The first step in preparing for your Kenya safari is to select a safari operator, which can be roughly classified as budget, first class or deluxe in ascending order of tour cost and quality. Other factors that are considered in classifying a safari include the quality and location of accommodations, the quality and number of included activities, the size of the tour group and the level of personalized service.
Budget safaris offer price-conscious travelers a way to explore Kenya’s parks and preserves without breaking the bank. Budget safaris can feature modest hotels, guesthouses and participation camping, where you may pitch your own tent and help prepare meals.
They are offered by Discovery Adventures, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel.
First Class safaris stay at more comfortable, full-service lodges and hotels, and they have more inclusions than budget trips.
They are offered by Gate 1, General Tours, Globus and Monograms.
Deluxe safaris are even more upscale and more inclusive, and travel groups are smaller. You’ll stay in the finest accommodations and enjoy gourmet cuisine and personal attention throughout the itinerary.
Deluxe safaris are operated by Tauck, SITA, African Travel, Collette and A&K.
Once you’ve chosen your safari operator, you must find out what documentation you need to travel to Africa. Passports valid for at least six months beyond the end of your trip are required for Kenya safaris, and Kenya requires U.S. citizens to have a visa.
Next, it’s important to visit a physician who specializes in travel medicine -- or the travel medicine department of a local hospital -- to learn about health issues in the destination. Certain immunizations are required, and others are highly recommended. Make this visit well in advance of your trip, as some health threats require a series of inoculations over time, all before you leave for Africa.
Now it’s time to shop for your safari essentials. Some items to consider are binoculars, the right camera and lens for photographing wildlife, and clothing appropriate for a safari. Keep in mind that blue and black clothing attracts insects, so earth tones of tan, green and brown are preferable. Clothing coated with Permethrin will discourage most flying and crawling bugs, including mosquitoes that carry malaria. Companies that specialize in outdoor gear, like REI, usually carry shirts and pants that are pre-treated; some are sold under the Buzz-Off brand. You also can purchase Permethrin at these types of stores to coat the clothes you plan to pack.
If your Kenya safari includes extensive hiking or walking, test your hiking boots before your trip to make sure you can wear them blister-free for long hours. You might treat the boots with extra water repellent as well. Also consider bringing a small daypack for carrying camera equipment and water.
Finally, your Kenya safari may involve one or more flights on small prop planes with strict weight restrictions for luggage. We suggest that you “practice” packing, to ensure that you can take everything you need while still adhering to baggage weight limits.
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