Planning your first or even second or third African safari can be an overwhelming process. Where do you even start? How much will it cost? How long do I need to be on safari? Which animals will I see? What else is there to do in Africa besides safari? This article will you figure out how to plan your African safari.
If you are thinking about going on an East African safari and you have all these questions, then look no further. Let’s dive in to all of those question and more to help you plan your African Safari.
Cost of an East African Safari
Let’s start with the big question which is the cost of Safari. I’ll be honest, safari is not cheap but it’s 100% worth it (ask literally ANYONE who has ever been on a safari).
These are just a guideline but all prices include full board accommodation, guide, transport (unless flying) and game drives.
For a budget safari, you will be looking at paying upwards of $300 per person per day. On a budget safari, you will likely be camping and will be accompanied on your trip by a chef who will cook the meals for you at the campsite ready for your return from safari. To reduce the cost further you can opt for a ‘sharing safari’ where you will join others in a car. Of course, these are not very personalised or flexible safaris as you have to stick to the group schedule.
Mid-range is around $500 – $800 per person per day. The main difference between mid-range and budget is that you will now be in a lodge instead of camping and in a car with just your group (depending on the side of your group). There will be an ensuite bathroom and potentially a swimming pool at the lodge. It is possible to fly between lodges instead of driving but the flight will be an extra cost.
The high budget is $900+ At this end of the budget you will be staying in a luxury lodge, with delicious food, probably a pool & spa and most importantly top quality guides. At this budget, you will be flying between national parks which saves you a lot of travel time and maximises your safari time.
How long should you go on an African safari for
For many, the flight to Eastern/Southern Africa is a long one and can involve jet lag. The travelling distances are long and the roads are generally not great. Therefore to enable you sufficient time to enjoy your safari I wouldn’t recommend coming on safari for less than 10 days. If your time frame is 2 weeks then I recommend just one country, although it is possible to do a combination of two countries but it will be a bit of a rush. For example, you can see the Gorillas in Uganda and then go to Tanzania to see the great wildebeest migration.
Ideally, you should be travelling for longer than 2 weeks to consider visiting 2 countries to be able to enjoy them fully and maybe get a bit of beach time at the end.
As a benchmark, aim to spend 3-4 nights in each place, this will ensure you get a good amount of time actually enjoying the lodge and the area and not just going between lodges all the time.
Consider how many days you will be on safari consecutively, especially if travelling with children. Games drives are essentially long car rides. Per day you can be spending 7 – 8 hours in a car. Try and break up the game drives with walking safaris, hot air balloon rides or even horseriding/mountain biking safaris. Also, try and break up safari days with other activities including hikes, cultural visits, going to markets etc.
When to go on an African safari
Travel in East Africa is generally split into two seasons. Peak season (June – Oct) and green season (November – May).
Peak season is cooler and dry, there are a lot more tourists and accommodation is more expensive, this is the easiest time of year to see animals as there is less vegetation and fewer water sources. Aim to book 12 months in advance. If you wish to see the wildebeest migration crossings (it’s never guaranteed), then you should travel in July/August to Northern Serengeti or Southern Masai Mara.
Green season, warm and wet weather, accommodation is cheaper (except Xmas and New year) can be harder but more rewarding to see animals as the vegetation is thicker, fewer tourists, more mud. Aim to book at least 3 – 6 months in advance.
Jan-Feb – hot and dry, animals congregate around waterholes so are easy to see
March-May – long rainy season rains often and less warm
June – Oct – dry season, warm, pleasant temperature, the best time to see the wildebeest migration river crossings
Nov – Dec – the short rainy season, fewer tourists, greenery
Other activities on an African safari
In addition to your game drive, you can do several activities to ensure you experience Africa to its fullest. Activities including;
walking safari (min age of 12)
hot air balloon ride (around $600 extra)
night game drive to see the nocturnal animals (around $50)
spa treatments (price varies)
horse riding safari (around $90)
mountain biking ($50-70)
cultural activities (price varies)
visit a local school/village and take donations or just interact with the community
East African Culture
One thing you may be surprised by when you visit Africa is how much the people of Africa have such a positive influence on your trip. While you are here take the time to learn about new cultures and traditions. Africa is rich in cultural tribes each with its own rituals, dress, language and cuisine. From the Maasai warriors in their red Shuka (traditional wear) to the bushmen in Uganda to the Hadzabe hunter-gatherer tribe in Lake Eyasi Tanzania, there is so much to learn and so many wonderful interactions to have.
East African Culture
One thing you may be surprised by when you visit Africa is how much the people of Africa have such a positive influence on your trip. While you are here take the time to learn about new cultures and traditions. Africa is rich in cultural tribes each with its own rituals, dress, language and cuisine. From the Maasai warriors in their red Shuka (traditional wear) to the bushmen in Uganda to the Hadzabe hunter-gatherer tribe in Lake Eyasi Tanzania, there is so much to learn and so many wonderful interactions to have.
Where to go to the beach in east Africa:
Don’t forget to add some beach time at the end, both Zanzibar & Mafia Island in Tanzania and Lamu Island or the Kenyan coast boast beautiful white sandy beaches with lots of opportunities for snorkelling, diving, fishing, kiteboarding and eating delicious seafood. If you travel at the right time (Oct to Feb) you can even go swimming with whale sharks on Mafia Island. Lamu and Zanzibar also offer an insight into Swahili Arabic culture and are wonderful places to wander the streets trying delicious street food, bartering in the markets and sipping tea or cocktails on the rooftops overlooking the ocean.
How to choose a African safari tour company
There are so many companies out there and the quality of the company varies greatly. The main things you need to look out for when choosing a company are; does the agent have personal experience of travel in Africa, do they offer unbiased advice or whether are they working with certain lodges, insurance, and support while you are on the trip and good reviews.
Contrary to popular belief going through an agent or a tour company does not make the price more expensive for you. Companies get good deals on accommodation, know the best places to go and provide quality guides. Rather than taking a gamble on a lodge, you have never been to with a guide you have never met before it is usually better to go through a trusted company that understands the country, the travel distances, the lodges and the parks.
Not sure how to plan your safari, start with this interactive quiz:
Is an African safari safe:
Of course like every continent and country there are safe places and not-so-safe places. If you book with a certified agent and stick to your itinerary there should be no issues at all. In places like Nairobi, Kampala and Arusha, like any other big town/city you need to use common sense, don’t walk around at night, don’t carry too much cash, stick to the main areas and you should be fine. While on safari you will be safe as long as you listen to your guide, and respect the animals.
Depending on, of course, where you are coming from you might get a bit of a culture shock when you arrive in East Africa. There are plenty of places with poverty still and the current drought in Kenya is causing a desperate situation.
