Tips and FAQ
What Immunizations Do I Need?
The best choice of vaccines for your trip depends on many individual factors, including your precise travel plans. Vaccines commonly recommended for travelers to Africa include those against:
· Hepatitis A
· Hepatitis B
· Yellow fever*
* Certificate required for entry into, or travel between, some African countries
Several of these vaccines require more than one dose, or take time to become effective. Vaccine shortages also occur from time to time – particularly with yellow fever. So it is always best to seek advice on immunization well in advance, if possible around 6 weeks before departure.
What should I pack?
It is advisable to travel with a small medical kit that includes any basic remedies you may need, such as antacids, painkillers, anti-histamines and cold remedies. You will also need anti-diarrhoeal medication such as Imodium (adults only); and oral rehydration sachets such as Electrolade, especially if travelling with children. Also include first aid items such as Band-Aids, antiseptic and dressings. It may be worth asking your doctor to prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic, suitable for treating dysentery or severe infections. Take along scissors, tweezers, and thermometer, lip salve, sun block, water purification tablets or drops, as well as your preferred brands of toiletries and cosmetics. A sterile needle kit is strongly recommended. Don’t rely on being able to find these items locally. If you wear spectacles or contact lenses, take spares. Also take a torch and a pocket knife.
What Do I Need to Know about Malaria?
Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes that bite mainly at dusk and at night: every traveler to Africa needs reliable, up to date advice on the risks at his or her own destination. Prevention consists of using effective protection against bites (see below), plus taking anti-malarial medication.
The most suitable choice of medication depends on many individual factors, and travelers need careful, professional advice about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
What are the recommended preventive drugs for travel to Africa?
Lariam: widely-used; side-effects have received much media attention (ranging from vivid dreams to more serious neurological reactions); those who should not take this drug include travelers with a previous history of neurological and psychological problems.
Doxycycline: possible side-effects include a skin reaction that can be triggered by bright sunlight, as well as an increased risk in women of vaginal thrush.
Malarone: highly effective, well-tolerated, and with an extremely low rate of side-effects, but more expensive and currently only available on an unlicensed basis from specialist centres.
Chloroquine and Paludrine have little risk of side effects and were previously widely used, but are now only about 50-60 per cent effective in many parts of East, West, and Central Africa, and must be used with caution, if at all. Commercial import to neighboring Tanzania has even been stopped.
Whatever your choice, you must take an anti malarial drug if you are visiting a malarial region, and you must continue taking the drug for the necessary period after your return; you must also take precautions to reduce the number of insect bites (see below).
Visitors to malarial areas are at much greater risk than local people and long term expatriates – from malaria as from several other diseases: do not change or discontinue your malaria medication other than on skilled professional advice.
Travelers to very remote places should also consider taking stand-by malaria treatment, for use in an emergency.
Tell me about Food & Hygiene
If you eat every meal you are offered, anywhere in the tropics, you will undoubtedly become ill. (This is probably also true in the North!) Be selective. Possible disease hazards range from minor bouts of travelers’ diarrhea to dysentery and more serious parasitic diseases that may ruin your trip, so precautions are worthwhile.
Always choose food that has been freshly and thoroughly cooked, and is served hot. Avoid buffet food, or anything that has been re-heated or left exposed to flies.
Avoid seafood. Raw fruit and vegetables tend to be very difficult to sterilize: don’t eat them unless they have been carefully and thoroughly washed in clean water, or are easy to cut open or peel without contaminating the flesh. In the tropics, the easiest and safest fruits are bananas and papayas.
Do not be afraid to reject food you consider unsafe, to ask for something to be prepared specially, or to skip a meal.
What about water purification?
Only drink water that you know is safe. Don’t drink tap water or brush your teeth with it, stick to bottled or canned drinks – well-known brands are safe. Have bottled mineral waters opened in your presence, and regard all ice as unsafe. Alcohol does not sterilize a drink!
If in doubt, purify water by boiling or with chlorine or iodine, or using a water purifier. (One of the safest methods is to use 2 percent tincture of iodine: add 1 drop of iodine to each cup of water, and wait 20 minutes before drinking.)
Tell me about Insect Precautions
Careful precautions reduce the risk of insect-borne disease by a factor of ten. These diseases include: Yellow fever, dengue fever, other viral diseases, sleeping sickness, filariasis and of course, malaria.
At dusk, and at other times when insects are biting, cover up: wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers, socks, and pajamas at night.
Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and on your clothing.
Use both a permethrin-impregnated mosquito net and some form of insecticide during the night – pyrethrum coils or an electric mosquito killer. Spray your hotel room each evening.
What do I do about the heat & sun
During the initial phase of your visit, avoid heavy physical exertion, keep cool and stay in the shade – especially during the hottest parts of the day. Increase your salt intake by adding extra to your food, and perhaps a small quantity to your drinking water.
Thirst is a poor guide to how much fluid you need: it is essential to drink plenty of fluids (not alcohol, coffee, or strong tea, which are diuretics and cause increased water loss). The best guide is that your body should always produce plenty of pale urine. Use plenty of high factor sunscreen, wear a hat and shady clothing, and avoid exposure to direct sunlight – especially during the hottest part of the day.
What are the best flights to Kenya?
Kenya Airways, KLM Emirates, Swiss Air, Ethiopian Airlines and British Airways are some of the most popular airlines into Nairobi. From the USA you will connect to Nairobi the Capital city through a European city such as London or Amsterdam.
Do I need to reconfirm my flight?
YES! Some airlines will drop you from the flight if you do not call to confirm.
Can Experience Africa Tours & Safaris help me book flights?
Experience Africa Tours & Safaris can help you book flights within Kenya. Although Experience Africa Tours & Safaris cannot book international airfare for you, we can help you with some websites to visit and phone numbers to call to ensure you are receiving the best airfare rates.
