Use a good mosquito spray
Make sure the mosquito spray you have with you is high in DEET. It is important to cover up and to apply the spray regularly in the evenings every 1-2 hours for full protection, even if it says ‘lasts up to 4 hours’ on the bottle. Wrist and ankle bands soaked in DEET may provide additional protection if you are susceptible to bites.
Drink plenty of water
If you are not used to a hot environment it is easy to become dehydrated so always carry a bottle of water with you.
Carry a small first aid pack
Plasters, bandages and antiseptic spray and wipes are great for any bumps and bruises you may pick up along the way.
Get the right vaccinations
Make sure you consult your doctor or travel clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel to check which vaccinations you might need.
Malaria is the most common serious ailment affecting both residents and visitors to many parts of Africa. Seek professional medical advice as to if you need them and which tablets are most suitable for you. The tablets will probably offer good protection but you must also remember to use a good mosquito spray to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Your rooms or tents may have mosquito nets or gauze net protection on the windows, so it is not generally not necessary to bring a separate mosquito net unless you plan to sleep outside ‘under the stars’ (in which case you are recommended to bring one).
Most governments offer travel advisory services on current safety issues and warnings.
U.K. citizens see www.fco.gov.uk
Australia citizens see www.smartraveller.gov.au
N.Z. citizens see www.safetravel.govt.nz
U.S. citizens see www.travel.state.govInsurance
It is vital that you are insured for your travels so as to cover you should you become ill, injured or lose belongings while you are away.
It is vital you bring your insurance certificate and policy booklet on tour .Please ensure you have cover for the full period of travel and that this is shown on the certificate.
EBOLA IN AFRICA
Africa is a huge continent, containing 47 different countries (not counting the surrounding island nations). It is over 7000km from north to south. “We’re going to Africa” is therefore a very vague description of destination. It’s like saying we’re going to Asia. A good first step is to pull out a map of Africa and look at where the current outbreak of Ebola is found:
The countries affected at the moment are all in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has had one case that was identified on an inbound flight. Subsequently, all flights from affected areas have been cancelled and all countries in the region (including South Africa) are on high alert and have stepped up measures to screen travelers and identify possible victims.
We are certainly not downplaying the crisis and this is without doubt the worst Ebola outbreak in history, with over 700 deaths so far since February. But cancelling a trip to South Africa makes just as much sense as cancelling a trip to Spain because of Ebola. In fact, Spain is closer to the epicenter of the outbreak than South Africa is. All the popular safari destinations in Southern and East Africa remain unaffected by the Ebola outbreak. There is absolutely no reason to cancel your safari trip now. The biggest risk as a traveller right now is that you might have an elevated temperature due to the common flu or cold, and are then quarantined at the airport as a precaution.
HOW IS EBOLA SPREAD?
This is an important question to help asses the risk. Thankfully and significantly, Ebola is not an airborne virus. It is spread through direct person-to-person contact, and contact with body fluids of infected persons – blood, saliva and other secretions. This means that the risk for ordinary travelers remains low, even in high risk areas, as long as you take basic precautions and avoid intimate contact with others.
South Africa is not only an interesting mix of cultures, but also of third world and first world conditions. While many people unfortunately still live in third world conditions, the infrastructure in South Africa is very much first world, and the public health system is good. The department of health is very conservative when it comes to public health policy and disease prevention. For example, South Africa was the first country to require yellow fever vaccines for travellers arriving from Zambia, after a part of western Zambia was reclassified from “vaccine not recommended” to “vaccine generally not recommended” a few years ago. A minor change by the WHO, but the health department responded swiftly and firmly with new regulations (considered unnecessary by many). South Africa also has world class airports with excellent screening, medical and quarantine facilities.
There is no Ebola in South Africa or any of its neighboring countries. Unfortunately, when panic sets in the facts are not always considered in the decision making.
A few things worth considering next time you and your camera find the time to get out in nature.
BE READY Prepare your camera settings for the conditions in advance of any action. You never know what will happen next so give yourself the best chance of capturing the shot!
