Plan your African Safari with Sun Africa Expeditions
If your itinerary includes any flying in light aircraft around Kampala, Nairobi and Arusha while on safari, you are restricted to a maximum of 15 kgs (33 lbs), including hand luggage (total luggage). It is extremely important that you pack appropriately where air travel is involved. In the event you have excess baggage please consult our representative who will try to arrange safe storage at your hotel – if your itinerary so allows. Luggage Tag -Place the safari luggage tags we have provided on your baggage. These are used to identify your bags by your driver-guide.
The typical distance a minibus or a 4×4 vehicle will travel to reach the furthest game park in most countries is 600kms from the Capital. Sometimes the roads can be dusty, bumpy and tiring. Our expert driver/guides are trained to make your journey as safe and comfortable as possible and are under strict instructions not to rush to their destinations. Although more expensive, air transport is recommended to certain destinations for greater comfort.
Our vehicles are maintained to a very high standard and are equipped with up-to-date communications equipment (UHF or VHF radio or mobile phones) that is linked to the head or associate offices or ranger posts/lodges on a 24hour basis. Each vehicle is specially designed for the safari with a roof hatch that allows our clients to enjoy an excellent viewing position for the wildlife, and a comfortable suspension system that reduces the discomfort on bumpy roads.
Once in the park or private ranch/reserve, you will be able to enjoy early morning, mid-morning or evening game drives (dependant on the time available at the park and the number of drives included in your safari). In some areas, usually just outside the parks, you may also have the opportunity to go on night drives and guided bush walks. If your itinerary so provides, by 6.30 am you will be well on your way for your morning game drive. The early morning light provides the perfect opportunity for stunning photography. The predators are all very active early in the morning, planning their next breakfast, and you may well see them on their hunt. After a 2-3hour game drive with our expert driver/guide, you will return to your lodge for your breakfast which may be followed by either a mid-morning game drive with a picnic lunch or relaxation by the pool or guided walks until the evening game drive. Please keep time for game drives to avoid inconveniencing others.
It will be good for us to know any special health need and disability, or special dietary requirements that have not been declared at the time of booking a tour. This is important for us to try our best to accommodate these needs (We however cannot always guarantee this).
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. Food in Africa is delicious, varied and plentiful. Africa boosts plenty of fruit varieties from country to country. Fresh vegetables are equally abundant and main dishes feature local, continental and international cuisines from many other parts of the world. The hotels, lodges and camps in which you stay are renowned for their high standard of cuisine. However, a change of climate and traveling might sometimes, cause some minor stomach upsets. Eating in moderation, avoiding cold buffet lunch tables that have been exposed to the mid-day sun, and fasting for a day (while drinking plenty of bottled water) should you be stricken, are sensible precautions.
We would, however, recommend that you drink bottled water only, peel your fruit and avoid street food.
Meal plans – Generally, unless otherwise requested, bed and breakfast is the meal plan provided for in major cities, Full board on Safari. Most lodges and camps serve huge English-style breakfasts accompanied by lunch and dinner buffets to ensure that you never travel on an empty stomach. Luxury lodges and tented camps, in particular, provide excellent cuisine that is imaginative and incorporates fresh, local ingredients.
In most parts of Africa, the temperatures cool down considerably at night time, a warm sweater is recommended. In most places however, a roaring log fire in not uncommon. Rains may be expected any time due to the change of weather patterns-this however should not interrupt your program meaningfully.
Most hotels and lodges outside the major cities generate their own electricity. However, take a small lightweight flashlight as some generators are usually only run for short periods in the early morning and again in the evening from 1830 to 2230 hrs. The voltage is 220-240 AC, suitable for appliances with the exceptions of those manufactured in the USA and Canada. It is advisable to always carry an international Electric plug in.
Internet & Phone Connectivity
Internet connectivity is good in major cities, most hotels have Wi-Fi and all major towns have internet cafés. If you are planning to bring your own mobile phone, the network is very good in most parts of the country. If you are not using a roaming account, you can purchase a SIM card for relatively low cost all over Africa.
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/Diesel in Africa can only be paid for in cash. Have appropriate addresses ready for replacement cards.
In some African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mauritius, It is best to carry more travellers’ cheques than cash. US Dollars and Pound sterling notes and traveller’s cheques are easy to exchange. American Express, Thomas Cook, Visa or Citibank cheques are popular and easier to replace if lost or stolen. Euro cheques and other currencies are not widely accepted in shops and hotels. Cheques or 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. In Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi it is more difficult to exchange traveller’s cheques so you may want to carry more cash and a credit card.
