A guide to money required on your adventure tour
The following information is provided to assist you in planning the finances you will require for your safari. It is intended as a general guide only and may change with local conditions. African currencies tend to fluctuate more rapidly than your own currencies.
In Eastern and Southern Africa USD cash, GBP sterling, Euros and USD, Euro and GBP sterling travellers cheques, visa card and Automatic Teller machine cards may be used. However knowing the best places to use each of the above or indeed which form to use most often and where and when can be extremely confusing. We have put together a country guide to assist you when organising and purchasing your foreign exchange and to keep for use whilst on safari in managing your money.
Traveller's cheques should be a well-known brand such as Thomas Cook, American Express or Visa, and in Africa, we recommend that you do not bring cheques issued in other currencies ie. Swiss Francs, Canadian dollars, Australian dollars, etc.
Note: Outside major towns/cities, especially in East Africa, travellers cheques can be difficult to cash and will not be accepted in many places ie. smaller rural towns, markets, souvenir stalls, etc. The proof of purchase receipt will also be required to enable you to cash your cheques in many places. Travellers cheques can also attract high commission charges especially when exchanging for hard currency. thereforee, at times, it may be advisable to bring more cash for use in remote areas where banking facilities are non-existent.
In Africa, credit cards can be used in some places so can be a useful resource. However, credit cards should not be relied upon as a main source of funds as there are many places (especially north of Zimbabwe) where cards cannot be used, especially for cash advances.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMS) can be found more widely now, particularly in Southern Africa. They will give you a very good rate of exchange if used and are handy to carry. However, please note that they usually only take visa linked accounts and have a tendency to be out of service as well as an appetite to randomly swallow cards
Here are a couple of tips:
· There are big scams currently operating involving ATM use. Local people will have stories about machines malfunctioning and offer to assist you. NEVER enter your pin number with anyone present! Also as African machines tend to swallow foreign cards at random try to use the ATM's during bank business hours so that you can get your card back should it be eaten.
· Most banks, particularly in East Africa will want to see the proof of purchase receipt before cashing your travellers cheques. These are the yellow receipts you are told to keep separate from your cheques.
· A lot of places will want to see your passport, even when cashing USD notes.
· Ask around on the truck to see if together you are able to help each other. For example if someone is cashing USD notes and you are able to cash your travellers cheques or use your ATM card then take the USD cash from fellow passengers and give them the equivalent local currency that they would have received from cashing that money. You get your USD's cash a lot cheaper and easier!
· Old pre-1994 USD banknotes or torn or marked banknotes are difficult to exchange in Africa.
· Local currency coins cannot be changed so use them all up, keep them as souvenirs or give them away!
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
1USD$ = 375 Congolese Francs (CDF)
1 GBP = 650 Congolese Francs (CDF)
There is no real need to convert any of your money to Congolese Francs as you will only be in the Congo for a short period of time. Hotels readily accept USD cash for food and beverages and the gorilla guides and trekkers accept USD cash as tips for their assistance.
The best currency to use in the Congo is USD$ cash. A variety of denominations are required to pay small amounts, such as a beer in a hotel, to larger denominations to pay for your gorilla permit.
Gorilla trekking permits are currently $250USD. Please note that the gorilla trekking permit must be paid in USD notes. These notes must be post 1993 as all notes are run through a counterfeit checker. Some extra notes are advisable in case the machine rejects your notes. (Don't worry - you will be able to use any unaccepted notes elsewhere). The permits are subject to change without prior notice
Visa requirements: All nationalities require visas. Visas are available on the border and cost around US$30.
1USD$ = 1800 Ugandan Shillings (USH)
1GBP = 3000 Ugandan Shillings (USH)
On arrival in Kampala you will be able to convert money into Ugandan shillings. The banks are the easiest and safest place to change money. USD, GBP, Euros are all accepted in both cash and traveler cheque format. The traveler cheques are changed into Ugandan shillings with no commission at a very good rate. Cash is also changed with no commission. The rate received varies in cash transactions with the denominations changed. For example 50/100USD$ notes receive 1800USH/$USD whereas 10/20USD$ notes receive 1600USH/$USD and 1/5USD$ notes receive 1400USH/$USD.
