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General Travel Information

Planning an African Safari

 

An African safari is a true adventure — a journey crafted in the tradition of wealthy 13th-century traders who first hunted the plains of Africa for wild game trophies to hang on their walls. Today, travelers hunt for photo opportunities instead of occasions to kill, but they encounter the same scenes that have fascinated explorers throughout history: thousands of zebras migrating across emerald grasslands, flocks of florescent flamingos creating a field of colour across a shining soda lake, lions feasting on a hard-earned kill.

Many travelers trek to Africa in search of the "big five": buffalo, lions, leopards, elephants and rhinoceroses. The chance to get close to these animals in their natural habitats is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but your trip to the Africa is anything but a trip to the zoo. Safaris can be physically taxing and strenuous, and you may not see all the animals you expected. Most safari destinations are in developing sub-Saharan nations, travellers must take certain safety and health precautions. If you're planning a safari (or just dreaming about it), be as prepared as possible. Get some good guidebooks, talk to friends who've been to Africa and research, research, research. We've outlined some important safari basics, from choosing a destination to getting vaccinated, to help you start planning a successful African adventure. 

Types of safaris

For the most part, safaris are a costly kind of vacation. But as with any other type of travel, you can tailor your safari to suit your personal budget. The length of your safari, the time of travel and accommodation choice will affect its cost — although you may want to cut your trip short to save cash, the longer you stay, the less you will probably pay on a per-night basis. If you're looking for luxury digs on your safari (or even just hot water and a comfy bed), prepare to pay more. Budget-minded adventurers should seek self-drive or overland safaris. they are cheaper though as opposed to all-inclusive package tours — but be prepared to camp in tents or navigate a 4x4 through the African bush. If you're travelling alone, you will have to pay a single supplement, as most of our package pricing is based on double occupancy.

Luxury safaris

A luxury safari offered by a well-known tour operator typically costs thousands of dollars per person, per week, with all-inclusive prices covering tours, food, drinks and excursions. Fully catered luxury packages offer travellers the comforts of home in wild Africa. Accommodations range from air-conditioned suites to stylish tents (you'll feel almost like you're camping — aside from the hot running water, rich linens and first-rate service). Ultra-luxurious safari lodges can cost over $1,000 a night. We do have mid range tours to choose from which whereas the accommodation is luxurious, the prices are well within reach to most travelers.

Where to go

Each country in Africa is different. We acknowledge that it is impossible to capture the spirit and culture of an entire country in one paragraph, but below is a brief overview of some popular African safari destinations to get you started. The best and most popular areas in Africa for safaris are East and Southern Africa, which offer vast plains and roaming packs of extraordinary beasts.

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Private Safari or a Group Tour.

A group tour is often cheaper but then cannot be customized to your needs and does not offer the flexibility and personal freedom that one will find with a private safari. With a private safari you will enjoy a much better safari experience - you literally have the chance to really take in the sights and sounds of Africa at your own pace. You get to select your safari locations, accommodation and duration. Keep in mind also that with a private safari you can for example change your game drive timings, or stop along the way to take snaps, or just for a brief stop to enjoy a cold drink and admire the view-whenever you feel like -within reason of course !

How do I choose the Hotels and Lodges:

We have a whole section dedicated to Hotels and Lodges with a description and pictures to aid you in your choice. However, we are in the best position to recommend you a safari lodge or a hotel. Our staff  have visited and inspected the facilities and can give you first hand feedback. Take advantage of our experience and local knowledge and let us suggest the right accommodation for your trip - that's why we are here!. Admittedly though, there are many lodges and hotels which offer equally good quality accommodation - however what we offer you depends on your budget and specific needs. There are deluxe tented camps priced at US$ 500+ per person per night, Top end safari camps priced at US$ 350+ per person per night and there are also some good , award winning lodges priced at US$ 150 per person per night. With such a range available, we try and get you into the accommodation closest to your budget while meeting your needs - quality is never on compromise and we do not offer sub standard accommodation to our clients.

