk in tents with entry doors. Walls are canvas with large roll up viewing sections. Inside you will enjoy a bed (usually 2 twin beds or a king) with pillows and duvets, bed side tables, dressing table, mirror, wardrobe, throw rugs or full carpeting, battery powered (solar) lighting, en suite (attached, in room) shower with hot and cold running water, flush toilet, and basin. Some tents include baths, air conditioning and private plunge pools.
How do we know you are going to recommend properties or safaris that we like?
We are here to work with you to design the best trip possible. If you have special locations or properties you would like to visit we would be happy to incorporate these into your itinerary adjusting the number of nights in each area to suit other areas you may be visiting and local conditions (such as activities on offer, wildlife movements or other seasonal changes). Our ability to provide you with truly amazing safaris is noted in the comments received by past Abacus African Vacations clients…We are here for you.
Can’t we save money by booking direct with Lodges and camps?
Many people think they can save money if they book direct with a lodge or camp. This is not typically the case, especially when you factor in the extra time, effort and risk involved…If you book direct with individual lodges and camps in Africa they may offer you a discount but then you are stuck trying to figure out who is meeting you at the airport and who is flying you into the bush and so on…You also lose the security of having one company overseeing all of your arrangements with the ability to make changes if they are necessary due to flight delays or other unforeseen problems.
How would I go about booking a private safari?
The strong relationships we have forged over many years with leading lodges and camps are integral in getting problems resolved. We are often able to achieve positive results in seemingly impossible situations. … In short if you go it on your own and a problem arises you have no one to assist you (or complain to for that matter). By booking with us, you have recourse when you get problems. Without Abacus African vacations you’re on your own.
BOOKINGS AND TRIP PAYMENT
You can email us here… . We insist on only offering our clients the best wildlife experience and as such, the time of year that you travel will be very important in trying to assess where we should go. Please therefore let me know what time of year you prefer to travel. When you email us also kindly give us an outline of your expectations in terms of the accommodation, wildlife and photography. The more you tell me about your expectations the better we can tailor a safari that will exceed these expectations. We will then use our knowledge of the region, its camps/lodges and wildlife to make recommendations. Another vital bit of information that we will need to know is if you are traveling on your own or with a partner or in a group? This affects charter flight costs as well as the cost of securing an exclusive safari truck. Once we agree on a basic outline you will receive a fully customized itinerary and this is all done without you needing to commit in any way. Only when you are entirely satisfied that we have the right product for you, will the booking process begin.
How far in advance should we plan and book our safari?
Most of the safari lodges and camps we recommend are small, exclusive and dearly sought after. To ensure availability we suggest planning and booking your travel arrangements immediately you think you want to travel. Our Travel consultant will advise on availability of both lodges and gorilla permits.
How do we book a safari with you?
First you need to contact our Kampala office. Abacus African Vacations Is open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They can be reached in the U.S. at 001-256-312-261930, from outside Uganda +256-312-261930+256-312-261930 or within Uganda 000-256-312-261930.
After hours, call from the U.S. 001-256 772 33 13 32- Robert OR 001-256 772 5279 22- Jackie; from outside Uganda +256 772 33 13 32+256 772 33 13 32– Robert OR +256 772 52 79 22+256 772 52 79 22– Jackie; or within Uganda 000-256 772 52 79 22- Jackie or +256 772 33 13 32+256 772 33 13 32– Robert.
+ means you need to dial the appropriate international calling code for the country you are calling from before the rest of the number. Ask local information for the correct code.
Additionally you may email our office and let us know when you would like to travel, how many people will be traveling, and the trip you are interested in. If you would like to arrange a tailor-made trip simply let us know your requirements and we will gladly make suggestions. With your input we can easily design a safari that suits your needs.
We will then check availability (this takes 12-24 hours as we check the Gorilla permits, Chimpanzee permits, lodges and camps availability), and if space is available, we will make a provisional booking in your name. There is no obligation on your part at this stage.
Reservations are confirmed on receipt by Abacus African Vacations of a 30% of the land arrangement total cost deposit. Upon receipt of your deposit we will mail you a confirmation letter, invoice, and trip details including a travel checklist.
Your final trip payment is due 21 days prior to departure. If a reservation is made within 21 days of the trip departure the entire cost of the trip must be paid at the time of confirmation.
