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East Africa affordable Safaris

East Africa affordable Safaris

Serengeti National Park East Africa affordable Safaris

Top 10 affordable safaris in East Africa

Affordable is a relative term when it comes to African safaris but here are 10 – across Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya – that offer great game-viewing without the super-high price tag.

These safari options do not include flights to the region, but rather suggest a range of trips that are possible once you get to east Africa. Most start from the Kenyan capital Nairobi but also from Kampala in Uganda, Kigali in Rwanda and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Operators in the region generally quote prices in US dollars, although some will accept other currencies. Many do not list details and prices of all possible itineraries on their websites but the options below have been carefully selected to maximise experience and minimise cost. Prices quoted are generally the lowest that the operator offers for that particular trip but they – and the itineraries – have been confirmed with each operator directly.

Three days super budget safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya

With park fees, transport and accommodation, Maasai Mara safaris can quickly add up to US $350 a day. Many of the budget options are very rough and ready, but this safari sacrifices some comfort – getting there means up to five hours on the road from Nairobi in a safari-style van as opposed to a 40-minute flight.

But you still get nearly two full days in the reserve and the chance to observe wildlife including lions, elephants, cheetah, wildebeest, antelope and many other species. During the great migration (expected between July and October this year) wildebeest herds cross from the Serengeti into the Mara and make several high-risk river crossings.

The simple camp with platform tents is near one of the gates to the Mara, the food – such as sausage and beans – is no-nonsense but included in the price and plentiful, and Kenya’s famous Tusker beer can be purchased separately. Add on a night’s stay at a guesthouse in Nakuru town and a game drive in the beautiful Lake Nakuru national park, famous for its flamingos but where many other animals can be seen, for an extra $130.

Track gorillas in Uganda

Normally it’s painfully expensive to go on a gorilla safari due to the high cost of permits (usually $1,500) but during the low season (April-May and November), the Ugandan Wildlife Authority discounts the price and a local tour company has capitalised on this to offer a three-day gorilla tracking safari with a permit for a third of the usual price.

Guests stay at a lodge – owned and recently renovated by Matoke Tours – overlooking the spectacular Lake Mutanda and the volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains, where they enjoy good quality food and en suite accommodation. With the safari including two travel days, travellers will track through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest until the mountain gorillas are located, after which the group will spend one hour with the gorillas.

Ten day camping adventure in Kenya’s dramatic north

Get off the beaten track with this 10-day camping safari that takes in a wide range of Kenya’s impressive wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, including Africa’s second highest mountain (Mount Kenya) and the world’s largest desert lake (Turkana).

After travelling overland to the Ol Pejeta conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya, the safari stops at the semi-arid Samburu national reserve, which plays host to all three big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah –as well as elephants, buffalo and hippos. Crossing volcanic terrain and the baked earth of the Chalbi desert, travellers spend two nights at Lake Turkana – a world heritage site that featured memorably in the film The Constant Gardener.

Heading south once more, an afternoon camel safari in the foothills of Mount Nyiro is followed by a stop at Lake Baringo, renowned for its birdlife, as well as hippos and crocodiles. Accommodation is basic, in dome tents, and much of the driving is off-tarmac: which means it’s not for the faint-hearted, but this safari takes in some of Kenya’s most unforgettable regions.

Explore the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania

A safari in the Serengeti is a bucket-list aspiration for many, which means that most tour packages to this game park push the definition of “affordable”. Nevertheless, the expansive savannahs and woodlands here are home to incredible wildlife spectacles, especially during the famous wildebeest migration, when up to two million animals are on the move (it is expected to take place from July onwards this year).

All of the “big five” are here, acting out their impulses with National Geographic-style theatricality, as safari van passengers stare agog. This four-day camping safari includes multiple game drives and a visit to Ngorongoro crater, the three-million-year-old extinct volcano that herds of tourists descend into to see herds of wildlife on the crater floor.

Track chimpanzees in Rwanda

The mountain gorillas in the Virungas range get all the attention but Rwanda is home to numerous rare primates, most of which can be found in the staggeringly beautiful Nyungwe Forest national park in the south-west of the country.

The forest is best known for its large troops of chimpanzees but is also prime swinging grounds for L’Hoest’s monkeys, Angola colobus, vervet monkeys, and a range of others, along with around 300 bird species. Best of all, the cost for this whole package, which includes a day of tracking chimpanzees through the mountains, a nature walk, and two nights in a comfortable forest lodge with full board, still costs less than a single ($750) gorilla tracking permit up north.

