Our top travel Tips
Your clothes and the weather
Your technical equipment
Encountering other locals
Your reading Material
Your clothes and the weather
When on safari, one of the most important things is to be comfortably and practically dressed. There are some points you may want to consider before you start packing:
"Safari colours" are always green, khaki, brown or grey. The reasons are fairly obvious: they help you blend in with the surrounding bush making you less conspicuous to animals. This is especially important if you're going on a game drive or approaching wildlife on foot.
Many people believe red is the worst colour but it is in fact white which can easily be spotted by animals. So don't forget to take these points in to consideration when choosing your safari clothes.
Please also remember that army-style camouflage clothes are illegal in Tanzania.
The members of the first British expedition who reported back
to England that they had seen a mountain in Africa with snow on it were thought to be mad.
For those considering climbing Kilimanjaro it goes without saying that appropriate clothing is vital. But even if you are not going up any mountains – please bring some warm clothes! It gets very cold in some high altitude areas, especially in June, July and August. Warm fleeces and sweaters are perfect.
Having said that, this is Africa and we are very close to the equator so it does get very hot sometimes, especially in December, January and February. It is best to dress in layers so you don't get chilly in the morning, then as the day gets progressively hotter, you can remove heavier clothing and stay cool in the lighter clothes you're wearing underneath.
Cotton is best – it is comfortable, it does not irritate the skin and you don't need a specialist dry cleaner to get it washed. Best not to bring any clothes that need special treatment for cleaning, they might suffer!
As far as shoes go – four pairs should be all you need. One pair of
lightweight walking shoes with good ankle support. One pair of comfortable closed shoes for when it's cool. One pair of sturdy sandals when it's hot. One pair of rubber flip-flops – they always come in handy. That's your footwear sorted!
You need to think about protecting yourself against the African sun as well as insects. A hat and sunglasses are very useful. Long trousers, socks, closed shoes and long sleeves work to keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes which are especially hungry at dusk.
It may also get quite windy and rainy on occasion – a lightweight, water and windproof jacket is always good to have, just in case.
Socks and underwear – well you know all that… possibly a swimsuit and of course toiletries, which should include insect repellent and a strong sunscreen (SPF 30 or more).
Please note: Some ladies may want to consider packing a sports bra as the roads can be particularly bumpy at times.
If you are catching a domestic flight in Tanzania, you should be aware that the weight limit is 15kg (33 lbs) – although you will get away with 20kg (44 lbs) most of the time – if your bags are heavier you will probably have to pay an excess luggage charge. Soft bags are preferable to hard suitcases and they are mandatory on light aircrafts. And being able to lock your bags is always useful.
Your technical equipment
• If you want to get a good view of wildlife, we recommend bringing a pair of binoculars. 7 to 10 magnification is ideal (although a little pricey) and avoid perma-focus binoculars as they do not give pin sharp images and can cause eyestrain. Avoid electric focus or zoom features. Also, small shirt-pocket binoculars are difficult to hold steady.
• The electric current in Tanzania is 220 to 240 volt, 50 Cycle AC. Remember to check any electric equipment before plugging it in – you may need to buy an adaptor/transformer before you come here. Some lodges have limited electricity hours because they produce all of their power locally using a generator.
• You will most likely want to take some pictures while you are on safari. If you are a keen photographer, you will know what camera equipment to bring. We have a few recommendations if you are a bit unsure.
Don't try anything new! It is probably a good idea to bring equipment you are familiar with. After all you don't want to spend your safari learning how to use your new camera.
Don't make too much noise! Camera equipment can be very noisy – try to avoid too much beeping and clicking as it can scare off the animals.
Be fast! Fast film speeds (200 to 1000 ASA, or 400 as a good compromise). Allow for faster shutter speeds – definitely recommended for wildlife photography.
Get close up! As far as telephoto lenses are concerned, 300mm
and upwards are recommended for wildlife photography. A monopod will come in very handy for ultimate steadiness and a 70 to 200 or 300mm zoom lens is ideal.
Keep it safe! It is best if you manage to fit all your equipment into one camera bag. This way you always have everything at hand. Remember to bring a good bag for your equipment – it could be very dusty!
Keep it loaded! Make sure you bring enough batteries and film/cards. You can not count on electricity everywhere you go, and nothing is more annoying than being unable to make that one shot because you don't have enough film/memory space left!
Be sure to bring special and personal prescriptions and medications. Please let us know of medical conditions that may require special attention on safari (fill in the questionnaire which we will send with the Travel Arrangements email).
Malaria is not to be taken lightly. Please make sure that your doctor is aware that you have recently been to Africa should you become ill upon your return home. Your best defense is to wear long sleeves, long pants and socks to avoid being bitten - mosquito nets are provided in all lodges and camps. Keep your tent zipped up at night.
As far as vaccines are concerned, we can only give some recommendations. All travelers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4 to 8 weeks before departure.
Malaria: Prophylaxis with Lariam, Malarone, or doxycycline is
recommended. There is no vaccination.
Hepatitis A Recommended for all travelers
Typhoid Recommended for all travelers
Yellow fever Recommended for all travelers. Required for travelers arriving from a yellow-fever-infected area in Africa or the
Polio One-time booster recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult.
Hepatitis B For travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents, especially if visiting for more than 6 months.
Rabies for travelers who may have direct contact with animals and may not have access to medical care.