Can Experience Africa Tours & Safaris arrange in-country travel for me?
Experience Africa Tours & Safaris will book all in-country travel, including flights, bus rides and shuttles. Your tickets will be presented to you upon arrival in Kenya.
When to Visit When are the best and worst times to visit East Africa for safari?
We feel that the best months to visit East Africa are late May, June, and November. There are not many tourists in Kenya during these months, so your safari experience will be more private. During the high season (July, August, December, January) it is not uncommon to find a dozen safari trucks gathered around an animal. Another benefit of going on safari during these months is that there are many wildflowers blooming and the roads are not as dusty.
The least favorite time to visit Kenya for safari is during the rainy season. The rainy season usually starts in the middle of March and lasts through the beginning of May. There is a brief rainy season in October also.
Food: Are vegetarian meals available?
Absolutely; just let us know in advance so we can make necessary arrangements.
Do I need to bring water filters?
You probably won’t need them because we will provide boiled water for the entire trip. On safari you will have bottled water. You should bring one bottle of iodine tablets for your group just in case though.
What precautions should I take to avoid stomach problems?
Be sure to wash your hands often with soap. Before meals, wash and dry your hands thoroughly before touching your food. Do not eat food sold by street vendors. Wipe the mouth of soda and alcohol bottles before drinking and ensure that water bottles are sealed properly before purchasing. Also, eat fruit that can be peeled, such as bananas, and that only eat other kinds of fruit that is washed. If you unsure of any food stuffs, please don’t hesitate to ask.
What is the food like on a lodge safari?
The food varies in quality depending on the type of lodge you choose. The smaller, more private lodges have much better meals than the larger lodges. Picnic lunches are very similar to those on a camping safari. We have provided a sample lodge menu below.
Eggs, prepared any style, toast, potatoes, chicken or sausage, fruit, cake, juice, coffee and tea. Lunch Chicken or vegetable sandwich, hard-boiled egg, fruit, cake or chocolate, and juice. Dinner Soup, salad, your choice of fish or meat, rice, cake, tea and cofee.
How rugged is a camping safari?
On a camping safari, guests and staff sleep in pitched tents in designated campsites in or near the national parks. Experience Africa Tours & Safaris staff setup the camp and prepare all meals while you relax, read and eat snacks. Experience Africa Tours & Safaris camps consist of tents set up around tables and chairs. When possible, Experience Africa Tours & Safaris uses more remote campsites to make your camping experience more private. During peak season, the national park campsites may hold up to one hundred people so we try to camp just outside the parks in private sites. There are toilet and shower facilities at almost all the campsites although the level of cleanliness varies. Experience Africa Tours & Safaris will heat water for your bath or shower.
On a camping safari, what equipment does Experience Africa Tours & Safaris provide?
While on a camping safari, We will provide camping equipment including tents, sleeping mattresses, tables and chairs. We also provide all of the cooking equipment for safari. Please see our packing list for items you should bring with you to Kenya.
How does Experience Africa Tours & Safaris choose our lodge accommodations?
We try to match the lodge with what kind of safari experience you would like to have. If you want to have a more private lodge experience, we will place you in the tented lodges that have anywhere from eight to twenty private tents. There are both mid and high-end private lodges so we can accommodate any budget. If you are interested in bigger lodges, we can also place you in those.
Driving : What are our safari vehicles like?
We use specially designed safari vans on all safaris. These vehicles have been modified to include comfortable sAVS and an open roof ideal for animal viewing.
What is the condition of the roads in Nigeria?
Although the roads between cities and the national parks are generally well-maintained, the roads inside the national parks are very rough and dusty, and hence, often muddy. During game drives, we drive slowly for a more comfortable drive. During the dry season you will get very dusty, so bring some moist cleansing cloths to clean up before meal times.
Why does it take so long to drive the short distances between parks?
Although the distances between parks may seem short, there are no freeways in Kenya. Nearly all the roads are single-lane, making the going very slow.
Reservations and Cancellations
Can I pay with a credit card?
Yes! However, they usually a 4 to 5% processing fee depending on the type of card.
What the Experience Africa Tours & Safaris cancellation policy?
Experience Africa Tours & Safaris requires a 33% deposit to book a safari. The deposit must be made at least three months before your safari start date to allow for adequate preparations. If you cancel 90 days before your safari start date, we will reimburse 75% of the deposit. For cancellations between 90 and 45 days before the start date, we will reimburse 50% of the deposit. We will not reimburse any portion of the deposit if you cancel within 45 days of the start date, but your deposit may be applied to a new safari date within one year of the cancellation date.
Cameras and Photography
Should I bring extra batteries for my camera or will they be available in Kenya?
Bring extra AA batteries because they are impossible to find outside of Arusha. If you do find them, chances are high that they are not good.
What extra camera equipment should I bring to Kenya? 1. Small sand bag on which to rest your camera. The safari vehicles shake quite a bit and sometimes you may miss a great shot if you wait for the car to be turned off.
2. Lightweight tripod or monopod.
3. Small can of compressed air to clean the camera. Be sure to clean your camera every night as it is usually very dusty while on safari.
Will I be able to charge rechargeable batteries while in the bush?
Most lodges have outlets so you will be able to recharge batteries. However, because the lodges are run on generators, the electrical current is not as strong as traditional electrical currents. Some lodges turn off their generators at midnight. Keep in mind Kenya uses 220volt current and you will need to bring necessary converters and plug adaptors. Try to take as few electrical powered tools as possible.
Will I be able to use US currency in Kenya?
You will be able to pay tips in USD. You will need to pay for some things in Kenya shillings, such as sodas, beer, small souvenirs, etc. You will probably want to change about $100-$200 to shillings just for small purchases.