Tips For Cross Border Car Rentals In East Africa

To explore the best of East Africa, you sometimes have to cross different countries’ borders. For instance, you might be interested in the genocide memorial in Kigali Rwanda but at the same time interested in a cheaper gorilla trekking experience in Uganda. You might also be interested in visiting Masai Mara in Kenya as well as Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

There are several documents you will need to execute such a trip. Besides the documents, you will also need a 4×4 car with a strong suspension system to handle most of the offroad activity around East Africa. Here are some of the things you need to execute a cross-border car rental in East Africa.

Personal Identification

Keep your passport as close as possible, you will need it when the police stop you as well as when crossing the border from one country to another. Most of the East African countries offer visas at the border points but to be on a safe side, we recommend you to organize your visa before reaching the border. This can be done at least a week before crossing the border.

However, if you do not have enough time at your disposal to plan this; you can opt for border point visa processing though this might delay your border crossing in case you do not have a border agent.

Car Documentation

It is very common to hear about Carnet de Passage but this is not recommended for East Africa cross-border tours since it is not worth the money. You simply need the car registration documents as well as a letter from the car owner allowing you to cross the border with their car.

You will also need proof of insurance when crossing the border. If you do not get insurance in the respective country, you can opt for Comesa insurance (yellow card) which covers you in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Howevermuch this is more expensive, it is highly recommended above local insurance.

Health Precautions

Carry proof of Yellow Fever vaccination, as it is required for entry into many African countries. Covid-19 vaccination certificate is no longer required when crossing the border to Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. However, it is recommended to have an adequate supply of any necessary medications and consider carrying a first-aid kit.

The first aid kit is not just for yourself but also for the sake of other road users who you might find in need of first aid in case of an accident.


Road Conditions and Navigation in East Africa

Besides the highways, the biggest part of the road network in East Africa is in poor condition. It is recommended that you plan your self-drive trip with an SUV in mind.

4×4 Nissan Safari – Across Africa

Regarding navigation, hiring a GPS or using Google Maps is recommended. However, it is recommended to confirm locations with Mapsme Double. Some of the locations on Google Maps are wrongly located, their double checking using mapsme will save you from the issue of wrongly labeled locations.

Payments and Money Exchange

Be aware of currency exchange rates, any dollar bill below $50 is considered a small bill thus fetching a lower exchange rate than $50 bills and $100 bills. Euros are not a popular currency in East Africa, its exchange rate is often lower than the market price listed on Google. If you have a chance to carry USD in Euros, it will save you a great deal.

Carry sufficient cash in local currency, as credit card facilities may not be available in remote areas. Most of the places in East Africa are run on a cash basis. You will struggle to make transactions in remote areas if you only have cards. However, lodges and restaurants that are fond of serving tourists often have POS machines to handle most of the card transactions.

Cash can also work as a backup in case your card fails to transact. Mastercard is the most recommended card option since it is accepted in most of the places.

Emergency Contacts

Most of the places in East Africa have cellular reception but this does not take away the fact that some places do not have cellular networks. It is good to have emergency contact is situations where you do not have any network access, satellite devices often come in handy to ensure smooth communication. One of the leading providers of emergency communication is BAR SOS. They will offer you a satellite device that can send emails as well as WhatsApp messages even in places without any cellular network.

The above tips are some of the most important things to consider when planning a cross-border road trip in East Africa