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Africa is a long haul destination as well as a huge continent with endless travel options.
It is therefore worth planning ahead to get the best out of your journey.
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we have received.
- Can you arrange a trip for persons located outside the United States?
Yes, we have an international clientèle. We can make all arrangements in Africa including transportation, accommodation and activities. However, we can only arrange international flights originating in the United States.
- When is the best time to go on a safari?
It really depends on the type of animal you wish to see. Certain reserves have good game viewing all year round but others will have particularly good elephant sightings or other migratory animals at different times of the year. It is generally felt that the African winter (June – August) is the best time to go on safari, as the grass is dry and vegetation sparse making game viewing easier. It is also the time when animals are on the move looking for food and water. In Kenya and Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the migration of over two million animals.
Temperatures in winter are generally mild but can become considerably cooler in the evening, so pack multiple layers of clothing to ensure you stay comfortable on afternoon game drives and walks. It goes without saying that the standard safari gear must include a broad brim hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. In areas where malaria is prevalent, summer is generally a more risky time to travel. So, before you go on safari, consult your doctor for the necessary anti-malaria medication.
– Botswana: All year round. Best birding: Nov-March. Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July – October.
Middle season: May-June.
– Kenya: All year round. Great Migration: June-September.
– Namibia: All year round. Best birding: summer (Nov-April). Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season:
July-October. Middle season: May-June.
– South Africa: All year round. Best game viewing (in north): winter (May-August). Southern regions: summer destination (Sept-April).
– Tanzania: All year round. Best climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Aug-Oct and Jan-March. Great migration: April -June and Oct-Dec.
– Uganda: All year round. Day temperatures range between 77° and 95° F. January is the hottest month. In general there are two main rainy seasons: March – May and October – November.
– Zambia: Many lodges are closed Nov-May. Victoria Falls spectacular after rains: April-May.
– Zimbabwe: All year round. Best white-water rafting: Aug-Dec. Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season:
July-Oct. Middle season: May-June.
- What are the special attractions of the countries you operate in?
– Botswana: Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve & Okavango Region, Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve.
– Kenya: Aberdare National Park, Amboseli National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Samburu National Reserve, Meru National Park, Tsavo National Park, The Rift Valley Lakes, Mombasa, Malindi, south and north coast.
– Namibia: Namib-Naukluft Park, Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park, Kaokoveld, Fish River Canyon, Damaraland and Caprivi Strip.
– South Africa: Mpumalanga region (Kruger National Park), Pilgrim’s Rest, Blyde River Canyon, KwaZulu-Natal (Drakensberg Mountains, Durban), Western Cape (Cape Town, Peninsula, Winelands, Garden Route) and Sun City.
– Tanzania: Great Migration, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Arusha National Park, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, Tarangire National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park and Selous Game Reserve.
– Uganda: Gorilla treks in Bwindi National Park, Murchinson Falls, Nile River, Kibale National Park, Ruwenzori Mountains, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
– Zambia: Livingstone Town, Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Liuwa Plain National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park, Kafue National Park, South Luangwa National Park.
– Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Zambezi Valley & Mana Pools, Gonarezhou National Park, Save
River Conservancy, Chimanimani, Hwange National Park, Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe and Matobo Hills National Park.
- Is Africa a good family destination?
Africa offers outstanding value for families. However, some destinations and establishments cater more fully to the enjoyment of children than others. In Kenya, children five years old and younger are generally not allowed on game drives in the parks and reserves. Travel to Tanzania is not recommended for children younger than eight years old. In Botswana and Zambia many lodges do not take children under 12 years. Most lodges have swimming pools and baby-sitting services. Please contact us for more specific information.
- How do I get to Africa?
Africa can be reached by regular international flights to its major cities. South African Airways flies direct daily to Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa from Washington DC and New York. To reach East Africa from the US, you will have to fly through Europe and then to Nairobi on a European airline (e.g., British Airways, KLM, Delta, etc.). African Horizons can arrange international flights to Africa that originate in the United States or Europe. We can also arrange flights within Africa. Trains and self-drive are convenient options for travel within Southern Africa.
- What are the entry requirements?
All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. Nationals of certain countries do not require visas – this depends on the country you are visiting. It is advisable to check with the Consulate of the country that you intend visiting for the latest visa and entry requirements.
The list below contains the current visa requirements applicable to most North American and European countries.
– Botswana: A visa is not required for tourists.
– Kenya: A visa is required and costs $50 (single entry/ multiple entry if traveling less than 3 months within East Africa). The visa can be obtained through a Kenya embassy in advance of your trip or upon arrival at the airport.
– Namibia: A visa is not required for tourists.
– South Africa: A visa is not required for tourists.
