WHO CAN GO ON SAFARI
Most people can go on a safari in East Africa. The safari tours sold by most travel companies are not adventurous expeditions, but rather outdoor holiday tours focusing on looking for and watching the African wildlife. No previous knowledge of Africa or animals is required, neither is experience from outdoor activities. You don’t need any special safari equipment (but a pair of binoculars is very useful).
TRAVELLING BY ROAD
Most safaris are done by road in 4WD safari jeeps or minibuses. These are used for game driving, i.e. to look for wildlife in the parks, and for travelling to and between parks. Many safaris have ambitious itineraries, including three or four different parks during a one-week safari. You may have to travel five to six hours getting to some of the most remote parks on the most popular safari circuits. It is not unusual travelling 25 hours on the Kenyan roads, or 15 hours on Tanzanian Safaris, during a week.
Road conditions vary a lot, from good tarmac roads to poor bush roads. The latter may be dusty, corrugated, and bumpy. Combined with high day temperatures (exceeding 30ºC/85ºF), long hours on these roads can be tiring.
NOT 100% FIT?
If you are troubled by a poor back, have problems sitting for long or similar, you may want to think twice before booking a safari, because of the poor roads. Or, you may speak us about options for tailoring a safari. You may, for example, reduce travel time by visiting fewer parks or flying parts of the route, and long travel distances may be split over more than one day. You may benefit from focusing on the very best parks, and on getting there in a comfortable way, rather than wearing yourself out on the roads to see all parks.
AVOID POOR ROADS BY FLYING
Virtually all major parks may be accessed by air, which is a faster and much more comfortable way of getting there than travelling the roads. There are daily scheduled flights to most of these parks, apart from Mikumi in Tanzania. By chartering a plane, you may visit any park that has an airstrip. The flights to the parks are operated by smaller planes, such as Cessnas and Beechcrafts. Most airstrips are grass or dirt/gravel.
For a single safari-goer, joining a packaged safari on your own is no problem, not even if you have little experience from travelling the world. We will meet you at the airport on arrival, and from then on, you spend the safari with the rest of the group. You are not left on your own to handle any arrangements or problems, but can always rely on the assistance from our driver guide or tour leader.
If your group is not accompanied by a tour leader speaking your own language, you may need to speak a little English to communicate with our driver guide and with staff in hotels and lodges. English is (together with Swahili) also an official language of both Kenya and Tanzania, and may be used for contacts with authorities. We however have driver guides that speak other foreign languages than English, such as French, German, Spanish or Italian for those that do not understand English.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
Most safari-goers are adults, but children can go, too. We have seen six-month-old babies in the bush, and five-year-olds are regularly seen. A good general age for safaris starts at nine or ten, considering the hot weather, travelling on poor roads and road distances. You may have an itinerary tailored for you, to adapt the activities to your children. For example, you may want to reduce daily travelling distances, and choose lodges and tented camps that have swimming pools. Some tree lodges, where the concept is watching the animals that come to drink from waterholes at night, may have lower age limits, to keep noise levels low. 7 years is a normal limit, but they vary from lodge to lodge. There may also be age limits for activities involving an increased risk for its participants, such as bush walks. On such activities, the ability to act disciplined and follow instructions may be of great importance for safety, and 15 years is often a lower age limit. Medical factors, for example a minimum age for using malaria prophylaxis, may be a reason not to bring too young children for safaris.
PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED SAFARI GOERS
If you speak to us a competent travel company specialized in safaris, with own experience from visiting different lodges, you may be able to find places to stay where obstacles are few, if not absent. There many lodges and camps adapted to safari-goers in wheelchairs, and even some that have special vehicles allowing wheelchairs on board. This has been a regulation by the industry to design and adopt facilities that cater for the physically handicapped safari goer.
TRAVELLING WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Tanzania and Kenya are developing countries, and even though the tourist industry offers easy and uncomplicated visits, special needs may not be possible to handle as easily as they may at home. The same level of service or availability of commodities or equipment cannot be expected. Speak to us prior to booking, to make sure you’ll be OK on your safari.
Pharmacies, doctors etc may be available along your safari route, but not everywhere. Bring (in your hand luggage on flights) all medicine or drugs you know that you need. A flying doctor service based in Nairobi is available from African Medical & Research Foundation. (See More web sites in the left column.)
Most safaris are done in the inland, where air is dry. As the best safari areas are found at some altitude (1,600–1,700 m/5,250–5,575 ft for Serengeti and Masai Mara), the air cools at night, and night temperatures are pleasant.
Most lodges have electricity and it can be availed all night round. However in the lodges that are depending on generators they are switched off at night. If you need electricity at all times, an arrangement may be required with the lodge management; you may have to pay for running the generator when it’s usually off. The best way is to have this arranged beforehand, through your travel company. In the cities, power failures are not uncommon, but most hotels start their own generator as soon as the mains goes down.
FOODS AND BEVERAGES
There is usually no problem for safari-goers who want for example vegetarian or gluten-free food. Many lodges, hotels and camps serve meals in form of buffets, where you may choose yourself what to eat. The staff is available to help you identify the ingredients that have been used. Where meals are served à la carte, vegetarian options are available, and the staff is usually very responsive to any other requests regarding your dishes. The international airlines offer special food on request, but you should ask for it when booking your flight. You order beverages for meals etc yourself, and can always decide what to drink.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
WHAT IS THE BEST SEASON FOR A SAFARI?