A city safari and luxurious tented camp, Nairobi, Kenya

Many travellers pass through east Africa’s bustling regional hub en route to other destinations but Nairobi national park – just a short drive from the airport – offers wildlife enthusiasts short on time a fast-track safari experience.

Thanks to the Nairobi Tented Camp, which opened in 2011, visitors can now sleep in the park – and tucked into a tree-lined valley, it’s hard to imagine that the capital’s traffic jams lie only a few miles away. The camp replicates a luxury camp deep in the bush, with spacious en suite accommodation in safari tents and evening campfires.

The park’s small area means that wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed: visitors might see zebras, giraffes, lions and leopard on a game drive. It is also an acclaimed rhino sanctuary, home to both black and white rhino. While full-board accommodation is not the cheapest on our list, a two-night excursion into the park can be affordable way to see impressive wildlife if you only can spare time for a short stay in the region or want a brief taste of luxury.

Track wolves in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains

The rusty-hued Ethiopian wolf is the world’s rarest canid, and more than half of the remaining population of this critically endangered carnivore lives in the rugged, otherworldly landscape of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains, a prime trekking destination in the south-east of the country.

Visitors hike through the stark Afro-alpine moorland of the Sanetti plateau, home to mountain nyala and spotted hyenas as well as wolves, and explore the Harenna cloud forest, where lions and leopards are occasionally seen. As you’ll be getting out of the Landcruiser to track on foot on this three-day tour, it’s best to avoid the rainy season and go between November and February or from May to July.

The drive from Addis Ababa stops at the bird and hippo watching spot, Lake Ziway, before proceeding for lunch in Shashemene, a vibrant market town that is the Rasta capital of Ethiopia.

Murchison Falls wildlife, Rhino tracking and Nile boat cruises, Uganda

Operating out of the Red Chilli Hideaway – a popular backpacker stop-off in Kampala – this safari heads to Murchison Falls national park, the country’s largest.

After a picnic overlooking the falls and a night in basic camp on the banks of the Upper Nile, the safari then takes in a morning game drive in the park’s Nile delta at Lake Albert – where you might see lion, leopard, giraffe and elephant – followed by a boat trip on the river.

The camp is simple and facilities are communal but it is one of the few budget alternatives to Murchison’s luxury getaways. After a second night at the camp, the safari moves on to the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, where guests learn to track rhinos with one of the rangers. Meals are excluded on this trip but can be purchased at the camp, which also has a fully stocked bar.

From the forests to the shore in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Doors in the island capital of Stone Town still boast brass studs for repelling war elephants – by merchants who sought to protect themselves from “combat” elephants that were historically deployed in India and Persia – but large mammals no longer dwell on the Spice Islands.

What the archipelago does have, however, is astonishing marine life, with dolphins and technicolour sea creatures galore. There’s also a healthy population of endangered red colobus monkeys and giant Aldabra tortoises. This highly affordable four-day tour package zips between land and sea, with snorkelling trips to the magnificent coral reefs of uninhabited Chumbe Island and walks through two forest reserves, one primate-laden and the other home to rare antelopes. There’s also a trip to Prison Island, where land tortoises creep along the beach, and a stop to watch bottlenose and humpback dolphins frolicking in the waves.

Elephant herds with Mount Kilimanjaro views, Kenya

If the idea of a roving herd of nearly 100 elephants appeals to you, then Amboseli national park in southern Kenya is the game park for you. The photo-ready peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, just across the border in Tanzania, looms over this small and manageable Rift valley park, where the roads are reasonable and the herbivore viewing is dramatic.

In addition to the impressive – and highly visible – packs of elephants, Cape buffalo, hippos, and giraffes can also be seen in abundance, although the big cats are less common. This three-day package includes van transport from Nairobi (it’s about a four-hour drive each way), and full-board accommodation in a nice tented camp with a pool, just outside the Kimana Gate, where many animals congregate during the dry season.

Mafia Island No relations to THE MAFIA

Mafia Island No relations to THE MAFIA

Mafia Island No relations to THE MAFIA Mafia Island No relations to THE MAFIA

Mafia Island No relations to THE MAFIA

While Tanzania’s famous Northern circuit national parks, Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Selous Game Reserve and of course Zanzibar, comprising of the islands of Unguja and Pemba, are well known abroad and need little explanation, has the more distant Mafia Island and its smaller neighbors always been a specialty destination for tourists.

