Why should I go on safari in East Africa?Africa remains the last outpost of raw adventure, a refuge from the modern world. From the splendor of the Masai Mara/Serengeti teeming with herds of a million wildebeest, to the pristine beauty of the Lake Nakuru/Ngorongoro Crater, to the scenic viewing of game parks and forgetting the gorilla tracking at Queen Elizabeth National Park. This ancient land and its people offer a travel experience truly unlike any other. Eastern Africa in particular, in our opinion, provides travelers with the highest quality African wildlife, mountain climbing and beach relaxation experience of a lifetime.
When is the best time to go on a safari? All Year Round! But it also really depends on the type of animal you wish to see and your budget. 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 (Jan to March and July – October) is the best time to go on safari, There is no rain, 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 Kenya and Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the migration of over two million animals. However for budget travelers (April to June and November to Mid December) is the low season so you can take advantage of the special offers and sometimes even pay half the price of high seasons.
How do I get to East Africa? East Africa can be reached by regular international flights to its major cites ie Nairobi, Dare salaam and Kampala. There are many airlines operating direct flights to Nairobi from Europe, United States and Asia. You can also get easy connections where there are no direct flights. You might choose to approach your local travel agent for assistance regarding the flight connections. Please Contact us for more options! We however arrange flights within Africa.
What are the entry requirements? All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. Nationals of certain countries do not require visas – this depends on the country you are visiting. It is advisable to check with the Embassy of the country that you intend visiting for the latest visa and entry requirements. The list below contains the current visa requirements applicable to most American and European countries.
What should I pack? Temperatures in 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.
Your packing list should include: • Long sleeved shirts, pants and socks to protect from mosquito bites • A small flashlight and batteries • Adapter plugs and convertors for electrical devices • Sun glasses, sun hat and sun screen • Long skirts, t-shirts, sweaters, pants, tops and flip flops • Good walking shoes • A good camera , batteries and a charger • Insect repellent • Light rain gear for summer months • Warm clothes for the morning and evening • Binoculars • Basic medical kit • Bright colors and white are not advised for a safari but are good for the beach • Camouflage is illegal- Military wear
Do I need to know the local languages? No. English is spoken throughout East and Southern Africa, especially by those involved in the tourist trade. European and Middle Eastern languages spoken in Africa include German (Namibia) and Arabic (Tanzania). At a reasonable fee, you can get a driver / guide who speaks your local language. Our drivers speak various languages and we have specialists for French, Spanish, Italian, Swahili, Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Russian.
How is the local food? Great International cuisines is available at all the hotels you will be staying. Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Africa if you need. 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).
Is Africa a good family destination? Africa offers outstanding value for families. However, some destinations and establishments cater more fully for the enjoyment of children than others. In Kenya, children five years old and younger are generally not allowed on game drives in the parks and reserves. Travel to Tanzania is not recommended for children younger than eight years old. In Botswana and Zambia many lodges do not take children under 12 years. Most lodges have swimming pools and baby-sitting services. Please contact us for more specific information.
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 – October and Christmas/New Years). This is especially important for those wishing to travel on private custom safaris and those adding extensions to scheduled trips.
How many people do you take on a safari? We believe “Less is more!” Small group travel allows for flexibility and informality, which is why our journeys operate with a maximum of 14 travelers. Because groups are small, we’re able to accommodate the interests of our travelers while allowing plenty of opportunities for independent exploration. We offer the ease and flexibility of independent travel without the hassles. Some of our safaris have guaranteed departures with a minimum of two people and are limited to a maximum of 14 people (if more than 7 people are on a safari, we use two vehicles). Other safaris especially the tailor-made can depart on a day of your choice. As a rule, each person has a window seat guarantee. Some of the camping safaris require a minimum of 4 people and allow a maximum of 12 people per departure. But Kencher Tours is able to combine you with other people or if you want to go alone or two of you we are able to customize the way you want it. we value our visitors more than anything else at Kencher Tours.
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. It is the excess cost you pay in occupying a room designated to take two people by yourself alone.
Can single Travelers join a group and share a room with other single travelers? Some people frequently ask if they can travel alone or join a group? With us the answer is Yes! provided there is another single traveler of the same sex, on the same safari, and the other person is naturally willing to share! So, go on and join today! This is a great way to meet like-minded people from all over the world, of all ages and interests!
Can I use a credit card to pay for my safari? Yes you can pay via debit or credit card but only at our offices. Paying online using a card may be difficult because online card merchant services are not available in Kenya. Credit cards in Kenya are accepted at the point of sale. Therefore it is advisable to send payment via money order or wire bank transfer to our bank account.
