Over the years we've compiled a ton of great information and resources to answer frequent safari questions and help enhance your trip. This section is updated often with new material as our guests make inquiries about traveling with us. Please feel free to browse the links below or download our comprehensive handbook as a guide to ensure you are fully prepared for your adventure in Tanzania.Download Handbook
Regarding the question of where to stay in Amsterdam, we highly recommend the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel, which is inside the Amsterdam Airport. It's great because it's actually inside the terminal so you can walk there with your luggage (only about a 10-minute walk inside the terminal after you clear customs). Plus, it's a 5-min- ute walk from the train station, which has direct trains to Amsterdam Centre for all the shops and museums. is train ride is only about 20-minutes. Accordingly, as soon as you get o the plane you have an easy walk to the Sheraton to check in and relax. en, you can take a train to Amsterdam Centre and go see the sights. The best part is that the next morning when you leave you don't have to stress about getting to the airport because your hotel is actually inside the airport! Visit this link for more information about the hotel: Starwood Hotels
Some of the ight connections from the U.S. to Kilimanjaro on KLM Airlines may have signi cant layovers (2 - 6 hours) in the Amsterdam airport before the connecting ight. Accordingly, you may wish to con- sider this great little hotel which is located inside customs on the transit side of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport - Mercure Hotel
We highly recommend the Arusha Layover option for all clients without any significant time constraints. The following is a list of reasons why an extra night in Arusha may be a worthwhile addition to your itinerary:
If we decide to do an Arusha Layover, what additional activities are available in the Arusha area?
There are some general sightseeing tours available (town tour, visit to a Maasai market, school or orphanage tour, coffee plantation tour, etc.) If you like shopping, you could spend several hours at Cultural Heritage center in Arusha - there seems to be an infinite supply of woodcarvings, tribal masks, artifacts, paintings and jewelry to look through. Cultural Heritage even sells Tanzanite, which is a rare gem stone that is only found near Mount Kilimanjaro, so Tanzania is the only known place in the world where you can find it, and many people think that it makes a special souvenir. If you are really interested in Tanzanite, we might suggest visiting a place downtown Arusha called Tanzanite Experience. You can stop by and view Tanzanite in their show room on an impromptu basis, but if you want a tour (they have a small museum) and cutting demonstration we'll need to make arrangements for you ahead of time.
Some people express interest in visiting a local village on the outskirts of Arusha and/or visit a local school (some people will make a donation of school supplies to a local school or something similar); these types of experiences can also be arranged. One school we recommend in Arusha is called the School of St. Jude. The School of St. Jude is a charity funded school that provides a free, high-quality primary and secondary education to over 1,600 of the poorest, brightest children of Arusha region, Tanzania, East Africa. The school, located across three campuses, also provides boarding for 1,100 students, and employs over 450 Tanzanians.
Note that Arusha is an interesting little town, but still very "3rd world country" - not many cosmopolitan type activities available here. The setting around Arusha is very scenic, mainly banana plantation or coffee farms with Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru in the distance. It's a far cry from Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, but it's still not a town where you should go walking around unescorted during the day or night. The local Tanzanian people are extremely gracious and polite but they are also a very poor population and it's important to remember that. And no matter where you go in this world you can find individuals willing to take advantage of other individuals. So it's just important to be smart about where you go and how you travel. It's our job to look out for you and help you make the right decisions, and of course safety is our #1 priority for all our guests, always.
Nikon Action 7 x 35 Ultra Wide View Binoculars are available for each person to use while on safari in Northern Tanzania. Your safari vehicle will be stocked with enough binoculars so that everyone will have their own pair. Binoculars are essential for game viewing. You need them to see small or distant animals clearly and they greatly increase your ability to observe behavior of larger animals. In addition, binoculars enable you to see much better in dim light. Binoculars between 7 and 12-power are suitable for game viewing. The higher the number, the greater the magnification will be. However, unless you have very steady hands, you may have trouble seeing clearly with a 10 or 12-power binoculars. Accordingly, we recommend 7 power binoculars for the average person. The second number on binoculars refers to the diameter of the larger, objective lens. The larger the objective lens, the more light is transmitted and the greater the relative brightness of the image. At the same time, though, the field of view becomes much smaller and the binoculars need to be much bigger. A good compromise is somewhere in the 30's. Putting both numbers together, we recommend a 7x35 or perhaps an 8x32.
For those seeking more powerful binoculars, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you purchase one pair of binoculars with image stabilization (IS) to share with your spouse or traveling companions. This will greatly increase your enjoyment while wildlife viewing for extended durations and will supplement the lower magnification binoculars that are provided in the vehicles.
The more powerful the binoculars, the more vibrations are magnified and even a slight movement of your hands will shake the image. With higher magnification binoculars, the image shake may quickly become intolerable. However, image stabilized binoculars offer a solution to this problem and even powerful 12x binoculars become instantly sharp and steady once the 'IS' is initiated.
Our personal favorite 'IS' binoculars are the Canon 10x30 IS (version #2) Image Stabilization binoculars (under $500) and the Canon 12x36 IS (version #3) Image Stabilization binoculars (under $700). These binoculars are powerful enough to spot a leopard at 500 meters while at the same time remaining perfectly steady so that you can enjoy hours of wildlife watching. We find that amazon.com and B&H Photo seem to have the best prices on these Canon Image Stabilized binoculars.
There are two options for bathrooms while on game drives. Since you will be conducting a private safari with plenty of opportunities where there will be no other vehicles in sight, the easiest, safest and most private spot is directly behind the vehicle. At any time, your driver-guide can find a safe and private area and you may simply just exit the vehicle and walk to the rear. There are large double spare tires at the back of each vehicle blocking the view from anyone else within the vehicle. Alternatively, you may also use a bush bathroom away from the vehicle that your guide checks first and deems safe. Every vehicle does come equipped with a roll of toilet paper but it's a good idea to pack a few miniature travel type rolls. Please act in an eco-friendly manner and bring small bags with you to carry out any tissue paper. There are small scented bags you may purchase at most travel stores in the U.S.
The second option would be to plan each day with your driver-guide to make sure that you pass by a bathroom every hour or when needed. This can easily be accommodated as there are ranger stations, lodges, camps, museums, visitor centers, etc. spaced throughout the various areas of your safari and each has public bathroom facilities. You might want to bring a zip lock bag with a bar of soap as some places are sometimes missing soap.
Our driver-guides are extremely sympathetic to the bathroom dilemma and will bend over backwards to make sure you are completely comfortable and accommodated with your bathroom needs. Most folks are a bit shy at first but then quickly adapt and become comfortable with bush bathrooms. Others are more inclined towards proper facilities. Regardless of your personal preferences, please rest assured that your requirements will be completely accommodated by our courteous and professional guides.
A:"Bush Bathrooms" are a concern that almost everyone shares to some degree or another. We host an array of different guests... some are just slightly shy about the prospect of using au natural facilities, and others have physical limitations that make it next to impossible. So there are a few different strategies we can employ, which may vary depending on the guest's specific situation.
One common way to manage this issue is to simply ask your guide to make a scheduled stop by a rest room facility every couple hours or so. There are lodges, camps and ranger stations sprinkled throughout the park, so with a little planning your guide can just plan to make a stop at one of these facilities every couple hours. Our guides are quite sensitive to the dilemma of bush bathrooms and will bend over backwards to accommodate your needs. Remember this is a concern that every single guest shares.
If you find yourself out in the wilderness without a facility in sight, you may opt to use a more au natural setting, such as behind a tree (after your guide has checked the surrounding area for safety, of course), or simply go directly behind the vehicle. There is always going to be a few rolls of toilet paper in the vehicle in preparation for this occasion. Folks catch on to the 'bush bathroom' etiquette and lingo pretty quickly! The verbal code for a pit stop is to say "Hey let's stop. I need to check the tires." Say that to your guide and he'll know exactly what you mean!
For folks that are genuinely concerned about their physical ability bend, sit or lean in the ways necessary to go behind a tree or such, we can utilize a port-a-loo, or mobile toilet, that travels in the vehicle with you. We have even hosted folks in wheelchairs using a port-a-loo, and it's been quite successful. If you need something like this, be sure to let me know ahead of time so we can make the necessary arrangements.
Fire plays a number of important roles in any savannah ecosystem. In the Serengeti ecosystem, fire enhances the quality and productivity of the grasslands by removing mature, coarser grasses to make room for more palatable grasses that the Serengeti's great herds of grazers prefer. However, out of control fires that burn too hot can be damaging to critical and sensitive habitats. Accordingly, the Serengeti park authorities have implemented a comprehensive fire management plan that balances these opposing forces by initiating controlled burning at the beginning of the dry season to reduce the risk of larger wildlife fires at the end of the dry season. Throughout the dry season (June to October), smoke filled air along with dust may pose an annoyance or health risk for guests and especially those with asthma.
The majority of the famous wildlife parks of Northern Tanzania (situated just south of the equator) rest upon an elevated plateau creating a wonderfully temperate climate. Average highs are in the low 80s and average lows are in the 50s and 60s. The temperatures are very comfortable and there is little humidity due to the high elevation. The moderate climate creates a comfortable environment for wildlife viewing throughout the entire day. Even during mid-day it is rarely too hot for game viewing and many animals remain active. Wildlife viewing is a year round event due to the equatorial climate and there really is no preferred season in terms of weather though some individuals prefer the green season as it's not as dry or dusty. Full rainy days are rare and even during the green season (November to May), there is a greater proportion of sunshine and only brief and refreshing showers are the norm.
The Serengeti National Park ranges in altitude from about 5,000 - 6,000 feet while Tarangire and Lake Manyara (situated in the rift valley) are lower in elevation (approximately 3,500 feet) and a little warmer. On the other hand, the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater is situated at 7,500 - 8,000 feet and is significantly colder especially in the early morning. During the slightly warmer months from October to March, the average high is 84 degrees while the average low is 60 degrees in the Serengeti. During the slightly cooler months from April to September, expect an average high of 81 degrees and an average low of 55 degrees in the Serengeti. However, the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can get significantly colder due to the high elevation and one needs a heavy sweater here year round. June, July and August are the coldest months and lows can sometimes drop into the 30s and 40s at the Ngorongoro Crater though daily high temperatures are unaffected. Make sure to bring a heavy sweater, gloves and warm hat during June, July and August for those early morning game drives in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Using your cell phone while on safari is easy these days thanks to more affordable packages and the addition of new cell phones towers throughout Northern Tanzania. There is relatively good cell coverage in most areas that you might be traveling including Arusha-Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Zanzibar, the top half of Tarangire and many regions of the Serengeti National Park. Coverage is also good throughout the Central regions of the Serengeti though it can be spotty at times in some of the more remote areas of the North, West and Southern Serengeti. However, your guide will know the areas (sometimes even a top of a hill) where cell phone reception is best in these remote regions and can provide recommendations accordingly.
