The Bank of Tanzania closed down every bureau de change Arusha this week. Needless to say, this left visitors and local businesses to visit the banks to change money. With this in mind, if you happen to be travelling to Tanzania anytime soon, you should know that bureau de change shops are no longer open in Arusha.
Bureau de Change in Arusha No More
In case you might not know, this was the favored way for tourists to get spending money. After all, carrying US dollars to exchange for local currency was not only better value but also more reliable than local ATM’s.
Anyway, it has meant that tour companies and tourists have been without this option. Instead, you must exchange money in banks or withdraw cash from local ATM machines.
That being said, with the bureau de change Arusha gone, where can you exchange money in Arusha?
Where Can You Exchange Money in Arusha?
Arusha is quite a big town with many banks. If you walk up toward the clock tower from Nakumatt, you will find a number of banks on the left-hand side including a Bank of Tanzania. You can also visit a Western Union branch if needed as these are unaffected by the ruling.
As a very last option, there are also dodgy characters outside the markets across from Nakumatt. I do not advise that you exchange money here but they might be able to point you in the right direction if completely stuck.
The move to close these bureaus was made by the Bank of Tanzania this week after an extensive inspection.
At this time, it’s not clear as to whether the bureaus will reopen. I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be banned and all exchanges will need to take place in the banks from now on. In my honest opinion, it’s no big deal!
Need a Packing list for Kenya Safari? Yes, you probably need your bank cards and a clean pair of underwear. But what else do you put on your safari packing list?
You see, most visitors remember to pack the necessities and that’s great. However, in my own experience as an overland tour leader, those little “nice-to-haves” are almost always forgotten. And these are small objects that make a big difference, yet objects we don’t think about packing for a safari in Kenya.
Here are 10 things that you should consider on your Packing list for Kenya Safari:
10 Things You Need on a Packing List for Kenya Safari
1. Hand Sanitizer
Believe it or not, hand sanitizer is not the most common item in Africa. Also, what you often forget on a packing list for Kenya Safari, is that you won’t have time to go shopping when you reach Nairobi. For this reason, take an alcohol based sanitizer (60% alcohol) and use it as much as possible when you get there.
2. Lip Balm
I know that lip balm is a must-have travel accessory for some but on an African safari, they are essential. Aside from the obvious sun in the sky, keep in mind that you spend a lot of time driving on safari and hanging out the top of the vehicle. In other words, your lips can get burnt from the wind just as much as the sun.
3. iPad Mini
Where do you store your videos and photographs? Without doubt, the best storage facility on your Packing list for Kenya Safari is an iPad. After all, you don’t need a laptop to access these videos and the small size of this device makes it priceless. By the way, it’s also handy for watching “the Lion King” or “Out of Africa” in your spare time.
4. Smaller Camera
Carrying a giant SLR camera around Kenya can be pretty frustrating. More importantly, it can feel a little ignorant pointing on of these lenses in the face of a local. Having a small camera will save you this embarrassment and just make this easier in general. I love the Panasonic G7X but really, any small camera should do the trick for your Packing list for Kenya Safari.
5. Reusable Bags
Did you know that Rwanda was the first country in the world to ban plastic bags? Well, if you want to do the right thing, don’t bring any plastic bags on the trip and take a reusable bag instead.
6. Warm Clothing
Many tourists arrive in Africa without putting warm clothing on their packing list for Kenya safari. Yes, it’s often very warm in Kenya but the truth is, it can get pretty cold at night and you will need layers.
7. Wide Brim Hat
Personally, I try to avoid wearing a wide brim hat. However, I always wear one on safari for protection from the sun and the reason should be obvious. Nobody cares what you look like on safari in Africa and the wide brim hat will make you a whole lot more comfortable.
8. Decent Headtorch
Having your hands free after dark is essential in the bush. Especially if you have to do something like put up a tent or help with cooking. Either way, pick a good headtorch and know that you will use it more than most items on your packing list for Kenya safari. My pick is the Petzl Actik Core.
9. Books About Africa
I don’t read books all that often but on safari, there is something special about reading. Think about it: sitting around a campfire with a good book – it even sounds relaxing!
Okay, you don’t put this in your packing list for Kenya Safari but trust me, you need it. In fact, the people who have the best time on safari are always the people who can manage their expectations and deploy patience for when things go wrong!
Whats’s on Your Packing List for Kenya Safari?
Anyway, that’s my ten things that you should put on your packing list for Kenya Safari.
Bike Touring Africa is an immense undertaking. In fact, I think this is something that can get lost in the process when it comes to planning the trip. In other words, you can draw lines on a map all day long. But when you get out there, it can feel a little overwhelming.