Do not exchange money on the street. You may be approached by someone willing to give you a 50% to 70% premium for your foreign currency. This is considered the black market and is illegal. Do not therefore, get involved. Hotels, Camps and Lodges can exchange money, but sometimes the rate is slightly lower. It is illegal to deface local currency or the president’s picture in many African countries.
2000 US Dollar bills and those older are no longer acceptable.
Are there any inconveniences that I should be aware of?
You should be aware that:
Many African roads that you will travel on will be dusty and bumpy and can result in vehicle breakdown. At Sun Africa Expeditions we use newer vehicles however in-case of a vehicle breakdown it will be replaced as quickly as possible and you will continue with your Safari hassle free.
Sometimes game drives can be affected by the rains 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.
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 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.
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 to energy saving regulations and surcharges.
Harassment from the beach boys or hawkers does exist. We advise our clients to ignore them as much as possible and visit the local markets and shops instead.
The service in hotel may appear slow at times. Please have some patience and don’t let it ruin your holiday.
are there any codes I should be aware of?
Will I be able to walk amongst the animals?
Not really. There are a few times you will be able to walk in the parks but that will be in a limited capacity. This will not, however, be amongst the animals. Some of the lodges have monkeys, baboons or hyrax living around the property but remember these are still wild animals and should be left alone.
Feeding / Noise / Touching
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 travellers. 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.
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. Indemnity
Occasionally lodges and hotels will require you to sign an indemnity form for walking, horse-back and camel and other similar types of adventures.
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 the picture. People / Dressing
Africans in most cases are polite and respectful towards travellers. 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. Dress sensibly and in an inoffensive way. Nude bathing is illegal in many countries.
Although generally expected, tipping is entirely voluntary and a gesture of appreciation for services rendered. Tip generously as the people are extremely poor by western standards.
Will there be any additional costs to my Tour?
On our scheduled departures, we have made every effort to include all costs, such as meals, transport, transfers and game park fees. In some places lunch or dinner may not be included, as we do like to encourage travellers to try the local cuisine. The extras that you have to worry about are optional excursions (for example, balloon rides and cultural visits to local villages), medication, tips and items of a personal nature. Tips to your driver / guide are at your discretion (we recommend $5-$10 per day per person). Tips to hotel staff $5 per day. Any tips above and beyond what is included are also at your discretion.
We advise all clients to carry their own first aid kit. Please note that our drivers are under instructions not to administer any first aid or drugs (unless in a life threatening situation) as in the past their friendly assistance has led to opportunistic litigation. All travellers should also practice safe sex because of the Aids epidemic in Africa. Aids cannot be contracted by touching a person, only by sexual contact, blood/fluid transfusion or using contaminated needles and razors. Cuts and grazes should be cleaned and covered up quickly. Also beware of the ‘friendly’ pets and wildlife, as they could be rabid. If bitten, we advise our clients to get inoculated against rabies within 24hours. You must also take care of the fierce African sun which can easily cause severe sun-burns very quickly. Please use protective creams and drink lots of non-alcoholic drinks which are provided in our safari vehicles.
When in Africa, most cities have at least an international standard medical institution that is used by the diplomats and we will always recommend the best institution to our clients in the event of an emergency. We advise all clients to take Emergency Evacuation cover (from your insurance company) and Africa Air Rescue (AAR) cover.
Generally, tourists in Africa are probably safer than in Rio or New York. You are probably safest when visiting game parks and countryside. There have been very few threatening incidents. When they do occur, the government and the wildlife departments usually tighten the security in the concerned areas. Our vehicles are equipped with radios or mobiles and are in constant touch with the head office or rangers.
While in the tourist lodges or camps, please ensure that you do not leave your cash and valuable unattended – use the safes or lock them in your bag with a sturdy lock. Cameras, binoculars or other safari accessories are on the other hand generally safe inside the room. On leaving the Camps please ensure that all your belongings are with you. Report any missing items to the camp manager and the driver/guide for further action. Please carry adequate theft insurance for the trip.
Expensive and heavy jewellery is not recommended in the cities as it attracts unnecessary attention.
