| Safaris in general
How many days is a good safari?
Most packaged safari tours are six or seven days in the bush, which is good. On
shorter safaris, you may feel you haven't seen enough, and on longer safaris, you may
start getting worn by rough roads, dust and the hot climate.
If you go for a shorter safari, you should go to fewer parks,
or you will spend most of your time travelling between the parks.
More about safari lengths
Is 'guaranteed window seat' important?
Yes. But what you really want is 'guaranteed window seat with a roof hatch above'.
'Guaranteed window seat' means that you will have a seat next to a window in the safari
vehicle. You probably want that. Only a few seats in each vehicle don't have a window;
they are poor seats, and no-one should sit there.
What you really want is a window seat with a roof hatch above, allowing you to stand
up during game
drives. If a travel
company or tour
operator can't guarantee you such a seat, you should consider choosing another
More about safari vehicles
How much money do I need during a safari?
Approximately USD 150 per person for basic costs on a one-week safari.
Most safaris are full board, i.e. they include breakfast, lunch and dinner. What you
have to pay yourself is beverages [USD 70], tips (porters [USD 15], hotel/lodge
staff [USD 15], driver guide [USD 35]) and any extra activities (Maasai village [USD
10], museums [USD 310], boat tours [USD 510], extra game drives or night
safaris [USD 20 per drive]). Use local currency for beverages and small tips, local
currency or USD for the rest.
In addition, you need to pay your visa in USD on arrival, unless you have obtained your
visa before from home. The visa cost is USD 50100, depending on your nationality.
More about money and currency
More about visas and passports
Do I need a visa?
Nationals of most non-African countries need a visa. Check with the embassy or high
commission representing Kenya
in your country if you need one.
Visas can be obtained from the embassy or high commission before you travel, or upon
arrival to the main points of entry to Kenya or Tanzania. Most visitors arrive on of
the following main points of entry, where you may obtain a visa: Jomo Kenyatta International
Moi International Airport (Mombasa),
International Airport, Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar
es Salaam), Zanzibar
International Airport or the border station in Namanga (when travelling from Nairobi
in Kenya to Arusha
Addresses etc to Kenyan and Tanzanian ambassies/high commissions
Are there laundry services?
Yes, in most hotels, lodges and tented
camps. It usually takes a day, so unless there is an express service, you need
to stay in the same hotel/lodge/camp for two nights to have your laundry done.
Which time of year is best for safaris in Kenya?
August to October is the best time if you want to see the migration
Mara. The rest of the year is also fine, except for April to May, which is
normally a rainy season. A short rainy season in November also brings some rain, but
not too much to prevent you from going.
More about safari seasons
More about where to go
Which time of year is best for safaris in Tanzania?
December to March plus June is the best time if you want to see the migration
Many animals congregate in Tarangire from August to October.
The rest of the year is also fine, except for April to May, which is normally a rainy
season. A short rainy season in November also brings some rain, but not too much to
prevent you from going.
July to October is the best time for going to southern Tanzania (Selous,
Mikumi and Ruaha). The rest of
the year is rainier, with a drier spell allowing for safaris in January and February.
More about safari seasons
More about where to go
Are safaris possible during rainy seasons?
Yes and no. Some lodges and camps close during rainy seasons, mainly during 'the
long rains' in April to May. You can't stay there then, obviously.
Heavy rains affect the passability on bush roads, making them hard or impossible to
drive. All roads inside the parks are bush roads. Roads in black cotton soil areas become
slippery with just a little rain, and hopeless with heavy rains.
Game driving in rain isn't really fun, as you have to keep roof hatches and car windows
The rainfall isn't too bad during 'the short rains' in November, and you can usually
have a good safari then.
More about safari seasons
Parks and wildlife
Which park is the best?
It depends on the time of year.
The prime parks, Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai
Mara in Kenya, have a very good wildlife all year round and are the best parks to
see the big cats and many different species in general. Serengeti peaks in December
to June, Masai Mara in August to October. You can stay for several days in these parks.
If you combine one of the above with one, two or three other parks, you'll have a more
complete safari and see more species.
Where should I go to see lions?
To Serengeti in Tanzania or Masai
Mara i Kenya, any time of year. We have never been there (or heard of anyone going
there) without seeing lions. The Ngorongoro Crater in
Tanzania and Samburu in Kenya are also quite good parks
for lions, but not as good.
Where should I go to see elephants?
To Amboseli in Kenya or Tarangire
in Tanzania, if you want to see many elephants. Smaller herds can be seen in most of
the parks visited on most safari tours, except for Lake Nakuru
and Nairobi National Park.
