This section contains a list of questions that are frequently asked by Safari Experts clients and general inquiries from our Web site.
Your safari can begin and end on any date you want due to the personalized nature of our safaris. In the same vein, generally we do not put groups together – it will be just your family and friends. This does not cost anymore, it just means you will travel with people that you want to be with!
Yes! The majority of our trips to Africa are for families. A safari will be quite simply the most bonding time that you and your family will ever spend together.
Having said that, the age at which children should go depends upon the attention span of your child. Generally, I recommend that children be at least 7 years old – unless they have either an older sibling or a nanny to be with them. We can of course arrange for local nannies for really young ones – Africans are wonderful with children, usually having many of their own, ensuring your little ones will take quickly to them!
Some of the smaller, more exclusive lodges have policies of not taking children – ages vary – out of respect for the wildlife experiences of other guests. “No children” policies can be overcome by taking over the whole lodge or camp – although this may add to the cost of your safari! Call us to find out which do, and which don’t.
Remember that smaller children can often feel alone in their own tent, so be prepared to sleep in your child’s tent, if necessary, as there is
often not the space to put a third bed into your tent. This can somewhat dampen the anticipated romantic African night!
Trips to Australia, New Zealand and South America are all definitely well suited for younger children. Bounding kangaroos and cuddly though sleepy koalas, for instance, never cease to capture their interests!
A valuable reference is the Web site for the US CDC – Center for Disease Control. In my Safari Planning / safari essentials section I have some recommendations. However, at no time should you accept my advice, or anyone else’s, other than from your own professional. Different countries have different requirements for shots needed.
Anyone traveling to Africa should know that Southern Africa has some of the finest medical facilities anywhere in the world, and they are readily available, should the need arise.
I am often asked about the risk of HIV/AIDS to safari travelers. Whilst this tragic disease is indeed endemic in Africa, you are most unlikely to come across any evidence of it at all. There are only certain ways of contracting it – and such activities are unlikely to be included in your safari itinerary! In the unlikely event of an accident, blood in Africa is extremely well screened, probably better than in the USA. Additionally, in East Africa, an excellent Flying Doctor Service is available, and Medivac systems are available in Southern Africa.
General health problems due to poor food preparation are most unlikely in the high quality places at which you will stay.
Malaria is of course present in Africa, but if proper precautions are observed, the risks have been found to be minimal. You will be surprised at how few bugs you will see at all!
For those traveling to Australia, New Zealand and South America health risks are at a bare minimum, and excellent Flying Doctor / Air Evacuation systems are available. No shots are required for India.
We require you to obtain Accidental death and disability, and Emergency medical evacuation, and strongly recommend that you obtain coverage for Trip cancellation, Major Medical and Loss of personal effects. A last minute injury or accident could result in the loss of a lot of money if you or a family member cannot travel.
Call our dedicated, toll free Safari Experts Customer Service Desk at Travelex tel : +1 866.314.9483 or Travel Guard – call 888-678-7846 – the Safari Experts dedicated phone line
Kids under 21 are free, and overseas residents can be covered too, but check with them.
The Africans are generally gentle and accepting people, and not much will upset them, although I encourage appropriate dress in their presence. In the Muslim areas around the coastal areas, women should wear skirts and cover their shoulders when in town.
There is often a large economic difference between you and the people you visit, so leave your expensive jewelry and watches at home, and be careful not to pull out large wads of money when paying for something small.
Before photographing local people, I recommend you first spend a little time with them. Some tribes consider that a photo takes away their soul… though for a few dollars that same soul can make a speedy return! Always ask permission before putting your lens in their faces! We all appreciate such courtesy!
In Africa, most of the lodges have curio shops – and some of the plusher lodges have expensive gift shops where you could, if you so wished, spend much of your day!
African carvings, bead-work and basketry make great souvenirs and gifts. In the higher bracket, superb jewelry, precious stones, paintings, bronzes and furniture are all available – just ask your guides. Most shops now accept credit cards, mostly Visa and Mastercard, though often not Amex.
Whilst this is a personal decision, I strongly discourage trying to offload old worn out clothing and shoes in return for arts and crafts that have taken weeks to make, and or are of long-term emotional value. Not only do I consider it somewhat insulting, but in recent years cheap second-hand clothing is readily available thanks to the generosity of the church donations from the West! These items find their way to third world countries by the container load!
Bringing gifts for local children generates a “give me” society in which kids are encouraged to beg, rather than be creative, perform or make something to sell. Sugared candy rots teeth where dentistry is seldom an option. If you wish to bring pens, give them to your guide to be properly distributed within schools. A deflated soccer ball – and pump makes a nice gift from a family when visiting a school, and enables a different type of interaction with a short game too!
Bargaining at a craft shop or roadside stand is a sport for many. I have often cringed at the stories of wealthy American clients boasting how they have beaten down a poor vendor. Desperate for just one sale, a vendors will often be forced into selling their wares for less than cost of the raw materials he used. Those are my thoughts!
Cameras with extra memory cards, batteries, lens cleaner, and lens caps, a pair of binoculars for each person in your group, battery charging equipment, and a headlamp (useful if you feel the need to read at night). All camps and lodges have sufficient lighting, but not always enough, I feel, to read by. If you don’t already own binoculars, you can rent them – call us for details.
