Practical Information

Being well-informed is key when you’re traveling to a new place. At Heritage Explorers, we want to ensure you have the most current information before and during your safari. This guide provides a useful overview of what you can expect during your holiday in East Africa. Once you book a safari with us, we’ll also provide detailed information on each destination in your itinerary.


A visa is a clearance permitting an individual to proceed to visit another country. Ugandan, Kenyan, Tanzanian and Rwandan visas are issued at the respective Missions/Embassies abroad, at the Entry/Exit Points such as Entebbe airport (Uganda), Kanombe/Kigali airport (Rwanda), Julius Nyerere International airport (Tanzania) and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Kenya), and through online applications. A valid passport is mandatory in all cases and the visa application fees vary from country to country. There is an East African Visa as well, which allows you to enter Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.

Below are the links to visa online applications for the respective countries:





Please contact Heritage Explorers in case you need assistance with how to do the online application for the visa. If you have booked your tour with Heritage Explorers Uganda, we will provide you with an invitation letter/confirmation of booking to hand in with your online visa application. Please ask your contact person at Heritage Explorers Uganda for this invitation letter.

Gorilla tracking and permits

To track gorillas, each person must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance. Each gorilla park (Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda and Parc National des Volcanos [PNV] in Rwanda) has different numbers of permits per day. A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. No person can track more than three times in three consecutive days. To protect the gorillas from disease and to avoid problems of arduous conditions in the forests, young trackers below the age of 15 and those with illnesses are not allowed to track. Flash photography is not allowed, and visitors are advised to use still cameras, at a distance of at least 5 meters away from the animals. Professional filming requires extra fees to be paid. Tracking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough, arduous and wet – the tracking can last from as little as 45 minutes to as much as 9 hours. Trackers, therefore, need to be well equipped with food and water, strong water-proof clothing and must be fit and healthy. Strong, light clothes could be carried, as well as rain jackets, a torch, sunglasses, a sun hat, gloves to grip vegetation, socks. Use jungle boots, long-sleeved shirt. A walking stick may be needed. Porters can be hired to carry equipment for all trackers (fees range between $5-20 per porter per day). Part of the fees paid to the park authorities goes directly to help local communities around the Protected Area(s).


Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda have a wide range of standards when it comes to places to stay – from five-star hotels and first-class luxury lodges to rustic bush camps, guesthouses and campsites. In some cases, the lodges and hotels are not as luxurious as in some European countries. In different towns, accommodation ranges from 3-5-star hotels and guesthouses. Travelers must pay in US Dollars except for the smaller guesthouses where the local currency is used. Not all the small-town hotels are equipped to take travelers’ cheques or credit cards, so it is best you travel with some cash. You can ask your contact person at Heritage Explorers Uganda for more information about this when making a booking for your tour.


Uganda has a pleasant climate the whole year since it is located around the equator. The average temperatures are between 22 and 32ºC, although in some areas like Bwindi, Rwenzori Mountains, Kisoro, Sipi Falls, the temperatures drop in the night because they are in high altitudes. However, it is hard to predict the rainy season due to climate changes. But, March – May is normally the heavy rainy season, with light rains in November – December. The sun is out for plenty of hours all throughout the year.

Tanzania is also close to the equator, hence has a tropical climate. The warmest time of the year is from October to February and the coolest is from June to October. In some places in the interior, the temperature can be as high as 40°C. March – May has the heavy rains on the main land, while the coastal area and the islands of Zanzibar are warm and humid with temperatures between 22 and 30°C and a humidity between 75 and 80% almost year-round. In the northern and southern highlands, the temperatures get below 12°C with regular frost between the months of May and August.

Kenya lies on the equator and has a pleasant, tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations influenced by several factors, including altitude. Kenya’s daytime temperatures average between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F, but it is warmer on the coast. Kenya is too close to the equator to experience a real winter and summer, with the warmest summer months in December–March and the coolest winter months in June–August, again with differences in temperature varying by location within the country. There is, however, both a Dry and Wet season. December – February is the hot dry season, April – May has the heavy rains, and June – October is the cooler dry season.

Rwanda is different from the other three countries as it has a tropical highland climate. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 27 °C (81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year, i.e. February to June and September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February.


In all countries, postal services are well organized. International call facilities, as well as fax facilities, can be found at the main Post Office and in many Secretarial bureaus around. You can also send postcards or letters back home. International telephone communication is very good across the East African region, but as you travel upcountry, the network more difficult. A European or American mobile phone with a roaming agreement works in all the countries, and local SIM cards can be purchased in many outlets. There are Email and Internet access services in and around the major city centres in East Africa and in some towns upcountry. So, accommodation facilities have WIFI accessibility and others on request.