What if we have to cancel our safari plans?
All cancellations must be made in writing, signed by the client, to Abacus African Vacations and all trips may be subject to our terms and conditions. Some of our overseas operators have cancellation fees that differ from the above. Should they differ you will be advised at time of booking and the higher fees prevail.
We ADVISE all travelers to purchase comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancellation and interruption coverage at the time of deposit. Our insurance cover is only concerned with land arrangement while on safari
What should we look for when choosing a travel agent to handle our Africa travel plans? Here are the 10 most important things to look for when choosing a travel agency to handle your trip to Africa. Whether you book with Abacus African vacations or another travel agency make sure you work with a company that:
- Has hands on knowledge. Make sure that whoever you book with has extensive personal travel experience in Africa. We know East Africa intimately. Each of our professional safari consultants has either born and raised or lived and worked in East Africa all his life. Managing Director Robert Begumisa has personally stayed at over 250 hotel / lodge / camp properties in east Africa and inspected hundreds more! Our consultants spend 6 to 8 weeks each and every year in the field; not only to insure that each property meets the high standards we demand for our clients (it is our policy to regularly, and personally, visit every property we recommend, and many others besides), but also because we love East Africa and its wild areas.
- Is prompt and reliable. Are calls answered? Are emails and phone messages replied to in a timely manner? We are best known for our attentive service, attention to detail, and honesty. Our kampala Uganda office is open between 9 AM and 6 PM weekdays and 9AM to 1PM on Saturdays and we look forward to discussing the various travel options with you.
- Can handle all of your land arrangements. We can and it pays to have a trusted agency watching over your entire trip from start to finish.
- Does not charge a booking fee or a fee for changes to your itinerary (and these can be numerous). Abacus African Vacations does not require any booking deposit and we do not charge any booking or change fees. We do charge 30% deposit on confirmation to be able to purchase gorilla permits, chimpanzee permits and pay accommodation deposits. The balance is only payable 21 days to the start of your safari.
- Accepts credit cards for payment. Charge cards provide better consumer protection than payments made by check or wire transfer. They also make payments simple. Abacus African vacations accepts payment by American Express, Master Card and Visa. Please note that we add 5% to all credit card transactions to cover merchant fees by the bank. Payments made by wire transfer are not subject to the 5% surcharge.
- Is locally based / licensed / registered. Abacus African Vacations is licensed and registered in Kampala Uganda with headquarters in Kampala.
- Carries liability insurance. The world is not a perfect place. Therefore Abacus African vacations carries an insurance cover while on safari and this cover includes, medical, evacuation and accidents.
- Is endorsed by association of Uganda Tour operators
- Is a member of the Tourism Associations? America Association of Travel Agents (ASTA) is recognized as the leading symbol of travel professionalism and integrity. This is the affiliation most often endorsed by the media when recommending how to find a reliable travel agent. All ASTA member agents must abide by ASTA’s consumer oriented ethics. Abacus African Vacations is an ASTA member as well as ATTA. Abacus African vacations Ltd is endorsed by association Of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO)
- Is friendly and responsive to clients needs! Planning a trip to Africa is an exciting process, made even more so when you are working with a travel agent who is both friendly and passionate about what they do! Call abacus African vacations +256772331332+256772331332 (we are in between 9AM and 6 PM weekdays in Kampala) and start planning your dream safari today!
[wptab name=’COMPANY INFORMATION’]
Who is “Abacus African Vacations”?
We are safari consultants who specialize in East Africa – only East Africa. Our focus is on high quality safaris for discerning clients. We are not a big company nor do we want to be. We offer a number of scheduled group trips (up to 7 guests per scheduled group departure) or if you prefer (and most travelers do) we would be happy to arrange a personalized safari to fit your needs – this is our real passion! If we feel that you are looking for something we do not offer we will happily suggest a company more suited to handle your request.
We know East Africa intimately. Each of our professional safari consultants has lived and worked in East Africa. Managing director Robert Begumisa has personally stayed at over 300 hotel / lodge / camp properties in east and southern Africa and inspected hundreds more! Our consultants are born and raised in East Africa or spend a quarter of each and every year in East Africa; not only to insure that each property meets the high standards we demand for our clients (it is our policy to regularly, and personally, visit every property we recommend, and many others besides), but also because we love East Africa and its wild areas.
