Frequently Asked Questions About Planning Your Safari
Frequently asked questions about Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda. Africa is a long-haul destination as well as being a huge Continent with endless Travel Options, so it’s worth Planning ahead to get the best out of your journey or Safari.
Find peace of mind & answers to your questions about your African travels. Expert advice about where to go, the best time to go, staying healthy, visas & more! Want to know what to expect on your African safari? You’ve come to the right place!
African Spice Team understands that details make all the difference. So with us, every need is anticipated and every day offers pleasant surprises while on Safari. Our vehicles are equipped with binoculars, beanbags for photographers, field guidebooks, and more.
If there’s anything you need, a 24-hour hospitality team awaits your requests. We’re not a huge corporation with dozens of offices around the world—we’re small, sincere and locally owned. We strive to have your safari exceed your wildest expectations and we work hard to achieve it.
We plan and research excessively and we hire only trained personnel. African Spice Safaris is also unique in that we specialize exclusively in Africa with no desire to expand and run tours around the globe. Instead, we focus all of our love and attention on our guests’ experiences in our homeland, never drawn away elsewhere.
Our mission is, quite simply, to offer the most meaningful African Safari Adventures available in Africa today. After all, Africa is our home, what we know and love best and above all our absolute pleasure to share with you.
The first step is to finalize your Safari Itinerary with us. We always strive to meet all your requests and will make suggestions and recommendations to add value to your holiday experience with us. Once you approve the itinerary, you email us your confirmation to reserve the Safari for you.
We then automatically secure your accommodation and transport services etc. A deposit of 20% per person is required to secure your reservation. Final payment for all Trips/ Excursions/ Safaris is due at least 90 days prior to departure unless otherwise stated.
Payment: You may pay by credit card or by direct bank transfer. Credit cards attract a 5% bank fee while Bank Transfer attracts a flat fee depending on where you remit the money. (Please find out about your respective bank charges before transfer).
Prior to booking the Safari, you will also receive the Cancellation and General Terms and Conditions. The payment procedure is simple and safe and involves you faxing or emailing us your authorization and credit card information – the authorization is a simple form which you will [we email it to you] authorizing the charge on your credit card. These documents are sent to the local Barclaycard center run by Barclays Bank.
Credit Card or Bank Transfer: Whereas credit cards can be billed on the spot, bank transfer payments take between 5 -8 days, and we will send you a receipt upon receiving funds in our bank.
Is Your Money Safe With Us: Yes it is – we are members of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators [KATO], and a fully registered company by the Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife? We will gladly provide you with tangible references in the USA and Europe (several addresses and telephone numbers of Travel Agents and clients) that you may freely contact.
We have been in operation for over 10 years and have continued to enjoy excellent personal relationships with all our suppliers both Hotels/Lodges and Airlines.
Private Safaris are the perfect way to share and celebrate Special Occasions with friends and family. They are equally ideally suited for special interest organizations as well as corporate training and reward programs.
You can schedule your own dates on one of our Regular Safaris or let us create a unique safari tailored to your specific needs and wishes. We’ve arranged private Safaris/ Trips for more than 10 years, and are experts at planning complex itineraries anywhere in Africa. If you can imagine it, we can make it happen – all you need to do is get the group together.
There are two forms of private trips:
Block Safari – a block Safari is a private trip based on any of our existing itineraries (which have already been researched, planned, and priced on our website). The easiest way to build a block trip is to simply to take over an existing departure date with your group.
Custom Safari – a custom Safari is a private trip built from scratch to reflect the unique needs and interests of your group. Since creating a custom Safari and confirming availability takes longer than taking over a block Safari, we recommend that you contact us as soon as you have an idea of when and where you want to travel.
Rather than being forced to live within someone else’s choices, building a private Safari allows you to make your own decisions that reflect the unique interests of your group. Private custom Safaris are priced based upon the specific itinerary and planning choices, and thus the price range is entirely up to you. If you have enough people in your group of 16 or more, you will receive a 50% discount and will only pay half price of the land arrangements portion!
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 6 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.
The best time for an African safari is when the animals are easy to find and in dense numbers. Deciding when to go on safari depends on what country you would like to visit and when you are able to plan your trip. Luckily the seasons differ a little between East Africa and Southern Africa. In April/ May, East Africa heads into its rainy season, making it more difficult to spot wildlife, while Southern Africa welcomes a dry spell.
If you’re looking to go on an animal specific safari like a Gorilla safari, or if you’re an avid birder, the best times to go may not coincide with the main safari season.
Kenya The best time to go on safari in Kenya and experience a huge density and diversity of wildlife is when the annual migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gnu’s descend on the Mara plains with predators close behind. The best time to see this wildlife spectacle is from July to October. Other parks in Kenya are also excellent and the best time to visit these would be during the dry seasons — January through March and July through October.
With the scarcity of water during the dry seasons, the animals tend to gather in more concentrated numbers around permanent water holes, rivers and lakes, so they are easier to find. The vegetation is also less lush which simply means that viewing animals from a distance is easier. More tips on viewing animals while on safari. Click Here for more Information
Tanzania If you want to see the Great Migration unfold, head to Tanzania’s northern parks; the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. The best time to witness the migration is probably February – March when the wildebeest and zebra have their young.
