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Saturday 30 November 2013

East Africa and the Middle East

This trip was mainly to see the wildlife in Africa, Climb Mt Kilimanjaro and see some sights in the Middle East

Ground work

So before going to Africa you may want to consider vaccinations. I did some research online (mainly trip advisor) before going to try and work out what to get and what I don’t need to worry about. The only one that most people said you need is yellow fever (apparently some countries won’t let you in / out without the proof of vaccination). I ended up visiting a GP who specialises in travel vaccinations and this is what they said about Kenya and Tanzania (from
•           Kenya
Yellow Fever occurs in Kenya
Risk of Yellow Fever is lower in the following areas so that for travel to these areas alone, Yellow Fever Vaccination is NOT usually recommended, but anti-mosquito measures are strongly advised (see Note 1): the entire North Eastern Province; the states of Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Malindi and Tanariver in the Coastal Province; & the cities of Mombasa & Nairobi than in rural areas.
For travel to other areas, especially rural areas, Yellow Fever Vaccination is recommended for travellers aged 9 months or more. Likewise, if uncertain about travel plans in Kenya, Yellow Fever Vaccination is recommended unless there are contra-indications to the vaccine. For travellers aged less than 9 months and other persons who are unable to have the Yellow Fever Vaccine, specialist advice should be sought as travel to areas of significant risk is not advised for unvaccinated travellers.
Note 1: Yellow Fever Risk is generally so low in these areas that Yellow Fever Vaccination is not generally recommended, but may be required for certain individuals in whom risk of Yellow Fever virus infection may justify vaccination (eg long term travel and exposure to mosquitoes in these areas). For such individuals, one should balance the risk of Yellow Fever against the risks of serious adverse effects from the Yellow Fever Vaccination (See our Fact Sheet “Yellow Fever Vaccination Risk Assessment”).
Note 2: Although the above advisory for Yellow Fever Vaccination is for personal protection, some countries may require either a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate or an Exemption Certificate, for entry purposes, for travellers who have been in Kenya in the previous 6 days, irrespective of where in Kenya the traveller has been.
AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS & IMMIGRATION COUNTRY REQUIREMENT: Travellers entering Australia require a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate (or a valid exemption certificate if yellow fever vaccination is contra-indicated), IF arriving in Australia within 6 days of leaving yellow fever risk areas in this country, having stayed overnight or longer in such yellow fever risk areas in this country.
•           Tanzania
Australian authorities require a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers over 1 year of age within 6 days of returning from this country, having stayed overnight or longer in this country.
Risk of Yellow Fever is lower in the following areas so that for travel to these areas alone, Yellow Fever Vaccination is NOT usually recommended, but anti-mosquito measures are strongly advised:
Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar & Pemba
For travel to other areas of Tanzania, especially rural areas, Yellow Fever Vaccination may be recommended, although the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that, for travel in Tanzania, Yellow Fever Vaccination is generally NOT recommended.
Potential candidates for Yellow Fever vaccination include persons travelling to rural areas of Tanzania with prolonged travel, extensive mosquito exposure, inability to adequately protect oneself against mosquitoes (which transmit Yellow Fever Virus). For such persons, or persons with uncertain travel plans, Yellow Fever Vaccination may be advisable providing there are no contra-indications to having the vaccine. See our Fact Sheet on Yellow Fever Vaccination Risk Assessment.
NOTE: Although the above advisory for Yellow Fever Vaccination is for personal protection, some countries may require either a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate or an Exemption Certificate, for entry purposes, for travellers who have been in Tanzania, including Zanzibar & Pemba, in the previous 6 days, irrespective of where in Zanzibar & Pemba or Tanzania the traveller has been.
Vaccinations at the end of the day are more of a risk mitigation thing rather than a guarantee (fortunately I had no issues and haven’t heard anyone whom has from the trip). Below are the vaccinations I ended up going with and their rough costs:
•           Yellow Fever $90
•           Typhoid $70
•           Polio $78
•           Hep A  & B ($70 – you need to get 3 additional boosters at $30 per booster)
•           Malaria meds (tablet form – Doxycycline)
I also got a script for Diamox (medical treatment for altitude sickness) though if you want more info on this read the Kilimanjaro section
We applied for our Kenya and Tanzania Visas in Australia before leaving. Some people got these over there on our tour which didn’t seem to difficult, though I figured if you have them already you can’t get hassled / scammed. Also worth mentioning that if you’re only visiting countries in theEast African Community you don’t need to get a multiple entry (just tell customs where you plan on going)
Egypt and Jordan also require visas for Australians though getting the Jordanian one at customs was easy (20 JD) and we only went to Sinai so a visa wasn’t required.
Some handy words / translations to get you by.

