by Chris
July 12, 2019

Crossing the Border on Safari

If you're taking part in one of Shadows of Africa's many fantastic multi-country safaris, your trip is likely to include a border crossing.

Whether you're flying from Kenya's Maasai Mara to Tanzania's Serengeti or crossing into Uganda from Rwanda for your gorilla trekking, you'll have to go through immigration.

While this can be a stressful experience, your Shadows of Africa driver will be on hand to offer help and guidance.

You'll also find plenty of helpful information on crossing the various borders that stand between you and your safari adventure.

Are you crossing the border on your African safari? Here's everything you need to know to help you plan your cross country safari trip! #africa #safari #overland #travel

Namanga Border Crossing: Kenya and Tanzania

The most commonly crossed border between Tanzania and Kenya, Namanga lies between Arusha and Amboseli National Park.

Crossing the border at Namanga can be a slow process, as it is a popular border crossing for tourists and locals alike.

With immigration needing to check and issue visas as well as check baggage, you can expect anywhere from 1 - 2 hours at the Namanga border crossing.

Thankfully, you'll have your Shadows of Africa drivers on hand to help you out. No matter what direction you're crossing the border, one driver will wait for you to cross before you meet with your new driver.

As local law forbids Kenyan drivers from driving in Tanzania and vice versa, you'll switch cars here for your onward travel.

Isebania Border Crossing: Kenya and Tanzania

If you look at a map, the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti look close together, but it's not as simple as all that.

Crossing from the Maasai Mara to the Serengeti requires either two flights or the long, dusty drive via the Isebania border crossing.

Weighing in at anywhere between 10 and 12 hours, the Isebania crossing is not one we recommend unless you're on a tight budget. It is not only a long, boring day of driving, but it also eats up an entire day. You won't be seeing much (if any) wildlife during your drive.

Like Namanga, you'll need to go through immigration and customers when crossing the border. You'll also need to switch drivers.

wildbeest tanzania

Migori-Tarime Border Crossing: Kenya and Tanzania

For those wanting to experience both the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti, flying between the two is the best way to avoid a wasted day in the car.

Crossing the border when there are no international airports on either side means landing and making a land transfer, but the process is much the same as other border crossings.

You'll land, transfer via shuttle to the border crossing for immigration, and then continue onwards to your second flight.

While flights between the two parks can be quite expensive, we always recommend it for those who can afford it. The Isebania drive is an unpleasant one.


Rwanda - Uganda Border Crossing

Due to the higher prices in Rwanda, more and more people are choosing to fly into Kigali and do their gorilla trekking in Uganda.

While there are a number of different border crossings between Rwanda and Uganda depending on where you are trekking, the process is the same at each.

Unlike Tanzania & Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda do not forbid drivers crossing the border, so you'll have your guide on hand at all times to help if you run into any snags.

Just make sure you have anĀ East African Visa if you are planning to cross back into Rwanda after you've finished your trekking, or you'll need to pay for a second Rwandan tourist visa!


How to Speed Up Crossing the Border

While some things are beyond our control when crossing a border, there are certainly ways to make the process as quick and painless as possible.

1. Have your visa already

While Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya can all process visas on arrival at border crossings, this can be a major time drain. Get your visas in advance either online or through your local consulate to avoid the long visa on arrival queues.

2. Have Your Vaccination Card Ready

When crossing into Tanzania after having spent time in Rwanda, Uganda, or Kenya, you will be required to present your Yellow Fever vaccination card.

It is possible to get this vaccination done at the border for an additional fee, but this can be time-consuming (and a tad painful). Have your Yellow Fever vaccination card ready and you'll breeze straight through!

3. Pack Smart

The Isebania and Namanga border crossings both have extensive customs and security checks for your luggage, so you'll need to carry everything with you and wait for staff to search it.

If your bag is a jumbled mess, this may take the security staff longer to check.

Be careful not to travel with plastic bags, animal products, or any other forbidden products. Local laws can be very strict and tourists are not exempt!

4. Don't panic!

It can be nerve-wracking dealing with the crowds and the bureaucracy at a border crossing, especially on your own.

Just remember, you've got Shadows of Africa drivers waiting for you on both sides of the border and our head office is just a phone call away!

You're perfectly safe at border crossings, so it's just a matter of following the signs and you'll be on your way in no time!

5. Avoid scammers

A number of enterprising locals have made a cottage industry out of helping tourists carry their bags from security to their safari cars.

While these people are not likely to steal from you, their charges can be a tad high. Don't be afraid to give a firm but polite "no" if you don't want to tip $10 USD for their services.

Food available at the border is also similarly high-priced, so we would advise skipping those bags of cashew nuts or dried peas unless you've got a powerful hunger.

Planning a cross country safari? Here's how to cross the border so you can plan your Africa safari trip itinerary! #itinerary #safari #africa #tanzania #travel

We've Got You Covered

Regardless of where you're crossing the border, the Shadows of Africa team is on hand to help out.

While you may not be able to immediately grab your driver's attention during immigration, you'll have the contact number for our head office as well as your booking agent.

Don't hesitate to give us a call if you are confused or held up at immigration. We're not going to leave you high and dry!

Are you interested in an African safari?

Contact one of our safari experts and we will tailor-make a safari for you!