Visiting Africa is truly a life-changing journey and we’ve handed you the logistics to a world-class experience. We don’t recommend that you try to pull this off yourself, we certainly didn’t. While it’s arguably easy to book the hotels and food, the timing, transfers and finding people you can trust is the onerous part. This travel guide will give you the framework, but it’s highly recommended to contact Katie Frederick out of California to customize your travel and make your stay in Africa a flawless one versus trying to piece it together yourself and not get the full benefit of the journey ahead. We wanted to ‘find ourselves’ in Africa, not get lost in a series of unforeseen follies. 🙂
- Immunizations required: Yellow Fever.
- Immunizations recommended include: Influenza, Hep A, Hep B, Cholera, Rabies, Typhoid, Hepatitis.
- US citizens visit www.passporthealthusa.com for more information.
Passports and Visas
Government regulations change without notice, it is important to check regulations with the relevant authority prior to travel. This is a guideline only.
- Nationals of Mauritius, Singapore, Hong Kong and The Philippines are exempted from entry/tourism visa for a period of 90 days.
- Nationals from Australia, Israel, New Zealand, USA, UK, Germany, South Africa and Sweden can pay for (US$ 30) and obtain an entry visa upon arrival at any Rwanda entry point without any prior application, and this visa is valid for 30 days. Applications for a visa by these nationalities may also be made at a Rwandan Embassy or diplomatic mission in advance. However, to avoid being blocked by airlines at your departure airport, get an entry visa for Rwanda before leaving your home country where possible.
- All other nationalities must apply in advance at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, or at Rwandan diplomatic missions or embassies worldwide.
- Visit https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=2 for more info or to apply for visa online.
Tips on Navigating the Culture
- You’ll need a lot of cash for incidentals.
If you’re American, US$ notes prior to 2006 are not normally accepted. Best make sure you have smaller denomination and notes which have been issued after 2006. For 15 days, it is recommended to take $3,000 cash. Assuming your entire trip has been paid in advance, this cash will come in handy only for incidentals and the unexpected. Keep in mind that ATMs aren’t always available and when they are, they don’t always work and/or they’re sometimes out of cash. While most major credit cards (VISA and MasterCard) are acceptable, they aren’t widely accepted especially in remote locations. Lastly, Africa relies on tourism therefore is a tip-centric continent.
- On the topic of begging, instead of giving money to children, give them candy or pens.
We went to the dollar store and bought bags of gummy bracelets which we stored in our carry-on to give out. The kids also love plastic water bottles as it makes them feel like they are tourists and this we learned is a game they like to play – impersonating tourists! haha!
- Pack only soft sided luggage under 15kg per person.
Figure out how to pack one soft-sided duffel bag and one personal item and stick with it. This is strictly enforced especially on the small private planes into Ndutu Airstrip. Light aircraft travel has a strict luggage restriction of 15 kg per person including hand luggage, depending on your destination.
- Do not drink or brush your teeth with the water unless it’s out of a safety-sealed bottle.
Avoid getting the water in your mouth at all costs. Most people are not accustomed to the biology and will get painfully sick. Best to carry prescription anti-diarrhea like Lomotil and antibiotics as recommended by your Passport Health Specialist. (Then pray you don’t have to use either).
Shall we? We shall!
East Africa: 14 nights/15 days
3 Countries : Kenya, Rwanda & Tanzania
Land Kenyatta Airport (NBO)
Stop 1: Kenya
Nairobi National Park 2 nights
- Accommodations : Giraffe Manor is an iconic, private, boutique hotel seated on 12 acres with giraffe and warthogs roaming about interacting freely with guests. A life changing experience to pet a giraffe!
- Things to Do: David Sheldrick Elephant Refuge (elephant adoptions available), Kenya Children’s Home (scholastic sponsorships available).
- Where to Eat: Brunch at Giraffe Manor (with Giraffe at the table) and dinner/drinks at Hemingway’s Nairobi.
On the morning of day 3, depart (NBO) Kenyatta Airport to (KGL) Kigali Airport
Stop 2: Rwanda
Part A: Kigali 1 night
- Accommodations : Hotel des Milles Collines where the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ was filmed and locals took refuge during the genocide between the Tutsis and Hutus as recent as 1994.
