An African Safari is an incredible experience that, for many, will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We aim to provide as much useful information as possible, all of which is based on our client feedback and our own personal experiences. We have compiled a list of our 'hints, tips & frequently asked questions' if the answer to your question is not here, then please feel free to give one of our experienced consultants a call on 01235 552 500. We've had all of them all before and there's no such thing as a daft question.... All of our specialists have been on safari, here we have our hints and tips that we've picked up over the years:
Leanne says "I would have been lost without my wet wipes. It can be hot, dry and dusty, they're incredibly useful for freshening up whilst on game drives and travelling between the reserves".
Vicky says "a mosquito repellent with a high Deet content is an absolute must, always keep it handy and take it on game drives as well as on the drives between the reserves. Batteries, always make sure you have a good supply of batteries, you will have some amazing photo opportunities during your trip".
Gemma says "take a jumper as it can get chilly in the mornings and evenings, I recommend dark colours for the game drives as the dust can stain lighter clothing".
Fiona says "binoculars, they do provide them in the vehicle but you have to share those. I have a small pair which I ensure are always handy"
When is the best time of year to go on safari?
The game viewing in Kenya and Tanzania is fantastic year round; both countries are home to the 'Big 5' and numerous other species. The only species that leaves the reserves are the Wildebeest, when they embark on the 'Great Migration', please see below for full details on the migration.
How much luggage can I take?
Kenya restrictions - Kenya Airways allow 2 pieces per person at 23kg a piece (46kg per person, over 2 bags).
Tanzania restrictions - Kenya Airways allow 2 pieces per person at 20kg a piece (40kg per person, over 2 bags).
What type of baggage / luggage should I take?
On our safari itineraries that include light aircraft flights you will be restricted to 15kg per person packed in a soft duffel bag. Hard sided suitcases are not acceptable as they will not fit in the baggage compartment on the small aircrafts.
On our Kenyan safaris by road, weight and size allowance is not as important however you should pack sensibly as there could be up to 6 passengers in your vehicle.
Is there anywhere to store additional luggage in Nairobi?
Yes, you will have use of The Safari Lounge based just outside Nairobi. Here they provide complimentary light refreshments, a comfortable seating area, shower and bathroom facilities. The also have a secure luggage storage area at where your beach case can be locked away for the duration of your safari.
Are Mosquito nets provided?
Yes, Mosquito nets are provided at the majority of the properties we feature. If they are not in the room on arrival, just ask at reception
Should I take an adaptor for plugs?
No, Kenya and Tanzania have the same plugs as the UK, 3 pin plugs 220/240 volts
Is it safe to drink the tap water?
No we always recommend bottled water and this can be obtained from the bars and restaurants at all the lodges, camps and hotels.
What is the time difference East Africa?
Kenya: GMT +3 hours
Tanzania: GMT +3 hours
What to bring?
The clothing required for Safari tends to be comfortable casual during the day - shorts, t-shirts etc and smart casual in the evenings. Most lodges will not have a strict dress code but the evenings can be quite cool. Be ready for this and pack some warm clothing, a jumper or cardigan and maybe trousers.
If you are travelling during the wet season (April - beginning June) we do recommend taking a light waterproof jacket on game drives with you, the vehicles that we use have a pop-up roof so that you can stand and view the game. You are permitted to take a piece of hand luggage (as well as a soft sided bag) with you on safari, a normal rucksack is quite sufficient as long as it is large enough for the essentials: a wide-brim hat, insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, wet wipes, camera, binoculars, a jumper/cardigan, batteries and water (water is available from all of the lodge bars and there will be 2 bottles in your room daily, we tend to take these on the game drives with us).
What are the road conditions?
Road conditions in both Kenya and Tanzania can vary, some of the major roads are tarmaced and are in a reasonable condition, in the National parks you will be travelling on dirt tracks which are rough and bumpy.
Is tipping recommended?
It is not customary to tip in Kenya and Tanzania, tips are treated as gifts and the people you meet will generally work very hard for them. Tipping on safari and at the lodges and camps is always welcomed and is entirely at your own discretion, as an estimation we recommend $5USD to $10USD for each passenger per day for your safari driver/guide, which can be handed directly to your driver at the end of your safari experience.
If you would like to tip your porter/waiter etc. then tips are generally given to the manager at the end of your stay so that they can be evenly distributed between the staff.
How much money should I bring?
