FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is something we’ve not covered here.
We came on safari 30 years ago. Can we go back to the same place?
The joy of our Bespoke safaris is that each is designed to fulfill your own special dream. If there’s somewhere that’s very dear to you that you’d like to visit again, please just tell us know. We love learning about new places and finding ways to join the dots.
Why do you suggest we travel with your hosts? We like our privacy.
A host can bring a wonderful extra dimension to your safari, and we choose our experts very carefully. If you like privacy but are concerned about traveling to the remoter parts of Africa without a guide, we will ensure that your host has the highest expertise but the lightest touch.
One of our party uses a wheelchair. Can we still find places to visit?
Many places can accommodate wheelchair users, but unfortunately not all. However there are still lots of wonderful places to visit and we will tailor-make your safari to ensure it meets your every need, to the best of our ability. Anything is possible
We have arranged half of our trip ourselves. Can you just fill in the gaps?
If you’ve already started to organise your trip but would now like to hand it over, we’re more than happy to pick up the threads where you left off and get everything squared away to perfection.
Our party needs significant privacy and confirmed security. Do you have experience dealing with such individuals?
Yes we do. A-list celebrities, ex-presidents, politicians and high net-worth individuals have been hosted or stayed with us in Samburu or joined us in different parts of Africa. Please let us know of any particular concerns.
We want to relax on the coast, go on safari, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and see the gorillas. How much time do we need?
Climbing Kilimanjaro takes a minimum of six days on the mountain itself to acclimatise your body properly to the altitude. We recommend that you do it towards the start of your trip and perhaps go gorilla trekking or throw in a hike up Mt. Meru, a lesser peak of 15,000ft close-by, in advance to acclimatize before your big climb. If you add a decent safari of four to five days, plus the two to three days with the gorillas, a few travel days in between, and finally four to five days at the coast to relax at the end, it would be best to schedule a minimum of three weeks for this kind of trip.
Do we pay for the trip in full before, or at each place as we move around?
All safaris need to be paid for in full in advance at the Elephant Watch Portfolio booking office in Nairobi, and a 50% deposit is required upfront for confirmation of your booking.
For any extra purchases during your safari card machines are available at most camps, but it is always a good idea to bring some cash too. Please note that a 3% fee will be added to all visa payments (both debit and credit) to cover bank charges, and that US dollar notes issued before 2007 are not valid in most African countries. American Express or travellers’ cheques are also not accepted.
What about tipping?
It is customary to tip staff in Africa and always very much appreciated. We recommend anything between USD10-25 per guest per night depending on the location. Many camps or lodges operate a communal tipping system but if there’s somebody who you feel deserves extra recognition then you can tip them personally or just let the manager know. Please note that US dollar notes issued before 2007 are not valid in most African countries.
What if someone falls sick?
Full medical and travel insurance is highly recommended for the duration of your safari, and where possible temporary membership of a Flying Doctor service – which we can sign you up to for a small fee. We also recommend that you get all of your vaccinations updated in good time before departure. A yellow fever vaccination is imperative and required no less than 10 days prior to travel if you are coming from or have been to a country with risk of yellow fever, and malaria prophylaxis is recommended if you are visiting malarial areas.
If you get sick, most illnesses are treatable on site if you have a decent medi-kit with general antibiotics and first-aid treatment. For serious emergencies, the flying doctor service will evacuate you to the closest private hospital for treatment.
What kind of food can I expect?
Travelers are often advised to avoid fresh vegetables or unpeeled fruit in Africa because of the worry of contaminated water used for washing. If you are backpacking and eating street food then obviously you should be careful to make sure everything is thoroughly cooked. But on our bespoke safaris the food is of the highest quality, made from the freshest ingredients and carefully handled and washed in clean water, so there’s no need to worry. To really get the feel of a country we highly recommend trying the local food. In Kenya that would be a type of maize-meal polenta with a vegetable or meat stew inland, or deliciously spiced fish and coconut rice at the coast. Vegetables and fruit in Africa tend to have much more taste as they spend longer in the sunshine before being picked, so fresh salads are a delight on a hot day, and you’ll be enchanted by a delicious array of fruits that are new to the palate.
What should we pack?
For most parts of Africa, lightweight clothes and a good sunhat are a must for the day. For bush-walks earth tones are preferable. Warmer, smarter clothes are recommended for the evening, as there is often a tradition of dressing for dinner. A fleece or shawl is a must. If you are climbing Kilimanjaro or hiking after mountain gorillas, then proper rainproof cold weather hiking gear is essential. Temperatures can plummet to below freezing at high altitude, so wick-away undergarments and warm layers are essential. Likewise good hiking boots for the mountain trekkers, or walking shoes or sneakers for the lower altitudes are a must, and lighter shoes or slipper socks are recommended for the evening.
Make sure you bring good quality sunglasses, sunscreen, a torch, mosquito repellent and a camera to capture the memories around you. Your safari planner will discuss this in detail with you once you have decided where you are going to ensure you have the correct specialist clothing or equipment.