Automatic Teller machines are available at Barclays and Standard Chartered banks but usually only accept visa-linked accounts and are unreliable.
In Uganda you need USH to pay for snacks, drinks and taxis etc. All services such as boat hire, guides, laundry etc will be paid in USH.
Optionals in Uganda include whitewater rafting. This can be paid using USD, GBP cash; traveler cheques and credit card incur an additional 5%-10% bank fee; and can also be paid in USH at a fairly competitive rate.
Visa requirements: All single entry and transit visas are available on the border. Multiple entry visas are available from your own country prior to arrival into Uganda. All nationalities except Irish and Belgium need to pay for visas. A single entry visa is $30USD and $20USD with valid student identification. This visa is void when exiting Uganda into Rwanda and another visa needs to be repurchased on entry back into Uganda. However more often than not we can successfully enter on a transit visa into Uganda at both entry points. This transit visa is $15USD at each border. (Please note that whether the transit visa is issued depends on the mood of the immigration officer on the day!).
Others: Internet access is very limited and may cost about $1USD per ten minutes. Beers are about 1500-2000USH. A bag of laundry will set you back about 3000USH. A postage stamp will cost you about 500USH.
· All unused Ugandan shillings can be legally changed back to Kenyan shillings on the border. Please ask the advice of the tour leader as to the best way to change your money.
· USD cash can sometimes be brought in Kampala through the banks. Ask first if they have USD cash to sell to you and then find out the rate of sale and then you will need to buy those notes using Ugandan shillings. So if you are trying to convert Travelers cheques to USD cash then you will need to change them into USH first and then buy the USD cash. If the ATM machine accepts your card you can take your USH to the bank for USD's.
1USD$ = 75 Kenyan Shillings (KSH)
1GBP = 120 Kenyan Shillings (KSH)
The main place to change money in Kenya is the Bureau de Changes as banks and hotels charge commission to change either cash or travelers cheques. ATM machines are available in Nairobi and larger Kenyan towns. Barclays and Standard Chartered Bank are the main banks accepting overseas ATM cards. Once again rates do vary depending upon the denomination of the note that you want to change.
All souvenirs, snacks, refreshments and local services such as taxis, internet and laundry are payable using KSH.
Optional activities in Kenya tend to be of a minimal nature and are best paid in KSh or USD cash.
Visa requirements: Visas can be obtained on the border of entry for all main nationalities. All nationalities except Irish need to pay an entry visa into Kenya. This visa allows access to Kenya but only if you are traveling and staying within the Eastern Africa area defined as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. If you enter any other country your visa is void. This applies to all three of these countries. A transit visa allows for a maximum of 7 days duration and is becoming more difficult to obtain. This visa cost $20USD. A single entry visa costs $50USD and is valid for three months. If you are visiting the gorillas in Rwanda you may wish to investigate the cost of a multiple entry visa for Kenya in your home country as you will pay a minimum of $70USD buying visas on the border.
Others: Internet is available in Nairobi for anything from 1-5 KSH per minute. Access is quite good. A beer will cost from 60-100Ksh depending on the bar you are in and whether it is a local or imported beer. To phone internationally will cost you approximately $3USD a minute.
· All unused Kenyan Shillings can be easily changed to Tanzanian or Ugandan shillings on the border.
· There are several bureau de changes in Nairobi that often have USD cash for sale. Again check how much they can sell you first! Barclays bank can also organise cash advances on credit cards but this can only be done in bank hours. The Hilton Hotel is sometimes able to sell USD cash but prefer to offer this service to their guests only.
· BEWARE of local people on the streets posing as undercover police and asking questions regarding how much local and foreign currency you have. Kenyan police do not normally interfere with tourists in any way so ask for identification and then to meet that officer at the local police station or travel on foot together to the station.
1USD$ = 1050 Tanzanian Shillings (TSH)
1GBP = 1750 Tanzanian Shillings (TSH)
On arrival in Arusha or Dar es Salaam you will be able to convert money into Tanzanian shillings. The bureau de changes are the easiest place to change money. USD, GBP, and Euros are all accepted in both cash and traveler cheque format. Cash is changed with no commission. Again the rate received varies in cash transactions with the denominations changed. Travellers' cheques are more difficult to change and require proof of purchase and often have restrictions of about $100USD a day maximum.