Hello = Jumbo
Goodbye = Kwa Heri
Yes = Ndio
No = Hapana
Please = Tafadhali
Thankyou = Asente (thank you very much = Asente Sana)
Excuse me = Samahani
Bill/Cheque = Billie
How are you = Habari Yako
I dont speak much Swahili = Siwezi Kusema Swahili Mengi

Hello = Marhaba / Ma Salaam
Goodbye = Ma Salaama
Yes = Na`am
No = Laa
Please = Min Fadlak
Thankyou = Shukran
Excuse Me = ismahli


Wednesday, 23 October 2013 "Fly out 16:50 Sydney (EK5001) - Leave Newcastle approx 11am.
Arrive in Dubai at 12:35:00 AM"
Thursday, 24 October 2013 2 nights in Dubai hotel
Friday, 25 October 2013 Depart Dubai 10:45:00 AM (EK719) arrive in Nairobi
Saturday, 26 October 2013 Join tour in Nairobi Day 1
Sunday, 27 October 2013 Day 2 - Kisii
Monday, 28 October 2013 Day 3 - Cross border, Lake Victoria
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 Day 4 - Serengeti National Park
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 Day 5 - Serengeti National Park
Thursday, 31 October 2013 Day 6 - Ngorongoro crater
Friday, 1 November 2013 Day 7 - Meserani
Saturday, 2 November 2013 Day 8 - Marangu - 1300m
Sunday, 3 November 2013 Day 9 - Start trek Mandara Hut 1860m
Monday, 4 November 2013 Day 10 - Horombo Hut 3780m
Tuesday, 5 November 2013 Day 11 - Kibo Hut 4740m
Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Day 12 - Uhuru Peak/Summit 5896m
Thursday, 7 November 2013 Day 13 - Decent Horombo Hut 3780m
Friday, 8 November 2013 Day - 14. Tour finishes, free day in Marangu - Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar
Saturday, 9 November 2013 Zanzibar
Sunday, 10 November 2013 Zanzibar
Monday, 11 November 2013 Flight from Zanzibar to Nairobi (10:20) to Dubai (16:40)
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 Flight from Dubai to Amman (8:00 - 10:30am) - Dead Sea
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 Andy's Bday! - Dead Sea
Thursday, 14 November 2013 - petra
Friday, 15 November 2013
Saturday, 16 November 2013
Sunday, 17 November 2013 - sharm
Monday, 18 November 2013 - sharm
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 - sharm
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 - sharm
Thursday, 21 November 2013 - Flight Sharm el Sheikh to Amman to Dubai (17:30  - 21:30)
Friday, 22 November 2013 Dubai
Saturday, 23 November 2013 Fly out of Dubai 9:45:00 AM (EK5002)
Sunday, 24 November 2013 Arrive in Sydney, 6:30:00 AM


We booked a multi stop flight between Sydney and Nairobi transiting in Dubai with Emirates. We just extended our dates in Dubai to allow for our trip up to Egypt and Jordan.
Egypt and Jordan was flown with Royal Jordanian and around Africa was Fly 540 and Precision Air


GeckoAdventures // Exodus // Intrepid just some of the tour companies which operate in Africa. We ended up booking with Intrepid and the tour chosen is listed below which included what we were after. Safaris’ and Kili climb!
Some pros and cons of the tour:
Pro – get to see a lot of country side of the 2 countries
Pro – meet people with similar interests
Pro – meals, accommodation and travel included
Pro – Kilimanjaro climb included
Con – long days driving and sitting on the bus
Con – having to pack up / setup a tent every day (doesn’t leave much time for relaxing)
Con – more time spent driving than actually out on safari


Flora Creek Hotel Apartments (Dubai) – 2 Nights
Nice – Clean – Located near Deira City Centre, short walk to the metro and only a few stops from the airport
Holiday Inn Express (Dubai) – 1 Night
Across the road from Dubai airport, was transiting next/same day – note you cannot walk to this hotel since the road between the the airport and hotel is a multi lane highway. Shuttle goes every 15/30 mins from each terminal
Copthorne Hotel (Dubai) - 2 Nights
Nice – Clean – Located near Deira City Centre, short walk to the metro and only a few stops from the airport
Kempinski Hotel (Dead Sea) - 2 Nights
Stunning hotel right on the dead sea (Jordan side), pools, food and rooms were all nice.
Little Petra Bedouin Camp (Petra) - 2 Nights
Interesting little camp just outside of little Petra, well priced and run by a local family where you can enjoy local cuisine and local hospitality.
Intel Arab Divers Village (Aqaba) - 1 Night
Needed a place to stop over before transiting between Aqaba and Nuweiba. Not too far from the port (7JD Cab), nice clean and free Wi-Fi.
Xperience Sea Breeze Hotel (Egypt – Sharm El Sheikh) - 2 Nights
Nice hotel in Sharks Bay with all inclusive meals and drinks which backs right on to the red sea.
Kivi Milimani Hotel (Nairobi) - 2 Nights
This hotel is where the Intrepid trip left from. Hotel is a bit run down but has a nice pool, slightly out of the main CBD but convenient for the trip.
Maru Maru Hotel (Zanzibar) - 2 Nights
Right in the heart of Stone Town
Intrepid Tour Accommodation (Kenya / Tanzania)
on the tour the entire trip was camping in tents with the exception of Kisi which was in a Adventist Church kind of boarding school like accommodation

