FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In our efforts to ensure that you Travel with Confidence, we have compiled a list of the most Commonly Asked Questions, to put your mind at ease, while you prepare for your journey to Africa. In case some of your questions have not been addressed here please ask African Expedia consultants. We look forward to answering your questions about specific itineraries and to help you decide on and ideal safari adventure and destination for you.
Is it safe to visit Africa?
At African Expedia our number one concern is your safety. If we felt that traveling to Africa was unsafe we would not arrange African safaris. In general petty theft is common in Africa’s major cities and towns. Visitors should take the same precaution as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets, and cameras when walking in crowded places. Avoid walking at night and place valuables in safe deposit boxes at hotels.
While at safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far removed from human settlement and crime is virtually non existent. However it is still advised that valuables be locked away in a room safe or kept under the supervision of the camp or lodge manager while on safari.
Please note travel safety concerns arising from a negative event in one African country do not apply to the “whole” of Africa, just as travel safety concerns in New York do not apply to a trip to West Virginia.
It is of utmost importance that when planning your trip to Africa, it is best and is advised to work with a company that has intimate knowledge of each country – not just its wildlife and attractions but also its unique cultures, economy and government as safety issues often stem from these areas. African Expedia consultants are from Africa and we live in Africa so we have intimate knowledge of the countries we feature.
Where Should I go?
East Africa ( Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania) is favoured for first-time “Safari –Goers”. No matter which game parks you visit, you are likely to see a wide array of game in larger numbers than almost anywhere else. For travellers you fascinated and perplexed by the great migration of the wildebeest as the scientific community, this phenomenon can be seen here most of the year, depending on where you go. July through September the migration can be seen in Kenya’s Masai Mara before they move south into the Serengeti plains of Tanzania, where they ultimately congregate and bear their young in January and February. The entire herd then begins its return to the Masai Mara. Uganda in Central Africa offers gorilla trekking and a rougher safari experience for the adventure-seeker.
Many of East Africa’s National Parks and highlights are accessible by either road or air, making it an easy region to navigate. For those who prefer travel by air, an efficient network of local scheduled flights links the different areas; if joining a small group, road safaris can be excellent value for those on a budget.
Eastern Africa is favoured by travellers seeking more than wildlife as the regions offers astonishing hospitality and diversity from the wildest and most remote safari regions to the cosmopolitan culture and beauty of East Africa. Like Tanzania and Kenya offers an outstanding and rewarding game-viewing experience. One of the reasons for this is that drives are conducted in open 4 x 4 safari vehicles, The open vehicle allows unparalleled visibility and the unique raised seating in some of the vehicles will spoil you forever! Guides in southern Africa are the most highly-trained and respected professionals in their field and their knowledge will be one of the main reasons that your safari to southern Africa surpasses your expectations.
Southern Africa is quite creative in terms of ways to view game. Apart from the usual game drives, you will find that many camps offer night drives as well as walks. You can also do canoe.
Beyond the safari experience, the cosmopolitan cities and coastline of South Africa and the striking landscapes of Namibia can be the perfect complement to safari and travellers are encouraged to take advantage of the contrasts of this region.
When is the best time to go?
Africa is an all year round destination. You will hear varying ideas about the timing of your trip, but keep in mind that people travel year round to all the destinations on the destinations featured by African Expedia. However, attractions, activities and safaris each have a ‘best season’ for full enjoyment, which varies according to region. For example, the Cape Peninsula experiences wind, rain and cold weather in winter, particularly in July and August – although many vacationers enjoy the interior and wine lands during this season. Some safari destinations have good wild life viewing most of the year round, but many will have particularly good ‘big five’ sightings during specific periods only. Victoria Falls is at its most spectacular in April – May, but is impressive from January through July. Bear in mind each season has its advantages, so if you have set travel dates, chances are you will be able to have a great trip no matter where you are going. Although it is important to understand the seasonal trends and how that will affect your trip; remember that weather is variable and so it is quite possible to go for days without rain during the peak of the rainy season, or have thundershowers in the middle of the dry season!
African Expedia consultants will provide guidance relating to your itinerary options and travel time-frame, to help you to select the best option to meet your specific interests. As a general guideline in East and Central Africa the long rains are from early April through early June, and the short rains from late November through December. It is often less expensive to travel during the long rainy season. Dry seasons offer excellent visibility and more reliable road conditions, and game tends to congregate around the limited water sources, making the animals easier to find. July and August are generally extremely busy in East Africa, offering comfortable temperatures in addition to being a popular time for travel world-wide … so be sure to book well in advance.
In Southern Africa, the rainy season runs mainly from late November through mid-April in the safari regions; however if you are traveling to South Africa, the southern Cape is experiencing summer at that time and is a wonderful place to visit. The Cape area can be cold and rainy during their winter from June through August. Often high season rates for the safari regions go into effect in July so it is sometimes possible to save a bit of money by traveling prior to that – May and June can be delightful months to travel. Due to the smaller size of safari camps and lodges in southern Africa, it is necessary to book well in advance, particularly for travel from June through September.
