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FAQs about African Safaris

>>CLIENT TESTIMONIALS
 
Q1:Why should I select Africa Serendipity for my Africa safari?
Q2:Why should I consider a trip to East Africa?
Q3:What should I consider in planning a trip to East Africa?
Q4:Do I need a Visa to travel to Kenya and/or Tanzania?
Q5:Is it safe to travel to (and what about crime in) Kenya and/or Tanzania?
Q6:What is the difference between a private safari and a group safari?
Q7:What kind of accommodations can I expect in Kenya and/or Tanzania?
Q8:What is a typical day like while on Safari?
Q9:What kind of food can I expect to be served in Kenya and/or Tanzania?
Q10:Can I drink the water and what about ice cubes?
Q11:What type of electrical power will I find in East Africa?
Q12:Should we drive between locations or should we fly?
Q13:What about my overall comfort?
Q14:Will I require any immunizations and/or medications?
Q15:Will there be snakes, flying insects, spiders or other “creepy crawlies”?
Q16:Is English spoken in Kenya and Tanzania?
Q17:What if something happens and I require immediate medical attention?
Q18:Should I purchase travelers insurance?
Q19:What type/s of currency do I need to have in East Africa?
Q20:Will there be any extra costs while in Kenya or Tanzania?
Q21:What about tipping?
Q22:What kind of clothes do I need?
Q23:What kind of luggage should I use?
Q24:Are there other activities besides wildlife viewing?
Q25:Does Africa Serendipity charge a Preparation Fee?
Q26:Does Africa Serendipity handle International air from our home city to East Africa?
Q27:Will I be able to be in contact with the outside world?

Q1: Why should I select Africa Serendipity for my Africa safari?
Kenya and Tanzania are the only countries in which we specialize and we at Africa Serendipity would like to share with you the wonders of this part of the world. We know how overwhelming just the thought of a trip to Africa can be. At Africa Serendipity we can provide outstanding service and advice about safari travel in East Africa. We will do it all so you can thoroughly enjoy your safari.

Q2: Why should I consider a trip to East Africa?
Kenya and Tanzania are known for prolific wildlife and open plains as far as the eye can see. Here are diverse modern and ancient lands, which can encompass game viewing, beautiful lakes, magnificent mountains and tropical coastlines. There are also strong ethnic groups and traditions which will offer you warm and welcoming hospitality. Kenya and Tanzania are doing their utmost to maintain the relationship between man and wildlife and tourism is one of the best ways to help these countries accomplish just that.

Q3: What should I consider in planning a trip to East Africa?
1) How many days/weeks do I have for this holiday?
2) What is my budget?
3) What am I interested in seeing/doing?

Q4: Do I need a Visa for travel to Kenya and/or Tanzania?
All visitors require a valid passport with at minimum 6-months remaining before expiration, sufficient blank pages for Visa/s and entry/departure stamps, and a return air ticket.

Visas – Visas are required for many passport holders. Please check with the respective embassies, well in advance, as processing can take from a few days to a few weeks. If you need Visas from both countries, this will only add to the amount of time required. Remember that it is your responsibility to obtain necessary Visas in advance of travel. Visas are usually valid from three months to six months, depending on the country. For US passport holders, the current price for a Tanzanian Visa is USD$100 and USD$50 for a Kenyan Visa. For most other countries, the current Visa fee for both Kenya and Tanzania is USD$50 each, but these amounts can change without notice. Contact the embassies at:
 

Embassy of the Republic of KenyaEmbassy of United Republic of Tanzania
2249 R Street, NW2139 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 387-6101Phone: (202) 939-6125
Fax: (202) 462-3829Fax: (202) 797-7408
Website: www.kenyaembassy.comWebsite: www.tanzaniaembassy-us.org

Q5: Is it safe to travel to (and what about crime in) Kenya and/or Tanzania?
Safety and security should be a concern regardless where one chooses to travel these days and travel to Africa is no different. Yet the media does have a morbid fascination with bad news from or warnings posted about travel to Africa. As a continent, Africa is quite large and an incident in one country doesn’t necessarily impact the entire continent, anymore then such an occurrence in your home city would. While it is true that some cities in East Africa might be more prone to crime then others, the vast majority of any incidents are targeted at people who live and work in the specific country. We at Africa Serendipity are in constant contact with our land outfitters in both countries, and their respective government authorities make enormous efforts to prevent tourists from being exposed to any such dangers.

