When To Go/Best Time Visit South Sudan
The best time to visit South Sudan is from November to April, which is the dry season. It is hot all year round and only slightly less so in the wet season, but the quality of roads outside of Juba can be challenging after heavy rain.
Culture – Language and religion:
South Sudan is home to an astonishing number of different ethnic groups, all of which hold their own belief systems and speak their own languages.
However, English is widely spoken in towns as a second language and is the language of government. South Sudan has a sizeable Christian population – the result of colonial interference and efforts from missionaries – but there are also Muslim minorities in the larger towns.
Eating and drinking:
Juba is a fast-growing city with a multi-national population, and this is reflected in the cuisine – you can find Kenyan, Ethiopian, Italian, Indian and Chinese food here. Step outside of Juba though and it’s a different story.
Typical food for the majority of South Sudanese consists of rice and meat, perhaps with beans, and there is very little variation. Sometimes you’ll also find spaghetti, and the fact that there are many Kenyans here means that ugali, a pounded starchy mass, is often on the menu. Vegetarians will find that their diet rather limited here and should be prepared for this.
Outside of Juba, there are no international-style restaurants and if you are not eating in the hotel it is likely to be a wooden shack with some simple tables, and a TV in the corner. A typical meal in Juba will cost $10-15, and in a smaller town around $4-5. You should advise us when you book if you have any special dietary requirements. We will try to accommodate you as much as possible, but we cannot always guarantee this.
Luggage and packing:
The first rule of packing is not to bring too much. There will be plenty of occasions where you’ll need to carry your luggage yourself and so you should be able to do this without help. Most people are surprised at how little they actually need to bring, and it’s normally possible to get laundry done along the way.
It doesn’t matter whether you bring a suitcase, rucksack or hold all, but please don’t bring more than 20kg of luggage as this may be difficult to accommodate in the vehicles we use. You’ll also need a day pack.
There are no special dress rules for South Sudan, and it is almost always hot. You’ll be walking around villages when in South Sudan, and probably rocky surfaces, so do consider this when selecting shoes or boots. You will need to bring a light sleeping bag for this trip.
You don’t need to be especially fit to do trips in South Sudan, but there will be stairs to climb, hills to walk and sites to explore, so you’ll enjoy it more if you have a reasonable level of fitness.
In South Sudan, like many of the destinations we offer, environmental thinking is not at the forefront of everyday life and you will see a lot of litter in places.
However, we ask that you don’t contribute to this and to please take all litter back to the hotel where it can be disposed of properly, including cigarette butts. Especially in the larger cities, you may come across beggars. There’s no hard and fast answer on this and everyone has a different view – some feel that giving simply encourages begging while others see it as helping someone in need.
Some guidebooks will tell you that you should only give if you see a local person also giving, to determine whether the beggar is genuine. The issue is particularly difficult when it comes to children, but we’d ask that you don’t give to children as in poor communities this can often act as a discouragement to going to school.
If you feel that you’d like to contribute, and then speak with your guide who will be able to make appropriate suggestions. Most people like to take photos, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that the photogenic person in front of you may not want their picture taken.
Always ask if it’s okay, and respect their wishes if they say no. You’ll often find that in remote villages or among more traditional communities the older generation, and women in particular, are not comfortable with having their picture taken.
On the subject of photography, it’s often forbidden to take photos of ‘sensitive’ areas such as military buildings or border posts, and doing so can land you in trouble with the authorities. If you’re not sure, ask your guide.
Tipping: If you’re happy with the services of your guide and driver then we would recommend leaving a tip for them at the end of your trip. The amount is entirely up to you, but a reasonable amount for a group to tip would be between $150-200 – however it is not obligatory and if you do not wish to tip then this is up to you.
When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humor.
There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.
In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long.
Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa.
Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.
South Sudan is one of the more challenging destinations that we offer, and we do not recommend this trip unless you are accustomed to travel in Africa. There is almost no tourist industry to speak of and therefore people are very unaccustomed to western visitors, and what they may expect in terms of service.
The local authorities are likely to be rather confused by your presence and so often your tour leader will need to explain your presence to them – in addition to this they may all interpret rules and regulations differently and so what is permissible in one place may not be in another.
We keep a very close eye on safety of our clients. This tour avoids the key affected areas of Unity, Upper Nile and some parts of Jonglei states, staying in Central and Eastern Equatoria states. We take the safety of our travelers extremely seriously and obtain regular updates about the situation in South Sudan.
Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns. We work very closely with our local team in parts of the country and we are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in these parts of South Sudan.
The local currency in South Sudan is the South Sudanese pound, which you will not be able to obtain at home. You will need to bring US dollars for exchange purposes. You should bring clean and unmarked notes that have been issued after 2009, otherwise it is almost impossible to exchange them. The only real place to change money is Juba, and your guide can assist with this. Credit cards are virtually useless in South Sudan and so you should bring cash.
What can be included on Quotation?
We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.
Accommodation as listed in the itinerary. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavor to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide. In case of any special guide you will need to pay extra charges for the service.
As listed within the itinerary (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.
Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Only bottled water can be included and other drinks like beers are not included and are at your own expense.
Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.
You’re not allowed to take photos without permission; we do arrange such documents and as well added on a quotation.
What cannot be included?
We don’t arrange visas for our travelers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or write to us we can assist.
If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay this yourself.
Many of our travelers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If, however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give write us and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.
If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.
Most travelers will require a visa to enter South Sudan, which is hampered by the fact that as a new country there are very few embassies. However, they can be obtained in both London and Washington. You will usually need a visa invitation or proof of hotel reservation, which we can provide. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy, or us, for the most up to date information.
Health and vaccinations:
We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. “A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to South Sudan and you must bring this with you.”
We don’t offer travel insurance but it is advisable to have it while coming for this tour and if you’re to have one We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.
Arrival and departure taxes:
There are no arrival or departure taxes applicable for South Sudan.