What type of vehicles do you use on safari? Kencher Tours and Safaris uses customized 4×4 vans with pop up roofs or 4×4 land cruisers. The later being more Pricy. The specific vehicle used on a particular safari depends on the country and the reserves to be visited. All vehicles are equipped with two-way radios and are maintained to provide the maximum level of comfort and safety.
Who goes on safari? An Africa Safari is 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 motivation incentive as well as a family vacation.
What kinds of animals will I see? In a typical day you can expect to see 15 to 40 animal species- lions, elephants, giraffes and rhinos, to name a few. Buffalo and wildebeest may be in herds of hundreds or more. Others, like the swift cheetah, are more likely to be found alone. And then there are the birds, over 300 species! Birds in Africa are particularly colorful and easy to spot. Even if you’ve never looked at a bird before, with the help of your driver you’ll easily learn to identify twenty to thirty of the most striking and beautiful birds of Africa. Experienced birders can expect to see 60 to 100 different species in a single day. A special thrill is in store if your safari coincides with the annual wildebeest migration. You’ll see thunderous herds of wildebeest and zebra, totaling more than 1 million, stretching across the horizon. On their trail follow the predators the big cats, and the scavengers hyenas, jackals and vultures.
How close will I get to the animals? Because you are traveling in protected game reserves, many of the animals have no fear as long as you are in a 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 as closely as you study them. But natural behavior will only continue if you give the animals some space and are quiet. If you go too close, or talk too loudly, the animals may just leave. Most animals will be more interesting if allowed the space to continue their natural behaviors- stalking, mating, playing with their young. Your driver will know the best viewing distance. Please do not encourage him to “stalk” or otherwise interfere with hunting or other activities crucial to the animal’s survival.
Is a safari dangerous? No, not if you stay within the marked boundaries of your lodge or in your minibus. Your guide and driver know what is, and is not, safe. Incidents involving animals are rare in East Africa and are, almost without fail, the result of someone doing what they have been advised not to do. Nairobi is a big, bustling city. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry, hold onto your purse and camera bag, beware of clever conmen and don’t walk in the city at night. Do not wear money belts, since they can easily be cut off from the rear. It is always a good idea when you travel to keep a photocopy of your passport in your suitcase and another at home. It’s a fact that traveling on safari is safer than traveling in most U.S. cities. The people are friendly, and the government patrols the game parks – their most treasured resource- for the safety and benefit of all.
How is the African Weather? Great! almost all year round! Because of the high elevation (3000 to 8000 feet above sea level), and proximity to the equator, there is a pleasant weather throughout the year. The “dry” season is July through October, and December through March. During this time you may expect to find the greatest concentrations of animals because they will congregate around the remaining water holes. The dirt roads may be dusty, but should not prove to be a major discomfort. The relatively “rainy” season includes the month of April, May, and November. During this time the landscape is beautifully green, and there are fewer tourists. The animals are more dispersed, so will be harder to spot. Expect showers interspersed with beautiful sunny skies. Many travelers prefer to go on safari during these months. If your itinerary includes a coastal resort, the best times for you to visit are August through October, and December through March. Stay abreast on African Weather at; WEATHER.COM :: CNN WEATHER :: BBC WEATHER
When is the migration? The ” Great Migration ” is the heralded movement of millions of wildebeest and zebras across Tanzania’s Serengeti plains into the Masai Mara game reserve of Kenya, from late June through early October. Tanzania’s annual migration occurs March through May and October through November. Whether you catch the migration or not, there will always be plenty of animals, more than you could ever imagine. And you could take the same safari at the same time every year and always see something different. Nothing remains the same, because the animals are constantly on the move in search of fertile grasslands.
How experienced is my safari guide? Bonfire Adventures safari staff have has escorted over 10,000 visitors on safari to Africa. Years of first-hand experience mean that your every need has been anticipated and all our tours have been thoroughly proven. Each vehicle has its own local driver/guide. These well-trained professionals make their living by knowing every inch of ground, making sure you have a good time. Their keen eyes and experience give them the uncanny ability to spot birds and wildlife all along the way. In addition to their wealth of knowledge about wildlife, they are happy to tell you all about life in their native land. One of the hardest parts of leaving Africa is saying good-bye to your driver, who will have become a wonderful friend and companion. For most programs there is a naturalist guide in addition to your driver. These dedicated professionals are with you at all times to make sure that your every need is attended to, answer all your questions, and give informative briefings on the reserves you visit, the birds and wildlife you see, and the people you meet. They can explain animal behavior, pointing out the matriarch in a herd of elephants or the zebra’s unique way of listening for predators. We are particularly proud of the outstanding quality of our guides.
