East African Wildlife Safari FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is a Safari?
The word safari originates from the Kiswahili (Swahili) language whose word for journey, ‘safari’, has become the international description of a trip into the wild. It has now become the accepted term to describe wildlife viewing or game drives in the national parks and reserves of Africa.

 

What are the Big 5?
The 5 large animals – Rhinoceros, Lion, Elephant, Buffalo and Leopard – regarded by colonial hunters as the most dangerous and prized to hunt, and eagerly sought-after by contemporary safari-goers. A safari should entail seeing all 5.

 

What type of transportation do we use?
We use a combination of 4-wheel Land Cruisers, Land Rovers and Minivans to maximize our viewing opportunities in the field. These vehicles feature pop-top roofs for all-around visibility, and open center aisles for flexible maneuvering when stopped. All of our vehicles conform to safety regulations and are custom-built to take the rigors of a safari. All vehicles are driven by our experienced and highly knowledgeable local drivers, who are always willing to discuss their native country and culture. Our vehicles provide us with safety as well as ease of viewing. Much of our safari takes place in national parks and reserves, whose regulations require us to stay inside our vehicles due to danger from wild animals.

 

How much time is spent in vehicles?
A great deal of wildlife viewing occurs in outstanding national parks and reserves. Park regulations require us to stay inside vehicles while on game drives, due to danger from wild animals. There are some designated areas where we are allowed to alight from our vehicles.

 

How many people do we usually take on safari?
Our vehicles allow for a maximum of 6 participants, a leader and a driver, though we prefer a smaller group number for added comfort. We have run safaris for individuals, couples, families and larger groups which require additional vehicles.What is a game drive?
Game drives are the cornerstones of a safari, allowing us to traverse the terrain in search of the Big 5, herds of ungulates and a multitude of avian species. There are usually two game drives per day, one in the morning lasting about 5 hours, and one in late afternoon which lasts about 3 hours.

 

Are there any night game drives?
Most parks do not allow anyone to be out after sunset. However, there are a few lodges that run night game drives and we include these as part of our itinerary whenever possible. Night game drives usually last for 2 to 3 hours beginning just after sunset or after dinner. These give us an opportunity to see a variety of nocturnal creatures such at bushbabies, porcupines, genets, nightjars and owls.

 

What is a typical day like on safari?
Parks and reserves are typically open from sunrise to sunset. We like to maximize our time in the field, so we usually take an early breakfast and head out at 6:30 for our morning game drive, returning late-morning. While we will likely see wildlife at any time of the day, early morning gives us a better chance of finding nocturnal species such as Leopard or cats at a kill. Lunch is around 12:30 and a short rest period for both participants and wildlife follows. At 3:30 we head out for our afternoon game drive returning around 6:30. We have Dinner at 7:30 and complete our checklist at that time. Be prepared for a great deal of excitement!

 

How are the accommodations?
One of the most important aspects of your safari is maximizing the amount of quality time in the field; there is so much to experience that we don?t want to miss anything. We choose not only quality lodges and tented camps with ensuite facilities, but consider their locations foremost in our planning. Our accommodations are located within national park and reserve boundaries whenever possible, to start each morning closer to the wildlife. The Lodges we choose, as well as many of the Tented Camps, feature spectacular scenery, comfortable furnishings, friendly and accommodating staff. Some even offer swimming pools for relaxing after a long safari drive! Note that while we make every effort to offer superior facilities, occasionally there may be a particular location that necessitates us to stay in more basic mobile tented camps or bandas, that may not provide ensuite facilities.

 

What type of food do we eat?
Most of our meals are served buffet-style at the lodges that we stay in. There is a good selection of international cuisine, including vegetarian choices. Fresh fruits, tasty desserts, and hot beverages are readily available. Breakfast portions are ample, with plenty of coffee and tea. At times when we are in the field or enroute, we will bring boxed lunches with us for a picnic.

 

What is the climate like?
Being on the equator temperatures are very pleasant year round with little humidity, though the Kenyan coast and Uganda?s rainforests can be humid. Overall May through September is slightly cooler than October through April. Average year-round temperatures normally range from 70-85 degrees F. The coast and northern Kenya may see temperatures ranging from 85-95 between October and April. Any change in temperature is usually encountered upon elevational change. Murchinson?s Falls, Samburu, the Tsavos, and Bogoria are between 1500-3000 ft. and usually a little warmer. The rim of the Ngorongoro crater, the Aberdares, and the base of Mt. Kenya rise from 6000 ft. and are a bit cooler than average.

 

When are the wet and dry seasons?
East Africa?s climatic cycles are characterized by wet and dry seasons. In southern Kenya there are two wet seasons – the long rains or masika from late-March to mid-June and the short rains or mvuli from late-October to mid-December. In Northern Tanzania the wet season tends to be between December and May. Uganda, which is generally wetter than Kenya and Tanzania, experiences two wet seasons in the south, April-May and October- November, and one in the north from April to October.

 

When is the best time of year to go on Safari?
Wildlife tends to be easier to see during the dry season as they concentrate around watering holes. However, the wet season offers fewer humans, green savannas and triggers breeding activity for a great many species.

 

What is the Wildebeest migration?
One of the world?s greatest wildlife spectacles is the ongoing migration of over 1 million Wildebeest in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. As the dry season descends upon the plains in April, and water becomes scarcer, great herds of Wildebeest begin to move up from the south, seeking the lush pastures of the northwestern section of the Serengeti National Park. During May and June, mating occurs as the animals continue on their journey northwards. By the end of July they begin to cross into the Masai Mara National Park with large numbers crossing the Mara River in early to mid September to then disperse over the northern grasslands. Beginning in November they head south back into Tanzania and the southern Serengeti where calving occurs in January and February. In April the cycle begins once more.

 

What kinds of birds can be seen on safari?
East Africa features an amazing diversity of bird life with about 1400 species recorded. A 14-17-day bird-focused safari might yield more than 500 species. There are a large number of avian families that are endemic to Africa, including mousebirds, turacos, guineafowl, ground hornbills, barbets, secretary birds, ostrich, shoebill and hamerkop. Many colorful species dazzle the eye – kingfishers, bee-eaters, flamingos, stunning Lilac-breasted Rollers, stately Grey-crowned Cranes, and Saddle-billed Storks. Palearctic migrants from Europe and Asia spend their winters in equatorial Africa, from September through April. The Crab-plover, a much sought-after migrant, can be readily found on the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts.

 

What kinds of animals can be seen on safari?
In addition to the famous Big 5, East Africa hosts a wide variety of animals in diverse habitats. Antelopes are notable with about 40 different species, including elands, waterbuck, gerenuk, topis, hartebeest, impala, gazelles, and the diminutive dik-diks. These, along with herds of zebras and wildebeest, serve as the main prey for the ever-hungry carnivores like lions, hyenas and cheetahs. It is always a treat to see roving bands of mongoose and comical warthogs. East African rivers are alive with hippopotamus and opportunistic Nile Crocodiles. Primates are well-represented with Olive and Yellow Baboons, Vervet, Blue and Red-tailed Monkeys, Black-and-White Colobus and Uganda?s rare great apes, Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas. The forests host a wide array of butterflies. Nile Monitor, Leopard Tortoise and a handful of lizards are also encountered.

 

Can we create a custom itinerary?
Certainly. Our tours can be customized to focus on birding, photography, wildlife or other general interests of the participants. In fact, nearly all itineraries are developed based on the desires of our customers. Our safaris provide the perfect adventure for families, couples or individuals.

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