Q6: What is the difference between a private safari and a group safari?
Traveling with a group can often be more cost-effective but you are often limited by prescheduled dates and must be willing to travel with strangers. While this has advantages – for single travelers especially – experience has taught us that most travelers have specific expectations, and if not met, are left disappointed. If a guide with a group is asked to continue on from one animal sighting when others may want to stay and watch, someone is not going to be pleased. Though specific animal sightings can never be guaranteed, at least with a private safari you have control of when to stay and when to go, without input from strangers.

Q7: What kind of accommodations can I expect in Kenya and/or Tanzania? In both Kenya and Tanzania you will have a wide array of accommodations from which to choose – classic or luxury hotels and lodges, permanent and semi-permanent tent camps, mobile-tent and adventure camping. Some of these may be luxuriously “over-the-top,” and others are simply comfortable, yet with all the necessary amenities. Many are powered by solar and/or generators, with pools and en-suite bathrooms. The exceptions are the mobile-tent safaris or adventure camping, where while you’ll sleep on comfortable cots with full bed-linens in the former, or sleeping-bags in the latter; light is provided by hurricane-type lamps, the shower will be rustic and your bathroom facilities might not be inside the tent and/or may be shared with others.

Q8: What is a typical day like while on Safari?
Each day will be different… each an adventure. Your days will begin with an early 5:30am wakeup, be served coffee or tea and cookies before heading out for the early game-drive at about 6:30am. After about 3-hours, you’ll return for a full breakfast. The rest of the morning you can use to simply relax, catch-up on sleep, go swimming (weather permitting). Lunch is served by 1pm. Between 3:30pm – 4:00pm you will depart on your afternoon game-drive; returning to camp/lodge around 6:30pm. You will have time to freshen up before “sundowners” at sunset; served dinner around 8pm.
Note: Night game-drives are not permitted within the National Parks in Kenya and/or Tanzania. If you are, however, on private lands outside the National Parks, game-walks can be done after breakfast, and night game-drives are available and often conducted.

Q9: What kind of food can I expect to be served in Kenya and/or Tanzania?
Food is generally Continental, with Traditional African dishes. Most hotels in Nairobi are booked as bed and breakfast, while safari lodges and camps are full-board. On safari, Breakfast consists of a buffet of fruits and hot & cold cereals, eggs, sausage and bacon, breads and coffee/tea. Lunch is usually a buffet of hot or cold meats, fish and salads, breads, cheeses and coffee/tea; at some camps you might find assorted pastas. Dinner will be a buffet offering a choice of chicken, beef, pork or fish, vegetables, fruits and cheeses, breads and beverages; or a set 3- 4- or 5-course meal. If you have special dietary needs, do not hesitate to let us know in advance and every attempt will be made to meet your requirements.

Q10: Can I drink the water and what about ice cubes?
Water is generally safe in urban areas and established hotels/resorts, but for first-time African travelers this may cause abdominal upsets. So it is best to drink sealed bottled water, which is available throughout Kenya and Tanzania – hotels, lodges and camps. This same sealed bottled or purified water is what is used by hotels, lodges and camps to make ice cubes, so they are safe; but if you are not comfortable doing so, avoid the ice cubes. Bottled water should also be used for brushing your teeth.

