KENYA/TANZANIA TRAVEL TIPS
Luggage: Due to limited space available for storage in safari vehicles, we strongly recommend the use of soft duffle bags.
A sweater/wind-breaker is essential for the morning and evenings. Intermittent light rains or an evening thunderstorm are possible so you could carry a lightweight waterproof coat.
- Passport – Must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the trip’s return date. Separate passports for children are recommended but they may also travel on their parent’s passports. Please check directly with the consulates regarding children’s passports. A copy of each passport should be carried separately. For South Africa you MUST have at least 2 blank pages.
- Visas – Required for Kenya & Tanzania.
Medication and Health
- Visitors on special medication should carry ample supplies at all times. It is also advisable to carry wrist tags, physician’s instructions and address, and prescription details for emergencies.
- Health Certificates – all visitors partaking in walking, trekking, climbing, rafting or other physically demanding activities require their physician’s letter that they are fit for the planned activities. Visitors should also be aware that African roads can be dusty, bumpy and physically demanding.
- First Aid Kit – Although our vehicles and Lodges usually carry a First Aid Kit, it is advisable that each family carries its own.
- The kit could include sterile injections, plasters, gauze dressings and tape; alcohol swabs; antiseptic cream; anti-fungal powder; antihistamines; anti diarrhea agents; pain killers; antibiotics; children’s medicines; burns creams; dehydration powder; thermometer. Aspvenin is a suction device useful for insect and scorpion bites and is available at many pharmacies.
- Eyewear – because of the dust, contact lenses are uncomfortable during game drives. For visitors wearing prescription glasses, we recommend clip-on Polaroid lenses or prescription sunglasses. Also carry extra pairs of glasses.
- Other necessities – Carry plenty of sun block, lip balm, moisturizers, deet-based insect repellents, sting spray, contact lens solutions, small tissue packs, hand-wipes, water purifying tablets and sanitary products. Emergency dental kit is optional.
- To protect yourselves from mosquitoes in the evenings, apply deet-based repellant to all exposed areas of your body and wear light-colored trousers and shirts. In addition, talk to your doctor about taking malaria prophylactics. Some prophylactics are known to have side-effects so please discuss the issue carefully with the doctor. On your return from your holiday, if you feel feverish and weak, then it would be advisable to take a test immediately for malaria at a clinic specializing in tropical diseases.
- Yellow-fever certificates are necessary. Object to inoculations at the airport as unclean injections maybe used. Several other types of inoculations are recommended but it is best to get advice from you doctor. Be prepared well in advance.
- Currencies – It is best to carry cash in US Dollars and are widely accepted. Cash can be converted to local notes at the airport, hotels or banks. Cash should be kept with you in a safe pocket or locked up in secure safes or bags. Recommended amount of cash – US$75 to US$100 per person per day for drinks, tips, and local departure taxes for local flights, visas if not obtained in advance, extra activities and shopping. We recommend that you carry lots of $1, $5 and $10 cash bills for tips and ad-hoc shopping.
- Credit Cards – Major credit cards are widely accepted by shops, restaurants and hotels. American Express is less accepted than others. A few shops may charge a surcharge for accepting cards. Credit cards are not accepted by market traders or government institutions so visitors should keep some local and foreign notes with them at all times. Petrol in South Africa can only be paid for in cash. Have appropriate addresses ready for replacement cards. Credit card fraud is widespread in South Africa, Zimbabwe and some parts of East Africa so only use the credit cards at ‘reputable’ places and hotels and always recheck your credit card statements when back at home.
- Valuables – Expensive and heavy jewelers is not recommended as it attracts unnecessary attention.
Clothing and luggage
- General – Pack lightly in soft bags with strong zippers and leave ample space for the shopping. A day backpack is also useful. Pack plenty of cotton T-shirts, short and long- sleeved shirts, socks and under garments. Also pack linen or drill shorts, trousers, a light jacket, jumper, bathing suit and a light shower-proof anorak. Light hats, scarf, handkerchiefs that protect your head, neck and nose are useful.
- Keep one set of lightweight smart casual dress for evenings. A pair of lightweight sandals + walking boots or shoes + smart casual shoes is recommended. There is no color code but keep to earthy colors, especially on walking safaris.
- Delicate and expensive fabrics – Try not to bring clothes made from delicate or expensive fabrics because of dust and basic laundry facilities
- Beach holiday- snorkeling equipment, plastic beach sandals, and swimming aids and toys for little children are recommended.
