Africa isn’t the typical destination and it certainly isn’t a holiday as you know it. Here are our tips for planning your African safari holiday – from how to get there to what inoculations you might need. When you’re ready to start the adventure, give our team a call to start creating your own personalised itinerary.
Planning for your Safari
Imagine driving amongst some of the world’s most naturally beautiful landscapes in search of elusive, magnificent wildlife. Elegant giraffe’s craning their necks, their black tongues twisting over the branches of shady acacia trees, majestic wild cats getting ready to pounce on unsuspecting antelope grazing on the vast, grassy savannah, robust rhinos and elephants meandering along the ground with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains behind them – Africa is such an incredible and fascinating place to explore.
How to Get There
Many major airlines fly direct to Africa from the UK. Nairobi is East Africa’s aerial hub and the starting point for a Kenyan safari. You can also fly direct to Kilimanjaro International and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. From these airports there are connections to safari destinations across East Africa, including regular flights to Rwanda and Uganda.
For Southern Africa safaris, there’s a good chance you’ll be flying in to Johannesburg’s O. R. Tambo International airport; there are many direct flights from the UK. From here you can fly to destinations across Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and, of course, South Africa. Livingstone in Zambia, Windhoek in Namibia, and South Africa’s Cape Town are also convenient airports that have direct connections to Europe.
How to Get Around
Distances are big in Africa and getting around is a major consideration. Light aircraft provides expedited travel to remote destinations and offers wonderful aerial safari experiences – you can read more about it in this article. It’s also beautiful to travel by road, whether that’s on a game drive or passing the authentic sights of rural Africa – this article has all you need to know.
For most Southern African destinations you won’t need a visa. South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana all offer a visa-free 90-day stay; just have a copy of your return flight ready for the immigration official.
If travelling to South Africa with a child under the age of 18 you’ll need to bring your child’s full unabridged birth certificate with you, listing the child’s details and the parent’s details. There are additional requirements if your child is only travelling with one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. This leaflet from the South African Department for Home Affairs has more information www.dha.gov.za/files/Brochures/Immigrationleaflet.pdf
Zimbabwe and Zambia offer visas on arrival at all airports and overland borders. It currently costs USD50 and you’ll need to pay in U.S. dollars. Bring untarnished post-2006 bills. Note that if you’re going to Victoria Falls and planning to see the falls on both sides of the border, you’ll need to get a double-entry visa. That’s also applicable if you’re returning to Livingstone after exploring nearby Chobe National Park in Botswana.
All East African countries require a visa and these cost USD30 – 50. Kenya and Uganda have an e-visa system so you can apply in advance online, then get the visa stamped into your passport when you arrive in the country. While not absolutely essential, it saves time at the airport and is highly recommended. Apply for a Kenyan visa at https://immigration.ecitizen.go.ke/ and a Ugandan visa at https://visas.immigration.go.ug/
Tanzanian visas can be obtained on arrival at the airports and border posts. We’ve found the immigration officials to process high volumes of people very quickly. Although you might have to wait for 30 minutes, it’s much easier and cheaper than sending your passport off to the Tanzanian embassy for a visa in advance.
British nationals visiting Rwanda can get a visa upon arrival for USD30. Rules for other nationalities vary so it’s worth checking https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=13 as many European nationalities must obtain an e-visa in advance.
Health and Vaccinations for Africa
Negative media stories have created the image of a dirty continent packed with exotic diseases. Which is far from the truth? Remember ebola? You would have been closer to the ebola outbreak on a holiday to Spain than a safari in eastern Tanzania. The perception of Africa is that it’s one single place, so one negative story gets associated with everywhere.
Africa is very safe and with a few basic precautions you will be very healthy. This is the continent where heart surgery was invented, ecological living is the norm, and an area bigger than Europe has become malaria free in less than half a century. Medical facilities continue to improve and the tourism industry is well established, so light aircraft can connect remote safari destinations to Western-quality city hospitals in the case of emergency.
The two most important ways to stay healthy are to protect yourself against mosquitoes and to stay hydrated. After a couple of days on safari you’ll realise the importance of drinking more water than you do at home. Insect repellent should be top of your packing list and it’s good to wear clothes that cover your arms and ankles. Africa isn’t overrun by mosquitoes but you should come prepared. Excellent mosquito nets are the norm in lodges and camps where there are mosquitoes around.
Specific inoculations for your trip should be prescribed by your doctor or travel nurse. As a general guide, the following vaccinations are usually recommended for travel anywhere in Africa: Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, typhoid, and diphtheria. If you’re only planning to visit the coastal areas of South Africa then this list is shorter.
A yellow fever vaccination is legally required to enter Kenya or Uganda; your yellow fever certificate (known as a yellow card) must be presented to the medical officials upon arrival.
Malaria is found across East Africa and every safari to this region will require you to take anti-malarial medication. Southern Africa has mostly wiped out malaria and there are many destinations which offer a malaria-free safari. Only a small part of the region now carries a malaria risk.