How do I approach the local people? Most Africans are extremely polite by the world standards. By keeping an open mind and going out of your way to be courteous and respectful, you’ll win friends and much more likely to get your way. Never photograph locals without asking their permission first. This may require a fee, which your guide can help you negotiate. Please DO NOT hand out candy, ballpoint pens, or trinkets to children. It encourages them to wait for handouts from well meaning visitors rather than going to school.
What will I do on safari? Your typical day on safari begins with a game drive after an early breakfast. You return to your lodge or tented camp around 11 AM. After lunch you’ll have time to nap, swim or read about what you’re seeing. Around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., you’ll be invited on another game drive, until dusk. On some days, there is the possibility of an early sunrise drive, with tea or coffee beforehand and breakfast afterwards, or even a night game drive or a walking safari, where park rules permit. On the days that you travel to new game parks, you will generally leave right after breakfast, arriving at the next lodge in time for lunch, a swim and afternoon game drive. Often there are stops to visit interesting features along the way.
What kind of clothes do I wear on safari? We will however provide the participants with complimentary safari hats and T-shirt. Khaki and cotton travel well, and pale earth colors such as brown, tan or olive are best for viewing wildlife and birds. Camouflage clothes are illegal in many African countries. Solid-colored safari clothes, however, are practical and widely available; Comfortable walking shoes, such as topsiders or *running/tennis shoes with socks, are recommended over sandals; thorns are everywhere, and socks with your shoes deter mosquito bites. Include a lightweight raincoat or jacket, and a swimsuit (many lodges have pools.) A nice dress is useful for hotels, clubs, casinos and restaurants in Nairobi, where men need to wear a jacket and tie. The 5star Safari game lodges will not seat dinner guests wearing vests, shorts, swim wear. As for beach hotels they do enforce a dress code of “Smart Casual.” Safari/Bermuda shorts are unwelcome at most dining rooms; visitors should dress conservatively in Islamic communities (Lamu, Mombasa, Zanzibar;) long sleeves and long pants also deter mosquitoes and sunburn. Laundry service is available at most lodges and even tented camps, but be very clear about when you need your clothes returned. Take at least three changes of clothes for a week on safari, plus your own detergent to wash a few things. Dry cleaners are rarer than rhinos. The best advice is to travel light, and wear cotton.
What luggage should I bring? Travel lightly. On international flights, each person is allowed a maximum of two pieces of luggage with a combined weight not exceeding 44 pounds in most cases. We recommend two smaller bags rather than one large suitcase. “Squashable” suitcases, Overnight bags, duffel bags, etc. are ideal. While you’re on safari, additional baggage can be safely stored at your hotel. The baggage allowance on local planes within East Africa is 33 pounds. Even more important than weight is the size of the bags. Large suitcases cannot be stowed on light aircraft. Again, soft luggage is recommended. A few changes of clothes, your camera equipment, and toiletries are really all you should need. If you plan to do any trekking include a small backpack.
What about my baggage? You are allowed two normal size pieces of luggage not exceeding 44 lbs. per person on the international flight. However, on chartered aircraft within Africa, the baggage allowance may be 33 lbs, and in small planes, the limit is 26 lbs., including your camera gear. Please read your itinerary carefully and pack accordingly. In many cases you can plan to leave a larger bag behind in the capital or port of entry city, and take only a small duffle bag on safari. In most cases, arrangements have been made for storage of your luggage while on safari, but all baggage is the tour member’s responsibility while on tour. If possible, we do recommend baggage insurance.
Is there electricity in the bush? Game lodges use generators, which shut down at bedtime. Camps in Tanzania only run generators for a few hours per day, however this usually is enough to recharge video batteries. Remember this is the Bush so don’t count on electricity. You may carry a tourch to use at night after the lights are switched off.
How much money should I take? Aside from shopping, you need money for drinks, tips and incidentals. Experience has shown that most clients spend between $400 and $500. The shops are full of tempting items. Major credit cards and travelers checks are accepted in major hotels and stores, but some game lodges and rural shops accept only cash. We also recommend that you take traveler’s checks rather than cash with you. Do not keep all valuables in one place, such as a purse, that could be lost. It’s a good idea, if you have more than one credit card to keep the second in a separate pocket or locked in the hotel safe. Your airline ticket will be collected by our office upon arrival in Nairobi for reconfirmation of your return flights.
How do I get cash for my personal use? Since you will be met upon arrival at the airport and escorted to your hotel, you will not need any local currency before you reach the hotel, where you can obtain it. However, if time permits, airport exchanges often give better rates than hotels. There is now a large number of registered For-Ex Bureaus where you can change your money safely and at excellent rates. Major Credit Cards are often accepted in larger towns and at lodges, but in markets and with vendors along the road, cash works best, and bargaining is expected. We recommend that you take traveler’s checks rather than carrying large amounts of cash. Many travelers find it useful to carry a hand calculator to estimate dollar values while shopping. ATM machines are not widespread and may only be found in major capitals; consult your own bank before departure.
