Is it safe is it to Travel to Africa?
The countries in East Africa are quite safe to visit. The same travel safety principles apply for any large cities in the world, e.g. don’t carry valuables in plain view, keep cameras out of sight when not in use, don’t go walking alone at night, ask hotel managers about the safety of visiting specific areas which are unknown to you, be aware of your surroundings, leave valuables including passports, air tickets and excess funds in the hotel safe or safety deposit boxes. Travellers on escorted groups are the least at risk. Self-drive clients should plan travel routes in advance. If travelling by car, make sure the doors are locked at all times. Don’t leave bags or personal items on view on seats. While on safari in the bush pay close attention to briefings from your guide or ranger. Both are highly experienced in the presence of wild animals. www.smarttraveller.gov.au.
Do all African countries require Visas for Australian passport holders?
Passports must have a validity of at least 6 months longer than your intended stay overseas. Visas to some African countries are required for Australian passport holders. They can be purchased on arrival in most countries, but please note, for entry into certain countries a visa must be applied for online prior to travel. Some visa fees are payable in US Dollars cash only. Some countries have a requirement making it necessary to have a certain number of blank pages in your passport. Please check with each countries consulate or go to www.smarttraveller.gov.au.
What are the ‘Big Five’?
The Big Five game animals are Lion, Leopard, African elephant, Cape buffalo and Rhinoceros. The term “Big Five” was actually created by big game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot, and therefore the kills that were most highly prized. So rather than their size, the members of the Big Five were chosen for the degree of danger involved when they were cornered and shot at. As tourism took off, safari tour operators adopted the term for marketing purposes and the power of the name has attracted countless people to Africa.The Big Five can be found in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, but make sure you do your research so you visit the right parks to see the specific animals you are interested in. For more experienced safari goers, it can be fun to seek out the “Little Five” which have been labelled based on their corresponding names to the Big Five – the Ant Lion, Leopard tortoise, Elephant shrew, Buffalo weaver, and Rhinoceros beetle. Of course, Africa overflows with a diversity of wildlife and most people would include other animals on their personal Top Five list.
What should I pack for a safari holiday?
Casual clothing is all that is required in most of Africa. However, it is often important that you carry only a limited amount of light clothing, preferably cottons, for your stay in the bush. Clothing should be in neutral colours – khaki, beige, bush green. A good guideline is three sets of socks, underwear, slacks/shorts, and shirts. One jumper or cardigan. A hat is essential! In winter take warm clothing for the evenings – a fleece and long pants. Flying safaris are more restricted as the aircraft sometimes allow only around 12kg of luggage per person, but many lodges and camps in the remote areas offer a complimentary laundry service to assist. Check with one of our consultants before travelling. Laundry services are available in almost all resorts. A comprehensive list of recommended items will be availed at the time of safari booking.
Do you need casual clothing or is there occasional need to dress more?
Smart casual is recommended in the evenings for dinner. High heels are not necessary , nor recommended except for beach holidays where most people will dress up for dinner
What camera equipment do you recommend for safari?
A good 35mm camera with a telephoto lens will reward you with superb shots, as well as a good supply of memory cards for the digital users
Do you tailor-make safaris for groups or individuals?
Yes we can tailor a safari for an individual or for larger groups. Contact us for further information.
Do you offer family safaris? (Liliane provide insight of kids ages on safari)
Africa provides outstanding value for families and more properties are now making it easy to travel with young children. However, some destinations and establishments cater better for children than others. In most regions children under the age of six years are generally not allowed on game drives in the parks and reserves, and some properties do not accept children under 12 years of age. Most lodges have swimming pools and baby-sitting services, and some have specialised children’s programmes. We can advise on these so please contact us for more specific information.
In East Africa, they use the three-pin socket and voltage of 220 – 240w. You can bring the universal charger for your phones, cameras, and electrical appliances.
You may bring your medication and equipment, like sleep apnea machine. The lodges/camps will provide a fridge if need be. With enough notice, we can allocate a vehicle with a fridge to store medications etc
What currency should I carry?
