African Safari Frequently Asked Questions
It really depends on the type of animal you wish to see. Certain reserves have good game viewing all year round but others will have particularly good elephant sightings or other migratory animals at different times of the year. It is generally felt that the African winter (June – August) is the best time to go on safari, as the grass is dry and vegetation sparse making game viewing easier. It is also the time when animals are on the move looking for food and water. In Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the migration of over two million animals.
Temperatures in winter are generally mild but can become considerably cooler in the evening, so pack multiple layers of clothing to ensure you stay comfortable on afternoon game drives and walks. It goes without saying that the standard safari gear must include a broad brim hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. In areas where malaria is prevalent, summer is generally a more risky time to travel. So, before you go on safari, consult your doctor for the necessary anti-malaria medication.
What are the special attractions of the countries you operate in?
Tanzania: Great Migration, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Arusha National Park, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, Tarangire National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park and Selous Game Reserve.
Kenya: Aberdare National Park, Amboseli National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Samburu National Reserve, Meru National Park, Tsavo National Park, The Rift Valley Lakes, Mombasa, Malindi, south and north coast.
How do I get to Africa?
Africa can be reached by regular international flights to its major cites. South African Airways flies direct daily to Johannesburg, South Africa from Atlanta and New York. To reach East Africa from the US, you will have to fly through Europe and then to Nairobi on a European airline (e.g., British Airways, KLM, Sabena, etc.). we can arrange international flights to Africa that originate in the United States or Europe. We can also arrange flights within Africa.
What types of accommodation are available?
The accommodation type in Africa varies from hotels and inns to luxury lodges, B&Bs and tented camps.
Tanzania: Advanced bookings recommended. Lodges tend to be of rondavel or banda type with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Luxurious “tented camps” pitched on concrete bases are popular. National parks also offer ordinary campsites. All major towns have luxury hotels and at least one good guesthouse.
Kenya: Advanced bookings recommended. Most safari lodges have rondavel or banda type accommodations, with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Tented accommodations vary from super deluxe to standard tents.
What is a lodge safari?
On a lodge safari you travel from lodge to lodge and do game drives with one of our driver/guides. The lodges we use are essentially hotels in the bush. They accommodate between 100 and 200 people. They provide most of the amenities found in a hotel (e.g., restaurant, lounge, swimming pool, etc.). This is a good choice when traveling with children or if you want certain creature comforts when you return from game viewing.
What is a permanent tented camp safari?
Permanent tented camp safaris are done either by vehicle or light aircraft. In the case of a fly-in safari you will fly from one reserve to the next. This reduces the amount of travel time considerably and maximizes game viewing opportunities. Permanent tented camps provide accommodation ranging from comfortable to luxurious. Most consist of large walk-in tents on elevated wooden platforms, with beds, chairs, furniture and an en-suite bathroom with hot and cold water and flushing toilets. Permanent camps accommodate a smaller size group (20-30 people) than lodges allowing a more personal interaction with the natural habitat.
What is a mobile camping safari?
In a mobile-tented safari the camp moves each day while you are game viewing. Usually the relocation is combined with one or two nights at a safari lodge before going back into the camp at a new location. This type of accommodation obviously does not have the amenities of either lodges or permanent tented camps, but the level of comfort and staff attention is unsurpassed. The camps consist of sleeping, dining, kitchen and staff tents with toilet, hot water and shower annexes. The sleeping tents are large walk-in tents completely insect proof, with a high outer fly and small shaded veranda. They are furnished with comfortable beds and bedside table and chairs. The camp cook prepares meals on open charcoal fires.
What is a serviced camping safari?
A serviced camping safari features exclusive wilderness campsites, comfortable 3X3 meter dome tents with GI beds, bedrolls with crisp linen, bedside tables with reading lamps, towels, mats and hot water bottles for the winter months. There is a shared bathing enclosure with flushing toilet, hot shower, hand basin and a luxury range of shampoos and conditioners. Guest areas include a bush dining area, bar, small wildlife library and board games. The staff erects and dismantles camp, prepare excellent meals of fresh produce and take care of all camp chores. All luggage and camp equipment is transported on a support vehicle.
What is a limited participation camping safari?
A limited participation camping safari requires that you put up and take down your tent. The accommodation is in 2-person igloo style tents with a foam mattress. All camping equipment is provided with the exception of sleeping bags, which you can bring (recommended) or hire (approximately $20). All meals are included while camping. The safari leaders are full-time employees and trained professional guides. Detailed information on the history of the area, fauna and flora is given to the participants during the safari. A camp assistant helps with general camp chores and duties.
What is a full participation camping safari?
A full participation camping safari is essentially the same as a limited participation camping safari with the exception that you are required to assist in putting up and taking down the camp including your tent, preparing meals, etc.
What is a self-drive safari?
On a self-drive safari you will be met at the airport upon your arrival and assisted with the formalities of picking up a rental car. You will be given a detailed itinerary, vouchers and maps for your trip. You would then proceed, unguided, on the tour according to the set itinerary. Accommodations are at hotels, lodges, chalets and rest camps.