Not only can you enjoy seeing baby animals, but the predators are at the highest number too. Because the herds also concentrate in the south of the Serengeti, it’s easy to plan your wildlife viewing in that area and find a safari company that offers lodging there. For more details see my Tanzania Safari Planner.
June to November is Tanzania’s dry season and is the best time to visit all the parks (and you can always hop over to Kenya’s Maasai Mara to witness the Great Migration during this time). Tanzania’s Southern Parks are perfect to visit during this time since the animals tend to congregate around permanent water and it isn’t so hot and humid.
All of Tanzania’s parks suffer from the rains which generally fall from March to May in the North, and from November to May in the South and West. Roads get washed out and given the sheer size of Tanzania’s parks, the animals tend to spread out, and this makes wildlife viewing less satisfying (if you’re looking for sheer numbers of animals).
December through March can get quite hot and humid, especially in Western and Southern Tanzania which makes it a little uncomfortable to spend a lot of time in the bush.
If you want to add a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro to your safari, the best time to hike is January – March and September – October.
Uganda Uganda has some very good National Parks which are best visited from December – March or June – September, when it is predominantly dry. Most people who choose Uganda as a safari destination go to see the Mountain Gorillas.
Although rain is likely all year round, the rainy seasons make the trek up to the gorillas particularly difficult, so avoid the months of March-April and October-November.
Zambia The best time to enjoy Zambia’s wildlife is from September through mid-November which is the end of the dry season. Elephants abound and large herds of buffalo, impala, zebra and others congregate in the Lower Zambezi Valley.
April to September is also a good time to go, but beyond these months many parks in Zambia all but shut down due to impassable roads. In November, there’s a smaller version of the Great Migration where 30,000 wildebeest gather in Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park, that’s not witnessed by many, but worth trying to plan a trip around.
Victoria Falls The Victoria Falls are at their most impressive in March and April after the rainy season. You will get totally soaked to the bone with the thunderous spray coming off the falls at this time of year.
Zimbabwe July to October is the best time to go to Zimbabwe’s excellent wildlife parks, especially Hwange, the largest game reserve in the country. White water rafting on the Zambezi is best from August to December when the water is low and the rapids are fast. The Victoria Falls are at their most impressive in March and April after the rainy season. You may have difficulty seeing all of the falls due to massive amounts of spray it can be quite torrential.
Botswana June through September is the best time to go on safari in Botswana. There is little chance of rain and the weather is still nice and warm during the day. Huge herds congregate around the Okavango Delta during this time, making a trip in a mokoro (traditional canoe) extremely rewarding.
Botswana is one of Africa’s most expensive safari destinations because many of the parks are inaccessible by road and you have to charter a small plane to get there. If you have your heart set on Botswana’s excellent parks, but can’t quite afford them, check out some of the shoulder season deals in April, May and October.
Namibia Etosha National Park is Namibia’s prime safari destination and the best time to visit is from May to September. This is Namibia’s dry season (despite being mostly desert, there are still seasons in Namibia!) and animals congregate around the water holes making viewing easier. Many birders come to Namibia, and the best time to visit is during the summer months from December to March, but be prepared for some very hot and humid weather.
South Africa The prime safari areas in South Africa around Kruger National Park are best visited from June through September when the weather is cooler and dry. But South Africa’s wildlife parks have better infrastructure than most parks in Africa, so rains don’t necessarily mean the roads will be washed out.
There are also many excellent game parks in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region which experiences less rain during the winter months than in the north of the country.
When you confirm your reservation, you will receive a complete pre-tour document planner with information to help you plan for your adventure.
This includes specifics on the tour, meeting and departure points, the easiest way to travel to and from these points, a suggested packing list, a reading list, and region-specific information. It will also include information on the destination travel guides to visa and health information, we deliver the most current pre-departure travel information possible, allowing you the opportunity to gain the most out of your travel experience.
Accommodation on your African safari or vacation spans the full range of choice. We pride ourselves on selecting and representing the finest African hotels, lodges and tented camps and know that we can offer you the right match for your accommodation requirements .We’re really picky about the accommodation we recommend to our African Spice safari travelers and vacationers. Every lodge, hotel, guesthouse or boutique hotel has to meet specific criteria.
Hotels, Lodges & Camps that Make the Grade
First and foremost, we look at value: the quality of your stay has to be well worth the price. We only recommend accommodation that we are confident delivers value for every cent of the rate.
Location, Location, Location
Location is another prime consideration. Whether you’re on safari in a city you want a retreat to return to at the end of an active day. We look for beautiful settings, peaceful surroundings and ease of access to attractions and activities.
It’s All About the Experience
The experience you have on your African Spice Safari vacation is of utmost importance to us. Our commitment is to creating a vacation that’s memorable, unique and will have you wanting to explore more of this fascinating continent. Your accommodation should enhance your experience of Africa in every way.
