What to carry when visiting East Africa should be dictated by the activities you plan to undertake. Both temperatures and climate vary drastically from region to region and even throughout a single day. This should be kept in mind when packing for a visit. Traveller’s should come prepared for hot, cold, wet and dusty conditions as well. Packing for a trip to East Africa requires some careful thought and consideration.
For travellers extensively travelling throughout the country or to diverse destinations it’s recommended to bring suitable luggage. Suitcases and bags should be able to withstand plenty of handling and dusty conditions. Soft-sided luggage or duffels are preferable to hard luggage for storage on safari vehicles and on aircraft used within East Africa. Large suitcases of dimensions greater than 24″ x 17″x 7″ are impossible to store in vehicles and on aircraft and should not be used. (Baggage and personal effects are at owner’s risk throughout the tour and baggage insurance is strongly recommended). Please avoid hard sided suitcases. A backpack or a duffel bag is advisable for those planning to travel by public transport and also for trekkers. It’s also ideal for carrying cameras, travel documents and basic personal everyday items.
Clothing and miscellaneous items.
What to wear should be paid equal consideration before you travel. Light, neutral-coloured clothing is generally advised. Bright colours aren’t recommended on game drives and dark coloured clothing, particularly dark blues and black, tends to attract the diurnal (active during the day) tsetse flies more than light colours. It will get warm (or even hot!) during the day (low 30 C or high 80s F) and depending on time of year or your location, evenings can get downright chilly.
Safari dress code is casual and comfortable and modest. You may wish to bring something slightly nicer for dinners at the lodge but it should still be light weight and easy to pack. For walking safaris or game viewing on foot clothing should be of neutral colour, and white, bright or vividly patterned clothing should be avoided. Strong footwear is advisable if you are planning to do any walking. Travellers doing trekking expenditios can visit our Mt Trekking page for more details on what to carry. Remember that the tropical/Equatorial sun is strong and burns quickly. Wide brimmed hats are preferable to baseball caps for sun protection. Both sunglasses and a good quality sunscreen should be used. A good quality insect repellent is worth bringing but should be available to buy in major towns.
East Africa uses the United Kingdom three pronged plug and 220V. Most chargers have converters so you will only need an adapter if you are travelling from a country that does not use the UK plug. It is not common for hotels but camps usually turn off the electricity during the day as most of them are using generators and its advisable to charge your batteries at nights.
For cell/mobile phones frequency, all public operators use GSM 900/1800 MHz. Many phones are quad band, which covers all the main frequencies and will work in East Africa. There is good reception in most of the towns and at some of the hotels. Your driver will also be able to tell you where you can get good reception.
Safaris offer an unparalleled opportunity for scenic and wildlife photography and cameras are strongly recommended. Most animal activity occurs during crepuscular hours (dusk and dawn) which provide excellent photography lighting. You may witness a kill or see a lioness introducing her cubs to the pride for the first time and you’ll probably want to have a camera handy for this breath-taking moment. Don’t forget to bring your battery charger or spare batteries and adapter for all non UK plugs.
The currency of Kenya is Kenya Shillings (KSH), Uganda is Uganda shillings and Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS) which is also used in Zanzibar. You will be able to change foreign exchange at the bank at the airport and also at any other banks in the major towns (The rates in town are better). The currency of preference is the US dollar (USD). We recommend you change enough money for smaller personal expenses such as shopping, meals and drinks in town restaurants and keep the rest in USD. Most tips, gifts, drinks, etc. can be paid for in dollars.
Credit cards are accepted at larger, upscale hotels and some restaurants.
A little Common sense for Security reasons.
East Africa is a safe country to travel. People are warm-hearted and generous people and they are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe, not back streeting like in any other city which frees your mind to absorb the natural beauty and incredible sights that will stay with you forever.