Major Cities are just like any other cities in the world, a high crime rate is not unusual. Nairobi, Johannesburg are much more crime prone than other cities. Our advice is to take all the common sense precautions listed below:
* Avoid the known trouble spots within any city.
* Take only guided tours and excursions approved by our staff only where possible.
* Don’t travel long distances at night on your own and only take taxis arranged from your hotel desk.
* Avoid walking in the streets with lots of cash and valuable.
* Do not display your valuable jewellery on the streets.
* Use the hotel safe and obtain a receipt.
* Ask your guide, hotel or locals for advice before you embark on any little expedition.
* If threatened do not resist. Handover whatever the attackers demand.
Do not, however, be afraid to explore the cities. Despite the hardships Africans go through, they are friendly and gentle by nature and love interacting with visitors. We encourage you to meet the local people and talk to them.
Plan your Luxury African Safari
Planning a safari is quite unlike the planning for most of your previous travels. The preparation and anticipation of the actual trip can be almost as exciting as the safari itself! Below are the main questions you should ask yourself in beginning the planning process. We suggest you take some time to read through these questions and think about or jot down your responses to them. Then once you have a better idea of your preferences, we can talk about how to match your interests and requirements to the destinations, accommodations, tours and activities that best suit your criteria. So the idea is to take it step by step planning your personalized “dream trip to Africa”. Once you have a clear idea of the kind of safari or tour you want, click on ‘book your Adventure’section for a personalized selection of trips. We look forward to working with you through this discovery and educational process towards the goal of helping you decide on the perfect safari adventure!
Where Should I Go On Safari?
Sun Africa Expeditions offers safaris to each of these three regions. To understand how these regions differ, select one of the following links for more information. * East Africa * Southern Africa * Indian Ocean Islands
When Is A Good Time Of Year To Go?
You will hear varying ideas about the timing of your trip, but keep in mind that people travel year round to all the destinations on this website. Each season has its advantages, so if you have fixed dates for travel, chances are you will be able to have a great trip no matter where you are going. It is important to understand the seasonal trends and how they will affect your trip; but remember that weather is variable and so it is quite possible to go for days without rain during the peak of the rainy season, or have thunder showers in the middle of the dry season. The drier seasons are generally considered preferable for game viewing. Dry weather offers more reliable road conditions and in the winter months, milder daytime temperatures. Dry spells force game to congregate around the limited water sources, and sparser foliage makes the animals somewhat easier to find and see. While these are prime game viewing conditions, bear in mind that naturally, all properties enjoy their highest occupancy, and game reserves and parks endure more traffic, during these dry seasons. When considering smaller, more intimate, safari camps and lodges, it is necessary to book well in advance, particularly for travel from June through October.
The long rains are from early April through early June, and the short rains from late October through December. It is often less expensive to travel during these rainy seasons. Dry seasons offer excellent visibility and more reliable road conditions, and game tends to congregate around the limited water sources, making the animals easier to find. July and August are generally extremely busy in East Africa, offering comfortable temperatures in addition to being a popular time for travel worldwide, so be sure to book well in advance. December sees increased local tourism, so expect holiday surcharges and limited availability. In the Masai Mara and Serengeti, the movements of the migrating wildebeest contribute to the desirability of certain areas at certain times, and this might influence your itinerary, selections or costs.
The rainy season (characterized mainly by thunderstorms during the afternoon) runs from late November through mid-April in the safari regions; however, the southern Cape and coastline of South Africa is experiencing summer at that time and is a wonderful place to visit. This area can also be cold and rainy during their winter from June through August. Often high season rates for the safari regions go into effect in July so it is sometimes possible to save a bit of money by traveling prior to that, in the shoulder season. May and June can be delightful months to travel. December sees massive local tourism, (e.g., summer school vacation combined with heavy holiday traffic) so expect holiday surcharges, crowded beaches and limited availability throughout. Due to the smaller size of safari camps and lodges in southern Africa, it is necessary to book well in advance, particularly for travel from June through September.
Indian Ocean Islands
Generally the weather is similar to that of southern Africa, with the summer rains lasting from November through April, with occasional cyclones during that time. The dry season from May to October is ideal.
What Kinds Of Activities Are Available?
Safaris call for two sedentary skills well cultivated by most travellers: Eating and sitting in a moving vehicle. If that sounds too passive, then consider incorporating one or more of the unique safari adventures and adventure activities featured in the WHAT TO DO section.