An African Welcome And finally, wherever you stay we want to know that the staff will make you feel welcome and at home. You’ll be assured of attentive but discreet service whether you’re on an African honeymoon or simply escaping the pressures of your everyday life for a while.
Sure! Taking your family on holiday to Africa is easier than you think, it’s a big continent full of wild places and large toothy animals, but there are loads of top family-friendly African luxury destinations that can deliver the thrills and spills of Africa with the safety, service and professionalism that you’ve come to expect from any family holiday destination around the world.
We’ve got all sorts of ideas for your African luxury family holidays and will transform your children’s playtime into safari time taking them on a top-class luxury family African safari where the animals of their toy cupboard come to life. You can also kick back on a fabulous family beach holiday where our amazing African beaches provide a sunny stage for a memorable luxury vacation.
We’ve got luxury private villas in jaw-dropping locations that have been designed with families in mind and we’ve scoured the lodges and resorts of Africa for places with the best kids’ clubs, so you can do your thing while your children are looked after by trained child-minders and activity organizers.
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. Some safaris sell out months ahead of their departure dates. This is especially important for those planning to travel during peak seasons and for those adding extensions to scheduled trips.
Your journey in the bush involves exhilarating days on the trail of African wildlife, making the quality of your ground transportation of the utmost importance. For that reason, we are pleased to provide only the finest state of- the-art Safari Vehicles for your sojourn with African Spice Safaris. Soft seats with headrests, roominess and good suspension combine to make for a very comfortable ride across the African plains.
Our safari vehicles are additionally outfitted with ice chests stocked with ample bottled water and Soft Drinks. Binoculars-one for each traveler- are also available to Spice guests in the bush, as well as a safari library of field guides to aid in your understanding of the flora and fauna in each region.
Every traveler is furthermore assured of a window seat directly under a pop-up roof in East African vehicles, while Southern Africa’s open-top versions provide excellent sightlines for all.
We are extremely proud of the high quality of our Safari Vehicles, serving as a further example of African Spice Safaris dedication to providing travelers with the utmost in luxury, comfort and service.
Africa is averagely prepared for disabled travelers. Several hotels and Lodges have rooms specially designed for disabled guests; while transport – including our own safari Cruisers – can make provisions for wheelchair users if notified in advance.
The best idea is to contact us for advice before you go. We do have organized tours and holidays specifically for people with disabilities. It’s important to know where you may expect help and where you must be self-reliant, especially regarding transport and accommodation.
It’s also vital to be honest with us when making a booking, plus you should think about your limitations, making sure others know about them too. If you don’t use a wheelchair all the time but your mobility is limited, remember that you are likely to need to cover greater distances while traveling – sometimes over rougher terrain and in different temperatures to those you are familiar with.
If you use a wheelchair, you may want to bring your own small, collapsible wheelchair. Have it serviced before you go and carry a repair kit.
Make sure that you have extra supplies of drugs, and a prescription including the generic names in case of an emergency.
Feeling healthy and confident of your mobility is essential if you want to fully enjoy your trip abroad. Most African Spice Safari programs features a fair amount of walking up and down inclines in towns with uneven or cobblestone streets. For your comfort and safety, we recommend our trips only to individuals in good physical condition.
If you’re considering a Safari adventure, you should live an active lifestyle, enjoy good health and mobility, be comfortable participating in 6-8 hours of daily physical activities and sightseeing, and able to walk 3-6 miles unassisted over the course of each day.
There is a safari priced for just about everybody, but there are major differences in accommodations, services, transportation and food. It’s important that you consider how much “roughing’ it” you’re willing to do before you plan your safari.
If you are interested in a custom tour for you and your family will also affect the price tag. Generally speaking, a budget safari (participatory camping, backpacking, basic group overland) can cost as little as $100 to $135 per person per day.
In the 150 US Dollars to 300 US Dollars per person per day range, you might stay in three-and four-star lodges, have full service camping and some domestic flight time. If you can pay between $400 and $700 per person per day, you can stay in small, remote, five-star lodges and luxury camps and travel more by plane (it’s less tiring and offers spectacular views!).
Other factors that up the price are exotic modes of travel, such as by elephant or hot air balloon and special cultural experiences, such as visiting a bush home, will be more expensive. And don’t forget airfare to Africa, which isn’t necessarily included in your safari package.
Payment: You may pay by credit card or by direct bank transfer. Credit cards attract a 5 % bank fee while Bank Transfer attracts a flat fee depending on where you remit the money. (Please find out about your respective bank charges before transfer). Prior to booking the Safari you will also receive the Cancellation and General Terms and Conditions.
The payment procedure is simple and safe and involves you faxing or emailing us your authorization and credit card information – the authorization is a simple form which you will [we email it to you] authorizing the charge on your credit card. These documents are sent to the local Barclaycard center run by Barclays Bank.
Credit Card or Bank Transfer: Whereas credit cards can be billed on the spot, bank transfer payments take between 5 -8 days, and we will send you a receipt upon receiving funds in our bank.