How Do I Confirm my Trip and Pay:

We will be with you every step of the way as you plan your safari. As soon as you are satisfied with your itinerary and the cost, let us know and we will confirm the tour and send you a detailed trip itinerary. We accept credit card payment by online payment through the paypal gate way or bank transfer bank transfer. The procedures are simple ! We will explain these to you and will assist in every way possible. You may book and pay for your safari online anytime through our easy booking system. All online bookings are re-confirmed within 15 minutes.

East Africa

Kenya: Kenya's most abundant wildlife can be found in the Masai Mara reserve (a part of the vast Greater Serengeti), where massive herds of animals make an annual migration across the plains. But beyond Masai Mara and the Serengeti lie plenty of other quality parks with abundances of wildlife, including the soda lakes of the Great Rift Valley and Lake Bogoria, where thousands of colorful flamingos reside

Tanzania: Like Kenya, Tanzania houses part of the Serengeti National Park — the best park in which to see great herds of wildlife in Africa. Other noteworthy sites include Mount Kilimanjaro, marine parks off the coast and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, site of the Ngorongoro Crater and Oldupai Gorge (also known as the Cradle of Mankind). The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the largest volcanic craters on earth. Over 30,000 animals live in the crater; it has the densest lion population in the world.

Uganda: The most famous safari destinations in Uganda are the country's many primate reserves. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Ngamba Island offer visitors the unforgettable opportunity to get a close look at primates in their natural habitats. Travelers can also see crocodiles, hippos and exotic birds, and witness the thundering water of Murchison Falls at Murchison Falls National Park on the Nile River. We offer these safaris on request.

Southern Africa

Botswana: Probably the most expensive destination in Africa due to the government's push for high-end tourism, Botswana has smaller crowds than most other safari destinations, and is a common locale for luxury packages. See wildlife in game reserves such as Chobe National Park, famous for an abundance of elephants, or Moremi Wildlife Reserve, which offers plenty of the famous "big five." You can also visit the Okavango Delta in Botswana — look for crocodiles, buffalo, zebras, hippos and many other animals in the delta's tangled waterways and islands.

Namibia: Namibia is under the radar for many safari travelers — expect less upscale game parks — and is dotted with incredible natural wonders from the Fish River Canyon to the Namib Desert. You'll find over 100 species of mammals in Etosha National Park, including endangered animals like the black rhinoceros. Desert elephants and zebra roam the arid landscapes of Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia — the driest place in Africa.

South Africa: This is a particularly popular destination for safari travelers, so you can expect a well-organized and modern tourist infrastructure — as well as plenty of other travelers in the high season. The best-known park is Kruger National Park, which is home to an impressive variety of African animals and is situated in the largest conservation area in the world. Go to a private game lodge if you want a less-traveled safari, but prepare to pay — these pricey digs can run well over $500 per night

When to go

Africa is an immense continent with safari opportunities available across thousands of miles, so the best time to travel to Africa depends on your specific destination. Overall, it's best (but most expensive) to travel in the dry season, which corresponds with the region's winter. Since safari destinations are in the Southern Hemisphere, their seasons run opposite of North America. Winter is from June to September, and summer is from December to March. Peak seasons for Kenya and Tanzania being July to October and January to March. Low season April to June. The prices are a bit fair in low season but be prepared to get some showers whilst on safari although this does not affect the quality of game viewing.

 

Seasons:

Low season/Shoulder Season

01 April - 15 June / 01 November -14 December

Peak Season

16 June - 31 October

High season

01January - 31 March /15 December - 31 December

Making Reservations

Now that you know where you are going and how you are getting there, start making all necessary reservations. If you reserve airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel/lodge accommodations early, they are usually cheaper. Anything you can reserve early-Do it!. It is advisable to It will save you a lot of hassles later. Seek information from your destination management company (tour operator) on how much deposit is required for making the reservation. {We at Tracks Berg Travel require 25%} Once you have made reservations, keep all the information in a handy place.

Note: Find out also from your tour operator how you may send the money because paying online using your credit card may not be a supported option in most of Africa. We at Tracks Berg Travel do accept Payments online with credit cards.

