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travel tips

Info tit bits that are sometimes helpful

The reason for going on a safari is to experience the bush and the animals. Some safari-goers find some animals less enjoyable, however, and even the most popular species may turn scary or even dangerous if met under the wrong circumstances. Wild animals Some African mammals may become aggressive when faced, for example elephants, buffalos, hippopotamus, lions and leopards. Incidents involving these (or other) mammals do happen, but are very rare and can mostly be avoided by behaving wisely. When inside your safari vehicle, you’re safe. When on foot, the basic rules are staying away from areas if you aren’t sure that there are no animals, and staying away from animals that you do see. Any animal of some size may get aggressive if threatened, or if young ones or food are threatened. An animal may behave non-aggressive even though it knows you are there. If you are far enough away, it doesn’t feel threatened by you. But if you move closer, this may change.

Visa Information
You will need a visa for arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, but there are Kenya entry visas you can obtain online with a few clicks. See below for more details about the Kenya eVisa and the East Africa Tourist Visa. You should consult the nearest embassy for Kenyan entry visas for long stays, a valid work permit, or other immigration services.

Kenya eVisa
The Kenya eVisa is a Single Entry, valid for 90 days in Total after being issued. Local authorities may renew this visa for an additional 90 days. The best thing about it is that the visa application is 100% online, so you can submit the requirements wherever you are. Depending on the processing time you choose, you can receive the document within two days.

East Africa Tourist Visa
The East Africa Tourist Visa is a Multiple Entry that allows tourists to visit Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda without needing separate visas. The travel document is valid for 90 days Per Entry after being issued.

The application process is also completely online, so it takes just a few minutes to submit the required documents, and the visa will arrive in your email. Choosing the faster process time, you can obtain the East Africa Tourist Visa in two days.

For information on Kenyan visas and permits visit the Directorate of Immigration website.

You need a visa to travel to Kenya. Kenyan entry visas are only issued electronically, with passengers required to obtain their e-visas before arrival. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the e-visas website.

Entry and exit requirements can change at short notice. Contact the Kenya High Commission for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.

Binoculars
With so many brands to choose from, and so many different specifications available, how do you choose the best binoculars for your African safari holiday or vacation? Binoculars are an essential item for a safari holiday to Africa and many other destinations. On safari there are often tripods in camp which are great to use but out on a game drive or on a walking safari, your own binoculars are the best option - they are vital for bird watching and seeing the wildlife in detail and so I would recommend that everyone should have their own pair!

Firstly, I always recommend that you buy the best you can afford. A good pair of binoculars should last a life time, hence the more you can spend the better. I suggest visiting an expert and trying several different pairs, test how they feel in your hands, and consider the weight of them. Remember that on light aircraft flights there are restrictions on luggage weight, and size too.

Also consider how they fit into your camera or duffle bag, for safekeeping whilst in game drive vehicles. Make sure there is a strap or better still a body strap so that they do not hang from your neck.

What do the numbers mean?
10x25, 7x42, 8x32, 8x40, 8x42, 10x42, 10x50 are all labels you may see. The first number tells you the magnification power. That is, how many times closer you will see an image. The larger the magnification, the closer the subject appears.

On safari, most enthusiasts will opt for 7, 8, 10 or even 12 magnification. However the larger magnifications also mean more image shake and a narrower field of view. 7 or 8 gives a good field of view whilst still magnifying well and less shake when being held by hand, whereas keen birders may find a 10 or 12 best.

The second number tells you the width (in mm) of the objective lens, the one at the ‘other’ end of the binoculars that is furthest from you. The larger the number, the wider the lens, and the more light that is let in, which means a brighter and clearer image.

Tipping
If you’re staying in tourist-class establishments, tipping is expected. £10, $10 or €10 would also be very acceptable. It isn’t necessary to tip waiting staff constantly while staying in a hotel. Fortunately, many hotels have a gratuities box in reception, where you can leave a single tip for all the staff – including room staff and backroom staff – when you leave, in which case $5-$10 per room per day is about right. In tourist-class restaurants, tips aren’t essential, but leaving a tip equivalent to ten percent of the bill for your waiter would be generous. Note that on safaris, tips are considered very much part of the pay and you’re expected to shell out at the end of the trip.

As for gifts, ballpoint pens and pencils are always worth taking and will be appreciated by children as well as adults. But never just give them away freely as this just encourages begging – rather donate them in exchange for something, like taking a photograph or having chat and look at the children’s schoolbooks. Assuming you can spare a little, it’s always better to make a positive gift of cash to a recognized institution which can go into the local economy while providing local needs in a school, clinic or other organization.

Baggage Allowance & Packing List
Soft bags (that are lockable) are preferable to large rectangular suitcases, owing to the limited space for luggage storage on the small aircraft used for flights into the parks. On light aircraft flights the weight of luggage that can be checked in is limited to 15kgs and this is inclusive of carry-on luggage.

Is the 15kg baggage allowance inclusive of hand luggage?
Yes. If passengers have significant excess baggage on ‘safari’ and International routes, it is recommended they book a ‘freight’ seat at child rate (applicable on Y class fares), which permits confirmed carriage of an extra 75 kgs.