In general, the people are very friendly and welcoming and are happy to have tourists in their country.
Greetings are very important, always ask how someone is before you ask your question.
How to dress for a African safari
East Africa is quite a conservative place, although in the cities this is changing. If you are visiting villages and tribes then dress respectfully, cover your cleavage and knees and always ask before taking photos.
You do not need to be in full ‘safari’ attire, you just need to be in comfortable neutral-coloured clothes. Try not to wear dark blue, some places have flies that are attracted to the colour. Make sure you have a sturdy pair of shoes especially if you want to do a walking safari, a hat and layers for the cold in the morning and the evenings.
What to pack for an African safari
Pack a rain jacket, neutral light clothes, long trousers and long sleeves for the evenings, sunscreen, camera, charger, medical kit, insect repellant, torch/flashlight, adaptor (British power socket) US dollars, battery bank, swimsuit
Get your pre safari organisation list here
Get your free list to help you plan everything you need to do & pack before your big safari
What camera to use on an African safari
It is worth bringing a good camera with you if you can, also important is the lens. You will need a long lens, at lear 400mm if you want to get a good close-up shot, a wide angle is good for photographing the whole scene and a 70 – 200 is perfect for that midrange. Make sure you have extra batteries and SD cards I’m sure you will be taking a lot of shots. My photos are shot with a Nikon D500 with either the 16-33mm, 70-200, 100-400 or 100-600mm lenses plus some phone photos.
Should you bring children on an African safari
I definitely recommend taking children on safari, it’s great for them to see the animals but also to interact with the local kids and learn about their culture and way of life. Consider that safari consists of early mornings and long days. Some camps have children’s activities and offer babysitting services so you can potentially leave your child with the camp while you are on safari if they are too tired on any particular day.
For walking safaris, the child has to be 12 years old but there are plenty of nature walks inside the camps that the child can do instead, they just can’t go out into the national park on foot. Ask the organisers to find lodges with swimming pools this is great for entertaining the kids during the break between safaris.
Useful apps for an African safari:
Birds of East Africa
Maps.me download the map for the country before you arrive
Kingdom – information on African animals
Google translate – download Swahili (Kenya and Tanzania) before you go
XE – currency exchange
Night sky – learn about the constellations in the sky
Final Top tips for an Africa safari:
Manage your expectations, it is not normal to see a predator hunt, for example, you are not guaranteed to see anything while on safari. Try to not expect to see certain things but be pleasantly surprised if you do. Leopards for example are notoriously difficult to spot, sometimes you get lucky sometimes you don’t.
The guide is the most important person on the whole trip. You will be spending most of your time with your guide and getting all your information about the animals and landscape from him/her.
It is very important to have a knowledgeable, qualified guide, if you are particularly interested in photography ask for a guide who is familiar with photography and who will be experienced in getting the best angles and understands lighting.
Consider going on a safari in a private concession instead of a national park, in a concession, there are fewer people and loser rules. For example, you are often allowed to drive off-road, do walking safaris, night game drives, horse riding, mountain biking etc which is usually not allowed in a national park.
There are also usually rules about how many cars are allowed around each animal so you don’t get a big pile-up of cars around each sighting.
It’s better to do less rather than try to fit too much in. Travel slowly and enjoy each place to the fullest.
Ask your lodge about having a bush breakfast, this allows you to be out longer in the morning as you stop somewhere in the park for your breakfast and then continue the safari.
If your time is short I recommend flying between national parks, but you should definitely take some time to visit a local village/school so you can see the world outside the national parks.
Ask your lodge what community initiatives they have running and what you can bring to help. A lot of companies will be partnered with the community around them and they might need things like footballs, stationery, shoes, clothes etc. Some lodges are part of ‘Pack for a purpose and will have a list of things they need which you can add to your suitcase if you have space.
Some airlines let you take extra luggage if you are bringing donations. Email the airline and ask in advance.
If you are flying between lodges you have to pack in a soft shell bag and you will have limited weight. If you are bringing donations the company might have a head office in the capital city where you can leave them.
Have a budget in mind before you start planning itineraries. With a budget in mind, it is much easier to plan a customised itinerary and keep to your budget rather than making an itinerary, getting excited about it and then realising you can’t afford it.
Plan to come back, you will never only visit Africa once!
If you are not sure how to plan your East African Safari, start with this quiz
My clients are tired of not getting enough safari bookings, that’s why I put together this resource of 6 reasons to hire a professional photographer in your safari business. So you can understand how hiring a professional photographer will help to increase your safari bookings.
Hiring a professional photographer enables the potential client to envisage their safari experience
A picture paints a thousand words. You can try to describe the view over the savanna from the room or the way the pool is surrounded by a dozen yellow fever trees scattering dabbled shade over the lounge chairs. You can describe the colourful lunch plating and the warm smiles of the staff as they serve your lunch but what better way to describe it than to show it?
Hiring a professional photographer enables you to show off your lodge or safari experience in the best light and makes your next guests want to book you more.
Photos help you show up more on Google searches
If you have beautiful professional photos posted on your website which have correctly labelled alternative text then you are more likely to show up when people search on google.
Hiring a professional photographer helps to build a connection with your potential clients
Photos of you as the lodge or safari company owner or manager and your staff help potential guests feel more connected to you. Without ever having met you, they can feel like they know you and are therefore more inclined to come to your lodge.
Builds interest and understanding of your company
Posting ‘behind the scenes’ photos helps your potential guests to know more about your staff and company and the way you work. You can use photos to showcase your vegetable garden and your commitment to responsible tourism. Your electric safari cars and your commitment to green energy or your outreach projects and your commitment to community development.
Makes it easy to see your amenities and facilities
Instead of having to read through the pages of your website to see if you have a pool or not, a potential guest can immediately see the pool as well as the outdoor gym, the spacious rooms and the double showers in one quick look.
Potential guests can build an emotional connection
Showing photos of guests enjoying the lodge or the safari experience helps potential guests to imagine themselves there having a great time and makes them more likely to book.
What to look for when hiring a professional Photographer
Make sure the photographer you are hiring is familiar with the safari industry and is able and happy to spend a couple of days staying at the lodge or taking part in your safari experience.
The photographer will need to be competent at not only shooting people and spaces but also wildlife to showcase your safari experience to the fullest.
If you are looking for a photographer in East Africa to help increase your safari bookings then you can check out my photography services pages or my portfolio here.
Instagram mistakes hurt your growth, your brand, your revenue and your conversion rates. When used well, Instagram is a great tool to help you build relationships, show yourself as an expert and convert leads into sales. Make sure you are not making these mistakes on Instagram to help your safari business grow.
Read on to learn about ten common Instagram mistakes that you don’t even realise you have been making and how to fix them.
