namanga border crossing

  • Crossing the Border on Safari: What You Need to Know

    Chris Walker Bush
    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.

    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.

    lion-tanzania-safari

    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 an 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!

    tanzania-serengeti-cheetahs

    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.


    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!

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