– Tanzania: A visa is required and costs $50 (single entry). It is advised to obtain your visa in advance of your trip unless you live in a country that does not have a Tanzania embassy or a consulate.
– Uganda: A visa is required and costs $50. The visa should be obtained through a Uganda embassy in advance of your trip.
– Zambia: A visa is required and costs $40. The visa can be obtained at the airport and borders.
Zimbabwe: A visa is required and costs $50. The visa can be obtained at the airport and borders.
- What types of accommodation are available?
The accommodation type in Africa varies from hotels and inns to luxury lodges, B&Bs and tented camps.
– Botswana: Advanced bookings recommended. Lodges and safari camps range from tented sites to permanently tented camps, to reed or brick chalets. Campsites at national parks are very basic.
– Kenya: Advanced bookings recommended. Most safari lodges have rondavel or banda type accommodations, with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Tented accommodations vary from super deluxe to standard tents.
– Namibia: Advanced bookings are recommended outside of major cities. Lodges and safari camps tend to be on private ranches and offer luxurious standards. Campsites in national parks are of a high standard with excellent facilities.
– South Africa: Advanced bookings recommended. Lodges and safari camps often set on private ranches – high standards. Luxurious “tented camps” pitched on concrete bases are popular. There are hotel chains in most cities and major towns. Guest houses,B&Bs and campsites generally have excellent facilities.
– Tanzania: Advanced bookings recommended. Lodges tend to be of rondavel or banda type with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Luxurious “tented camps” pitched on concrete bases are popular. National parks also offer ordinary campsites. All major towns have luxury hotels and at least one good guest house.
– Uganda: Advanced bookings recommended. International hotels are available in cities. In national parks, there is camping, self-catering huts or chalets and top end lodges with luxury chalets or permanent tents.
– Zambia: Advanced bookings recommended. International hotels are available in cities and major towns. In national parks, there is camping, self-catering huts or chalets and top end lodges with luxury chalets or permanent tents.
– Zimbabwe: Advanced bookings recommended. Private game reserves offer both standard and luxury accommodation. National parks have cottages, chalets or lodges, which are all fully equipped. Government campsites are well maintained.
- What type of safaris do you offer?
African Horizons offers the following types of safaris: road, fly-in, and walking safaris. These are usually accommodated at lodges, permanent tented camps, bush seasonal camps, and semi permanent camps.
Please note that not all of these safari types are available in each country that we operate in. Go to a specific country page on our web site to see the type of safaris available.
- What is a lodge safari?
On a lodge safari you travel from lodge to lodge and do game drives with one of our driver/guides. The lodges we use are essentially hotels in the bush. They accommodate between 100 and 200 people. They provide most of the amenities found in a hotel (e.g., restaurant, lounge, swimming pool, etc.). This is a good choice when traveling with children or if you want certain creature comforts when you return from game viewing.
- What is a permanent tented camp safari?
Permanent tented camp safaris are done either by vehicle or light aircraft. In the case of a fly-in safari you will fly from one reserve to the next. This reduces the amount of travel time considerably and maximizes game viewing opportunities. Permanent tented camps provide accommodation ranging from comfortable to luxurious. Most consist of large walk-in tents on elevated wooden platforms, with beds, chairs, furniture and an en-suite bathroom with hot and cold water and flushing toilets. Permanent camps accommodate a smaller size group (20-30 people) than lodges allowing a more personal interaction with the natural habitat.
- How many people do you take on a safari?
Most of our safaris have guaranteed departures with a minimum of two people and are limited to a maximum of 10 people (if more than 7 people are on a safari, we use two vehicles). Each person is assured a window seat. A few of the participation camping safaris require a minimum of 4 people and allow a maximum of 12 people.
- What is a single supplement?
A single supplement is a fee imposed by hotels, lodges and camps on single travelers. Tour prices are quoted based on two people sharing accommodation. If someone takes a room by themselves they have to pay the per-person price plus the single supplement fee.
- Can a single traveler share accommodation with another single traveler?
Yes, providing there is another single traveler of the same sex, on the same safari, and the other person agrees to the proposed arrangement.
- How far in advance should I book my safari?
It is better to book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability at the time you wish to travel (4-6 months), especially during the peak seasons (July & August and Christmas/New Years). This is especially important for those wishing to travel on private custom safaris and those adding extensions to scheduled trips.
- Can I use a credit card to pay for my safari?
We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express for your safari deposit, which equals to 25% of the land price. The balance is due 60 days prior to departure and is payable by check, money order or wire transfer.
- What type of vehicles do you use on safari?
African Horizons uses mini buses with open-roofs in Kenya as well as 4×4 Land Cruisers at a higher rate. In Tanzania we use Land Cruisers exclusively.