Posting outside your niche
We all know your niche, safaris, right? So make sure your Instagram profile reflects that. Make sure everything you are posting on your feed is related to safaris. This way when people find you on Instagram and see all of your safari content, if they like safari, they will follow you, these are your ideal followers.
And yes, posting about safaris includes showing your face (and that of your employees) on your posts. You are the face of your safari business so its important for your followers to see who you are. When your followers see your videos its helps them to get to know you, which will (hopefully) lead to them liking you, and eventually trusting you and consequently buying from you.
However, posting a reel about your dog, or a photo of your Grandma isn’t about safaris. Save that stuff for your stories, not your feed.
So make sure you are only posting within your niche. It is also a good idea to have sub-categories within your niche that you can post about.
If safari is your niche then you sub-categories might be
travel in Africa tips & info
This was you have a more strategic plan for your content
Being Colour Inconsistent
Colour consistent posts make your Instagram look tidy and well-kept. Not only it is professional, but people also find it easier to identify you because your Instagram colour gets etched in their mind.
Colour consistency doesn’t always have to be blatantly visible. Sometimes it’s just a little touch that ties all your posts together.
Some people might be following a very strict colour palette but if you do not want that, just choose one colour for all your posts to have along with others.
You should automatically choose your brand colours in that case. In the safari industry choose a colour to relates to that, for example neural, earthy tones.
Posting whenever you feel inspired or feel like it won’t get you the engagement you need. The more regular and scheduled your posts are, the more your followers will expect them and the better your analytics will get.
Another benefit of making an Instagram schedule is that you can figure out the exact time your followers are most active and plan your Instagram posts accordingly.
Use your instagram insight to see when your followers are most active and then post consistently during these times. The more followers are online when you post your content, the more likely they will engage with your post and the more it will get pushed to a bigger audience.
More often than not, we are so fixated on the numbers that we forget the things that are far more important –and in our case, that is engagement and loyalty in our followers.
The follows you buy to make your Instagram account look good are not going to help you. They will not repost your stories, leave heartfelt comments or send you DMs and so your engagement will remain low.
An Instagram account is dead without any real interaction between the account and the followers. You can’t hope to make sales, a reputation or a name for yourself if your instagram is full of followers who are not your ideal client.
If you have already bought Instagram followers, don’t worry. You can rectify your mistake by ensuring that all your future followers are there because they like what you are doing. This you can do by posting:
Instagram is a visual platform, and that means quality is the ultimate king there.
Posting grainy photos, low-resolution videos, cropped, or distorted content will never work out for you and your growth.
This info graphic by Tailwind explains the sizes required for each type of post you can do on Instagram.
Use the guidelines to edit your content accordingly, and you will find your feed looking many times better.
In the safari industry we are lucky, what better subjects can there be for your photos than cute lion cubs, beautiful African scenery and gorgeous accommodation. Make the most of this and invest in hiring someone to take quality high resolution photo that you can use across the all your platforms.
Top tip use Canva pro to make one post and resize it instantly to fit all platforms.
You can also purchase editable ready-made Instagram templates. If bought from a good source, such templates are already the right size and resolution for Instagram. And all you need to do is tweak them a little to match their feel with the rest of your posts.
Not only does that save your time, but it also provides you with the quality that you, otherwise, might not be able to achieve.
Coming soon, one years worth of strategic safari content! Content ideas and corresponding ready-to-post instagram templates for every single day of the year! Find out more and join the waiting list here.
Ignoring the Power of Instagram Stories
Instagram created Stories to help you keep your account active and interactive.
Unlike the feed content, your IG stories don’t have to be top-notch quality –although it doesn’t hurt if they are!
You can ask your followers a question, tell them a visual story, get their feedback, make a big announcement and much more using IG stories.
Not using this feature might be one of the most damaging Instagram mistakes you are making. In fact, one of the researchers says that almost 500 million people view Instagram stories per day, and one out of five send in a direct message for an inquiry. Whoa!
If you are ready to invest some energy into stories, the first step would be to plan your content. How will you use Instagram stories to engage with your audience, build up trust and convert lookers into bookers.
Here are a few example ideas for the safari industry:
Behind the scenes of getting ready for a safari
interview with you guide
safari packing tips
accommodation room tours
‘getting to know’ the safari business owner
your safari questions answered
One good idea is to create a few templates you can use as a base for your stories. Use your brand colours and logo to ensure that your content looks consistent, original and professional while still being engaging and exciting.
As for the frequency, try posting Stories outside the working hours. This can increase your reach to about 5.82 per cent.
Not Using Hashtags
Posting without using relevant hashtags is hurting your reach for sure.
Instagram has hashtags to allow public pages to get a nice amount of exposure organically. By tagging your posts and reels with popular hashtags, you can get featured on the Explore page and the Hashtags’ catalogue page.
And how does that help?
It puts your content in front of a larger audience, including those people who have never interacted with you before.
You can use up to 30 hashtags for Instagram posts and 10 for a Story. But that does not mean you need to go all-in with your IG Hashtags.
Look for trending hashtags related to your post by using Instagram Search Bar. For example, by typing in #muffin, you will see multiple related suggestions below that you can use in your hashtags.
Experiment with the number of hashtags and which hashtags to use. You can even make your own hashtags to catalogue your content! However, be careful not to use the same hashtags every time, find. number of hashtags that work for you and keep mixing them up with each post/reel.
If you are struggling with what hashtags to use for your safari business then download our free ‘Safari hashtags’ here.
Posting without CTAs
Call-To-Actions or CTAs are an integral part of any web copy, and that includes Instagram captions.
CTAs tell your audience exactly what they need to do with the post. With their help, you plant an idea into your viewers’ minds of what you want them to do. For example, you can ask them to tag their friends, comment on what they like about your post, direct message you about an itinerary, book a call with you or anything really that relates to your product/business.
Have a look at some example below
Having a Private Account:
You can choose to keep your Instagram account private or public. But as a business who wants more and more audiences to follow and engage with their profile, a private Instagram account isn’t the right way.
If you keep your Instagram account private, the content isn’t going to show up in the explore section to your potential audience, and your followers won’t be able to share your posts on their Instagram stories and the hashtags that you use -such as geo-hashtags- aren’t going to appear on the hashtags pages. All of this is going to restrict your reach to the users outside your following list.
Private Instagram accounts surely give a feel of exclusivity to the followers, but if you don’t already have a substantial following, this isn’t going to do you any good. A public account will show your content to the users, apart from your followers as well, increasing your chances of gaining new ones.
You can make your account public by following these simple steps:
On your Instagram, go to settings.
Go to ‘Privacy.’
Under ‘Account Privacy,’ turn off ‘Private Account.’