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given Tetanus-diphtheria. (Revaccination recommended every 10 years.)
Tsetse flies are found in Tarangire National park and some parts of the Serengeti. They look like normal flies but are a bit bigger. Just like mosquitos can carry Malaria, these flies can carry a parasite which can cause Sleeping Illness. Sleeping Illness appears with the same symptoms as Malaria so should you get ill during or after your safari always consider both as the treatment is different for each.
It is difficult to protect yourself from these flies as they sting even trough your clothes. Wearing stronger materials (no thin clothes) might help, but can be very hot in Tanzania. They are attracted by dark colours like dark blue and black so try to avoid wearing these colours during your safari. Tsetse flies are not sensitive to insect repellant. Don't worry too much about these flies as Sleeping Illness does not occur a lot; in the last half year in Tanzania there has been only one reported case.
We do not cover you for liability insurance. Although we take every possible care, we cannot be held responsible for any accident, injury or illness that you may incur, or loss or damage to your property during your safari. Check your travel/health insurance to see if additional coverage is needed.
We provide all of our guests with a temporary First Air Responder – Knight Support (T) Ltd insurance cover. This means air rescue in case of an emergency in a remote area. It also means road rescue should you have a car accident.
Health services and ambulance services in Tanzania are not readily available. We want to make sure that you are safe throughout your holiday - that's why we work with First Air Responder – Knight Support (T) Ltd.
This temporary emergency insurance cover costs 35US$ per person – we believe it is essential to all guests.
All visitors, except East African Nationals, require a visa to enter Tanzania. It costs US$50 per person – forms can be obtained at the airport/border upon arrival and this is where payment is to be made in cash.
We recommend buying the visa upon arrival in Tanzania instead of arranging it beforehand in your home country. The procedure is simple, it usually takes very little time, and the airport staff or border officials will assist you if you have any questions. If you are departing from Tanzania on an international flight you will be required to pay US$30 per person - Tanzania departure tax.
Make sure you bring enough cash, but don't bring too much. There are two Barclays bank branches where you can withdraw cash - one in Arusha, and another branch in Zanzibar (Stonetown). Currency here is the Tanzanian Shilling, however US dollars are widely accepted. There are very few credit card facilities available and you can only count on your credit card as a means of payment in the large hotels and lodges (to pay for your drinks for example).
You won't be able to use your card in small tented camps. Money can be changed at almost any bank in Arusha, bureau de change, hotel or lodge. The exchange of smaller bills ($5 to $20) is at a lower rate than $50s and $100s. Changing currency back will obviously result in a loss, so try to change only what you need. Often lodges and shops will accept dollars.
At some lodges and hotels you are required to pay for your beverage bill. Please make sure you settle your bill before you leave in order to avoid any complications.
First of all, it is not mandatory to give tips – only if you are happy with the service. We recommend about US$ 10–15 per guest per night to be shared among the staff of the high-end tented camps. You can also ask the camp manager for guidance. It is probably best to give the tip to the manager or head waiter of the lodge, hotel or camp you are staying at.
If you are happy with your driver-guide, a total of US$10-15 per day is appropriate. Simply give him the total at the end of the safari. For activities (canoeing, biking, night drive, walks etc) you can leave a tip of about $3 to $5 per person or more if you are happy with the activity guide.
Your possessions should be safe in the vehicle, but theft is a problem at hotels and lodges in towns. We advise you to keep your passport and money with you at all times. Don't bring expensive jewelry or other unnecessary valuables on safari with you. You should also refrain from walking alone at night in any town or village. Do not wonder around on your own outside of camps or lodges. Remember that there is a lot of wildlife around. Never approach any animals.
The rules in the national parks are very specific and our guides strictly obey them at all times. Do not encourage your driver to leave the road in order to get closer to animals. Remember that driving is only allowed during daylight hours (apart from special night game drives which need to be booked beforehand). Please don't make too much noise, observe the wildlife quietly and try not to disturb the animals unnecessarily. Do not leave any litter behind.
If nature calls, tell your guide in advance so he can find a spot for you that is safe and private. You should not leave the vehicle whilst inside a national park except with the instructions of the guide. If you are a smoker, please use extreme caution and do not leave cigarette butts on the ground.
If you have a GSM cellular phone with roaming, you may like to know that mobile phone coverage is available in many areas, as long as it is not too remote. Faxes and phone messages can be sent at many of the lodges, but be prepared – this service is costly. International calls from Tanzania are very expensive. Some lodges may charge up to $15.00 per minute.
There are many places where you can shop for souvenirs. You can always ask your guide to take you to a shop in Arusha if you have time. Use caution if buying gemstones from anyone other than a qualified dealer. Negotiating a price is normal. If possible, compare prices in a couple of shops before making a decision.
Encountering other locals
There may be times where you come across beggars and street children, especially in Arusha. It may seem harsh, but it is best not to give them money.
You will also find that many people are photo shy or have learned that they should be rewarded for photographs. Always ask permission before taking a photograph of someone and keep in mind that a small payment may be required.
If you go for a cultural village walk, feel completely free to take pictures – Planet Africa Adventures have an agreement with the village and you do not need to pay anyone. The situation may be different in a Maasai settlement - your guide will assist in this. As far as language is concerned: the universal language in Tanzania is Kiswahili, but English is also widely spoken. Your guide will translate for you if needs be.