Safari Frequently Asked Questions

Who we are and our safari arrangements?

We are an African Kenya based tour company and we make all safari arrangements including hotel/lodges reservations. We have our own fleet and though our clients are from all other the world we do not arrange international flights.

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 Serengeti to the Masai Mara teeming with herds of a million wildebeest, to the pristine beauty of the Ngorongoro Crater, to the scenic viewing of game parks and reserves; this ancient land and its people offer a travel experience truly unlike any other. Eastern Africa in particular, in our opinion, provides travellers with the highest quality African wildlife and wilderness experience available.

Best safari time to travel?

Almost all the parks have great sightings all year round. Due to different habitats of the parks and reserves an overland safari comes handy and many maintain that June to September is the best time for Kenya and April to June, October –December for Tanzania.

Bottom line is that all year round there is plenty of wildlife to see and great birding activities. The mentioned months usually have less vegetation and wildlife can be viewed with relative ease. The nature reserves are at the time a bit crowded and as such recommended to make reservations much in advance.

What to bring?

From June-September the evenings can be quite cool. Be ready for this and pack some warm clothing for the evenings. Be ready to meet with an unexpected showers but this doesn't lower the temperatures too much. The guides know how to deal with this and it should be the least of your worries. Always have with you a wide-brim hat, insect repellant, sunscreen and sunglasses. Force yourself to drink water, lots of it, if you want to avoid headaches and lethargy from dehydration.

Would you advice taking a family to Africa?

Kenya and Tanzania are great destinations for families. Some of the lodges have arrangements to cater for young ones through children clubs that you can engages them a lot with games and nature activities. Many of the lodges and permanent tented camps have swimming pools that the kids can enjoy. Contact us for children arrangements and you will be informed accordingly. Some lodges do not accept children less than 7 years. If traveling with children indicate in the remarks on the reservation/inquiry form.

What do I require to enter East Africa?

The nearest consulate office will be the best to answer this question for especially for latest visa requirements. You should have a valid passport at least 6 months extra more than the planned stay. Visa for Kenya and Tanzania costs US$50 respectively. Arrange to have your visa in advance but can also be received on arrival at the airport.

Kinds of accommodation

This depends on personal taste and varies from Luxury safari lodges, hotels, bed & breakfast, Luxury tented camps and camp sites. Whatever your choice, advance booking is recommended. Each one of the accommodations is further explained below.

The kind of safaris and packages we offer?

Njewa Safaris, Tours & Travel Ltd offers the lodge safaris, fly-in, permanent tented camps, budget mobile camping. All of these are available for both of our Kenya and Tanzania safaris. More specific information is available on request.

Lodge safari:

Our safari guides drive you from lodge to lodge and do game drive excursions in each of the park/ reserves visited. These are facilities in the nature reserves. These offer great comforts. Works well for families with children and services such swimming pools, restaurant, bars are available.

Permanent tented camp safari:

Permanent tented camps are facilities in the nature reserves and are really permanent facilities. Safaris are operated by vehicle or fly-in packages. Accommodation varies from comfortable to luxurious tents. Usually these camps accommodate up to 50 or less people. They are facilities for smaller group of clients. This adds a personal feeling of closeness to the nature. Furnitures such as chairs, beds are included. Hot showers, cold water and flashing toilets

How many people for a safari to take off?

Our safaris are guaranteed to commence with a minimum of 2 people. The vehicles are 7-seaters. For safaris with more than 7 people we use 2 vehicles. Each person is assured a window seat.

What is a single supplement?

The hotels impose a minimal extra fee for single travelers. Safari prices are based on two people sharing a double-room accommodation. In the case of single travelers they pay the per-person and the single-supplement fee.

A single traveler can share a room with another single?

In addition, a single traveler can share a room with another single person as long as the other person is of the same sex and on condition they both agree to the arrangement.

How far in advance should I book my safari?

It is highly recommended to make arrangements for your safari in advance as far as possible. 4-6 months is most convenient and assures you availability especially during the months of the high season, July-mid September, Christmas-new year. This saves last minute searches which often find you compromising standards and with no guarantee of availability.

What type of vehicles do you use on safari?

Njewa Safaris, Tours & Travel Ltd uses safari mini-buses with open hatch (roof). All the vehicles have long distance two-way radios and maintained to provide great comfort during the drives.

What are the different cultures?

'African culture' is a very broad term and varies from country to country. A full explanation is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

Kenya: There exists over 40 tribes and over 65 dialects in Kenya. Some of these dialects can further be subdivided into related clusters of about 5 in each. Differences between some of the dialects can only be recognized by people who have been in Kenya long time. To the one-time visitor they are all the same. For example Kikuyu who forms the major group are related to Meru, Embu and Ndiga. Unfortunately all these tribal groups are loosing their traditional cultural values and tourism has its share in this. At the coast it is comprised more of a mixture of Arab, Indian, Ngiriama.