You are ready to enjoy the benefits of a Public Instagram account!
Not jumping into new features
Although Instagram started as a simple picture and video posting platform, it has been evolving since its launch in 2010. It has introduced many new features -like Instagram stories and its stickers, IGTV videos and of course Reels.
When a new Instagram feature appears on the platform, people are usually reluctant to use it as much as they use the old ones. But just like a brand that advertises its new products or services extensively, Instagram also gives the new features a higher reach by making it appear more in people’s feeds.
If you are not using these new features, your competitors who are using them will start to show up more to your potential audience and steal those followers and engagements that you could have gotten.
You can use the new features along with the already present ones to complement each other. For example, if you are a brand, you can use reels to create small clips of your safari experience to help the follower feel like they are there with you, or want to be there with you!
This way, after watching the Reels, due to their extra reach being a new feature, more audience is likely to end up on your profile.
Reels don’t have to be complicated. Have a look at the statistics from this very simple reel I posted.
So there, you have it 10 Instagram mistakes you might be making that are harming your business. Instagram is an amazing, free, tool, if you can lean to use it correctly it can really help with improving you reach, reputation and safari bookings.
This blog post will talk you through how to build a consistent content strategy to attract your ideal client and increase revenue in the safari industry. Read on to discover the 8 simple steps to successful safari content creation.
Do you find yourself constantly fumbling to find a photo and write a caption for your Instagram? Do you have a list of relevant hashtags saved somewhere but can never remember where?
Have you signed up and handed over your precious email for various free social media hack ideas and cheat sheets but are still lost when it comes to actually write a post?
Do you have a website and all the great intentions to have an informative and valuable blog but don’t actually know what to write about?
If this sounds like you then you need to keep reading. To start your journey to successful safari marketing content…
Where to focus your attention
It’s easy to get distracted by social media, you are constantly being told you need to post every day, be present on your stories, jump on new trends, post reels, have a Linkedin account, make Youtube videos… the list is endless.
You get caught up doing the small tasks that stop you from doing the things that actually matter. Trust me, I’ve also been guilty of this.
But here’s the truth…an Instagram post a day will not make or break your business. Instead, you need to be focusing your attention on your own land, your website.
Instagram, Youtube, Twitter etc are all rented land. At any moment that land can be taken away from you and all your hard work disappears before your eyes.
However, if you put your time and effort into your own land, your website, it will forever be working for you behind the scenes. An evergreen marketing gem.
With the correct content on your blog, your website will consistently put you at the top of the list as the number one company to book their next safari with.
Let’s have a look at the steps it takes to make that consistent, quality content. Ready to get off the social media content hamster wheel? Follow the steps below, and then fill out the prompts to build your rock-solid safari content strategy.”
8 steps to successful safari content creation
Step 1 identify your ideal client
Once you have identified your ideal client you will have a better understanding of how to target them.Who is your ideal client? This will depend on the type of safaris you run. Maybe you do photographic safaris, cultural safaris, and traditional ‘big 5’ safaris. Who are your previous clients, are they old or young, which countries do they come from, do they like luxury or budget safaris?
Step 2 – identify their pain points
Understanding their pain points enables you to write content to solve them and consequently position yourself as the expert. What is it that your ideal client is struggling with?
Use polls on Instagram/Facebook to ask your followers what their biggest issues are when it comes to planning and booking safaris.
Conduct 30-minute research calls. Offer free safari advice in exchange for 30 minutes of picking their brain.
On the research call ask your ideal client, ‘If you could click your fingers and get one thing done in relation to your safari holiday, what would it be?’
You can also use the Google search page to help you identify their pain points. Type in the pain points you identified on the research call and look at what other related issues people are searching for.
Then scroll to the bottom of the google page for ‘related searches’ and use this to inform your next content.
Step 3 – Publish quality content on your blog once a week to solve their pain points
Showing up consistently builds trust with your audience and Google. From your market, research and polls write content that solves their pain points. For example, if your market research call identified ‘not knowing where to go on a first-time safari’ as a pain point then your first blog might be ‘Top 5 destinations for a first-time safari’.
Use their exact words to ensure that when they are searching for answers on google your blog has a good chance of showing up. Inside your blog use ‘calls to action’ too, for example, ‘book your first safari now’. This will then link your ideal client to your itineraries, booking page or a way to schedule a consultation with you or your team.
Being present and social on social media enables you to be approachable and at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking about the safari. Select the most appropriate social media for where your ideal client ‘hangs out’. For example, if you are targeting corporate businesses or high-end luxury safari-goers then use Linkedin.
If your ideal client is a budget safari-goers then you could utilise ‘Backpacker’ groups on Facebook.
Post snippets from your blog onto social media or make a video giving a few bits of information from your blog. Your calls to action should lead them to your website, put your website as your bio link.
Identity and stick to a posting strategy that works for you. For example, posting 3 times a week at the time when your followers are most active (use insights to find out this information).
Still need help? If you are thinking you don’t have time to be dealing with constant social media content creation, no problem, we can do it for you! Our ‘done for you’ package includes social media marketing so you can be present with your audience without the stress. Check out our packages here.
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Wildlife photography doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these 6 Simple wildlife photography tips to secure that outstanding shot. Also, be sure to read the follow-up tips to make sure that your photos are secured for a lifetime.
The first part of the post is about taking the shots, the second part is about keeping the shots! Both parts are very important parts of the wildlife photography process.
This article contains affiliate links, as an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This will not cost you anything extra.
6 Simple wildlife photography tips to secure that outstanding shot
1. Get down low
This is my number one tip that will immediately make a big difference to the look of your photos. When we are on safari we tend to be looking down on the animal from the car. Especially if you are in one of those land cruisers where the roof pops open.
You know the score you are standing on the seat, head out of the rood, the wind in your hair. You are scanning for animals and you find something and immediately you excitedly start taking photos.
This is where I want you to pause, take a second to get down and sit on the seat or even crouch on the floor of the car. Now place your lens out through the window. Getting lower to the ground gives you a better chance of getting on eye level with the animal or below. This gives you a more realistic perspective and makes the viewer feel more connected to the animal.
With larger animals, like elephants, shooting from below them really gives them stature and allows the viewer to get a feeling of how big they really are. I took this photo while lying on the ground as the elephant walked past.
If you are in an open land cruiser then even better, you might be able to lie down on the car floor on your stomach. If this is not possible then another way is to place your camera outside of the car and, if you can, tilt your camera screen upwards towards you so you can see what you are shooting.
2. Shoot in Appateur priority mode (A)
In aperture priority mode you set the aperture and your camera sets the corresponding shutter speed and ISO (if your ISO is on auto).
