Anyone travelling to Africa for the first time has a myriad of questions: What do we pack? What are the entry requirements? What will the temperature be? To make your visit truly relaxing and enjoyable, here are some answers to those questions. It must be acknowledged that details will change from time to time.
Please read through this information, as there are certain things, which you will need to check and attend to ahead of your departure. Of course, please feel free to email or call us with any questions you may still have.
As you prepare for your safari, we’d like to share our recommendations to ensure most comfort and at ease whilst with us in Africa. The dress code on safari is casual with the emphasis on comfort. A long-sleeved shirt for protection from the sun and long pants for protection from occasional mosquitoes in the evenings is recommended. You will need a warm sweater / shell jacket for the early mornings and evenings when it can get surprisingly cold. The concept of ‘layering’ is a good system to employ. A waterproof rain jacket can double as a windbreaker. Daytimes can get quite warm, though never humid, so shorts and t-shirts/short sleeve shirts during the heat of the day are the norm. Since laundry is done daily in almost every camp, lodge or hotel you will visit, it is not necessary to bring more than 4 or 5 sets of clothing. The camp and lodge staff will not wash ladies underwear due to local traditions but laundry soap is provided. Please avoid clothing resembling army uniforms eg. Army jackets, caps, trousers as it is illegal in most African countries.
Binoculars are essential. Each person should have his or her own pair to avoid the frustration of passing them around when something exciting happens.
Therefore we strongly recommend each guest goes on safari with a pair of binoculars. Since not all the animals and other sights are very close up, one always needs at some point to use a binocular whilst on a normal safari. It greatly enhances their experience, and there is nothing more frustrating to a safari guest than having to share binoculars when there is that special moment taking place, such as a wildebeest crossing or a rare leopard sighting that is not close.
The best field binoculars are lightweight with central focusing and with good lighting-gathering capability. Do not get them too powerful, as these are hard to hold steady: 7 x 40, 8 x 32 or 10 x 40 are excellent sizes. Avoid the zoom variety, as clarity is often poor.
East Africa:- has two rainy seasons a year. The “long” rains normally set in towards the end of March or early April and last through until the end of May, whilst the “short” rains usually break in mid October and last until the beginning of December. However, during the East African rainy seasons, it is unusual for rain to fall every day or all day, but rather in heavy thunderstorms in the afternoons and at night, with beautiful clear sunny spells in between. During the intervening dry seasons road conditions are more predictable as is the game viewing, since the animals are concentrated within reach of permanent water sources. During the rains, the animals disperse, no longer dependent on their dry season feeding grounds. Then inland waterholes fill with rainwater, releasing the pressure on their dry season range and enabling them to enjoy lush vegetation further afield. At this time of the year, however, the country looks its best, everything green and beautiful adorned with a profusion of wild flowers attended by myriads of butterflies. It is the vibrant season of plenty – the season of renewal. In short therefore, it can be wet in April and May and again end of October through to the end of December, and dry from January to April and again from mid October to the end of December. Higher temperatures are experienced in East Africa during the Northern hemisphere winter and vice versa, due to the positioning of the sun, but altitude also influences temperature, cooler at higher altitudes and hotter at the lower altitudes.
Southern Africa:- There is generally just one main rainy season a year in the safari regions extending from late November through to mid April. However, the Cape of South Africa enjoys summer conditions at this time of the year. It can be very cold and wet from June until the end of August. Heavy fleeces and a light rain coat are highly recommended.
Although these are general guidelines regarding seasonal patterns, please be advised that the weather can vary dramatically throughout your trip. We strongly recommend dressing in layers, as this is an effective method of compensating for the wide variations in temperatures.
All visitors require a valid passport and return air tickets. You must have a valid passport that does not expire for at least six months after you return home, and has at least two blank pages left prior to departure.
Visas are required for certain visitors to East Africa dependant on nationality and are valid for a period of three months from date of issue.
Please inquire with us your visa requirement for your destination country.
The unit of currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (Kshs), Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS), Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF) and Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX). Foreign currency can be exchanged at commercial banks and many hotels and safari lodges, but most purchases can be made in US $. Banking hours are Monday to Friday and from 09h00 to 14h00, and on the first and last Saturday of the month from 09h00 to 11h00. The Bank at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is open 24 hours. Credit cards are accepted at many hotels and safari lodges. American Express, Visa and MasterCard all have local agents in Nairobi. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than
American Express. It is often wise to either withdraw from the Airport / Nairobi ATM (Visa card) or change about US $ 200 into local currency for personal purchases in remote areas where local vendors might not accept US Dollars.
