WHAT IS A SAFARI?
It’s the dream vacation of a lifetime, combining adventure with total comfort. In Africa you’ll feel a unique closeness with nature. Every day is a new revelation as you visit East Africa’s most beautiful game reserves, seeing hundreds of rare birds and mammals from your chauffeured safari vehicle. Relax in comfortable lodges surrounded by scenic valleys and plains. Time takes on a new meaning as you learn to sit quietly listening to the sounds of Africa. The balance of nature will no longer be empty words; you will see it daily in the drama of animals fighting for survival and co-existence
WHO GOES ON SAFARI?
An East African Safari is the perfect vacation for people of all ages, from eight to eighty-eight. A safari is not particularly strenuous or tiring, so anyone in reasonably good health should be able to enjoy his or her stay. Because a safari has something to offer everyone, it has become an increasingly popular family vacation. Some of the camps and lodges will restrict the activities to exclude small children, but that is mainly for reasons of environmental and physical limitations. Children will enjoy the wildlife, interacting with the local people particularly humanitarian travelers, and also relaxing in open swimming pools and beaches.
HOW DO I PLAN MY ITINERARY?
There is the temptation of booking a Safari that covers all the attractions, particularly if the traveler is visiting East Africa for the first time, but time and affordability can be the defining factors.
Interaction with your travel agent becomes necessary. Spending some time in the national parks can be a delight to some travellers while a traditional cultural experience and beach stay would be a great blend to others.
In all cases, choosing an itinerary that gives you pleasure is crucial and should be well-thought-out. You will find safari tips most useful.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are characterised by radical temperature changes.. Tanzania and Kenya have short rain periods spreading from October through December, and another rain spell between March and May, when the prices are considerably low, almost half of the rest of the year.
When should you go on safari? Go now! Don’t postpone going to Africa! Come over now! All the year round is good for you. For animal lovers, seasons certainly define the animal activities. It is important to know what to expect in the parks your safari will visit. A Travel agent who cannot provide this kind of information is definitely the wrong one.
WHAT WILL I SEE?
The beauty of Africa encompasses not only birds and animals of all shapes and sizes, but also the many different tribal peoples, and the exotic physical features from mountains to broad savannah, forests to rivers and deserts. Think of beautiful sunrise by the beach, colorful sunset on the plains and mountains; or a star-filled sky like you have never seen before. Your safari will be carefully planned to include a wide variety of sights and activities.
HOW CLOSE CAN I GET TO THE ANIMALS?
Because you are travelling in protected game areas, there is no fear as long as you are in the vehicle. You can get surprisingly close, especially when lions are busy feeding on prey or at rest. Elephants often walk up to and even surround a minibus. Monkeys and baboons may study you closely as you study them. But natural behavior will only continue if you give the animals some space and peace. If you go too close, or talk loudly, the animals may just leave. Most animals will be more interesting if allowed the space to continue their natural behavior; stalking, mating, and playing with the young. Your driver will know the best viewing distance. Please don’t encourage him to “stalk” or otherwise interfere with hunting or other activities crucial to the animal’s survival.
AM I SAFE?
East Africa has had a share of uncountered bad press, and that is not to say that we have no problem, like any other country in the world. While theft and violence are real concerns in major cities, East Africa has continued to enjoy her peace and one can confidently say that it is still safer than most cities in the developed World. We only ask our visitors to exercise good sense and make some reasonable precautions, e.g:
Don’t carry lots of cash, you may use safe deposit at the hotel.
Do leave expensive jewellery at home or at the hotel safe.
Catch taxis at night and avoid them walking in dark-lit streets at night. In Nairobi there are street beggars, please ignore them as much as possible. Entertaining one invites others and the chances of being mugged in the process are high. Always go by your guide’s and hotel recommendations. Exercise the same precautionary principles you otherwise would have applied in your home country.
WHAT ABOUT SNAKES AND BUGS?
This is over-exaggerated. You rarely will see even a snake and if this happens it is purely in the safety of your tour van. Tents and lodges have bug proofing fitted on the windows. Where insects are prevalent just by nature, there are mosquito nets. Malaria, though, is a threat in some of the wildlife areas, and it is essential to consult a doctor before you go there. He might recommend some anti-malarials.
HOW’S THE WEATHER?
Great all the year round! Because of the high elevation (9,300 to 8,000 feet above sea level), and the proximity to the Equator, there is pleasant weather throughout the year. Temperatures vary according to altitude and situation. The coastal and the lake areas are humid; average annual high and low daytime temperatures range from 22 to 30 centigrade (72F to 87F). Usually, a fresh breeze blows from the ocean. The plateau and Nairobi, at an altitude of 1675 metres (5500feet), are cool in the mornings and evenings with constant winds in the dry seasons. The dry season is July through October, and December through March. During this period you expect to find the greatest concentration of animals as they will congregate around the remaining waterholes. The relatively rainy season includes the months of April, May and November.
WHAT CLOTHES SHOULD I BRING?
A safari is for the most part a very casual experience. While on safari, “safari suits” are the most suitable attire, as their colours are best when near wildlife. All the same, short and long-sleeved shirts, shorts, casual skirts and long pants and comfortable walking shoes are standard safari attire. Prepare to dress in layers, adding or removing outer garments as the weather dictates throughout the day, khakis, chinos or twill pants are ideal. You should include wide-brimmed hat or cap; a sweatshirt, sweater, light jacket, and a thin rain jacket come in handy. Be sure to bring a swimsuit since most lodges have pools.