This means you are deciding the depth of field (how much of the photo is in focus) and your camera sets the shutter speed accordingly so your exposure is balanced. The lower the f-number e.g. f2.8 the smaller the depth of field. This means less of the shot will be in focus. A lower f-number gives that shot where the animal is in focus and you get a beautifully blurred background.
If you are taking a landscape shot you will want the whole scene in focus so you will need to raise the f-number to about 8-11.
As stated the camera will then set the shutter speed to balance the exposure for you and you don’t have to worry about that.
3. Use a bean bag to steady your camera
A lot of wildlife photography takes place in a car where you don’t have the luxury of being able to use a tripod. To add to the issue, you are likely using a long lens. With a long lens, it is important to keep it still to avoid blur. A good substitute for a tripod is a bean bag. Place the bean bag over the car window and rest your lens on the bean bag. This enables you to keep the lens steady while you take your shot.
If you don’t have a bean bag or don’t want to carry one then fill up a sock with rice (uncooked obviously).
4. Shoot at the correct time
There are two reasons why safari equates to early mornings. One is the animals are more active in the morning as it is cooler in temperature. Two, the lighting is perfect for capturing these moments.
The same goes for golden hour, just an hour or so before the sun goes down. Make sure you are out and about during these times to try and capture the animals at the best time. Keep an eye on your ISO, you might need to raise it a little to compensate for the lower light conditions.
5. Don’t always zoom in
It is tempting when you have a long lens to use it to its fullest. The temptation is to always zoom as far as possible and get as close to the animal as possible. This is not always the best option. The beauty of a safari is seeing the animals in their natural habitat, out in the wild. Try to get a variety of shots including ones where you can see the whole animals in their surroundings.
A bonus tip is to notice the direction the animal is looking and leave space in that direction. This helps you tell more of a story with your photo as it leaves the viewer wondering what the animal is looking at.
6. Have spare SD cards & batteries
If you are anything like me you will be taking a lot of photos while on safari. You don’t want to miss any opportunities so it is better to take the shots while you can. However, this does equate to a lot of space being taken up on your SD cards and you won’t always have access to a way to back them up while you are away.
To overcome this make sure you have lots of spare SD cards. Also, consider the quality of the SD card, the higher the c number the faster the card is, the faster you can take photos. 10 is the highest c number meaning it will write the photos to the camera faster.
A slower SD card will take longer to store the photos meaning you might have a period where the camera is buffering while it saves the photos. You will not be able to use the camera at this point. Therefore it is worth investing in a quality SD card.
Of course, you also need to consider the size of the SD card. I usually don’t use anything less than 128gb but you can get SD cards that go up to 4Tb these days. I usually use these by SanDisk:
In terms of batteries, you always need to have a backup. Electricity isn’t always the most reliable to be able to charge your batteries every night. You might also be out for long days and might have to switch to a new battery. I always have 2 spare batteries with me on safaris.
Keeping the shots
Ok so now you have taken some amazing photos from your trip, the next part is just as important.
We have all done it, we have taken the photos, we know there are some killer shots in there. But we haven’t gotten around to downloading the photos, deleting the rubbish ones and backing up the good ones.
I know, I know backing up photos is not as exciting as taking the photos, but once you have done this part you can do the next exciting part. Editing and sharing the photos. So let’s take a look at the process of backing up your photos.
7. Backing up your photos
If you do have access to a laptop on your travels then it is a good idea to back up your photos. If not you will have to wait until you get home. To do this you will need a hard drive. For safari or even if you just travel a lot, I would recommend a more robust one. There have been numerous times when I have bought a normal hard drive and it has ended up breaking and I have lost a lot of photos.
Trust me, the sunken heart feeling when the hard drive corrupts and you lose the photos is not worth the few extra pounds you saved when you bought it!
I now use these ones by Lacie. They are more durable and can withstand a bit of rough treatment:
8. Back up your photos again!
Ok, so you have moved your photos from your SD card to your hard drive. Remember this is when you should then be filtering out the good photos and deleting the bad. The next step is to back up again the remaining photos. Remember when I told you about my hard drives corrupting… this is why you back up again. We now have a ‘My cloud’ device to ensure we don’t lose any more photos. This device backs up your photos to the hard drives inside and then onto a cloud system so you can access them from anywhere.
So there you have my 6 simple and effective wildlife photography tips. Plus tips on backing up your photos. I hope you found it useful. Remember the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your holiday. If you miss the shots, don’t worry. I can assure you once you have been on safari once, you will definitely come back!
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What are the top 10 things to pack when camping in East Africa?
When camping, especially in the bush in East Africa, you need to make sure you are prepared. This list of the top 10 things to pack when camping in East Africa to help you have confidence when camping in the African bush.
*This article contains affiliate links, as an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This will not cost you anything extra.
Hot water flask
Being able to boil the kettle once in the morning and then store the boiled water in a flask where you know it will stay hot all day is a game-changer. We use Stanley flask as they really do keep the water hot all day so whenever you stop for your mid-day cuppa it’s simple and fast.
2. Jet Boil
Staying with the tea theme… my second must-have is a jet boil, you literally have boiling water in minutes!
3. Camping stove
This is a no brainer if you want to be able to cook for yourself and save money you will need a camping stove. We use this one by Cadac as it has 2 burners and it’s easy to get the gas refills here in east Africa.
Better than a torch for the obvious reason of not having to carry it. We use led Lenser headlamps as they are powerful, light and rechargeable
5. Battery bank
You will be on the road for long periods of time and yes you can use your car to charge your phone. But what about when you are hiking, at the beach or just relaxing in your tent. Then you will need a battery bank to charge your phone. I have this one by Anker and I can get at least 3 full phone charges from it so you don’t have to constantly charge the battery bank.
6. First Aid Kit
We use this one by Lifesystems it is the ‘solo traveller first aid kit’, it has everything we have needed, we then just add in things like paracetamol, hydration sachets etc. I can’t find the exact one but this is a similar one.
We then carry a smaller version when we go on hikes etc
7. Leatherman Knife
It is always useful to have a leatherman it can be used to open bottles, file nails, cut wires etc.
8. Water purification tablets
I actually have only had to use these once and that was when I was hiking up Kilimanjaro. However, they are cheap and small and it doesn’t hurt to bring them along, put them in your hiking pack and if you don’t have to use them then great!
You don’t want to be stranded without a way to make fire unless you are an expert at bushcraft. These ones are more heavy-duty than usual.
10. Led light bulbsor magnetic strip lights
Hang them in a tree, magnetise to your car, either way, they are great for being able to see what you are eating when camping!
What did I miss?
I hope this guide to the top 10 things to pack when camping in East Africa. If there is anything I have missed, let me know in the comments below.
