Africa Travel Phone and Internet Tips

What are my options for staying in contact while on safari?
I get this question from clients all of the time so I figured it changed over time to share what I even have found out from years touring in Africa. My efforts to live related to the office from Africa used to result in frightening smartphone payments. But over the last several years mobile generation has virtually taken the continent by using hurricane and it has gotten less difficult and cheaper to call across the world. At this point in case you are in East or Southern Africa and want to live in touch by cell phone or electronic mail there are three foremost alternatives: use your phone, rent a cell phone, get a nearby SIM Card.

Bring Your Phone and Use It
This is the exceptional option in case you definitely feel such as you need to be available in your smartphone quantity or if you need frequent get entry to to email to your smartphone. If that’s what you need here are your selections:

Get a global calling plan: It is going to feed you anywhere from $1.50 to $2.Ninety a minute to call America from your US cellphone from most of East and Southern Africa. The $1.50 in step with minute comes from my mother and business partner who currently used “International Roaming-Global Add-Ons” plan from AT&T to name America whilst visiting in South Africa and Kenya. This was essentially a transient supplement to her current plan that facilitates manage expenses, she got:
a hundred minutes of voice for $120. You could purchase as little as 15 mins for $30 however you need to determine how an awful lot you need in advance. If you cross over the amount you pick, the inline with-minute expenses go up. Keep in thoughts you may be buying both sending and receiving calls.
$30 for 120mbs of information (with wi-fi availability she didn’t come close to the use of this)
She should have introduced a certain number of text messages for a hard and fast rate as properly.
This worked well while calling the United States but her expenses were drastically higher for the calls among South Africa and Kenya.
The pricing and to be had packages will range from using the provider. For instance the $2.Ninety/minute got here from looking up Verizon rates while calling the United States from South Africa. They did no longer seem to have the equal sort of packages as AT&T, however, their “International Trip Planner” will tell you voice and information fees in keeping with united states of America and what telephones will work where. Before you depart test with your issuer to verify if your smartphone will work, what the fundamental charges are, and if you can buy mins or data in packages as a way to lower the cost. Remember that you may be buying incoming and outgoing calls.

Airplane Mode: If your company does now not cowl Africa otherwise you locate it too highly-priced ensure your telephone is off or in airplane mode ALL THE TIME. If you land in Nairobi and your smartphone unearths a facts network and begins downloading your emails, your roaming information prices will be scary. I forgot about my remaining ride and were given $60 really worth of expenses in only some mins. When your phone is in a plane mode you can nevertheless connect with available wireless networks to go online and take a look at your email. If you have got an iPhone you may get texts out of your friends and circle of relatives with iPhones (iMessages). At this point, many houses have wi-fi so in case you take this path you will have plenty of internets get admission to.

Rent a Phone Specifically for International Calls or Data:
This is probably my least favored choice however if you think you’ll need to apply lots of facts and your provider does no longer have a very good international facts package or if you are going somewhere very far off here are some alternatives:

Rent a cell phone inside the US: For a trip to Zambia, Botswana and South Africa ultimate year I rented a Blackberry from Cellhire USA LLC. It values approximately $a hundred and twenty for 14 days. I used it simplest for statistics and that worked properly, but the price consistent with the minute for calls to America could be much like or higher than the prices above from US carriers.

Rent a satellite tv for pc smartphone: If you’re going somewhere far away renting a satellite tv for pc cell phone is a choice. One organization we have used in South Africa and Namibia is Sat 4 Rent. They provide satellite telephones which can be used for voice calls and text messages and BGAN Terminals which include a satellite tv for pc telephone and may be used for internet.

Use a Local SIM Card
If you’ll be making quite a few neighborhood calls or don’t feel such as you want to have your everyday cellphone range, getting a neighborhood “pay as you cross” SIM card is regularly the most fee-effective option for local and international calls whilst traveling in Africa.

A local pay-as-you-move SIM card gives you a neighborhood phone variety. The SIM card itself expenses much less than $20 and then you definitely purchase additional credit as you need it. If you have a clever smartphone the pay-as-you-pass may also follow to statistics meaning you’re charged per megabyte of records to ship and get hold of emails and skim the internet. The essential agencies will have shops at the airport to buy SIM playing cards (or you may purchase USA specific and worldwide SIM cards online).

A viable disadvantage is that in many nations you’re now required to sign in your SIM card (due to the fact telephones are increasingly getting used for cell banking). This simply manner you may spend 15 to 20 mins in a store shopping for and registering the SIM. For vacationers going to a couple of international locations, your SIM card will simply choose up an associate network in a foreign country. It will fee you extra than at the SIM card’s domestic community but you’ll receive a textual content message with fee facts.

Most US telephones do not use SIM playing cards and for those operators that do (like T-Mobile) your phone could be locked in the US and received’t paintings. Instead, you can borrow, purchase or lease an unlocked phone that accepts a SIM card. In South Africa it pretty clean and fast to hire a neighborhood phone and SIM card at the Johannesburg airport. Rental is not as clean in East Africa however you may convey one an unlocked telephone with you or purchase a cheap one while you get there (it gained’t be locked on a selected us of a). If you tour loads buying an unlocked phone is worth the funding. Some excursion operators and properties will even hire or lend you a local smartphone and SIM card if you request it.

International calling rates on neighborhood SIM playing cards will range with the aid of u. S. And company. For example right now in Kenya calling the USA with a neighborhood SIM card is thoughts-blowingly cheap. In South Africa, your calls (each local and to the US) gained’t be as cheap as in East Africa, however, may be less than out of your US smartphone, approximately 30 cents/minute. The fees will range from calling other nations in Africa, however, will nonetheless be much less than the use of your US cell phone.



Jessica J. Underwood
Subtly charming explorer. Pop culture practitioner. Creator. Web guru. Food advocate. Typical travel maven. Zombie fanatic. Problem solver. Was quite successful at developing wooden tops in the aftermarket. A real dynamo when it comes to exporting glucose in Bethesda, MD. Had moderate success managing action figures in New York, NY. Set new standards for selling crayon art in Salisbury, MD. In 2009 I was getting my feet wet with sock monkeys for the underprivileged. Spoke at an international conference about merchandising toy elephants in Nigeria.