In Southern Africa we use minibuses for road transfers or sightseeing tours in South Africa. Open 4×4 vehicles are used on safari. The specific vehicle used on a particular safari depends on the country and the reserves to be visited. All vehicles are equipped with two-way radios and are maintained to provide the maximum level of comfort and safety.
- What are the different cultures one may encounter during your trips?
– Botswana: Main ethnic groups are the Batswana (descendants of iron-age immigrants from Central West Africa), the Basarwa (San, indigenous hunter-gatherers, pre-iron age), and the Herero (pastoralists). 80% of the population of Botswana lives in rural areas.
– Kenya: There are over 70 tribal groups in Kenya. Differences between many of them are blurred – Western cultural values are becoming more deep-seated and traditional values are disintegrating. Tribes include Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo and Kikamba.
– Namibia: The Ovambo tribe makes up 50% of the population. Other tribes include Kavangos, Herero, Himba sub-group, Damara (or Nama), San (Bushmen) and remaining German colonials.
– South Africa: 75% black, 13% white (60% Afrikaner descent, rest mostly British descent), 8% Colored race, 3% Asian descent. The two major cultural groups are Nguni (Ndebele, Swazi, Xhosa and Zulu tribes) and Sotho (Tswana, Pedi and Basotho).
– Tanzania: Tanzania’s culture is a result of African, Arab, European and Indian influences. There are 120 African tribal groups. The largest group is of Bantu origin including Dukuma, Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai are of Nilotic origin, as are the Arusha and the Samburu.
– Uganda: The population of Uganda is made up of a complex and diverse range of tribes the most prominent of which are the Bugunda, Lango, Acholi, Teso and Pygmies among many others.
– Zambia: About 99% of the population is made up of over 70 indigenous tribal groups. The major groups are Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja and Tongo.
– Zimbabwe: The Shona people make up about 71% of the population and are the ruling class of Zimbabwe. The Ndebele make up about 16% and occupy the area around Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
- What are the different landscapes and ecosystems like?
– Botswana: Flat, landlocked country, almost entirely covered by the Kalahari Desert. There is a lush delta, arid sandveld, scrub savannah and several salt pans.
– Kenya: Lies on Indian Ocean and on the equator. Four geographical regions: arid desert, savannah grassland, fertile lowlands (coast) and the highlands. There are extinct volcanoes as well as lakes and rivers.
– Namibia: Large, mostly arid country. Its four geographical regions consist of the Namib Desert, the Central Plateau, the Kalahari sands and wooded bushveld.
– South Africa: Washed by Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Three major geographical regions: the coastal belt, high plateau and mountain ranges. There are also veld plains and rivers.
– Tanzania: Lies on Indian Ocean. Includes the island of Zanzibar. Mainland has lush coast, savanna, and semi-desert along with extinct volcanoes, lakes and mountain ranges including Mount Kilimanjaro.
– Uganda: Although situated on the equator, Uganda’s relatively high altitude tempers the heat and the humidity is generally low. The land varies from semi-desert in the northeast, to the lush and fertile shores of Lake Victoria, to the mountainous south and west.
– Zambia: Zambia is a land-locked and is bordered by eight countries. It is primarily a vast plateau with deciduous savanna, small trees, grassy plains and marshland with a rain forest around Victoria Falls. The Zambezi is its major river.
– Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe is largely plateau with bushveld, giving rise to many rivers like the Zambezi. It also has mountainous highlands and Victoria Falls, Africa’s biggest waterfall.
- What are the roads like?
– Botswana: About 25% of highways are tarred. The roads are rough, dusty and badly signposted in reserves – 4×4 is essential.
– Kenya: All major roads are tarred. Surface of lesser roads vary. Many roads are only navigable by 4×4 in rainy season.
– Namibia: About 15% of highways are paved. Namibia has a good infrastructure of roads. Two-wheel drive vehicle is adequate for self-drive holiday.
– South Africa: The roads are well maintained. Number of toll roads present. South Africa is a good self-drive destination.
– Tanzania: About 5% of highways are tarred. Only key roads are in good condition. Road conditions in reserves and parks are rough.
– Uganda: All major roads are tarred. The quality of lesser roads varies. Many roads are only navigable by 4×4 in rainy season.
– Zambia: About 20% of highways are paved. After rains, most gravel roads only passable by 4×4.
– Zimbabwe: About 50% of highways are paved. Outside parks and reserves, where 4x4s are advisable, road conditions and signage are good. Self-drive is an option.
- What is the time difference in Africa?
Botswana: GMT +2 hours
Kenya: GMT +3 hours
Namibia: GMT +1 hour/GMT +2 hours
South Africa: GMT +2 hours
Tanzania: GMT +3 hours
Uganda: GMT +3 hours
Zambia: GMT +2 hours
Zimbabwe: GMT +2 hours
- Is English widely spoken?