Communications in East Africa are not, yet, as sophisticated as the rest of the world but this is changing rapidly. There is mobile signal in a number of areas in Kenya. A number of lodges and camps provide WIFI services but things can get a little temperamental if there is bad weather or an unforeseen glitch in the system.
(For more information about your specific safari please send us an email.)
The vast majority of our destinations speak English primarily. Should you require a guide or a translator who is proficient in other languages, please give us plenty of notice and we can arrange for this.
Most city hotels have facilities for storing luggage not required whilst on safari.
Baggage allowance- Private Air Charter: Duffel bags are ideal as they store easily, especially in a private chartered aircraft. When a light aircraft is utilised, the maximum baggage per person is restricted to 20kgs (approximately 45lbs.) per person. One soft duffel bag with wheels and one carry on bag per person is recommended.
Baggage allowance- Scheduled Flight: The Baggage Allowance on Scheduled Flights is restricted to 15kgs in East Africa per person (including hand luggage) in soft bags, plus a reasonable amount of photographic/video equipment. Any excess luggage may involve the use of an extra aircraft to carry such luggage and will therefore be charged as an additional cost.
2 pairs of lightweight pants
3 pairs of lightweight shorts
2 long sleeve shirts
3 short sleeve shirts
4 cotton T-shirts
1 pair of sunglasses
1 pair of walking shoes
2 pairs of comfortable casual shoes
1 pair of flip flops
1 cotton wrap or scarf
1 fleece lined waterproof jacket
1 set of casual lounge wear
1 swim suit and cover up
5 pairs of undergarments
5 pairs of socks
1 pair of pyjamas
2 sets of smart casual wear for the evenings
Sunscreen SPF 30 or higher
Wet Wipes and /or Antibacterial Gel
Small First Aid Kit
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Shampoo and Conditioner
Prescriptions (with doctors letter)
Tissues (travel pack)
International Certificate of Vaccinations
Passport (valid for 6 months with two extra
blank pages per country visited and visas)
USD$ Dollars for shopping & tipping
Small Flashlight with extra batteries
Binoculars (strongly recommended)
Ear plugs and eye mask (to sleep on the plane)
Journal with pen
Converter and adapter plugs for electronics (British plug)
Flash & Lenses
Memory Cards – at least 1 gigabyte
Extra batteries and necessary chargers
Bean bag or small tripod
One set of packing cubes (e.g. flight 101)
Laundry is done daily in camp and lodges, dried and returned to your tent the same afternoon, depending on the weather. The lodges have daily laundry, and all the high-end ones do not charge for the service except Nairobi hotels. The camp and Lodge staff will not wash ladies underwear due to local traditions but laundry soap is provided.
As is customary, we advise you to tip in accordance with the level and quality of service provided. The following guidelines are generally accepted practice:
For camp staff US$15 per guest per day, as a pooled tip, to be shared amongst the cooks, tent attendants, mess waiters etc.
For your safari guide US$50-$100 per day.
For porters and waiters at hotels and for taxi drivers the usual tip is USD$5.
Please note that the traditional gratuity to safari guides or camp staff is not included in the price of your safari and is completely discretionary and at your individual comfort level (payable in cash).
We suggest to bring funds for tipping with you from home. US$/Euro/Pounds tips are perfectly acceptable.
Our safari vehicles are fitted with roof hatches for unobstructed viewing of wildlife, but often a better photographic angle is obtained from a lower view-point. We provide sand or bean bags for use as camera rests. For game and bird photography, a telephoto lens of between 200 and 400 mm (15x Optical zoom or greater) is strongly recommended. A wide-angle lens of 24 mm or similar is also a great asset to have for scenic shots. Our safari guides are familiar with many camera systems and can often assist with their operation or with advice on how to get the best pictures. Make sure that you are thoroughly conversant with all your equipment before coming on safari and that you have an ample supply of storage cards and spare batteries and lens papers with you. Out of respect for the local cultures, seek the advice of your Guide before photographing people. Note that certain Government, military and police buildings (including airports in a lot of African countries) may not be photographed. Camera batteries can be recharged at all Lodges and Camps .
Still SLR Camera
For the serious photographer, one or two camera bodies with 28mm, 80-200/300mm zoom for close ups and birds, 400mm lenses. Wide angle and macro lenses are also useful for the enthusiast. An ultra violet (UV) filter should be fitted to each lens. A polarising circular filter is advisable on a wide angle (this makes the sky blue and the clouds white on the typical clear days). There are some good 1.4 teleconvertors, which are suitable for zoom lenses that work very well – better than the x2 converters. For the less serious, try to bring a camera that has a decent optical zoom for at least 3X (but preferably 5X or more) for good wildlife shots.
