by Chris Walker Bush
mei 9, 2019

Everything You Wanted to Know About Going on Safari (but were afraid to ask)

Planning your first safari can be a daunting prospect. What parks should you visit? Where should you stay? What is the best time of year to visit?

There are so many big questions that you often forget the smaller ones until you're all packed and ready to set off for the airport.

With that in mind, the Shadows of Africa team has collected all of these 'small questions' and collected them in one place. Got a question that isn't covered below? Let us know in the comments!

Do you want to go on a safari in Africa? Here are all the African safari questions you were too afraid to ask when planning your safari trip! #africa #safari #travel

How do I go to the toilet on safari?

You would be surprised how many people ask us this!

Obviously, your hotels and camps will have full bathroom facilities, but what about when you're out on safari? Are there public bathrooms on the Serengeti?

Short answer: no. Public restroom facilities are few and far between within national parks.

If the call of nature hits while you're out on safari and you can't hold it until you get back to camp, you'll be paying a stop to the bush toilet.

Bush Toilet (noun): An area in a national park where the grass isn't too high, there is some privacy, and your guide can keep an eye out for wildlife while you do your business.

That's right! Your driver will find a safe spot and you'll step out of your safari vehicle to do your business. It's a strangely thrilling experience!

Camp Rest Rooms

Can I use a hairdryer?

As somebody whose fiancee has a strict hair-care regimen, I can totally appreciate it when this question comes up.

The first question is usually, "Will my hotels have hairdryers I can use?"

This one is tricky. Most luxury lodges will have these available, but even the most luxurious of tented camps is unlikely to provide a hairdryer. With electricity within national parks usually a combination of solar and generator, high power use items like hair dryers place a huge strain on the available power.

This means that, even if you bring your own hairdryer from home, you won't always be able to use it at your tented camps.

What about CPAP machines?

CPAP Machines are a common thing to bring on safari. Unlike hairdryers, they don't require a great deal of energy to run, so you'll always be able to plug yours in.

However, many tented camps only have electricity during certain hours, meaning you'll often find the power out between midnight and 06:00. This is obviously a problem, as this is prime CPAP Machine time!

If you require a CPAP machine to manage your sleep apnea (or keep your better half sane), let your Shadows of Africa safari expert know so that we can select camps and lodges with 24/7 power.

Can I photograph locals?

Snapping photos of the locals is a big part of enjoying and remembering a new culture, but the people of East Africa are every bit as conscious of being photographed without permission as you would be back home.

How would you feel if a stranger got in your face and took a photo without asking?

It is always a good idea to ask - either through your guide or with miming - whether it is okay to photograph somebody.

When asking to photograph the Maasai, please be aware that they will often expect some payment for this. Be prepared to pay a few USD after snapping your photos.

Am I able to wear a short skirt/bikini/tank top etc?

Tanzania is a conservative country with a growing Muslim culture, so a modest dress code is encouraged.

This is especially true for women, unfortunately, with many locals finding it immodest to display cleavage, legs, or shoulders. Consider leaving your tank tops and mini-skirts at home for this trip, or bringing along a scarf to cover your shoulders and cleavage.

For men, things are considerably easier, with nobody really minding if you wear shorts. It's an annoying double-standard, we know, but we don't make the rules!

If you're hanging out by the hotel pool or relaxing on the beaches of Zanzibar, however, bikinis and the like are totally fine. It's just a good idea to dress more modestly when in towns and villages.

What should I wear on safari?

You don't need to wear camo-gear and a pith helmet to go on safari, but there are some guidelines to ensure you're comfortable and safe.

  • Wear natural colors such as greens and browns. Bright colors are distracting to animals, which will make it harder for you to draw close to them.
  • Bring long pants and/or a jacket for mornings and evenings. It can get cold!
  • Avoid blue and black clothing. Tsetse flies are attracted to these colors, and they can bite you through even a pair of jeans!
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You aren't going hiking, so sneakers are absolutely fine!
  • Be sun smart. A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are a must if you want to avoid a nasty sunburn.

Can I Wear Camouflage?

Not only is dressing in camouflage unnecessary, but it's also illegal in several countries including Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Do I need to invite my guide to dinner?

When your day's game driving is done and you're settled into your camp or lodge, a few drinks and a delicious meal are probably high on your list of things to do.

You'll doubtless have developed a bond with your guide during your travels, so you may wish to ask to invite them to join you for dinner. This is absolutely fine and your guide will be only too happy to join you

However, please bear in mind that your guide probably won't be able to afford the prices at your lodge. If you invite them to join you, please be prepared to pay for their meal.

If you'd like some privacy, this is absolutely fine as well. Guides are provided with a local meal at each lodge, and while it won't be quite as decadent as your own, it is filling and nutritious.

wildlife-lodge-ngorongoro

How do I tip my guide? All at once or each day?

As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to budget around $20 USD per day for your guide. This is per group - not per person!

But do you hand them $20 at the end of each day? Or pay it all in one lump sum at the end of your trip?