WHAT LUGGAGE SHOULD I BRING?
Two words to the wise: travel lightly. On international flights, each person is allowed a maximum of two pieces of luggage with a combined weight not exceeding 44 pounds. We at Jungle Empire Safaris recommend two smaller bags rather than one large suitcase. Collapsible suitcases (overnight bags, duffel bags, etc.) are ideal. While your are on safari, additional baggage can be safely stored at the hotel if you are departing from the same city. The baggage allowance on local planes within East Africa is 33 pounds.
CAN I BRING ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES?
In East Africa the power supply is on 240 volts. If you want to use appliances that run on 110 volts, bring a converter. Plugs are three-pin, square peg (as in Britain). Game lodges use generators , which shut down at midnight. Camps in Tanzania only use generators for a few hours per day, however this is usually enough to recharge video batteries. Remember this is remote Africa, so don’t count on electricity.
HOW IS PHOTOGRAPHY IN KENYA?
Africa, and particularly Kenya, is a photographer’s dream! A camera will record all those unbelievable and spectacular sights you’ll want to share with friends. It is, by our recommendation, a must. For the best shots we suggest a good 35mm camera with a 35-70 mm zoom lens, and a long lens, such as 80-200mm or even a 300mm to shoot the multitude of rare birds or capture the full drama of the animals you see. Capturing all the thrills of safari on video is also a great idea. Professional photographers may want to have a look at our Photographic tours.
NOTE: Taking photographs at Airports, Harbors and Military installations is prohibited. If you would like to photograph people please ask and be willing to pay if they ask you to do so.
HOW IS THE FOOD?
Good! All meals – buffet-style American breakfast and sumptuous lunches and dinners – are included while on safari. In major cities, some of our safaris include only breakfast. This allows you to dine at some of the outstanding local restaurants. You’ll savor everything from African delicacies to international specialities on a Jungle Empire Safaris tour. All meals are prepared from freshly acquired vegetables and fruits. If anyone in your group is a vegetarian, please inform us, so we can indicate that to the lodges and hotels.
WHAT ABOUT THE WATER?
We at Jungle Empire Safaris only recommend bottled water. Whilst most hotels and lodges provide a thermos of drinking water in the rooms, we recommend that you buy drinking water from the food stores or from the lodges where you will be residing.
APART FROM MY SAFARI WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
There is a full range of optional tours and excursions you can take. Do visit our ready-made section . While in Nairobi the following optional excursions are available on request at an extra cost; Nairobi City Tour, Full Day Nairobi National Park, Bomas of Kenya for cultural shows, a visit to Daphne Sheldrick’s orphaned elephants. And while on safari you can take a Balloon ride over the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti in Tanzania. Walking safaris are also available and night game drives. This can be arranged with our office upon arrival in Kenya. The beaches are packed with activities which include water sports, dhow excursions and fishing. Just enquire from our tour leaders.
Not ready to return home yet? Extensions may be available to such exciting destinations as: Botswana,Victoria Falls, South Africa, Mombasa, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and Uganda.
WHAT’S THE LOCAL CURRENCY?
The standard unit of currency for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda is the Shilling, but their values differ greatly and they are not interchangeable. Your local bank can give you current exchange rates. Its not necessary to change your money before you leave as there are banks for currency exchange at all international airports and in most hotels. Note there is no restriction on the amount of currency you may bring into the country. As most of the services are prepaid we recommend that you only change your currency in bits. For example, you can start with US$200 and thereafter change as per need. The best place that will give a good exchange rate is the Forex Bureau.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP ON SAFARI?
Tipping is customary. To show your appreciation you may follow the appended suggestions: $20 per day per minibus (shared by the passengers) for your driver and $5.00. per person per day for the guides is the recommended amount for most tours; however remember this is not a bill so you can give more or less depending on satisfaction. Hotel and lodge porters $50 cents per person. At breakfast- $1.50 per table. At lunch $2 per table, at dinner $3 per table.
The exchange rates will vary with the currencies. As a guideline US$1 is equivalent to Kenya Shillings 78: Tanzanian Shillings 780 and Ugandan Shillings 7,800.
If you decide to, bring some small gifts for kids en-route, things like pens, pencils, small note books, small T-shirts, plastic watches (anything which does not cost more than one dollar). Remember to hand over these items to kids en-route, not in towns.
HOW DO I GET TO AFRICA?
You will be surprised to know that East Africa particularly Nairobi International Airport, is well served by a host of international airlines, some of them operating daily flights to Europe with convenient connections to the major cities of the world. Kenya Airways, the Kenyan national carrier, is in partnership with KLM and Northwest Airlines. From Nairobi, connections by road or air are elaborate.
WHAT ABOUT THE LANGUAGE?
English is the official language in Kenya and Uganda, and widely spoken in Tanzania whose most popular language happens to be Kiswahili. Numerous other dialects exist in the region, but you are comfortable if you speak English.
WHERE IN TOWN CAN I DINE?
Throughout Kenya there is an international variety of restaurants. Dining-out guides are available in bookstores. In general, food is of excellent quality and reasonably priced.