In late 2013, I set out to cycle from Cape Town to Cairo. It took me one year to finish bike touring Africa. Now: it was an epic trip and probably the most epic I will ever take. However, it was also many other things – scary, lonely, painful, hot, uncomfortable, exhausting….you get it!
Anyway, before you go, here are five things you should know about bike touring Africa:
Quick Answer: Things to Know before Cycling Cape to Cairo
– Cycling Cape to Cairo is a Very Long Way
– The Number One Cause of Illness is Dehydration
– Never Leave Food in Your Tent, Seriously
– You Should Forget About Expectations in Africa
– Weight is Important on an Africa Cycle Tour
5 Things You Should Know About Bike Touring Africa
1. Cycling Cape to Cairo is a Very Long Way
If this is your first time bike touring Africa, you need to know that drawing lines on a map is easy. In other words, planning your adventure is usually a lot more exciting than the actual cycling. It may sound obvious but trust me, you think about this every day. That being said, this is something you learn on the road, that you just need to accept these incredibly long distances.
Bike Touring Africa Tip: Download offline maps so that you can know precisely how far you are from towns etc at any time. I spent the entire year guessing these distances and it was exhausting. If I did it again, I would have GPS maps and a SPOT device for tracking.
2. The Number One Cause of Illness is Dehydration
When I was bike touring Africa, I fully realized the importance of staying hydrated. In fact, I suffered with heat exhaustion two months into the trip and well, I was very lucky to come out of those few days. What’s more, I worked as an overland tour leader for several years in Africa and realized the importance of hydration even more during this time. That is to say, when my guests were inflicted with “malaria” or any other illness, it almost always the fact that they were dehydrated.
Bike Touring Africa Tip: Carry way more water than you think you will need at all times. Also, sprinkle fresh orange or lemon into your drinks along the way – it’s refreshing and super good for hydration!
3. Don’t Leave Food in Your Tent, Seriously
I cannot count the amount of backpackers and cyclists in Africa who think that leaving food in their tent is okay. True, most of them get away with it but trust me, you don’t want to risk what can happen when a hungry elephant comes along. Again, I say this from the perspective of a tour guide. In other words, I have witnessed exactly what can happen when you leave food in your tent and you should simply never, ever do it.
Bike Touring Africa Tip: Keep Food in Your Panniers when Wild Camping but never right next to your tent.
4. Forget About Your Expectations
Everything happens tomorrow in Africa – especially when it’s urgent. As for the guest houses, restaurants or shops along the way, you need to lower your expectations or better still – get rid of them. As for customer service, forget about it!
Bike Touring Africa Tip: Before cycling Cape to Cairo, I had already spent one year in Africa. I had enough experience to know that everything happens differently in Africa. If you realize this before you go, it will save you a lot of stress on the trip.
5. Weight is Important on an Africa Cycle Tour
I take a lot of long distance hikes nowadays and in my Pacific Crest Trail blog, I talked about the weight issue a lot. When I was bike touring Africa, I paid no attention to weight until one week into the trip but by then, it was too late to change any gear. For this reason, I cannot recommend enough that you buy lightweight gear for cycling Cape to Cairo.
Bike Touring Africa Tip: Buy a Big Agnes Tent on Amazon. They are so damn lightweight and I take one on all of my trips!
And that’s it – my first five tips for Bike Touring Africa! What did I miss? Have you any tips for Cycling Cape to Cairo? Please let me know in the comments!
When it comes to the best places to see wildlife in Africa, Botswana seems to jump out at most people. That being said, Serengeti National Park is the most famous place to visit for wildlife and the Masai Mara in Kenya is a close second.
In this post, I just want to give you a quick snapshot of the most prominent parks in Africa. Needless to say, this is more of a list so please keep in mind that there is a lot more information on the website about each one.
The Best Places to See Wildlife in Africa
Kenya or Tanzania For Luxury Safari
As mentioned, Botswana is a super popular place for wildlife safaris. This is mostly the case for Americans for some reason but either way, I suggest that this is not the best place for a first time safari. Alternatively, I highly recommend that you stick to Kenya and Tanzania. With this in mind, you can visit the Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park where there are some pretty luxurious lodges. Also, the cost will be less and the experience will be much better – trust me.
Tanzania For Budget Safari
Simply put, Ngorongoro Crater is the best value-for-money safari you will ever encounter. Many backpackers take this safari which travels to the edge of the Serengeti. You drive down into the crater and there is so much wildlife down there. Also, the price is a lot less than a full-on Serengeti trip. Alternatively, an overnight trip into the Okavango Delta is great value and in my opinion, the Masai Mara is worth splashing out on too.
Tanzania For Median Priced Safari
No question, take a trip into the Serengeti and visit Ngorongoro Crater along the way. This is usually a 3-night trip and the very best safari that I know about.