Abacus african Vacations is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is recognized as a symbol of professionalism and integrity; the professional affiliation most often endorsed by the media when recommending how to find a reliable travel agent. ASTA has a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights and ASTA member travel agents, such as ourselves, are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. ASTA’s code of ethics may be viewed on their website at ASTA Code of Ethics.
Abacus African Vacations is also a member and endorsed by the association of Uganda tour operators (AUTO)
What are your contact details?
Our address is 194 Mobutu Road, Makindye, Next to Makindye country Club; P.O.BOX 34944 Kampala Office Tel. +256312261930+256312261930, +256772331332+256772331332.Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Our website address is http://ugandasafari.com
Are children allowed on safari?
In Uganda and East Africa in general, traveling with children is easier as child policies are more liberal you can do most tourist activities with people of all age groups except for Gorilla and Chimpanzee tracking where the age is limited to 15 year olds and above. The majority of safari Lodges and camps have no problem with children being hosted. However, it’s advisable to pre book private safari activities
Are their opportunities to meet with local people or visit real African villages?
There are many opportunities for cultural interaction. We can arrange tours to local schools, markets, and villages. Village visits may last a few hours or an overnight with your guide may be arranged. In some cases guests may participate in daily chores such as planting crops, brewing beer, or carrying water. From carrying firewood to sitting for hours around a smoky fire listening to stories many people feel that their lives are forever changed by this experience.
ELECTRICITY / INTERNET / PHONES
Is there electricity?
Electricity in east Africa (Uganda, Kenya) is 220/240 volts. Most safari lodges and camps are not connected to a mains electrical supply. Solar lighting (backed up by batteries) is common, with many lodges having a generator which runs part of the day (morning and late evening while guests are partaking in activities). Lanterns also provide light at night. In most areas you will not be able to use a hairdryer or electric shaver but provisions for charging are always given
Will I be able to recharge my camera and video camera batteries?
Yes – at nearly all hotels, lodges, and permanent tented camps you will be able to recharge your camera and video batteries either in room or in the main area. Many camps and lodges have the correct adapter plugs however we recommend that you bring your own plugs – plugs C and H for east Africa. Please make sure your electronic equipment switches automatically from 110 to 220 electricity (most do – it will say on the plug or in the manual). If they do not switch automatically a converter will be needed.
In cases of accident. How do we get evacuated??
Clients undertaking a full safari package with our company are covered for evacuation insurance. This insurance policy covers personal liability; medical expenses; repatriation in the event of accident, illness or death
What if a family member has to get hold of us about an emergency back home?
The vast majority of hotels and lodges in East Africa have telephones and can be easily reached.. In an emergency we suggest client’s friends and family contact our office so we may assist. Also after confirmation of your safari, we provide you with emergency number and also we provide you with the Guide names and his cell phone contacts which can be used in cases of emergency. Basically you have a telephone contact number you will be able to leave behind with your loved ones back home.
Is there internet access while on safari?
Internet access is available at most large city hotels, typically for a small fee. The majority of safari lodges and camps do not have internet access (but some do).
Do cell phones work on safari? What about satellite phones?
Tri-band and quad-band cell phones work in most major African cities and towns however you must check to ensure your service provider has an agreement with the local provider. Also check rates as these can be up to US $3 per minute. Cell phones do not work at most safari lodges and camps in Africa as there are no cell phone towers. There are some exceptions such as Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, Southern sector of bwindi impenetrable National Park, some sections of Murchison Falls all in Uganda and the Masai Mara in Kenya where there are cell phone towers. Satellite phones are a great option for travelers who must stay connected. Keep in mind most lodges and camps require guests to keep satellite phones turned off and use them only for outgoing calls so as not to disturb other guests. Also keep in the high per minute call rates.
HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
Is it safe to visit East Africa?
At Abacus African Vacations, our number one concern is your safety. If we felt that traveling to East Africa was unsafe we would not arrange African safaris. Certain countries are generally considered safe while others are not. We actively discourage travel to destinations that we consider unsafe for any reason. For example we were offering gorilla safaris in Congo and we stopped once we realized it was becoming un safe. That explains why we have not had any single incident since inception.
