Africa has always been high up there on my bucket list. I’ve always dreamed of being able to submerge myself into the coulture and wildlife. 2016 I made my first trip to Africa and guess who’s returning? SHESHE is! So today, I am so excited to start sharing with you my tips on how to prepare for an African Safari.
Africa 2016 | The First Visit
I had wanted to visit Africa for a photo safari (meaning a journey) for most of my adult life and I was just waiting for the right opportunity to come up.
Dec. 2015 I received an email from a Journey to Africa Safari Company owned by Mefi Alapat. She was encouraged to reach out to Houston bloggers to join her on a luxury safari adventure in Tanzania Africa where we would visit the Tarangire National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti National Park among a couple of other side excursions.
The invitation seemed like a fit for me. Norman was NOT on board at first until he got to meet Mefi when she came to visit us at our home. Of course, I followed up with about 10 of her past and current clients and I received glowing reviews, some were seasoned world travelers. When the decisions were made, the deposit was paid, and there would be 3 of us making the trip. Natalie King age 33, blogger @natkingcouture, Mefi 40, and myself 61 (at the time). I felt like I was traveling with my children. Ha!
We met for lunch on 2 different occasions in Houston where we discussed all of the details of the trip. The most shocking thing for me was that I would only be able to take 2 bags weighing no more than a TOTAL of 32 pounds. I was in distress for sure! I had to think back to the days when I was a pilot and remember how to pack for 3 days in a roll-on bag. The difference this time is we would be traveling for 10 days. Yikes!! I knew that was not going to be easy for this fashionista!
I would like to thank my husband, Norman, for allowing me to fulfill a dream. I love you so much!!! Mefi, you were the best! I can’t wait to see the gorillas with you and Natalie!
The photo below is Mefi, our host extraordinaire! She is the fifth generation in her family raised in Tanzania. She speaks fluent Swahili and knows many of the lodge owners, camp managers, and guides which made our trip even more special. I loved listening to her speak her native language with the guides and her old friends!
Preparing for Africa
Preparing for this trip was part of the excitement. Below are some of the things you will need to do before you leave.
- Choose a country in Africa that you want to visit. There are several that you can do a safe and adventurous safari. The most common and most visited are Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda (where travelers visit the gorilla families).
- Do thorough research on reputable safari companies. Asking friends is the best place to start. First-hand experiences are the best references then you can always go to the internet. There are large outfits that are well known but a Journey to Africa Safari uses the same lodges, camps, and guides as the better-known companies but for much less in cost. Make sure you understand what your safari includes and does not include and understand the cancellation policy. I highly recommend trip protection. (Travel Insurance) Most plans do not cover airfare.
- Book your air fair about 2 months in advance. KLM out of Houston was the best option out of Houston to Kilimanjaro Airport with a layover in Amsterdam. 9 hours + 9 hours = 18 hours. I like to use American Express to book. I was able to first class and offset the expense with my points. They also are able to book all of my travel options. So, if you don’t have a Platinum American Express card then you might want to get one and start using it for all of your purchases. The Platinum car also has a nice out-of-country Protection Package included. ie Travel Insurance. This is a must!! Insurance in case you get sick or something that causes a cancellation of the trip. Go to www.seatguru.com to see seat maps on all segments of your trip. Make sure you know if your ticket is nonrefundable or not. Mine was refundable. That gave me a piece of mind.
- Visa – A Visa runs about $100. A Journey To Africa Safari Company to care of this for us. Included in our cost. Make sure you know if you need to obtain a Visa on your own. Ours was done upon arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport.
- Vaccinations– Depending on what country you enter in Africa dictates what protection is needed. No vaccinations are required going into Tanzania, however, not required, but recommended is a pill for malaria. Just ask your primary physician if you need a script for Malarone or Mefloquine or a drug specifically for Africa. My dosage was one pill a week for 7 weeks, starting 2 weeks before you leave and then until they are gone. Mefi grew up in Tanzania and has had Malaria a few times. She said that the most important thing to know is the symptoms of Malaria and treating it at the first signs. It is totally curable – caught in the early stages. We were there at the end of mosquito season, but we did get into the obnoxious Tsetse flies. They would sting. I couldn’t say Tsetse so I called them the sexy flies. Ha!
