BEFORE YOU LEAVE
In most parts of Africa and the Middle East, both local currencies and US Dollars are widely accepted. The conversion rates for local currencies do however fluctuate quite regularly so if you plan on using local currencies in the countries you visit, please check the exchange rate before you depart on tour. An example of a website that you can use to check a currency against your own is www.xe.com.
The information below is subject to change however we do update it as frequently as possible so please feel free to send us feedback if you feel that the information is not as accurate as it could be.
If you are carrying US dollars, always make sure that they have been printed after 2005 and if possible, request that your bank provides you with notes that are not torn or severely creased as you may find that the bills will not be accepted if they are not in a good condition.
Request that your bank provides you with a range of bills so that you can use the smaller ones for tipping and the larger ones for settling bills if required.
Carry your cash in a flat money belt on your body however always keep a small amount in a more easily accessible place so that you can access it easily if required.
Most of the major Southern and East African cities do have credit card facilities available, however they may charge you a surcharge to use the facility. Visa and MasterCard are the two most widely accepted credit cards in Africa, while Diners and American Express may not always be accepted. Cards should have a chip and pin if you plan to use them to withdraw money from ATMs. Please be sure to advise your bank before you travel that you will be using your card in a different country as they may block access to your card if they do not know that you are travelling.
ATM / Debit Cards
ATM cards are a good way to withdraw local currency on arrival in a new country. This may not always be possible but it is an option in most cases. Cards should have a chip and pin. The amount that you withdraw depends on how long you will be in the country for and what you plan to spend your money on while you’re there.
You may encounter black market traders on arrival in countries who will offer to exchange your US$’s for a more favourable rate than the banks. Please don’t be tempted to do this, it is not worth the risk or the hassle and it is not good practice to display your foreign currency.
Besides the US$ and the other major currencies, the UAE Dirham is the local currency that is used in UAE. Credit Cards are widely accepted and ATMS are available in all cities and smaller towns.
The South African Rand (ZAR) is the local currency that is used in this country. Credit Cards are widely accepted and ATMS are available in all cities and smaller towns. No other international currencies are readily accepted.
The best currency to have in this country is the US$ in a mixture of large and small denominations and a Visa or Master card to withdraw money from ATMs. Barclays has the most reliable machines for international withdrawals. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted however it would be best to be prudent when using a Credit Card as fraud is something to be aware of. It is possible to exchange money at Foreign Exchange offices.
The Ugandan Shilling (UGX) and the US$ are accepted in Uganda and money can be exchanged at Foreign Exchange offices. Visa ATMs are widely available for cash withdrawal and Credit Cards are sometimes accepted. You will need US$s for some activities.
The local Birr and the US$ is accepted and can be exchanged at Foreign Exchange Offices. Some ATMs can be found in the cities and Visa is again the most helpful card to have. Credit Cards are not widely accepted and if they are, generally incur a high commission for using them.
The Egyptian pound is the official currency, however it is good to travel with US$s too. Small change is hard to come by so try to exchange larger bills when you have the opportunity to do so. Some tours can only be paid for in US$ however credit cards can be used in most tourist friendly places. ATMs are widely available.