Q11: What type of electrical power will I find in East Africa?
In Kenya and Tanzania, the electricity supply is 220 / 240V AC, 50 Hz. and can be round 2-pin or flat 3-pin plugs. If you use electrical appliances (shaver, hair dryer, curling iron, etc.) that are not compatible or at least dual-voltage, it is suggested you bring a converter and appropriate adapter plugs. If for some reason your appliances do not work properly, do not hesitate to contact Reception, who will likely have an appliance for your use. Be aware that generators at remote locations may only operate during specific hours… do not operate after midnight. There are some camps that do not have electricity, except that which is used in food preparation. Here guest tents are lit by hurricane lamps, and flashlights are provided, but it is a good idea to bring one of your own. Important – With strict Security measures worldwide, it is not recommended to even consider bringing appliances that use “butane” canisters… these will undoubtedly be removed from your checked or carry-on bags.

Q12: Should we consider fly-in safaris versus driving between locations?
Road conditions are often poor, bumpy and dusty and distances can be great. We mention this not to dissuade you from road travel, which might appear to be less expensive, but rather something of which you should be aware. That is why we may recommend our client’s fly-in using light aircraft. The disadvantage of flying is that you miss the opportunity of meeting locals, especially children, along the way and enjoying some interesting landscapes. Most often, we create an itinerary that combines both flying and driving, but the decision is always yours.

Q13: What about my overall comfort?
With the exception of bumpy and dusty road conditions, we believe your overall comfort will be more than satisfactory as far as the accommodations and meals on your itinerary. For those on mobile-tented and adventure safaris, the bathrooms may be outside your tent and may be shared with others, and showers will be rustic.

Q14: Will I require any immunizations and/or medications?
We recommend that you contact the Centers for Disease Control to learn current information regarding travel to Kenya and Tanzania. You can contact the CDC through their website at www.cdc.gov/travel. Before getting any inoculation/s or taking medicines, you should discuss this with your personal physician or a tropical disease specialist who knows your medical history. Presently, Yellow Fever vaccinations are NOT required for travel to KENYA only, for visitors arriving direct from Western Countries - USA, Canada, Western Europe. For visitors to TANZANIA, who have FIRST LANDED IN OR VISTED KENYA, regardless country of origin, you WILL REQUIRE a Yellow Fever inoculation. Likewise, if visiting the Tanzania mainland for safari and then plan to visit Zanzibar Island, YOU WILL require a Yellow Fever inoculation. The CDC might also recommend additional inoculations. A course of anti-malarial medication will also be recommended for individuals traveling to these countries. Check whether your insurance company will reimburse for travel related immunizations and/or medicines, but don’t be surprised if they won’t.

Q15: Will there be snakes, flying insects, spiders or other “creepy crawlies”?
There are snakes in Africa and probably some will be out and about while you are on your African safari, but it is unlikely you will see any. The same can be said for spiders and other creepy crawlies – they’re around, but we’ve never seen more than a water bug and one dead snake. As to flying insects, especially tsetse and mosquito, these are around and you should take precautions with insect repellent that contains Deet. Tsetses are around more often during the wet seasons. As to mosquitoes, especially the malaria type… biting time is between dusk and dawn, when you should wear long pants, shirt sleeves, socks and apply repellent on exposed skin.

Q16: Is English spoken in Kenya and Tanzania?
In Kenya, with over 40 ethnic languages, the official national language is Swahili, though English is spoken throughout the country. And in Tanzania, with 120 different tribes with as many languages, both Kiswahili and English are the official languages. An English speaker should not encounter any problems in being able to communicate.

Q17: What if something happens and I require immediate medical attention? We recommend a temporary membership to The Flying Doctor’s Society of Africa. This air ambulance service is located out of Nairobi’s Wilson Airport and available 24/7. Should the need arise, they will fly to wherever you are and fly you to the closest, best medical facility – usually in Nairobi. The fee is minimal and good only for the duration of your trip. If you do not use these services (more than likely you won’t), your membership fee goes to provide service for healthcare to those who can’t afford same, especially in the remote areas of East Africa. You can contact The Flying Doctor’s Society of Africa at their website: www.amref.org/services.htm for details.