In general petty theft is common in Africa’s major cities and towns. Visitors should take the same care as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets, and cameras when walking in crowded places. Avoid walking at night and place your valuables in safe deposit boxes at hotels where they exist.
Whereas at safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far from human settlement and crime is virtually nonexistent. We still advise that valuables be locked away in a room safe or kept under the supervision of the camp or lodge manager while on safari.
Importantly, travel safety concerns arising from a negative event in one African country or region do not apply to Africa in total just as travel safety concerns in Florida do not apply to a trip to Lake Tahoe.
When planning an African safari, it is best to work with a company that has intimate knowledge of country you intend to visit – not just its wildlife and attractions but also its unique cultures, economy and government as safety issues often stem from these areas. All of Abacus African Vacations’ consultants are from Africa or have lived for many years in Africa. We are not travel agents reading from a catalog and travel guide books of tours. We work and stay in Africa from year to year and we are refreshed from time to time to expand our knowledge.
Aren’t wild animals dangerous?
While viewing wildlife there is a degree of danger as the behavior of wild animals cannot be guaranteed. However most animals are frightened by the sight / smell of humans and rather than attack, will flee (unless cornered or provoked). Attacks on humans without provocation are rare if not non existence.
While on safari you will be accompanied by licensed guides who are well trained and armed with an amazing understanding of the wildlife with which they share their lives on a daily basis
At your tented camp or lodge it is not uncommon for wildlife to wander through as camps and lodges are typically not fenced. An attack on a sleeping traveler would be highly unusual. Never venture outside your accommodations at night without your guide. Always consult with your guide/s when in doubt.
What shots or medicines do we need before traveling? Or what are the medical health precautions and issues?
As vaccination requirements change on occasion, we recommend that you check with your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. The most important health consideration in East Africa is Malaria and it is strongly recommended that prophylactics (i.e., oral tablets) be taken as a preventative precaution. You are not legally required to have any vaccinations unless you are traveling from a region where yellow fever is prevalent, in which case an inoculation will be required against the disease.
Certainly you need not rush off and get every possible inoculation and take every pill under the sun just to travel to Africa. Do not go overboard with the information put out by the disease control centers. We return time and again to Africa and to the bush and have only ever taken Malaria prevention tablets. A course of anti-Malaria tablets is advisable and many doctors advise a dose of Hepatitis A vaccine. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist for complete details and safety.
More on Malaria: The most serious risk while traveling in East Africa on safari is malaria. For most travelers, a safari to Africa raises a number of red flags regarding health issues. For east Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania) health concerns and inoculations are the same as those for travel to South America or East Asia. The vast majority of traveler’s to Africa return from their safaris happy and healthy!
No matter where you travel in Africa a course of anti malaria tablets is essential and many doctors advice a dose of Hepatitis A vaccine. All childhood vaccinations should be up to date. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist in your home town for further details.
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodia. There are four identified species of this parasite causing human malaria, namely, Plasmodium vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. malariae. It is transmitted by the female Anopheles Mosquito. It is a disease that can be treated in just 48 hours, yet it can cause fatal complications if the diagnosis and treatment are delayed. It is re-emerging as the # 1 Infectious Killer and it is the Number 1 Priority Tropical Disease of the World Health Organization. The CDC estimates that 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year worldwide and 1.5 million to 3 million people die of malaria every year (85% of these occur in Africa), accounting for about 4-5% of all fatalities in the world.
Humans get malaria from the bite of a female malaria-infected Anopheles mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests microscopic malaria parasites found in the person’s blood. The malaria parasite must grow in the mosquito for a week or more before infection can be passed to another person. If, after a week, the mosquito then bites another person, the parasites go from the mosquito’s mouth into the person’s blood. The parasites then travel to the person’s liver, enter the liver’s cells, grow and multiply. During this time when the parasites are in the liver, the person has not yet felt sick. The parasites leave the liver and enter red blood cells; this may take as little as 8 days or as many as several months. Once inside the red blood cells, the parasites grow and multiply. The red blood cells burst, freeing the parasites to attack other red blood cells. Toxins from the parasite are also released into the blood, making the person feel sick. If a mosquito bites this person while the parasites are in his or her blood, it will ingest the tiny parasites. After a week or more, the mosquito can infect another person. The safari camps in Southern Africa are not located in densely populated areas and this greatly reduces the risk of being infected by malaria.