What happens if my baggage is over the weight limit?
In most circumstances our Check-in staff will use their discretion and allow a leeway of up to 2 kgs. However additional excess baggage will only be carried, at the sole discretion of the captain of the aircraft, if the payload of the aircraft and/or space permits and will be charged at the prevailing rate for carriage of freight (currently $ 2 + VAT per kg).

Why do you ask that my luggage is in a soft bag?
Most of our flights are operated by aircraft whose luggage compartments have limited volume and are of an irregular shape. It is thus more difficult for us to stow large rigid suitcases, which in an extreme situation, might have to be carried on the next available flight.

Travellers with Disabilities
Although by no means easy, Kenya does not pose insurmountable problems for people with disabilities. While there is little government support for improving access, travel industry staff and passers-by are usually prepared to help whenever necessary. For wheelchair-users and those who find stairs hard to manage, many hotels have ground-floor rooms, a number on the coast have ramped access, and larger hotels in Nairobi have elevators. While the vast majority of hotels, lodges and tented camps have at least some rooms that are ramped or with only one or two steps, most only have showers, not bathtubs, and few have any properly adapted facilities. If travelling with anyone with disability, we will advise and tailor your travel plans to fit in places where accessibility issues are properly addressed.

Child Seats
Overall, Kenya is an excellent family destination and wherever you go, local people will be welcoming to your children. The coast is particularly family-friendly (it was developed as package-holiday destination after all), with good, safe beaches, lots of fun activities and attractions, and the resorts are geared up with facilities like children’s swimming pools, kids’ clubs, adjoining rooms and babysitting services (usually housekeeping staff), and they serve buffet meals at which even the fussiest of eaters will find something they like.

Across Wilderness do provide (On Request Basis) child seats especially for those travelling with young children or children with special needs that may need a special seat to enable comfort as they accompany you on game drives, on road adventures etc. We make sure we understand your needs and provide appropriate seats, that way your young ones may also partake in the safari adventure.

Wheather
Kenya lies on the equator and has a pleasant, tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations influenced by several factors, including altitude. Kenya’s daytime temperatures average between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F, but it is warmer on the coast. Kenya is too close to the equator to experience a real winter and summer. There is, however, both a Dry and Wet season.

Dry Season –June to October
During the Dry season daytime temperatures are usually around 23°C/73°F at higher altitudes, such as the Masai Mara, and 28°C/82°F at lower altitudes, such as the coastal areas. The sky is clear and days are sunny. June, July, August, September & October – These are the coldest months. Early morning temperatures at higher altitude are typically 10°C/50°F. It is advisable to pack warm clothing, as morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold. There is very little rain in most of the country.

Wet Season –November to May
During the Wet season daytime temperatures are between 24°C/75°F and 27°C/81°F at higher altitudes. At lower altitudes daytime temperatures are more consistent and hover around 30°C/86°F. Mornings stay cool at higher altitudes, and it is advisable to pack warm clothes for early morning game drives.

November & December – 'Short rains' – A period of unpredictable short rains between November and December that lasts about a month. The rain is sometimes heavy, but mostly falls in the late afternoon or evening, and will seldom have a negative impact on your safari.
January & February – During these months, a dry spell in the rainy season occurs with less rainfall. How long the spell lasts and when it takes place exactly is unpredictable.
March, April & May – 'Long rains' – These months get the most rain. It’s very cloudy, especially in the highlands, including in Aberdare National Park and Laikipia Plateau. Humidity is higher and will be particularly noticeable in the coastal regions.

Who can go on Safari
Most people can go on a safari in East Africa. The safari tours sold by most travel companies are not adventurous expeditions, but rather outdoor holiday tours focusing on looking for and watching the African wildlife. No previous knowledge of Africa or animals is required, neither is experience from outdoor activities. You don’t need any special safari equipment (but a pair of binoculars is very useful).

Travelling by Road
Most safaris are done by road in 4WD safari jeeps or minibuses. These are used for game driving, i.e. to look for wildlife in the parks, and for travelling to and between parks. Many safaris have ambitious itineraries, including three or four different parks during a one-week safari. You may have to travel five to six hours getting to some of the most remote parks on the most popular safari circuits. It is not unusual travelling 25 hours on the Kenyan roads, or 15 hours on Tanzanian Safaris, during a week.

Road Conditions
Road conditions vary a lot, from good tarmac roads to poor bush roads. The latter may be dusty, corrugated, and bumpy. Combined with high day temperatures (exceeding 30ºC/85ºF), long hours on these roads can be tiring.

Not 100% Fit?
If you are troubled by a poor back, have problems sitting for long or similar, you may want to think twice before booking a safari, because of the poor roads. Or, you may speak to a travel company specialized in safaris about options for tailoring a safari. You may, for example, reduce travel time by visiting fewer parks or flying parts of the route, and long travel distances may be split over more than one day. You may benefit from focusing on the very best parks, and on getting there in a comfortable way, rather than wearing yourself out on the roads to see all parks.

