Useful Tips For Planning Your Wildlife Safari to Kenya and Tanzania

Kenya and Tanzania represent an amazing combination of an African wildlife safari. You will enjoy a memorable safari whether in individual countries or combining both countries.

Designing your Kenya and Tanzania safari itinerary

If you are thinking of combining the two countries, on an average budget safari overland, you are well-advised to put aside about 12 to 14 days at the minimum to allow you enjoy a well-designed safari program.

You can however visit more parks and reserves with the same number of days if you can afford to fly between some destinations. For example in, Kenya, there are regular, reliable schedule flights between Nairobi and some of the well-known wildlife areas like Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Samburu. Likewise, you will find similar regular schedule flights between Arusha and the various lodges in the vast Serengeti and Lake Manyara. Needless to say, by flying between some of the parks and reserves, you save on the time. This is of course besides the relative comfort that the flight options offer.

In comparison with the schedule fixed departure tours, a private safari is much better in the sense that it offers you the flexibility to make changes and enjoy the safari at your own pace. With the schedule fixed departure tours, one is obliged to follow the program as set from the beginning, taking into consideration the interest of the other participants.

The climate

If there is a perfect climate in the world, surely it is in East Africa with cool mornings and warm middays. Although it can be hot and sticky by the sea, inland the air is dry and even at midday the temperatures are equitable. Due to the proximity to the equator, sunrise occurs daily between 06.00hrs and 06.30hrs while sunset takes place 12 hours later. It can get quite chilly in the early morning and evening hence visitors should pack a sweater. Each time of year has its special attractions. There are two main rainy seasons – usually mid-April to the end of May and November to mid-December. Even during the rains, the weather can be pleasant with rain occurring in the early morning and late in the afternoon or evening. If you travel during the rainy season, insist on using 4WD vehicles for your overland travel between the nightstops.

Visa Regulations

Visitors must be in possession of valid visa before entering either Kenya or Tanzania. Most nationalities can obtain the tourist visa at the entry points – airports and designed border post. For both the tourist visa and commercial visa, the regulations vary dependent on nationality and country of origin. It is always advisable to check with the nearest tourist office or diplomatic mission. Your travel agent or tour operator may also be in position to advise you on specific visa needs.

Health regulations and medical advise

Inoculation centres in the country of origin will provide updated information and advice on health regulations and recommendations. As Kenya & Tanzania enjoy a healthy, invigorating climate, visitors need feel no concern for their general health during their stay. However, malaria is endemic in certain areas and anti-malaria medication should be taken according to prescription recommendations. Visitor requiring special medication should pack sufficient supplies in their hand luggage. Chemist shops are well stocked, but the same generic medication may not be readily available. It advisable to drink bottled water. On safari, rooms are provided with flasks of filtered and purified water. Mineral water is readily available.

Customs and exit regulations

Personal effects, film and cameras may be imported temporarily free of duty. However professional video equipment, tape recorders, radios, musical instruments and souvenirs from other countries may require a customs bond to ensure re-exportation. Baggage is normally inspected by customs officials on arrival and departure. Please strictly adhere to baggage limitations as advised by the airline as excess baggage charges can be quite expensive.

Airport and departure taxes

A local airport service charge is payable on departure for domestic flights. In some cases, it may be included on the airfare. Please seek clarification from our travel / booking agent.

The currency

Kenya’s currency is the Kenya Shilling (KES). Tanzania’s currency is Tanzania Shilling (Tsh). There is no restriction to the amount of foreign currency a visitor may import provided that it is exchanged through authorized dealers only. It is essential to retain a receipt for each transaction in order to re-exchange the local currency on departure. Foreign currency as the U.S. dollar or British pound (in cash or travellers cheque) are the most widely accepted. Well known credit cards are also widely accepted in Kenya & Tanzania It is a legal offence to deface local currency.

The Banks

Banking hours are from 09.00hrs to 14.00hrs Monday to Friday. Most Hotels and Lodges change money outside these hours.

Security

Normal precautions as in any other destination worldwide should be taken. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets and cameras when walking in crowded places and avoid walking at night (take a taxi). Place all valuables in safety deposit boxes at hotels and lodges and only carry small amounts of cash. Wear as little jewellery as possible, if any, and never leave valuables on show in an unattended car or tour bus. Taking photographs at airports, near military installations, of policemen, the President, the national flag, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners etc., is prohibited. Before photographing local people, permission should be obtained and a fixed price agreed. Seek the assistance of your driver/guide in this matter.

Driving

Driving is on the left for all countries.

Clothing

Safari clothing should be casual and comfortable. Cotton slacks and shirts, with skirts and culottes for ladies and a light sweater or jacket, during the day. Evening wear in game lodges and safari camps can be very casual. In the more sophisticated clubs and hotels gentlemen will be required to wear a jacket, while ladies should dress rather more formally. At high altitudes, where early mornings and evenings can be very chilly, warm sweaters, socks and comfortable shoes are recommended. Pack suntan lotion, swimwear (to be reserved for the beach and pool only) and a small first aid kit. Local customs and modesty should be respected.

Laundry

Most hotels, game lodges and safari camps offer a 24-hour inexpensive laundry service.

Electricity

Voltage in East Africa is 240volts/50 cycles AC, British standard generally through three-pin square plugs. Some lodges and camps have power only in the early mornings and evenings and, in some, video charging facilities are centralized.

Luggage

For your safari, it is strongly recommended that luggage is limited to one piece per person. A small overnight bag is essential. All city hotels provide secure storage for left luggage. On all itineraries where journeys by light aircraft are involved the baggage allowance would be around 15kgs per person.

Photography

There is no shortage of the more usual film throughout Kenya, however it is expensive and visitors are advised to bring plentiful supplies, especially where specialist film is concerned. As a general guide, double the amount of film normally needed in other areas. In Tanzania films may not be available. For wildlife photography a 35mm single reflex camera, with telephoto lens of 200mm to 300mm is recommended. Larger lenses which require a tripod, or double reflex cameras are generally impractical. An ultra violet filter, waterproof dust cover and spare batteries are essential. A pair of good quality binoculars for each person will be a great asset.

City Hotels check in and check out

The standard check-out time for city/town hotels is 10.00hrs. That means rooms may not normally be ready for occupancy until 12.00hrs. In case you anticipate and earlier arrival, please reserve rooms from the preceding night. Day rooms up to 18.00hrs are usually available.

By: Solomon Okila

About the Author:

Solomon Okila is Editor of African Voyages Ltd African Travel Guide and Tourist Information resource and African Travel Guide and Tourist Information resource website. You can also book African Hotels, Lodges

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