Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best place to go on safari?
Safari in Kiswahili, the language of East Africa, simply means a journey. Today it is synonymous in English with a wildlife viewing adventure in the African Bush. If your primary reason for traveling to Africa is to experience an abundance of African wildlife in unspoiled wilderness, then Tanzania should be your destination of choice.
Tanzania protects over 25% of its land through national parks and reserves, more than any other country on the continent. You simply cannot beat the wildlife concentrations found in Tanzania. The parks and wildlife reserves of Tanzania are inhabited by vast herds of wildebeest spread out across the Serengeti savanna, huge populations of elephant and buffalo, as well as plains game and their predators.
All these animals interact and roam freely, the same as they have for thousands of years. Here you'll witness an incredible diversity of ecology and will find the vegetation and bird life as fascinating as the big game. This is the home to 90% of the film series produced on African animals. Tanzania also boasts a remarkable number of World Heritage Sites including, Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Selous Game Reserve (this reserve alone is the size of Denmark), Kilwa Kisiwani and the Songo Mnara Ruins.
When is the best time of year to go on safari in Tanzania?
Anytime other than during the long rains (April and May) is a wonderful time to be on safari. At African Walking Safaris we adjust our safari itineraries to take advantage of the best possible game viewing in accordance with the seasonal concentrations of wildlife.
Where is the best place to go for wildlife viewing in Africa?
You simply can't beat northern Tanzania for wildlife concentrations. Most people have heard of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and the wide array of wildlife dwelling on the crater floor. Most have heard of the vast Serengeti savanna, which hosts the annual Migration of Wildebeest and the predators that follow in its wake.
This is only the beginning of the natural phenomena awaiting your discovery on a safari to Tanzania. Guests of African Walking Safaris consistently tell us the wildlife they experienced far surpassed their most optimistic expectations.
What kinds of animals will I see on safari in Tanzania?
Tanzania is home to over 35 species of large four-legged mammals and has over 1000 species of birds listed. On a typical safari in northern Tanzania you can expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, baboon, monkeys and a variety of plains game such as wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, impala and gazelle.
Most people see lion and hyena, and possibly cheetah or leopard. In Ngorongoro Crater you may see one of the few remaining black rhino to be found in Tanzania. You'll undoubtedly see several different species of mongoose and some hyrax and other small mammals. If you're lucky you'll see one or more of the smaller cats, foxes, wild dog or the more reticent antelope like lesser kudu, bushbuck, oryx or eland.
What is the Migration?
Every year, over one million wildebeest move through the Serengeti plains in search of food and water. The phenomenon of these animals moving en mass through the African savanna is known as the Migration. Their movement is driven by the seasonal rains that water their grazing pastures. It is impossible to predict in advance exactly how or when this progression will take place, but there is a pattern. Generally from mid-December through May the herds are feeding in the southern Serengeti. During February thousands of calves appear on the plains. Between June and July, the wildebeest begin their annual migration north reaching the Mara River that marks the Kenyan border sometime between the end of July and beginning of August. After the first short rains, usually in the beginning of November, the herds move back into Tanzania's Serengeti and make their way to the southern pastures where they rest and feed through the rains until their search for better grazing leads them to begin their annual migration once again. Even when the "migration" moves into Kenya for the summer months, there are many resident herds in the Serengeti and there is always an incredible array of wildlife to experience there. Also, in the summer months, which are the height of the dry season, thousands of elephant congregate around the Tarangire River. This park is at it's prime during these months and we adjust our itineraries to take advantage of the prime wildlife viewing there. Each time of year offers the visitor to Tanzania a special opportunity for wildlife viewing.
Will I have a chance to interact with the local people of Tanzania?
The vast majority of Tanzanians are still living very close to their traditional lifestyles. Most of the people are subsistence farmers. The Maasai people, favored by photographers for their strikingly colorful decor, live a pastoral existence following their herds of cattle to better grazing areas, still adhering to the traditions and ceremonies of their ancestors. Their "villages" are located throughout northern Tanzania. Other small tribes of hunter-gatherers, living according to their ancient customs and traditions can also be found in this area.
At African Walking Safaris we consider the cultural component of any safari to be subtle yet essential. All of our guides are Tanzanian born. They are an excellent resource to help you gain greater insight into the local culture. We don't promote specially staged dances and tourist oriented presentations. Instead, on most of our trips, we begin with a visit to a traditional village where you are welcomed as friends of African Walking Safaris into their lives and invited to get to know them as they get to know you. As we drive between parks, we pass many villages and Masai Bomas giving you further glimpses into the lives of the Tanzanian people. We also offer a special trip in which our guests travel well off the beaten path to spend time among the Wahadza people and observe their ancient hunter-gatherer ways.