About one or two weeks before the trip, begin reconfirming all reservations to ensure everything is in order. Now is the time to remind neighbours/family members about watering your plants or collecting your mail. If you choose to have mail and newspapers held, this would be the time to set that up.

Today traveler's checks are not Accepted in Kenya. Try to carry about some cash in US dollars for buying snacks and small souvenirs and tips.

Get out your luggage to decide what you need for each family member. If you are travelling by plane, choose what you think will really occupy your children as the carry-on bag will have to be smaller.

Packing to make sure you don't forget anything is simple. Go into each room of your house and think about what you use on a daily basis from that room. This will ensure that you will not miss any common items such as a toothbrush.

Visualize a wardrobe for every family member taking into consideration the climate of your vacation destination. East Africa is generally warm but the nights can be chilly. Even if you travel to a warm destination always bring at least one warm outfit and a light jacket in case the temperature drops unexpectedly.

Visas and vaccines

Of course, you'll need a passport to travel to Africa. But for some other countries, like Kenya or Tanzania, you will need a visa too. Visit the State Department Web site for more information on visa requirements. Apply for a visa at least two months before your departure date. You may as well get the VISA on arrival at the entry airports if you have limited time to make prior arrangements.

Find a doctor who specializes in travel health care and tell him or her about your African travel plans, or visit a travel clinic. You'll need to get certain immunizations before heading to Africa. Malaria is common there, but there is no vaccine for the disease. You can protect yourself from malaria by taking an anti-malaria treatment or avoiding mosquitoes; use a mosquito-repellent spray and mosquito nets. You will need a yellow fever vaccination for travel to East and Southern Africa. Other vaccinations you may need include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Typhoid. Visit the Centers for Disease Control's Web site for destination-specific health information.

Staying safe

You may imagine that hungry crocodiles or packs of ravenous lions are the biggest dangers on safari. The truth is that humans rarely get attacked by wild animals, but they routinely fall victim to safari scams, dehydration and illness, or crime while travelling to Africa.

Scams

When selecting a package, beware of safari scams. Research your prospective safari package provider; ask them for references. Also, look for user reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, lonely planet, or any other website where past travellers congregate to exchange ideas before you book. And keep in mind that if something is too good to be true (like a $50-per-night safari in luxury bungalows), it's likely a scam. Finally, always be aware of your package provider's cancellation policy (or lack thereof)!

Staying healthy

Safaris can be physically strenuous and mentally taxing. Travellers to Africa are at risk for dehydration while on safari; your body may not be accustomed to the hot sun and dry air of the bush and you may not even realize that you're becoming dehydrated. Drink lots of water! For more on staying fit and healthy on your travels, read our guide to health care abroad.

Politics and crime

Political unrest is an unfortunate fact of life for many African nations. Crime and violence plague many African cities, so even if you're safe on a remote safari in the bush, you may run into problems on either end of your safari. When travelling to populated areas, familiarize yourself with local customs and take measures to keep your money and valuables safe.

Insurance

Since you will be in a remote location and will probably be spending a significant amount of money on a safari, travel insurance is virtually a necessity on an African safari. (Many safari tour operators actually require customers to purchase travel insurance in order to reserve a package.) Be sure to look for emergency care coverage and financial protection when booking your policy. We at Tracks Berg Travel do include emergency medical air evacuation Cover in all our safari expeditions. We however require that you take appropriate Medical insurance cover prior to your travel.

If you still have any questions regarding Planning a safari, then do not hesitate to get in touch with TRACKS BERG TRAVEL, we will try and exhaust all the queries that you may have at no cost.

>>>>Some Information to help you in Planning a safari<<<<

 

1. What Type of a Safari ?

Our experienced tour consultants can offer you a variety of safari packages ranging, from luxury safaris with deluxe accommodation and internal flights to camping safaris where you sleep in tents out in the open, with only the basic amenities available. Also, you can choose to add a variety of activities into your tour, such as walking safaris, mountain climbing, or more luxury options such as golf, fishing and water sports.