Generally, it is easiest to tip your driver at the conclusion of your time with them. There is no need to reach into your wallet each and every day.

Do I have to tip?

The short answer: no. Tipping is a gratuity and a matter of personal choice.

The long answer: Yes. While Shadows of Africa pays above industry standard, our guides still rely on tips as part of their income.

Will you be able to fit all of my baggage?

We get this question a lot!

Obviously, you should pack conservatively when you're going on safari, but our 4WD Land Cruisers have plenty of room for your luggage.

Each vehicle is capable of carrying six people, a guide, and all of their luggage. Unless you're bringing multiple suitcases per person or large items like guitars, you'll be fine.

If you do have more luggage than you'll need on safari, you're more than welcome to leave additional luggage in our secure offices in Kigali, Arusha, or Nairobi. They'll be kept safe until you're back from your safari adventure.

What should I pack?

Oh man! Where do we begin!

How about we just link you to our Ultimate Safari Packing List post and let that do the talking?

what to pack tanzania

Do I need to buy binoculars?

Every one of our vehicles comes standard with a single pair of binoculars. These will occasionally be needed by your driver to scout out the road ahead, but you're more than welcome to use them.

If you require additional pairs of binoculars, these can be rented to you at a cost of $15 USD per pair.

Truth be told, you'll rarely need them. Between camera zoom lenses and how close you'll come to most wildlife, it's really only for bird-watching and rhino-spotting that they'll be necessary. You don't need to splash out on a fancy pair.

Can I charge my phone/camera?

Of course!

Every one of Shadows of Africa's vehicles comes standard with an in-car charging setup that can handle charging your phones, cameras, and laptops.

You'll also have the ability to charge devices in your room (at lodges) or in the reception area (at tented camps).

Can I buy a local SIM card?

Shadows of Africa can no longer arrange local SIM cards ahead of your arrival, but we can arrange with your safari driver to stop by a local store in Arusha, Nairobi, or Kigali to set up a SIM card.

You'll need your passport and a bit of patience to arrange this, but local SIM cards and data plans are cheap.

However, unless you absolutely need to be accessible 24/7, you probably won't need a local SIM. All of our vehicles in Tanzania come standard with WiFI, and all of your camps and lodges will have WiFi.

Cell Service in East Africa

It's important to remember that East Africa's internet service is provided mostly by 3G and 4G, which means the speed and reliability of your connection are ruled by your location.

Whether in your tented camp or out on the plains using our onboard WiFi, you're at the mercy of cell service. We cannot guarantee you'll have adequate speeds or connection at all times, so it's a good idea to put an Out of Office reminder on your email before you leave home!

What if I get my period while I'm on safari?

If you're expecting to have your period during your time on safari, we strongly recommend you bring your own sanitary products from home.

While some of our first aid kits have sanitary pads in them, these are not always replaced immediately, so it is better to bring your own products from home.

Tampons and pads can be purchased in most major cities, so if you've left yours at home, let your guide know and we can arrange to stop at a local market and purchase some.

Are our meals included?

A good meal is a key part of the safari experience. Whether it's a hearty breakfast before hitting the road, a flavourful picnic lunch, or a decadent dinner at day's end, you're completely covered! All of Shadows of Africa's safari packages are inclusive of all meals.

The exceptions to this are:

  • Your first day does not usually include breakfast;
  • Your last day will not usually include dinner;
  • Zanzibar hotels offer B&B, half-board, and full-board packages.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for you to forego a hotel's meal package and bring your own food. Most safari lodges offer only full-board packages.

What will we eat on safari?

You aren't going to go hungry on safari!

Tanzania's tourism industry is used to catering to western tastes, so you can expect to sample cuisines from all over the world while you are on safari. Indian and British cuisine are especially well-represented, but Italian, French, Spanish, and Chinese cuisine are also commonplace.

If you're keen to sample local Tanzanian flavors, this is possible as well. Many lodges arrange themed dinners or fusions of Tanzanian and foreign cuisine.

Your accommodation will usually provide a buffet or ala carte breakfast, a packed picnic lunch, and a buffet or ala carte dinner.

Can I do a sunrise game drive? Do I have to stay out all day?

You have complete control of your Shadows of Africa safari vehicle between 06:00 and 18:00. These are park operating hours, and vehicles are not allowed on the roads within parks after these times.

If you want to get up at the crack of dawn for a sunrise game drive, you need only let your driver know and he'll arrange it.

Want to spend the entire twelve hours out on safari? Your driver can arrange a picnic lunch. If you would prefer to return to your lodge for lunch and some time by the pool, this is absolutely fine as well.

You dictate the pace!

Do tented camps have toilets and showers?

Of course!

With the exception of true camping, you'll always have access to a private bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower.

While staying in a tented camp, hot water is usually boiled to order, so you'll need to let your hotel know when it's time for a shower.

All the questions you were too afraid to ask when planning your African safari trip! Here's everything you need to know about planning your safari adventure in Africa! #africa #safari #adventure #travel

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