What if I want a custom safari?
We would be delighted to work with you to help you and your family, friends or organization plan the best possible safari to match your interests and budget. We organize custom safaris for professional photographers, honeymoon couples, families and many museums and educational institutions to name a few.
Can I take my children on safari?
YES! African Walking Safaris has a personal understanding and deep commitment to meeting the special needs of families. We have designed our unique family safari programs to allow you and your children to experience the wonders of Africa together.
You'll have a chance to deepen your understanding of cultural diversity, discover the many miracles of nature, and at the same time play, laugh, and enjoy the pleasure of one another's company. Our trips are well suited for children six years and older.
Will I stay in tents or lodges?Our safaris offer a wide array of safari styles to suit your interests and budget. Please feel free consult us for a for additional information regarding your safari.
How big are your safari groups?
Small. Our scheduled safaris vary in size depending on the nature of the safari. We keep our groups small (the very maximum is 15 people) to allow a more intimate connection with the African bush.
What's the weather like in Tanzania?
Located at an altitude of 5,000 to 7,600 feet, northern Tanzania's dry sunny climate is nothing like the steamy African jungle of Tarzan movies. The weather is spring-like year round, with daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, evenings in the 60s. From June until August, temperatures are slightly cooler, ranging from the 50s to the mid-70s. The coastal and lowland areas tend to be more tropical in temperature.
What clothes should I bring on safari?
Safari dress is comfortable and casual - layers are recommended. Keep it simple and bring things you don't mind getting dusty. After you have booked your safari, we send you a pre-departure information including a detailed packing list to help you prepare for your safari.
What's the food like on safari?
You will be pleasantly surprised by both the quality and the variety of the food available on safari. In most lodges, meals are served buffet-style so you can choose what you like. The food is prepared according to western tastes, with some curries and local cuisine included. If you choose a camping safari, fresh meat and produce is prepared by our expert chefs to the highest sanitary standards. Most returning guests rave about our camp food!
Can special dietary requirements be accommodated?
Special dietary requirements such as vegetarian or diabetic meals can easily be arranged with advanced notice. If you are vegetarian or vegan you may wish to bring along some alternative protein sources. If you have multiple food allergies, you'll definitely want to bring along supplemental snacks. It is important we know of any possible dietary restrictions as soon as possible.
Are safaris in Tanzania safe?
Today's modern safari is a far cry from the rugged safaris of the past. After a stimulating day of game viewing, you can relax at comfortable, attractive lodges, with amenities like swimming pools, full service restaurants and en-suite bathrooms. Located right in the scenic settings of the wildlife reserves, the lodges are close to nature but not too close for comfort. Tanzania is one of Africa's most stable countries, where you'll receive a warm welcome from its gracious people. Every care is taken to ensure your health and safety on safari.
Is it OK to drink the water?
We provide bottled water on game drives and in our Classic Camps, and you can purchase good quality bottled water at all the lodges and camps
Are there a lot of bugs in Tanzania?
There are more bugs in many places in the world than you will encounter on safari. Again, remember that most of the areas you'll be visiting are arid (especially from July - November). The bugs you will see are fascinating, but certainly not anything to be concerned about.
How far in advance should I book my safari?
It is better to book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability at the time you wish to travel, especially during the peak seasons (July & August and Christmas time). This is especially important for those wishing to travel on private custom safaris and those adding extensions to the scheduled trips.
What shots should I get?
For medical advice it is always best to consult your doctor or travel clinic. The minimum requirements for entry into Tanzania are a yellow fever vaccination and anti-malarial medication. Bear in mind that you will be staying in camps and lodges oriented to meet the needs of American and European guests.
What additional costs can I expect when I travel with African Walking Safaris?
All accommodation and meals while on safari, airport transfers, park fees and services of guides and drivers. It is customary to tip your guide and driver, as well as the Camp staff if you are camping during your safari (we suggest typical amounts in the pre-departure information we send you after you book on one of our safaris). You will also need to pay for your own beverages and personal items like laundry service and phone calls. Before you go, you are responsible for any passport and visa fees. We also highly recommend you purchase travel protection insurance. And finally, if you know yourself to be a big souvenir shopper you'll need to budget accordingly.