Q. Where and when should I go on safari?
A. It all depends on what you want to see and do! We design all our safaris individually, so your safari itinerary will be based on the month of the year, the time and money at your disposal and the sort of safari you are looking for. East Africa is great for wildlife, scenery, local culture and easy access to the Indian Ocean. Southern Africa is great for wildlife, the range of safari activities and easy add-ons to Victoria Falls, or to the attractions of South Africa including Cape Town and the wineries.
In general East Africa has two safari seasons: between the rains, from December to March, and the long dry season from June to October, with the length of time in each park dependent on the month. The rainy seasons from April to early May and in November are generally to be avoided. Apart from these months, you can expect a fantastic safari at any time.
In Southern Africa, which includes Botswana and Zambia, the peak time for game viewing is the dry season from June to October, with the concentrations of game increasing further into the dry season, but the temperatures are also high into October. The low season in southern Africa, November to March, is the time of light rains, many young are born at this time. the migrants make the birding excellent with fantastic photographic light, but big game can be harder to spot as it disperses away from the main water courses. In return however, there are some terrific low season deals with some camps available at less than 50% of their high season cost.
For more on where and when to go on safari, click the Blog icon above and look under April 2013.
Q. What animals will I see on safari?
A. During a safari in Tanzania visiting the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti at any time of year you can expect to see the following animals: Lion, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, jackal, spotted hyena, hippo, baboons, vervet monkeys, warthog, hartebeest, impala, and a host of other antelope species and smaller mammals. You are also likely to see black rhino, cheetah, crocodile and leopard. Other fascinating species seen regularly include serval cats, honey badgers, African wild cat, colobus monkeys, and depending on the areas visited, some of the magnificent larger antelope such as greater kudu and oryx.
Weather patterns cannot be guaranteed and these affect animal movements and hence game viewing, but during the early part of the year, January/March, you can expect to see huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle spread out over the short grass plains of the Serengeti, with many young at foot. This is probably the best time for cheetah viewing in the Serengeti, particularly hunting cheetah. During the dry season, August to October, the Serengeti is also excellent for cats and if you travel up to the north of the Serengeti, you have an excellent chance of seeing the huge herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River – one of the great wildlife sights!
Tarangire National Park offers great herds of elephant at any time but during the dry season, June to October even more wildlife, including large herds of wildebeest and zebra are drawn to the water of the Tarangire River, whilst less grass and better visibility at this time makes predator viewing easier – especially for lion and leopard.
Southern Africa is at its peak for game viewing in the dry season between June and October. At this time good numbers of elephant, buffalo and other plains game can be seen in most wildlife areas, with the numbers increasing further into the dry season, as the temperature rises and available water decreases. Lion are seen in most areas, and leopard and wild dog are regular sightings in certain areas, particularly in Botswana. The magnificent greater kudu and sable antelope are regularly seen in many parks of Botswana. During the height of the dry season into October, the herds of elephant particularly but also buffalo and hippo, can reach staggering numbers in some parts of Botswana – it makes for an incredible sight!
During the ‘summer’ season, from November to May, the land is greener and with beautifully clear light for photography; many of the big herds have dispersed as there is more water and grazing around, but planning the right itinerary still allows for some fantastic game viewing at a fraction of the high season prices.
Q. Will my safari be a specialist birding safari?
A. No, the safaris shown are general interest trips, covering animals, birds, plants and the ecology of the areas visited, they are not specialist birding trips. If you are looking for a specialist birding safari it can certainly be arranged and Africa has some marvellous birding destinations. On a general interest safari, most visitors are amazed by the size, colour and variety of the bird-life, and many generate an interest in birds that they never knew existed; you can expect to identify around 150-200 different species of birds on a typical safari, (more if you’re an avid birder) ranging from magnificent martial eagles, and massive saddle-billed storks to diminutive lovebirds and exotic bee-eaters.
Q. Do I need inoculations and malaria prophylactics to visit Africa?
A. Depending on the country you’re visiting and the time of year different precautions are required. Upon booking you’ll receive full information on Health and First Aid, and you should speak to your doctor for advice in this area. Generally malaria prophylactics are required and inoculations for the following may be recommended: yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid, meningitis and gamma globulin.