To use your cell phone on safari, you simply need to call your carrier and purchase an international package and have your phone 'unlocked' for use in Tanzania or any other country you may be visiting. The packages at least through AT&T and Verizon have become more affordable lately making purchasing one a wise decision when travelling abroad. For example, AT&T has a package that works in 200 countries (including Tanzania) called the AT&T Passport Package that is valid for 30 days beginning on your chosen effective date. The cost is $60 per device and includes unlimited texting, 1GB of data use and calls back to the U.S. are charged at only 35 cents per minute. Other plans are also available and please make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before selecting.
For those individuals that require the regular use of a phone in even the more remote areas that have spotty cell phone coverage, you may wish to rent a satellite phone in the U.S. before departure. An iridium satellite phone can be rented in the U.S. before your departure that you can use anywhere in Africa as long as you have a direct line of sight to the sky.
WhatsApp is a useful application to have on your phone while traveling internationally that allows for fast messaging with anyone else in the world that also has the application loaded on their phone. And, best of all it's completely free as long as you're connected to WIFI. If you're not connected to WIFI, data charges will apply so make sure to purchase an international package that includes data use and have your phone 'unlocked' for use in Tanzania or any other country you may be visiting.
All of our staff in the U.S. and Tanzania have WhatsApp and it's become one of our main forms of communication as it's fast, free and easy to use. It also works great for sending pictures and short video clips. If you do install WhatsApp on your phone make sure to also load our local staff contact numbers in Arusha (you'll receive a current listing of contact numbers roughly 2 weeks prior to your departure).
(local Tanzanian cell phone)
Our #1 priority at Africa Dream Safaris is for you to have a safe and enjoyable safari. If any problem arises while you are on safari we are here to provide you with immediate support and assistance. It might sound obvious, but before we can help you with any problem we need to know about it! To facilitate this communication, we lend out a local Tanzanian cell phone (one per group) on every safari.
You'll be given the local cell phone (again one per group) upon arrival in Tanzania along with a current listing of all our local staff contact numbers in Arusha including our director of operations, general manager and reservations manager. Please don't hesitate to use this phone to contact our staff in Arusha if you encounter a problem while on safari such as with your guide, accommodations or vehicle. The vast majority of any problems can usually be fixed promptly with a simple phone call and we can have a replacement guide or vehicle sent to you immediately. Your local cell phone is preloaded with approximately $10 to $20 in talk time, which is an ample amount of credit to call and receive dozens of calls within Tanzania.
Some areas of the Serengeti do not have good cell phone coverage. If you encounter problems with your cell phone or there is no cell phone coverage and you need to call one of our staff in Arusha for assistance, please feel free to use the lodge or camp phone instead and we will reimburse you for any associated costs. All lodges and camps (even the semi-permanent and mobile camps) have a phone at the main lodge that can be used by guests to call one of our staff in Arusha for assistance.
Please don't hesitate to let us know if there is something we can do to make your safari experience more enjoyable, and it is absolutely critical that we are immediately advised of any problems with your safari so that we have the opportunity to rectify them before you return back to Arusha. We strive to conclude each guest's safari experience with 100% customer satisfaction. This starts with you!
You will be provided with all of our emergency contact information to give to your family and friends on how to contact you in the bush roughly 2 weeks prior to your departure. In case of an emergency, a family member can contact our emergency mobile phone, which is carried by a member in Los Angeles 24 hours a day. We will then immediately relay the message to our Arusha office and they will contact your driver guide by long distance radio. We will also try telephoning the lodge or camp where you will be staying. Whether you are out game driving in the bush or residing at a lodge, we will be able to contact you in case of an emergency.
Every vehicle is equipped with a long distance radio. These radios are used for communication between other driver-guides for game reports and with our main operational office in Arusha. If there is any problem on safari, your driver-guide can immediately handle the situation as he is trained and has the experience to handle any problem. He also can use his long distance radio to communicate with our operational office in Arusha.
You will also be provided with our in-country emergency contact listing before your departure. This listing includes our office numbers in Arusha as well as several emergency mobile numbers that our senior staff in Arusha carry on them 24 hours a day. If you encounter a problem while in Africa, the quickest solution would be to call one of these local numbers and you will be immediately assisted.
The GOOD news is that most camps and lodges have WIFI in Tanzania these days (please refer to our lodge amenities checklist for a complete listing). Even the smaller Hemingway camps (Mara River Camp, Seronera Sametu, etc.) have WIFI, which can be accessed from the main lounge/dining tent. However, the BAD news is that WIFI speed is limited and it can also be unreliable since most properties (especially in the Serengeti) utilize a small satellite connection. Note that basic WIFI is complimentary at most lodges and camps but please be aware that some may charge a supplement for higher speeds.
Satellite connection speeds (especially the ones employed in Tanzania) do not deliver connection speeds nearly as fast as Cable or DSL. Therefore, the WIFI found at most camps and lodges (except Arusha) is only really usable for sending emails with small attachments. It's usually not powerful enough to be able to send or receive large pictures or other large files. Please note that at many of the properties that do offer WIFI, it's only accessible from the main lodge area (not in the rooms). The exception to all this is in the town of Arusha where most of the hotels employ very fast WIFI similar to what you would have available at home.
As a final note, there are a few recent developments regarding WIFI where some lodges and camps in the Serengeti have employed faster WIFI speeds and even some that can be accessed directly from your room. Note that some of these properties charge a supplement for these higher speeds. Basic WIFI would still be complimentary but many properties are quickly providing options for faster connection speeds at an additional cost. Please feel free to contact us for the latest developments regarding WIFI speeds as it is quickly evolving in Tanzania.
You will have the same driver-guide for the entire trip. At the end of the day, the single most important factor in our clients having a successful safari is the quality of their GUIDE. Our guides are all local Tanzanians, well-educated and they all speak fluent English. We hire only the very best, and once we hire someone great we treat them like gold, not only do they deserve it but we also want to keep them! We continue to invest in them and their training. It is important to us that our guides are the most educated and passionate in the industry. Our guides are well educated and happy to be working for ADS! Here at ADS, our guides are the heart and soul of our company. They are our employees sure, but they are also our family.
Your guide-driver will be responsible for helping you plan your days by giving you suggestions, although ultimately the decisions are up to you. Probably the most important aspect of his job is that he is responsible for finding the animals - after all, that's why you've come! Thus he must understand intimately the animals' habitats and behaviors. It is important for your guide to have experience so he is not afraid to go off the beaten path for fear of getting lost, otherwise you may never make it far from the main road! It is important that he is well educated and a good communicator because he will be responsible for communicating information about the animals, trees, insects, ecosystem etc. to his guests. It is important that he is a professional, and has a pleasant personality because you will be with him for the entire trip! It is important that he is passionate about his job, because we all know enthusiasm is contagious and can greatly enhance one's enjoyment of the trip. This is the guide profile here at ADS.
A frequent question we receive is 'why is it better to have a private guide instead of utilizing different guides employed at various properties?' Some companies will shuffle you between different camps without a dedicated driver guide, and that means you will have a new guide at each location and you will need to go out on shared game drives with other guests. That means you lose the ability to control your own schedule and the amount of time focused on your interests. By the time you're done shuffling between the various driver guides, you may have heard the same lesson on dung beetles 20 times, which is always repeated 1) because the driver guide is new to you and he doesn't know what you've heard, and 2) for the benefit of other new guests in the vehicle with you. And you never do make it far from the driveway to find the leopard or cheetah cubs or other interesting animals that may be a little bit more difficult to find.
We have a high number of returning guests and are often asked if we can again assign the driver-guide our guests had on their previous ADS safari. The assignment of our driver-guides is actually quite complex and based on a formula that interweaves factors such as annual leave, scheduled safaris, duration of scheduled safaris, client interests and various other factors.
In fact, the assignment often looks like a complex jigsaw puzzle and removing just one piece of the puzzle -such as a specific guide-effectively dismantles the carefully pieced together jigsaw puzzle. With this in mind, we are unfortunately unlikely to be able to assign a specific guide however as evident by the blog postings, all of our guides are talented professionals and you will not be disappointed. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and this starts with who we assign to guide our returning guests.
For more detailed information about our expert drivers, visit our Driver Guides section.
Even in the green season, dusty conditions can be aggravating while out on game drives. The Serengeti Plains are especially prone to dusty conditions due to the shallow soil base and lack of long grass roots. During the dry season, dusty conditions are significantly worse. Please be prepared for dusty conditions and let us know in advance if you're especially sensitive to dust and we will adjust your itinerary accordingly to help minimize any negative impacts. All guests sensitive to dust are advised to bring bandanas.
Photography and video equipment may be especially prone to dusty conditions. It is a good idea to bring a bag that can be easily opened and completely sealed so you may store your equipment when not immediately needed. Bring a couple photo soft cloths to wipe dust from the lenses. Contact lens wearers may be especially sensitive. Please plan accordingly and bring an ample supply of lens lubricant.
A 3 rectangular pin United Kingdom (British) plug adapter (type G) is required to use electrical appliances including phones, tablets, cameras, battery chargers, etc. Please note that Tanzania electrical sockets are identical to those found in London, Hong Kong and Dubai. The 3 rectangular pin 'type G' plug adapter is placed onto your device plug so that it will fit into the 3 rectangular pin electrical sockets. You may wish to consider bringing several of these little adapters allowing charging of more than one device at a time. Amazon.com sells a package of 3 adapters (type G) for just $9.
Ceptics Hong Kong Travel Adapter
The electrical voltage in Tanzania is 220V while the electrical voltage in the United States is 120V. If you have a dual voltage appliance or a universal power supply capable of operating safely with either 120V or 220V, all you will need is the little plug adapter that adapts the American style plug to the Tanzanian style plug, mentioned above. All newer phones, laptops, tablets and cameras come equipped with a dual voltage power supply so again all you'll need is the little plug adapter. Check to make sure that the input reads 100V - 240V or 120V - 240V.
For more information, please visit:
Even though just about all lodges and camps operate 24-hour electricity these days (see our lodge amenity checklist for a complete listing) , there are frequent power outages in Tanzania and you may not be able to have power through the entire night. Accordingly, a rechargeable battery pack equipped with a minimum run time of 8-hours is required for guests bringing CPAP breathing machines. It's also always a good idea to be prepared with two extra batteries for digital cameras.
Guests can also charge devices directly in some of our newly equipped vehicles. All you'll need is the plug adapter mentioned above. However, the charging outlets in the vehicles are notoriously finicky and suffer frequent issues. Accordingly, we recommend planning to charge all your devices back at your lodge or camp each day. Again, most properties have 24-hour electricity (even the Hemingway Bush Camp) and all have ample plug outlets in each room. Just make sure to begin charging your devices after your last game drive for the day.