- Walking Safaris – Best to wear a light jacket and trousers for protection from tall grass and prickly plants. However, these can get uncomfortable later on in the day so always ask the guide what sort of terrain will be covered on the walk before deciding on the dress. Thick cotton tracksuits are sometimes better. Light walking boots are recommended. A small backpack, shower-proof anorak, first-aid kit and bottled water are useful. Walking safaris are exhilarating but please note that when walking in wilderness areas you are taking a risk even with an armed guide and therefore you will be made to sign a disclaimer.
- Mountains and Highlands –Temperatures in the mountains and highlands can fall below 10 Centigrade from late evening to early morning so a warm jumper is recommended. Many lodges have log fires in the dining/main sitting areas and some provide hot water bottles. If you are hiking or climbing mountains then you will require specialized guides, clothing and equipment. We will gladly provide you with a list on booking a climb with us.
- Early Morning – Early morning game drives start around 6.30am and the weather is cool and crisp so a jumper or jacket and trousers are recommended. It warms up by 8.30am.
- Mid morning/afternoon – Whether on a game drive or not, it is best to be in light shirt and shorts. Adequate protection, however, is required from the strong sun. Apply sun block regularly all over and use a hat, scarf and sunglasses.
- Late afternoon/evening – It usually starts at 3.30/4.oopm when it is still warm but by 5.00pm it starts to get chilly so take a jumper or a wind breaker along on a game drive. For dinner a long-sleeve shirt, sweater, trousers and thick socks help protect against insects and cooler temperatures. Always apply insect repellents all over, especially around ankles, ears, knees and knuckles.
- Laundry – Clothes can be laundered and ironed at most lodges and hotels, mostly at extra cost. Undergarments may not be washed at several places due to local customs.
- **Luggage – pack lightly in soft bags with strong zips and a place for a sturdy combination lock. Only 15kgs are allowed in domestic flights to game reserves. If you have any excess luggage then keep it in a separate bag or at Safari Icon Travel office or your city hotel will make every effort to store it for you while you are on safari. We recommend that you carry a day pack to store the medical kit and other bits and bobs. Before you leave a camp check that all your valuable contents are intact – if not then report to camp manager immediately.
Equipment – Photographic
- Camera – A snapshot camera is recommended together with a zoom camera with full lens and filter kit. Bring lots of extra film (200 to 400 speed) and spare batteries. Early morning and late afternoon provide the best light for wildlife photos. In low light 400 speed is essential so if you can afford it, have two cameras each with different a different film. Standard digital cameras are not recommended for action photography. For wildlife photography you should have top of the range digital cameras which let you take multiple multi-second shots. Bring extra flash memory and rechargeable batteries for digital cameras. Bean-bags will definitely help when the light is low. Keep the equipment as light as possible on walking safaris.
- Video Camera –A small, light video camera is better, especially on walking safaris. Bring extra tapes and batteries. Batteries can be charged in lodges with the right adapter.
- Binoculars – Light, powerful binoculars are a must on any safari for every person or at least 2 per family. Our vehicle will usually carry a pair. The best specs for birding and low-level light are 10 or 12 (zoom) x 42 or higher (aperture). Anything larger than 12 x zoom will suffer from ‘shake’ unless a tripod or beanbag is utilized. 8 x 30 or 10 x 30 is sufficient for general viewing.
Equipment – General
- Small, powerful Flashlight – smaller ones travel better. Carry an extra battery set. Lights go out in most camps and lodges after dinner as the generator is switched off for the night. Lanterns or large flashlights are provided.
- International adapter – carry an International adapter that works in UK as it will work in Kenya. Electricity supply is usually from 220V to 240V 3-pin (square or round).
- Hairdryer – Not all lodges provide a hairdryer so bring one along with an international adapter
- Alarm Clock – Most places offer a wake-up call, but it is still advisable to carry a small travel clock.
- Entertainment – Sometimes the only way to keep in touch with current affairs is a handy short- wave radio with headphones. Large radios and blaring music are not welcome.
- Reading Material – Always bring adequate reading material which may be given away to the appreciative lodge staff. Bird, animal, plant and marine-life books are recommended. So are guides, maps and phrase books. The trip will be much more fulfilling if some reading is done before departure. Safari Icon Travel usually provides a safari guide on arrival which includes maps, game details, wildlife checklist, etc. Safari Icon Travel vehicles also have the latest wildlife guidebooks. See our reading list at the end.
- Pocket knife – Always useful but store it in your main luggage when flying.
- Games – a pack of cards and handy board games are useful
- Food accessories – Decaf coffee/tea, herbal tea and sweeteners are not always available so carry small quantities with you.