What happens in case of an emergency or sickness? You are advised to get a travel insurance before embarking on safari to cover for lost property and medical and emergency. The insurance is available locally at an added cost. Please enquire for more details on how you can get the cover. If you have purchased your cover and in the event of an emergency or sudden sickness while you’re on safari in East Africa, we guarantee medical evacuation to a hospital. The medical facilities in Nairobi offer a full staff of professionals along with state-of-the-art testing equipment. Your cover will pay for the Flying Doctors Service to come to your side. Most hotels and safari lodges you will visit has in-house doctor who will attend to you in case of a need.
How much should I tip on safari? Tips to driver/guides, tour managers and guides are own discretion, but customary they are highly appreciated for a job well done. For your Touguide/driver $5.00 per tourist per day is the recommended amount for most safaris. At lodges and camps, the recommended tips are $5.00 per tourist per day to be shared among camp personnel.
How are the accommodations? Bonfire Adventures uses only the finest accommodation available. Hotels in Nairobi are deluxe, with quality shops, restaurants, and amenities. The game lodges are imaginatively built with marvelous gardens and terraces. A typical lodge has bungalows spread across the grounds, a large central reception area, dining room, shops and an attractive outdoor swimming pool. Many have exercise room as well. Each room has twin beads and private bathroom with flush toilet and shower or bath. Tree hotels, such as the Ark or Mountain Lodge, are more rustic, yet feature great views from their lofty perspective, and each bedroom has its own private facilities. Some of our safaris feature permanent tented camps, with large canvas tents erected on concrete or wood platforms. They all have sewn-in floors and net screens. Comfortable beds and a private connecting bathroom with flush toilet and shower make for a most comfortable stay. Many even have swimming pools! Most permanent tented camps in Tanzania retain all the style and glamour of the famous mobile-tented camps. Sensitive to this fragile environment, these camps retain an elegant simplicity, yet offer every feature to ensure a comfortable stay: excellent meals: fine wines and liquors: insect proofed tents with twin beds: private hot water bucket shower: discreet safari toilet: free laundry service. Private camps are set up in private game viewing areas far from other tourists. Here you’ll have a chance to view game on foot, or by four-wheel drive vehicle with your highly trained naturalists guides. For most, these exclusive camps are the ultimate African experience.
How is the food? Good! All meals- buffet-style American or Continental 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 on your own at some of the outstanding local restaurants. Check the inclusions described for your specific tour. You’ll savor everything from African delicacies to international specialties on a East Africa safari! safari. The meals are well prepared, the menus varied, with fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meat amply provided. And food never tasted better than upon returning from an exciting day on safari.
How will I get around in East Africa? Most of your safari will be in deluxe late-model minibuses. At most tented camps, and in the Ngorongoro, Grater, you’ll travel in four-wheel drive vehicles. Everyone will have a window seat for best game viewing and photography. Every vehicle has its own professional driver/guide. One pair of binoculars and guidebooks is furnished to enhance your viewing pleasure. Roads outside major cities are often dirt or gravel and may be bumpy or dusty. You may happen to get temporarily stuck in a muddy patch if there is a heavy rain. It’s all part of the adventure and your driver is an expert in dealing with tough driving conditions. Some of our safaris feature short flights, thereby saving hours of surface travel. From this lofty perspective, you will appreciate the size and scope of the African plains, and enjoy the additional time allowed for game viewing drives.
Will there be any language problem? English is an official language in East Africa. All drivers, guides, lodge and camp staff and most people that you will meet in East Africa speak English. East Africa safari! also boasts to be one of the local companies that have multi-lingual driver guides who speak more than two foreign languages fluently! It’s fun to learn a few words and phrases of Swahili or other local languages, and your guide will help you along. You’ll enjoy sharing your smile and few simple courtesies with your African hosts.
Where’s the best shopping? Every place you travel in East Africa offers interesting gifts, usually at very attractive prices. Most lodges have gift shops stocked with high quality local crafts. Items such as baskets, beadwork, soapstone and woodcarvings, colorful fabrics-even spears and shields – are found in every little roadside shop. The fine stores in downtown Nairobi will tempt you with jewelry, semiprecious stones, leather goods, and traditional handicrafts. Expect to bargain everywhere in Africa- it is part of the fun. You’ll know you’ve hit the bottom price when your vendor lets you walk out the door empty handed!
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