*NOTE: Please see our lodge amenity checklist, which lists properties that supply hair dryers, internet and 24 hour electricity.
There are several lodges and camps in Tanzania that offer 2-bedroom family style room/tents suitable for parents traveling with one or more children while other properties can only accommodate a maximum of 3 persons per room or tent. Please see further below for a list of specific properties with suitable family style accommodations.
At properties that can only accommodate a maximum of 3 persons per room or tent, it is our policy to book two twin rooms for a family of 2 adults and 2 children where one parent can sleep with each child. Furthermore, we put in a request for those two twin rooms to be next to each other (i.e. adjacent). Similarly, for a family 2 adults and 3 children where no family style accommodations exist, it is our policy to book one twin room and one triple room where one parent can sleep in each room and we request the two rooms to be adjacent. We always request adjacent rooms/tents (i.e. rooms next to each other) with each lodge on all family itineraries.
We do recommend that families bring walkie-talkies to stay in contact during the night as one is not allowed to leave the safety of their tent without being escorted at many properties. Please contact your safari specialist to discuss all your options. If it is critical that your family stay in family style lodges and camps for the duration of your safari, you may need to be flexible in your dates and itinerary as specific accommodations may be limited especially in the summertime and holiday periods.
Some properties that do have family style accommodations suitable for a families are as follows:
The flights from Arusha to the Serengeti have a baggage restriction of 33 pounds per person. This 33-pound limit pertains to the total combined weight of ALL your luggage and carry-on items including backpacks, purses, camera gear, camera bags, etc. Excess luggage over and above the 33-pound allowance is charged at $3 per pound if it can be accommodated on the flight. For the standard Serengeti flight included in most itineraries, we've found that usually any excess luggage can be accommodated on the flight as long as you're willing to pay the $3 per pound excess baggage fee AND the excess luggage is within reason (i.e. about 5 to 7 pounds over the limit). Excess luggage that could not be accommodated on your flight would be flown out on the next available flight (there are at least two flights a day to/from the Serengeti).
If you're a serious photographer with heavy gear you may wish to simply purchase an extra seat for your internal flight(s) to avoid any luggage restrictions. Soft sided luggage is preferred for the flight to the Serengeti but hard sided luggage is allowed. The cargo pod measurements for the bush planes can be as small as 14.5 inches by 27 inches so please make sure your luggage is not larger than these dimensions.
If you have extra luggage that you won't need for the safari (ie, extra luggage for pre-safari or post-safari travel, books you read on the international flight over, etc.) you are more than welcome to leave these excess items for safekeeping with our staff in Arusha. They will store at our secure offices in Arusha and then redeliver to you before flying home.
You will be briefed upon arrival as to the exact pick up time for your transfer to the Arusha Airstrip for your internal flight to the Serengeti. Pick up time from your hotel in Arusha will vary based upon the location of your hotel, current traffic conditions and flight departure time (usually 8.00am but it can vary by as much as 60-minutes). It is critical that you be ready and on time for this airport transfer as the morning Serengeti flights board and depart promptly.
Please note that the flight to the Serengeti may make multiple stops before arriving at your destination airstrip depending upon the destinations of the other passengers. This can be an inconvenience. The pilot will know each guest's destination airstrip and he or she will make sure you disembark at the correct airstrip. The flights can be quite loud and you may wish to bring disposable ear plugs.
Though we do our best to minimize driving distances by including a flight to the Serengeti, there are a few long drives in our regular safari itineraries, which can be further compounded by rough dirt treks, uneven terrain and a bumpy ride in the land cruiser. Accordingly, you may wish to add additional flights between game drive locations. Some of the longer drives include those from the Central Serengeti lodges to the Ngorongoro Crater lodges and also the Ngorongoro Crater lodges to the Tarangire lodges. You may also wish to add a night by Lake Manyara in the town of Karatu to break up the drive between the Ngorongoro Crater and Arusha or the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire. Please talk with your safari consultant if you are interested in adding additional flights to your itinerary to alleviate one or more of the longer drives.
Please be aware that the majority of time on safari is spent in a vehicle game driving and wildlife viewing. Please advise us well in advance of any potential problems with long duration game drives and we will plan your itinerary accordingly and alert your driver of the situation in order to minimize any negative impact. Our private safaris are completely flexible and if need be we can shorten game drives and transit times, add additional flights and eliminate areas of rough terrain from your itinerary.
Transit driving is a big turn-off for most people, and here at ADS we certainly don't like it! Nobody likes to waste their precious moments in Africa driving from point A to point B without anything interesting in between. The whole idea behind our "fly in, drive out" program is to minimize transit. Luckily, once you get to the Serengeti, most of the lodges are going to be logistically situated within an easy 1-2 hour drive from each other (if you were to drive straight without stopping that is). So there is some driving, but the vast majority of these drives are through the heart of the National Park so they are a "game drive", not just a "transit drive". (As a result, the drives themselves do take longer than they would have to, but that's only because you are stopping to enjoy all the animal viewing opportunities along the way!)
There are two exceptions with longer drives, that occur on our itineraries that need to be given careful consideration including 1) the drive between the Central Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater (approximately 4 hours), and 2) the drive between the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park (3 to 6 hours depending upon the lodges selected ). Most clients find these drives still quite doable, and also find the sights in between very interesting (villages, farmlands, etc.). However, past guests have expressed disappointment with regards to the length and poor road conditions on these two aforementioned longer drives. Please talk with your safari consultant if you are concerned about long drives. There are several changes we can make to your itinerary to help mitigate these two long drives including building in an additional flight between the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, adding another flight between the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park and also inserting lodges in between some destinations. A great spot to insert a lodge is in the town of Karatu, which is strategically located about half way between the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire/Arusha. Again, please voice your concerns to your safari specialist and he or she can provide recommendations to help alleviate some of the longer drives.
Closed Research Areas: The national park authorities will from time to time and at their discretion deem certain areas as ecologically sensitive and place them off limits to tourist vehicles (only research vehicles will be allowed access). Please inquire with your driver-guide for the most current updates. He will have the latest information available and will be able to strategize with you and offer recommendations for game drives immediately around the periphery of the aforementioned areas.
School supplies are in great need in Tanzania. You may wish to bring school supplies with you and present to a local school while on your safari. There are schools between the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara as well as in Arusha. Some items you may wish to consider bringing include pens, crayons, exercise books, composition/spiral books, small back packs, coloring books, colored markers, chalk, chalk board and world maps (inflatable globes are always a big hit). Please note that our guests are increasingly being hassled to pay duty upon arrival at Kilimanjaro on donated school supplies. Accordingly, we recommend distributing school supplies among your regular clothes and luggage to reduce the chance of being asked to pay duty. A better alternative to bringing school supplies to Tanzania would be to bring a little extra cash and we can take you to a school supply shop in Arusha to purchase supplies and then assist you with delivering them.
Rather than giving out school supplies on an impromptu basis along the way, you might consider a making a more organized contribution to one of the schools we work with on a regular basis. One worthy school we are working with at the moment is School of St. Jude's. If you want to stop by the school and visit them in person to see the kids or deliver supplies, please let us know and we can set up a tour for you with one of the school administrators, as long as school is in session during that time.
If you want to lighten your load completely, one alternatively option would be to sponsor a child at St. Jude's or make a financial donation towards school supplies, which can help the school make curriculum specific purchases that you know will be used to their full potential. You can make a donation before your safari, while you are there, or after you get home as the school makes it very easy to do online:
Some individuals like to bring a small gift for their driver-guide. A good option for this would be a t-shirt or hat with a logo of your local sports team of any other item identifying with your hometown. If bringing a t-shirt, a large size is usually appropriate. However, we do believe the best gift you can give is simply bringing your excitement about your safari. Also, we suggest bringing three questions that you think will 'stump' your guide.
You will find that your driver guide quickly becomes your best friend in the bush and it is very natural to want to continue to communicate with him after your safari ends. As a safari outfitter, we have guidelines for maintaining communication so that the professionalism of our company remains intact. All communication should be sent to our main office in the US with the driver guide's name clearly in the "subject". We will forward all emails on your behalf and the driver guides will communicate back to you in the same way. This is very similar to the policies of other US companies making sure that employees maintain appropriate relationships with customers. While it might be appealing to write to a driver guide's private email, it is not permitted for a driver guide to provide their personal information and we want to be sure none of our staff are put in a compromising position. A driver guide will not ask for your private email and we hope that our clients will not ask the driver guide for this information either. Tanzanians are very friendly people and if asked for an email, they are often uncomfortable to say no, despite the company policy.
A common inquiry we receive from our returning guests is that they would like to send a care package to their guide to thank them for their wonderful experience. You may certainly send a package directly to our office at P.O. Box 2189, Arusha, Tanzania (just address it to the name of your guide). Please note that shipping from the U.S. to Tanzania via the USPS can take months and can sometimes be unreliable so we do suggest adding tracking to your shipment.
The short answer is "No". You can see The Great Migration by visiting Tanzania alone, but if you just go to Kenya without visiting Tanzania you may miss it!
The long answer: If you look at a map, you can see that Tanzania borders Kenya, and that the Serengeti National Park butts up against the Northern border of Tanzania (aka Southern border of Kenya). The Maasai Mara is quite simply a small extension of the Northern Serengeti ecosystem, the part that lops over the Kenya border, and even though it is a large area, it is quite small in size compared to the vast Serengeti on the Tanzania side.
It's true that a (relatively) small portion of the Migration may spill over into Kenya's Maasai Mara during the dry season, August through September, but even during this time it is estimated at least 80% of the Migration is always on the Tanzania side. There is not a convenient way to cross the border from Tanzania to Kenya at the Mara, or vice versa. There is a gate "Sand River/Bologonja Gate" that links the Maasai Mara to the Serengeti, but this is NOT an official border crossing between the two countries.
It's no secret that the Maasai Mara has become overbuilt with many tourist lodges, and Tanzanian officials have been adamant about keeping the Sand River Gate closed "for environmental reasons", which basically means keeping all those crowds of Kenya tourists at bay. Not a particularly convenient policy for people wanting to visit both countries but it has been an invaluable strategy in keeping the Northern Serengeti in its pristine condition. There is another border crossing at the "Isebania/Sirari Gate" several miles away, but the trip consists of hours and hours of unpleasant transfer driving that has not always been the safest route.
Accordingly, as stated previously, you can see The Great Migration by visiting Tanzania alone, but if you just go to Kenya without visiting Tanzania you may miss it. But don't take our word for it. Per the latest research report in 2008, which was published in Serengeti III , Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics:
In the absence of any evidence of major changes in rainfall, various explanations have been hypothesized as to reasons for this phenomenon including:
The most convenient, efficient and safest point of entry into Tanzania is Kilimanjaro Airport via Amsterdam on the daily Delta / KLM Airlines flight. Kilimanjaro Airport, which is next to the small town of Arusha, is the origination point for all Northern Tanzania safaris. The largest airline serving Kilimanjaro is KLM Airlines, a code share partner of Delta. Delta / KLM flights can easily be booked directly at delta.com. Airport codes for major East African cities are Kilimanjaro (JRO), Dar es Salaam (DAR), Nairobi (NBO), Entebbe (EBB) and Zanzibar (ZNZ).
