Planning a safari to East Africa can at first glance be a daunting task; a myriad of companies offering an array of safari experiences to different destinations. At East Africa Safari Ventures, we are here to advise you and guide you through this process to create a safari that’s uniquely suited for you and your group.
These Frequently Asked Questions are a collection of the common questions that our safari guests have asked in the past, as well as some of the things we’ll ask you to consider as you start thinking about your adventure.
- Length of stay?
- When is the best time to travel?
- Who is travelling?
- What types of safaris are available?
- How active is a safari?
- Can I bring my children on safari?
- How will we get around?
- What languages will be spoken?
- What is included within the cost of my safari?
- Do I need to be concerned about safety?
- What support do you provide during the safari?
- Vaccines and Precautions
- What medical treatment and facilities are available?
- Do I require medical and travel insurance?
- Exactly who is East Africa Safari Ventures and can you provide us with referrals?
Length of stay?
For a first-time traveller to East Africa, this is often the most difficult question, as you may have limited time and want to see as much as you possibly can. At East Africa Safari Ventures, we pride ourselves in creating life-changing, unique travel experiences. We do not believe this can be achieved by racing between destinations and cramming as much as possible, as this simply compromises the overall experience and limits your exposure to the amazing possibilities that each hand-picked location has to offer.
Your first safari will most likely include 10-14 days on the ground in East Africa – we recommend that you aim to spend at least 3 nights in each safari area, which would give you the time to visit 3-4 destinations, each offering differing yet complementary wildlife, landscapes and community experiences of the country you will be visiting. In rare cases, we may recommend two nights in one wilderness destination if we feel this will enhance your safari experience.
Most safaris tend to focus on just one East African country, usually Kenya or Tanzania, although it’s also possibly to combine these with either of Uganda or Rwanda for those particularly interested in gorilla and chimpanzee trekking. For return guests and those with more time, you can extend your time in destinations that may hold a particular interest for you or be exceptionally good in the season you intend to travel.
When calculating your travel time, always plan to spend the first night of stay in the city of arrival, as most international flights arrive in the evening and your connection to the bush will most likely be the following morning, whether by air or road.
When is the best time to travel?
There is always resident wildlife to be seen in East Africa during every month of the year, although some destinations are much more seasonal than others. Our itineraries will be based upon the best wilderness areas to visit during your preferred time of travel. In general, the only time to avoid any area is during the heaviest rainy season, when it can be more difficult to get around. This is generally May & November, which is also when many properties are closed.
The Great Wildebeest Migration is often considered the ‘must-see’ wildlife spectacle of East Africa – what many don’t realise is that the migration occurs all year round across the Maasai Mara & Serengeti ecosystem and each month offers a different highlight.
Who is travelling?
The majority of properties we recommend are small with limited accommodation, so in order to start planning a safari we’d need to know how many adults and children will be travelling and, if possible, the children’s ages and your preferred room set up (double or twin beds, family room, etc). It’s also useful to know how active travellers are and whether you have any particular interests, so that we can suggest particular wildlife destinations and properties that will be most suitable for you.
What types of safaris are available?
East Africa Safari Ventures caters to guests who are on a medium to high budget, with our specialist consultants creating a private tailor-made itinerary for each group. This ‘Private Group Safari’ is a more exclusive and higher quality safari than shared group travel and can be for a single traveller or group of people who already know each other, such as a couple or small family or a larger groups of friends, multigenerational family or a private club group.
Our Private Group Safari itineraries feature allows you to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds to experience East Africa the way we feel it should be seen. Our recommended accommodations are always uniquely suited to a particular wilderness area and we like to give you as much flexibility as possible in your daily activities, including specially included activities.
We offer two types of Private Group Safaris:
1. Privately Guided, by a specialised guide who hosts only your group throughout your safari and personalises your trip at each stop
2. Lodge Hosted, where each property’s resident guides will host you and any other guests at the property during that time and you will share your activities.
We do not offer Shared Group Travel, where you will join strangers on a set itinerary that departs on specific dates.
How active is a safari?