On the ground

Staying Safe
After talking to our tour leader in Africa he explained that most local people look at foreigners as a way to get money and while I’m sure this is not the case with everyone you meet, it did feel like it from time to time.
I guess it’s understandable when the average annual income is less than $1000 per year. On the flip side I’m sure people are genuine and kind hearted when you get to know them though it’s a bit hard when you’re only passing through!
Probably worth a mention that we were threatened in Zanzibar however with a “hospital visit” since we did not want to pay an exuberant price for some street food (should have paid up front and asked the price of EVERYTHING) – best advice is to be vigilant, aware, firm, and friendly.

As usual visa debit and 28degrees credit card was fine for getting cash out and paying for things.
Getting around – East Africa
Apart from the tour bus most modes of transport taken was a taxi (not the cheapest means but probably the most convenient and safest). Some other people on our tour took the public bus (matatu) places but more planning to get the right one is needed.
Getting around – Middle East
The only real means of transport in Jordan or Egypt/Sinai is taxi though with that said taxis can be reasonably priced if you negotiate well. Prices we paid to get an idea were:
Dead Sea – Petra $90 JD (Was difficult to negotiate when coming from a fancy hotel and no city / cabs driving by – We heard the going rate from Petra to Dead Sea to Amman is $75)
Petra – Aqaba $35 (JD)
Taxi’s around Aqaba $5/7 (JD)
Another option would be to hire a car (the roads/traffic seem not too bad) though it would most likely cost about the same as a getting round by taxi.

Nuweiba to Sharm el-Sheikh $350 LE (extremely good value – during the Egypt unrest)
Around Sharm El-Sheikh we were paying about 20~50 LE for a taxi and 70 LE to the airport
It was also possible to take a bus between Nuweiba and Sharm el-Sheikh for 35LE – the bus I believe only runs a couple of times a day

Getting around – Dubai
Dubai is a very easy city to get around; the Metro system covers most of the areas you might want to visit however it only runs between approx. 6am ~ 12am, see HERE for the timetable and map. Also Friday is a holiday and most things don’t start till around 1pm (including the metro). Metered taxis are also a reasonable mode of transport for getting around.


•           National Museum – Explore Kenya’s past and present cultural and natural heritage
•           Carnivore Restaurant – famous for its meats, listed as one of the worlds top 50 restaurants (2006)
•           National Park Safari Walk – Home to many of Africa’s animals, worth a look if you are strapped for safari time.
•           Giraffe Center – Feed Giraffe’s by hand
•           Kibera - largest club in Nairobi and the largest urban slum in Africa.
•           Karen Blixen museum – African home of Danish author Karen Blixen (famous for the book Out of Africa)

MT Kilimanjaro
See my separate post HERE for Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro
•           Stonetown - Capital of Zanzibar, rich in history and one of the last places to produce saffron. Catch a spice tour for under $20
•           Slave Market - Trading hub during the 19th century, takes less than 30 mins to look around but maybe look at getting a tour guide if you would like to know more on the historical side.
•           Forodhani Gardens - Place where locals and tourists congregate after hours with many stalls selling all different kinds of seafood. Poorly lit and not many police / security guards around though just make sure to pay for your meals up front and ask the price of everything.
•           Jozani Forest- Home to the Red Colobus Monkeys
•           Kendwa beach - Nice beaches if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of stone town and get some quality R & R.

Tanzania & Kenya
Outside Mt Kilimanjaro and Nairobi (and our organised tour) which are covered separately the following I think would be worth a look
•           Maasai Mara - National game reserve belonging to the Maasai people (similar to the Serengeti)
•           Mt Kenya - Highest mountain in Kenya (5199m) and second highest in Africa
•           Olduvai Gorge - Home to Homo Habilis (approx 1.9 million years ago) and the earliest evidence of mankind’s evolution.