KLM/ Delta offer daily flights from most major cities in the U.S. to Kilimanjaro International Airport. The flight consists of two segments. The first segment is from your departure city in the U.S. direct to Amsterdam. The second segment is from Amsterdam non-stop to Kilimanjaro. The daily flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro arrives into Kilimanjaro in the late evening. Accordingly, we highly recommend staying at a hotel in Arusha that is located close to the airport, on your arrival night. Our signature fly in and drive back safaris begin early the following morning with a short flight to the Serengeti. On the outbound flight from Kilimanjaro to Amsterdam, the KLM flight departs late at night and we normally incorporate a day room at a hotel in Arusha to relax before your departing flight.
For planning purposes, if you were to depart the U.S. on a Monday, you would arrive Kilimanjaro on Tuesday night. On the contrary, a departure from Kilimanjaro on a Monday would yield a Tuesday afternoon arrival back in the U.S. You may wish to add a layover in Amsterdam for a night or two to help break up the long flight. If you do choose a layover in Amsterdam, it is recommended that you incorporate the layover at the beginning of your trip. Additionally, you may wish to add a 2nd night in the Arusha/Kilimanjaro area at the beginning of your trip to recuperate from the flight and before beginning your safari.
KLM/Delta Airlines operates 787s, 777s and A330s on its U.S. to Kilimanjaro routes, which are comfortable wide body aircraft. Flight time from the east coast to Amsterdam is about 7 hours while it is about 10 hours from the west coast. Flight time from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro is about 8 hours. The return flight times are a little longer. Please note that there is a 45-minute stop over in Dar es Salaam on the return flight from Kilimanjaro to Amsterdam though you are not permitted to leave the aircraft.
For those individuals adding an extension to Zanzibar after a safari, it is more optimal to depart from Dar es Salaam (15-minute flight from Zanzibar) as opposed to Kilimanjaro (1-hour and 15-minute flight from Zanzibar). Additionally and as discussed above, the daily return KLM flight from Kilimanjaro stops in Dar es Salaam before continuing on to Amsterdam. In conclusion, for those adding a Zanzibar extension, we recommend a Kilimanjaro arrival and a Dar es Salaam departure. This routing is not considered an 'open jaw' ticket and can easily be arranged. If adding an extension to Zanzibar, it may be better to use Turkish Airlines or Qatar Airways for your international flights since both of these carriers fly into Kilimanjaro and out of Zanzibar Airport unlike KLM Airlines.
Some of the flight connections from the U.S. to Kilimanjaro on KLM Airlines may have significant layovers (2 - 6 hours) in the Amsterdam airport before the connecting flight. Accordingly, you may wish to consider this great little hotel which is located inside customs on the transit side of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport - Mercure Hotel: accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-1730-mercure-hotel-schiphol-terminal
All safaris include VIP meet and greet services at Kilimanjaro Airport. Our dedicated Africa Dream Safaris (ADS) meet and greet specialist will meet you in the customs area immediately upon arrival and welcome you to the gracious and beautiful country of Tanzania. They will have your name posted on a sign and will escort you through customs, making your arrival to East Africa easy and efficient. With ADS you'll skip the long lines! Each person will simply need to complete the online visa application in advance (africadreamsafaris.com/pdfs/ADS-Visa-Instructions.pdf) and provide a passport valid for at least 6 months past your arrival date and with at least 2 blank pages. All safaris are 100% escorted and chauffeured from arrival to departure.
You will be immediately transferred to a hotel in Arusha, which is only 45-minutes from the airport, for a late dinner and a good night's sleep. The next morning you will be transferred to the domestic airport for your short flight to the Serengeti to begin your safari. Upon arrival in the Serengeti, your driver-guide will welcome you to the most prolific wildlife viewing area in the world. Your expert guide will accompany you from this point forward until your departure from Kilimanjaro Airport at the conclusion of your safari.
If a client initiates a last minute change to the safari itinerary including accommodations, flights, services, etc., the client is responsible for any additional expenses occurring as a result of that change; the same is true for changes occurring as the result of a flight delay or airline schedule change. It is usually impossible for Africa Dream Safaris to get refunds for accommodations, flights and other services that have already been arranged and paid for, and then canceled under 60 days prior notice. These additional expenses are the responsibility of the client to pay for directly in Tanzania. We will, of course, endeavor our level best to minimize the costs of any changes by appealing to the lodges, airlines, etc. Should you fail to join a tour, or join it after departure, or leave it prior to its completion, no tour fare refund will be made. Airfare may also be non refundable. There will be no refunds from Africa Dream Safaris for any unused portions of the tour. The above policy applies to all travel arrangements made via Africa Dream Safaris.
Furthermore, Africa Dream Safaris is not responsible for any airline changes or costs incurred as a result of those changes, including airline schedules, fares, cancellations, over-bookings or damage to or loss of baggage and property. Any and all claims for any loss or injury suffered on any airline must be made directly with the airline involved. Air schedule changes may necessitate additional nights being added to your tour. Again, these schedule changes are beyond the control of Africa Dream Safaris and any additional costs resulting from such changes are the responsibility of the client. Africa Dream Safaris shall not be held liable for any delays or additional costs incurred as a result of airlines not running to schedule.
Our published itineraries have been meticulously designed over a number of years using a variety of resources including scientific studies, first hand experiences and returning client feedback. To start with, we design each itinerary first and foremost around monthly concentrations of wildlife. Secondly, lodging options are recommended to maximize your game viewing opportunities as well as providing an optimal mixture of different styles of accommodations. Rest assured that when you book with Africa Dream Safaris you will receive the very finest wildlife viewing and lodging experience available.
All our itineraries are built upon a Fly In & Drive Back basis. This is the best way to conduct a safari in Tanzania as it maximizes your precious time and eliminates all redundancy. Each day offers something new and exciting, as you never retrace your tracks. It is also the most enjoyable and optimal way to explore Northern Tanzania. It is certainly an amazing way to kick off your adventure by first flying over this vast wilderness and then landing onto a small grassy airstrip in the world famous Serengeti!
You are at once introduced to your private driver guide and he will load your luggage into your private vehicle. Without further delay you are thrust into the heart of the wilderness on your first action packed game drive. It is likely that you will encounter many different animals, including some of the big cats, before lunch. Flying into the Serengeti forms a wonderful introduction to the spectacular parks of Tanzania, and is an extremely comfortable way to jump start your adventures. Additionally, transit time is greatly reduced giving you more quality time 'in the bush' for wildlife viewing, relaxing and other enjoyable activities that you wish to incorporate into your itinerary.
Our Fly In & Drive Back itineraries utilize different Serengeti airstrips to take advantage of seasonal wildlife concentrations:
The official language in Tanzania is Swahili but there are hundreds of other local dialects. English is the second official language and the country's commercial language. It is also the main teaching language used for all higher education institutions. You will find that the majority of the people that you come in contact with are fluent in English and have a surprisingly good command of the language. Some useful and fun Swahili words and phrases are as follows:
English / Swahili
Tanzania's culture is a result of African, European, Arabic and Indian influences. The mainland population is comprised of over 100 tribal groups. The Tanzanians are friendly people (especially to foreigners). Politeness, respect and modesty are highly valued. Handshakes are very important and it is also kind if you learn a few basic Swahili greetings before you arrive. Immodest attire or tattered clothing and open anger are disrespectful to the Tanzanian people.
One of the key privileges you gain by choosing a private safari is flexibility in how you spend your time. Every day brings choices and one of the most important decisions you can make is whether to have breakfast and lunch at the lodge or rather a picnic box in the bush.
Early morning game drives at the first light of dawn are pure magic, and we strongly encourage you to partake in them! And there will likely be times you want to stay out on safari all day, either for an adventure game drive to a remote area of the park or to simply maximize each golden moment you are in "the bush". But even the most die-hard safari enthusiast still needs to eat! One way to get it all in without starving is to bring along a picnic *to go*. A picnic allows you to maximize your time wildlife viewing rather than delay your departure from the lodge or be forced to return to the lodge for a meal.
"Picnic boxes" (both breakfast and lunch boxes) are prepared on a daily basis by the kitchens at each respective lodge or camp on your itinerary. A typical breakfast box consists of a hard boiled egg, bacon or sausage, bread or pastries, juice and a banana or apple. A typical lunch box consists of a piece of chicken, bread, hard boiled egg, banana or apple, muffin, juice and bottle of water. These picnic boxes can be picked up from the kitchen before sunrise by your driver-guide.
Feedback from our returning clients suggests the quality of these picnic boxes is falling short of client expectations. Recent complaints include a lack of variety in the food choices, redundancy and over-cooked meats. Although we have committed substantial resources to lobby the various lodges and camps to improve the quality of their picnics, in the end we have little control over what food they prepare for the to-go boxes on a daily basis. We believe our efforts have been successful in working with some of smaller proprietors, though the larger lodges have proved more difficult to influence.
Although you can always choose a hot breakfast or hot lunch at the lodge, we still feel picnics are critical for maximizing the quality and quantity of your wildlife viewing experiences. Let's face it - a hot meal at the lodge will almost certainly result in a better culinary experience, but you can miss a lot with regards to wildlife viewing! So please keep that in mind when choosing breakfast or lunch (or both) at the lodge versus a picnic box to go.
With that being said, there are some days when it will be easier than others to return to the lodge for a hot meal should you desire to do so, and there is no reason you can't vary your decisions from day to day. Discuss the plan for each day's activities with your driver guide the night before so he can make appropriate arrangements. Your guide will certainly have suggestions, but the final decision about how to spend your time is ultimately up to you!
For those individuals who anticipate utilizing more picnic boxes, you may wish to consider bringing snacks (nutritional bars, turkey or beef jerky, dried fruit, granola, nuts, trail mix, etc.) to supplement your picnic boxes.
The "Maasai Village visit" is an optional activity we offer to enhance the cultural aspect of a client's safari. It is fairly easy to incorporate a visit to a Maasai village on a traditional wildlife safari, as there are several villages dotting the NCA landscape on the drive between the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. However, based on recent feedback from returning clients, the Maasai village seems to be falling short of most visitors' expectations.