BE PATIENT If you’ve been waiting for long periods without much action hold out for longer. I’ve seen people waiting in hides for 10 minutes and then moving on feeling that it wasn’t worth the wait. Get comfortable and take hours – it will be worth it!
BE FAMILIAR WITH YOUR DESTINATION Do your research and set your goals. If you know what you want, even if it’s very general, it will help you when deciding on good locations for your photography. Also, remember to chat with people who are familiar with an area, they will surely be able to offer good advice.
DON’T CHASE THE GAME In reserves where driving is the norm, try to find a hide or a good location to park and wait for the action to come to you. When theanimals are comfortable with your presence or don’t know you’re there, you will get great natural behaviour shots.
BE OPEN MINDED If you appreciate and develop an understanding of nature in general you will start to spot opportunities in unlikely places, fuelling your potential and giving great practice and experience.
GET CREATIVE Try new things. You might find that you get a lot of lousy shots, but an occasional gem will make it worthwhile. It’s how we progress and come up with unique styles and maybe even those winning shots!
TRAVEL WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE It is really important, if you plan to spend extended periods waiting, that everyone you are with has similar intentions. People may lose patience quickly and someone will have to compromise – most likely you.
BE CRITICAL You will always be your own harshest critic – it’s a good thing! Review your images think about what you did and how you might improve them if you could have the opportunity again. I look back at many early images that were great at the time and I can see the improvement now; and will no doubt look back at my current images and think the same again.
QUALITY Shoot the highest quality you are able and RAW if your camera allows. RAW will take the most memory space per shot, but also gives high quality and flexibility in post processing. If it means buying extra memory cards then do it. It is so disappointing to take a great image and then find your quality setting was too low for commercial purposes.
ENJOY YOURSELF You won’t get every shot. So relax, just enjoy the experience and watching the animals doing their thing. Put in the time and great opportunities will keep on coming.
What to Pack
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS & MONEY
– Travel Voucher Pre tour Accommodation Vouchers
– Insurance details
– Emergency Contact details
– Spending Money
– Credit card
Day pack or small bag
Camera, charger, memory sticks
Most people make the mistake of bringing too much! Clothes should be easy to launder and reasonably hard wearing. Avoid nylon and other synthetics which can be uncomfortable in the hot weather. Africa, however, can also be much colder than you may think, especially at night. Bring warm clothes and a jacket. Morning game drives in open vehicles can be pretty chilly until the sun rises. This applies particularly if travelling in southern Africa in the southern winter months (Jun – Aug)
SUGGESTED CLOTHING LIST:
Hat, cap, beanie
Sunglasses and case
Quick dry t-shirts and sweatshirts
Warm & waterproof lightweight jacket
Sarong – doubles as skirt, beach towel,
Trainers/ pumps or sturdy boot with ankle support for hiking
Flip flops/ thongs/ or sandals
Western brands may be available.
Toothbrush and paste
Moisturiser or after sun
The name Tanzania conjures up images of wildebeest stampeding across vast savannah, rain forests teeming with monkeys and birdlife, and great plains brimming with legions of game. All of these natural wonders and more are on offer in this exceptionally diverse African nation. Visitors typically visit Tanzania to partake in at least one of the four well known Tanzanian tourist experiences: a relaxing seaside vacation on the picturesque island paradise of Zanzibar, an underwater tour of some of the world’s most renowned dive sites around the gorgeous Spice Islands, a safari adventure in some of Africa’s most impressive game reserves, or a hiking excursion around Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Whichever of these incredible holidays you choose, you will undoubtedly be welcomed by some fabulously friendly and peaceful inhabitants who, despite being divided into 120 different ethnic groups and cultures, live in harmony with one another and provide some of the most wonderfully exotic local cuisine you could imagine. With all of this diversity on offer, the most difficult part of your Tanzanian holiday experience is likely to be deciding where to go!
Banking and Currency
In Tanzania, the unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, which is divided into 100 Cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000 Shillings. Coins are issued in denominations of 50, 100 and 200 Shillings.
Banks are open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. Many banks are equipped with 24 hour ATM machines.