2. How Do I then get a Suitable Safari:

The best thing is to ask us to tailor a safari to suit your needs. We don't charge any extra fee for this, and we simply need to know what your preferences are, how many days you have available and how much you are looking to spend. Within a day or two many clients manage to get tailored itinerary with us.

3. How Long should a safari be?

Obviously the longer you are on safari the more you see at a relaxed pace of travel. However, we offer safaris ranging from 3 days to 30 days in length. The general rule is to allow at least 2 nights [3 days] at each safari location, though there are locations where 1 night [2 days] is practical. The minimum suggested length of safari in any African country is at least 7 days. A more complete trip would need at least 14 days.

4. When To Come on a Safari:

Kenya and Tanzania generally have a mild, tropical climate, with moderate changes of temperature throughout the year. There are no winters or summers as such for the whole of East Africa and parts of Southern Africa. There are 2 distinct rainy seasons, one from April to early June and the other from October to November. December to February are generally warm and sunny. However, due to the great climate in East Africa, visitors can enjoy a safari or beach holiday virtually all year round without the climate being a factor.

In terms of wildlife, July to October presents a good time to see the annual wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara in Kenya when the reserve is literally teeming with wildlife. However other times of the year yield great wildlife sighting too, not least in part because other parks and reserves do not experience fluctuations in animals numbers due to migration.

Welcome to Africa !

 

 

(Kenya)

Currency: Kenya money is called Kenya shillings, abbreviated as Ksh. 100cents make 1-shilling, 1-US$ is equivalent to about 80/= shillings but this may change from more to less from bank to bank and lodge to lodge depending on the percentage of the commission taken. Most banks in Kenya open between 09:00hrs and 15:00hrs. There is however bureau de change in every Urban centres and they open as early as 0800hrs and close at 17:00hrs. Hotels and lodges change currencies as well. Have a few denominations in local currency; it is cheaper and convenient to have your money changed before the commencement of the safari.

Visa and Master Cards: Most lodges, hotels and shops accept the use of Visa/Master Cards

Water: on the whole safari, it is recommended that you use only mineral water for drinking. Tap water may be used for shower and brushing of teeth, but we do not recommend that you drink it. Hotels and lodges have enough mineral water and you may also purchase this en-route when you make short breaks between the destinations.

Shopping: have enough films to avoid inconveniences; it’s also fairly cheaper over here Health: take precautions like having some prescribed Malaria tabs. Use mosquito repellent oil/lotion.

Weather: July is the coldest in Nairobi with little or no rain at all. South Eastern Kenya and Northern Tanzania would have cool evenings and a spell of Sun during the day. Temperatures would range from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius during the night and as high as 27 degrees Celsius during the day. You will require warm clothing during the evenings i.e. Jackets, long sleeved blouses and Shirts, trousers etc. For the day, you may need casual clothing as t-shirts and shorts.

Photography: generally, photography is allowed in Kenya and Tanzania. The animals get a monthly wage for posing for the photos, so you are encouraged to take as much as you wish. However, do not take photos of strangers, police officers, military personnel, presidential motorcade, masai herdsmen and women or any other traditionally dressed persons. You may seek permission first before taking shots of strangers and masai people. Your driver will be at your service for any assistance that you may need.

Power voltage: all regions in Kenya and Tanzania are supplied with 240 volts. Almost all sockets you will find on safari are those that take in the rectangular prongs plug. You may however need to carry an adaptor just incase the two bottom holes are too wide apart for the charger prongs to go in. most lodges and hotels will provide you with an adaptor if you do not have one. It will be very rare to find sockets with rounded prongs.

Tipping: as a sign of appreciation, you may offer some tips to those who offer services at the hotels on the entire safari. However, tipping remains entirely on you. Should you feel like tipping for services rendered, we recommend that porters and waiters be given at least US$1.00 for the driver-guide; we recommend a tip of between US$5.00 to US$7.00 per person per day.