Tanzania lacks the widespread cultural heritage existing in Kenya, but also enjoys the African, Arab, European and Indian influences. The largest group is of Bantu origin including Dukuma, Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania are of Nilotic origin, as are the Samburu and Arusha.

What is the geographical formation like?

There are four geographical zones. The highlands, the coastal lowlands, savannah grassland, extinct volcanoes plus lakes and rivers. The Indian Ocean is shared also by Tanzania, with great beaches in Mombasa, Zanzibar among other coastal towns. The itinerary usually covers several or all of them depending on personal taste.

What are the road conditions?

In both Kenya and Tanzania, all the major roads are tarred. Not all of them are in good condition but accessible. In the National reserves the roads are of earth and rough.

What is the time difference East Africa?

Kenya: GMT +3 hours
Tanzania: GMT +3 hours
Uganda: GMT +3 hours

Is English language spoken widely?

Language is not a problem and English is widely spoken in East Africa. In the tour industry some of the guides also have added languages learnt in the local institutes. These are colleges put up to help cater for the wide safari industry.

What about food and water?

Any special dietary requirement can be catered for. For this inform us in advance and will be organized accordingly. On your itinerary you will see these letters , B,L,D. These are abbreviations. Each stands for: B > Breakfast, L > Lunch, D > Dinner. Gourmet cooks bake fresh breads, and produce soups, salads, and entrees that could easily grace tables at top restaurants around the world. Meals are international in flavor with soups, salads, cold meats, pasta dishes, meat and fish dishes, and breads. Your day normally starts with tea and biscuits before your morning activity. Returning to your lodge or camp late morning, brunch is enjoyed - cereals, fruit, bacon, eggs, sausage, and toast. Buffet lunches are typical with a warm dish such as stew served with salads, quiches and cold meats. Dinner consists of an appetizer followed by meat, fish and pasta dishes served with assorted vegetables and sauces. Dinner is followed by coffee (or tea), cheeses, and gorgeous desserts.

Avoid drinking or even brushing your teeth with tap water in your rooms. Drink only bottled water.

Are there any medical precautions?

Travellers to East Africa should start with long term basic health protection. This means vaccinations against Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow fever and Hepatitis A. It is mandatory for Kenya and Tanzania visitors be vaccinated for Yellow fever. You have to prove this so bring your inoculation card and it will be checked at the airport.

East Africa has some parts with Malaria. It advisable that you consult your doctor for information on Malaria prevention preparation and most updated information on health to the third world.

Don't go in the sun in the middle of the day, and be especially careful when swimming, snorkeling. This will avoid earning you a good chance in the melanoma lottery.

If you intend to do mountain climbing be prepared with necessary altitude sickness medication from your doctor. Otherwise known as AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness.

Symptoms:

Dizziness, nausea, headaches, insomnia, breathlessness, loss of appetite.

Cure: rest, eat well, drink lots of water and don't ascend further. You should be fine in a couple of days. To avoid this take time to accrimatize.

Stage 2: dry cough, vomiting, confusion, loss of balance and co-ordination. Pulmonary oedema.

What is meant by ensuite rooms

These are rooms with private toilets and showers located within your room. They apply to both lodges and luxury permanent tented camps. Also en-suite. On budget camping the facilities are communal.

What photography advice can you give?

Souvenir photos can be taken. This requires some patience and excellent timing. The regular family camera is usually not enough for wildlife that is far. A camera with a 200-300 mm comes handy in this case. Dedicated photographers can use telephoto lens of 400-500 mm. If you have big lens bring with a light tripod stand for stability and a teleconverter (2 x) to help double the focal length. Bring with you ample films and batteries. These can also be bought in the lodges or tourist centres. At the moment of writing this page it is forbidden to photograph government institutions, military personnel (police, army, border police) Some cultures eg, Masai are very sensitive so be careful when you photograph and to consult the guide on the various circumstances.

Will I be able to recharge my video camera batteries?

If a camp or lodge is connected to electricity mains or has a generator you may be able to recharge your video batteries. Many camps and lodges have the correct adapter plugs however we recommend that you bring your own plug and converter. One of the best options for recharging video batteries is an adapter allowing you to recharge from a vehicle battery.

Is there electricity at the safari lodges and camps?

Electricity in East Africa and is 220/240 volts. Most safari lodges and camps are not connected to an electrical supply. Solar lighting (backed up by batteries) is common, with many lodges having a generator which runs part of the day (morning and late evening). Lanterns also provide light at night. In most areas you will not be able to use a hairdryer or electric shaver.

What type of baggage / luggage should I take?