In the island of the Indian Ocean, generally the weather is similar to that of southern Africa, with the summer rains lasting from November through April, with occasional cyclones during that time. The dry season from May to October is ideal.
What Types Of Safaris Are There?
Safaris vary from rustic participation camping where the guides and all the equipment is supplied, but the traveler is required to assist with camp chores and putting up his or her own tent, to absolute luxury fly-in safaris to magnificent permanent camps and lodges with private jets.
Safaris can have set departures where a group of people depart on a specific date and travel together for a period of time or alternatively, customized safaris which allow travelers the freedom to have a say in the design of their itinerary, and to determine the date on which to start their travels.
Special interest safaris are also available, from of Camel Safaris, Elephant Back Safaris, Canoeing Safaris, stargazing and Bird Watching Safaris etc.
Is Africa a good family destination?
Africa offers outstanding value for families. However, some destinations and establishments cater more fully for the enjoyment of children than others. We do offer Family Safaris to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Please contact us for more specific information
What is the accommodation like?
Our travel itineraries include a selection of value, comfortable or luxury safari accommodations. Luxury itineraries offer 5-star hotel and resort accommodation and high-end luxury safari lodges and tented camps. All comfort and luxury safari destinations have en-suite facilities and are of the highest standard available in Africa, selected for their ambience and charm. Lodges and camps are frequently located in remote areas, without the distraction of telephones, television, cell phones – and in some cases, electricity.
How much does an Africa trip cost?W at is your budget?
The main elements that determine your trip cost are: season, length of time, the level of luxury, and airfares. Providing an approximate budget to work with will enable African Expedia to recommend appropriate accommodation/services for you to consider. Your budget will help determine which country will work best for you, as some countries are more expensive to visit than others.
- Seasons :Your budget may also influence the time of year you choose to travel; off peak season travel is less expensive than peak season travel. Prices can literally double in certain areas and certain lodges and camps. The most expensive times of the year are during the holiday period from mid- December through mid-January. If your budget is tight or if you are looking to visit more than one destination and your schedule is flexible, traveling during the green seasons could result in substantial savings.
- Length of time : Obviously your budget will determine the length of your trip. Adding another week onto your trip can add more to the total cost than you may have originally planned or expected. A good rule of thumb for determining how long you can travel is “The per day per Simply shortening a trip by one day can cut the cost by hundreds of dollars. If you have a flexible schedule and time you can take advantage of less expensive options such travel off peak season or instead of taking a charter flight you can take scheduled flights or road transfers. Length of the trip is another factor that determines the cost of your trip.
- Your travel style and Activities: Style goes a long way toward defining a travel experience and is also a big factor in the cost of your trip. Here are some of the questions to consider:- Are you looking to travel luxuriously? When flying from camp to camp, are you happy to share the plane with other travelers or do you prefer a plane chartered direct? Do you need air conditioning everywhere? Would you prefer to drive from park to park of you rather fly? In cities, do you prefer a boutique hotel or large hotel or B&B? Are you looking to save money by joining a group of other travelers? How active do you want to be during your trip? Are you looking to join a group on a set tour, or do you want a custom designed yours? What types of activities are of interest to you? Are you celebrating special occasions –wedding, honeymoon, anniversary, birthday, family reunion or alumni reunion?
- The prices can range from $200 to $2,500 per person per day. The ranges are wide and your options are numerous, starting from basic necessities such as pitching your own tent to flushing toilets and running water to brand name bath products and bed sheets, wine cellars and gourmet meals to dinning with fine china and crystal, plunge pools in your camp/lodge, from chartered helicopters to private villas brimming with every luxury. So you have to make your choices according your travel style and lifestyle and African Expedia is here to assist you make that choice.
Aren’t wild animals dangerous?
Certainly there is a degree of danger as the behavior of wild animals cannot be guaranteed. However most animals are frightened by the sight / smell of humans and rather than attack, will flee (unless cornered or provoked). Attacks on humans are rare. While on safari you will be accompanied by licensed guides who are well trained and have an amazing understanding of the wildlife with which they share their lives on a daily basis. In addition many guides carry firearms for your safety (mostly in southern Africa).
At your tented camp or lodge it is not uncommon for wildlife to wander through as camps and lodges are typically not fenced. An attack on a sleeping traveler would be highly unusual. Never venture outside your accommodations at night without your guide. Always consult with your guide/s when in doubt.
What medical precautions do I need to take?
Generally there are no required inoculations and health concerns are the same as those for travel to Eastern Europe, South America or East Asia. The vast majority of traveler’s to Africa return from their safaris happy and healthy! Malaria is present in many parts of Africa – we will again advise you if you will be visiting a malaria area. Generally safari destinations fall within malaria areas (excepting parts of South Africa). Anti-malarial medication is essential when visiting these destinations – please consult your doctor or a local health department to prescribe the appropriate prophylactics and the latest health precautions.
What baggage restrictions apply when traveling?