- Mobile phones – mobile networks are spreading quickly throughout Africa so you can bring your mobile along.
- Portable Fan – if you are not used to stifling heat then please carry a portable lightweight fan with you with extra set of batteries.
- Sturdy combination lock padlocks for your soft bags.
Our Policy – All visitors must have adequate accident, baggage, trip cancellation, medical, medical evacuation and interruption insurance before the tour can begin. For dangerous activities such as rafting, canoeing, climbing, balloon safaris, gliding, walking and horseback safaris consult your insurers directly. Carry all insurance documents and emergency numbers on the trip at all times.
IS THE FOOD SAFE?
The food that is served in restaurants, hotels, lodges and camps is usually well prepared and safe to eat. The luxury properties serve superb cuisine that is of a very high standard. We would, however, recommend that you drink bottled water only, peel your fruit and avoid street food.
ARE THERE ANY INCONVENIENCES THAT I SHOULD BE AWARE OF?
Frankly, yes, but only a few.
- Many African roads that you will travel on will be dusty and bumpy and can result in vehicle breakdown. At Safari Icon Travel we use only newer vehicles and, therefore, suffer fewer breakdowns than other companies. If you suffer from severe back problems then you may be uncomfortable travelling by road and we recommend that you use more of air transport for the safari. A blow-up or a cheap soft pillow is always a worthwhile companion in the vehicle. You can get rid of it at the end of the safari to make space for your purchases.
- You may be early at your hotel on the day of your arrival and may not be given the keys to your room until the check-in time. For a guaranteed early check-in you may wish to consider booking your room from the night before at extra cost.
- Rains can affect game drives occasionally and vehicles may get stuck in the mud. In these circumstances we request you to be patient and help the driver if you can.
- The driver will also try and contact for help but this may not be possible if there is no radio signal. A passing vehicle may also come to the rescue.
- From time to time there may be power failure and/or water shortages during a prolonged dry season. The lodges/camps/hotels that we select are aware of such occurrences and many have made provisions (fitted generators and installed large water-tanks) to ensure that guests are not inconvenienced greatly. Some camps will however deliberately use lamps and candles to provide a real wilderness experience. The operation of air-conditioners, when provided, may be at the discretion of the hotel management and may be subject too energy saving regulations and surcharges.
Visas are required for all the East African countries. For EU and US passports several African countries can issue visas on arrival (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) but the queuing time could be long. EU and US citizens do not require visas for South Africa, Namibia and Botswana but you must consult the embassies/consulates of the countries you will be visiting for the updated information as regulations can change overnight.
You will have to get inoculations and medication from your doctor – recommended are yellow fever (no longer compulsory in Kenya unless you are arriving from a yellow-fever zone), Hepatitis, Typhoid, Tetanus and Polio. Protection against Malaria is also recommended (Malarone is the most effective but consult your doctor for the correct medication for the region you will be visiting).
ARE THERE ANY CODES I SHOULD BE AWARE OF?
- It is strictly forbidden to feed any form of wildlife as it encourages them to abandon their natural feeding habits. Some lodges are guilty of being lax with their guests on this issue. It is also dangerous to feed little animals as they can get aggressive and bite.
- It is important that conversation is in hushed tones near wildlife. Loud voices disturb animals and fellow travelers. Loud music is frowned upon.
- It is strictly forbidden to touch or tease any wildlife. All animals are wild and dangerous. Driver’s or guide’s instructions must be obeyed at all times.
- Walking within game parks and private reserves is forbidden without a qualified guide(s). Some lodges may have no fencing so lodge rules on walking must be strictly observed.
- Conservation – It is illegal to buy wildlife products in many parts of Africa. In order to support conservation of wildlife and marine life, please avoid purchasing all wildlife and sea products.
- Occasionally lodges and hotels will require you to sign an indemnity form for walking, horse-back and camel and other similar types of adventures.
- Africans are polite and respect travelers. Please return the complement. Do not humiliate them if they do not know how to deal with a request that may appear too complicated or foreign to them. Always feel free to talk to a senior manager.
- It is always polite to ask before taking a picture of a person. Sometimes money may be requested by the subject – if this happens, negotiate the amount before taking photo.
- Tip generously – the pay and the people are extremely poor by western standards.
- It is illegal to deface local currency or the president’s picture in many African countries
- Dress sensibly and in an inoffensive manner. Skimpy dressing is frowned upon Nude bathing is illegal in most African countries.
- Smoking is allowed in most lodges/hotels. No-smoking zones may not always be available.