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UGANDA TRAVEL TIPS

A WORD ABOUT BRIBES
Some visitors feel it is cheaper and easier to bribe officials rather than pay the proper visa fees. It may even add a little intrigue or excitement to your trip. We strongly suggest against this.

Departure Taxes. Don't let anybody tell you to pay a departure tax at Namanga. Departure taxes only apply to airports and harbours, not land borders.

SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE BETWEEN NAIROBI AND ARUSHA

The most economical way to travel between Nairobi and Arusha and on to Moshi (for Mount Kilimanjaro climbing) is by the daily shuttle bus service.

THE TRIP
Shuttles leave from both Arusha and Nairobi at 08.00 hours and 14.00 hours each day. Though the trip on the Tanzania side of the border is shorter at 110 kilometres, the poorer state of the road makes travel time about the same as the 150 kilometre drive on the Kenya side. Generally it is about two hours on each side of the border. The time spent at Namanga can depend on the number of people on the bus and how strict customs and immigration officials are. Also, if a few fellow passengers are without visas things might go slower. You will also stop on the Kenya side, not too far from the border. This rest stop gives you a chance to answer the call of nature, buy a cool drink and look at some last minute (or first minute) gifts.

THE BUS
There are several companies, among them Davanu, Riverside, and Impala. The bus may be anything from a mini-van to a large coach. Most often, they are twenty-five seat buses with a fold down seat in the aisle to make four across seating.

WHAT YOU PASS
The route between Arusha and Nairobi has some interesting villages along the way. There is a possibility of seeing some wild animals; even perhaps giraffe as you travel.

STOPS
The shuttle buses no longer depart Nairobi from the Stanley Hotel. They have been relocated to a bus stand near the Park side Hotel. The buses will also stop at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on advance request (when buying the ticket). In Arusha, the buses stop at the Mount Meru Hotel and, by arrangement, other hotels.

MAKING YOUR TRIP MORE COMFORTABLE
The trip can have its boring stretches and it is best if you have a good book to pass the time. You should also bring your water bottle and a snack. Remember, to buy soft drinks, you often have to have an empty bottle or drink it there.

Temperatures can start out chilly in either town, and can end cool as well. Namanga, however, is often quite warm. You should dress in layers to be able to reduce clothing as you get warmer.

THE PRICE OF THE TRIP
The trip usually costs no more than US $35.00 each way.

LUGGAGE
You are generally allowed two pieces of luggage and a carry on bag. Total luggage weight is often limited to 22 kilograms.

HEALTH
Nairobi Hospital and the Aga Khan Hospital are two of the best hospitals in Africa and the staff and facilities are able to provide for most any emergency. Most medications are available and chemists are not as strict about prescriptions as in other parts of the world, but it is best that you bring an adequate supply of any medications you require during travel.

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DISCLAIMER: THESE HEALTH TIPS ARE FOR PLANNING AND INFORMATION ONLY. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU DISCUSS THE DETAILS OF YOUR ITINERARY WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRAVEL. IN SOME CASES, SUCH AS CLIMBING MOUNT KILIMANJARO, YOUR TRAVEL COMPANY MAY REQUIRE A CERTIFICATE OF FITNESS SIGNED BY A PHYSICIAN.

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Yellow Fever, Cholera, etc.
Though there is little risk of yellow fever in East Africa, it is recommended that you are inoculated. The yellow book you will receive as proof of inoculation will be helpful in your travel between African nations. Please note that entry to Zanzibar requires evidence of inoculation. Your doctor may also recommend protections against cholera, meningitis and hepatitis.

Tip - The yellow fever shot must have been administered at least ten days before arrival.

HIV, AIDS
The HIV virus is a serious concern in Africa. The virus, which may lead to AIDS, is spread primarily through blood products and the exchange of fluids during sexual contact. The risk to travelers is extremely remote. Should you undergo medical treatment during your trip that requires an injection, ask to watch as the seal is broken on the disposable needle. You might consider bringing a disposable hypodermic needle with you as a precaution. In a serious medical emergency, it is recommended that you travel to Nairobi. Flying Doctor or similar organizations can arrange this transfer. Most lodges, hotels and tour companies keep a supply of disposable needles for their guests. Should you enter an intimate relationship with a person whose HIV status is unknown to you during your trip, it is advised that you practice safe sex and use condoms. Though condoms are available in Africa, they may not be as reliable as those available in your country.

Malaria
One of the largest concerns about traveling in East Africa is the risk of malaria. Malaria is a parasite that is carried by mosquitoes. In spite of the extensive medical advances in the prevention and treatment of malaria, it is still one of the leading causes of death across the world. This is generally because it effects areas that do not have the access to proper and timely medical care.

You should discuss the malaria risk with a doctor prior to travel. The doctor may suggest any of a number of preventative medications. These often require your taking them in advance of travel and continuing to take them for a period of time after you have completed your travel. We recommend you discuss the possible side effects of these medications. You might also discuss the possibility of not taking the preventative medications but treating symptoms if they occur.

Above all, you should keep in mind that the preventative medications are not 100% effective. If, during or after your travel, you feel feverish and/or experience soreness in your muscles, you should seek medical advice. If these occur after travel, be sure to advise the physician that you have travelled in Africa and that he should check for malaria (something the doctor might not do in other circumstances.)

You can help prevent malaria by taking some precautions:

In the evenings, wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and socks.
When camping, make sure your tent is zipped up in the evenings.
Use a mosquito net if provided (not needed in Ngorongoro).
Use an insect repellent with Deet.