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If you have been thinking about a safari but are a bit overwhelmed with all the information out there, then keep reading. This blog post focuses on answering your Kenya Safari questions to find out if it is the best place for you to go on safari. Here are your Kenyan safari questions answered:
Kenya safari questions answered
So there you have your Kenyan Safari Questions answered. If there is anything else you would like to know about a safari in Kenya then do not hesitate to reach out, leave a comment below or email me directly, I will be happy to help.
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How about checking out these other safari destinations:
As a teacher who is currently not teaching, I have a lot of pent up teacher energy that needs to go somewhere productive!
This is why I am volunteering with a local school called Acacia Hill Academy. The school is located in the local village just outside the conservancy, only about 20 minuted drive away.
Locally owned and run
The school is privately owned by a local Maasai called Johnson he had donated some of his land for the school to be located, hired teachers, built classrooms and is overseeing the running of the school.
There are currently 4 classrooms and 4 teachers. Each year as the school grows there will be a new classroom built. The school is quite new and are still finding its feet but it is a great start. The school was built out of the frustrations of parents and their wish for smaller classes and higher quality education. The school aims to keep the numbers of students low so that the quality of one to one tuition can remain high. Currently, there are only 21 children attending the school. The problem with this, however, is that means there are not a lot of school fees coming in to be able to pay for teachers salaries and accommodation, food for the students, textbooks etc.
Aims and objectives
The academy only hires local teachers from the same village and aims to educate the children, not just in traditional education but also in issues regarding conservation, wildlife and tourism. Given their proximity to the Wildlife Conservancy, these children are likely to be the next generation of rangers, guides, managers, waiters, house keekers etc in the tourism and conservation industry so it is important to teach them the value and importance of these industries from an early age.
How am I helping?
My aims are to support the school in reaching its objectives. This for a start has been in a simple way of helping to decorate the new classrooms. I have been painting educational content on the classroom walls to aid in their teaching. I am also helping to support the teachers with their teaching methods and just supporting them in their delivery in particular in the delivery of physical education which is not always a priority in local schools.
Goals for the future
We have many goals for the future and of course, the wish list is great, but the number one priority is to make the school sustainable. At the moment the school is relying on donors to help build the classrooms and pay the teachers salaries but this is not sustainable in the long run. Many parents cannot afford to pay the school fees for their children. This means there is not enough money to pay the teaches salaries, for food for the students or to build further classrooms, by textbooks etc.
As you see providing high-quality education is not as simple as building a new school, there are many and far-reaching consequences and of course benefits. Without also educating and providing opportunities for the adults they will not be able to pay for the education for their children. The priority, therefore, is finding a way to provide opportunities for the parents, thus enabling them to pay school fees and therefore teachers salaries etc. Thus securing the future of the school for the next generations.
In the future, the school wishes to add more classrooms and of course, teachers as the needs increase. They also wish to erect a security fence around the school to ensure the safety of the children.
As a PE teacher myself, I understand the importance of physical education and I aim to be able to create a football and netball pitch on the property to give the students and the surrounding community somewhere to safely play sport, be active and stay healthy. I also wish to provide the adults with further education by running evening classes, this should help increase their employment chances and lead to a better future for their children also.
How can you help?
If you have a trip planned to Kenya and have extra room in your luggage, one of the easiest ways you can help is by bringing over provisions. The following are always of use
clothes, shoes, trainers
school supplies – textbooks, exercise books, stationery, educational posters etc
Maybe you are coming on a trip and have a particular skill you are willing to spend time sharing and educating others about. Maybe you wish to organise a trip specifically to help and volunteer, if so get in contact and I can help organise that for you. Can you hold a fundraising event or collect donations from your community? Maybe you are in charge of the charitable arm of your business and are looking for a charity to support. Does your school wish to partner with Acacia Hill Academy as pen pals to learn about their culture, traditions and way of life? Maybe you have been involved in projects like this before and have some advice?
If there is any way you can help please do not hesitate to reach out and get in contact and we can discuss further.
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Everything you need to know for a self-drive safari in East Africa
An overloading trip anywhere in Africa is not a small undertaking. There is a lot you need to prepare for from petrol stations potentially running out of petrol, being on the roads for over a day without seeing another car, punctures, shops not being well socked, roads being flooded or just washed away and lots lots more! Read this post to understand everything you need to know for a self-drive safari.
Firstly the best thing you can do is be over-prepared when you pack. If you are coming from Europe or the USA etc don’t expect things to be the same as they are there. You will not find convenience stores or petrol stations on every corner, shops are not open 24/7 and there are plenty of times when things are just ‘temporarily not working’. When temporary can be anywhere from 10 minutes to months.
It is important, therefore to have everything you need with you. When you see a petrol station fill up, don’t wait for the next one. Have spare tyres and puncture repair kits, have plenty of water, a shovel and enough food with you. I will give a comprehensive packing list later so you can check off exactly what you need.
Embrace the challenge
That being said, a lot of times it is the challenges that make the trip so much better. With challenge comes achievement, sometimes it also brings temporary failure, but in the end, you will succeed. You will soon learn that there is always a way. People will always come to assist you and together you will ‘make a plan’ and then eventually you will be back on the correct route.
It might just take a bit longer or take you a different route but it is often along this new route where all the excitement happens. It is along this new route where you are presented with opportunities to get to know the locals, learn new cultures and traditions, learn the local way of improvising with what you have and making it work.
I have so many stories from my time in East Africa, where things didn’t go to plan. Where something went wrong but it always worked out in the end and I can look back at all the times with a smile on my face. I remember the events of what subsequently happened fondly.
The best advice I can give you for when things go wrong is to not stress. Do what you can to try and prevent the situation from occurring in the first place but once it has occurred then you need to just go with it. Don’t stress about the things you can’t control, stay calm, use your head and come up with a solution.
Stories from the road
One story that springs to mind is when I had friends visit me in Tanzania from South Africa and Malawi. The first situation was when I went to pick them up from the airport. We were only about 10 minutes from the airport and the car radiator blew up. We spent a few hours at the side of the road and eventually got towed to a local garage.
The rest of the trip continued in a similar fashion. We were a large group so we towed a trailer with a rooftop tent with us. The trailer broke on no less than 4 occasions. We spent a lot of time trying to fix it at the side of the road and meeting many helpful locals along the way.
On one particular occasion, we were stuck for a long time. We had exhausted playing noughts and crosses in the sand with the Masai children and the sun was about to set. At that point a Diamond Gin truck came by, we flagged it down got a few ‘samples’ and proceeded to have sundowners with the Masai (adults) while we continue to attempt to fix the trailer.
In that entire trip, we pulled the trailer with us for 10 days and only used the tent on top of it on one occasion. The rest of the time it was out of action. Eventually, we left the trailer at a campsite and continue the trip without it as it was causing more harm than good. My friends and I affectionately refer to that trip as the ‘Roadside retreat’ due to the amount of time we spent on the roadside.