Is Your Money Safe With Us: Yes it is – we are members of Kenya Association of Tour Operators [KATO], and a fully registered company by the Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. We will gladly provide you with tangible references in the USA and Europe (several addresses and telephone numbers of Travel Agents and clients) that you may freely contact.
We have been in operation for over 10 years and have continued to enjoy excellent personal relationships with all our suppliers both Hotels/ Lodges and Airlines.
In general, we can take bookings up to 1 Day prior to departure for excursions and most city tours trips or Day trips Adventures; On select tours, we are able to take bookings within 5-7 days of departure, subject to domestic air and room availability; up to 35 days prior to departure for Extended Vacations and Escorted Tours.
At that time, we’re required to finalize our passenger information with the airlines and hotels, and we release all unused space back to the vendors. All bookings inside 45 days of departure are by request and are confirmed on a case-by-case basis. Please contact our Travel Counselors for more details.
There are no restrooms onboard minibuses used on our trips and Safaris. However, all motor coaches and minibuses make frequent stops to ensure your comfort for the whole ride
Often, we’ll break up a long transfer with an included walking tour in a location of interest en route to our destination, so you’ll have ample time to stretch your legs as well.
Due to limited availability and the popularity of our trips, we are unable to hold space without a deposit. However, once you make a deposit you’ll have a good deal of flexibility.
You can transfer your deposit without penalty to any trip or any date, provided you are more than 121 days from departure on any of our Safari Adventure, For more information about the deposit amount required to secure your reservation, please Contact Us.
Obviously the longer you are on safari the more you see at a relaxed pace of travel. However, we offer safaris ranging from 3 days to 30 days in length.
The general rule is to allow at least 2 nights [3 days] at each safari location, though there are locations where 1 night [2 days] is practical. The minimum suggested length of safari in any African country is at least 7 days. A more complete trip would need at least 14 Days.
A valid passport is needed for ALL international travel. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months AFTER returning from your trip – this is an international requirement.
It is also essential that you have sufficient blank pages in your passport for visas, entry stamps or temporary residence permits. We recommend allowing two blank pages per country that you are planning to visit.
Some countries will require entry, re-entry or departure permits and/or visas, which are issued at their consulates/embassies. African Spice Safaris is unable to offer a visa service for any of our clients as we cover a number of African destinations and our clients come from all over the world.
Therefore it is highly recommended that you contact the relevant issuing authorities in good time to double-check the entry requirements, and then arrange for all the necessary permits and visas you need. Your local visa service agent or shop is also a convenient and useful solution: they will make sure you have all the necessary documentation and will apply for the visa on your behalf.
African Spice Safaris cannot be held responsible if visa applications are denied for any reason. We also cannot be held responsible for any changes in costs, requirements, delays, or loss of passports caused by the issuing authorities.
Other important documents you may need are:
- An international driver’s license
- Inoculation certificates (e.g. yellow fever)
- Airline, car, hotel, hotel vouchers
- Please check whether you need these before you leave.
When planning your travels it is easy to be swept away by the holiday spirit and overlook details which are not part of your holiday dream.
However, the booking terms and conditions are very important as it forms the basis of your agreement with African Spice Safaris and we ask you to read them carefully. In particular, the booking terms and conditions detail our responsibilities to you and yours to us and provide guidelines to cover circumstances which may arise.
When you acknowledge agreement of our booking conditions , you are confirming that you have read the booking terms and conditions and agree to be bound by them. Below is the link to our Terms and Conditions:
A single supplement is a charge paid by a solo traveler to compensate a hotel or Lodge for losses incurred because only one person is using a room. Most hotel rooms and Lodge accommodations are built with the assumption that at least two people will occupy them.
In fact, nearly all hotel and Lodge pricing is based on double occupancy. Single supplements range from 10 to 100 percent of the double occupancy rate. Hotel and lodge operators claim that charging a single supplement helps them recover the fixed costs of maintaining the room, such as utilities and cleaning, which stay the same regardless of how many people use the room.
If you are Traveling alone, we extend a warm invitation to join one of our trips. African Spice staff will go out of their way to make you feel at home and introduce you to fellow travelers, while Safari Driver Guides will probably end up as your best friends.
From retirees on their own to single parents with teenage children, African Spice single travelers glowingly praise the special attention and warm hospitality extended by the our staff. And, if you are traveling on your own but prefer to avoid the single supplement, we will gladly endeavor to find another companionable single who might wish to share a room—just mention it upon booking.
We offer two types of air transfer: either a private charter where you have sole use of the aircraft, or a scheduled air transfer based on a “seat-in-plane” basis where you share the aircraft with other guests (and thereby benefit from the lower cost). Unless specifically requested to do otherwise, we will automatically book you onto the scheduled air transfer with other guests, as this is the more cost-effective option.
It is most important to note that on charter aircraft, allowances do vary. While most charter flights now permit 20 kg, others still limit passengers to 12kg allowance per passenger, which is strictly enforced due to safety factors and the limited space available on these aircraft. In either instance, the weight allowance includes hand luggage and camera equipment.