Automatic Teller machines are available at Barclays and Standard Chartered banks. Dar es Salaam is one of the most consistent areas for successful transactions. This is a great opportunity to use your ATM to withdraw Tanzanian shillings and then to buy USD cash at good rates.
One travel agent, Rickshaw Travel, will also do USD cash advances on foreign credit cards but imposes a fee of almost 10%.
In Tanzania you need TSH to pay for snacks, drinks and taxis etc. All services such as boat hire, guides, laundry etc will be paid in TSH. TSH can also be used to pay for accommodation in Zanzibar as well as activities such as a Spice Tour or dolphin swim etc.
Optionals in Tanzania include Serengeti/Ngorongoro Crater excursion and Zanzibar accommodation, food and activities. The Serengeti excursion is currently $275USD and is best paid in USD travellers cheques. Post 1993 USD cash, GBP sterling and TSh can also be used to pay. DO NOT use your credit card as it attracts a 12.5% fee. All accommodation and activities in Zanzibar can be paid using post 1993 notes but also can be paid using TSh. Food needs to be paid in local currency.
Visa requirements: All single entry visas' are available on the border. Visa fees are as follows (Feb 03): $20USD for Denmark, German, Italian, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland; $25USD for France, Portugal and Spain; $30USD for Australia and New Zealand; $35USD for Mexico; $40USD for Belgium; $50USD for Canada, Netherlands, UK and USA and $60USD for South African.
Others: Internet access is extremely good and costs 500TSh per thirty minutes. Beers are about 800-1500TSH. A bag of laundry will set you back about 2000TSH. A postage stamp will cost you 500TSH.
· All unused Tanzanian shillings can be changed back to Kenyan shillings or Malawi Kwacha on the border. Please ask the advice of the tour leader as to the best way to change your money.
· USD cash needs to be post 1993.
· Zanzibar does not have any ATM machines and the best rates are in Dar es Salaam rather than Zanzibar or Arusha.
1USD$ = 100 Malawi Kwacha (MK)
1GBP = 140 Malawi Kwacha (MK)
On arrival in Lilongwe you will be able to convert money into Malawi Kwacha. The bureau de changes are the easiest place to change money. USD and GBP are accepted in both cash and traveler cheque format. The traveler cheques attract a commission charge and have a lower rate. Cash is changed with no commission. If coming south from Tanzania Malawi Kwacha can be purchased on the border using USD cash. Get your tour leader to facilitate this.
Automatic Teller machines are effectively non-existent for foreign cards in this country.
In Malawi you need MK to pay for snacks, drinks and small souvenirs etc. All services such as watersport hire, guided village walks, laundry etc will be paid in MK.
Optionals in Malawi include watersport activities, horse-riding and guided walks. These activities are usually only a few dollars each and can be paid easily using MK. Horse-riding is $30USD and is best paid in USD cash. Fresh-water diving is also available and can be paid cash (approx $25USD). A lot of wooden products are available in Malawi and larger items such as Malawi chairs (approx. $20USD) are better paid in USD cash.
Visa requirements: Most nationalities do not require visas. Please check with your embassy prior to arriving in Africa, as visas are not obtainable on the border.
Others: Internet access is very limited and may cost about 7-15MK per minutes. Beers are about 50MK. A bag of laundry will set you back about 150MK A postage stamp will cost you about 70MK
· All unused Malawi Kwacha can be legally changed to Tanzanian shillings or Zambian Kwacha on the border. Please ask the advice of the tour leader as to the best way to change your money.
1USD$ = 4500 Zambian Kwacha (ZK)
1GBP = 7000 Zambian Kwacha (ZK)
There is no real need to convert any of your money to Zambian Kwacha, as you will only be in Zambia for a short period of time. Campsites readily accept USD cash for food and beverages
You can change USD into Zambian Kwacha easily on the borders if you would like to have a little currency on hand.
Automatic Teller machines are available at Barclays and Standard Chartered banks but usually only accept visa-linked accounts and are unreliable.