United States Dollars is accepted for most of Africa, Take small denomination notes for tips and other minor expenditure. Avoid the larger $100 as the currency exchange is quiet high. ATM machines and money changes are readily located in most major cities, at airports and casinos. Most credit cards are accepted, but sometimes you may be charged a 4% surcharge. At the airport, you will be able to convert Australian Dollars in local currencies and there are forex exchanges in the major cities where you will be able to convert your currency as well.
Is internet available everywhere in Africa?
Most city hotels will have internet connection either in the room or in a business centre. Internet cafes are readily found in urban areas. Some safari lodges and camps also offer this facility, mostly in the common areas. Most of the cafes in the major cities offer free internet as well
Can I use my Mobile Phone in Africa?
Yes, there is extensive coverage throughout East Africa. Before travelling, ask your mobile phone service provider to allow international roaming which can be costly. It is possible to get prepaid phone cards on arrival at major airports which is a cheaper option
Do you require insurance when travelling in Africa?
All travellers must be adequately insured against all eventualities and circumstances. This applies anywhere in the world. You should not travel to Africa without having organised your travel insurance sorted first. There are many companies offering travel insurance, so ask one of our consultants to find out more. We also cover you for evacuation on the Flying Doctor services throughout East Africa
What types of food do they have in Africa?
Most lodges and safari camps have restaurants and licensed bars, and the food offered ranges from good basic meals to gourmet style. The standard of food in lodges and camps is generally very good. It is possible to get vegetarian and most other food preferences. If you have any special dietary requirements let us know in advance and we should be able to cater for you. As a rule, do not eat anything purchased at the side of the road and wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
Can we drink water anywhere in Africa?
Bottled or mineral water is recommended which is readily available at the lodges and shops
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a dangerous disease, but if you take your anti-malarial tablets, your chances of contracting it are extremely slim. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes which are more active at night, so all travellers are advised to wear long pants and cover their arms and shoulders at night and avoid wearing perfume or aftershave lotion. Sleep under mosquito netting where possible and use tropical strength mosquito repellent.
What health condition should I be aware of?
Doctors are understandably ultra-cautious, and their advice should be heeded. It is best to take prescription medication with you. However, cities and towns all have drug stores/pharmacies equipped with everything one requires. On safari you will generally be quite remote from pharmacies. In some countries, Yellow Fever is compulsory and inoculation certificates must be carried with you. It is also important to disclose of any conditions that may need medical attention to your safari planner
A lot of accommodation is tented, how safe is it?
Many tents used on our tours are much larger than the average residential bedroom and are mostly on permanent sites with ensuite facilities. They are perfectly secure. In camps that are unfenced or open to animal traffic, visitors are escorted to and from the tent after dark by an experienced ranger.
What is the right time to travel to Africa?
East Africa is a year-round destination. From June to October, its regarded as the ‘Safari Season’ but note that African nights can be very cold so warm clothing is a must for early morning and night game drives. In East Africa the long rains are from early April through to early June, and the short rains from late November through December. July to September is generally extremely busy in East Africa due to the attraction of the “Migration” that occurs between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, but temperatures are comfortable apart from high humidity on the East African coast.
Time Difference
Melbourne and Sydney are 7 hours ahead of East Africa and during day light saving its 8 hours
Who will pick me up from the Airport and Drop me in Africa?
Our highly trained staff will be waiting for you at the airport with a plaque with your name on it to take you to your hotel. The driver will be the one who will be with you throughout the trip and will ensure that you get to your destination safely and on time.
What happens if I was to get sick in Africa?
If you unfortunately fall sick while on safari, our partners are members of the flying doctors service and they will fly you to the nearest hospital for medical attention
What kind of activities are available on Safari?
There are many different types of activities available while on safari, including open vehicle game drives, guided walks, bird watching, boating, canoeing, Yoga, horse riding in the wild, Golf, kissing a giraffe, adventure – based activities like white water rafting, helicopter rides and balloon trips over the Serengeti or the Masai Mara. Cultural village visits are also popular and many more that are all listed on our website
Tipping in Africa ?
Tips are expected while on safari and we shall give you a tipping guideline at the time of booking
English is spoken by over 70% of the population. The national language is Swahili and is spoken in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In Rwanda, they mainly speak in French and English. You will not have any issues with communication as most of the people speak in English.