Charter companies insist on a soft carry-all (instead of a suitcase) with the following maximum dimensions: 80 cm long by 30 cm wide. Please keep in mind that the baggage compartments on some of the light aircraft are only 25 cm high, so the pilots must have the ability to manipulate the bag into the compartment.
We are pleased to offer our Travel Insurance Passenger Protection Plan, competitively priced and specially designed to meet our travelers’ needs. This comprehensive package provides the assurances that all world travelers require, such as:
- Emergency medical evacuation coverage
- Protection against baggage loss, theft or damage
- 24-hour assistance anywhere you travel with African Spice Safaris
- Medical coverage for injury or illness while traveling
- Trip cancellation or interruption protection
Your comfort and safety are our first priorities at African Spice Safaris. While this summary describes the nature of the travel protection plan in general terms, it is not a policy of insurance. A detailed description of the coverage will be sent for your review upon booking.
Most travel insurance policies do not provide coverage for trip cancellations or interruptions caused by a medical condition that existed when you purchased your insurance. We are pleased to offer a plan that waives the pre-existing medical condition clause. Please speak to one of our Safari Consultants to learn how to receive this benefit.
Many people ask “Is it safe to visit Africa?” The answer is a resounding “Yes – if you know where to go!” From the world’s oldest desert in Namibia to the world’s largest freestanding mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa is enormous and diverse – 53 countries in total. Botswana, in southern Africa, has a peacefully elected government, a vibrant economy (over US $5 billion cash surplus), a healthy climate and abundant wildlife.
As travelers are often unfamiliar with African geography, negative news reports from one region in Africa will often scare would be travelers away from perfectly safe safari destinations such as Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. It must be understood that travel safety concerns arising from a negative event in one African country do not apply to Africa in total – they are generally isolated to specific geographical pockets. As an example travel safety concerns relating to 1996 Los Angeles riots did not apply to a trip to Lake Tahoe at the same time.
Africans do not run through the forest chanting and carrying spears, nor do they boil foreigners in large kettles. Africans are generally friendly to and interested in meeting foreigners, and Americans tend to have an exceptionally good reputation in rural Africa. The people of Africa have a gentleness, humbleness and optimism that we could all learn from.
While on safari you will spend a lot of time in the sun – on morning walks, while canoeing, or simply relaxing by the pool with a cool drink! Sunburns and heat exhaustion can occur however by following a few simple “rules of thumb” you can help to ensure that your safari memories are filled with nothing but sunshine! Most people look forward to getting “some color” but remember – tanning is a gradual process. A good sun hat is a MUST on safari as is plenty of high SPF sun block. If you forget to pack your own, most safari lodges and camps have a supply for sale.
Other necessities include lip balm with sunscreen to avoid sun-chapped lips and a good pair of sunglasses with travel case!
Every safari has an element of danger, that’s what makes it exciting. While many of the animals you’ll encounter can be dangerous, the four that you really have to watch out for are; elephant, lion, buffalo and hippo (add crocodiles to that list if you’re near water). African Spice Guides and staff at the various lodges and game reserves will stress basic precautions you need to take while game viewing. If you are on safari in smaller, more remote game parks or encounter wildlife outside of game parks, here are some general rules to follow:
If you are in a vehicle:
Always stay in your car when driving in a game park. Only get out at designated “hides” and follow the rules that will be posted. I have personally known of several fatalities that have occurred because a hapless tourist has wandered out of his vehicle, camera in hand, to get a closer shot of an elephant or lion. It may sound silly, but it happens.
Don’t stand up or stick anything out of the car. Many safari vehicles are open-topped and the wildlife is generally accustomed to these. But, if you stand up or wave something around on the side, some animals will get annoyed and consequently aggressive. I have been charged at by elephants in an open vehicle, believe me, it was a little too exciting. You also have to remember that poaching is rife in many areas and anything that looks like a gun can trigger a very nasty response from a wild animal.
Drive slowly and carefully. During the wet season the grass can get quite high and it’s not always possible to tell when a large buffalo or elephant will decide to step into the middle of the road. Remember, you have to stop if this happens. Buffalos and elephants are not in the least bit afraid or impressed by you or your car.
Keep your windows up. If you are in a car with windows, it’s better to keep them closed. I’ve been harassed by baboons on several drives through the more popular game parks. They are so habituated to cars they are not afraid to leap up on it and dent your roof. You really don’t want one inside your car.
If you are on foot:
If you are on a walking safari you will no doubt be briefed on safety by your guides. But, there are times when you’ll be walking in Africa and encounter wildlife without a guide. Baboons are also a menace in many places and a lot larger than you think. Here are some basic tips if you encounter wildlife eye to eye:
Try and stay downwind from the animal. If the animal catches your scent it will know you are there and you have no idea whether this will make it angry or afraid.
If an animal you approach looks hostile make sure you are not in the way of its escape route. Give the animal a clear birth and don’t make any noise to further aggravate the situation.
Walk away slowly. If you encounter an animal that doesn’t like your presence move back slowly and quietly.