Your safari can be as energetic or relaxing as you like! The traditional safari is usually thought of as game driving for the duration of your trip, as this is the best way to view and photograph wildlife safely and with minimal disturbance to the animals. However, in addition to this, it is possible to personalise your safari experience by include a wide variety of activities, either from the lodges or camps where you will be staying, or specifically arranged by our safari consultants based on your interests. Wildlife focused activities include:
1. night game drives that reveal nocturnal animals and some different anima activity, such as predators hunting
2. bush walk or walking safari takes you out of the vehicle where you will see many tracks & signs and is often led by a member of the local community
3. visits to conservation projects to learn about how our wilderness areas are protected and managed.
There are also several more exciting & and active options including – helicopter or fixed wing aircraft excursions, camel or horse riding safaris, gorilla & chimpanzee trekking, white water rafting, water sports, fly camping, quad biking and more.
If you have an ailment, disability or are concerned about your level of fitness, please let us know in advance so we can tailor your itinerary to avoid strenuous, energetic activities but allow you to experience the wonders of East Africa.
Can I bring my children on safari?
Absolutely – a safari can be one of the most exciting and rewarding holidays that a family can take!
It’s been our personal experience that children adore Africa and that families return home reveling in an amazing shared experience. Our focus is on understanding the dynamics of your family and showing kids a joyful time while they discover and investigate the environment and culture around them in safety. Many camps and lodges welcome families and are well geared up to entertain children with an array of specifically focussed activities to nurture their curiosity and creativity.
We have grown up in Africa and have been fortunate enough to now share these experiences with our own son and understand the need to keep them busy and interested. We’ll use our first-hand knowledge to select the most suitable destinations for your family to ensure that all leave with memories that will last a lifetime.
How will we get around?
East Africa’s varied and remote wilderness areas are often far apart, so the most convenient and quickest way to travel between them is on short flights in light aircraft – either a scheduled flight or private charter. Scheduled flights follow pre-set routes, stopping at multiple airstrips to drop and pick passengers before reaching their final destination. An obvious advantage of private charter flights is that you have the aircraft to yourself and will get between your destinations more quickly.
Certain national parks and conservation areas, particularly in the northern part of Tanzania, are well-linked and accessible by road and lend themselves to driving between different camps and lodges, especially as these transfers are through picturesque, game-filled wilderness and are often game drives in their own right. All of our driving transfers in the bush are done in specially converted 4×4 safari vehicles – these are perfectly suited to our gravel roads, which can often get quite bumpy. Our safari consultants will always let you know an expected minimum transfer time between camps and lodges, which may be much longer if you stop to view wildlife along the way.
It’s important to note that driving is not always a less expensive option than flying and we will recommend the mode of travel we feel will best suited to your itinerary.
What language will be spoken?
Kiswahili is the lingua franca of East Africa, although within the tourism sector English is the primary language of all guides and hosts. Many of our guides are fluent in other languages, so if you would prefer to communicate in your own language, let us know and we’ll ensure you don’t miss anything on your safari because of communication problems.
What is included within the cost of my safari?
This varies with each itinerary but we try and ensure that there are no surprises or hidden costs when you get here. Most East Africa Safari Ventures safaris are ‘fully inclusive’ – this means all accommodation, meals, standard safari activities and special ones we have arranged for you, laundry, park and conservation fees, internal road transport, flights and in most cases all house
beverages are included and paid for in advance – these will all be outlined in the detailed proposal sent to you. What this means is that from the moment you walk off your international flight to the moment you step back on, you are in our hands and can enjoy your safari without having to worry about any additional finances. Not included within the cost of our safaris are medical & travel insurance, gratuities and any additional activities not arranged in advance. If there are any other costs we know about, we will ensure that you have all the exact information well in advance of making your booking.
Do I need to be concerned about safety?
East Africa has been our home for over 3 decades – we live, work and travel throughout the region with our family and use this experience to provide first-hand knowledge and advice to our guests. Your safety is always our first priority and, in East Africa like everywhere in the world, there are some areas which are best avoided and we ensure our guests are kept well clear of these. However, when out on safari in the remote wilderness areas we recommend, surrounded by wild animals and well away from the hustle and bustle of major urban area, you will feel safe and comfortable throughout your safari.