Anopheles mosquitoes start biting by late evening and the peak of biting activity is at midnight and early hours of morning. Protect yourself against the bites in the evenings and early mornings by applying mosquito repellant, wearing garments that cover the body as much as possible, and at bedtime, by using mosquito nets without fail.
All of the camps provide mosquito repellant in the tents and in the lounges and on game drives. Most also provide mosquito “coils”, an incense-like slow-burning substance that produces a smoky repellent that can be lit inside the tent before heading for dinner so that the tent is cleared by bed time. Finally, the majority of the camps also provide a mosquito netting over the beds to keep the “mossies” out while you sleep. Wearing lightweight long pants instead of shorts and covering the ankles especially is also very helpful during dinner and in the evening hours. Use the bug spray after sundown on game drives as well.
Remember that the best precaution against malaria is to reduce the likelihood of being bitten. The next best precaution is to begin and complete a full regimen of anti-malarial medication for your African safari. The medication usually begins before you leave and is completed after returning home. Check on the internet or with your physician for further information.
What foods should we avoid?
What about drinking water? In the vast majority of cases it is safe to eat ALL of the foods offered by lodges and camps as they take great care to ensure that food is prepared in a healthy manner. If you are really worried about contracting a “stomach bug” don’t eat salads, avoid ice cubes in drinks (many places use purified water for ice cubes – simply ask if you are concerned), and eat only fruits that have thick skins which are peeled (oranges, bananas).
Although water in many cities and small towns is purified and safe to drink, it is wise to drink only bottled drinks which are readily available (ask that water is opened in front of you as they may try to reuse the container at some of the larger, lower quality, hotels). In addition don’t swallow water during a shower and use purified water for brushing teeth. Don’t worry – bottled water is readily available in all lodges and camps.
Are there a lot of insects?
Generally no. As an example the peak wildlife viewing months of May through October in southern Africa occur during the dry winter when insects are not a problem. Most travelers never see more than 4 or 5 mosquitoes a day. For those of you traveling at other times there will be more insects however for most travelers the positive aspects of their safari experience far outweigh any annoyance caused by insects.
We’ve never been to Uganda before, and are unsure of what to pack in terms of weather appropriateness. Any tips?
1. 2 –3 pairs of light weight slacks/trousers – that can dry quickly (if wearing on treks)
2. 1 pair of shorts
3. 1-2 long sleeved shirts
4. 3 short sleeved t-shirts
5. A waterproof and windproof jacket like a Gortex
6. 1 sweater or sweatshirt
7. 1 skirt (for women)
8. Swimsuit (and a plastic bag)
9. Strong waterproof walking boots – pants should be tucked into socks and boots while
Trekking (heavy soled rain boots also work well)
10. Pair of sports sandals like Tevas
11. Hat-wide brim or with a visor for sun protection
14. Lightweight wool socks
15. Gloves – gardening or similar (for gorilla trekking)
• Sunglasses with neck strap
• Insect repellent with DEET
• Small day pack
• Alarm clock- though our staff will wake you!
• Ear plugs
• Extra batteries – Some safari Lodges have facilities for recharging batteries
• Camera and extra lenses
• Film particularly fast film for the gorillas.
• Personal toiletries
• Prescription medicines and possibly prescription itself
• Kleenex tissues
• Wash cloth and plastic bag (if needed)
• Ziplocs and other plastic bags for wet clothes
• Sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins)
• Small notebook
• First Aid Kit including anti-diarrhoea medicine, rehydration sachets, aspirin, cold medication, antiseptic cream, band-aids, motion sickness pills, lip balm, eye drops and personal medication.
Do you offer private safaris over and above the safaris and tours advertised on your website?
Yes, we certainly do. Our advertised safaris are samples of most popular safaris that have been done by several travelers over years. We are happy to privately custom design your safari with you. If you would like to travel alone or with a friend or spouse or your own group, we can arrange a private safari for you to even un traveled routes of East Africa. In this case we will rework a costing depending on your group size and we tailor an itinerary. We can look at different dates if need be or you can book the same set departure dates as advertised on our website but just have it run as a private safari. We have a client base of very serious travelers that do private safaris with us, so that they can elevate their imagery to new heights
Ok, what does a private safari cost?