Insects
Besides the mosquito, there are a few other insects that might cause you concern. These include tsetse flies, caterpillars, bees, Nairobi Eye and scorpions.

Tsetse flies found in East Africa do not carry a poison or the virus known to cause ‘sleeping sickness’ that their West African counterparts do. Here they cause an annoying an sometimes painful bite. Some people have allergic reactions to the bites that may last a few hours. Insect repellent with Deet and not exposing the skin to their bites are the best protection.

Caterpillars with long furry hair often have a painful sting if touched. They are not common, but should be avoided.

Bees are common throughout the world, and those indigenous to Africa do have the potential of inflicting a painful sting. If you are allergic to bee stings, you should advise your guide and a traveling companion. You should carry the medication you would take in the event of stings at home.

Nairobi Eye is a small type of fly that can be found in many parts of East Africa (not just in Nairobi). It can cause a painful rash and eye irritation can result from contact such as rubbing your eye after scratching the rash. Ask your tour guide to point one out and then avoid them.

There is the remote possibility, especially if camping, that you will encounter scorpions during your trip. As you might expect, they can inflict a painful sting. Their poison is not fatal except in extreme allergic cases. It is wise to check your clothes before putting them on and especially check your shoes.

And if that has not given you enough to worry about, there are also…

Snakes
Though it is a topic we who sell adventure travel like to avoid, we should mention that there are some snakes in Africa. Many of the are quite dangerous. But, the incidence of snake bite is negligible – not more than two or three a year in all of East Africa. These often occur within local villages. The important thing is, if you see a snake, remain calm. Do not try to touch the snake. Most snakes are afraid of people and will go off in the other direction when they sense your approach. The exception is the puff adder, a short, fat, lazy, but deadly snake. If you have an interest in snakes, your guide can stop at one of a couple of snake parks should you be traveling near them in your itinerary.

Wild Animals
The purpose of your trip is most likely to see the wild animals of East Africa. For this reason, we expect you know there might be lions, crocodiles, and dozens of other dangerous animals in the places where you will be traveling. For your safety and the safety of the animals, you should observe the following etiquette:

Whilst on game drives, remain in the car if any animals are present within 200 metres of the vehicle.

Encourage your driver to keep a respectful distance from animals.
If there is a hunt in progress, ensure your car does not get in the way of nature.
Please do not make loud noises or throw things at the animals to get their attention.
At lodges, ask for an escort when walking back to your room in the evenings.
Remain in the perimeter of the lodge or camp on foot except under proper escort.
Avoid throwing food remains from the car (such as apple cores). Some animals are susceptible to the same illnesses that can be passed between people.

Food
There have been travel guides written that suggest you avoid meats, fish, shellfish, fruit, vegetables and salads. This is no longer the case. When traveling with a reputable company, your trip includes only lodges and camping services that have passed very strict hygienic inspection on a frequent basis. Your guide may recommend places to avoid should you wish to venture on your own in towns. Care should be taken in Zanzibar where you will have a choice of places to dine at.

You can request special meals if you have dietary requirements. These should be mentioned in advance to ensure preparations can be made in remote areas.

If you have any food allergies, these should be made known so that your safari team can ensure your diet will avoid these foods.

Water
Bottled water is provided (either free or for sale) at all lodges and often in your vehicle. Though the tap water from lodges is generally filtered, boiled or both, the differences in minerals might cause discomfort and should be avoided. It is important, however, that you drink a lot of water and other fluids to avoid dehydration in the warmer climate.

Other Drinks
There is a large variety of locally bottled soft drinks and beer available. These products are generally supervised under international standards (i.e. Coca Cola) and should be quite safe. When in doubt, ask you guide. Wine drinkers might enjoy some of the wines imported from South Africa. Chateau Libertas is at the top of the recommendation list. Some spirits may be difficult to find and are often expensive. You might consider traveling with your own supply.

Important: When traveling on public transportation, do not accept drink offers from ‘friendly strangers’. There have been incidents where these beverages have been drugged that the traveller has woken several hours later, less all belongings.

A note to women
Feminine products are not always available in some of the remote locations and they may be very expensive or of questionable quality. You should remember to pack these items from home for your trip. Also, there are some roads that may be very bumpy. Supportive clothing (as in a bra) is recommended during these trips.

Jet Lag
There are a lot of ways people avoid jet lag, but the trip to Africa is long and generally crosses several time zones (unless you are arriving from Moscow). People traveling from North America might consider breaking their travel in Europe. At the minimum, you might take advantage of shower facilities offered at most international airports.

During the flight, avoid alcoholic beverages, but drink plenty of water and juice. Lip balm and skin moisturizer can help, as can the little foil wrapped moist towels.

Dress Code and Clothing Recommendations (also check 'Packing Recommendations in this page')

Dress while on your trip should be comfortable and casual. Cultural etiquette suggests you wear conservative dress. When visiting Zanzibar Town, it is suggested that men and women dress conservatively except at your hotel's pool out of respect for the Moslem culture that is evident on the island. There can be chilly mornings and evenings, especially in Ngorongoro, so you should bring a light jacket or sweater. It is best to dress in layers on cold mornings so you can reduce clothing without having to change items while on a game drive. White or light colours are suggested and long sleeves, pant legs and socks are recommended for nature walks as well as avoiding flies, and mosquitoes. Bring sturdy, comfortable shoes and if hiking or walking is on your agenda, make sure they are suitable for these activities. Don't forget your swimsuit to take advantage of the pools on the way.

Sun Protection
Do not underestimate the power of the equatorial sun. It is very serious. Bring a hat that will provide protection, sunglasses and sun screeN.

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