What Is My Budget?
This is one of the most important questions to consider when selecting a trip. While there are some travellers for whom cost considerations are not an issue, most of our clients want to work within a budget and have a specific price range in mind. This is an extremely important issue in helping us select an appropriate safari for you. The adage, “you get what you pay for,” probably holds true meaning when planning a safari. There is a safari priced for just about everybody, but there are major differences in accommodations, services, transportation and food. It’s important that you consider how much “roughing it” you’re willing to do before you plan your safari. Whether you’re part of an organized tour or are interested in a custom designed tour for you and your family. An experienced and qualified, specialty tour operator will be aware of the reputable and not-so-reputable safaris, current prices as well as conditions in Africa that might impact on your trip. The following are factors that affect the cost of a trip:
Level of Luxury; In general, the more luxurious the safari, the more expensive the trip. High end Safari camps can range from $250 to $450 per person per night, not including transfers from one region/camp to another, which are frequently by air. However, the cost at most safari camps and lodges normally includes all your meals, game drives and most other game viewing activities on offer. Sometimes drinks and laundry are also included in the rate. So when you consider the additional cost of these other components, relative to the average price for a 4-5 star hotel (room only), the safari rate is quite a bargain! Always allow for tips and souvenirs when planning your “spending money”. Exchange rates and fuel prices fluctuate, and can have an impact on the final cost of your safari in some cases. Similarly, governments periodically change visa fees, park fees, tourism levies or sales taxes, which can impact travel costs. Try to determine what you can realistically afford, and keep in mind that in general, you get what you pay for: safaris are no exception. Do not buy into the popular misconception that because much of Africa is “third world”, accommodations and services are cheap. At Sun Africa Expeditions, we are admittedly fussy about the quality of service and lodging we offer, and we are especially particular about the guides and facilities we use, because they will determine not only the success of your game viewing, but also the value and quality of the whole experience and eventually – your memories of Africa!
Length of Trip; The per-day-per-person-budget is a good rule of thumb for determining how long you can travel. Simply shortening a trip by a few days can sometimes cut the cost by hundreds of dollars. Moving around less usually saves on costly transfers or regional flights and can also make for a more relaxed, focused experience. With most camps and lodges, three nights will afford you a good opportunity to see what characterizes the area, and to partake in all the activities on offer at a relaxed pace. Moving around more can often result in seeing less of what you travelled to Africa for- in the first place! On the other hand, the time and expense in getting to Africa is significant, so we would encourage you to spend as much time as you possibly can in this amazing part of the world. Rushing your trip to save money is rarely worthwhile, and while many clients find themselves going back time and again, Africa is still a distant and a remote destination – and this might be one of few, if not your only opportunity to go on safari!
Selection of Camps, Lodges and Hotels; Sun Africa Expeditions has always maintained complete independence and objectivity when selecting and recommending specific safari camps, lodges and hotels for our clients. This allows us the freedom to combine whatever areas, properties and activities we believe will suit you best, without the limitations and extra cost of inbound operators or destination managers. We enjoy a great reputation and wonderful relationship with properties and ground handlers all over East and Southern Africa, and as our client, you share in the advantage of various preferred rates, combination packages and incentive fares, as well as preferential treatment as very important guests! Let us suggest the ideal combination of properties, venues, activities and destinations for your trip to ensure that you have not only the best possible safari experience based on your own interests and preferences, but also the best value for the money that you’re spending on this dream trip!
The safari portion of your trip is likely to be the most costly. Safari camps are generally all-inclusive, which means the cost of the accommodations, meals, guides, game activities, and park entry fees are included. Staying at a hotel or a beach resort is often less expensive than a safari camp because you pay for meals, tours and other activities, on an “a la carte” basis—as you choose during your stay. Combining a safari with a few days at the beach or with a self-drive tour along the Garden Route in Cape Town in South Africa, for instance, can make a trip more affordable. Season;
High season prices can vary quite dramatically from the low season rates for the same safari camps and lodges. Rates for high season are applicable for a reason, as often the game viewing is at its best during these times of year and space is at a premium. However, if peak game viewing is not critical and you are flexible with your travel dates, you can still have a wonderful safari experience at a considerably lower price when traveling in low or “green” seasons. The bonus is that you will find the areas less crowded and have less difficulty confirming space.
What Is My Travel Style?