When traveling out to Africa, you may take the full baggage allowance permitted by your international airline. When traveling on safari, however, you will be limited to 22-26 lbs (10-12 Kg) per person – packed in a soft-sided case – for travel in the light aircraft used to transfer guests between destinations. We can arrange storage of your excess baggage at a convenient and secure location while you are on safari.
Laundry services are provided at select lodges and camps. Dress is casual, so you will not have to carry formal clothing while on safari.
What clothing and other items should I bring?
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). To Africa Tours and Safaris will provide you with a suggested packing list.
Do I need Medical Insurance?
It is advisable for all travelers to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before trip departure. This should cover you for events such as trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, sickness and evacuation, accidental death, common carrier, 24 hour medical assistance, traveler’s assistance, and emergency cash transfer. To Africa Tours and Safaris offer Trip Interruption, cancellation and medical insurance through a third party.
What medical services are available?
There is no general answer to this question, since your travel itinerary may take you to cities with excellent medical services and to remote areas with more limited resources. If you have a medical condition, please take this into account when planning your itinerary. Many safari destinations have qualified emergency first-aid staff members. Ask our travel consultant to confirm that this applies to the specific destinations that you choose.
Who will meet me when I get there?
African Expedia will arrange and manage all your pick-ups and transfers, with our professional and reliable partners throughout Africa. You will be provided, before departure, with a complete and detailed itinerary for your entire trip booked through us. You will know when and by whom you will be met; you will have local contact numbers and address; your ground transfers will be prepaid – with vouchers provided as proof of payment.
Can I have my clothes washed while on safari?
Most safari lodges and camps offer laundry service .There are some that offer a complimentary laundry especially if you stay is all inclusive. Please note undergarments are often excluded. You may wish to bring a small supply of liquid laundry soap (a small plastic travel bottle filled with Woolite works well for hand washing).
Is there electricity at the safari lodges and camps?
Electricity in east and southern Africa is 220/240 volts. Most safari lodges and camps are not connected to an electrical supply. Solar lighting (backed up by batteries) is common, with many lodges having a generator which runs part of the day (morning and late evening). Lanterns also provide light at night.
Will I be able to recharge my video camera batteries?
If a camp or lodge is connected to electricity mains or has a generator you may be able to recharge your video batteries. Many camps and lodges have the correct adapter plugs however we recommend that you bring your own plug and converter. One of the best options for recharging video batteries is an adapter allowing you to recharge from a vehicle battery.
What types of food are served on safari?
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.
What foods should we avoid? What about drinking water?
In most cases it is safe to eat all of the foods offered by lodges and camps as they take great care to ensure that food is prepared in a healthy manner. If you are really worried about contracting a “stomach bug” don’t eat salads, avoid ice cubes in drinks, although many places use purified water for ice cubes, however, simply ask if you are concerned, and eat only fruits that have thick skins which are peeled like oranges and bananas.
Although water in many cities and small towns is purified and safe to drink, it is wise to drink only bottled drinks which are readily available. It is advised that you ask the water bottle is opened in front of you. In addition don’t swallow water during a shower and use purified water for brushing teeth.
What about special dietary needs?
Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Africa as long as your needs are known in advance. When making your travel arrangement give advanced notice so that arrangements can be made with the lodges and camps you are scheduled to stay at. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians, depending on their forte. Local specialties can be surprisingly good! With the exception of a few lodges, halaal and kosher food is not available at most camps/lodges.
What is there to buy in Africa?
Shopping while on safari is limited. Often lodges and camps have small curio shops where you can buy postcards, local goods such as carvings or books, clothing (hats, shirts), and film. At airports and in larger towns you will find African curio markets where you can by all sorts of carvings, masks, drums, jewelry etc…in general souvenirs and curios are inexpensive (in US dollar terms) – still, fun spirited bartering is the norm.
In most cities there are upmarket jewelers and art galleries where you can easily spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on African art.
How much money should I bring?
You will need very little spending money on most safaris as the majority of meals and activities are included in your package cost. You will need to pay for lunch, dinner, and drinks when you are staying at hotels on a bed and breakfast basis as is the case at most lodges and hotels in cities. Bills may be settled by US cash, by travelers check, or by credit card (accepted at most lodges, camps, hotels).
Should I bring cash or travelers checks? Are credit cards accepted?
Credit cards may be used in large towns at restaurants and shops with MasterCard and Visa being most accepted. However, use may be restricted in small towns and country areas and non-existent in small retail shops. Automatic teller machines (ATM’s) are situated outside most banks in towns and cities in southern Africa, and international credit cards often can be used to withdraw currency. However, it is advisable not rely on ATM machines for your currency needs.
Should we purchase local currency?
US cash or travelers checks may changed into local currency at airports and banks. Small bills (US $1, US $5, US $10, and US $20) are best. Always keep your receipt so that when you depart you may change your money back to US dollars.
Is there internet access while on safari?
Internet access is available at most hotels and on your safari vehicles free of charge! The majority of safari lodges and camps have internet access.