Where should I go to see the Big Five?
For best chances to see the Big
Five (lion, leopard,
elephant, African buffalo and rhinoceros), you should combine
Serengeti and the Ngorongoro
Crater in Tanzania or Masai Mara and Lake
Nakuru in Kenya.
More about the Big Five
Where should I go to see gorillas?
To Uganda or Rwanda. They are not found in Kenya or Tanzania,
but it's not too far away. You may combine a safari in Kenya or Tanzania with gorilla
trekking in Uganda or Rwanda.
Where should I go to see lemurs?
To Madagascar, a big island country east of Mozambique. They are not found in Kenya
Where should I go to see tigers?
To India. They are not found in Africa. The lions are the largest cats in Africa.
Will I see lions hunting?
Most safari-goers don't, as it takes luck. Lions mainly hunt at night, when game
driving is not allowed in most parks. Daytime hunting happens, though, and some safari-goers
are lucky enough to be in the right place when it happens.
Which animals can I see in Kenya and Tanzania?
Lion. Leopard. Cheetah. Serval. Caracal. African wild cat. African wild dog. Jackal
(3 species). Bat-eared fox. Hyaena. Genet. Civet. Mongoose (several species). Honey
badger. Otter. Baboon (2 species). Monkey (several species). Chimpanzee (in western
Tanzania). Elephant. Hyrax (3 species). Rhinocerus (2 species). Zebra (2 species). Hippopotamus.
Warthog. Bush pigs. African buffalo. Eland (a big antelope). Bushbuck. Giraffe. Wildebeest/gnu.
Hartebeest (a few species). Topi (a big antelope). Waterbuck. Reedbuck. Dikdik (a small
antelope). Steenbok (a small antelope). Klipspringer (a small antelope). Duikers (several
species). Oryx (a big antelope). Sable (a big antelope). Roan (a big antelope). Kudu
(a big antelope). Bat (several species). Squirrel (several species). Hare and rabbit
(a few species). Crocodile. Lizard (several species). Tortoise and terrapin (several
species). Lots and lots of birds, ranging from little grey and brown ones to large birds
like flamingos, pelicans, eagles and ostriches. And a lot more. Exactly which animals
you may see depends on which area you go to.
More about where to see specific animals
Where can I go to avoid seeing other safari-goers?
Off the beaten track.
The Kenyan and Tanzanian safari industries are focused on a set (about a dozen in each
country) of good and accessible parks. Going to these, you will meet other safari-goers,
unless you go there during low season and have a bit of luck.
To be alone, you need to travel to less accessible areas, and mainly to less attractive
parks, where you won't see as many animals. There are some good remote parks, too, but
going there takes a tailored safari which will be pricey. One such remote park is Katavi
More about parks in Kenya
More about parks in Tanzania
What's a lodge?
It's a hotel in the bush. The standard varies from basic to luxurious. You stay
in a room or a bungalow and have a private bathroom. Meals are served in a restaurant.
There is usually a bar and a shop, in some lodges also a swimming pool.
More about lodges and camps
What's a tented camp?
In general the same as a lodge, except that you don't stay in a room but in a safari
tent. The tents are big enough for two beds or a double bed, and have a private bathroom.
More about lodges and camps
Is it dangerous staying in tents?
Generally not. Animals that appear within the tented camp are usually just passing.
This usually happens at night, when you are in bed. The tents are considered safe, as
animals have little interest in them, and can't open zippers to get inside, anyhow.
All good tented camps have watchmen keeping an eye on the wildlife around and willing
to help you, should you want an escort when walking to and from your tent.
Some tented camps in Kenya, but few in Tanzania, are fenced. Large mammals, including
predators, may appear within the camp area (mainly at night). We advise you not to walk
about alone in the dark, but to walk in twos or more, and to stay on lit paths, and
not to hang around outdoors.
Is there vegetarian food?
Yes. Most meals are buffets, and there are vegetarian dishes. When served at the
table, ask for vegetarian choices. In small lodges or tented camps, you may inform the
staff that you're a vegetarian when checking in, allowing the kitchen to prepare.
To have vegetarian food on your international flights, make sure to tell you want it
when booking the packaged tour or flight.
Is there gluten-free food?
Yes. When having buffets, ask the staff which dishes don't contain gluten. When
served at the table, ask for gluten-free choices. In small lodges or tented camps, you
may inform the staff that you want gluten-free food, allowing the kitchen to prepare.
To have gluten-free food on your international flights, make sure to tell you want it
when booking the packaged tour or flight.