•           Burj Khalifa - 828 metres and 160 floors, this is the world’s tallest building (taller than the next contender by 300m)
•           Burj al-Arab Hotel - (self proclaimed 7 star) reservations checked at the gate. The Al Iwan buffet (though expensive) was very nice
•           Palm Island / Atlantis Hotel – artificial island shaped like a palm leaf and probably on par with the Burj Khalifa in ritzyness.
•           Mall of the Emirates - Another big mall in Dubai with an indoor ski/snowboard slope
•           Dubai Mall - Dubai’s largest mall with an ice rink, aquarium and right next door to the Burj Khalifah.
•           Dubai Fountains - Worlds largest dancing fountains
•           Bur Dubai Abra Dock – Where you can take a boat ride across Dubai Creek for 1 AED. Many reviews hype this up as a must to do though I would compare it with a ferry ride in Sydney harbor
•           Gold/Spice Souk - Historic markets in Dubai even if you’re not in the market for any gold or spice its worthwhile just as a tourist attraction.
•           Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding - If you’re interested in the social or historical aspect of Dubai this is the place for you.

•           Dead Sea - The worlds saltiest body of water and lowest point on earth (427m below sea level)
•           Petra – Carved into the red sandstone walls and featured in Indiana Jones last crusade (a childhood favorite), Petra is a city where many great empires had settled during their reign. Labelled as being half as old as time itself if you’re in the area a visit to Petra is a must. While we spent 1 day exploring (we didn’t see the monastery) if you wanted to do it at a more leisurely pace 2 days would be better. Some tour groups offer starting at the monastery which allows you to do the whole city in 1 day (cost to do it this way was an extra 60JD split between the travelling party)
There are also a handful of places where bibliographical things supposedly  happened which can be found HERE

Egypt – Sinai
•           Dahab – The hippie Mecca of the middle east
•           Nuweiba - Port city where you can ferry across to Aqaba (Jordan)
•           Sharm El-Sheikh - Popular tourist destination (understandably with the temperature and marine life)
•           St Katherine / Mt Sinai - Where Moses received the Ten commandments


VISAs – $150 AUD (Kenya / Tanzania)
Travel Insurance = $147.10 (
Flights to/from Australia/Dubai/Nairobi = $2230AUD
Connecting flights = $
 1143.91AUD ( Zanzibar $487.25 | Amman $387.72 | Egypt $268.93 )
Intrepid tour = $3043.05 (including Mt Kilimanjaro and kitty money)
Accommodation = $ 1290AUD (per person Dubai | Jordan | Zanzibar | Sharm El-Sheikh)

Burj Al Arab banquet + Drinks = $178.54 (584 AED)
Atlantis Palm Dubai (Kaleidoscope – Lunch) = $51.64 (169 AED)
500ml Coca-Cola (Supermarket) = 61c (2 AED)
200g Rump = $18.30 (60 AED)
Cheese Burger = $12.20 (40 AED)
500ml Coca-Cola (Supermarket) = $72c (55 KES)
500ml Tusker Beer (Supermarket) = $1.55 (55 KES)
Juicy Fruit (Supermarket)= $20c (15 KES)
Dairy Milk chocolate bar (Supermarket)= $3.85 (295 KES)
Potato Crisps = $40c (30 KES)
Beer (Zanzibar – Safari/Kilimanjaro) = $2.85 (4011 TZS)
Mineral Water (Zanzibar – 1L) = $2.85 (4011 TZS)
Wine (Zanzibar – Red) = $4.30 (6000 TZS)
Chicken Curry and Rice (Zanzibar) = $13.50 (19000 TZS)
Beer (Petra) = $8.30 (5.25 JD)
Risotto = $30.20 (19 JD)
Beer Amstel = $10.35 (6.50 JD)
Soft Drink = $5.60 (3.50 JD)
Serengeti balloon ride = $ 526.37 (40,255 KES)
TAXI – Nairobi to Giraffe Centre = $55.50 (1500 KES one way)
Airport transfer JKIA to Nairobi = $26.20 (2000 KES)
Petrol = $1.55/l (120 KES/l)
Kibera tour = $13 (2500 KES)
Slave market/museum = $4.50 (6000 TZS)
Petrol = $1.59/l (2237 TZS/l)
Dubai All day Metro ticket = $4.90 (16 AED)
Petrol = $1.28/l (.810 JD/l)
TAXI – Petra to Aqaba = $55.50 (35JD)
Ferry From Aqaba to Nuweiba = $80 (50JD)
Petra entrance = $80 ($50 JD)

APPROX TOTAL PRICE = $8800 + spending money ($1600 for food, partying and random expenses).

Final words.

This trip was definitely an Adventure! While at times we felt like we needed to be on guard, the cultural side was definitely eye opening. Highlights were certainly the wildlife and Mt Kilimanjaro and the last few relaxing days in Egypt were welcoming. Definitely would recommend if you are keen for something off the beaten path.


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