Yes. English is spoken throughout East and Southern Africa, especially by those involved in the tourist trade. European and Middle Eastern languages spoken in Africa include German (Namibia) and Arabic (Tanzania).
- Can I use my credit card in Africa?
– Botswana: All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. Certain lodges and restaurants do not accept payment by Diners or American Express.
– Kenya: Most major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) are widely accepted. Diner’s Card is not generally accepted.
– Namibia: International Visa and MasterCard credit cards are generally accepted throughout Namibia. Holders of other credit cards are advised to clarify with a commercial bank whether their card is acceptable in Namibia.
Credit cards are not accepted at gas stations.
– South Africa: Visa, American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard are accepted by most restaurants, stores, hotels, car rental firms and other points of sale and service. Proof of identity may be requested in some instances and it is therefore useful to carry a passport or some form of photo identification at all times.
– Tanzania: Most top hotels and lodges around the country accept Visa and MasterCard. In addition to credit cards, clients should bring US dollars and traveler’s checks.
– Uganda: Credit cards are accepted at the major hotels. However, there are few other places where international credit cards are accepted.
– Zambia: All major credit cards are accepted at the bigger hotels and shops. Note that certain lodges do not accept payment by Diners or American Express.
– Zimbabwe: All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. However, please note that due to the difference in currency exchange, we advise against using credit cards in Zimbabwe.
- Are foods for special dietary needs available?
Yes. Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Africa. Please give us advanced notice so that we can make arrangements with the lodges and camps you are scheduled to stay at. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians, depending on their forte. Local specialties can be surprisingly good! With the exception of a few lodges, halal and kosher food is not available at most camps/lodges.
- Is the water safe to drink?
– Botswana: Tap water is purified and safe to drink at hotels, inns, lodges and other public places. Remember water is a scarce
resource especially in this drought-stricken country, so please be respectful and help to conserve water.
– Kenya: While water in major towns is chlorinated and relatively safe to drink, it is safer to drink sealed bottled water, available from most hotels and lodges.
– Namibia: Tap water is purified and safe to drink at hotels, inns, lodges and other public places. Remember water is as precious as diamonds in this drought-stricken land.
– South Africa: The tap water in South Africa is safe to drink. If you prefer, bottled water is available.
– Tanzania: It is advisable to drink boiled or bottled water. If camping – bring drinking water and other bottled drinks.
– Uganda: It is advisable to drink boiled or bottled water.
– Zambia: Tap water is usually safe to drink, but bottled water can be purchased if preferred.
– Zimbabwe: Tap water is purified and safe to drink at hotels, inns, lodges and other public places.
- Are there any medical precautions?
Vaccination requirements change from time to time. Some countries require advance inoculations for yellow fever (and certificates thereof) that are good for 10 years – African Horizons will advise you of these. Malaria is present in many parts of Africa – we will advise you if you will be visiting a malaria area. We suggest you consult your local doctor or health department for information on malaria prophylactics and the latest health precautions. If you are on prescription medication, please ensure you have an adequate supply to last the duration of your stay and a copy of your prescription(s).
- What is meant by en-suite or private facilities?
En-suite or private facilities are toilet and bath/shower located within your room or tent rather than facilities designed for community use.
- What photography advice can you give?
A good camera will make the difference between having photos of spectacular wildlife and having vague, little dots of animals to show family and friends. The more common “point-and-shoot” cameras are too small. On safari, you won’t always be able to get up close to wildlife. A SLR (single lens reflex) camera with a 200-300mm lens is recommended. More serious photographers may choose telephoto lenses of 400 or 500mm. Larger lenses often require a tripod, which cannot be used on a moving vehicle. A 2x tele converter is useful for doubling the focal length of your lens. A zoom lens, such as a 70 to 210 mm lens, is probably the best option for shooting a moving subject.
The harsh African sun provides excellent lighting, but using larger lenses will require faster film, especially in early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer. In this case, 200-400 ASA film is recommended.
Film and batteries are usually available along major tourist routes and from lodges, but it is wise to bring your own. A lens hood and ultra violet filter are advisable. A good bag for your equipment including a dust cover (plastic bag) is essential.
Important Note: Not all African cultures are familiar with cameras. Rural folk will often shy away from having their picture taken. Please be sensitive. Some locals may ask a fee for having their photograph taken. It is recommended you avoid photographing anything relating to government and military installations, including personnel (soldiers and police) and buildings (post offices, banks, airports, border posts, railway stations and bridges).
- How did the “big five” get their name?
The “big five” are leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo. These animals constitute a wish list for many people on safari. The term is a reference from colonial trophy hunting. Hunters ranked African animals as to how dangerous they were to hunt. This is why hippo and giraffe – despite their stature – are not among this elite, sought-after group.