PRE-DEPARTURE INFORMATION EAST AFRICA Please read carefully!
Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of your EXIT from Africa. This is extremely important – even if you are 1 or 2 days under this you will not be permitted to board your flight to Africa. Your passport must have enough clear pages for each country visited (allow one clear page per country you visit so there is sufficient space for the appropriate visas or entry stamps). Please note that it is not usually possible to use more than one passport for the duration of the tour. If you have dual nationality, please decide which passport you wish to travel on and advise us of those details on your booking form.
Visa requirements vary with nationality and change frequently, often with little or no notice. Currently (Apr 2019) New Zealand passport holders can obtain:
EAST AFRICA Visa
Allows entry to Uganda, Rwanda & Kenya. Available on arrival at Entebbe airport or online at http://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/ Be sure to choose East Africa Visa from the pick list. Cost is US$100.
Visa on arrival at Nairobi airport, or for an Evisa apply at http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html Cost is US$50
Can be obtained on arrival at border – US$50. Or in advance from nearest Consulate.
The above Visa Information is for NZ passport holders. Other passport holders should check with your Travel Agent or the relevant Embassies for latest Visa information. A copy of your Yellow Fever Certificate may be required when applying online.
HEALTH AND HYGIENE
Being ill when travelling is no one’s idea of fun and the good health of the group depends on everyone being conscious of their own hygiene and of taking sensible precautions. Regardless of any inoculations you may have it is not unusual for some people to have a bit of stomach upset in their first few days in Africa. This is often just a reaction to a new environment and different foods and one usually recovers after a day or so. If symptoms persist, or are of an extreme nature, you should inform Andy who will assist you to seek medical advice. As you are no doubt aware, there is a very high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, especially Aids, in many areas of Africa. We also warn you against buying or using illicit or illegal drugs. They are just as illegal in Africa as they are at home and punishments are severe.
In most cases vaccinations and malaria tablets may be obtained from your own GP - although please note that Yellow Fever is usually NOT available from a GP. We recommend you contact your nearest Travel Doctor – see website for a clinic near you www.traveldoctor.co.nz
Apart from Yellow Fever, the below list is completely up to the individual but we advise that you check with your Doctor at least 6 weeks prior departure.
Hepatitis A & B
YELLOW FEVER - it is necessary to be vaccinated for Yellow Fever and be in possession of an International Certificate of Vaccination with a valid stamp for Yellow Fever. This is valid for 10 years and is mandatory for a lot of African countries. Have your certificate ready for inspection as you pass through Immigration in each country.
MALARIA - is the most common serious ailment affecting visitors to Africa. There are various anti-malarial tablets on the market and we recommend you seek professional medical advice as to which is suitable for you. The tablets will offer some protection but are not always 100% effective. The only sure way to avoid contracting malaria is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes! Take plenty of insect repellent with you and wear long sleeved shirts and long pants after sunset.
Travel insurance is mandatory for all passengers. You should look for a comprehensive policy to cover you for health, accident, repatriation, cancellation, loss of belongings, your documents and money etc. Your policy should be issued to cover you for cancellation once you have paid for your trip, and the dates must cover you for your entire trip, ie. until you land back in your home country.
Security is of prime concern wherever you may travel and Africa is no exception. Please do not bring any unnecessary valuables (eg. expensive jewellery). We strongly advise using a money belt which can be worn comfortably under your clothing. Please also take extra care if travelling alone before or after your tour. We suggest you photocopy your passport, and keep a copy separate from the originals - or leave a copy with a friend at home - as it may be very helpful in the event of its loss. Our overland truck has a lockable safe for passengers' cash, passport etc. You are most welcome to make use of this free facility but please be aware that whilst all care will be exercised, The Safari Co cannot accept responsibility for anything lost or stolen from the truck safe or left on the vehicle.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
As visitors we are required to obey all laws of the countries we travel in. This particularly applies to the carrying of drugs, firearms, pornography or contraband. Any passenger found contravening such laws or putting guides or passengers at risk may be asked to leave the safari immediately with no refund of the tour fare. And remember that as guests it is good manners to comply with local customs – even if you don’t agree with them.
A soft carry bag is recommended or a backpack (no suitcases). Make sure you can easily carry your bag by yourself. Also bring a small day bag for your camera, water bottle etc.
US dollars is the most widely accepted currency throughout Central and East Africa and is the currency which we recommend you bring for your incidental spending money.