In Africa many of the places you will stay are small and away from the beaten track, offering opportunities to walk as little or as much as you wish, or ride amongst the game either on horse back or camels or even mountain bikes. We will plan your trip to take into account your interests.
Other activities available are hiking, river rafting, biking, fishing, canoeing, golfing, ballooning, helicopter trips, and flying safaris!
This is possible with a certain amount of determination and cost in Southern Africa and Australia. Remember that flying conditions, as well as radio and other local procedures, are very different from those in the USA or Europe; but necessary license conversions and checkouts can be achieved – I have done it myself!
Self-flying allows you a huge amount of freedom, but remember that it can be expensive, as aircraft owners require a minimum or 2 hours per day. Owners also will only allow you to go to certain pre-approved strips.
Most of our safaris in Africa, Australia or Argentina involve transfers in small aircraft with limited baggage space – both in SIZE and Weight. Normally this will mean packing in a medium size duffle bag each, plus a back pack. Because laundry services are available pretty much on a daily basis, it is easy to pack light. However, if you don’t feel you can pack lightly, it is always possible to charter a larger plane to take your baggage … at a price!
The safari essentials page on the Web site details everything you should need.
Of note, it is surprising how cool it gets when on safari in Africa and India – especially in the early mornings and evenings, and in desert areas, so layering will be the norm.
Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America are in the Southern hemisphere, so seasons are opposite – and there are good times to go, in each area, all year round. Winters are a wonderful time – cool rather than cold, and of course spring and fall are perfect. Summers in most places are less hot than you might imagine, so let’s talk to discuss options. East Africa is on the equator, where weather issues revolve around a couple months of rainy season. India again has it “best” season, from November to March.
There are a plethora of choices. Most people have converted to this new medium, (thus don’t have to pack bags of film or worry about airport X-ray issues!) I have the following points to offer you:
If you are buying an SLR camera that will take your existing interchangeable lenses, expect to spend serious money. The Nikon D5600 body alone can be found selling for about U.S. $ 600.00 (June 2017). In all cases the storage cards and lenses then have to be purchased, and they are not cheap.
For compact models, the most important consideration is to buy a camera with a big OPTICAL zoom. Nowadays you can get up to 40X optical zoom, as in the Nikon Coolpix B500, to be the absolute minimum for wildlife photography. I personally use an older 5.0 Megapixel Canon Sureshot S21S which has a 12X zoom, (approximately equivalent to a 320mm zoom). Many of the pictures on this website have been taken with this model. It can be found for $ 300.00 (June 2017)
The number of mega pixels largely determines the cost of digital cameras – the more pixels, the better the photo. Quality is seldom a problem, unless you want to significantly enlarge your images. Generally speaking, even a 4.0 mega pixel camera will produce a good 8 x 10 print, IF you don’t crop your picture to make your subject bigger! A camera with a large optical zoom allows you to do the cropping at the time of taking the picture.
When on safari where you must pack light and be able to carry everything you take, and photographers must address the issues of charging batteries, storage and editing of photos. Digital cameras consume a large amount of battery power. Rechargeable batteries are a good answer, but require planning ahead for charging time (not yet always available) – and remembering to do it! Charging facilities are available in most lodges and camps, and most safari vehicle these days. You may want to bring your own adapters!
Storage and editing procedures must be based on each photographers’ needs and intended usage of images. Shooting in high resolution requires more storage capacity – on cards, on your cameras and on your laptops. High-density memory cards are available, but tend to be expensive. Back up devices are readily available and inexpensive these days.
The alternative to storage cards is to lug along your laptop computer. This allows you to carefully edit and share photos with safari companions as you go along, as the small screens on these cameras are not really good enough to do this. However it will be hard to find the time! Your days will be full, and evening hours rush by chatting about experiences you’ve just had, or are about to have, learning the local lore and hearing your hosts’ adventure tales.
The disadvantage to bringing a laptop is that it is yet one more thing that needs charging, and a laptop, however light, further challenges your weight limits for the light aircraft you will be taking – unless you plan on asking your partner to leave their change of clothes at home!
WiFi in the camps, where available, is not fast enough to upload your daily take to the cloud .. so be warned !
Safari Experts is privately owned, and we are truly personalized, boutique, luxury, travel experts. Our fee based custom design process make pricing reasonable. Pricing in this industry can be deceiving. If it looks too good to be true, it most likely is. Time has become your greatest asset. You are investing in a once-in-a-lifetime experience so wisdom in planning and experience is essential. Some companies use inferior lodges to keep costs down and fill the itinerary with off-the-shelf sensation, which can be a waste of your valuable time. Whenever possible, we book our lodges, hotels, guides, transfers and charters directly because we know the locals by name and have spent decades learning what the locals know. And, because we are there, we continuously staying abreast of the new, the stylish, and innovative. We only work with lodges that adhere to strong ethical principles and have a genuine commitment to sustainable conservation and community. When you travel with us you are contributing to both. Please see our “Accolades” on the home page.
There is wisdom in working with a well-established US-based operator who keeps its assets in America and has a long-established. If you choose to work with a foreign-based online operator, you are on your own if the accommodations are not represented accurately or if you run into a problem. We follow your journey while you are on it to monitor the quality of your experience
How do I proceed? Follow the steps included in Start to Finish. We really look forward to working with you to plan the trip of a lifetime!