Optionals in Zambia include many adrenaline and scenic activities in the Victoria Falls area. These can be paid using USD, GBP cash, traveler cheques and credit card. Credit cards are good to use here as there is no extra fee and the amount is printed in USD and not converted to Zambian amounts.
Visa requirements: The following nationalities require a $65USD Zambian visa: UK, USA, New Zealand, Belgium, German, Holland, Denmark and some other minor nationalities. This visa is available on the border. HOWEVER the visa fee can be waived if there is proof of you using a local operator presented to the border at least 24 hours in advance of your arrival. On most occasions we are able to obtain the visa waiver. A $10USD day visa is also available on the border. Regular visas can be upgraded to be multiple entry visas for a fee of 5000ZK in Livingstone immigration office. This will allow you to move more freely between Zimbabwe and Zambia to partake in various activities whilst in the Victoria Falls region.
Others: Internet access is very limited and may cost about $3USD per ten minutes. Beers are about 5000-7000ZK. A bag of laundry will set you back about 6000ZK.
· All unused Zambian Kwacha can be legally changed to Malawi Kwacha if you are headed north. However it is not worth changing your Zambian Kwacha to Zimbabwean dollars due to the fluctuating Zimbabwean dollar rate. Please ask the advice of the tour leader as to the best way to change your money.
· USD cash can sometimes be brought in Livingstone through the bureau de changes. Ask first if they have USD cash to sell to you. Mo Money in Livingstone will also do a USD cash advance on credit card but will charge of fee of approximately 7%.
· If you are flying out of Zambia you will be charged a $20USD departure tax.
The rate here is irrelevant - it changes daily
Optionals in Zimbabwe include many adrenaline and scenic activities in the Victoria Falls area. These are best paid using USD traveler cheques. Payment using cash attracts a 15% tax. Credit cards are widely accepted. Be careful with the use of credit cards in Zimbabwe and seek advice from our guides.
A lot of people choose to post souvenirs home from Zimbabwe as the postage rate is very low. There is a chance that the post does not make it however and some passengers have reported that parcels sent have not arrived.
Visa requirements: New Zealand, Belgium and Irish do not require visas. The following nationalities require a $30/$45USD Zimbabwean visa: Australian, USA, Canadian, Belgium, German, Holland, Denmark and some other minor nationalities. The current visa fee for British is $55/$70USD. All visas are available on the border but there is talk that the British will soon have to obtain their visa prior to entry. The visa prices show the single entry and then double entry price. You will only need a double entry visa if you plan to spend at least one night away from Zimbabwe. You can be stamped out of and restamped into Zimbabwe at no extra charge as long as you are returning that day. Visas can be brought using post 1993 USD notes, GBP or SAR.
Others: Internet access is very limited and slow and may cost about 3000Z$ per 15 minutes. Beers are about 3000Z$.
· The Zim$ fluctuates enormously and can change daily dependent upon the latest auction prices and the amount of money left in the country at the time.
· The Zimbabwe dollar rate is set twice weekly after the foreign exchange auctions. The median price that the forex has achieved at auction becomes the official bank rate until the next auction. thereforee it is best to change your money at a bank. Resultingly, as banks are closed on weekends, you are advised to change the money you will require for the weekend upon arrival in town.
· You really need to have USD cash to change into Z$. You will not get anywhere near as good a rate with travellers cheques, GBP sterling or Euros.
· NOTE that it is ILLEGAL to change money on the streets in Zimbabwe. Ask the advice of your tour leader or Worldwide Office as to where to change money.
· You cannot change excess Zim$ to any other currency outside of Zimbabwe so do not change up too much money at once.
1USD$ = 4.3 Botswana Pula (P)
1GBP = 7 Botswana Pula (P)
The easiest and quickest place to change money in Botswana is the Bureau de Changes as banks charge commission to change either cash or travelers cheques. ATM machines are available in Maun and Kasane towns and take most foreign visa-linked accounts. Barclays and Standard Chartered Bank are the main banks accepting overseas ATM cards. It is easy to change most forms of currency here including USD, GBP sterling, Euro and SAR.