Q. What clothes and equipment should I take on safari?
A. The ‘Safari Information’ booklet sent to you on booking will give you full advice on clothing with a recommended clothes list and advice on camera equipment, luggage and entry requirements.
Q. Will there be luggage weight restrictions?
A. Most safaris include some flights by light aircraft. For safety reasons a total luggage limit of 20 kgs ( 44 lbs) including hand luggage applies. Your main bag should be in soft-sided, duffle type luggage to allow it to fit into the small holds of light aircraft. A bag with small wheels at one end works well but hard suitcases are not acceptable. You’ll be given more details on booking. Please note, again for safety reasons if you weigh more than 100 kgs (220 lbs) you must inform us and you may be required to purchase an extra seat.
Q. Can I arrange my own flights to Africa?
A. Yes, simply keep us informed of your arrangements. Any flights within the country are normally arranged by Journey Into Africa.
Q. Do I need a visa?
A. This depends on your nationality and the country being visited. Most East African countries require you to buy a visa either on arrival or in advance; the situation on visas changes regularly and you will be given details at the time of booking but you are responsible for ensuring your passport and visa are in order.
Q. Are insects a nuisance on safari?
A. Generally people are surprised by the lack of insects on safari; weather conditions make a difference and if you’re in the middle of a herd of 100,000 wildebeest you must expect some flies. However for the great majority of time and areas, insects are not a problem on safari. Simple precautions such as covering your ankles in the evenings and the use of repellents help against mosquitoes and malarial prophylactics should be taken on safari.
Q. How hot will it be?
A. Nowhere near as hot as you might think! During the middle of the day, during the hottest time of the year, the Serengeti will reach the 90’s fahrenheit or in the low 30 ‘s centigrade. Most safari activities are taken in the early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is more comfortable, and when the animals are more active with better photographic light. As most areas in Northern Tanzania are at altitude, (the Serengeti is at around 5,000 ft above sea level), humidity tends to be low and there is usually a wind. This makes for a delightful climate. The tropical sun is intense however, and precautions against the sun are recommended. In the Highlands such as Ngorongoro it can get cold at nights and everywhere the temperature drops in the evenings making for perfect sleeping temperatures.
In southern Africa, towards the end of the dry season, from September onwards, temperatures start to climb, until rain arrives normally in November. At these times, safari activities are again geared towards the early morning and late afternoon.
Due to the effect of altitude and generally clear skies, temperatures drop once the sun goes down and sleeping temperatures are very pleasant even at the hottest times of the year. During the southern African winter, particularly in the period June to August, it can be surprisingly cold, particularly on early morning and night drives, windproof jackets, wooly hats and even gloves and scarves get plenty of use.
Q. Are safaris suitable for young children?
A. Much depends on the child, but in general children under ten do not enjoy long periods in vehicles, even watching wildlife, and the variety of activities on offer in southern Africa may be more suitable. Many camps have age restrictions on children, or require the whole camp be booked for a group including children. In general, families with children will be required to take a vehicle for their exclusive use. Having said that, Africa is a fascinating place for children and a safari can be a hugely rewarding experience for both children and parents alike, but the safari needs to be planned in part with the children’s interests in mind. A shorter safari with time at the coast to swim and relax works as a great combination for families. See our Family safari, affordable itinerary, combining the best of Northern Tanzania and the ‘Spice Island’ of Zanzibar. Under Tanzanian itineraries.
Q. What will the food be like on safari?
A. The food is excellent on safari: wholesome, nourishing and plentiful. It also tastes particularly good because of the location in which it’s being eaten! People are always amazed by the quality of meals that are produced out of a bush kitchen. Food is predominantly of European style, with plentiful fresh vegetables and fruit, and comprises dishes such as steaks, quiches, curries, pasta, rice, stir-fries and pizzas. Dinners are generally three courses, and full English breakfasts are the norm. Vegetarians and special dietary requirements can be catered for if we’re informed in advance.
Q. Is my money protected?
Yes! All safaris arranged through Journey Into Africa are covered under the TTA ( Travel Trust Association ) scheme, membership number Q4764. All monies are paid into a Trustees account giving full protection for our clients. Contact us if you require further details.