Although the villages we take our clients to are authentic, residents are beginning to get used to tourists stopping by. Tourists are often willing to pay money in exchange for Maasai jewelry and other wares. As a result, many of the Maasai residents have started soliciting our guests for such transactions. Although completely harmless and without foul intention, such solicitations can still make many guests feel uncomfortable. In an effort to mitigate our clients' exposure to such behavior, we have strived to take our clients further and further off the beaten path to more remote villages where the residents are less likely to solicit our guests. It was only a matter of time, however, before residents of the more remote villages started soliciting behaviors as well.
We will continue to offer a visit to a Maasai Village to all interested clients. However it is important that all guests' expectations are in line with reality before making the choice about how to best spend their time on safari. If you choose to incorporate a village visit, you can expect to see real Maasai residents in an authentic setting. You can expect to see how these unique people live, where they sleep, and maybe even see a school in session. However, you should also expect to be approached by at least some residents selling their wares. If this type of solicitation makes you uncomfortable, we recommend skipping the optional visit to a Maasai village. Please don't hesitate to discuss with your driver-guide if you have additional questions or concerns about the option of incorporating a Maasai Village visit into your safari.
The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzania Shilling though the U.S. dollar is the most convenient and readily acceptable currency. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at some lodges and larger shops. Travelers checks are difficult to cash and are not recommended but you may wish to bring for emergency purposes. It is recommended to bring enough US dollars plus an additional cushion amount to cover all additional expenses just to be on the safe side. Please make sure to bring crisp, new vintage bills as many shops, hotels and banks in Tanzania will not accept older bills due to counterfeiting problems.
The majority of the costs on your trip are included in your package. See your inclusions and exclusions section on the last page of your itinerary along with the tipping guidelines below for a gauge to determine the amount of money you will need to bring. You should bring U.S. dollars in both large and small denominations to pay for any additional expenses.
Change for large denominations may be difficult. Most of the extras on your safari including drinks ($1 - $3 per bottled water, soft drink, beer, wine or spirits where not included), laundry ($2 - $3 per item where not included), souvenirs (many under $5) and miscellaneous tips (see tipping section below) are individually under $5. Accordingly, carrying on you an envelope of one-dollar bills comes in handy.
Wine (all from South Africa) usually runs about $25 to $30 a bottle, beer about $4 a can and about $7 or so for mixed drinks (gin and tonic, etc.). Soft drinks are usually about $2 a can. At lodges where soft drinks are not included, the bottled water is complimentary in your rooms but bottled water ordered with meals in the dining room such at dinner are considered a bar item. It's usually about $5 for the big liter plus bottles.
Tipping is just one way for guests to "give back" to the local people of Tanzania. It's true that tipping has become a customary and integral part of the safari industry, but it remains an excellent way to recognize one's appreciation for excellent service. Many guests express a desire to understand ahead of time what amounts and methods are appropriate or customary, which is the reason for the suggested guidelines expressed here. Please see below for recommended tipping guidelines for your safari:
The below discussion in the following paragraphs assumes that you are somewhat serious about wildlife photography. Of course, many people are not and a simple point and shoot camera or, better yet, a bridge camera will suffice. You may indeed get more out of simply watching the animals than trying to photograph them. Having a camera with multiple lenses and feeling that you must use it at every opportunity may seriously interfere with your enjoyment of the experience. Whatever photo equipment you decide to bring, we strongly advise putting the gear down frequently to take in the surroundings and enjoy the behavior of the animals. You'll ultimately get many amazing photos whether you come back home with 10,000 or 500 photos.
Taking good, close up pictures of wild animals, used to require a digital SLR camera with a large telephoto lens. Regular point and shoot cameras with small 'digital' zoom lenses proved inadequate in most situations. However, over the last couple years with the advent of bridge cameras with powerful 'optical' zoom lenses, any novice can now take professional grade photos that rival those from most pros with a simple, all-in-one bridge camera.
A good to great bridge camera usually costs anywhere between $300 and $1,000 and 'bridges' the gap between basic point-and-shoot cameras and digital SLRs with large lenses. They can offer the best of both worlds so to speak! All the major camera companies offer bridge cameras but one we particular like is the Nikon Coolpix P1000 (and the less expensive and lighter P900). The P1000 model comes equipped with a massive 3000mm optical (not digital) built in zoom lens and 4k Ultra HD video. You simply need to zoom, focus and click away. It's an easy to use camera and there's no more lugging around lenses and other heavy gear and you'll have plenty of zoom to shoot a distant leopard high up in a tree or a flamingo in flight. Of course, you're always going to get sharper photos with a digital SLR camera when paired with a quality lens (especially in low light situations) but these new bridge cameras seem to get you 80% or more of the quality in a simple to use and affordable package.
If you're more serious about photography, you'll need buy or rent a digital SLR camera with a zoom lens big enough to capture distant images and fill the frame with images of medium distances. A 300 mm lens at the minimum will accomplish this or something more powerful if you plan on focusing on birds. Two different lenses should be adequate for your safari: a telephoto lens 300 mm or greater and a smaller lens for landscape and portrait type pictures. Additionally, an iPhone or similar always comes in handy for up close shots very near the vehicle.
Using a quality telephoto lens is often the best way to capture the most compelling wildlife photos (and some would argue the lens is significantly more important than the camera body). If you have a digital SLR camera but purchasing a top notch telephoto lens is not in your budget, or you think your safari might be the only time you'll ever need one, you might consider renting a lens instead. Most of the time purchasing a $5,000 to 10,000 lens doesn't make much sense when you could rent one for the duration of your trip for a few hundred dollars.
There are quite a few places offering cameras and lenses for rent, but one of our favorites is an online store called LensPro ToGo. The owner Paul Friedman is very helpful and friendly, and their prices are competitive. LensPro ToGo will FedEx the camera and/or lens to you almost anywhere in the United States, and they provide prepaid shipping labels and packaging so you can easily FedEx the gear back to them when you are done. Packages are available that include everything you would need (camera, lens, memory cards, batteries, charger, etc.)
We recommend carrying plenty of extra memory cards and at least two extra batteries. Many of our guests are taking between 5,000 and 10,000 images over the course of a typical 8 to 12 day safari so plan accordingly. It would also be a good idea to bring along a laptop or other device to download your pictures as this way you'll have a backup. Just keep the images on the cards and store the laptop/device and the cards in separate places to minimize the risk of loss.
Guests can charge devices directly in some of our newly equipped vehicles. All you'll need is the United Kingdom (British) plug adapter (type G). However, the charging outlets in the vehicles are notoriously finicky and suffer frequent issues. Accordingly, we recommend planning to charge all your devices back at your lodge or camp each day. Most properties have 24-hour electricity (even the Hemingway Bush Camp) and all have ample plug outlets in each room. Just make sure to begin charging your devices after your last game drive for the day.
Africa Dream Safaris offers only "private" safaris. *Most* safari companies out there do the pre-packaged "group tours" which is a completely different type of product and is organized in a very different way. To facilitate a "group tour", typically a pre-planned itinerary is set up on specific calendar dates and a block of rooms are booked at specific lodges on those dates, and then various people can "sign up" to join others for that tour until the designated number of spaces are filled.
While out on safari with a "group tour", strangers are shuffled together and must go along with the group's decisions despite whatever individual interests they may have. Unfortunately this almost always leads to compromise and disappointment on what is already a highly emotionally charged trip for most people. In contrast, when designing a private safari, we customize the trip based on your schedule and preferences, with our expert guidance of course to make sure you don't miss anything, and while you are out on safari you have the freedom to explore your specific interests at your pace without adhering to the whims of others. Here at Africa Dream Safaris, we don't think anyone should have to compromise on a big trip like this one, and that's the reason we do only private safaris! For more advantages to a private safari, check out the following link:
Consequently, because we focus exclusively on the "private safari" experience, our infrastructure does not lend itself well to matching couples or singles up with each other. Of course if we happen to know about another couple or family who is looking to travel with others at the same time of year as another couple or family who is looking to join others, we are happy to put them in contact with each other. But this hardly ever happens, since the majority of people who contact our company are already looking for a private safari, and the small number of folks who may be open to traveling with others will most likely have different preferences and scheduling requirements.
Also, note that companies that do group tours often own their own lodges and will propose to "fly you" between their properties, but in most cases they are only doing that because there is no other way to get you from one of their lodges to another, since you wouldn't have your own private guide and vehicle. You'd be using different guides that are employed at the various camps on shared game drives with other guests. Be extra careful with safari companies that own their own properties too... often their first priority is to utilize their own properties, which aren't always all in the best locations for the time of year you are traveling.
1. East African Wildlife (Bradt Travel Guide) by Philip Briggs
The 'East African Wildlife' is the most practical and useful field guide available on the flora and fauna of East Africa. It is a must for every wildlife enthusiast embarking on a safari to Tanzania! This new visitor's guide provides a colorful overview of the region's variety of large mammals together with an insight into their habits and habitats. The book also provides an excellent introduction to the region's less heralded variety of 'small stuff' - including 1,500 bird species and butterflies. Accessible and beautifully illustrated, the guide will appeal both to the first-time visitor and to the serious naturalist seeking a compact volume to carry around. Our favorite aspect of this field guide is the fact that all photos were taken in East Africa and 'stock' photos or photos from other regions in Africa were not used.
2. Wildlife of East Africa by Martin B. Withers and David Hosiking
This handy little field guide is the perfect match for those mainly interested in animal identification and short descriptions on each species behavior and ecology. This is a compact and concise field guide with beautiful color photographs and descriptions identifying each animal. The 'Wildlife of East Africa' includes mammals, birds, plants and reptiles and focuses on East Africa making it extremely useful while out on safari in Tanzania, Kenya or Uganda. The color pictures and easy to read descriptions are extremely helpful in terms of identifying common animal species that are similar in appearance. For example, there are several species of regularly encountered antelopes that look similar to each other at first glance including the Grant's Gazelle, Thomson's Gazelle, Steenbok, Oribi, Reedbuck, Klipspringer, Duiker and Dik-Dik. Your safari guide will certainly be impressed as you call out each species with the use of this handy little field guide by your side.
3. The Safari Companion by Richard D. Estes
The 'Safari Companion' is the most comprehensive field guide on African mammals. A detailed analysis is provided on each mammal (excludes birds, reptiles and plants) that you will encounter on your safari. Black and white sketches and descriptions are provided for each animal as well as information on each particular animal's social / mating system, reproduction, communication and ecology. There is also a superb and fascinating discussion on each animal's behavior. A downside with this guide is the poor black and white sketches with regards to identifying common animals species. Another minor problem with the 'Safari Companion' is that it covers all of Africa and can be a bit complicated for first time visitor to East Africa.
1. Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem by A.R.E. Sinclair and M. Nortons-Griffiths
2. Serengeti II: Dynamics, Management and Conservation of an Ecosystem
The 'Serengeti' and 'Serengeti II' combine to form the authoritative literature on the Serengeti Ecosystem, which is the most famous, abundant and diverse ecosystem in all of Africa. Both are a product of over 40 years of research and a collaboration of dozens of field biologists and researchers who have spent their lives studying and documenting just about everything (from dung beetles to lions) that inhabits the Serengeti. The books are a collection of short essays including such topics as the wildebeest, zebra and gazelle migration, the Serengeti environment, plants and herbivory, herbivores and predation, predator demography and behavior and conservation and management. The 'Serengeti' and 'Serengeti II' are best purchased together and are highly recommended.
3. The Serengeti Lion by George B. Schaller
This legendary and groundbreaking book details George Schaller's observations and conclusions from his long-term study of the Serengeti lions from 1966 to 1969. Schaller's study was groundbreaking in that he was able to explain many aspects of lion society. However, the most important aspect of his study was that his findings proved that predators (mainly lion, hyena, leopard, cheetah and wild dog) did not limit the population sizes of their prey species. This may seem a minor conclusion but keep in mind that for decades park game wardens used to shoot predators, particularly wild dogs, as it was believed that they would decimate prey populations (wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, etc.) if not eradicated. We now know, as Schaller clearly showed in his study, that it is not necessary to regulate carnivores to ensure large populations of herbivores. Most herbivore populations are indeed limited by dry season forage and not carnivores.
The Serengeti lions that inhabit the area around Seronera have been continuously studied since 1966 when Schaller began his work. Though there have been significant changes to the Serengeti since the 1960's (most notably the increase in wildebeest and the disappearance of the disease Rinderpest), the research and conclusions remain valid and the book is still the authoritative literature on the Serengeti lion. You will find references to Schaller's work in just about every subsequent research study in the Serengeti. The pride structure, behavior and hunting tactics and much more are described in detail. Additionally, a few of the Serengeti's other predators are described in lesser detail including the Leopard, Cheetah, Hyena and the now locally extinct Wild Dog. 'The Serengeti Lion' is a must read for every lion fanatic.
4. Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains by T.M. Caro
T.M. Caro documents nine years of research (1980 - 1989) in this book about the cheetahs that inhabit the Serengeti National Park. This Serengeti cheetah is notably different then the cheetahs that inhabit other parts of Africa in that the majority of the cheetahs found in the Serengeti are migratory. Most of the Serengeti cheetahs follow the Thomson's gazelle migration from the western and central woodlands in the dry season to the eastern and southern plains during the green season. This book describes in detail cheetah behavior, reproduction, range, hunting tactics and conservation. This is a superb book and reading it will greatly enhance your enjoyment of cheetah viewing.
5. The Spotted Hyena - A Study of Predation and Social Behavior by Hans Kruuk
Hans Kruuk lived in the Serengeti between 1964 and 1968 and spent 4- years studying spotted hyenas in the Serengeti National Park as well as the nearby Ngorongoro Crater. This was the first study ever conducted on hyenas and remains the most comprehensive and authoritative literature on hyenas. This is a wonderful book and the discussions about hunting behavior, clan society and mating rituals are captivating. Spotted hyenas are fascinating animals and completely misunderstood. Hans Kruuk's well-written book offers a glimpse into the hyena's mysterious life and his findings are enlightening.
Hyenas are capable hunters and in fact this study showed that they killed 70% of their food in the Serengeti and an astonishing 96% of their food in the Ngorongoro Crater. Hyenas are the most successful predator in the Serengeti and truly fascinating to watch if you know their behavior. They live in complex societies like lions called clans but the females are at the top and are actually larger then males and possess external genitalia. Most people tend to think of them as scavengers. Though they are well adapted to scavenging, they are more likely to kill their own food (even adult zebras) and lions actually scavenge more from hyenas then vice versus.
The fear of bugs and insects is generally much greater than the reality of what you will encounter. However, tolerances differ widely from individual to individual. The temperate climate and high elevation of Tanzania's Northern Parks mean that insect concentrations are significantly less than other areas of Africa. Please be aware though that insects can be present in significant numbers depending upon your location and current weather patterns. This could pose to be an annoyance for some individuals.
Mosquitoes are present but they are generally not active during the day. The African Mosquito is most active from dusk to dawn. Whether or not you are taking antimalarial drugs, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites from dusk till dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active. Precautionary measures include using DEET (concentration of 20% or more) based insect repellent and covering up before dusk and wearing long sleeved shirts, trousers, socks and shoes in the evenings.
You may also wish to use permethrin treated clothing and gear such as shoes, pants, socks and shirts. You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear with permethrin or treat them at home. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. Permethrin should NOT be used directly on skin. You should certainly cover up and use insect repellent before going to dinner each evening. Pay particular attention to your ankles and legs as mosquitoes, if present, seem to hover at ankle level.
Flies can be more of a nuisance than mosquitoes, especially when you're near the wildebeest migration. Flies are attracted to animals and the droppings of herd animals, so you don't get one without the other. You will undoubtedly know when you have found the larger migratory wildebeest herds (100,000 plus!)
Tsetse flies are worse than the average fly and they are mainly found in the woodlands, and their bite does hurt. Areas where you would have some potential exposure to tsetse flies include Tarangire National Park and a few pockets of woodlands in the Northern and Western Serengeti. The more open areas of the Central Serengeti, South Serengeti, East Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are usually free of tsetse flies.
Participation on a safari requires that you be in generally good health. All guests must understand that while a high level of fitness is not required, a measure of physical activity is involved in all African Safaris. It is essential that persons with any medical problems and/or related dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure.
For detailed health information for travelers to Tanzania visa wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel (go to the 'For Travelers' section and select 'Tanzania' in the drop down window). It is important that you read through all the information on the specific health information page on the CDC site for travelers to Tanzania including the following sections: Vaccines and Medicines, Stay Healthy and Safe, Healthy Travel Packing List, Travel Health Notices and After Your Trip.
For a detailed discussion on Malaria including the different antimalarial drugs available and ways to prevent mosquito bites, please visit: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/malaria
Whether or not you are taking antimalarial drugs, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites from dusk till dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active. Precautionary measures include using DEET (concentration of 20% or more) based insect repellent and covering up before dusk and wearing long sleeved shirts, trousers, socks and shoes in the evenings. You may also wish to use permethrin treated clothing and gear such as shoes, pants, socks and shirts. You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear with permethrin or treat them at home. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. Permethrin should NOT be used directly on skin. You should certainly cover up and use insect repellent before going to dinner each evening. Pay particular attention to your ankles and legs as mosquitoes, if present, seem to hover at ankle level.
Tanzania is a very safe, secure and tourist friendly country. Tanzania has enjoyed a remarkable period of stability and growth since independence back in 1961 and is one of the safest countries in Africa.
Tanzania has more than 132 distinct tribes that have lived in harmony for centuries. Tanzania has a founding philosophy from its first President, Julius Nyerere (a man who Nelson Mandela called his mentor and inspiration), which emphasized tolerance and the idea of a nation coming before any sense of tribal loyalty. His belief that "we are Tanzanians first and foremost", helped to create and encourage a national character of tribal, racial and religious tolerance. Tanzanians are very proud that they have never had a civil war and as they watch what happens in neighboring countries (Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and now Kenya), they are even more committed to the ideas of tolerance and peace. Nyerere insisted on a national language (Swahili) and insisted that the ruling power never show preference for their own tribal history. Power is shared most equitably in Tanzania and no one tribe is favored or has the majority of power.
There are currently no travel warnings issued on Tanzania by the U.S. State Department. Kenya currently has a travel warning issued and those travelers seeking to add a safari extension to Kenya are advised to read the warning at travel.state.gov. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country.
Though the risk of crime is minimal in Tanzania, some common sense precautions are recommended:
To be 100% safe, carry your wallet and money with you at all times. Do not leave these items in your room while out on game drives, eating at the lodge, etc. Please be aware of your surroundings at all times. When on your safari, you will be in a new, unfamiliar and exciting place. You will likely be distracted, enthusiastic or tired enough to make mistakes and forget the little hazards around you. For example, watch your step when walking and avoid brushing up against thorny bushes and trees. Additionally, watch your fingers when the vehicle doors are being closed. Please be especially cautious when standing up game viewing in the open top vehicles. It is always dangerous to stand up in the vehicle while driving - please watch out for branches and other potential hazards. And don't assume any of the animals are tame.
Please be aware that our safaris may take you into close contact with wild animals. Attacks by wild animals are rare, but no safari into the African wilderness can guarantee that this will not occur. Please note that many safari lodges and camps are not fenced and that wildlife does move freely in and around these areas. Always follow the safety instructions from the lodge or camp's staff with regards to moving to and from your tent and while on game activities throughout your safari.
Please be especially cautious and informed when staying at a private camp or the smaller tented lodges. Please make sure that if you have small children with you, to not let them out of your sight or wander alone. There will be a security briefing at most tented lodges upon arrival but do not hesitate to voice your concerns to the staff or your guide. Many of the smaller tented lodges will escort you to and from your tent for dinner. Under no circumstances should you move to and from your tent/room during the night without being escorted. When staying at a private camp, you must not wander out of the campsite and you must always be escorted to and from your tent.
Clients often ask questions about the various planning phases of an African Safari. After all, this is a big trip, and there are some major steps involved in planning! So when do the major steps occur and in what sequence?
1) Initial Planning: Contact the friendly staff at Africa Dream Safaris! Our staff of expert consultants, based here in the US for your convenience, are well-traveled and happy to talk you through any questions you may have about getting started. We'll help you solidify your priorities for the trip, budget and time for travel. We'll develop a sample itinerary for you and, with your feedback, we'll customize it to your priorities, schedule and budget. This part may be the most fun step of all! With exception to when you depart for the trip, of course!
2) Safari booking: Once you have settled on a final itinerary and travel dates, the next step is to make it official! A $500 per person deposit is required to secure your safari reservations. All our safaris are individually customized, and lodging in these remote wilderness areas can and will sell out. So in order to guarantee securing your first choices in accommodations, the early planner has the advantage. Admittedly we do have much more flexibility than a large group package operator and we are often able to make last minute safaris work out too. We've had folks book their safari as close as 30 days out, while other folks book their safari over 2 years in advance. That being said, it seems the majority of folks book their safari 6-9 months ahead of time. As much advance notice as possible is always helpful for the holidays and other peak seasons such as summer when most families travel (July-Aug). Keep in mind, once you have finalized your desired safari itinerary with your consultant, it will take an additional 1 - 3 weeks to confirm all your reservations.
