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Is It Safe to Travel to Africa?

Where shall I go?

What are our basic safari options – in a nutshell?

Is it more expensive to have a private guide?

Can you help us to understand the different safari style options?

What do you recommend?

What is a Tented Camp?

When is the best time to go on safari?

What will the weather be like?

What should we do next?

Is a safari in Africa a good family holiday?

Where can I get more information about my intended destination?

What are the big five and will I see them?

Where can I get reference books pertinent to the area I am visiting?

Will I need binoculars?

What are entry/visa requirements?

Are there any health precautions I should be aware of?

What medical back up will I have whilst on my safari?

What clothes shall I bring?

Safari and Travel Information

Is It Safe to Travel to Africa?

No country in the world can claim to be 100% safe and Africa is no exception. However in the scheme of things Africa is probably one of the safest destinations at the present time. Zimbabwe is our home base and is presently in political and economic turmoil, but it is important to note that without exception, visitors to the country have not had their personal security threatened as a result of this.

We also give you a further assurance that if at any time we thought it was unsafe to visit Zimbabwe or any other country in East and Southern Africa where we operate, we would be the first to advise you. We would never jeopardize the safety of our clients as our reputation would be severely damaged by taking risks.

Where shall I go?

If you have not travelled to Africa before we will help you make this decision – it is quite easy really, as first-timers are generally wanting to experience the best game viewing possible.

For those returning, obviously choosing a destination depends where you have been before. At the same time as visiting a new area, you will probably be wanting to specialise a little more – perhaps incorporate more walking into your itinerary, or repeat some facet of your previous safari which you have really enjoyed.

There are so many special corners of Africa – too numerous to cover in detail on this site – however it is our job to communicate with you thoroughly and be able to put ideas to you for consideration.

For a few ideas go to Destinations

What are our basic safari options – in a nutshell?

The aim of John Stevens Guided Safaris Africa, is to custom design a a very special safari itinerary for you. A safari which will keep you off the beaten track and away from the crowds and wherever possible to make use of the smaller more intimate owner managed safari camps and operations.

Safaris can be undertaken in four different ways;

1. as part of a set tour with a tour guide

2. as a safari package whereby a particular safari operator or agent will sell you an itinerary using their own properties or properties they have an affiliation with

John Stevens Guided Safaris Africa specialises in options 3 and 4.

3. a custom designed itinerary where you travel independently between carefully chosen camps and lodges. In choosing option three you will enjoy the expertise and local knowledge of resident camp guides. Depending on guiding standards maintained in particular countries these guides may or may not be formally qualified but are usually very experienced. Depending on the number of guests in camp at the same time, you may or may not have a guide and vehicle exclusive to your group although this can usually be arranged and paid for in advance. These safaris are created to suit your individual needs, drawing on John’s vast knowledge of Africa’s best wildlife destinations and ensuring against any ‘hiccups’ along the way by using hosts and resident camps’ guides of the highest calibre.

4. a custom designed itinerary accompanied throughout by John Stevens, or one of his colleagues, as your private professional guide, also using carefully chosen camps and lodges. This option allows you to combine John’s 35 years of bush experience and love of sharing all things wild with the intimate local knowledge of a resident guide who will also accompany John. This option guarantees that safari activities are undertaken independently of any other guests who may be in camp. Mobile tented camps are usually exclusively booked but any camp or lodge can be booked exclusively if requested.

Is it more expensive to have a private guide?

Generally yes. But you could be pleasantly surprised so we would like you to give us the opportunity to give you comparative quotes - one itinerary cost option with a private and another option travelling independently ie without a private guide but using resident camp guides.

Can you help us to understand the different safari style options?

Safaris can be broadly divided into two different styles:
- A safari based on accommodation and lodges or permanently sited tented camps.
- A 'pukka' traditional safari based on tented accommodation of various levels. Camps are mobile, have full back-up teams and top-of-the-range mobile camps are equipped with every amenity necessary to keep you comfortable.

There is a range of levels within both of the above from luxury to rustic and of course the two styles can be combined within a safari. These are outlined in detail below.

What do you recommend?

Choosing between the two is a very personal decision, but for a true African safari experience we recommend a combination of the mobile tented safari (these are not available in all countries) and permanent camps and lodges. Many permanent camps are tented.

What is a Tented Camp?