Being in the tropical you can choose any time of the year. (See the information on climate in the About Kenya section). However, the most popular seasons are mid-December to mid-March and August to the end of October. This is because of the demand for Christmas and winter holidays and the summer school breaks. An increasing number of visitors are realizing that June and November are ideal, benefiting from lower visitor numbers. At Tojaris Tours and Travel we offer some tours with greatly reduced or no single supplements in the months of April and May. Also, we may well be able to offer some good discounts for larger groups during this period – please contact us for details.
TELL ME ABOUT THE WILDEBEEST MIGRATION.
The millions of wildebeest and zebras are always somewhere, but they are not always in large herds and on the move. Their location is largely dependent on the weather, which can vary considerably from year to year. In general the herds begin to cross into Masai Mara in July and continue through August. They remain in the region until the beginning of December when they follow the rains southward back into Serengeti National Park. They can move in enormously long single file lines or in huge herds and this is what makes it a spectacular sight.
CAN I HAVE A PRIVATE VEHICLE?
Yes. All safaris can be booked with the exclusive use of a vehicle for your party. A custom safari for two clients is significantly more expensive per person than seats on a similar small group safari. However, on a custom safari with an exclusive vehicle, the cost of the vehicle and driver/ guide are divided by the number of clients sharing the vehicle. Therefore, the cost per person of a custom safari reduces.the more clients that are sharing the vehicle (maximum in one vehicle is usually 7 but on request, such as for families with children, we can carry up to 8).
CAN I ARRANGE A CUSTOM SAFARI?
If you are arranging an exclusive vehicle (custom) safari, then you are free to arrange whatever itinerary you choose, within logistical controls. Tojaris Tours and Travel presents a small selection of proven itinerary favorites in this website. We can arrange any required itinerary subject to practical and logistical considerations and will be pleased to discuss and quote for your special requirements.
CAN I RUN FROM PREDATORS?
If you meet a large predator while on foot, don’t run. Running may trigger the predator to give chase, and is also quite pointless, as the animal runs twice as fast as you. If there are two of you (which there should be, especially at night) or more, move together closely; the predator may then see you as one big opponent, instead of a couple of small ones. In lodge and camp areas, a predator appearing is usually just passing through. Let is pass. Slowly back off. Then inform a watchman or other staff that there are predators around. Tell others to stay away. A predator closing in on you should be told that you don’t like it. Shout at it. Be dangerous. Pelt it with stones if it comes too close.
CAN I GET OUT OF MY SAFARI VEHICLE?
Don’t get out of the vehicle unless the driver says it is ok. In many parks, moving on foot is not only risky but also means breaking the park rules. There are special places, such as observation points and picnic sites, where it is allowed to get out.
ARE WALKING SAFARIS DANGEROUS?
Meeting animals on foot is part of the walking safari concept. Most animals move away when they become aware of you, which usually happens at some distance (you generally get closer to animals if you approach them by car). Walking safaris in wildlife areas should always be escorted by an armed ranger. If on foot close to lakes or rivers where crocodiles may be found, you should stay at least 5 m/yd away from the water’s edge. Crocodiles have good camouflage, and may be hiding in the water to ambush prey approaching on land. Don’t leave children unattended.
Your safari driver will probably do his best to make you see animals hunt, kill or eat each other. If he doesn’t succeed, he will probably at least find you some carcass to look at. This means, there may be unpleasant scenes awaiting you. If you don’t want to see such, you can look the other direction.
HOW ABOUT SNAKES?
It is rare seeing snakes on safaris. Most snakes try to get out of your way when they notice you, so they are gone before you have a chance seeing them. But all don’t, and as some East African species have strong or even deadly venoms, you should always look where you are walking and use a flashlight when walking outdoors at night. Snakes don’t bite because they are evil, but because they are frightened or feel threatened. For safety reasons, you should stay at least two snake lengths away from any snake you can’t identify as harmless. For the reason of not disturbing the animal, you should back away even further. Never try to handle a snake unless you know what you are doing. Seemingly dead snakes may not be dead at all, and should not be approached. And so on. In short, stay away from snakes. The only snakes that may regard humans as prey are very large pythons, but they are not seen very often. Don’t leave children unattended where there are pythons around.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED OF INSECTS AND CREEPING THINGS?
You don’t see that many insects or creeping things during dry seasons. More appear during rainy seasons (including beautiful ones, such as butterflies). The same goes for mosquitoes, which by biting may infect you with malaria, a life-threatening disease unless properly treated. Mosquitoes thrive in moist and warm areas, and are most common during rainy seasons, near rivers and lakes, and by the coast. The mosquitoes that may carry malaria are active at night. Tsetse flies, which are active during daytime, may infect you with sleeping sickness. This is very rare to safari-goers, though. The bites hurt a lot, and are reason enough to kill or chase flies out of the vehicle. Avoid storing food in your room or tent, as it may attract ants.