You will need very little spending money, the majority of our safaris are Full Board (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner). Drinks are at your own expense and although we include game drives, you will have the opportunity to do excursions such as boat trips and additional game drives during your stay. You will also stop at local Curio (gift) shops, where the local currency is preferred.
The majority of the lodges, camps and hotels accept Kenya Shillings, US Dollars and Sterling. All major credit and debit cards are also widely accepted.
Will I have access to the Internet while on safari? How about international phone service?
While communications in remote tented camps will be limited, most major hotels and lodges offer Internet services as well as international telephone and fax services.
The cellular networks in safari destination countries, especially Kenya and South Africa, cover most large towns and tourist areas.
How long does a standard game drive last?
A typical game drive lasts 2 - 2.5 hours. Early morning game drives leave the lodge at around 6am, and the late afternoon game drives leave at approximately 4pm. This will allow you time to see the animals at their most active out hunting and feeding,.
Where does the term 'Big 5' come from and what are they?
The 'Big 5' are the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo. they were originally chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size.
Are Kenya and Tanzania home to the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo)?
Yes, the 'Big 5' are all present in Kenya and Tanzania.
What is the local currency in Kenya and Tanzania?
The local currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling, this can be obtained prior to departure.
The local currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling, please note that this is a closed currency which can only be obtained locally.
All major debit and credit cards are accepted in both countries, travellers cheques are not widely accepted.
Do you require a visa for travel to Kenya and Tanzania?
All British passport holders do require a visa for Kenya and Tanzania, these can be obtained on arrival for $50USD per person or prior to departure from the High Commission, the charge may fluctuate, so we recommend that you double check this information with the embassy.
All other passport holders will need to contact the embassy for advice.
What vaccinations are required for travel to East Africa?
As we are not medically trained we are unable to provide information on medical requirements. We recommend speaking to your GP or practise travel nurse for individual requirements.
What is the climate like in Kenya and Tanzania?
There are two main seasons: dry season and rainy season with long rains in April and May, and short rains in November. In practice, the rainfalls are unpredictable. Generally, during rainy seasons the rain often falls in tropical downpours during the night or evenings with pleasant sunny days in between. In November, short rains are drizzling, mostly at night.
Are the safari vehicles air conditioned?
The safari vehicles do not have air conditioning, however the pop up roofs will be opened for game viewing, you will also be able to open the windows while you are travelling between parks.
Can children go on safari?
The minimum age for the majority of our safari itineraries in Kenya and Tanzania is 7. We are able to offer Tailor Made itineraries that may take children of a younger age; please call a specialist consultant on 01235 552 500 for further information.
We do however offer a range of itineraries in South Africa which are also child friendly.
What is the 'Great Migration?
The Great Migration is the name given to the movement of the Wildebeest during our summer months. Herds of thousands of Wildebeest move from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in search of a new food source. Typically it is just Wildebeest that make this journey, however a few Zebra have been known to join also. The two most fascinating spectacles of the 'Great Migration' are witnessing the animals cross the hippo and crocodile filled Mara River which separates the Western Corridor of the Serengeti from the Masai Mara. Some Wildebeest make the crossing, some do not attempt and turn back to the Serengeti, others are less fortunate, and some reside in the Mara from the previous year. The other highlight of the migration is seeing herds of Wildebeest move across the vast plains in Kenya and Tanzania.
When does the 'Great Migration' take place?
The 'Migration' takes place annually depending on the weather in Kenya, the Wildebeest start their epic journey to the Masai Mara when the 'wet' season arrives in Kenya. The Migration can take place anytime between June and October.
What are the safari vehicles like?
In Kenya we use microbuses that have a pop-up roof, they seat a maximum of 6 passengers plus the driver to guarantee a window seat. Upgrades to 4x4 safari vehicles are available for a supplement.
In Tanzania we use 4x4 vehicles with a guaranteed window seat and a maximum of 6 passengers plus the driver.
On our Kenya Safaris and Tanzania Safaris it is possible to upgraded to an exclusive safari vehicle for your group, please contact one of our safari specialists for supplements (supplements depend on the number of people in your group).
What is the food like on safari?
All of the properties we feature offer a variety of local and international dishes, the majority of which are served buffet style. If you have any specific dietary requirements please let you consultant know and we will make your chosen accommodation aware; they will always endeavour to ensure that all dietary requirements are catered for.