We flagged down the Diamon gin truck got a few ‘samples’ and proceeded to have sundowners with the Maasai (adults) while we continued to attempt to fix the truck
We are lucky to have lived in very safe countries, whenever we have broken down we have been at least two of us and we always stay together. We have never had a situation where we have felt unsafe. However, there are some countries where it would be dangerous to break down, especially at night. To be honest you need to prepare and try and avoid those situations as best you can.
An example of being underprepared was a young couple we met in Namibia. They were travelling around Namibia in a Ford Corsa. Bear in mind Namibia has endless gravel roads, desert and has a small population for the size of the country and you will understand the issues this car may cause. In the back of their car, they had firewood, a tent, 2 chairs and some 2-minute noodles.
To prepare their car for the trip they painted the side of the car in blackboard paint so they could write messages on their car… Unsurprisingly their car had broken down and they were stuck at the campsite outside the Sousesveli with a broken car, no food and their visa running out the next day (I’m not making any of this up). To help them out we gave them dinner and discussed their options with them.
In the end, they had to exchange their broken car for a lift to the border the next day so they could renew their visa or leave the country. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spontaneous travel and seizing the day but you need to be realistic about travel and take the necessary preparations.
In terms of car preparation sometimes it does depend on what county you are in but a lot will be te same. Whatever country you are in I would say it is best to have a 4×4. We have a V8 land cruiser so we know we can handle any situation. Our trips are always multi-day, multi-destination trips. We camp and are usually self-sufficient when camping, meaning we cook for ourselves.
A lot of the time this is out of necessity as much as it is preference. We like to visit remote areas and sometimes even bush camp so you need to have everything with you. Here is a list of what is permanently in our car and then the extras we add:
Permanently in the car
Roof top tent – matters, pillows, duvet stays in the tent
A large part of your preparation will be planning your route. Having an idea of how far you will be driving in a day and where you will be going will help you to also plan where you need to top up fuel, food and water.
We start the trip with a full fridge of meat, milk, yoghurt, etc and full stock of dry food and fruit and veg. Generally, we will need to re-stock after a maximum of a week so you need to ensure your route planning allows for this or plan your food intake accordingly. Usually, you can find fruit and veg being sold on the side of the road so this is easy to top up. Canned good and quality meat are harder to find.
If you know you will be in a remote area and doing a lot of driving then you may need to take an extra petrol canister. Remember driving times will generally be longer than they will be to cover the same distances in Europe or the US. As a side note, never believe google maps’ predicted travel time, it is ALWAYS longer than the predicted time.
The roads are generally not great. They are mostly single lane, there are a lot of trucks, goats, camel, sheep, cows, people and bicycles on the road. Some roads are just dirt roads and some are littered with potholes.
If you want to be comfortable and not drive all day then try and drive less than 500km in a day. This will give you enough time to get to a camp set up and be prepared before it gets dark.
As a general rule, I like to be at a campsite for around at least 2-3 nights. Sometimes this isn’t necessary or desired as it might just be a stopover. However, if it is a planned part of your route then at least two nights is good. Two nights gives you time to enjoy the place take in your surroundings and do some activities before you have to pack up and move on.
Obviously, a great benefit of road trips is that you can move around and experience a number of places on one trip. This is great but don’t try and fit too many places into your trip. If you only stay one night at each place it doesn’t give you time to enjoy the place, you will spend most of your time driving to the camp, setting up and packing up camp.
One of the best things about self-drive safari is that you can take your time. You are on your own schedule and there is no one to rush you. If you are particularly enjoying a place then stay a little longer the next place will still be there tomorrow.
Pros and Cons
Remember it is not all plain sailing when self-driving. The roads are not always great and you may experience mechanical issues. It’s long hours on the roads and some things will go wrong. The other drawback is that you have to organise everything yourself. From park entrance fees, routes, shopping, cooking etc. A self-drive safari isn’t for everyone but if you love freedom, and are confident driving long distances in a 4×4 then it just might be for you.
If you want the freedom of self-drive but with more comfort then you can always stay at lodges instead of camping. This takes out a lot of the stress including shopping for food and cooking, setting up camp and finding camp spots. You can also ask the lodges to help you organise and pay for park and conservation fees and even do your actual safari with the lodge.
I wanted to share with you a different place in Africa. This is just a short photographic trip through Namibia from our road trip. Namibia is a vast and varied country, from wide-open salt flats to sand dunes and desert to large rock Koppes. There is plenty to see and do. Here are 10 photos to inspire you to visit Namibia.
So there you have it a short trip through Namibia with these 10 photos to inspire you to visit Namibia. I hope you enjoyed the pics.
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Have you been to Namibia? Which was your favourite part, let me know in the comments below.
Being able to watch a pride of lions hunting is not an everyday occurrence. Recently we received a call about a pride of lions hunting a baby giraffe. Luckily it wasn’t too far from camp so we grabbed our cameras and jumped in the car. After a quick radio call to locate them we turned off-road and headed to the scene.
Lions hunting a baby giraffe
As you can see the mother put up a good fight. The actual hunt lasted a lot longer than the video. It took around 25 minutes for the lions to coordinate their attack and get close enough to succeed.
Circle of life
As heartbreaking as this was to watch, this is the reality of life in the bush. All animals have to eat and for lions to eat unfortunately another animal has to die.
The fact is that a baby giraffe isn’t a big meal for that many lions and so they will have to hunt again soon to feed their hunger.
Photographing the scene
When photographing emotional scenes like this it is important to get a variety of angles. Close up allow you to capture the gory details and really feel like you are in on the action.
Wider angle shots allow you to take in the whole scene. In this shot, you can see one of the dominant females resting off to the side. This is because she ate first, she got the lion’s share of the meal and now she is letting the others eat. This scene helps to show the complexities of relationships within the pride and gives you a deeper understanding of the social structure of a pride.
When the lions had finished feasting they approached the car for shade. The car was the only shade around as Lewa Wildlife conservancy has very few trees. The adolescent lions didn’t hesitate when approaching the car and were literally inches away from us as they lay against the side of the car.
The adult lioness, however, was much more hesitant and although you could see she really wanted the shade, she felt too uncomfortable coming that close. Eventually, she had enough of the heat and walked off in search of a tree for shade.
A truly amazing experince
As I said before, it is not often you get to see lions on a hunt. Watching these lions hunting a baby giraffe was heart-wrenching and spectacular at the same time. What made it even more special was the fact that there were only 2 vehicles at the whole scene.
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Have you witnessed a lion kill? How did it make you feel? Let me know in the comments below.