- International Phone service – Make sure to call your cell phone carrier and get an international plan for your phone while you are traveling. So worth it. Depending on how much you need to phone home or to use data (texting, internet, etc.) will depend on what plan you should choose. Being a blogger, I chose a little higher plan so I could use the internet, email, texting, and calls. If you don’t do a plan then you will get the shock of your life when you get your end-of-month bill when you return from your trip! I think my plan was $60 extra with unlimited texting and limited data.
- Passport– Make sure you have a current passport. If you need a passport then you can go to https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/forms.html
- Health Insurance Card – Make sure that you check to see if you have international health coverage. Take your insurance card with you. You can get additional international health coverage if you need it through your Protection Plan.
- Make a copy of your passport and put it someplace different than where you carry your passport. Should you lose or get your passport stolen, it will expedite the American Embassy to re-issue your passport if you have a copy handy.
- Put identification in all of your bags, and be checked or carried on. If you have a handle torn off of your suitcase and your id is missing then you can be tracked down if you have other identification inside of your bag. This happened to me a couple of times over the last 30 years and I got my bag back because I had my id in the bottom of my bag.
- Tip Money – Most of your expenses will be covered but you will need to bring some cash to tip your guides, camps, and lodges. Americans tend to tip more than the rest of the world, so $10 to $20 a day for the guides is sufficient. The same goes for maid service at lodges and camps. Your call. I brought 8 envelopes for my tips. I sometimes wrote a note to put inside.
What I am wearing:
Packing for Africa List
- 2 pairs of khaki pants, like these.
- 1 pair of blue jeans.
- 2 pairs of outdoor shoes and a pair of flip-flops for the shower and to wear around your tent. I like Keen’s brand.
- T-shirts in solid basic colors. 3/4 sleeve and or short sleeve style.
- 1 button shirt.-A knit or non-wrinkle style works.
- Love my Kuhl flight fleece jacket that felt so good by our campfire evenings and my very favorite jacket that I wore every day.I also found that my pullover sweatshirt was a great layering piece that was so comfy and cozy.
- Undergarments – Midweight socks, 5 or 6 pairs of underwear, 1 bra, 1 sleep shirt.
- 1 pair of leggings.
- 1 zip front hoodie.
- 1 safari hat
- 1 baseball cap.
- Scarves (use around your neck for extra warmth or as a head wrap). Stay tuned for what I packed on my next trip for scarf tips. I am bringing a large scarf that can be used to create many looks.
Laundry Tips: Most of the camps will give you detergent to wash your underclothes and they will wash shirts, socks, and pants so that you can recycle your clothing.
Sunscreen , Bug X (Deet), Makeup wipes, lip balm, minimal makeup, comb & hairbrush, medications, ( NO room for hair dryers, curling irons, etc. ) a la naturelle! Most of the lodges and camps provided hair dryers. If you have longer hair, then a ponytail or braid was the going style.
Travel + Tech Neccessities
Africa Trip #2 February 2023
I am headed back to Africa to check off more on my bucketlist and the part? I get to do it with a VERY special someone! I cannot wait to share the details and check back on the blog to follow along! I would love to give you all of the details that I know now, but I don’t want to spoil the fun!
I would also like to thank Kuhl USA for partnering with me on that amazing adventure and providing me with the perfect safari attire. This company is located in Utah and couldn’t have bee nicer to work with. Their outdoor clothing is made of the highest quality but they work hard to make it affordable making it a favorite line of clothing for the outdoor enthusiast. L.L. Bean is also a great resource for outdoor apparel whether it be for hiking, a safari, fishing, L.L. Bean is made for the outdoor lovers!
I will tell you that I was so COOL wearing my Kuhl on my unbelievable trip to Tanzania Africa for a beautiful exciting and mind-blowing experience of a lifetime.
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