Do not bring US notes older than 2009! Please keep notes in good condition - damaged notes of any currency may not be accepted. Notes in large denominations is preferred (notes in $50s & $100s). Andy will advise you where and when to change money. ATMs are becoming more available throughout larger cities in Africa, but are not always reliable and in working order. You can use your Credit Card or Cash Passport to obtain local currency from ATMs (if it is working!). Visa is the most widely accepted Credit Card in Africa but do not rely on this as your only form of money.
This will depend largely on your own spending habits but it pays to remember that Africa is not as cheap as many people think. As a guide we recommend you allow US$30-$50 per personper day for the time you are on safari for incidentals – visas, snacks, drinks, souvenirs, internet cafes, dining out, tipping of guides, tipping safari staff, optional sightseeing & activities etc.
Tipping is not compulsory, however most local workers are paid minimal wages so if you have received good service it is nice to reward them with a tip. We recommend:
US$1 for porterage
US$1-2 per day housekeeping staff
US$5 per day for specialist guides
US$50 for your cook/camp assistant (Nico)
10% is customary on meal accounts.
SAFARI STAFF & YOUR PARTICIPATION
Each tour will have one driver/guide (Andy) and one camp assistant (Nico). A roster will be made by Andy to assist with preparing and cooking of food, washing up and general cleaning. Please come prepared to ‘do your bit’ and share in these duties.
While ‘on the road’ we include three meals a day unless otherwise stated in your itinerary. At the beginning of the tour the truck will be stocked with non-perishables and then fresh produce will be purchased along the way. Meals are tasty and wholesome – Breakfast will consist of cereal, fresh fruit, toast, tea & coffee. Also a cooked breakfast unless we have a very early start. Lunch - cold meat, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, juice. Dinner - most days a soup starter followed by a main course of beef, pork, chicken, lamb or fish. All served with fresh vegetables or salads and rice. If you are a vegetarian or have a restricted diet, please advise us prior to arrival in Africa. Your choices may be more limited to what you have at home but we will do our best to cater to your needs.
If you like to snack between meals we suggest you bring a few bits with you (eg. biscuits, lollies, energy bars). There will be visits to shops/supermarkets along the way where you can stock up.
Most campsites have hand washing facilities. For a small fee you can often have your laundry hand washed locally.
Always assume it is not safe to drink the local tap water supplies. Our overland vehicle has a 250 litre tank which we fill up from known supplies and is purified. Bring your own water bottle and you can fill it from the truck at any time. TIP – make sure your water bottle is full before you get off the plane – sometimes lines at airports and the drive to your accommodation can be thirsty work.
Tea and coffee are supplied at breakfast and fruit juice at lunch. General drinks are not included but there is the opportunity to buy wine, spirits, soft drinks along the way.
Our safari truck is purpose built for overland tours and will carry all the equipment required to run an expedition through Africa. It is practical and built with safety and your comfort in mind. There is no on-board toilet, air conditioning or heating. Mechanically, the truck is operated under a strict maintenance programme. However breakdowns can and sometimes do occur. At such times, please be patient while Andy considers the options of repair. Setbacks are what you make of them and digging the truck out of the mud is sometimes one of the most memorable parts of a tour! Africa is a big place and most tours cover long distances. Driving is therefore an integral part of the trip – music, book, cards, games etc can help pass the time. Average speeds are around 60-80km/hour although there are times when our speed will be considerably below that due to bumpy roads. Warm clothes are recommended for days when we are driving with the sides up. Dress in layers – the mornings can be cool but during the day you can take off a layer as it warms up.
The accommodation is a range of permanent tented camps, cabins/bandas, cottages, lodges and hotels. They are clean and comfortable (and sometimes quite luxurious).
If you have a digital camera, video, phone, laptop you can charge these on the truck (NZ & UK outlets available). In campsites you may also have opportunities for charging batteries. Youwill need a British 3-pin plug adaptor for this. If your camera takes batteries, bring plenty of spares.
In an emergency your family may contact our NZ agent (Marie Coles) on 021 881 063 but bear in mind that whilst she will do her best to communicate any important messages it may take several days to get through to you. Please tell family and friends communication from Africa is difficult and not to worry if they don’t hear from you regularly. There are Wi-Fi facilities at various places along the way. Land-line telephones are expensive. You can also take your own mobile phone and buy a local sim card – a much cheaper option.
