Yellow fever certificates are required for entry into East Africa.Valid for a life time.To be taken at least 10 days before date of departure.Oral polio vaccinations are required for entry into Kenya.Valid for one year only. To be taken at least 4 weeks before date of departure.To be done by Government hospitals and Health Organisations.
Advisable to wear long trousers, full length shirt sleeves, long socks and shoes.Carry an insect bite allergy cream.In certain parts of Tanzania, like in Tarangire and Serengeti,Tsetse flies are common and an irritant and may be a health hazard. They are blood sucking flies and are attracted by blue and black colors. If bitten apply a skin allergy cream, like Intamine which is meant for insect bites and stings, itching and plant rashes. The red blotches may remain for some time. Use the fly swatter provided in the vehicles vigorously.
*Agents or do it yourself?
Agents charge commission so that adds to the cost and may push their camps and agenda.Enough information is available on the internet to do the planning yourself.Hotels and camps are very helpful in providing assistance and help with airport and hotel pick ups and drops, internal flight bookings,road transfers,etc.
*Connectivity between camps:
Flying is the norm by small aircraft of about 12 seats between locations by operators like Safari Link and Air Kenya.There are air strips through out the Masai Mara and Serengeti.Normally, your air strips will be that nearest your camp.Travelling by road is also an option.Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option.You can do a mix of both options.If you use road transfers for all your sectors than you will have the same guide/driver.If you take the flying option then you will change to the local guide/driver at each camp who who is more likely to have uptodate information on sightings.You can also mix the options - flying and road transfers.
Generally,adequate charging facilities are available in individual tents.However,in some moving camps there is only one place for charging available near the reception.If this is important check before.
Carry a G type International Adapter,preferably with USB ports.A portable mobile charger may be useful.
Gratuities are expected by porters,guides/drivers,butlers,etc.Each camp or travel agent will provide guidelines.Advisable to pay the safari guides the recommended rate of USD 20 per couple per day, if not more for superior service.
As most bookings at camps are on basis of full package, there are no cash expenses,except for personal purchases.USD are accepted.However,for small tips carry local currency.It is KES for Kenyan Shilling in Kenya and TZS for Tanzanian Shilling in Tanzania.Just outside the JKIA,Nairobi there is a foreign exchange counter where you can exchange into local currency.
Flights are by small aircraft with limited luggage space.Maximum 15 kg which includes hand luggage and camera equipment.Extra weight may be charged.Soft bags are recommended with retractable wheels.Most airports,other than Nairobi and Kilimanjaro, are small sheds with no staff.
Laundry is included in the package with delivery on the same day.However the laundry may often be unpressed and personal under clothes not covered.
Guides are English speaking driver/guides.A few camps also have a spotter, in addition to the driver/guide, but this is rare.Guide is the single most important person,particularly if you are a wildlife photographer;so establish a good relationship and respect his judgement.
Safaris are either in the morning and afternoon or for full day.In the National Parks there are entry and exit timings.Currently,in the Masai Mara this is 6:30 am entry and 6:30 pm exit.In the Conservancies, there are no timings.
In the conservancies you can do night game drives,walking safaris and also go off road!Three main things which are not allowed inside the National Park.
*If you are a wildlife photographer let the camp know:
If you are a wildlife photographer let the camp know in advance as they are usually sympathetic to wildlife photographers. They may allot you a smaller 4 seater vehicle, sometimes exclusively without charging and also give you more bean bags. It is entirely discretionary.
If you are carrying heavy lenses and expensive cameras remember to take customs clearance at the airport.For travellers from India the clearance is usually valid for 3 years.
In view of the winds in the morning safari’s you may be prone to chapped lips, so carry a lips softener.
*Soft wet wipes:
In safari you may have to take a toilet break or touch various unclean surfaces where water or soap is not available. Take plenty of hand soft wet wipes. Some camps provide them but not all.