3) International Airfare: Most major airlines start selling tickets within 11 months of the proposed travel dates, and most people will book their plane tickets as soon as possible after their safari has been confirmed. Some people may ask, shouldn't I book my plane ticket first? Well, that's an option too. But keep in mind all of our safari packages are customized and can only be confirmed upon your booking. Once the airfare is purchased the travel dates are obviously set, and there is no shifting by a day or two to make the reservations at specific lodges work out. However, if a client's dates are already set for other reasons, and if they are flexible with regards to specific accommodations, many times clients will go ahead and purchase the airfare first. Especially if fares seem volatile or if they've snared a really good airfare deal. Then, if a specific lodge happens to be sold out on a certain date we'd just substitute in a different lodge or shift the order of the lodges to make it work out. As long as you are somewhat flexible, it always works out. Worth noting this is a long flight, so important to be as comfortable as possible. Do you prefer a window or aisle seat? Try to get your seats assigned at the time of booking your plane ticket. If it's not possible, find out when the earliest time is to get your seats assigned and mark that date on your calendar. It's a good idea to get your seats assigned as soon as they become available for the best selection.
4) Travel insurance: It's important to note that most travel insurance companies offer guests a more comprehensive policy (ie, coverage for pre-existing conditions) if the guests purchase their travel insurance within a 15 day window of the date they put down a deposit on the trip or purchase their airline ticket, whichever one comes first. Also, in order to qualify for some travel insurance policies, guests must purchase their insurance BEFORE making FINAL payment on the trip.
5) Passport: At the time you book your safari, be certain to obtain a passport or check your current passport and make sure the expiration date is at least 6 months beyond your travel date. Also, make sure you have at least 2 blank pages left in your passport for your Tanzania visa. If you are visiting other African countries on this trip, make sure your passport meets that specific country's requirements (for example, both Kenya and South Africa also require at least 2 blank pages for a visa, making for a total of 6 blank pages required for a trip that encompasses Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa). Unless you are willing to pay extra for expedited service, you may need several weeks to get your passport renewed.
(local Tanzanian cell phone)
There are plenty of opportunities for shopping during the course of your safari. Some popular souvenir items in Tanzania include wooden animal carvings, postcards, African masks and picture frames, hand woven baskets, dining sets with tablecloths, local paintings, jewelry, safari books, and Maasai arts and crafts (beadwork, shields, spears, jewelry, etc.). Tsavorite and Tanzanite are two popular gemstones in East Africa. Tanzanite, a bluish gemstone, is mined only in Tanzania (next to Kilimanjaro Airport).
Most lodges and camps have gift shops and some accept credit cards. There are also a myriad of shops and markets in and around Arusha. One shop that we recommend is called 'Cultural Heritage'. You can negotiate at most shops and roadside stands except Cultural Heritage and many lodge gift shops, which have fixed prices. Cultural Heritage accepts credit cards and they can reliably ship large items.
Some of the best deals and selections can actually be found at the airports including Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). There are several shops at JRO that you can peruse while waiting for your flight. Zanzibar also has great shopping opportunities and some good bargains. For unique items like tribal jewelry, small authentic carvings, etc., we recommend purchasing at one of the Maasai Villages you can visit in the Southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area or at the Esalali Women's Project in Karatu (between Lake Manyara and the Crater). Both places help the local economy including the Maasai and you can also help support the Women's Cooperative.
As discussed, you'll have some shopping opportunities during your safari, such as local crafts and jewelry from the Maasai Village or the various lodge gift shops that often contain some nice hand selected local items. You'll see some road side shops along the main road as you are driving from The Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha, near the town of Karatu; just ask your guide to help you find a reputable shop. But by far the most popular place to buy local crafts (woodcarvings, masks, artifacts, jewelry, etc.) is at the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha.
Many countries in Africa including Tanzania and Kenya have recently passed new environmental protection laws prohibiting
the production, sale and use of certain plastic waste items including single-use plastic bags. This is a welcomed move to combat the growing problem that plastic waste poses to the environment.
Visitors are advised to avoid carrying or packing single-use plastic bags such as plastic shopping bags or Ziploc style bags in their luggage. If you received a plastic shopping bag at one of the airports enroute to Tanzania, please make sure to remove any items and leave the plastic shopping bag on the plane before disembarking. Instead of traveling with Ziploc bags for your toiletry items, you will need to utilize reusable storage bags. Many different reusable products are available including TSA approved carry-on toiletry bags. These are clear quart sized reusable bags that are compliant with the TSA 3-1-1 rules.
TSA approved carry-on toiletry bags: Enter this search in Amazon.com - 'Approved Toiletry Airline Carry Luggage' or visit this link: amzn.to/2Yggman.
Tanzania resides just south of the equator. The strong equatorial sun combined with the fact that you are at elevation can lead to sunburn and sun poisoning quickly. It is important that you wear a hat and apply sun block frequently to all exposed areas. There will be ADS safari hats in the welcome package that you'll receive after you book your safari. Please make sure to bring the hats to Tanzania.
Tanzania is a very child friendly and makes a great safari destination for families. A safari to the African wilderness of Tanzania can be the single most rewarding family vacation experience. The educational opportunities and enriching activities are endless. The guides and lodge staff love children and they will receive lots of extra attention and careful looking after. However, special consideration must be given to safety when traveling with young children. Please note that many safari lodges and camps are not fenced and that wildlife does move freely in and around these areas. Under no circumstances should you let your child wander alone or out of your sight. When traveling with children it is important to follow the safety instructions of your guide and from the lodge and camp staff with regard to moving to and from your tent and while on wildlife game drives. You should not move to and from your tent/room during the night without being escorted.
Some specific recommendations to make your family safari more rewarding are noted below:
Africa Dream Safaris maintains a fleet of specially outfitted 4-wheel drive Stretched Land Cruisers providing for maximum flexibility, adventure, and wildlife viewing. Our spacious stretched Land Cruisers come equipped with a total of eight seats with six seats in the back under a sunshade. Please note that there is no air conditioning due to the open nature of the vehicles. These are rugged 4WD vehicles capable of handling challenging terrain, rocks and mud. Given the off-road capability of these vehicles, the ride quality can be very bumpy and noisy at times, which can be further compounded by rough dirt treks, uneven terrain or long drives to remote areas.
Every vehicle is equipped with a long distance radio. These radios are used for communication between your vehicle and other driver-guides for game reports, as well as communication with our main operational office in Arusha. If there is any problem on safari, your driver-guide can use his long distance radio to communicate with our operational office in Arusha or any ranger station for additional support.
Flat tires are fairly common when game driving the rough tracks in the national parks. Tire changes are handled quickly by your driver-guide with little inconvenience. Vehicle break-downs are extremely rare as our vehicles are rigorously maintained. However, in the unusual event of a vehicle breakdown, a replacement vehicle would be immediately sent and would likely arrive within 4 hours as support vehicles are always on stand by. With our excellent contingency planning and communication systems you'll never have to worry about being stranded (or even significantly inconvenienced) while on safari.
It may be difficult to hear your guide from the 3rd row of seats in the back of your safari vehicle. This is especially true for a group of 6 persons. Please note that additional vehicles may be booked at additional cost which would allow for fewer guests in each vehicle.
*Please note that our vehicles are NOT equipped with air conditioning.
A valid passport and electronic visa (purchased online in advance of travel) are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Your passport should be valid for at least six months past your arrival date. Please make sure you have at least 2 blank pages in your passport and additional blank pages if visiting multiple countries during the course of your trip.
A Yellow Fever Vaccination is not required for all travelers flying direct to Tanzania from the U.S. or Canada. This includes flights on KLM Airlines via Amsterdam, Turkish Airways via Istanbul, Emirates via Dubai, Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa and Qatar Airways via Doha.
A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Tanzania only when arriving into Tanzania from a yellow fever infected country (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, etc.) AND where you leave the airport/clear customs in such country. For example, some of our guests arrive into Tanzania via a connecting flight in Nairobi, Kenya. In such instances, the yellow fever vaccination would not be required since these guests would not be leaving the airport in Nairobi but rather staying 'in transit' until boarding their connecting flight. For a full list of countries with risk of yellow fever, please visit the CDC website.
As a safety precaution in case of a lost passport we recommend that all guests carry a photo copy of their passport in a separate piece of luggage or scan and email your passport to your ADS sales representative.
Africa Dream Safaris is proud to offer VIP meet and greet services to all of our clients arriving into Kilimanjaro Airport. Our dedicated Africa Dream Safaris (ADS) meet and greet specialist will meet you in the customs area immediately upon arrival. They will assist you with the process of Immigration, Baggage and Customs, making your arrival to East Africa easy and efficient. With ADS you'll skip the long lines! Each person will simply need to complete the online visa application in advance and provide a passport valid for at least 6 months past your arrival date and with at least 2 blank pages. All safaris are 100% escorted and chauffeured from arrival to departure.
The Tanzanian government has an online/electronic visa application that is required for all travelers arriving into Tanzania. You are required to fill in the online application form (one per person) and submit your credit card payment in the amount of $100 per person. After 3 -4 business days, please login to the website again to print your visa and bring with you to Tanzania. Please see the following link for a step-by-step instruction guide for help completing the online application:
A Yellow Fever Vaccination is not required for all travelers flying direct to Tanzania from the U.S. or Canada. This includes flights on KLM Airlines via Amsterdam, Turkish Airways via Istanbul, Emirates via Dubai, Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa and Qatar Airways via Doha. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is only required when arriving into Tanzania from a yellow fever infected country.
Regarding your arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, please make sure to retain your boarding pass as you will need to present this to enter the customs building after you have disembarked the aircraft. Upon departure at Kilimanjaro Airport, please make sure to carry a copy of your printed flight itinerary that clearly lists all names in order to gain entry into the airport.
Rwanda and Uganda
A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda for all travelers. Additionally, all travelers visiting these countries must purchase their visas online in advance of travel. Travelers who do not have the required printed copy of the Electronic Visa form for Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda may be denied boarding at their point of departure. Note that the electronic visas are valid for 90 days from the date of approval and not from the date of arrival. You should therefore ensure your visa will still be valid at the time of your travel.
Kenya E-Visa: evisa.go.ke/evisa.html
Uganda E-Visa: visas.immigration.go.ug/
Rwanda E-Visa: irembo.gov.rw/rolportal/en/web/dgie/single-entry-visa
Follow the instructions on the E-Visa website to submit your application. You will need to upload various required documents and pay with a credit card. It should take at least 2 business days for approval. Once approved, you can download and print your E-Visa and tuck away in your passport until given to the immigration officer upon arrival.
Current immigration rules in Tanzania require that all travelers have at least 1 blank page, clearly marked "VISA" and free of any other entry/exit stamps reserved in your passport for the exclusive use of Tanzania Immigration stamps. However, we are concerned that in the future Tanzania Immigrations may adopt a minimum 2 blank page rule, which is currently being practiced in both Kenya and South Africa. Accordingly, we are recommending all travelers at this time to have 2 blank pages, clearly marked "VISA" in their passports when Tanzania is their sole destination.
Travelers who do not have the required blank pages may be denied boarding at the point of departure. Traveling to both Tanzania and Kenya may require 4 blank pages. If combining Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, 6 total blank pages may be required, etc. Please note that the blank pages must clearly be marked "VISA". The blank pages may NOT be the "AMENDMENTS and ENDORSEMENTS' pages. In U.S. Passports, the amendment pages are typically pages 22 - 24 but check your own passport carefully to be sure.