Luggage should be kept to a minimum - 12 kg's / 26 pounds per person packed in a soft duffel bag (15 kg's per person on Exclusive Series safaris). Hard sided suitcases and soft-sided internal frame carry on luggage are not acceptable as they will not fit in the baggage compartment on small aircraft which are often used for transfers between lodges and camps. On safaris that have no small aircraft transfers the weight and size allowance is not as important however you should still strive to bring as little as possible. Remember – Laundry service is offered at most safari camps and lodges at an extra cost unless otherwise stated.

Why big five?

The leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo were the top of list of traditional fun-hunters who came to Africa. 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.

Do I need Travel insurance?

It is always advisable to have travel insurance while visiting East Africa just like any other parts of the world. An element of personal risk that is of hazardous nature is involved in all the expeditions. Members in such an expedition must accept this risk. You are advised to take out an Insurance policy to cover personal accidents and medical expenses. This can be arranged on request.

What airlines fly to East Africa?

Many of the major world airlines such as KLM, British Airways, South African Airways, and Swissair and Kenya Airways fly into East Africa several times a week.

Njewa Safaris, Tours & Travel Ltd does not arrange for international flights but can recommend where to get reasonably priced airline tickets from most major cities in the United States via either Europe (London or Amsterdam) or via South Africa to the starting point of your safari. Flying via Europe, you can find great rates for flights aboard Northwest / KLM, British Airways Kenya Airways and others.

Flying from the USA via South Africa you would fly aboard a combination of Delta to either New York or Atlanta and then non-stop to South Africa aboard South African Airways. From South Africa you would continue aboard South African Airways, Kenya Airways or another airline to your final destination for the start of your safari. Njewa Safaris, Tours & Travel Ltd handle internal flight arrangements within East Africa.

Is it safe to visit East Africa?

In general petty theft does occur in East Africa's major cities and towns. Visitors should take the same care as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets, and cameras when walking in crowded places. Avoid walking at night and place valuables in safe deposit boxes at hotels.

While at safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far removed from human settlement and crime is virtually non existent. We advise that valuables be locked away or kept under the supervision of the camp or lodge manager while on safari.

Aren't wild animals dangerous?

While viewing wildlife there is a degree of danger as the behavior of wild animals cannot be guaranteed. However most animals are frightened by the sight / smell of humans and rather than attack, will flee (unless cornered or provoked). Attacks on humans are rare.

While on safari you will be accompanied by a Njewa Safaris, Tours & Travel Ltd guides who are well trained (KPSGA Guides) & armed with an amazing understanding of the wildlife with which they share their lives on a daily basis.

At your tented camp or lodge it is not uncommon for wildlife to wander through as camps & lodges are typically not fenced. An attack on a sleeping traveler would be highly unusual. However please never venture outside your accommodation at night without your guide. Always consult with your guide/s when in doubt.

Is tipping recommended?

Tipping at restaurants (at your discretion) is 10%. Tipping on safaris, at lodges and camps is always welcomed but the amount varies greatly. It is often best to tip the drivers, guides and lodge manager who will distribute your tip amongst the lodge or camp staff. As a rough estimate you can tip US $5 to US $10 for each traveler per day at each lodge / camp. Alternatively you can give the tips to African Sermon Safaris head office who will make sure that all those who are involved will get a share of the money.

How much money should I bring? Cash or travelers cheques? Are credit cards accepted?

You will need very little spending money on most safaris as the majority of meals and activities are included in your package cost. You will need to pay for lunch, dinner, and drinks when you are staying at hotels on a bed and breakfast basis as is the case at most lodges and hotels in cities. Bills may be settled by US cash, by travellers check, or by credit card (accepted at most lodges, camps, hotels).

Credit cards may be used in large towns at restaurants and shops with MasterCard and Visa being most accepted. However, use may be restricted in small towns and country areas and non-existent in small retail shops.

Automatic teller machines (ATM's) are situated outside most banks in towns and cities in East Africa, and international credit cards often can be used to withdraw currency. However, as Africa is unpredictable please do not rely on ATM machines for your currency needs.

Should we purchase local currency?

US cash or travelers checks may changed into local currency at airports and banks. Small bills (US $1, US $5, US $10, and US $20) are best. Always keep your receipt so that when you depart you may change your money back to US dollars.

What is there to buy in East Africa?

Shopping while on safari is limited. Often lodges and camps have small curio shops where you can buy postcards, local goods such as carvings or books, clothing (hats, shirts), and film. At airports and in larger towns you will find African curio markets where you can by all sorts of carvings, masks, drums, jewelry etc...in general souvenirs and curios are inexpensive (in US dollar terms) - still, fun spirited bartering is the norm.

In most cities there are up market jewelers and art galleries where you can easily spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on African art. Most reputable shops offer shipping of your purchase at extra cost.

For any additional questions you may have on Kenya Safari advice and counseling, Travel insurance, Kenya safari packages, family safari, African Safari FAQ, Safari Questions, Travel Kenya Tanzania questions, safari advice, Kenya tour information, booking tour, safari preparation to Kenya tour, please contact us for further personalised advice.