Do’s and Don’ts in the National Parks and Reserves: Do not throw litter or leave litter. There are litter bins at designated places or you may leave them in the bus. Do not feed the animals, i.e. monkeys, baboons etc. Do give the animals the right of way and do not disturb the wildlife Do not take any plant or animals, dead or alive Do not start fires or throw cigarettes Do stay in your vehicle except at designated viewing points Do not shout, laugh loudly, play radio or cassettes as this will keep away the animals Do enjoy yourself to the fullest Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25 mph) When viewing wildlife, keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters Keep to the roads Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the Parks between 7.00pm- 6.00am. Unless they are staying overnight. Night game driving is not allowed. Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable.

Do I require a Visa? There is no visa requirement for citizens of the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth countries with EXCEPTION to citizens of the following countries who do require visas: Antigua Bermuda Guyana India South Africa (for visitors staying more than 30 days) Sri Lanka United Kingdom Ethiopia San Marino Turkey Eritrea Uruguay Citizens of the following countries need to have a visa PRIOR to arriving in Kenya: Afghanistan Somali Iran Lebanon Iraq Syria Libya Mali Sudan Nigeria Yemen Cameroon Pakistan North Korea Visas are readily obtained at the Airport upon arrival as well as from the Kenya Embassies and High Commissions abroad prior to departure. Where applicable, visa fees are as follows: - Transit Visa = US$20.00 per person Single Entry Visa = US$50.00 for three months (extendable for a similar period) Multiple Entry Visa = US$100.00 – valid. Travel within East Africa If you are intending to have a multiple destination tour within East Africa, please request for the "Visitors Pass" upon arrival at the Airport. The Visitors Pass allows free RE-ENTRY to Kenya if you are travelling WITHIN East Africa (Uganda/Tanzania/Zanzibar). You will however be required to pay the normal visa charges for the other countries but may re-enter Kenya freely. The Visitors Pass is stamped on the passport free of charge for full visa holders.

Swahili words: Karibu: welcome Asante: thank you Jambo: hallo Safari: is an organized tour

 

(MALAWI)

Travel Advice

 Best Time to Travel/Climate

For most people the dry (winter) season is most attractive (i.e. April/May to October/November). The chance of rain is slim, daytime temperatures are generally pleasant (in the 20s Celsius) and the low vegetation and limited availability of water mean that game viewing is at its best. However, some of the best birdwatching can be had from November to April and the orchids of Nyika are best seen from December to March/April. Malawi's temperatures are moderated by altitude. In the hottest month (usually November) maximum temperatures will be around 30°C. In the coldest month (probably July) maximum temperatures will be in the low 20’s. On the uplands (e.g. Zomba, Nyika and Viphya) it can be quite cold at night. The hottest area, all year, is that at the lowest altitude - the Lower Shire Valley. Rainfall is extremely rare in the dry season and even in the so-called wet season, the rains are usually short-lived storms, as is typical of the tropics, and at no time does the climate seriously inhibit the traveller. Around the country, rainfall varies, with the highlands causing the highest figures. Wilderness Safaris have produced a helpful guide to the natural highlights of Malawi over the calendar year. Click here to have a look at this.

 Health & Safety

Immunisation against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A is recommended. Yellow fever immunisation may be required only by visitors entering from a yellow fever zone. There is a risk of malaria and prophylactics should be taken. Seek up to date advice from your doctor. There is a risk of contracting bilharzia if bathing in some parts of Lake Malawi but the risk is negligible near the main beach hotels. The infection is relatively easily treated once diagnosed. Malawi is a high risk area for AIDS.

Malawi is considered a safe country for tourists and Malawians are rightfully known for their friendliness. However, the usual precautions should be taken as would be advised for tourists anywhere.

Food & Drink

Excellent fish dishes are widely available but especially near Lake Malawi. Most hotels and safari camps serve "western" dishes with, perhaps, game and occasionally local foods such as maize meal porridge. Soft drinks are available everywhere. Beers (Carlsberg is the most common), spirits such as Malawi gin and South African wines are reasonably priced and commonly available. For drinking, bottled water should be used in preference to tap water.