Avoid swimming in rivers or lakes unless you are absolutely sure there are no hippos or crocodiles. Hippos are actually the most dangerous of all the big animals. They feed on the banks of the river and if they sense danger will charge and attack whatever lies in their path in order to get back to the safety of the water.
If you are camping out in the open always make sure you have something covering you even if it’s just a mosquito net. Hyenas like to check out camps for leftover food and are especially attracted to protruding objects, so keep your feet and nose inside that tent or net.
Always wear boots and socks when walking around the bush. There are plenty of venomous snakes and scorpions around that could bite you.
Don’t walk around at night in areas where you know there is wildlife present that can be potentially harmful to you. That includes the beaches around lakes where hippo graze, between tents on a camping safari and in even in towns. Hyenas wander around freely in the capital city of Lilongwe in Malawi, so always be cautious.
The food served at most safari lodges and tented camps is of the highest quality. 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.
Nairobi boasts a wide range of mouth-watering regional specialties, in addition to exceptional French cuisine, fiery Indian curries and the ever-abundant fresh fish and game. South African specialties, on the other hand, are derived from Indonesian cuisine with mildly spicy Malay dishes popular around Cape Town. Outdoor grilling is also very much a part of local life here.
In the bush, the quality of the cuisine in lodges and camps is also superb. Meats, vegetables and fruit arrive daily, fresh from the surrounding area’s rich farmlands. Early morning coffee is served before the sunrise game drive, followed by abundant breakfast buffets, luncheons on the veranda and a formal afternoon tea. Dinners are fashionably late following the return of the afternoon game drive, allowing time for relaxation and “sundowners” in the lounge or around the campfire.
A safari is a casual affair. Safari dress in casual, preferably neutral colors (e.g. khaki, brown or green); T-shirts and shorts/skirts for the day; long-sleeved cool shirts and long pants with socks for evenings outdoors (for the mosquitoes); good walking shoes; swimsuit; warm sweater or light coat for early morning and night safari drives; polarizing sunglasses; a hat or cap; a good camera and plenty of film (you will not be able to get the film you need in remote areas); sun block cream (SPF 30 or higher)
If you are prone to sunburn; malaria medication; insect repellant (often supplied by your lodge); scarf and gloves for cool evenings especially in the winter months (June – August) – yes, it can be cold in the early mornings and evenings; and a good pair of binoculars (essential).
Following is a list to help you
- Good quality sunglasses, preferably polarized – tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light
- Bush Hat
- T-shirts and one long-sleeved cotton shirt
- Shorts/ skirts
- Long trousers/slacks
- Track suit
- Underwear and socks
- Good walking shoes (running/ tennis shoes are fine)
- Warm winter sweater
- Warm Anorak or Parka (important for the cold winter mornings i.e. June – August)
- If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust
- Camera equipment and plenty of film.
- Binocular (Favorite pair)-
- Personal toiletries
- Malaria tablets
- Moisturizing cream & suntan lotion
- Anti-histamine cream
- Insect repellent e.g. Tabard, Raid, Jungle Juice, etc
- Basic medical kit (aspirins, Band-Aids), Imodium, antiseptic cream etc)
- Tissues/ “Wet Ones”
- Visas, tickets, passports, money etc
- A flashlight. Please bring spare batteries and a spare bulb as these are unobtainable in lodges and camps.
- Light rain gear for summer months (late November to April)
- Scarf for the winter months (IE. May to September)
If you are going to be staying in the major cities then bring along formal clothing for evening wear.
1. Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes
The best prevention is personal protection against the mosquito. Malaria mosquitoes generally bite after dark. Wear long sleeves and trousers in the afternoon and evening. Use insect repellent on exposed skin. Sleep under a bed net or in a netted tent or hut or in a house or caravan with screens. Close windows and doors at night. Spray insecticide aerosol and/or burn mosquito coil at night.
2. Take prophylaxis in malaria risk areas
Get good advice before you plan your holiday. The appropriate prophylaxis for given malaria area depends on several factors including:
- The parasite’s resistance to drugs in this area.
- The safety of the drug.
- The efficacy of the drug.
- The degree of malaria risk in the area.
- The risk of resistance to (or reducing the efficacy of) the drug, in the future, due to inappropriate use.
- Take the pills same day each week when weekly, or at the same time of the day if daily.
- Continue prophylaxis for 4 weeks after your return. Complete the course.
Besides malaria, there are other insect-borne diseases such as dengue, tick bite fever and sleeping sickness that you should guard against. These are less common, and you can use the same precautions you would use against mosquito bites: long-sleeved clothes and trousers, repellents and mosquito nets.
In countries where drinking water isn’t properly regulated, stick to bottled or boiled water and avoid tap water, water fountains and ice cubes. Ask your travel consultant about the safety of drinking water in the areas you’ll be visiting.
Use common sense when it comes to food and beverages. If you’re unsure of their origin, don’t touch them.
If you’re walking, it’s best to wear shoes at all times.