Avoid poor roads by Flying
Virtually all major parks may be accessed by air, which is a faster and much more comfortable way of getting there than travelling the roads. There are daily scheduled flights to most of these parks, apart from Mikumi in Tanzania. By chartering a plane, you may visit any park that has an airstrip. The flights to the parks are operated by smaller planes, such as Cessnas and Beechcrafts. Most airstrips are grass or dirt/gravel.

Travelling Solo?
For a single safari-goer, joining a packaged safari on your own is no problem, not even if you have little experience from travelling the world. The local tour operator will meet you at the airport on arrival, and from then on, you spend the safari with the rest of the group. You are not left on your own to handle any arrangements or problems, but can always rely on the assistance from your driver guide or tour leader.

Language Skills
If your group is not accompanied by a tour leader speaking your own language, you may need to speak a little English to communicate with your driver guide and with staff in hotels and lodges. English is (together with Swahili) also an official language of both Kenya and Tanzania, and may be used for contacts with authorities. Some local safari operators employ driver guides that speak other foreign languages than English, such as French, German, Spanish or Italian.

Travelling with Children
Most safari-goers are adults, but children can go, too. We have seen six-month-old babies in the bush, and five-year-olds are regularly seen. A good general age for safaris starts at nine or ten, considering the hot weather, travelling on poor roads and road distances. You may have an itinerary tailored for you, to adapt the activities to your children. For example, you may want to reduce daily travelling distances, and choose lodges and tented camps that have swimming pools. Some tree lodges, where the concept is watching the animals that come to drink from waterholes at night, may have lower age limits, to keep noise levels low. 7 years is a normal limit, but they vary from lodge to lodge, so you need to check them up with your tour operator. There may also be age limits for activities involving an increased risk for its participants, such as bush walks. On such activities, the ability to act disciplined and follow instructions may be of great importance for safety, and 15 years is often a lower age limit. Medical factors, for example a minimum age for using malaria prophylaxis, may be a reason not to bring too young children for safaris.

Disabled Safari Goers
Disabled safari-goers can expect many obstacles to overcome. Most lodges and camps have no adaptations to allow wheelchair access (the best you can get may be a room close to the restaurant and the reception), and many have staircases and steps, some lodges even excessively as a design feature. Showers are often found in bathtubs, and toilets in rooms may be inaccessible from wheelchairs, as may the tents in tented camps. There are high steps into safari vehicles, and space for manoeuvring inside is limited. The better hotels in the cities have elevators/lifts, but there may still be single steps in corridors, bars or even receptions, preventing you from easy access to all parts of the premises. If you speak to a competent travel company specialized in safaris, with own experience from visiting different lodges, you may be able to find places to stay where such obstacles are few, if not absent. There are also some lodges and camps adapted to safari-goers in wheelchairs, and even some that have special vehicles allowing wheelchairs onboard.

Travelling with Special Needs
Tanzania and Kenya are developing countries, and even though the tourist industry offers easy and uncomplicated visits, special needs may not be possible to handle as easily as they may at home. The same level of service or availability of commodities or equipment cannot be expected. Speak to your travel company or travel agent prior to booking, to make sure you’ll be OK on your safari.

Medical Concerns
Pharmacies, doctors etc may be available along your safari route, but not everywhere. Bring (in your hand luggage on flights) all medicine or drugs you know that you need. A flying doctor service based in Nairobi is available from African Medical & Research Foundation. (See More web sites in the left column.)

Night Temperatures
Most safaris are done in the inland, where air is dry. As the best safari areas are found at some altitude (1,600–1,700 m/5,250–5,575 ft for Serengeti and Masai Mara), the air cools at night, and night temperatures are pleasant.

Electricity
If you are depending on electric equipment, remember that electricity in lodges and camps may be generated locally, and generators switched off at night. If you need electricity at all times, an arrangement may be required with the lodge management; you may have to pay for running the generator when it’s usually off. The best way is to have this arranged beforehand, through your travel company. In the cities, power failures are not uncommon, but most good hotels start their own generator as soon as the mains goes down. A few years ago, poor water levels in dams following a long dry spell caused an electricity shortage in Tanzania, and electricity was rationed; it was switched off in many parts of the country during daytime.
Power Outlet: British-Standard three-phase plug
Voltage: 220V/ 240V
Frequency: 50Hz
Note: Take a plug adapter if needed.

Food & Beverages
There is usually no problem for safari-goers who want for example vegetarian or gluten-free food. Many lodges, hotels and camps serve meals in form of buffets, where you may choose yourself what to eat. The staff is available to help you identify the ingredients that have been used. Where meals are served à la carte, vegetarian options are available, and the staff is usually very responsive to any other requests regarding your dishes. The international airlines offer special food on request, but you should ask for it when booking your flight. You order beverages for meals etc yourself, and can always decide what to drink.

Why choose Across Wilderness Expedition?

Reliable Local Support

We have a great relationship with local hotels, lodges & camps ensuring you get top notch service!

24 Hours Response

Our safari consultants are at hand to respond and address all your requests within 24 hours of your request

Knowledgeable Consultants

We are indigenous, we understand the best destinations and experiences to wow your travel plans

Great Savings

We have the best bargains from local suppliers while maintaining top quality service!