Most of your safari will be focused around finding and viewing wild animals, often at very close quarters, and these animals are by nature wild and unpredictable. Your guide will be experienced at reading each situation, keeping you safe as you get as close to the action as possible. Each camp and lodge you stay at will provide an orientation and safety briefing on your arrival, but most of the advice is common sense to remind you that you are in a wilderness area. Within these properties, once the sum sets, you will always be escorted to and from your tent or room by a watchman, who is aware of any animal movements and will ensure your safety.
What support do you provide during the safari?
When you arrive, you will be met by an East Africa Safari Ventures staff member or representative and our team will be on hand to provide assistance and answer any questions you may have at any time during your stay. We provide you with several contact telephone numbers and email addresses, from the Directors to our Operations team, and the guides and each of the properties your area staying at will be able to assist you in reaching us, should this be necessary. No task is ever too small, from assisting in locating lost luggage and items left behind at properties and ensuring that they reach you whilst on safari, to sourcing and purchasing any equipment you may need and assisting in emergencies. These contact details can be shared with friends and family at home, should they need to contact you urgently. We register all our guests for Emergency Evacuation Cover in case of medical emergencies.
Vaccines & Precautions
East Africa is a malarial area and does contain some other tropical diseases. Before you travel, you should ensure that your immunisation jabs are up to date and that you are taking a recommended malarial prophylactic. For comprehensive advice on the country or countries you are visiting, please refer to the websites below for up to date information. It is necessary that you refer to a health professional when seeking medical advice.
US : www.cdc.gov
UK : www.masta.org
It is important that you carry proof of the required vaccines, particularly yellow fever, or a medical certificate indicating that you are unable to receive it.
What medical treatment and facilities are available?
All of the lodges & their guides carry a well-stocked first aid kit and a stock of medicines and have certification to administer first aid. You should travel with a sufficient supply of prescribed or regularly used medication and separately a copy of any prescription for replacement should you misplace them. You may also want to carry a small supply of over the counter medications for basic ailments. Depending on where you are located, there may be pharmacies, medical facilities or doctors available nearby to treat you.
We include compulsory ‘Flying Doctor’s’ cover for each of our guests. This cover provides one medical evacuation per safari to a world-class standard medical centre in in Nairobi in order to receive treatment – we include this to ensure an air ambulance can be dispatched as promptly as possible in case of an emergency, thereafter your personal medical insurance is required for treatment. All properties are able to communicate via mobile or satellite telephone and long-distance radio signal should they need to arrange evacuation or specialised treatment.
Do I require Medical & Travel Insurance?
We cannot stress enough how important both medical & travel insurance is! We advise that you purchase insurance as soon as you have made your booking to cover any pre-safari issues, most notably cancellation due to ill-health or a personal emergency at home. We also strongly recommend that all guests have insurance for the duration of the safari that provides against personal injury, medical evacuation & repatriation, loss, damage, theft, cancellation, delay, etc and specifically for activities that could be considered ‘extreme’. Many properties now insist on obtaining proof of your medical insurance upon our confirmation of your booking to ensure that you are suitably assisted in any event. A safari is an investment and we would like our guests to feel comfortable and safe in the knowledge that this investment is protected – we have seen first-hand how a guest’s experience could be ruined because of circumstances out of their control, potentially resulting in additional costs that could be covered by an insurance company. Our team can assist in liaising with your insurance company should this be required.
Exactly who is East Africa Safari Ventures and can you provide us with referrals?
East Africa Safari Ventures is a business owned and operated by Safari Services East Africa Ltd, a Tourism operator registered in Nairobi, Kenya, which is registered with the Kenya Association of Tour Operators and holds all licences necessary to trade. The company is wholly owned by East Africa Safari Ventures founders, Joe & Gillian Charleson.
We get to know our guests well and they are always happy to provide you with details of their experiences with us – in many ways they are our finest ambassadors. Should you wish to chat with one of our former guests from your country or region, we’ll provide them with your provided contact details so that they can call you directly.
Upon confirmation of your safari to East Africa, we will provide you with a detailed ‘Guest Information Booklet’ that has further details on the destination, requirements and our recommendations for making the final plans for your safari. Our team is always at hand to discuss any detail of your safari and assist in any queries that you may have.