Yet, those who ever made their way, by air or by boat, to Mafia Island, have tall tales to tell. Excellent diving grounds along the reefs surrounding the island, rewarding snorkeling trips, endless empty beaches with no beach boy pests bothering the visitors, good fishing and an intact nature rarely found today make up some of the attractions tourists enjoy and come back for.

Ruins of ancient settlements, dating back to the 11th century give an insight into the history of Mafia, which, while at one time part of the Kilwa Sultanate changed hands multiple times among major seafaring powers which ruled the world at one time or another.

Located about a hundred miles south of Dar es Salaam and only a few miles off the mainland almost opposite the Rufiji River delta, is the small archipelago of Mafia one of Tanzania’s best kept secrets. Some 50 kilometres long and at the widest point just 15 kilometres across is the island almost entirely surrounded by a massive barrier reef teeming with marine life and half of the island’s shoreline extends into a marine national park.

While an airstrip allows for daily flights to the mainland and telecommunications allow to stay in touch with the rest of the world is a trip to Mafia also a trip back into time and as such a marvel waiting to be explored.

Auric Air, one of Tanzania’s leading domestic airlines with over 30 scheduled and charter destinations, has now in conjunction with the Ras Mbisi Lodge put a package together to visit Mafia. At just 299 US Dollars, flight from and to Dar es Salaam included, is this offer one of the best values for a two night / three day trip to the island.

Full board with mineral water at meals, afternoon tea served at the pool, coffee making facilities in the room, transfers to and from the airstrip and the free use of kajaks, besides guided nature walks, are all part of the deal which no doubt will be snapped up by local expatriates over the upcoming Idd celebrations which mark the end of Ramadan next weekend.

International tourists keen to discover the small archipelago should request us to put together a package for them to include Mafia in their holiday itinerary.

Travel Etiquette Behaviors

Travel Etiquette Behaviors

Travel etiquette behaviors, gestures and customs can differ drastically from country to country. Brush up on our travel etiquette before setting off on your Holiday!

Thumbs up

It’s surprising how such a small thing can be mean so many different things. In the UK, ‘thumbs up’ may be a positive sign, but in Sardinia and Greece it means ‘screw you’. In some Middle Eastern countries, it translates as a foul insult, literally ‘up yours’, if you get
what we mean…

In Indonesia on the other hand, the thumb is often used for pointing – using fingers is often considered to be rude.

A-Okay

Similarly confusing is the good old ‘a-okay’ gesture, where your thumb connects with your index finger to form an ‘O’ shape. In parts of Australia this simply means ‘okay’, but in Brazil and Germany it is used as an insult. In Japan the same motion represents coins, in Russia it means zero, and in France it is an expression of worthlessness.

Headshake

Contrary to the UK, Bulgarians, and Iranians shake their heads for ‘yes’ and nod for ‘no’. In Greece, Lebanon and Turkey, a slight downward nod of the head means ‘yes’ whereas tilting it up means ‘no’. In India, a head waggle can mean a range of things, such as ‘I am considering what you said’.

Putting your feet up

It is best not to point the soles of your feet in anyone’s direction in Muslim countries, and in Thailand, pointing your feet towards a Buddha is a sign of disrespect. On a similar note, avoid stepping over anybody’s legs whilst in Nepal.

Personal space

In the UK, we tend to value our privacy and personal space. In contrast, other cultures are much less inhibited. In the Mediterranean, Latin America and some parts of the Middle East, people will be much more liable to stand closer and make more expressive physical contact.

Tick tock

Turning up a few minutes late for social arrangements is usually considered okay in the UK, but we aren’t as laid back as Argentina, where arriving anywhere between one and three hours late is fine. Bad time keeping is less tolerated in Germany.

Hand in hand

Men holding hands or walking arm in arm in Muslim countries, India and Africa is perfectly acceptable as a friendly gesture, whereas in Europe it suggests a more intimate relationship.

Lefty or righty

In India and parts of Africa, the left hand is considered to be unclean, so stick to eating, greeting people and gesturing with your right hand if possible.

Short shorts

In India, only boys under 11 or 12 years old wear shorts, so sometimes the locals will find it hilarious to see older men in shorts.