Africa is a photographer’s paradise and Andy will cooperate, as far as possible, with requests for ‘photo stops’. A camera is an important part of your equipment whether it is a simple ‘point and press’ or something more complex. A camera case or bag is necessary to prevent damage by vibration, moisture and dust. A modest zoom lens (70mm-210mm) is a valuable accessory for game shots and candid shots of locals. A wide angle lens can be effective in photographing landscape and scenery. Ensure you have sufficient memory. You may have the opportunity to download pictures along the way but that will depend on local services and cannot be guaranteed. One or two extra memory cards are recommended. Often the best pictures (and the least intrusive especially of local people) are simply just an image taken in your head!
TIP – sort your photos each day and delete ones that aren’t great, if you don’t do this you come home with thousands of photos and it’s an overwhelming job to sort them out!
WHEN NOT TO PHOTOGRAPH
In some places it is forbidden to take photographs. Please do not attempt to take photographs at borders, of government buildings, wherever there is a sign forbidding it or anywhere else that Andy advises against. Remember we are guests in the countries we visit and it is only polite to respect local customs and feelings. If it is apparent that someone does not want their photograph taken then please respect that wish. If you take a photo of a local person and they ask for a tip, please do give them a small one.
Be courteous and friendly at all times. Lots of patience is required. Treat immigration officials with respect. Have a pen ready for filling in forms.
Crafts can be bought almost all the way. Each country has its own way of making crafts and you will find that prices vary considerably. Generally speaking East Africa has good bead work and a lot of wood carved figures, especially ebony wood, and Masaai crafts.
Bargaining for purchases is a way of life in Africa. When bargaining, try to conduct it in a friendly and spirited manner. The seller's aim is to identify the highest price you are willing to pay; your aim is to find the price below which the seller will not sell. Some sellers will begin up to four times the price they are willing to accept. Try to decide what you are willing to pay for the object in question and stick to that limit. Remember that sometimes you will be haggling over a minimal amount which might be nothing to you but may be enough to feed the sellers family for a day!
CLIMATE & WEATHER CONDITIONS
With travel anywhere in the world these days, you need to be prepared for all weather! Dressing in layers is the key.
Wear subtle colours. Bright colours can distract wildlife – you want to try and blend in with your surroundings and let the animals stand out, not you! On game drives, when the vehicle has stopped to view animals/birds, keep conversation to a minimum. If you have to talk, do so quietly. Avoid sudden movements. Pay attention to your guide. His vast knowledge of the country and animals will not only keep you safe, but also ensure an exciting and rewarding experience.
AUTHORITY ON TOUR
On occasions it may be necessary to make alterations to the planned itinerary, whether for reasons of health, security, safety, or other circumstance beyond our control. This can be frustrating but often adds to the excitement of a trip. In all cases Andy will make any final decision consulting with the group where possible. Your understanding and patience at these times will be much appreciated. In all safari matters Andy’s decision will be final.
The chimpanzees trekking terrain is reasonably easy and flat and can take 1-3 hours. The tracks are generally quite good and not too overrun by bush.
A good level of fitness is required. You need to be sure-footed and be able to walk up rough terrain. The trekking time entirely depends on where your family of gorillas is – if you’re lucky it might only be 2 hours but could be up to 6. The treks start at around 1500 metres above sea-level and can go up over 2500 metres so the effects of the high altitude often slows trekkers up. The trek will go at the pace of the slowest walker, stop for regular breathers, and at no time will you be made to rush. Walking sticks are provided. If you would like a porter to carry your day-pack, this is possible for a fee of approx US$10.
NO PLASTIC BAGS
Rwanda & Kenya have banded plastic bags. They will be confiscated at the border.
GIFTS FOR LOCALS
We often get asked what is good to bring as gifts. Books, pens, clothes, shoes are all useful but cash is probably the best gift. Cash can be used to put food on the table, to buy fuel for cooking, to pay school fees etc. Do a whip around of your mates and ask them to donate some money for you to gift to someone in need in Africa. Andy can give you guidance on where it will be best spent. You will have much pleasure in telling your friends how their money was put to good use when you get home.
At all times we ask you to keep an open mind to “Africa time”, your travel companions, the local people, and facilities. And don’t forget to bring your sense of humour!
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PRE-DEPARTURE INFORMATION EAST AFRICA Please read carefully! PASSPORTS Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of your EXIT from Africa. This is extremely important – even if you are 1 or 2 days...Read More
*H*- hotel or lodge with ensuite facilities. *A/E*- accommodation with ensuite facilities, eg, chalet, cottage, banda. *PT*- permanent tent (most with ensuite facilities). *C*- camping in easily erected dome tents, mosquito proof, 50mm foam mattress. Short walk to shared bathroom facilities. 11...Read More
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