Health and lifestyle
Is there a risk I'll get sick during the tour?
Yes. The most common complaint is stomach problems. You should avoid drinking tap water
(bottled water and other beverages are easily available), and choose what you eat wisely.
is a dangerous disease spread by mosquitoes active at night, and is found in most parts
Africa. The medicine available is not a 100 % protection from catching the
disease. You should use mosquito nets and cover your skin (using clothes and mosquito
repellent) during evenings, nights and mornings.
More about eating and drinking
More about health
Which vaccinations do I need?
Consult a doctor or vaccination clinic in good time before travelling, to make sure
you have appropriate vaccinations and malaria protection for East Africa.
Vaccinations often recommended include yellow fever, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis
A and B, cholera, typhoid fever, meningococcemia, tuberculosis and rabies, but fore
normal safari holidays, all of these may not be needed. In addition to vaccinations,
you will most likely be recommended a malaria prophylaxis.
Children who have not had, or been vaccinated against, measles, mumps and rubella may
need vaccinations before travelling to East Africa.
More about vaccinations
How hot does it get?
The temperatures in the main safari areas, most of them situated far inland, are
2535+ºC/7795+ºF during OctoberMarch, 5º/10º less
during the rest of the year. Coastal temperatures vary less, and are normally around
The highest temperatures we have encountered ourselves on safaris in East Africa have
been just below 40ºC/104ºF.
The air in the inland areas is dry, while humid on the coast.
Are there many insects?
Not during the high seasons (July to October and December to March), when weather
is usually warm and dry. More insects, including mosquitoes, are seen during rainy seasons
(April to May, and November) and in humid (usually forested) areas.
Rooms and tents are usually sprayed, and are mainly free of insects.
Can I go on a safari in a wheelchair?
Yes, but there are very few options for you if you want to do it comfortably. There
are some single lodges and tented camps adapted to clients in wheelchairs. If you can
tolerate some hassle, and travel with someone to assist you, there are a few more lodges
and camps to choose from, where steps etc are few and bathrooms spacious.
Otherwise, the 'safari style' used when designing lodges and tented camps often inludes
stairs, single steps between different floor levels etc. Bathrooms may have little space,
and showers are often in bath tubs. Good ground clearance is an import feature in safari
vehicles, making them hard to get into from a wheelchair.
Hotels, lodges and camps have quite a lot of porter staff etc, so plenty of assistance
More about wheelchairs on safaris
More about lodges and camps
Can children go on a safari?
Yes, but it of course depends on their age, and on if they can take the climate,, the
poor roads, and travelling for some hours most days. We have good experience from travelling
with children from 10 years.
A few lodges (where game viewing is done from the lodge, and a quiet environment is
disirable) have a lower age limit, which varies between 7 and 10 years. Some safari
activities, such as walking safaris, may have an age limit (for walks it's usually 15
Good malaria prophylaxis may not be available for very young children. Consult a doctor
or vaccination clinic before booking a tour.
When planning to travel with children, you may look for (or tailor) a safari that visits
fewer park, to avoid long hours on the roads every other day. You may also look for
tours that will bring you to lodges or tented camps where there's a swimming pool. Don't
leave children unattended in lodges, tented camps, picnic sites etc where wild animals
may be around.
More about travelling with children
Lodges in Kenya
Lodges in Tanzania
How is homosexuality looked upon?
Male homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya and Tanzania. Female homosexual acts are illegal
in the state of Zanzibar (i.e. Zanzibar Island/Unguja and Pemba Island). Sentences are
long, but the laws are rarely enforced.
As homosexuality violates the traditional local social patterns, it is generally not
accepted. There is virtually no open gay culture.
Are Kenya and Tanzania safe?
Both countries are politically fairly stable, seen in an African perspective. Democratic
elections are held, and have mainly been respected.
Events in Kenya in the beginning of 2008, when political-ethnical unrest following an
election led to the death of more than a thousand people, indicate how fragile the political
stability may be.
The general safety for tourists is not as good in northern Kenya as in the rest of the
country and in Tanzania, but few if any tours go there.
Robberies occur, but are not common. They are most common in the major cities, in northern
Kenya and on the coast. Thefts occur, but you may to a high extent avoid them by using
safe deposits, keeping a good eye on necessary valuables (cameras, wallets etc) and
not wearing jewellery.
The US embassies in Nairobi in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania were bombed in 1998.
Some years later, a hotel in Mombasa in Kenya was bombed the same day as a missile was
fired at (but missed) an Israeli airliner taking of from the airport in Mombasa.