Different categories of tented camp are as follows:

  • Mobile
  • Seasonal/semi-permanent
  • Permanent

Within these categories, the style of accommodation varies…

African Luxury - permanent

Either made from brick/wood under thatch or tented.

Always spacious and beautifully appointed; large en suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water, bath, indoor and outdoor shower, flush lavatories; spacious veranda, usually with a private plunge pool; often air conditioned and spa/gym room available for use; gourmet food, butlers, everything you could wish for…

Luxury-style tents are enormous and more on the scale of a cottage made of canvas. Great attention is given to every design detail. Here genuine luxury is provided and the staff-to-client ratio and standards of service are impressive.

African Wilderness - usually permanent, sometimes seasonal

Includes the East African bush homes and ranches. Camps and lodges are both tented and brick or wood/reeds under thatch. Rooms are extremely comfortable; bathrooms are en suite with hot and cold running water and flush lavatory, often a dressing room and always a veranda.

These camps are often, but not always, owner-managed, which ensures personal attention to detail and a sociable experience.

African Escape - tented, seasonal, semi-permanent, mobile

These authentic-style camps are referred to as: -

- mobile because they are erected and raised as bookings dictate or to follow seasonal game movements, such as in the Serengeti and

- semi-permanent because they are raised at the beginning of the season and stay up until the season's end.

The tents are large, have spacious en suite bathrooms incorporating hot and cold water, a 'short-drop' safari or flush toilet and traditional 'safari shower'.

Tents are fully gauzed to protect against insects. They are beautifully appointed and decorated. Each contains comfortable beds, dressing tables, safari wardrobe and luggage racks.

There is a large veranda with a table and safari chairs.

The living area is generally well stocked with reference books and reading matter and 'a help yourself' bar area.

These camps are often booked for exclusive use and are usually owner-managed, providing a very private, personal and sociable experience.

African Down-to-Earth - seasonal and tented

Small 'dome' or 'bell' tents are used, usually large enough for standing room. Sleeping is typically on a camping mattress in a sleeping bag. Communal bathroom facilities with long drop toilet and bush shower are available.

Please note: Due to the logistics of moving these camps (camels, porters, etc.), they are not necessarily less expensive, but do provide an unassuming, down-to-earth, authentic bush experience.

Please contact us if you require further details.

When is the best time to go on safari?

Hand in hand with “Where Shall I Go” is to decide the best time to go on safari.

If you have the luxury of being able to choose your travel dates, this decision will depend largely on what it is you are wanting out of your safari experience, e.g. which animals you would like to see, whether you already have a country in mind, etc.

If you are not flexible with time, the choice is more limited but not radically so. Due to the varying weather patterns throughout East and Southern Africa there is always a country or area whose ‘best’ time will fit your schedule.

For further information about ‘prime times’ in particular safari countries please go to “What will the weather be like ” below.

What will the weather be like?

Southern and East Africa fall into two general weather pattern systems.

Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia) has a dry winter season from around April to October while the rains come during the summer months of November to March. Parts of southern Tanzania (the Selous) also fall into this pattern. Most, but not all, safari properties are closed during the rainy season months December – April.

East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya and including Uganda) has two rainy seasons – ‘short’ rains in October and November and ‘long’ rains late March, April and May. Most safari properties are closed in November and again April and May. We are happy to give you further information on the weather especially concerning the expected impact on the Migration which maintains a complicated and variable pattern.

Further information on weather can be found in Destinations. Below is a guide to the weather in East and Southern Africa designed as a quick reference to help you understand at a glance the best safari destination at any given time of the year

Month East Africa Southern Africa
JAN
Summer
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rainy season
FEB
Summer
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rainy season
MAR
Summer
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rains ending
APR
Summer
Long rainy season begins Rains ending
MAY
Autumn
Long rainy season Rain (Unlikely - prime time)
JUN
Winter
Long rains ending Rain (Unlikely - prime time)
JUL
Winter
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rain (Unlikely - prime time)
AUG
Winter/Spring
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rain (Unlikely - prime time)
SEPT
Spring
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rain (Unlikely - prime time)
OCT
Summer
Rain (Unlikely - prime time) Rain begins late Oct - prime time
NOV
Summer
Short rainy season Rainy season
DEC
Summer
 Short rains ending Rainy season


What should we do next?