The cost of a private safari will depend on the length of your safari and the number of people in your group. If you are a single traveler and trying to keep the cost low then join us on one of our advertised set departures which are exclusive east African safaris in their own right.
Who runs / guides the safaris?
We are safari consultants (safari operators who specialize in East Africa travel) and offer land arrangements. We do run or guide all the safaris on the ground with our own vehicles and trained safari guides.
We offer a wide variety of African travel packages – some are group trips with set departure dates however the majority of our trips are tailor-made to suit our client’s specific needs. We work very closely with Lodges and Camps and also own our own properties
Who looks after us while on safari?
A very important element of traveling to a largely unknown destination is the peace of mind to know that you will be properly taken care before, during and after your trip. At abacus Africa we take a conservative stance in deciding which Lodges and guides we will work with – they must have a lengthy and consistent record of truly exceptional service, be fully licensed. While in Africa you will be met at each location and transferred from airports, to hotels to lodges and camps; your safari representatives are on call 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have or to handle any eventuality – from medical emergencies to retrieving a bag that may have been left behind and having it delivered to your next destination. In this way it is possible to travel with all the security of a packaged tour, but all the flexibility and privacy of an individual traveler not compromised.
How do we get around in East Africa?
While on safari you will be transferred between lodges, camps, hotels, and different national parks by road, boat and air.
Air travel is the most convenient and preferred method of moving between destinations though more expensive than road. Depending upon your choice of safari you may travel by scheduled flights. The majority of commercial airlines use modern jet or turbo prop aircraft. Alternatively guests may fly aboard smaller single, or twin, engine charter aircraft seating 6 to 12 people.
What types of vehicles are used on safari for wildlife viewing?
Most of our safaris are conducted in closed Land Rovers/Land cruisers seating 5 passengers (all with window seats) with a guide and roof hatches for game viewing. We do also have Safari minibuses in our fleet with roof hatch which we also use for those conscious of the budgets. We advise that you Indicate the choice of the car at inquiry.
SHOPPING IN AFRICA
What is there to buy in East Africa? Shopping while on safari is limited. Often lodges and camps have small curio shops where you may purchase postcards, local goods such as carvings or books, clothing (hats, shirts), and film. At airports and in larger towns you will find African curio markets where you may buy all sorts of carvings, masks, drums, jewelry etc…In general souvenirs and curios are inexpensive (in US dollar terms). Fun spirited bartering is the norm.
In most cities there are up-market jewelers and art galleries where you can easily spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on African art. Most reputable shops offer shipping of your purchase at extra cost.
How much money should I bring? Cash or travelers checks? Are credit cards accepted?
You will need very little spending money on most safaris as the majority of meals and activities are included in your package cost.
You will need to pay for lunch, dinner, and drinks when you are staying on a bed and breakfast basis as is the case at most city hotels. Bills may be settled by US cash, by credit card (by far the easiest method as major credit cards are accepted at nearly all lodges, camps, hotels at 5% surcharge).
Credit cards may also be used in large towns at restaurants and shops with MasterCard and Visa being most accepted. However, use may be restricted in small towns and country areas and non-existent in small retail shops. Please note that American Express is not commonly accepted in Africa. Please note that in east Africa hotels, lodges, camps, restaurants and shops often charge a fee(5%) for the use of a credit card.
Automatic teller machines (ATM’s) are situated outside most banks in towns and cities in southern Africa, and international credit cards often can be used to withdraw currency. However, as Africa is unpredictable, please do not rely on ATM machines for your currency needs.
Do people speak English in Africa?
English is spoken widely throughout East Africa (with the exception of Burundi). South Africa has eleven national languages. In Uganda, and Kenya, English is actually the national language.
Can we have our clothes washed while on safari?
The majority of safari lodges and camps offer complimentary laundry service (some charge a small fee) weather permitting, however please note that undergarments are often excluded. You may wish to bring a small supply of liquid laundry soap (a small plastic travel bottle filled with Woolite works well for hand washing).
MEALS / DRINKS / SPECIAL DIETS
What types of food are served on safari?
The food served at most up-market safari lodges and tented camps is of the highest quality. Gourmet cooks bake fresh breads, and produce soups, salads, and entrees that could easily grace tables at top restaurants around the world.
