Know Before You Go – Your Safari Questions Answered
This information is a guideline only. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication.
Please check with your GP or a travel vaccination company about requirements for your destination. Some countries require advance inoculations for yellow fever (and certificates to present on arrival). Malaria is present in many parts of Africa so consult your GP for information about malaria prophylactics and the latest precautions.
If you take prescription medication, please ensure you have an adequate supply to last the duration of your stay and a copy of your prescription or letter from your doctor confirming it is for personal use.
If you want to spot the Big Five or witness the great migration, as in-country safari specialists, we can put together a personalised safari itinerary that is just for you.
We live and work in Kenya and have travelled extensively in the region. Our in-depth, first-hand local knowledge and experience will ensure you have a life-changing safari holiday.
We pride ourselves on high standards of service and are available to answer any questions you may have throughout the booking process and when you are on safari with us.
We are partners with Rafiki Mwema, a non-profit organisation that provides therapeutic houses for boys and girls in Kenya. We are working to create a better tomorrow for the local community, so by booking a safari with Bora Kesho Safaris, you will also be contributing to the livelihood of the community.
Safaris can be booked all year round. If you are flexible, choose your travel dates based on what animals you want to see and your budget (high season is obviously more expensive). If your dates are set, we can advise you of the best places to see wildlife that time of year and arrange an itinerary accordingly.
January to March and July to October are generally considered the best times to go on safari. However, the ideal seasons differ between East Africa and Southern Africa. In April/ May, East Africa heads into the rainy season, meaning wildlife is more difficult to spot. Southern Africa however welcomes the dry season at this time, so wildlife is generally easy to see.
Certain reserves offer excellent opportunities to view wildlife year-round, while others follow migratory patterns when animals are on the move, looking for food and water. In Kenya and Tanzania, you may be lucky enough to witness one of the world’s greatest spectacles with the migration of over two million animals.
For travellers on a budget, March to June and November to mid-December is considered low season so prices are generally cheaper.
The best time to explore Kenya and experience a high density and diversity of wildlife is during the annual wildebeest migration on the plains of the Masai Mara from July to October. Predators are normally not far from the migration as well. While the Masai Mara is the most famous reserve, other parks in Kenya are also exceptional. The best time to visit these would be during the dry season from January to March and July to October. As water is scarce, animals gather near water sources, so they are easier to find. The vegetation is also shorter, so you can see animals more easily from a distance.
The migration unfolds in Tanzania’s northern parks (the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater) from February to March. You will also see many wildebeest and zebra babies at this time of year. Many predators are also lurking nearby.
June to November is Tanzania’s dry season and is the best time to visit all the parks (and you can always hop over to Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Wildlife is more difficult to spot in Tanzania from March to May in the north, and from November to May in the south and west. December to March can get quite hot and humid.
If you want climb Kilimanjaro before or after your safari, the best time to hike is January to March and September to October.
Pack light when going on safari. Safari vehicles and small aircraft do not have space to accommodate large suitcases and bags, so travel with a soft rucksack or duffle bag without wheels.
Temperatures in are generally mild but can become considerably cooler in the evening. Layers are ideal to ensure you can be comfortable day and night. Essentials include clothing in neutral colours, a broad brim hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
Your packing list should also include:
- Long sleeved shirts, long pants and socks to protect from mosquito bites
- A small flashlight and batteries
- Adapter plugs and convertors for electrical devices
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Long skirts, t-shirts and good walking shoes
- A good camera, batteries and a charger
- Light rain gear
- Basic medical kit
Laundry service is available at most hotels and lodges throughout Kenya and Tanzania. Prices will vary per hotel/lodge. Washing is generally by hand and dried in the sun, so please allow between 24-48 hours for it to return to you.
If you are staying at a safari lodge or on a guided safari, an average level of fitness is all that is required. You need to be able to get yourself into and out of safari vehicles and capable of sitting for longer periods during game drives and travel days.
If you’re undertaking a walking safari as part of your itinerary, these generally last for 3-4 hours. If you’re planning on climbing Kilimanjaro then a high level of fitness is required.
Those working with tourists speak English throughout East Africa. In Kenya and Tanzania, locals speak Swahili. JAMBO is one of the most common words you will hear and is a simple greeting. Other helpful phrases to help you on your way include:
Jambo or Hujambo Hello, good day, how are you? (multi-purpose greeting)
Karibu Come in, enter, welcome (also said on offering something)
Asante Thank you
Sana Very (adds emphasis)
Slowly Pole pole
There is an abundance of wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania. The “Big Five” include the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.