Botswana for Private Luxury Lodge Safari
That being said, Botswana is ideal if you really want to get out there and be surrounded by the wild in a luxury lodge. The price is pretty high but the whole experience is as luxurious as they come.
The Best Wildlife Parks in Africa by Country
Best place to see wildlife in Kenya – Masai Mara National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Hells Gate National Park or Lake Nakura NP
Best place to see wildlife in Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Queen Elizabeth National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Mgahinga National Park near Kisoro
Best place to see wildlife in Rwanda – Rwenzori National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Same as above.
Best place to see wildlife in Tazania – Serengeti National Park
Best place to see wildlife in Malawi – Liwonde National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Majete Wildlife Reserve
Best place to see wildlife in Zambia – South Luangwa National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Victoria Falls)
Best place to see wildlife in Zimbabwe – Matopos National Park or Hwange NP
Budget/Day Tour Option – Either of the above.
Best place to see wildlife in Botswana – Moremi NP or Chobe National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Chobe National Park
*Note – Okavango Delta is not a wildlife experience.
Best place to see wildlife in Namibia – Etosha National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Same as above
Best place to see wildlife in South Africa – Kruger National Park
Budget/Day Tour Option – Addo Elephant NP
As already mentioned, this is intended as a snapshot of the best places to see wildlife in Africa. If you would like more information or advice for your trip, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Otherwise, thank you for reading and please feel free to look around the rest of my Africa travel blog.
As you may know, the Uganda Gorilla permit is quite a grey area. In other words, where do you actually buy one and how much do they cost? Most often, you will find that contacting a tour operator is the only way and even then, how do you know if this is the correct price?
The truth is, there is so much shady practice with these permits. That is to say, the Uganda gorilla permit is an easy way for shady characters to make a bit of extra money. For example, if there are no Uganda Gorilla permits on any given day, they can still be sourced – somewhere!
How to Buy a Uganda Gorilla Permit
Buying a gorilla permit is a pretty straight forward process when you have contacts in Uganda. After all, this is precisely how tour companies in the rest of the world obtain them. In case you might be asking yourself, in my time as an overland tour leader, I was responsible for organizing hundreds of these permits for my guests. The truth is, all it took was a simple phone call to the right person.
By the way, is this an option for you?
Absolutely, just hit me up in the chat box and I can pass you the relevant details.
But let me tell you a bit more about my experience with the Uganda permit
My Experience with the Uganda Gorilla Permit
When I first went backpacking Uganda, we went “bird watching” instead of gorilla trekking. Yes, due a spontaneous gunfight, we were unable to travel into the Congo (where we had our permits) and needed to source them elsewhere. However, we were unable to get a Uganda Gorilla permit because they were all sold out and so they gave us bird watching permits to use as cover for a sneaky trip up to the gorillas. Make sense?
To summarise: we pretended to go bird watching but the trackers actually brought us up to see the gorillas. It was illegal and we paid less money, but this money did not go toward conservation. And just so you know, tour operators have nothing to do with this process – they merely send the money to a middle man in Africa, and the middle man takes care of the rest.
But what should this mean to you?
Well, I strongly advise you should buy a Uganda Gorilla permit from someone trustworthy.
Do You Really Need a Uganda Gorilla Permit?
You simply must buy a gorilla permit for Uganda if you want to spend time with them. These permits are taken extremely serious and without one, you will not be permitted to trek for the gorillas.
Why are Gorilla Permits Even Necessary?
Mountain Gorillas are an endangered species. For this reason, precautions are taken by the government to protect and preserve their privacy.
At the same time, this is also a great source of revenue for the government – hence, the high price.
Do You Need a Travel Agent or Tour Operator to Get a Gorilla Permit?
Yes and no. Yes, if you want to save yourself a lot of hassle. And no, if you know the right people to contact.
The Uganda wildlife authority are responsible for issuing these permits but the purchase is most often taken care of by a local tour operator. In other words, you can usually send someone to collect your Uganda Gorilla permit at the UWA offices in Kampala.
About the Limit for Uganda Gorilla Permits
Only 96 gorilla permits are available each day. Most of these are issued for Bwindi National Forest and the rest, for Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Uganda Gorilla Permits for Bwindi: 88
Uganda Gorilla Permits for Mgahinga Gorilla National Park: 8
When is the Best time to go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?
The best time to visit the gorillas in Uganda between June and September or December and February.
The Peak seasons June, July, August, September, December, January, and February are especially a hard time to obtain gorilla permits.
Then Why Do You Need Someone to Purchase Your Uganda Gorilla Permit?
You don’t but unless you arrive several weeks or months before you intend on trekking, they will be sold out.
So what does this mean to you?
It means you should either join an organized tour or contact a local who can organize and collect the Uganda Gorilla Permit for you.