Q18: Should I purchase travelers insurance?
It is strongly recommended that you purchase Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance. You have made an investment in your trip to Africa and should do what is necessary to protect it if something unforeseen happens. We at Africa Serendipity do not sell insurance, but can suggest the following websites: www.1travelinsurance.com or www.insuremytrip.com where you will find offerings from numerous well-known providers.

Q19: What type/s of currency do I need to have in East Africa?

In Kenya – The currency is the Kenya Shilling (Ksh). The currency exchange at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is open 24-hours. You will find ATMs in/around Nairobi, or an exchange can be made at your hotel, but the rates here will be less favorable.
In Tanzania – The currency is the Tanzania Shilling (TSh). Currency can be exchanged at authorized dealers, commercial banks, exchange booths, international airports and at many of the safari lodges/camps.
Credit Cards – Visa and American Express are the most widely accepted credit cards. But it is not unusual that remote lodges/camps will not accept these without assessing a Transaction Fee; we recommend you bring cash in $1s, $5s, $10s & $20s, as USD are widely accepted, as are Amex Travelers Checks.
Cash – US Dollars are widely accepted. We recommend you bring cash in $1s, $5s, $10s & $20s (no older than 4/years) in good condition – not torn, folded or taped.

Q20: Will there be any extra costs while in Kenya or Tanzania?
Minimal. Most all costs will be paid for prior your departure. At some lodges/camps there will be a charge for soft drinks, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. Of course, any items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, souvenirs, etc. are your responsibility. A Departure Fee may be due at some airports, if the amount has not been included in the price of your Domestic or International air ticket.

Q21: What about gratuities/tipping?
Gratuities/tipping should always be at your discretion, based on the level of service received from your guide/driver, lodge/camp staff and hotel staff in cities. For your guide/driver consider $5-$10/per person/per day; trackers at $5/per person/per day; camp staff (porters, housekeeping, chefs, waiters) is shared and placed in a “tip box” found at Reception at $3-$5/per person/per day. And remember the porters at city hotels at $1/bag, housekeeping at $2/nt/rm and restaurants at 10% of the bill.

Q22: What kind of clothes do I need?
Unless you choose to, it isn’t necessary to look as if you stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. Comfortable and interchangeability is “de rigueur” in Africa. Stay with neutral colors – tan, brown and khaki – pants, shirts and shoes. A sweater or light weight jacket are best for cool mornings and evenings; often daytime clothing can take you straight through, unless you would like to change to “nice casual” for dinner. Most lodges/camps in both countries offer laundry services (except for “smalls” = underwear) at a nominal price. We will send a recommended packing list well in advance of your travel.

Q23: What kind of luggage should I use?
Since you don’t have to pack much in the way of formal clothing, the ideal piece of luggage is a duffle bag… very functional. These are easy to pack, easy to transport in safari vehicles, and a “must” if you are taking any internal flights. On internal flights you will be limited to 15Kg (33-lbs) of luggage, including photographic equipment. Because many roads will kick up lots of dust, it is recommended that you secure your cameras in zip-lock plastic bags.

Q24: Are there other activities besides wildlife viewing?
Certainly. There is golf, mountain climbing and hiking, encounters with chimpanzees, camel safaris, horseback riding, hot-air ballooning, and diving and snorkeling at coastal resorts.

Q25: Does Africa Serendipity charge a Preparation Fee?
Because we create individual itineraries for each of our clients and don’t have to deviate from pre-set itineraries, we do not charge a preparation fee.

Q26: Does Africa Serendipity handle International air from our home city to East Africa?
No. These days, there are many resources for obtaining airline tickets – travel agents, the Internet, consolidators, and using frequent flyer miles – so we leave it to our clients to handle their own reservations. We can provide a list of air carriers which fly to East Africa, as well as names of consolidators to whom you may make inquiry, but stress that you shop around for what best fits your timeframe and budget. Any itinerary that we prepare that includes internal flights are the only air arrangements we handle and will be included in the price of your trip.