Allow for a minimum of two spare batteries for operation away from the vehicle plus at least four to six hours of video storage. Most of the safari vehicles have a 12 VDC to 115 VAC portable power inverter, which is ideal for charging batteries. You may wish to purchase one (available from Radio Shack). A flash, powered off the video battery is recommended for interior scenes or around the campfire.
Out of respect for the local culture, please seek the advice of your guide before photographing people. Certain government, military and police buildings may not be photographed eg. Airports, Police Stations, Government offices.
Binoculars are essential. Each person should have his or her own pair to avoid the annoyance of passing them around when something exciting happens. The best field binoculars are lightweight with central focusing and good light-gathering capability. Do not get them too powerful (unless you have good binocular experience) as these are hard to hold steady: 7 x 50, 8 x 40 or 10 x 40 or 10 x 50 are excellent sizes. Avoid the zoom and auto focus variety if possible, as clarity is often poor.
The voltage is 220/240 AC, 50 Hz and for most 110v appliances, you will need an adapter for the proper plug configuration and a converter for the correct current. Rectangular three pronged plug sockets are in use in Kenya and Tanzania. Most mobile safari camps do not have individual electric outlets in the tents but have a common charging area in the main mess tent. However most permanent lodges and camps do have charging capabilities in the rooms.
Generators or Solar supply electricity in lodges and fixed camps, which often operate at specific times of the day. In our private mobile camps electricity is provided by a Solar battery & inverter system running at 220v. Electrical current adapter kits are not readily available and it is advisable to bring your own if one is needed. Most of our safari vehicles also have small inverters for charging phones, cameras and computers. Those that don’t have invertors, have 12v cigarette lighter plugs.
The vehicles we use are modified 4 x 4 Land Rover and Toyota Land cruisers specially adapted for safari use to ensure maximum comfort and great game viewing. Roof hatches or high open sides ensure that guests are able to have good game viewing, but also the comfort of being able to escape from the elements if desired. The lodges on privately owned land tend to do their game drives in open four-wheel drive vehicles, and while this enables all-round visibility one can expect a lot more dust and cold mornings/evenings so bring a warm jacket and hat.
Currently, no vaccinations are required for entry into Kenya unless you are coming from a Yellow Fever region then the Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is also required for entry into Tanzania and South Africa. Certain immunization shots are recommended by the US Health department for International travel and so please check with your own physician as to what is recommended. Our basic guide is a Tetanus and Hepatitis A shot, and a course of anti-malaria pills such as ‘Malorone’. You will need to make an appointment with your personal physician or travel clinic at least 4 – 6 weeks prior to departure to review health precautions, including necessary vaccinations and medications.
Please discuss any other health-related questions with your health practitioner at this time.
Malaria: A course of malaria prophylactics is recommended for all visitors. Most products need to be taken a few days / weeks before entering a malaria area (depending on the brand) and for 4 weeks after you return home. Consult your doctor, nearest vaccination centre or pharmacist for the latest medication for the areas you are travelling. Take your tablets regularly and ensure that you have sufficient supply for the duration of your holiday and for the period after your return home. We recommend that you take your tablets in the evening in order to avoid experiencing any side effects during the day. Mosquitoes usually bite between dusk and dawn. The best prevention is avoidance so we strongly advise that you cover up by wearing long sleeves, long pants and use mosquito repellent.
General recommendations: Always take precautions against the relentless overhead sun. Proximity to the Equator makes the African sun particularly strong and so it is recommended that you use the proper level of protection. In the winter months, the game parks can be dusty. Contact lens wearers are advised to bring eye drops and saline solution, as well as a backup pair of glasses. Wraparound sunglasses provide the best protection from dust and other eye irritants. Sun protection chap -stick, sunscreens, moisturising creams and insect repellents are recommended. Please bring sufficient quantities of any prescription medications.
Personal Health History: Please make us aware of any allergies. If you have any specific health restrictions that may affect your choice of accommodation, cuisine or style of travel, please be sure to share that information with us.
Your guide will advise you of the specific water situation pertaining to your accommodation. We recommend drinking sealed bottled water, which is available from most hotels and lodges, and always available, in our own private mobile camps and vehicles.