We need to understand your requirements perfectly. At all times, but particularly during the initial planning process when you are making decisions and have lots of questions to ask, we attempt to offer you our prompt and undivided attention.

In order to get started please tell us if you have any initial ideas, suggestions from friends etc that you would like incorporate into your safari.

We need to know which year, the time of year you plan to come to Africa, and what length of safari you anticipate. Destinations we recommend will be entirely dependent on Africa’s different weather patterns throughout the year.

We need to know the size of the group so that we can give you an estimated cost. We also need to know if there are any children in the group as we will, in this instance, design a child-friendly safari!

We then need to know the sort of comfort level you would prefer (we may need to tell you more about these options) e.g. mobile tented or permanent tented, lodges; comfortable but rustic accommodation; 5 star throughout; or a mixture of the above ?

Another question to answer is the level of activity you prefer – i.e. would you like game viewing on foot combined with other methods of game viewing, e.g. vehicle, canoe, boat etc; the emphasis on walking, no walking at all, etc.

Besides game viewing, do you have any particular interests e.g. birding, geology and scenery?

Would you like to spice your safari up with a little adventure such as a camel trek or a walking trail, sleeping in the ultra light-weight tented fly camp ?

Please go to CONTACT US, and complete and return our pre safari contact form.

Is a safari in Africa a good family holiday?

Without question Africa is a wonderful family holiday destination. Being on safari is not only a time to be away from it all and together as a family, which we all know is something we all do too little of these days, but also a schoolroom like no other. Throughout East and Southern Africa various camps and lodges do not accept children under 12 years but this is not at all a limiting factor as these are usually not environments children of this age would be happy in anyway. There are many other choices.

Where can I get more information about my intended destination?

Once you have decided on your safari destination and planned an itinerary we will send you comprehensive safari information particular to the country or countries you will be visiting which we hope will preempt your questions. This information covers such topics as what clothes and other items, to bring along; current airport departure taxes; time differences, etc.

What are the big five and will I see them?

The Big Five are lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. The term came from trophy hunting during the colonial era when hunters ranked animals as to how dangerous they were to hunt. Equally magnificent animals, such as hippo and giraffe, were easy to hunt and so not included.

The Big Five often appear on the wish list of first time safari goers. These five animals will probably not be found in the more remote areas of Africa (where the overriding advantage is also fewer visitors). However there are places where the likelihood of seeing the Big Five during your safari is more likely. Obviously these areas are very popular.

Where can I get reference books pertinent to the area I am visiting?

Most camps or lodges have a good library, and your guide should be carrying with him a few good reference books during the day when you are out of camp. You might like to bring your own books. For animals we’d suggest a good general animal reference book “A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa” by Jean Dorst and Pierre Dandelot. For East African birds “The Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa” (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi) by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshaw and for Southern Africa, “Birds of Southern Africa” by Ken Newman.

Try :

Booksite Afrika - www.booksite.co.za
Kalahari - www.kalah ari.com

Will I need binoculars?

John Stevens’ personal recommendation is that each person in a safari group should have with them their own pair of good quality binoculars. The initial outlay may seem excessive but once you arrive in Africa and can look through a good pair of lenses, which will bring to life this wonderful new world, the expense will be completely justified. Look for wide-angled binoculars not the new-generation compact variety.

What are entry/visa requirements?

These requirements change constantly so it is best to get up to date information. For the most up-to-date information concerning visa requirements please visit :

USA - www.travel.state.gov
Australia - www.smarttraveller.gov.au
UK - www.fco.gov.uk
Canada - www.voyage.gc.ca

Are there any health precautions I should be aware of?

Vaccination requirements change from time to time and so we advise that you contact your health department for this information.

Try:

World Travel Guide - www.worldtravelguide.com
World Health Organisation - www.who.int

Most of the game areas in Africa are malarial areas. You should get proper advice on prophylactics from your doctor.

What medical back up will I have whilst on my safari?

All camps should have comprehensive first aid kits. We recommend that prior to your safari you take out comprehensive medical insurance cover which includes medical air evacuation.

What clothes shall I bring?

Generally we advise the layer method ie dress in layers that can come off or be put on depending on the variation in temperature throughout a day. Further information regarding clothing and personal items to bring along will be sent to you once your itinerary has been finalised.


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