How many people do you take on a safari?
Most of our safaris have guaranteed departures with a minimum of two people and are limited to a maximum of 10 people (if more than 7 people are on a safari, we use two vehicles). Each person is assured a window seat. A few of the participation camping safaris require a minimum of 4 people and allow a maximum of 12 people.
What is a single supplement?
A single supplement is a fee imposed by hotels, lodges and camps on single travelers. Tour prices are quoted based on two people sharing accommodation. If someone takes a room by themselves they have to pay the per-person price plus the single supplement fee.
Can a single traveler share accommodation with another single traveler?
Yes, providing there is another single traveler of the same sex, on the same safari, and the other person agrees to the proposed arrangement.
How far in advance should I book my safari?
It is better to book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability at the time you wish to travel (4-6 months), especially during the peak seasons (July & August and Christmas/New Years). This is especially important for those wishing to travel on private custom safaris and those adding extensions to scheduled trips.
Can I use a credit card to pay for my safari?
We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express for your safari deposit. The balance is due 60 days prior to departure and is payable by check, money order or wire transfer.
What are the different cultures?
Tanzania: Tanzania’s culture is a result of African, Arab, European and Indian influences. There are 120 African tribal groups. The largest group is of Bantu origin including Dukuma, Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai are of Nilotic origin, as are the Arusha and the Samburu.
Kenya: There are over 70 tribal groups in Kenya. Differences between many of them are blurred – Western cultural values are becoming more deep-seated and traditional values are disintegrating. Tribes include Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo and Kikamba.
What is the landscape like?
Tanzania: Lies on Indian Ocean. Includes the island of Zanzibar. Mainland has lush coast, savannah, and semi-desert along with extinct volcanoes, lakes and mountain ranges including Mount Kilimanjaro.
Kenya: Lies on Indian Ocean and on the equator. Four geographical regions: arid desert, savannah grassland, fertile lowlands (coast) and the highlands. There are extinct volcanoes as well as lakes and rivers.
Is English widely spoken?
Yes. English is spoken throughout East Africa, especially by those involved in the tourist trade. European and Middle Eastern languages spoken in Africa include German (Namibia) and Arabic (Tanzania).
Can I use my credit card in Africa?
Tanzania: Most top hotels and lodges around the country accept Visa and MasterCard. In addition to credit cards, clients should bring US dollars and traveler’s checks.
Kenya: Most major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) are widely accepted. Diner’s Card is not generally accepted.
Are foods for special dietary needs available?
Yes. Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Africa. Please give us advanced notice so that we can make arrangements with the lodges and camps you are scheduled to stay at. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians, depending on their forte. Local specialties can be surprisingly good! With the exception of a few lodges, halaal and kosher food is not available at most camps/lodges.
Are there any medical precautions?
Vaccination requirements change from time to time. Some countries require advance inoculations for yellow fever (and certificates thereof) that are good for 10 years – we will advise you of these. Malaria is present in many parts of Africa – we will advise you if you will be visiting a malaria area. We suggest you consult your local doctor or health department for information on malaria prophylactics and the latest health precautions. If you are on prescription medication, please ensure you have an adequate supply to last the duration of your stay and a copy of your prescription(s).
What is meant by en-suite or private facilities?
En-suite or private facilities are toilet and bath/shower located within your room or tent rather than facilities designed for community use.
What photography advice can you give?
A good camera will make the difference between having photos of spectacular wildlife and having vague, little dots of animals to show family and friends. The more common “point-and-shoot” cameras are too small. On safari, you won’t always be able to get up close to wildlife. A SLR (single lens reflex) camera with a 200-300mm lens is recommended. More serious photographers may choose telephoto lenses of 400 or 500mm. Larger lenses often require a tripod, which cannot be used on a moving vehicle. A 2x teleconverter is useful for doubling the focal length of your lens. A zoom lens, such as a 70 to 210mm lens, is probably the best option for shooting a moving subject.
The harsh African sun provides excellent lighting, but using larger lenses will require faster film, especially in early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer. In this case, 200-400 ASA film is recommended.
Film and batteries are usually available along major tourist routes and from lodges, but it is wise to bring your own. A lens hood and ultra violet filter are advisable. A good bag for your equipment including a dust cover (plastic bag) is essential.
Important Note: Not all African cultures are familiar with cameras. Rural folk will often shy away from having their picture taken. Please be sensitive. Some locals may ask a fee for having their photograph taken. It is recommended you avoid photographing anything relating to government and military installations, including personnel (soldiers and police) and buildings (post offices, banks, airports, border posts, railway stations and bridges).
How did the “big five” get their name?
The “big five” are leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo. These animals constitute a wish list for many people on safari. The term is a reference from colonial trophy hunting. Hunters ranked African animals as to how dangerous they were to hunt. This is why hippo and giraffe – despite their stature – are not among this elite, sought-after group.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.