If you can, make your last day at home as relaxed as possible with a good nights rest instead of frantic last-minute packing. A little light exercise, such as going for a walk, can help you relax and feel fit the next day. Try going to bed a little earlier or getting up a little later to start compensating for any difference in time zones. To fight jet lag, try to take day flights whenever you can. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing to fly in, preferably neutral fibres, which allow your skin to breath. A good moisturiser will also help protect your skin from dry air on the aeroplane. To help your body cope with high-altitude pressure changes, do not eat too heavily the night prior to flying, drink plenty of water and not too much alcohol, coffee or tea.
Please ensure that you are cognisant of the booking conditions, which are included in the information given to you prior to your safari commencing, together with your itinerary. If you do not have our Terms and Conditions, please request a copy. By travelling on safari, this implies acceptance of our Terms and Conditions.
Personal effects including cameras may be imported temporarily without a permit. A customs bond may be requested from visitors bringing in excessive video or film equipment, radios, and musical instruments in order to ensure that these goods are re-exported but generally, the customs officials are very welcoming. Firearms are forbidden except under special circumstances. Drones are forbidden except under special circumstances.
Minimum travel insurance is highly advisable. It is recommended that all our guests take out comprehensive travel insurance before travel commences for cancellation and curtailment, emergency evacuation back to your home town, medical expenses, default, personal baggage and money. Please contact your Insurance Company for quotations.
All guests should have comprehensive medical and travel insurance. Sangalai Ltd is a corporate member of the Flying Doctors Service for emergency evacuation to one of two private hospitals in Nairobi. Individual membership is included in your safari quotation and is valid for three months whilst in Kenya. However, your own personal Medical Cover should cover you in the event of hospitalisation and emergency medical repatriation to your home country.
Please note that Kenya and Tanzania both recently enforced a ban (29th August 2017 for Kenya and 1st June 2019 Tanzania) on the use of plastic bags. All guests travelling into Kenya or Tanzania with duty free plastic bags shall be required to leave the bags at the entry point and seek alternative carrier bags. Rwanda also has had a plastic bag ban since 2008. We request that you do not carry any plastic bags or zip lock bags whilst visiting Kenya, Rwanda or Tanzania as there are penalties for those caught.
Security is of the utmost importance to us to ensure you have a safe stay here as you would in any other country. Do not carry large sums of money with you, keep a close watch on handbags, purses, wallets etc when walking in crowded areas. Avoid walking alone at night, lock up valuables in hotel safe deposit boxes and never leave valuables in view in an unattended car. In safari camps and lodges that do not have safes or lockable doors, please keep tempting valuables out of sight. Please make copies of passports, credit cards and other pertinent identification and documents prior to departing from home. Keep one copy with you and leave one copy with your emergency contact at home.
Thousands of books have been written about Africa. Depending on your own specific interests, you will be able to find something on every aspect of this astonishing continent, either before your arrival or after you have settled in. Some authors you might want to explore are Peter Beard, Isak Dinesen, Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Leakey, Robert Ruark, Peter Matthiessen, Jonathan Scott, Dame Daphne Sheldrick or Beryl Markham.
We would like to share our guidelines by which we conduct our safaris in order to protect the earth and her cultures. The guiding principles reflect a travel ethic, which you, the attentive traveller, will experience with us.
Avoid or minimise environmental impacts on fragile ecosystems. Develop an understanding and respect for the complex ecological interactions of plants and animals in the natural world. Your guides are naturalists skilled in translating information or history into interesting and easily understandable terms.
Promote and encourage the preservation of natural values among local people. The more local people observe outside interest in their natural environments and benefit from the resulting tourism, the more they will commit to safeguarding these values upon which the tourism is based.
Create opportunities for genuine, beneficial, cross-cultural interactions between hosts and guests. Take the time to learn key phrases in the local language. Dress appropriately for the local customs.
Involve indigenous people in organising and leading your trip to provide you with an authentic experience. All our guides speak fluent English and are mostly conversant in local dialects.
Provide a wide range of opportunities through which local people can learn from and participate in tourism in meaningful ways. We encourage native people, especially from minority tribal groups with little political power or meaningful economic opportunity, to participate in the operation of our trips as guides, cooks, camp staff and managers.
Advocate the preservation of natural areas and protection of the rights of native people who may reside within them or otherwise depend on their resources for their livelihood. Our guests are given opportunities to learn about local conservation issues and are informed about organisations working to protect the natural environments and indigenous people of the places visited.
Nurture travellers who go on unusual vacations to appreciate the differences rather than the similarities. Travellers who engage themselves in customs, traditions and languages gain a better understanding of themselves and the world.
FEBRUARY NEWS UPDATE
Robert & I wanted to bring you all up to date on the latest news from your favourite safari…