How much Money should I bring for my Safari in Uganda – Rwanda?

Posted by on May 6, 2019

How much Spending Money should I have for my Safari?

A Frequent Questions Asked: How much Money should I bring for my Safari in Uganda-Rwanda?


 How much Money should I bring for my Safari?  This is one of the most frequent questions we are asked by our Clients coming for a Gorilla – Chimpanzee – Wildlife Safari with us. Usually that would only be money that you might for things of a personal nature such as souvenirs you might buy, drinks at Lodges or Hotels, meals that might not be covered as on arrival or departure, Tips to your Driver-Guide, Lodge Staff, Rangers who guide you Gorilla, Chimpanzee Trekking, Hiking or Climbing plus items that you might pick up such as a book or personal hygiene items. Insect Spray for your room and at rare times for an activity that you decide on last-minute and for which there is an additional fee.

Actual Cash in the 21st Century where you can use ATM Machines in most towns in Uganda and Rwanda is limited.  One thing that you want to have Cash for is your Ugandan, Rwandan Visa on Arrival – that has to be paid in US Dollars unless you took advantage of the online System.

Cash is needed for Visas, Porter Fees if you are Gorilla Trekking, Drinks at Hotels and Lodges, Tips, Souvenirs and whatever else is not covered in your Safari Itinerary.


How much Money should I bring for my Safari? Our Tips and Advice

 Having the amount of Money on you that you will need for your Safari.  Money Security is also something that we think about and having too much cash on you can lead to one of the infrequent thefts of money in your lodge or hotel room. How much Money should I bring for my Safari?  It depends on your spending habits, your preferences.  If you an expensive bottle of wine at a lodge then you will need more than if you drink Beer or Sodas.

The amount of money that you will need also depends on the type of lodges you are staying in.  Drinks cost more at luxury Lodges than they do at a midrange Lodge.

Here are some useful Tips and  Advice based on our years of experience for things not covered by the Safari Cost – hopefully, you will find them helpful as you Discover the Pearl of Africa.

More Money Tips and Advice for UgandaRwanda


Things that you will need Cash for on Safari:

 Visas on Arrival:

If you have chosen to obtain your visa on arrival that you need the cash to pay for it.  A 90 day Ugandan Tourism Visa is $50 and an East African Visa on Arrival is $100.  If you fly into Rwanda and we pick you at the airport there, you will need at least a Transit Visa.

Buying a Visa on arrival is straightforward.  There are no hassles – you have your itinerary in hand, Yellow Fever Certificate, USD to pay for Visa.  Though simple many forget to add in the cost of the Visa on arrival into their budget, unfortunately, we cannot include Visas in our Safari since we can not apply for visas for our Clients.  That would be an ideal thing from a service point of view but most likely will never happen.

For added help on Visas, please check our Uganda, Rwanda and East African Visa Pages.


 Tipping While on Safari:

Tipping on your safari in Uganda and Rwanda takes cash.  Both countries have a non-tipping culture.  Tourism, however, has changed that to some degree, especially if the Travelers are from the USA where tipping for services is a norm.

Go to our Tipping Page, and you find some guidelines on tipping on a Safari.

We suggest that you do so in local currency and not in US Dollars.  This is more convenient for the recipients of the tips that you give since they do not have to go to a bank to change their tip money.

We suggest that you use for your Driver Guide to assist you when tipping for services that you receive at Lodges or from Gorilla Tracking Rangers and other helpful people who you come across while on Safari with us in Uganda or Rwanda.  Tipping – a reason you will need to bring some Cash on Safari.


 Drinks at Lodges and Hotels:

Drinks at lodges such as sodas, beer, wine, spirits cost extra and are not included in the safari cost.  There are some luxury lodges where non-premium drinks are included in the daily rate.

Non-Premium meaning non-imported drinks such as local Beer, beverages such as Waragi or locally made Whiskey or Vodka.  Often the luxury lodge will include a house-wine.

Drinks at lodges vary with the kind of lodge you are visiting.  Sodas are typically below one dollar while Beer is around 1 USD or above.  Wine will be 3 USD a glass or more.  One reason we suggest that you bring your own, or buy it in Kigali or Kampala.

Lodges have become well-stocked when it comes to drinks, and no one goes thirsty.   Some lodges allow you to pay your bar bill by Credit card, and we suggest that you pay cash, it will cost you less.


 Souvenirs-Things that you want to take Home:

Most Visitors on Safari with us want to buy some things to take home with them.  We suggest some Rwandan or Ugandan Gourmet Coffee, maybe a bottle of Waragi, some Tea, pure honey, vanilla that is a lot less here, Shea Buttercream, dried banana chips and more.

Souvenir crafts are available near most parks; the quality of craftsmanship varies significantly as does the cost.  Real Art is available in cities such as Kigali, and Kampala.

All these items take Cash only and once again we strongly suggest that you use local currency.

We also suggest that you purchase an ornamental Gorilla Walking Stick – again the quality of carving matters.

Do not buy thing with wildlife bones, fur, hippo teeth or ivory also so-called Elephant Bracelets, or items made from Giraffe tails.


 Gorilla Trekking Porter Services:

We think that the services of a porter is a must and so are walking sticks for your Gorilla Trek.  The cost is minimal and well worth it.  They can assist you on your trek, carry your daypack and allow you to concentrate on your time with the Gorillas.

The cost is 20 USD for a porter and Gorilla Trekking stick are a few dollars and most often can be obtained for free at lodges.

We now include Porter Services in all of our upmarket safaris to make them even more hassle-free.

For our midrange lodges, we include it in the price of a safari upon request.

This is all done to reduce the amount of Cash you will need coming on Safari with us.  Porter is a wise investment in your Gorilla Encounter.


 What if I run short of Cash?

Should you run short on cash, we suggest that you use an ATM Machine.  You will need a Visa Card, MC and AEX are rarely accepted.  You can take out Local currency such as Rwandan Francs or Ugandan Shillings at the current exchange rate.

There are both local bank fees and fees from your bank unless they do not have international use fees.  Do notify your bank that you will be using your ATM card in Uganda and Rwanda otherwise you might find your bank blocking the transaction.

ATM Machines that work internationally are at banks in major towns in Uganda and Rwanda.  The driver guide will assist you in locating the right one for you.

We do not suggest using Credit Cards on Safari since in East Africa you incur hefty surcharges of 5% or more in most instances.

Should the above not work for you, we will make sure you have cash on hand for which you can reimburse us by Credit Card- we have a lower fee of 3.5%.


 Bring Cash or Get it while on Safari?

How much Money should I bring for my Safari?  You should bring the Currency of Choice – the US Dollar with you.  We have found that it is best for our client to deliver a minimal amount of Cash.  It lessens the chance of Money security problems and to use their ATM Card and withdraw money as needed.

There are no ATMs within parks at this time. You can find them in Bars in Kampala but not within Murchison Falls Park.

On Safari as you drive through towns with a bank and ATM card stop and use your card to withdraw local currency.

We have written a page about Bringing Money; in practice, there is rarely a problem.  Most Clients plan well-ahead.