All souvenirs, snacks, refreshments, tips for guides and local services such as internet and laundry are payable using Pula.
Optional activities in Botswana include an afternoon game cruise on the Chobe River, Okavango Delta excursions as well as scenic flights over the Delta. The game cruise is 55Pula and can be paid in Pula, cash, credit card or travelers cheque. The Delta excursion and scenic flights can be paid using USD, GBP, Euro, Pula, and Rand cash or using credit card and travelers cheques (5% bank fee on each).
Visa requirements: Most major nationalities do not require visas into Botswana. The few countries that do require visas, mostly Eastern European and Asian Nationals, need to obtain them prior to arrival on the border. The visa fees charged on the border are 500 Pula per visa.
Others: Internet is available in Maun for 15 Pula per half hour. Access is quite good. A beer will cost from 5-7Pula. Botswana is quite an 'expensive' country due to its good foreign currency reserves.
· All unused Botswana Pula can be changed in banks in Namibia or South Africa. The Pula can be exchanged for Zimbabwean dollars but the rate is not favourable. The Pula can also be used to pay Zimbabwean visas on the border for those who require them.
1USD$ = 6 Namibian Dollars (N$)
1GBP = 10.5 Namibian Dollars (N$)
You are able to change money and use ATMs at banks at each sizeable town. Bureau de Changes offer quicker and commission free service but are only found in the main centers of Swakopmund and Windhoek. ATMs are widely accessible and very reliable and offer the best rates of exchange.
All souvenirs, snacks, refreshments and local services such as taxis, internet and laundry are payable using N$.
Optional activities in Namibia are mainly adventure or scenic activities in Swakopmund. These activities can be paid for using credit card (no fees), travelers cheques, USD, GBP, Euros and SAR cash.
Visa requirements: Only very few countries require Namibian visas and these must be obtained prior to entry into Namibia.
Others: Internet is widely available in Swakopmund and other large towns for 15N$ per half hour. Access is very good. A beer will cost about N$5. To phone internationally will cost you approximately N$20 a minute.
· All unused Namibian Dollars need to be exchanged to South African Rand before leaving Namibia. The Rand can then be used in Botswana or South Africa. N$ can be changed to SAR at banks and bureau de changes and in some shops.
· The Rand and Namibian dollar are tied to each other on an equal level and as such the Rand and Namibian dollar can be used interchangeably in Namibia. However Namibian dollars are not widely accepted in South Africa and only receive 0.9 of the value (i.e. 10N$=9SAR)
1USD$ = 6 (SAR)
1GBP = 10.5 (SAR)
You are able to change money and use ATMs at banks at each sizeable town. Bureau de Changes offer quicker and commission free service but are only found in the main centers such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. ATMs are widely accessible and very reliable and offer the best rates of exchange.
All souvenirs, snacks, refreshments and local services such as taxis, internet and laundry are payable using SAR.
Optional activities in South Africa are mainly adventure or scenic activities in Cape Town and Johannesburg. These activities can be paid for using credit card (no fees), travelers cheques, USD, GBP, Euros and SAR cash. Canoeing trips are also available in Orange River. This can be paid using Rand, N$, USD and GBP.
Visa requirements: Only very few countries require South African visas and these must be obtained prior to entry into South Africa.
Others: Internet is widely available in most large towns for 15SAR per half hour. Access is very good. A beer will cost about 6SAR. To phone internationally will cost you approximately 15-20SAR a minute.
· The Rand can be used in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is easily accessible through ATMs and bureau de changes. The best rates will be received in the major centers and so ample money for these three countries can be obtained prior to beginning your trip in Cape Town or Johannesburg.
· The Rand and Namibian dollar are tied to each other on an equal level and as such the Rand and Namibian dollar can be used interchangeably in Namibia. The Rand can be easily converted to Pula in Botswana at good rates.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THIS INFORMATION IS TO SERVE AS A GUIDE ONLY. PRICES AND VISA REQUIREMENTS MAY CHANGE. VISAS ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY SO PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT ONES.
ALWAYS BRING MORE THAN YOU NEED AS YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE IT HOME AGAIN WITH YOU!