- Things to Do: explore the area, visit the market and Genocide museum.
- Where to Eat: Heaven Rwanda for an excellent tasting menu and Hotel des Milles Collines for breakfast and lunch.
Part B: Parc National des Volcans 2 nights
- Accommodations: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge in the foothills of the volcanic mountains with private, rustic chalets and beautiful views.
- Things to do: experience authentic dancing by the locals and embark on a gorilla trek through the jungle with expert tour guide Bosco Avril. Another life changing experience!
- Where to Eat: Visit the ‘Ubumwe Bar‘ at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (no known website) for spirits and the hotel restaurant for brunch and dinner
Part C: Kigali 1 night
- Accommodations: Hotel des Milles Collines (same as Part A of Kigali).
- Things to do: Get a massage and relax at the pool, try ‘Tusker’ local beer.
- Where to Eat: Hotel des Milles Collines on site restaurants.
On day 6, depart Kigali to Ndutu Airstrip
Stop 3: Tanzania
Part A: Central Serengeti 5 nights
- Accommodations: dmAfrica Classic Mobil Camp – private luxury camp
- Things to do: Wake up and fall asleep on the Serengeti in a luxury tent with running water, laundry service, private cooks, hot showers, full WC facilities including vanity within your own tent, gourmet meals, private SUV and private guide. Game drives on daily safaris for 5 days looking for the ‘big 5’ (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard). Relax by the campfire, watch the sun rise and set, observe wildebeest during the migration, sip wine from local vineyards, journal, read, contemplate life, learn about African wildlife, Maasai Tribe, weather and culture. Fly over the Serengeti to get a bird’s eye view of the Great Plains. Listen to wildebeest stampede, lion prides roar as they hunt, observe fresh kills as they unravel before your very eyes and hear the eerie laughs of hyaena. Have you ever been so astounded that rather than formulate words, tears instead stream down your face bubbling up from a place of awe and bewilderment? Yea, welcome to the Serengeti. (We hear childbirth is a lot like this, but thank goodness for Africa – all the ‘wow’ with none of the pain)!
- Where to eat: Private Chefs with dmAfrica.
Part B: Ngorongoro Region 2 nights
- Accommodations: Ngorongoro Farm House. A beautiful lodge tucked away on a coffee plantation with charming, modern-rustic rooms.
- Things to do: Relax at the pool, tour the coffee plantation, happy hours, afternoon tea, last minute shopping, explore the crater and see any remaining animals off the ‘big 5’ list, observe storks.
- Where to Eat: The Farm House.
Day 15 depart (JRO) Kilimanjaro Airport to (NBO) Kenyatta Airport
Travel Concierge vs. Planning Yourself
In most all situations, we are comfortable and confident handling our own affairs. In the history of our travels, there has only been one occasion that we have outsourced travel planning and that was for this East African adventure. Wanting to spend two weeks falling asleep and waking up on the Serengeti while interacting with wildlife in the Congo was not intuitive for planning purposes, so we called in the experts. Most importantly, we didn’t want to botch up any transfers or be met with adversity.
We would highly recommend hiring a professional to ensure smooth transfers and negotiate all the most favorable pricing and logistics in a wonderland like Africa – at least if you plan on sleeping in a tent on the Serengeti for Christmas during part of the Great Migration and/or you plan to hike through Rwanda into the Congo and spend time in the jungle with the gorillas. We were looking for pure adventure and pure adventure is what we got. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Having hired travel concierge, Katie Frederick out of California, we were completely pleased with the outcome. Katie not only flawlessly planned the trip, she ensured that we had a person by our side at all times along the journey. We were never alone, even when we slept, our guide was just a few doors down in the event we needed anything. While the itinerary was put together by Katie, we improvised our own dining experiences in Rwanda and Nairobi. We can’t stress this enough, Africa was the trip of a lifetime! A place we’ve dreamt about fairly frequently since returning from our first safari in 2016.
Thanks for reading! Contact us to learn more about adopting an elephant or sponsoring a child from an academic standpoint – we do both and get a lot of joy out of these endeavors!
E & B Woodward
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