Q27: Will I be able to be in contact with the outside world?
With few exceptions, most all lodges/camps, communicate to their home base, usually in Nairobi or Arusha. Some of the lodges might have telephone service; as well, some accommodations might have Internet access which can be used for a small fee, but transmission speeds are often slow. Except for some hotels in cities, there are few lodges/camps in the bush that have hook-ups for your personal laptop. Likewise, while mobile (cell) phone service is available, clarity will vary. We suggest you contact your local provider regarding International use of your mobile device.

 

CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

There are no words in the English language that can do justice to this experience. All of our guides were wonderful, sharing personal stories of life in Tanzania and Kenya. The accommodations were fantastic, especially, Elsa’s at Meru, Saruni in the Masai Mara and the hospitality at Swala in Tarangire. Our vehicles appeared to be the best on the roads in Tanzania. My philosophy – anything we saw was more than we could have imagined and sitting in the midst of the wildebeest migration was incredible. Thanks so much for suggesting the visit to the school in Arusha. The camel trek at Sabuk was fun and the bush meals at Saruni were fabulous. You organized the best possible trip for us – loved the places and the people. – Karen and Harry P., Boca Raton, FL

Though (Africa Serendipity) only planned our post-horseback safari stay at Elsa’s in Meru, this was an excellent choice for concluding our visit to Kenya. – Cheryl C., Seattle, WA

Our guide was great, a perfect match, especially as we all had great interest in birds.  He was always concerned for our enjoyment and seeing everything we could hope for. The vehicles seemed to be the best we saw and even commented on by travelers using other outfitters. The Crater was what I’d imagined “The Garden of Eden” and “no flies.” Snorkeling and Scuba on Zanzibar were great. – Ellen and Randy K., New York, NY

From our initial safari briefing, we knew we were about to experience something “special.” We saw all of the Big-5 a few times over. Saw eight lions stalking a herd of buffalo. Did a nature walk, visited a Samburu manyatta and, of course, the camel safari. The views in the Masai Mara were breathtaking. And the best was that we were on a private safari rather than with a group. – Jessica T. and Gina B., Manchester, CT

Saw a leopard in a tree with its kill; ox-peckers cleaning a giraffe’s teeth; a lion with a fresh kill and a river crossing. We preferred the family-style meals at the small camps, such as Saruni over the buffet meals at the few lodges where we stayed. It was also nice to get so close to game in the Masai Mara. We were never hassled by touts and never felt unsafe.  We felt valued as visitors, not as hated Americans. And, during the planning of our safari, I especially appreciated the prompt (within hours, not days) answers to emails. Thanks so much. – Darcy H. and Family, Bismarck, ND

Well, you sure don’t go hungry on safari – lots and lots of food which was especially appreciated by our three growing boys. They also loved the village visits, Mto-wa-Mbu in particular. The migration river crossings were amazing. You (Africa Serendipity) did a great job in suggesting the lovely lodges and camps where we stayed and which we’d rate a 10! –Diedre C. and Family, Katonah, NY

(Africa Serendipity’s) in-country ground outfitters provided absolutely outstanding service with every detail attended to. All of our guides were so competent and knowledgeable.  The Masai Mara with it’s variety of game and landscapes was beautiful. In the Serengeti we saw mother cheetah with cubs and many river crossings during our stay at Sayari Camp. Conditions were ideal for our balloon safari and then our stay at The Palms on Zanzibar was a perfect ending to our trip to Africa, which I now know can become addictive. – Sandra L. and Joe R., Short Hills, NJ

I asked and you answered so many questions during the planning process, there was nothing left to ask when it came time for our pre-safari briefings! Our guides were great in both countries, treating us like VIPs. We saw everything including a wildebeest/zebra river crossing and a lion kill. Suggestion: go on a diet before safari because you are fed very well. On a scale of 1-to-10, our safari was a 15! – Sharon and George E., Sussex, WI

