How safe is it to go on safari?
This may be the most asked question that I get. Going on safari in Africa, is no more dangerous than travelling just about anywhere else in the world. You will be in relatively close contact with wild animals but most of the time you will be in a vehicle when they are nearby. I only work with extremely knowledgable driver/guides. We have radios in all of the safari vehicles and at the camps. My first priority is maximizing your ability to travel safely. The camps are guarded throughout the night – often by Maasai Warriors.
How much does it cost to go on safari?
There is no set price. Our safaris are tailored to your needs, when you want to travel, how many people you’ll be travelling with, where you decide to stay, lodging standards and for how long. For example, national park fees and permits range from $50 USD pp/day to $1500 pp/day (Rwanda gorilla tracking permits = $1500 USD, Uganda permits are $700 USD). People will often say – “give me a ‘rough idea”. Well, a big game safari will start at about $350 pp/day and can go into the thousands of dollars per day. Yes, you read that right. There are lodges and camps that cost in the thousands! I don’t go there often :)
Will you be with us all the way?
Most Cielo safaris are lead by me. Getting to where you want to go on safari shouldn’t be your concern on these expeditions and getting around Africa can be extremely challenging. I’ve been doing it for many years and get a great deal of pleasure helping your safari dream to come true. Most of the ‘budget’ safari companies and the ‘big-box’ travel companies keep prices down by cutting corners anyway they can – including hiring young, inexperienced people to lead them.
However, there have been situations where I have been comfortable sending clients on safari with one of my trusted drivers/guides. I do not guide Kilimanjaro climbs. The permits require that a specially trained and licenced Tanzanian guide. I can connect you with some trusted guides.
What immunizations and medicines do I need before going on Safari?
This one is best answered by your doctor. There are several vaccines they will recommend and there are a couple, like Yellow Fever, that are required for entry into many African countries. I have taken them all and I use anti-malarial tablets to keep myself healthy and having fun. We also have first aid kits in the Land Cruisers.
Will we have access to the internet and telephone service?
Yes! You’ll certainly have good coverage in all major cities and airports on the way to our safari areas. All network providers have international roaming packages. I carry 2 cellphones – 1 North American and 1 African and have coverage most of the time.
Most hotels and lodges offer complimentary WiFi. Some of the camps have wife but it can be veryyyyy slow.
In the more remote areas.
- Expect very patchy cellular coverage as you travel further into the wilderness but finding a signal is usually not hard to find – when we really need one. But you are on safari!
- All permanent camps have emergency communication systems whether that’s satellite phone or cellular. They might even mean an internet connection – but it could be very slow, very intermittent and largely inaccessible to guests.
However, I always warn guests that it’s not the same as in North America or Europe. Africa is huge and they are still catching up on some the technology we take for granted when we are home.
Will we have electricity?
All of the luxury tented camps I use have electricity, mostly solar power with battery storage. It’s on for several hours a day. You will be able to charge phones and cameras batteries at the camps/lodges and in the Land Cruiser.
No need to bring a hair dryer!
Is the water safe to drink while on Safari?
I supply bottles and/or filtered water for all of our land transportation. I encourage everyone to bring a sturdy water bottle with them. We can refill them. I’ll continually trying to reduce our footprint when we travel. Plastic water bottles are a big part of that. All the camps and lodges that I use also supply filtered and bottled water.
What will the food be like?
In some of the camps and lodges there will be a buffet with a variety of local and North American food. In some of the smaller camps there will be a fixed menu. If you have any allergies and special dietary needs, I will contact the camp and let the chef know what those needs are. They are very good at trying to meet all of my requests if I can give them enough warning. The camps are in remote locations so they need time to have special food items brought in. Meals are includedwith your price in the rural lodges and camps. The city hotels provide breakfast. Other city meals are at the guests cost.
What travel visas will we need?
Canadian and American citizens are required to purchase visas to enter Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania (and most other African countries). Most countries have switched to an online visa application and purchase process, though some of the African embassies in Canada and the USA will still issue them, with an additional fee. Visa fees range from $35 USD to $100 USD for visitors. Rick can help you make your way through the visa process – it can be challenging!
How much luggage can I bring?
Most itineraries work best when you travel light. Our luggage has to fit in a Land Cruiser, with people and, on occasion, in the belly of light aircraft for flights between remote camps. Most domestic air services have a 15 KG weight limit – including your carry-on bags. They charge outrageous ‘over-weight’ fees if you go above the 15 KG (33 lbs) They also insist on soft-sided luggage to protect the plane. I use a soft-sided roller bag, with a flexible structured bottom.
The good news is – most of the camps and lodges will do your laundry at reasonable prices or free. If you bring clothes that are of the quick-dry variety, they’ll have them back, washed and folded very quickly.
Do I need travel insurance?
Cancellation/interruption insurance is recommended. Emergency medical travel insurance is required to travel with us. I also suggest investing in a relatively inexpensive, vacation policy with AMREF – The Flying Doctors of Africa. They can send a medical team and air ambulance to wherever you are, should a life-threatening situation arise.
What type of camera will I need?
Camera’s are one of my favourite topics! If you are going to buy a new camera for your African safari DSLR camera. Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic produce very good, affordable digital SLRs. You will need a good size telephoto zoom lens, at the very least a 200mm lens. I travel with a collection of camera’s and lenses and will be sharing my photos with you along with a ‘high definition - highlight video’ of your safari.
Can we use our own itinerary?
Most of our itineraries are tailor-made. If you would like to see and do, where and when he’ll find a way to make it work for you and use his experience to find you the best price on lodges and transportation.
How do we get to Africa?
From North America you can fly via a European city such as London, Amsterdam or Frankfurt. You can fly direct from there into African cities such as Nairobi (Kenya) , Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) , Kigali (Rwanda) and Entebbe (Uganda). You would fly into the nearest African city from where your safari starts. From there Rick can organize flights to smaller airports.
How do I book a safari with you?
- Planning – A good place to start is send us an email or call and we can help you to figure out what best suits your idea of a ‘dream safari’. We can talk about locations and get an idea of what your budget looks like. Once we have the basics, Rick can offer advice on how to maximize the opportunities available. We’ll craft an itinerary and go through it with you, in detail. We will adjust until you decide it’s the right itinerary for you. Some guests have a look at our sample safaris and are able to pick one out of that collection – or pick one and asks for some tweaks to be made..
- Confirmation – Once you are ready to confirm, we’ll collect a deposit, based on the safari cost, and then begin the detailed process of making every booking. Of accommodation, vehicles, drivers, wildlife permits etc. **Note gorilla tracking permits are very limited each day, so early booking of these is essential to ensure you’ll be able to go when you arrive on site. **During ‘High season’, accommodation can be hard to get, unless you reserve early (that’s also how we can negotiate the best rates). Some camps can get fully booked a year in advance.
- The Details – Through this time Rick can offer advice on everything from flights to footwear.
- Final preparation for travel – final payments are made, 60 days prior to the departure date and all of your documents so that final payment can be made with the various suppliers. Your confirmed itinerary and other documents will be sent to you, including contact information in Africa and other things you'll need to know.