Dress

 Dress is generally informal. Swimwear and very skimpy clothing should be confined to the beach resorts. For safaris, "natural " colours should be worn in preference to light/bright colours. In the uplands, especially in the winter (April-September), it can be cold in the evening and sweaters may be needed. It can be very cold on morning or night safari drives

 Currency

Malawi’s unit of currency is the kwacha (abbreviated to MK internationally; K locally). The kwacha divides into 100 tambala. Practically speaking, only the kwacha is used. Banks in the towns are open weekdays from 0800 to 1300. Mobile banks operate along the lakeshore and in more remote areas (check days/times locally). Travellers Cheques or foreign (hard) currency notes are widely accepted. If using dollars to pay for your tours and accommodation, try to avoid taking $1 or $5 dollar notes as these may not be accepted as most Malawi banks will not exchange such low denominations. Avoid black market currency traders. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported but it must be declared and accounted for on departure. Only MK3000 of local currency may be exported. There are 24-hour ATMs in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu. Only local currency is dispensed and that is limited to approximately the equivalent (depending on exchange rates) of GB£85, Euro110; US$140 in any period of twenty-four hours.

 

 

(Tanzania)

Time in Tanzania

Tanzania is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3). It doesn't operate daylight saving time, hence there's no time difference between their summer and winter months.

 Currency in Tanzania

Tanzania's currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). At Most camps and lodges charge in US$; very few now accept travellers' cheques, although most accept credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) but may charge a fee to do so. Buying Tanzania's currency in Europe or America can be difficult; many visitors will wait until they arrive in Tanzania to buy local currency.

Tanzania's International Dialling Code

The International Dialling Code for Tanzania is +255, followed by area codes (e.g. (0)22 for Dar es Salaam, or (0)27 for Arusha). Calling from Tanzania, you dial 00 plus the relevant country code (44 for the UK, 1 for the USA).

Food in Tanzania

The food served in Tanzanian safari camps varies, but is often delicious – the equivalent of a reasonable restaurant in Europe or America.

In Tanzania's towns and villages, the food is usually simpler. Plain grilled meat, nyama choma, is very popular, and often served with sauce, rice, chips, plantains or ugali (cornmeal or cassava mush). Indian cuisine is also wide spread. The locally brewed beer is good, including Serengeti, Safari, Kilimanjaro, mbege (homebrew from the Chagga people) and banana beer; imported beers (e.g. Tusker from Kenya) and wine are also excellent.

Health in Tanzania

Tanzania is a tropical country and vaccines are sensible (typhoid, polio, tetanus and yellow fever). Malaria is common and occurs all year round; you must take anti-malarial measures, especially in areas below 1800m! Always check the latest recommendations with your clinic or doctor

In Tanzania, HIV infection rates are high; AIDS is prevalent here. This isn't usually an issue for visitors, but they should be aware of the situation, and take the same sensible precautions to avoid infection which are wise in most countries. We understand that blood supplies used by the private hospitals in Tanzania have been carefully screened for many years.

Language in Tanzania

Kiswahili and English are the official languages and spoken by most people living in Tanzania; as well as this, there are many ethnic groups, speaking localised languages and dialects. Try to learn some basic KiSwahili before you go, to help you enjoy your trip more!

Laundry in Tanzania

Virtually all camps and lodges have a laundry service, although sometimes, because of religious taboos, women's underwear cannot be included.

Taking children to Tanzania

A few of Tanzania's safari camps are suitable for children, others aren't; Tanzania's beach destinations are generally very good for relaxed family getaways. For detailed advice, call our expert team,

Visas for Tanzania

Travellers with British passports, as well as US citizens, require visas for Tanzania (or Zanzibar). If you are living in the UK, then these are best obtained in advance from the Tanzanian High Commission, and cost $50 per single entry. Always check the latest regulations with your nearest Tanzania Embassy or High Commission before you travel.

Weather and climate in Tanzania

Depending on where you are in Tanzania, the weather and climate varies considerably

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