If you would like to purchase any of these photos as fine art photographic prints then please contact me to let me know which one. You can also check out the prints already available in my online store.
When you travel in East Africa it can be difficult. Not everyone speaks your language, the roads are not as you expected, the travel times are much longer than expected. This post will take you through how to travel like a local in East Africa. Inside knowledge into how to get around easily and efficiently, well, as efficiently as Africa will allow!
How to travel like a local – what you need to know
Buy a local sim card
The first thing you need to do when entering the country is to buy a local sim card and load it up with data and airtime. Data is cheap, especially in Tanzania. With the Airtel network, you can buy 3GB for around $4.50 and 8GB for under $7.
Before you buy a sim, ask around which network has the best coverage. For Arusha, Tanzania Vodacom was the best. In Kenya, Safaricom is the best, but it depends on what area you are in.
Use you phone as your bank account
Sometimes in East Africa, it can be difficult to get money out of your bank account. There may be limited ATMs where you are, or you will be charged for using your international card. To avoid this the best thing to do is load your phone with money.
Depending on the network you choose it will have different names, e.g. Airtel money, mpesa etc. You go to a local agent and give him the money and your phone number and he/she deposits the money onto your phone. You can now use your phone as you would a bank card, you can pay for transport, goods, services etc all by using your phone. The benefit is that you don’t have to carry cash around and you don’t get charged as you would for using your foreign bank card.
Dress like a local
This one is simple and yet often ignored. Dress to blend in – don’t wear skimpy clothing when walking in the villages/towns. Villages especially are often quite conservative, just look around you at what the locals are wearing and try and blend in. Often this will involve covering your thighs and knees and cleavage if you are a lady. In some places, it also means covering your shoulders.
Learn some of the Local language
Greetings are very important in East Africa. Before you start your conversation it is polite (and expected) to greet someone and ask how they are. If you can learn to greet someone in their own language then even better. The most general greeting in Kenya and Tanzania is ‘Habari Yako’. This loosely translates to ‘how are you?’ or ‘what’s the news?’ The reply is Nzuri or nzuri sana, good/very good.
Habari Yako?… Nzuri sana
Respect for your elders is a very important part of the culture. To greet someone older than you/someone in a position of power, you say ‘Shikamoo’. Shikamoo effectively means ‘I respect you.’ The reply is ‘marahaba’, I accept your respect.
Save affection for private
Respect the local culture, most places are reserved in terms of showing affection in public, you might see men holding hands in friendship but not normally men and women. Save your affection towards your partner for when you are in private.
Understand the laws and customs
In some countries, it is illegal to be gay. Even if it is legal, it is not always accepted. Always look up the laws as well as the customs and culture before you arrive at a destination or even decide to visit a destination.
Don’t flash your money around in public, keep small amounts of cash available for when you need it and keep the rest hidden away separately.
Try the local food, you can eat cheaply in the small cafes, tea rooms and Dukas (shops) on the side of the road. Favourites are chapati, mandazi (a bit like a doughnut), beef stew, ugali, chicken and chips. Ugali is the staple food of a lot of East Africa, it is made from Maize and almost has the consistency of mash potato. It doesn’t taste of much but if you have it with a beef stew it’s excellent for mopping up the sauce.
Use local transport
There is no doubt that local transport, namely the dala dala or matatus (minibuses) are the cheapest way to get around. For example, a 4/5 hour bus journey from Nanyuki to Nairobi cost $5. However, there is a reason for it being so cheap. The only limit to the number of people on the bus with you is the amount of physical space. Therefore it is not full until you have someone elses’ child sitting on your lap or a sweaty strangers crotch in your face. There is also no aircon and the bus stops a lot to pick up more customers making the journey slow. They are also known to drive like lunatics so take this recommendation with a pinch of salt.
Alternative options for a slightly more comfortable ride including, tuk-tuks or bodabodas (motorbikes). I would say the safest option is a tuk-tuk and it is still cheap. There are also bigger coaches that do longer journeys. These are a very reasonable ways to get around. For example, the Riverside Shuttle bus from Arusha, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya for example is $32 and takes around 7/8 hours depending on how long the border crossing takes.
For private transport Uber is available in Kenya and Tanzania has its own version called ‘Indriver‘. Download the apps for a safe way to get around.
Be cautious on the road
Watch out for motorbikes driving like nutters. Be aware that zebra crossings don’t mean much on roads, do not assume people will stop to allow you to cross! Motorbikes especially don’t stop so always look before you cross and be aware of them when driving.
Carry your licience and passport when driving
Police may stop you for unknown reasons and try and find an excuse to fine you. Make sure you have your driving licence and passport with you. Know the speed limits and the laws and abide by them. For example in Tanzania, you must wear closed shoes to drive.
Be polite and courteous to the police and you will not have a problem. A lot of the time they just stop you for a chat.
Learn not to take time seriously
Remember there is such thing as ‘African time’ in two senses of the word. Generally, timekeeping is not a strong point, expect people to be late and be pleasantly surprised if they are there on time.
In the second sense, there is a thing called ‘Swahili time’ which is 6 hours ‘behind’ normal time. Basically, 7 am is the ‘first hour’ in Swahili time. So 7 am is 1 o’clock, 8 am is 2 o’clock etc. When arranging meeting times etc always clarify if they are talking Swahili time or not.
Be prepared for things to not go as planned
Be prepared for things to go wrong, shops to not be open when they say they would be, miscommunication, standard items to be out of stock and just generally things not going according to plan.
Life out here can be tough and there isn’t a 24 hour Tescos/Walmart around the corner to solve the problems. Things go wrong, that is just life and you can’t control it so just go with it.
For fruit and vegetables try and shop in the local market, it is much cheaper and a much more entertaining experience Remember to greet people in the stalls first. Most food items have a set price.
If shopping for clothes in the second-hand market the price for most things is negotiable. If the market owner sees that you are foreign and don’t know how much things should cost they might put the price up. Try and watch and listen to what locals are paying before you go in so you already know the rough cost.
At the end of the day, you should pay what you are comfortable with bearing in mind a little extra will go a long way for a lot of these people.
Stay at Air bnb’s
Air bnb’s are a great option for accommodation they are usually cheaper than hotels and offer more privacy. You can also usually be in touch with the house owner who can show you around or tell you about the best places to go.
Be aware of pickpockets in urban areas, keep belonging close to you. Always ask before you take photos of people, it’s just common courtesy. Don’t be offended when people shout Mzungu at you, it means ‘white foreigner’ it is not said to offend you, but often because they are excited to see you.
How to travel like a local
That was a lot to take in, but that is effectively how to travel like a local in East Africa. The main things to remember are to be respectful, laid back and try to blend in. Travelling around in East Africa is an experience in itself so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
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