There are several sporting, dancing and social clubs, theatres and other entertainment in the major towns. Visitors are usually welcomed. Some charge a temporary membership fee. Avoid staying up till late when you are traveling the next day. Interactions and friendly relations are at the discretion of the client but seek your guide’s advice. Many of the main hotels have swimming pools, and there are excellent opportunities for golf, tennis and squash in Kampala/Kigali, and in several other parts of the country. Football, rugby, tennis and cricket clubs are found in the main towns. Sailing and water-skiing are available on Lake Victoria. Fishermen should head for the lakes and the River Nile.

Safety and Security

Be quite awake when walking around carrying anything of value. Like in all countries around the world, petty theft, including pickpockets is around in some places. Do not walk around at night unescorted before seeking advice. If possible, never leave your vehicle unattended and never change money on the streets. Carry minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt, if possible. Secure your belongings such as passport or airline tickets and other valuables and documents; use safe deposit boxes where available. For the most part, however, East Africans are very friendly and helpful. If in doubt seek local advice. 

Getting around

Bank hours vary from bank to bank, but most are open from 08:30 – 15:00 hrs Monday to Friday. Only some are open on Saturdays and Sundays. Forex bureaus are normally open till 17:00. Most banks also have a branch at the Airport to serve incoming and outgoing passengers. Shops are open from 08:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs, Monday to Friday and 08:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs on Saturdays; some in Kampala open from 06h00 for up to 16 hours. Main roads are generally good, but travel is much slower than on European roads. Secondary roads are of a variable standard, often slow and bumpy; some require high four-wheel drive vehicles. Light aircraft can also be chartered to the main tourist destinations. Traffic drives on the left side in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania; in Rwanda, traffic drives on the right. The major highways are two lane class 6 roads. Driving in these countries is quite an experience, yet probably the best way to see the country. One, however, has to be cautious of Pedestrians, Cyclists, wildlife and Livestock on all roads.


English and Swahili are the official languages and most Ugandans and Kenyans can communicate fluently in English. In Tanzania and Zanzibar, Swahili is the official language that is widely spoken; and Swahili, English and French are widely spoken and understood in Rwanda. French and local Kinyarwanda are the official languages. 

Laws applicable to you

Souvenirs may be exported without restriction but game trophies such as tooth, bone, horn, shell, claw, skin, hair, feather or other durable items are subject to export permits. Foreigners are not allowed to engage in local politics.

Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are safe countries for gay and lesbian travelers; however, they are conservative countries and we do recommend discretion.


Before taking pictures of people it is polite to ask. Photographs should not be taken of people or religious ceremonies without their consent. Taking photos of the airport or strategic buildings, military installations and soldiers is NOT allowed. Bring spare camera batteries just in case you run out of battery during a safari. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari. Commercial photographers should consult the Ministry of Information for a permit.


Clients are advised not to carry too much money around. Our safaris are all-inclusive and except for a need to tip, buy souvenirs and a few meals in towns, there may be nothing else in relation to your safari that you need to buy. Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali and Dar es salaam are well serviced with banks. International Banks include Stanbic, Eco Bank, ABSA, Standard Chartered, United Bank of Africa, and many others. The unit of currency in Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (Ugsh), in Kenya, it’s the Kenyan shilling and Tanzania it’s the Tanzanian shilling. British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, German Marks, Swiss Francs, French Francs, Euro, Japanese Yen, SA Rand notes are also used. The unit of currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF). 

There are no restrictions on importation or exportation of currency into or out of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda although any monies over US$5000 must be declared to customs officials at the airport. Licensed Forex Bureaus can be found in all major urban areas and are abundant in the capital cities. It is safest to carry US Dollars, however, in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, they do NOT accept US dollars given out before 2006.

Credit cards are allowed in most hotels, restaurants, banks, travel agencies and the bigger shops in these countries. Only a few hotels and banks in Kigali will accept credit cards. Most of the hotels or lodges in upcountry cities will accept cash against a credit card. The most accepted credit cards are VISA, MASTER CARD, DINNER’S & AMERICAN EXPRESS.


Heritage Explorers is the best and reliable company that can arrange your transportation either self-drive or chauffer/guide driven. We use open roofed 4WD safari vehicles for all our tours. We charge a daily rate including fuel, mileage and government taxes. All clients purchasing a full safari or holiday from us need to have their own comprehensive Travel insurance. We can also arrange chartered aircraft to the various airfields.


Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are GMT +3 hrs. Rwanda is GMT +2hrs.

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