AIDS is rife throughout Africa, so if you’re planning to have intimate contact with the locals always use condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Avoid handling animals, especially monkeys, dogs and cats.
Avoid swimming in stagnant water.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following vaccines. See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for them to take effect:
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)
- Hepatitis B if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than six months, or be exposed through medical treatment
- Rabies, if you come into direct contact with wild or domestic animals
- Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries
- Booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults, as needed
* A yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required for entry into certain African countries, particularly if you are coming from tropical South America or elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is no risk of yellow fever in southern Africa. Please check the exact health requirements for your destination with your medical practitioner prior to departure. Africa is not responsible for providing medical advice and cannot be held liable for illness and/or associated costs that may be incurred during or after your trip.
Because the weather in Africa is often unpredictable – seasonal rains can be heavy one season, and fail altogether another – this information is a rough guide only.
Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe Summer rainfall from late October to early April; cool to warm dry sunny winter days from May to early October
Lesotho Summer from November to January and winter from May to July, with summer rainfall from September to April
Kenya Summer from December to March and winter from July to September, with long rains from March to May and short rains between November and December
Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia Summer from around December to March and winter in Malawi from June to July; in Tanzania from March to May; and in Zambia from May to October. All three countries have long rains from November to April
Mozambique summer from October to March and winter from April to September, with high Summer humidity and showers between September and April. February to March also carries a risk of cyclones.
South Africa Summer from September to April and winter from May to August, with summer rainfall in the north and winter rainfall in the south
Swaziland Summer from September to April and winter from May to August, with summer rainfall.
This depends on your airline and your point of departure. From London, Frankfurt or Amsterdam you can fly directly to Cape Town on South African Airways, Lufthansa, or KLM. There are no flights from the USA directly to Cape Town.
It begins the moment your plane touches down. Africa! In the footsteps of great explorers, adventurers, writers, frontiersmen and royalty. The next day your safari begins. Snow-capped mountains. Cavernous valleys. Sweeping savannahs. Vast deserts. Lush forests. Sparkling lakes. Arid plains. Romantic beaches. Vibrant waterfalls. And, most especially, animals by the thousands.
The sleek cats…lion, leopard and cheetah. Elephants by the thundering herd. Exotic birds in every conceivable shape, size and color Wildebeest, rhino, eland, buffalo, zebra, gazelle, giraffe, waterbuck, klipspringer and impala are abundant and easily within your view. Who knows what’s in store for you? Chance, and the skill of your African Spice Driver Guide, will determine whether you will see a family of cheetah sunning themselves sleepily on a rock, the drama of a lion kill or the thrill of an elephant charge.
The trees in the distance turn out to be a family of giraffe. The clump of bushes is a pride of lions. And the rock that moves may well be a rhino lumbering out of your way. In any event, the sheer mass and spectacle of the animals surrounding you will provide endless opportunities to fill many an album of treasured memories.
You spend the night at a lodge, rustic and so very African from the outside, yet cool and elegant inside, surrounding you with luxury and pampering you with exquisite world-class service. No expense has been spared to provide for your every comfort.
Sun-up at 6:00 a.m. A brilliant orange ball. Steaming coffee awaits you as your driver prepares for an early morning game run. As soon as you’re ready, it’s off into the bush. The dew is fast disappearing and the predators are on the prowl. Your driver expertly sets off in pursuit of the herds. Later, back at the lodge, a hearty English breakfast awaits and offers a quiet moment in which to share your experiences with fellow travelers.
Animals may be seen at the waterhole. The vast open spaces and the quiet calm of Africa are suddenly apparent as crisp, clear air allows you to see far into the distance. Luncheon. Four courses, an extravagant variety of fresh and delicious foods.
Coffee and cheese are served on the veranda overlooking the waterhole. Yet another opportunity to absorb the beauty that surrounds you. Then a couple of hours at the pool or just relaxing, while in the background you hear the sounds of chattering monkeys, roaring lions and splashing elephants as they bathe in the waters nearby.
We enjoy a proper English tea on the veranda—urbane sophistication in an untamed land—followed by an invigorating afternoon game drive. The sun is making its way down to the horizon; its blaze of red produces long, enigmatic shadows that are the perfect camouflage for all concerned. Your Spice Driver Guide is busily pointing out a dazzling array of happenings.
For camera buffs, these are the ultimate moments—taking some remarkable photos in unforgettable surroundings. Return to the lodge several hours later. Piping hot showers or leisurely baths remove a thin veil of red dust to reveal the beginnings of an appealing tan. Convivial “sundowners” at the bar precede dinner, a delectable meal with a splendid array of choices, offering just the right mixture of continental and local cuisine, prepared by chefs who would be at home in any of the kitchens of the world’s finest hotels.
The meal over, it is time to gather around the fireplace and trade tales or sit quietly on the veranda watching the game converge on the waterhole as evening shadows envelop the world. It’s getting cool and, having thoroughly enjoyed your day, you are ready for bed. The hardy may wish to stay up well into the night, staring contentedly at the starry sky or scanning the surrounding grounds for a lone animal.