Amboseli National Park is home to the most elephants and is the best place to see them (if you’re lucky with a stunning Kilimanjaro backdrop). The Maasai Mara is home to the largest buffalo herds. There are two species of rhinoceros found in East Africa – white and black rhinos. Both are endangered. The largest white rhino population in Kenya is in Lake Nakuru National Park. The Maasai Mara has the largest population of black rhinos.
You can also expect to see zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, baboons and monkeys, gazelles and impala, wildebeest, hippopotamus, warthogs, and so much more!
Hotels will serve a variety of international cuisines. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians and special dietary requirements with some pre-warning.
Kenyan cuisine is rich in diversity. Popular foods include ugali, rice, bread, chapatti beef, chicken, goat, tilapia and fresh fruit and vegetables. Tea is a common beverage in Kenya and is sweet and milky.
If you’re camping, your cook will delight and surprise your tastebuds with simple, well-cooked food. Expect your plate to be filled with classic local favourites, like fresh baked bread and ugali, all created in the bush kitchen.
The local currency is Kenyan shillings, but US Dollars are also widely accepted. Ensure notes have been printed after 2006. Visa and MasterCard are extensively accepted.
The safari vehicles have an open top roof to enhance your viewing experience and allow you to take unobstructed photos.
Bargaining is done with good humour and is commonplace in markets. The seller will give you the highest price and you should bargain with persistence and a sense of humour. Hawking is also common in the streets. If you are not interested, a firm but polite ‘no thank you’ is often the most effective way of dealing with the situation.
Kenya and Tanzania are welcoming countries with vibrant cultures. The lifestyle is casual and the pace of life much slower than at home. ‘Kenyan time’ is flexible – there will often be delays so patience is expected.
Kenya is generally conservative, and an emphasis is on courtesy and manners. Exercise respect when photographing people and always ask permission.
Always drink bottled water and brush your teeth with bottled water. Tap water is fine in most areas for bathing.
Ensure you pack UK-style converter plugs to charge any devices you may have. Due to remote locations, many camps and lodges generate their own electricity by generators. Not all camps provide power points in the rooms so if you have equipment that requires charging such as camera batteries the hotels/lodges will often have charging facilities in the common areas. You can also take an adaptor to charge devices in your safari vehicle if it has a cigarette lighter.
Your personal safety is a matter of common sense. Take the same precautions while travelling in Africa on safari that you would at home.
- Do not carry large sums of cash
- Carry your cash (plus passport and other travel documents) out of sight
- Keep a close watch on your bags when in crowded areas (airports, markets, restaurants and on the street)
- Do not walk alone at night
Tipping is customary and highly appreciated. Please tip your driver/guides/cooks at your own discretion depending on the level of service you receive. We recommend $US10.00 per person, per day. A 10% tip is appropriate in restaurants. If you’re taking a taxi, round your fare up.
This largely depends on where you will be starting your safari. Most travellers fly into Nairobi airport and then transfer by vehicle or light aircraft to their safari location.
You can get surprisingly close. Elephants often walk up to vehicles. Monkeys and baboons may have as much interest in your as you do in them. Respect the natural behaviour and movements of wildlife at all time, and ensure the animals have ample space to move freely. If vehicles approach too closely, or you talk too loudly, the animals will most likely leave. Your driver/safari guide will know the safest viewing distance.
Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements and we will endeavour to create an itinerary that works for you. Please note however that our safari vehicles are not able to accommodate wheelchairs at the present time.
Many visas for Africa can be obtained at the border on arrival, however it is essential that you check the visa requirements of every country you will be visiting prior to travel. All travellers are required have a minimum six months validity on their passport beyond their length of stay. Some nationalities do not require visas, but this depends on the country you are visiting. It is advisable to check with the Embassy of the country that you intend visiting for the latest visa and entry requirements.
Passport holders from Australia, UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand require a visa to enter Kenya. You can apply for a Kenya EVisa online at http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html and the process can take up to seven working days.
Most nationalities require a visa to enter Tanzania. Australian, UK, USA, Canadian, New Zealand and South African passport holders can get a visa, which is valid for three months, upon arrival. Be sure you have all relevant paperwork prior to travel.
Please note: visa requirements are subject to change.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, unfortunately. For the best chance to see animals, do not hit the snooze alarm! Get up early as this is when the magic happens. Rest during the heat of the day and head out again in the afternoon. Trust your safari guide who has the local knowledge to optimise your viewing opportunities.
We can pick you up from the airport to ensure a seamless transfer to your safari location and escort you back to the airport to ensure you don’t miss your onward flight.