Best Adventure Safari Parks of Africa

Best Adventure Safari Parks of Africa

slide758 Best Adventure Safari Parks of Africa

Top 50 Best Adventure Safari Parks of Africa

Best Adventure Safari Parks of Africa analysis of 3,008 reviews to put to rest the question of which park was best for African safaris. With an overall rating of 4.89 out of 5, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania came out as the clear winner.

Rounding up the top 3 were MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa, and Okavango Delta in Botswana.

In total, 138 parks of the 8 major safari countries were in consideration for a place in the top 50. The analysis was based on 3,008 park reviews collected through the SafariBookings website. Of them, 2,234 reviews were contributed by safari tourists from 63 countries around the world.

The remaining 774 reviews were written by renowned industry experts, most of whom are guidebook authors working for Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Frommer’s, Bradt and Footprint. Read More…   https://www.safaribookings.com/blog/258

Kenya launches new Visa rules

Kenya launches new visa rules

          Kenya entry stamp Kenya launches new Visa rules                     Kenya exit stamp Kenya launches new Visa rules

 

VISA IN ADVANCE? NOW KENYA TOO START ON LINE VISA APPLICATION!

Come midnight tonight, 02nd of July 2015, do major changes in Kenya’s Visa policy come into place. Unlike in the past when many nationalities were able to get their Visa on arrival in Nairobi or Mombasa, will intending visitors now have to apply for an e-Visa in advance, with processing days taking as much as a week.

Visit the electronic visa page at www.ecitizen.go.ke

Upon vehement intervention from tourism stakeholders has a grace period been extended but only for two months, during which tourists and business travelers arriving at one of the two international airports can still get their Visa on arrival but effective 01st of September will this dual modus operandum be scrapped and only the e-Visa process be available.

The new method was only announced a short while ago and has caught many travelers and in particular tour operators and travel agencies abroad unaware. Many destinations brochures will now need re-printing as in most are European visitors told they can get their Visa on arrival at a cost of US Dollars 50, payable in cash. No more under the new rules when the payment must be made by credit or debit card.

Tourism stakeholders have sharply condemned the move, saying the week long processing period is excessive and prevents tourists taking a last minute decision to come to Kenya.

Last minute bookings, often at a significant rebate, are popular in Europe with passengers at times just turning up at the airport and in a game of potluck choosing from posters hang up by airlines or touroperators where to fly to, paying there and then and checking in for their flight.

Either did Kenyan officials not think of this segment of travelers, or perhaps rather not know about it and with the new rules basically sending out the message that last minute travelers are no longer welcome in Kenya will inevitably business be lost to more user friendly destinations for last minute bookers.

One source from Nairobi close to this ‘action’ admitted that this was aimed to keep undesirables out of Kenya, in particular to stem the potential rise in arrivals of radicals from the UK, who may wish to join terrorist organisations similar to what many have done with ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

‘You must understand that the threat level from that side has gone up and up. We need those days to vet applicants and compare data base information with some of our western partners. This way we hope to catch those with links to radical groups and can deny them entry. Right now they just come, pay their Visa fee and melt away. One British was killed a few weeks ago when together with Al Shabab operatives trying to attack our barracks in Lamu. Therefore, we had to act and close that open door which existed and which we believe was used by radicals to infiltrate us. Now that you say it will keep a lot of real tourists out of Kenya, this will have to be investigated. We have to see if the process can be made faster. Anyway, people who have been here as tourists before and now arrive under new rules will be captured in our data base and when they come back in the future, their application could be as fast as a day’.

Considering that the country is still reeling from the yoke of the only recently lifted harsh anti travel advisories, it is clear that there is now a raging argument between tourism operators to let tourists in as it has been while security services will argue that even with the risk of one radical slipping through the net that one is one too many.

When Burundi a few months ago, equally at short notice, also demanded Visa in advance instead of granting them on arrival, visitor numbers into Bujumbura all but collapsed, leaving an already struggling tourism industry reeling from the fallout and being pushed to the wall due to lack of tourism numbers and revenues.

Seriously speaking though, tourism stakeholders are now urged to communicate these changes to their agents and operators abroad to avoid situation where paid up travelers will be denied boarding for their flight to Kenya, still thinking they get their Visa on arrival and yet, come September, will those doors be closed for good.

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