Afraid to get on a scale, as I’m sure I gained weight! My guide knew every animal, tree, bird and historical fact about his country. He went above and beyond any and all expectations with so much helpful information and support for a solo female traveler.  I left feeling I had gained a big brother! This was, by far, the best trip I’ve ever taken and most memorable. Usually my holidays begin with some minor disaster, not this time! – – Liz C., New York, NY

Our accommodations were excellent, from River Camp at Tarangire to Sayari Camp in the Serengeti. Our guide was outstanding with his knowledge of the country and variety of game. He was most sensitive to our needs. It was also nice that he could join us for meals at the camps. This trip was a dream come true and I cannot think how it could have been better. The migration was special! – Dean and Jean McK., Kelowna, British Columbia

We were volunteering at the hospital complex in Eldoret so came to Africa Serendipity to plan a post-volunteer holiday in Tanzania, traveling with parents of a 5/yr old and barely 2/yr old, and we grandparents – you made it doable. Then when realizing we had three-days before having to be in Eldoret, you suggested the Masai Mara. The Intrepid’s Camp was great, especially with and for the children. In Tanzania, our guide was incredible with the children, seeing that our child seats were properly fitted in the vehicle, even assisting in installing these on the small planes. Yes, the roads were rough and as expected, the kids did complain, but the tires held up throughout! We had high-chairs and netted cribs at the lodges/camps; even Cocoa-Puffs for breakfast at one of the lodges. What more could grandparents want. This was a fabulous experience for all and we now can’t wait to return. – Sheila G. and Family, Salt Lake City, UT

Your in-country people were superior, as were the accommodations and food. Our guides were excellent. It was a tie for best park – Samburu, Nakuru and the Masai Mara. We saw leopard and lions in trees; a lion kill and the migration. Our stay on Zanzibar at Pongwe was stunning, with lovely room and staff; the Stone Town guide was excellent and we truly enjoyed our experience. – Michael and Denise H., Duxbury, MA

The guides at Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu were especially amazing, as was the guide at Serian Camp in the Masai Mara. (Africa Serendipity) works with excellent in-country outfitters, who handled everything perfectly. Game viewing was more than outstanding, with seeing leopards, and enjoying a night game drive and being in the Masai Mara during the migration. Visiting a Samburu manyatta was one of our favorites as it was wonderful to meet the people of Kenya. If we had more time, would have liked to have stayed longer at the Giraffe Manor and maybe been able to visit one of the coastal beaches. Mostly, we appreciated the fact that you suggested eco-friendly properties, perfect routing; a seamless travel experience and especially your constant attentiveness to our emails. That’s the main reason we chose you guys for our safari. – Edna C. and Thomas K., New York, NY

Everyone was so helpful and attentive in Tanzania and Kenya. We loved or really liked our stay at all but one of the properties on our three-week safari… pretty good, I’d say. We both gained weight from the more than generous amounts of food.  One of our guides was able to turn specks on the horizon into lions – amazing; so enthusiastic, attentive and knowledgeable, a real joy! We enjoyed sightseeing in Nairobi; bird walks and village visits while on safari; especially liked N’gresi Village in Arusha. We realize that the villagers earn a living from visitors for the various items for sale, but at some places it was a bit annoying. We loved the itinerary, with a great mix of places visited, the combination of lodges and camps, and getting from place-to-place both by road and air. I’m already thinking about another safari and working on friends to come join us. – Terri R. and Charles H., Berkeley, CA

We absolutely loved the Masai Mara as we were able to get close to game. We so enjoyed seeing a baby cheetah here and black rhino at Ngorongoro; trekking at Kikoti Camp at Tarangire, with a Masai who taught us about the animal tracks and vegetation – great! The lodges/camps were very nice with a variety of very good food. This was an amazing experience. – Jeff and Anne S., Charlotte, NC

...it is said that God does not subtract from one's allotted time those days spent on Safari - unknown