Meals are international in flavor with soups, salads, cold meats, pasta dishes, meat and fish dishes, and breads. Your day normally starts with tea and biscuits before your morning activity. Returning to your lodge or camp late morning, brunch is enjoyed – cereals, fruit, bacon, eggs, sausage, and toast are on offer as are salads, quiches and cold meats. Before your afternoon activity tea and light snacks are served. Dinner consists of an appetizer followed by meat, fish and pasta dishes served with assorted vegetables and sauces. Dinner is followed by coffee (or tea), cheeses, and gorgeous desserts.
What about special dietary needs (vegetarian, diabetic, no spicy foods)?
Special diets are not a problem as long as we know your needs in advance.
What drinks are available on safari?
In Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, where drinks are often separate from food. Full board rate includes food except drinks but all kind of drinks are always available in the bar. Budget for USD 4-5 for a glass of wine, USD 1for a bottle of water, USD 2-3 for a bottle of beer. Other drinks in the bar include different types of wines and spirits Certain high end imported drinks i.e. Scotch whiskey, Champagne, Rums, All this if available, are typically for your own account.
What type of baggage / luggage should we take?
Luggage should be kept to a minimum. In east Africa the limit is typically 15 kg’s / 33 pounds per person. The number of bags is not as important as the total weight of your bags. It is OK to have duffel and a small carryon bag. Hard sided suitcases and soft-sided internal frame carryon luggage (the type with a handle and wheels) are not acceptable as they will not fit in the baggage compartment on small aircraft which are often used for transfers between lodges and camps. On safaris that have no small aircraft transfers the weight and size allowance is not as important however you should still strive to bring as little as possible. Remember – a complimentary laundry service is offered at most safari camps and lodges if luxury option is booked.
What types of clothes should we take on safari?
When on safari it is best to wear grey, brown or khaki colored clothing during the months June through October, and green clothing during the months November through May so as not to alert wildlife of your presence. White (which gets dirty very fast) and other bright colors are definitely not recommended (blue actually attracts tsetse flies – but not enough to worry about). Camouflage clothing is not advisable.
Bring comfortable clothes that are cool, but that can layer to keep you warm at night or on game drives. During dry months (June through September in East Africa) bring a pair of gloves and a warm hat as temperatures can drop to chilly on occasion! It is also advisable to bring a pair of sandals, comfortable walking shoes (tennis shoes), a swimsuit, and a hat to block the sun. There is no need for heavy boots.
We provide all clients with comprehensive trip information including a travel checklist upon booking.
Do I need to bring a sleeping bag on a camping safari?
No you do not… all camping equipment will be provided for you.
Are park fee’s included on my safari?
Park fees are almost always included in the overall trip cost. Your consultant will advise you if any park’s fees that must be paid direct.
PASSPORT AND ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Do I need a passport?
Yes! Most African countries require that you are in possession of a valid passport with an expiration date no less than six months after your return to your country of origin.
Visa is required but can also be secured at the point of entry.
Should we purchase local currency? Most travelers do not need to change money into local currency as US dollars and Euros are widely accepted. Small bills (US $1, US $5, US $10, and US $20) are not advisable as they fetch a low exchange rate. Dirty bills and old bills below year 2000 are not acceptable in East Africa.
Do you provide references from people who have booked their safaris with you?
Requests for references are welcome – please inquire with one of our consultants by email or by phone +256772331332+256772331332. You can also visithttp://www.tripadvisor.com/
How much should we tip? Who do we tip? How do we tip?
Tipping at restaurants (at your discretion) is 10%. Tipping at lodges and camps is always welcomed but the amount varies greatly. It is often best to tip the lodge manager who will distribute your tip amongst the lodge or camp staff. As a rough estimate you can tip US $15 (US $10 for your guide and US $5 for camp staff) for each traveler per day at each lodge / camp. The majority of lodges and camps are able to accept credit cards for tipping (MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted while American Express is not).
Do I need travel insurance? Do you offer travel insurance?
All Abacus African Vacations clients are advised to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan upon booking. This should cover you for events that may occur before, or during travel, such as tour operator bankruptcy / financial default, trip cancellation, trip delay or interruption, terrorism, lost stolen or delayed baggage, emergency accident (before),We provide insurance cover for evacuations in case of accident, sickness while on safari.
What is the weather like in East Africa?