Credit cards and travellers checks are not widely accepted in Tanzania. Where they are accepted can high service fees and poor exchange rates be expected. Major foreign currencies - particularly US $ - are accepted in Tanzania and are convertible at banks and bureau de changes in the main towns and tourist areas. If bringing cash in US $, please make sure bank notes are in good condition, with no cuts or damage and are not older than 2006. Most banks offer higher exchange rates for US $ 100 / US $ 50 bank notes compared to US $ 20 / US $ 10 or US $ 5 bank notes.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
If you are visiting a number of parks and reserves in Tanzania, you can either drive or fly between them. Roads in most of the wilderness areas are in poor condition and unmarked, and self-driving is not recommended. Operators will supply you with a driver who doubles as an informal guide; alternatively, you can arrange to fly to your destination and utilize a car and driver supplied by the lodgings. Elsewhere in Tanzania, towns and cities are linked by a steady stream of buses and dala-dalas (minibuses), and in the cities, there is public transport in the way of buses, dala-dalas, taxis, and, in some places, bicycles or tuk-tuks.
Precision Air run regular services, mostly via Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar, to all main towns and other destinations in East Africa and beyond. All national parks and some of the top-end luxury lodges have airstrips and Coastal Air operates between these and the main airports on the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia. ZanAir has frequent connections between Zanzibar, Pemba and the mainland.
Driving is on the left hand side of the road
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Most camps, lodges or hotels cater specifically to tourists and serve Western-style food, ranging in standard, but generally are excellent. Game lodges tend to offer a daily set menu with a limited selection, so it is advisable to have your tour operator specify in advance if you are a vegetarian or have other specific dietary requirements. First-time visitors to Africa might take note that most game lodges in and around the national parks have isolated locations, and driving within the parks is neither permitted nor advisable after dark, so that there is no realistic alternative to eating at your lodge.
Tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, and most travellers try to stick to mineral water. Filtered and bottled water can be difficult to find you are travelling outside of main town and so it is advisable to stock up. Most camps, lodges and hotels have bottled water readily available.
Please note that, as of 2016, Tanzania has banned the use of plastic bags in a bid to tackle pollution and protect the environment. Travellers' to Tanzania will no longer be allowed to bring plastic carrier bags into the country. This ban targets all plastic bags that are imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used.
Climate and Weather
Just south of the equator, Tanzania is huge and its sheer size means that the climate varies considerably within it. However, generally the main rainy season, or the 'long rains', lasts during about March, April and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm – which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30°s.
The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it's a great time to visit Tanzania. During November and December there's another rainy season: the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable.
If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months, January and February, which is Tanzania's 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
It never gets really cold in Tanzania so lightweight clothing, preferably cotton or linen, is recommended. While on a game viewing safari, avoid brightly coloured clothing, stick to whites, beiges, khakis and browns. There may be long days sitting in safari vehicles, so it is advisable to wear light comfortable clothing such as short sleeved shirts and cotton/linen trousers or shorts. Denim will become too hot and extremely uncomfortable. Walking shoes and socks will be required.
The evenings will be chilly, so long sleeved shirts and trousers should be worn. A sweater may be needed. These will also prevent you being bitten by insects. A hat should be worn at all times outside. The sun may sometimes not feel hot, but it can still easily burn, especially if it is cloudy and overcast.
If visiting Zanzibar or any coastal town don't forget to take a swimsuit, as it is invariably warm. Ladies are recommended to take cotton skirts, blouses and dresses. Sandals are a must for this environment! On the beaches and within the confines of hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable but nudity is not.
As over a third of the population in Tanzania is Muslim, it is therefore not etiquette for ladies to walk around in public displaying their legs and shoulders. Remember to dress modestly as short shorts, miniskirts, vests and tank tops will be frowned upon.
Tanzania has good Internet Service Providers with email and internet services offered by many hotels and lodges (free / paid). In most towns there are plenty of private business centres and cyber cafes offering email and internet access, although the speeds might be somewhat slower than what you are used to.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electrical sockets in Tanzania are one of three: Type G (BS-1363) and Type C (CEE 7/16 Europlug) and Type D (BS-546) electrical socket types: If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.
Electrical sockets in Tanzania usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.