Photography and Filming
Photography is prohibited within the government and military buildings and personnel. Your local guide will guide you and where you can take pictures. Professional filming requires a separate government licence.
Can I use Uber?
If you get a local sim card, you will be able to get your uber account but we would not recommend it. If you want to go into the city for the night life, we can organise for a car and driver to come pick you up and drop you back. Charges may apply
How hot is it?
Temperatures are warm and pleasant with an average high of 28°C and an average low of 15°C.
When Should I travel?
There is no single best time to visit East Africa but there are rainy and dry seasons. Each has its advantages and each destination has its best moments, not least in the Masai Mara/Serengeti where the seasonally-driven wildebeest migration takes place. If you have already decided when you are going on safari, it's now time to choose where to travel to; if your dates are flexible, you can plan your safari better by understanding East Africa's seasonal trends. We've split the year up into three periods to coincide with the main phases of the wildebeest migration and the rainy seasons. DECEMBER TO MARCH Expect warm temperatures and short rains. Game viewing in the Serengeti, diving in Zanzibar and gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda are excellent choices now. Weather: This is summer in East Africa. Temperatures are warm and pleasant with an average high of 28°C and an average low of 15°C. The rains from early November to late March are usually scattered and localised with short-lived downpours. There is often heavy rain in late March. Where to go: • The Serengeti As the mid-November rains begin, the wildebeest herds move onto the southern and eastern plains of the Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. If you want to see predators in action, the February calving season provides plenty of drama. • The Great Rift Valley In terms of birdlife, Kenya's Rift Valley lakes are at their peak in January and February. Flamingos gather at Lake Lake Bogoria, Lake Natron in their hundreds of thousands and the pink mass they create is a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming spectacle. • Mount Kilimanjaro If you want the best conditions to climb Africa's highest peak, go during warm and dry January and February. • Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda & Uganda Late December to early March sees the driest weather in Uganda and Rwanda: gorilla treks are easier and the views better. • Zanzibar Visit between late December and early March. Temperatures are a little higher than during the cooler and drier late June to October period but it's less crowded and you'll get better deals on accommodation and air fares. APRIL TO JUNE Don't be put off by the long rains: safaris are still good in East Africa It's also less expensive and popular destinations are less crowded. Weather: The long rains arrive and heavy showers can be expected for a few hours every day or so. Avoid the hot and humid East African coast at this time as well as Uganda and Rwanda - rain is torrential. JULY TO NOVEMBER Mild temperatures and classic dry-season game viewing make these months a popular time to visit East Africa. Book accommodation and tours well in advance, especially if it's the wildebeest migration you want to see. Visitor numbers peak in August. Weather: The October to December short rains in Tanzania and central Kenya notwithstanding, these months are mostly dry and sunny forcing animals to gather at permanent water. July to September offers the most pleasant weather in East Africa, especially along the coast.
Where to go in Africa ?
Western Serengeti By early July the wildebeest and zebra herds have arrived in the western Serengeti and the Grumeti Reserves. Not only are big cats highly visible at this time but this is when the herds have to cross crocodile-infested rivers - prepare for Jurassic-style drama. • Northern Serengeti As the dry season wears on, the animals move across the northern Serengeti as they make their way back to the Masai Mara though the Mara River has to be crossed first. Game viewing in this region is now excellent. • Masai Mara By mid-August, the herds have flooded Kenya's Masai Mara where they remain until early October. This is when game viewing in the Masai Mara is at its peak. • Gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda If you can't go gorilla trekking in January and February, the next best option is to go in the relatively dry months of June to August. • Mount Kilimanjaro September is a great month to climb Kilimanjaro but so are July and August if you don't mind colder temperatures. • Zanzibar The coolest and driest time to visit Zanzibar is between late June and October - great for families - but this is also when the island is at is busiest and accommodation rates and air fares are at their peak. • Tarangire National Park Smaller and less visited than the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire comes into its own from July to November when enormous numbers of animals are drawn to the life-giving Tarangire River. Elephant viewing is outstanding and your chances of seeing Africa's top predators in action are high.
Where can I get more information from?
For more information go to smart traveller website. The Australian Government has put together a comprehensive guide for each of the countries in east Africa https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/