This is probably the least tangible of all the factors, but one of the most fun to determine. For example, are you the “cruise ship type” who only looks to un-pack once and be transported from one place to the next with little or no input as to what you see and do? Or are you more “hands on” and look to be more interactive when it comes to the planning of and participating in your safari?
Luxury, Moderate or Rustic?
The level of accommodation that you are expecting on safari is important to consider. Do you want unabashed luxury or 2-man dome tents or something in between? While this is very much a function of personal style, as well as budget, we prefer to design an itinerary with consistent levels of accommodation throughout. It is possible to combine different levels of accommodation on different parts of your trip; however we are adamant that you have the right expectations for each of the places you go. One of the most significant differences from one safari to another is in the degree of luxury, reflected of course in the price. High-end safaris will transport you by small plane, always with a guide, to posh lodges with every comfort. You’ll find dining and lounging facilities and a bar in a main building offering lots of African atmosphere. You’ll be accommodated in a private bungalow or permanent walled tent (complete with toilet and shower) under a thatched roof. Mid-range safaris will offer some similarities, but you’ll probably be transported by minivan (in East Africa), not by plane; and you may be transferred from place to place without a guide. You may stay at larger lodges, with more fellow guests and less personal service or at somewhat less luxurious lodges. Budget or rustic safaris are further stripped down. Transport is a bus, minivan, or open truck. Service is mostly up to you. Some budget safaris use permanent campsites with tents and showers already in place. However, at the lowest prices, you may end up pitching a well-worn tent yourself and sleeping on the ground on a too-thin mattress. You’ll make do with an outdoor latrine and shower, or none at all, and lend a hand preparing meals you won’t write home about. On the plus side, you’ll actually be camping in the bush — like a real safari — and you’ll meet budget travellers from around the world. But if budget is what you are looking for, make sure that camping is your “thing”.
Who is Travelling?
The age range and makeup of your party should be taken into account. Some safari camps do not allow children under age 12; some mobile camping safaris do not allow guests over the age of 65. A family has different requirements than a honeymoon couple. While some safaris are kid-friendly, keep in mind that a certain amount of quiet, concentration, patience, and immobility is required. If you are traveling on business, this may affect our suggestion for your safari; if you are traveling alone, some safaris are better choices than others.
Small Group or Independent?
Group trips are generally large comprising of many participants, with minimum and maximum age limits and set departure dates. Independent travel is obviously much more flexible, allowing you to depart at any time, travel for as long as you wish, to the camps of your choice. While we call it “independent travel,” there is always someone to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your safari camp or hotel, so even solo travellers can feel comfortable knowing that they will be well-looked after on the ground. Most of our clients enjoy a combination of small group and independent travel.
Road or Air?
Travel by road or air is an important question to consider in selecting a trip. Sometimes both options are not available – so the decision is essentially made for you. Travel by air, while generally more expensive, is the most efficient means of transportation, transferring you between safari camps easily and with plenty of time to enjoy activities at both camps, which is why you are on safari after all! Generally the planes are small, so those with difficulties with small aircraft should plan their trips accordingly. Travel by road can be exhausting, covering considerable distances on dusty roads in safari vehicles and it is definitely time-consuming. Nevertheless, overland travel affords you the opportunity to see some of the countryside and local villages between destinations, perhaps giving you a more realistic glimpse into a day in the life of the people whose country you are visiting. For some travellers, this is the only way to go.
Guides and Vehicles
We firmly believe that your safari guide is a critical component of the success of the overall safari experience. A great guide can make all the difference, and Sun Africa Expeditions endeavours to use the best guides available. East Africa is currently standardizing its guide requirements, while southern Africa has long been known for its lengthy and intensive guide training. In East Africa, you are likely to have the same guide throughout if traveling by road, which allows you to get to know him or her, and build upon each day’s experiences. If you are flying or travelling in southern Africa, you will have guides from each camp who are thoroughly knowledgeable about the concessions or National Parks that they traverse on a daily basis. Safari guides each tend to have their own personal specialty or area of expertise so you can benefit from the diversity of knowledge that each of these guides will share with you. Vehicles in southern Africa are generally open 4 x 4 land rovers or land cruisers, while most vehicles in East Africa are minivans with an opening roof hatch to allow you the best visibility this type of vehicle can offer. It is also possible to have a 4 x 4 vehicle in East Africa, although this option is more expensive.