East Africa

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

East Africa Money-Saving Tips

Plan Ahead

Make reservations for gorilla trekking at least six months in advance as a limited number of passes are given for each day.

Leave the Little Ones at Home

Children must be at least ten years old to hike Kilimanjaro and fifteen years old to visit the mountain gorillas

Pay Only Once

Most departure taxes are included in the price of your outbound airline ticket. Don’t fall for corrupt officials who try to get you to pay it twice.

Shop with a Conscience

It’s illegal to buy ivory, turtle products, the skins of cats, crocodiles and pythons, and gorilla and chimp body parts. Shells and coral, while legal, are over-harvested, so refrain. Instead, consider the exquisite beadwork of the Masai and the woodcarvings of Makonde.

Show Respect

Coastal regions including Zanzibar, Mombasa, and Lamu are heavily Muslim. Conservative attire (covered knees and shoulders) is appropriate.

Fake It

Women traveling alone are likely to be hassled, though usually no harm is meant. If you’re not married, pretend you are, and carry a picture of your “husband.”

Don’t Go or Proceed with Caution

Nairobi has a well-earned reputation for crime. Be careful and don’t go out alone at night. Avoid Northeast Kenya and Kenya’s borders with Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, and all borders with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Get Shots and Take Drugs

You should be vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and hepatitis A. You must be able to prove that you’ve been vaccinated against Yellow Fever. If you’ll be visiting a malaria risk area, take Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil), Doxycycline, or Mefloquine. Chloroquine is not an effective anti-malarial in this region.

Got Bugs?

Take insect repellent to lessen the risk of contracting dengue and other insect-borne diseases. Drink only bottled water and don’t swim in fresh water lest you contract schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection.

Visa Update

Visas, good for 90 days, are required for U.S. citizens visiting Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. While some embassies lead you to believe you need to get them in advance, you can get them at the border without any problem – and it’s cheaper. For visits under 90 days, Americans don’t need a visa to visit Rwanda.

Language

English and Swahili are the primary languages of the region.

Get Well Soon

Mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human illnesses. If you have a cold, flu or other contagious illness, you cannot visit them. One cold could wipe out the entire population.

Behind Bars

Going on a safari, while an incredible wildlife experience, is the opposite of going to the zoo. You’re Curious George without keys (i.e. you’re in a cage and usually can’t walk much).

Ancient Art and Natural Beauty

If Somalia and Burundi become safe, there are a number of spots worth visiting. Las Geel in Somaliland, a breakaway republic that declared its independence from Somalia, has a series of interconnected caves covered with exquisitely-preserved Neolithic rock paintings. Burundi has ten places, a mix of culture sites and national parks, on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative list. Both countries are great for bird-watching

Seasonal Travel

While popular, the coastal region is extremely hot and humid between December and March, so it’s a good time to enjoy lower hotel rates.

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