More about safety
Is Nairobi safe?
Nairobi has a name of being dangerous, and has been nicknamed 'Nairobbery' by some.
It's a major city in a poor country, and you can't rule out crime. Avoid walking alone,
especially in unknown areas or after nightfall (this goes for all towns and cities).
Keep a good eye on valuables (cameras, wallets etc) and don't wear jewellery. Ask hotel
reception for advice on where in town you may go safely.
Most safari-goers visiting Nairobi only come there to stay the night. If you don't venture
out from the hotel on your own, you don't really need to worry about robberies etc.
To visit sights or attractions in town, you may join arranged outings or have reception
get you a taxi.
Are walking safaris safe?
Walking safaris are less safe than game viewing from vehicles, but on most walks, nothing
dangerous or scary happens. All walks in wildlife areas should be escorted by an armed
ranger or armed local guide. His job is not only to protect you from dangerous animals,
but also to make sure that dangers are avoided.
The most dangerous among the large African animals are elephants, African buffalos,
hippos and crocodiles.
More about walking safaris
Are there many snakes?
Yes, but you rarely see them. When leading tours, we see a snake in about one out
of four safaris. Most snakes move away when they notice you approaching. Avoid walking
where you can't see where you're putting your feet, for example in high grass. Use a
flashlight/torch when moving in dark places outdoors at night, as there are some snakes
active at night, especially around dusk.
Communications and equipment
Is special equipment required for joining a safari?
No. But if you don't bring a pair of binoculars, you'll wish you had. Otherwise,
mainly bring the same luggage as for a beach holiday, and add some warm clothes for
cool mornings and high altitudes.
More about luggage
Luggage list for safaris
Can I use my mobile phone?
It depends on which operator you have. There is GSM coverage in the major towns
and the major tourist areas, but it won't help you if your phone operator doesn't have
the necessary deals with the local Kenyan or Tanzanian operators.
If your phone isn't tied to a specific operator at home, you may buy a local SIM card
for use during the tour. It's quite cheap.
Which is the international dialing code for Kenya?
Which is the international dialing code for Tanzania?
Are there Internet cafés?
Yes. You'll find them in major towns and cities such as Nairobi, Arusha, Mombasa, Dar
es Salaam and Zanzibar Town, and in good hotels. Prices are fair, but connections are
Some lodges and camps also have an Internet service. Prices are high and connections
Can I charge batteries?
Yes. You'll have wall outlets in your room in most hotels and lodges. Some tented
camps also have outlets in the tents. If there are no outlets in rooms and tents, you
can charge your batteries in the reception or bar.
Many lodges and tented camps generate their own electricity, and switch the generator
off for 56 hours in the middle of the night and in the middle of the day.
What kind of outlet adapter do I need?
Kenya and Tanzania have wall outlets for British 3-pin plugs with rectangular pins.
The voltage is 220240 V, 50 Hz.
Can I buy film or memory cards during the safari?
Yes, as long as you want standard types. Film and memory cards are sold by some
in shops for example hotels, lodges and camps, and by park entrance gates. However,
we recommend that you bring enough film or cards for the full safari (you'll probably
use more than you expect), as the articles sold locally in general shops for tourists
may not have been properly stored, handled etc.
Can I use a tripod for my camera?
Not in safari vehicles; there isn't room enough. You may use a bean bag instead.
Tripods can be uses in lodges and camps, at observation points and even during walks,
if you have a light one.
More about tripods and bean bags
Which are the international airports in Kenya and Tanzania?
In Kenya: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO/HKJK) (Nairobi) and Moi International
Airport (MBA/HKMO) (Mombasa).
In Tanzania: Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO/HTKJ), Julius Nyerere International
Airport (DAR/HTDA) (Dar es Salaam) and Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ/HTZA).
How do I get from Nairobi to Arusha?
You can fly (approximately USD 150 one way, 1 hour) to Kilimanjaro International
Airport, and from there go to Arusha by airport shuttle (USD 10, 45 minutes).
You can also go by shuttle bus (USD 25, 5 hours) from the airport in Nairobi to Arusha.
We ourselves prefer to avoid these shuttle services for safety reasons. Speed is often
too high, considering the narrow road and the poor paving.
How do I get to Zanzibar?
You can fly from Nairobi or Mombasa in Kenya (flight time approximately 1.5 hours),
and from Kilimanjaro, Arusha (1 hour) and Dar es Salaam (20 minutes) in Tanzania. There
are also boats from for example Dar es Salaam.