Again, these "Amendments and Endorsements' pages do NOT count towards the minimum blank page requirements. Furthermore, travelers who do not have the required blank VISA pages may be denied boarding at your point of departure. We have had guests recently who were denied boarding a flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa as they only had 1 blank Visa page and not the 2 blank Visa pages required for travel to South Africa. Guests did have several blank amendment pages (pages 22 - 24 in their specific passport) but these could NOT be counted towards the minimum blank page requirements.
If you do need additional pages in your passports, you will need to apply for a whole new passport. As of 2019, you are no longer allowed to have additional pages added to your passport.
The secret is out with Northern Tanzania and most of the general public is now aware that this area offers the very finest wildlife viewing in all of Africa. Tourists from all over the world are flocking to the famous northern safari circuit to enjoy its beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. Please note that high vehicle concentrations in some high use areas including the Ngorongoro Crater may pose an inconvenience. To combat this potential problem, we highly recommend early morning game drives and adventure game drives to some of the more remote areas of the Serengeti, which can be even more rewarding.
Please keep in mind that by departing at 6.00am each morning, you will have most areas all to yourself until about 10.00am when the package tours begin. Our expert guides know many secret spots and strategies to get you off the beaten path and avoid vehicle concentrations. The Serengeti, in particular, is a massive park and there are plenty of areas where you will likely encounter very few other vehicles. Make sure to communicate to your driver-guide your interest in adventure and exploring the more remote areas. Additionally, by incorporating the smaller and more remotely located camps into your itinerary (as opposed to the big centrally located lodges) you will see relatively few other vehicles even in the busy summer months of July and August.
The days can vary quite a bit! We have suggestions for you each day, but flexibility is our middle name! The safari is your trip, it's all about you, and how you want to spend your time. So if you want to be on safari all day, that's fine! You are absolutely welcome to, we do offer this to you as an option since Africa Dream Safaris does not limit your mileage or how much time you'd like to be on safari. But on some days you may prefer to take it easy, do a game drive in the morning and come back to the lodge in the afternoon - that's also fine! You'll always come back to the lodge for dinner. Sit around the campfire under the stars and listen for lions roaring.
Meals are the only thing that require a little thought ahead of time. If you want to enjoy an early hot breakfast at the lodge, they can usually be arranged around 7am or even earlier at some if requested ahead of time. Or you can go out for an early morning game drive at say 6am, and then come back to the lodge for a hot breakfast mid morning maybe around 9am. Similar situation with lunch... if you want to come back to the lodge for a hot lunch you have the option to do it on most days. Your guide will have suggestions for you of course, but the final decision is always yours.
For example if the migration is thundering right through your camp, you might feel there is no need to leave the immediate area, which facilitates eating a hot lunch at the lodge. But if your guide knows about a den of tiny baby lion cubs that is a very special sighting but you have to drive for a long distance to get to their den, you will probably want to bring a picnic lunch to avoid having to turn around mid-way in your day and drive all the way back to the lodge. The options are endless, and you'll probably end up practicing many different scenarios at some point in the safari. Just sit down with your guide the night before to plan your day and your meals; he'll have suggestions for you but remember the final decision is yours!
Safaris are extremely informal vacations and the main goal is to pack lightly and smartly. Most lodges and camps will launder your clothes for free or a small fee ($2 - $3 per item) within 24-hours. Loose fitting, casual and comfortable clothing is recommended, as you will be spending the majority of your safari wildlife viewing in a vehicle. Be prepared for daily highs ranging from the mid 70's to the mid 80's and lows in the 50's and 60's except during the cold season (June, July and August) when the lows can drop down into the 40's. The rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can get significantly colder during the night and early mornings due to the high elevation (7,500 - 8,000 feet).
There is little or no opportunity for fashion while on safari though you may wish to bring a nice outfit for a special dinner. All the lodges allow casual clothing and traditional safari wear while dining. There is a large temperature range each day and it is recommended to wear layers enabling you to adjust to the varying temperatures. It can be quite cold on early morning game drives and long pants and a warm sweater are needed. In contrast, shorts and t-shirts can be worn on afternoon game drives as it can get hot during midday especially with the strong equatorial sun shining down in a convertible vehicle. It is important that you wear a wide brimmed hat and apply sun block frequently to all exposed areas.
Dark colors do tend to attract unwanted attention from certain insects. The tsetse fly (active only during the day) is attracted to dark colors (primarily dark blue) so these should be avoided when game driving. Tsetse areas include the woodlands of the West Serengeti, Tarangire and a few parts of the North Serengeti. The plains of the south and east Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and the southern areas of the Central Serengeti are tsetse fly free. It is recommended to wear long pants and shirts when game driving an area known for concentrations of tsetse flies. Lighter and more natural colors such as khaki, brown, beige, olive and green should be worn during the day. During the nights, the color of your clothing is irrelevant. From dusk to dawn, it is recommended that you protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing pants, long sleeved shirts, socks and shoes plus insect repellent.
Please see below for a recommended African safari packing list:
We recommend lightweight clothing with moisture-wicking technology that draws moisture away from the skin to help keep you cool and dry. Many options are available from the various online outdoor outfitters such as REI that are ideally suited for warmer climates and many feature stretchy fabrics for maximum comfort with built in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) sun protection and even vented side seams.
The ideal time to go on safari will differ for every individual as much of it comes down to personal taste and specific interests. It completely depends on what you want to see and do. Wildlife concentrations are extremely seasonal and careful planning is required to provide you with best experience possible. Many of the animals do move vast distances each month but we will always tailor your itinerary to your specific month of travel to assure that you are located in the best area for wildlife viewing.
Some factors that may influence your decision on 'when to go' are as follows:
Based upon the above factors we can have an open and meaningful dialogue and provide you with some suggestions on the most optimal time. If you are limited to a specific travel time, we can always tailor your itinerary to meet your expectations and requirements regardless of the month of travel.
Wildlife viewing in Northern Tanzania is superb year round due to presence of large concentrations of resident animals. However, if you do have flexibility with your travel dates, the green season (late November to early May) can offer the overall best wildlife viewing. There is an old adage in the Serengeti that 'rain means game' and this definitely rings true during the green season. The reason the green season is advantageous is that the famous wildebeest and zebra migration is concentrated in massive numbers on the open Southern and Eastern Serengeti Plains. This in turn attracts large numbers of predators including lion, cheetah, hyena and jackal. Additionally, the plains are a beautiful shade of bright green, dust levels are minimal, animals are in the open and easy to spot and you are permitted to off road drive on the open plains. It's a great season to get 'off the beaten path' and explore the remote corners of the parks. Please keep in mind that all green season months are not 'created' equal. Game viewing tends to be better towards the end of the green season (February, March and April) when the migration and all the large carnivores are at their highest densities.
The northward migration (early May to mid June) and the southward migration (October through November) are also optimal times for a safari and wildlife viewing. Game viewing can be tremendous when the migration is on the move during these two periods! During the northward migration in May, the great herds bottle neck at the Moru Kopjes attracting all the large carnivores. May is the time of the wildebeest rut and a synchronized mating pandemonium ensues as the migration comes together and marches off the plains. Male wildebeest madly dash about rounding up females and chasing off other males. After an 8.5-month gestation period, the synchronized calving takes place in early February. During the southward migration (October through November), the great herds stream through the woodlands and flood onto the plains as stunning thunderclouds form in anticipation of the approaching green season. It is an amazing spectacle to see hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle thundering southwards with lion, cheetah and spotted hyena in close pursuit.
The dry season (July to October) is also a great time for wildlife viewing. Massive herds of elephants congregate around the Tarangire River in Tarangire National Park while resident herbivores (impala, buffalo, gazelle and giraffe) flock to the Seronera River in the Central Serengeti. The dry season is a great time for predators and especially good for viewing large prides of lions along the rivers. The migration is located in the remote woodlands of the Northern Serengeti and this is the time of the famous river crossings along the Mara River. Superb off the beaten path drives are available in the Serengeti during the dry season with the favorite being the Mara River adventure game drive.
Regardless of when you travel, one will always have superb game viewing in Northern Tanzania. Resident (non-migratory) animals including leopard, elephant, rhino, giraffe, hippo, resident lion prides and several species of non-migratory antelope are always abundant (particularly in the Central Serengeti). However, there are certain months and even weeks that may be preferable to you based upon your specific wildlife interests. Talk it over with your ADS specialist and decide upon the most optimal time for your safari.
This is a discussion of some general wildlife viewing recommendations that we think will provide you with an overall better game viewing experience in terms of quality and quantity of wildlife seen. A good start is your detailed day-by-day safari itinerary, which includes recommendations for duration and areas of game drives based upon the month you will be traveling. Your driver-guide will also provide daily suggestions for game drives and other activities based upon current wildlife concentrations and weather. However, please keep in mind that your private safari is completely flexible and you have the freedom each day to choose your activities and game drives including number, duration and areas of exploration.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the moderate climate in Tanzania creates a comfortable environment for wildlife viewing throughout the entire day. In many parts of Africa, animals are not active during the afternoon because of the excessive heat. This is not the case in Tanzania due to temperate climate and some of the most amazing sightings do happen in the afternoon. However, the overall best time for wildlife viewing is certainly in the early morning from 6.00am to 9.00am when many animals are most active. It is a magical feeling to be game driving during the still dawn as the sun breaks the horizon while a pride of lion stirs to go hunting or a family of elephants begins their daily migration for water and forage.
We highly recommend early morning game drives each day and especially in the Serengeti National Park and Crater. All lodges and camps can prepare breakfast boxes to go (versus breakfast at the lodge) so you can maximize wildlife viewing during these critical early morning hours. Your driver-guide will certainly recommend early morning game drives each day but feel free to decline if you would rather have a more leisurely morning. Additionally, some of the more adventurous may wish to embark on full day game drives to the most remote areas of the Serengeti which will require a lunch box, as well.
It is also important to be patient with wildlife viewing. Instead of racing off to each animal sighting, it can be more rewarding to find an animal that interests you and stick close for an hour or longer watching different behaviors and learning about the specific animal. Something exciting will just about always happen and ultimately, you will be pleasantly surprised. Most safaris eventually offer quality-viewing opportunities of all the major large and small mammals. Lastly, please communicate with your driver-guide your specific animal interests and what level of game drives fits your specific requirements. Your guide will bend over backwards to make sure that your expectations are met and exceeded.
Reach out to one of our safari specialists who are ready and eager to help answer any inquiries.
31244 Palos Verdes Dr. West, Suite 239
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Hours: Daily 8AM - 8PM PST
P.O. Box 2189
+255 752 225 554