In general East Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania) experiences dry weather during the months June through October. There are two rainy seasons – the long rains which fall mid March through May and the short rains which arrive in mid October and continue until mid December.
Temperatures are moderate throughout the year with average daytime temperatures around 20- 28 degrees Celicious. Evenings and mornings are often chilly, with cold nighttime temperatures especially in Bwindi impenetrable Forest and Ngorongoro crater due to altitude.
In general the climate in Uganda is as near perfect as you can get anywhere in the world with dry season temperatures similar to those of the Mediterranean, but without the humidity. Daytime temperatures average 20 – 28 degrees Celicius. During the rainy period May through may nighttime temperatures in some areas can drop to 5-15 degrees Celicious – don’t let this dissuade you from a safari as by mid morning temperatures are warm enough for shorts and a short sleeved shirt.
Further information on weather can be found in Destinations. Below is a guide to the weather in East Africa designed as a quick reference to help you understand at a glance the best times of the year.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
When is the best time to travel to Africa to view wildlife? The most desirable months.
Wildlife viewing is, in part, predicated on the amount of surface water available. During the rains (November through May) wildlife is scattered as there is abundant surface water (puddles, perennial rivers) to drink. Once the rains end (mid June) wildlife congregates around remaining surface water supplies (pools, lakes, and large rivers).
Please note that travel during East Africa’s “green season”, November through May, does have some advantages. The bush will be lush and green and many wildlife species will have newborn in tow. Dust, which can be a nuisance during the dry season, is greatly reduced and nighttime temperatures are milder than during the dry months. For those interested in Gorilla Trekking Safari, there are fewer travelers and so gorilla permits are on a discount and chances of getting availability is much higher or almost guaranteed.
In east Africa, safaris are best enjoyed during the periods mid December through the beginning of March and during the period June through end of October each year.
Why should I go on safari in East Africa?
Africa remains one the last outposts of raw adventure; a refuge from the modern world. From the splendor of the Masaai Mara teeming with herds of a million wildebeest, to the pristine primordial beauty of the Ngorongoro Crater; from Uganda’s Kibale Forest filled with birdsong and chimpanzee calls to the raging Nile River as it crashes untamed over Murchison Falls 40Metres down, and to the Rare endangered Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga – this ancient land and its people offer a memorable travel experience truly unlike any other.
East Africa in particular, in our opinion, provides travelers with the highest quality African wildlife and wilderness experience available in a land that is both clean and comfortable. East Africa is home a tremendous wealth of wildlife including Africa’s Big 5 wildlife species (buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, and rhino – both black and white). Bwindi impenetrable Forest has the highest concentration of endangered Mountain Gorillas in the world! Masai Mara and Serengeti is home to the highest density of wildebeest in the world, and Uganda’s bird record represents 60% of bird species found in Africa and 11% of the whole world. Uganda is an Equatorial country of astonishing contrasts with an amazing diversity of habitats with a checklist of over 1050 bird Species, despite its small size, Uganda ranks high among the richest destinations for birds in Africa and probably world over. With over 1,050 species recorded, out of which over three quarters are resident and Afro tropical migrant species breed or are assumed to breed. There are 10 globally threatened species, all in the vulnerable category, as well as two Data Deficient species and some 17 globally near-threatened species.
If am interested in Birding am catered for?
Birding in Africa is spectacular, especially during the northern hemisphere winter when the northern migratory birds are present. From the flightless ostrich to tiny bee eaters, Africa is an ornithologist’s paradise!
Uganda lies at the meeting place of five biomes of central and eastern Africa, each with a characteristic avifauna. These biomes comprise the Sudan–Guinea Savanna with 22 Ugandan species restricted to it, the Guinea–Congo Forests biome with 144 species, the Lake Victoria Basin biome with 12 species, the Afro tropical Highlands biome with 88 species, and the Somali–Masai biome with 32 species.
Uganda harbors a large number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa which include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honey guide Black-wattled Hornbill, Nkulengu Rail, just to mention but a few.
Birds like Shoebill, Lesser Jacana, Blue Swallow, Black-Shouldered Nightjar, Afep Pigeon, and Blue Breasted Bee-Eaters can be easily seen on a bird watching safari. The country’ bird record represents 60% of bird species found in Africa and 11% of the whole world.