Should you wish to observe a specific species that may turn up during the course of the night; a wake-up call can be arranged. A well-earned night’s sleep and then it is morning. The warm rays of the African sun awaken you for another day of safari adventure.
Yes, there is extensive coverage throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. In some countries, this may be primarily in and around major urban areas. Before traveling, ask your cell phone service provider to open your phone to allow international roaming.
Most city hotels will have either internet connection in your bedroom, or a business centre where you can spend time online. There are also some safari lodges and camps in the areas we travel which offer internet access. In remote areas, however, there is no internet connection. Relish it!
Medical facilities in South Africa, as well as in Nairobi, are excellent, featuring virtually the same state-of-the art tests, equipment and the latest procedures as found in the United States. Should you require medical services while on safari, you can depend upon the highest standards of safe, professional care and treatment.
Travelers can especially rest secure in the knowledge that Cape Town’s cardiac care is considered amongst the finest in the world , continuing the legacy of Dr. Christian Barnard, who performed the first heart transplant there in 1967.
Flying Doctor Services
When you travel with African Spice Safaris, you are assured of the services of the Flying Doctors, a group of well qualified physicians who travel by aircraft throughout the East African bush providing treatment and emergency transportation. Similar evacuation services are also available to Travelers in South Africa and select lodges in Botswana, assuring African Spice Safaris guests in remote destinations of prompt medical attention and air transportation to the nearest medical facility in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Please note that comprehensive Emergency Evacuation Insurance is also available through our travel insurance provider—a policy we highly recommend to all.
Due to a variety of factors smoking is not permitted in our Safari Vehicles. However, regular stops can be arranged for you to enjoy your cigarette .These are designated rest stops which also have bathroom facilities.
To and from your home, yes, but to and from the airport here in Africa, transportation is available at your pleasure, regardless of which airline you fly, who booked your flight or when you arrive and depart.
As our valued guests, it is our pleasure to welcome you and see you off at the airport. All you need is just putting in a request with the arrival details.
Imagine… you’ve traveled halfway across the world and, as you’re getting ready for bed, you realize that you’ve forgotten your medicine at home. Thank goodness you can phone your African Spice Personal Concierge at any time, day or night.
Stationed at our hotels in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nairobi during the day, they are also available all night via a private telephone hotline. In fact, our concierges can be reached on this hotline from virtually anywhere in the bush, day or night. So whether it’s lost medicine, flight changes, a private car, dining reservations or just a simple question, your African Spice Personal Concierge is ready and delighted to assist.
Every African Spice Safaris Driver Guide accompanying safaris in the bush in Kenya has attained a bronze-level certification by the Kenya Professional Guides Association. We’re distinctly proud to be able to make this statement and even prouder still that a number of our Driver Guides are silver certificated, with more sitting for the silver exam every day.
Quite simply, our Driver Guides are the best in the business. And they will be a vital part of your safari experience. After all, these chaps will spend many an enjoyable hour with you revealing the wonders of wildlife, geography and history, with probably a dash of their own family history thrown in! We select our Driver Guides for their discerning eye for even the smallest detail, their sincere friendliness and their dedication to service, thus ensuring an incomparable wildlife experience in an atmosphere of warm hospitality.
It is particularly heartwarming that so many returning travelers pen long letters of praise for their Spice Driver Guide, each assuming that theirs must certainly have been the best in the company!
Our Safari Directors are seasoned professionals with an average of ten years in the bush. In addition to guiding daily forays into the bush, Safari Directors provide lectures on flora and fauna, handle logistics and teach some African history, along with Swahili and tribal folklore for good measure. Travelers are thus assured of an enormous degree of personalized service, the finest possible educational experience, as well as seamless travel arrangements throughout the journey.
An African shopping trip cannot be surpassed for its pure spectacle and entertainment value, not to mention its explosive color and stunning wares. Shopping opportunities might include traditional outdoor markets teeming with a diverse assortment of exotic items, quaint and mysterious local shops, sleek modern art houses, or the delightful wares offered at roadside stands.
South Africa, with its rich mix of cultures, has an abundance of artists and craftspeople producing works of high artistic quality and workmanship. Look for fine pottery, jewellery, hand-knotted carpets, painted fabrics, locally designed clothing and paintings.
In rural areas, the traditional crafts abound, from Zulu beadwork to copper and bronze jewellery, baskets and woodcarvings. South Africa also has a rich antiques market of British treasures from the early 19th century, plus excellent specimens of Cape Dutch furniture.
In East Africa, among the wide variety of handicrafts available, one may find antique Maasai tribal ornaments and spears, Meerschaum pipes, hand-woven sisal baskets and bags of unique design, as well as a dazzling array of brilliantly hued batiks, delicate pottery and sleek ebony carvings. In addition, one sees a variety of darling handmade children’s clothes and toys.
Elegant beaded jewellery, sparkling gems and exquisite coral are also plentiful and surprisingly affordable. African Spice Safaris staff will provide suggestions for shopping adventures, and assist in the packing and shipping of these treasures to your home at the trip’s end.