Safari and Travel Information

No country in the world can claim to be 100% safe and Africa is no exception. However, Africa is probably one of the safest destinations at the present time. Zimbabwe is our home base and is emerging from a time of political and economic turmoil, but it is important to note that without exception, visitors to the country have not had their personal security threatened as a result of this.

If at any time we thought it was unsafe to visit Zimbabwe or any other country in East and Southern Africa, we would be the first to advise you. We never jeopardise the safety of our clients and our reputation would be severely damaged by taking unnecessary risks.

If you have not travelled to Africa before we will help you make this decision – it is quite easy really, as first-timers generally want to experience the best game viewing possible and return clients may want to visit more far-flung destinations or repeat the last wonderful experience! Visit our Experiences section for more details.

In any case, we will communicate with you thoroughly to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a safari – and we’ll custom design a very special safari itinerary for you based on your needs.

For a few ideas, visit our Destinations page.

There are different options…

1. As part of a set tour with a tour guide

2. As a safari package whereby a particular safari operator or agent will sell you an itinerary using their own properties or properties they have an affiliation with

John Stevens Guided Safaris Africa specialises in Options 3 and 4.

3. A custom designed itinerary where you travel independently between carefully chosen camps and lodges. In choosing Option 3, you will enjoy the expertise and local knowledge of resident camp guides. Depending on guiding standards maintained in particular countries these guides may or may not be formally qualified but are usually very experienced. Depending on the number of guests in camp at the same time, you may or may not have a guide and vehicle exclusive to your group although this can usually be arranged and paid for in advance. These safaris are created to suit your individual needs, drawing on John and Nicci’s vast knowledge of Africa’s best wildlife destinations and ensuring against any ‘hiccups’ along the way by using hosts and resident camp guides of the highest calibre.

4. A custom designed itinerary accompanied throughout by John Stevens, or one of his colleagues, as your private professional guide, also using carefully chosen camps and lodges. This option allows you to combine John’s 35 years of bush experience with the intimate local knowledge of a resident guide who will also accompany John. This option guarantees that safari activities are undertaken independently of any other guests who may be in camp. Mobile tented camps are usually exclusively booked but any camp or lodge can be booked exclusively if requested.

Generally yes. But you could be pleasantly surprised so we would like you to give us the opportunity to give you comparative quotes – one itinerary cost option with a private guide and another option travelling independently, i.e. without a private guide but using resident camp guides.
Safaris can be broadly divided into two different styles:

– A safari based on accommodation and lodges or permanently sited tented camps.

– A ‘pukka’ traditional safari based on tented accommodation of various levels. Camps are mobile and have full back-up teams. Top-of-the-range mobile camps are equipped with every amenity necessary to keep you comfortable.

There is a range of levels within both of the above from luxury to rustic and of course the two styles can be combined within a safari.

Choosing between the two is a very personal decision, but for a true African safari experience we recommend a combination of the mobile-tented safari (these are not available in all countries) and permanent camps and lodges. Many permanent camps are tented.
Different categories of tented camp are as follows:

Mobile

  • Seasonal/semi-permanent
  • Permanent

Within these categories, the style of accommodation varies…

African Luxury – permanent

Either made from brick/wood, under thatch or tented.

Always spacious and beautifully appointed; large en suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water, bath, indoor and outdoor shower, flush lavatories; spacious veranda, usually with a private plunge pool; often air conditioned and spa/gym room available for use; gourmet food, butlers, everything you could wish for…

Luxury-style tents are enormous and more on the scale of a cottage made of canvas. Great attention is given to every design detail. Here genuine luxury is provided and the staff-to-client ratio and standards of service are impressive.

African Wilderness – usually permanent, sometimes seasonal

Includes the East African bush homes and ranches. Camps and lodges are both tented and brick or wood/reeds under thatch. Rooms are extremely comfortable; bathrooms are en suite with hot and cold running water and flush lavatory, often a dressing room and always a veranda.

These camps are often, but not always, owner-managed, which ensures personal attention to detail and a sociable experience.

African Escape – tented, seasonal, semi-permanent, mobile

These authentic-style camps are referred to as: –

– mobile because they are erected and raised as bookings dictate or to follow seasonal game movements, such as in the Serengeti and Masai Mara.

– semi-permanent because they are raised at the beginning of the season and stay up until the season’s end.

The tents are large, have spacious en suite bathrooms incorporating hot and cold water, a ‘short-drop’ safari or flush toilet and traditional ‘safari shower’.

Tents are fully gauzed to protect against insects. They are beautifully appointed and decorated. Each contains comfortable beds, dressing tables, safari wardrobe and luggage racks.

There is a large veranda with a table and safari chairs.

The communal living area is generally well stocked with reference books and reading matter and ‘a help yourself’ bar area.

These camps are often booked for exclusive use and are usually owner-managed, providing a very private, personal and sociable experience.

African Down-to-Earth – seasonal and tented

Small ‘dome’ or ‘bell’ tents are used, usually large enough for standing room. Sleeping is typically on a camping mattress in a sleeping bag. Communal bathroom facilities with long drop toilet and bush shower are available.

Please note: Due to the logistics of moving these camps (camels, porters, etc.), they are not necessarily less expensive, but do provide an unassuming, down-to-earth, authentic bush experience.

Your answer to “Where Shall I Go” will help decide the best time to go on safari.

If you have the luxury of being able to choose your travel dates, this decision will depend largely on what it is you are wanting out of your safari experience, e.g. which animals you would like to see, what experiences you’d like to enjoy, and whether you already have a country in mind, etc.

If you are not flexible with time, the choice is more limited but not radically so. Due to the varying weather patterns throughout East and Southern Africa there is always a country or area whose ‘best’ time will fit your schedule.

Southern and East Africa fall into two general weather pattern systems.

Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia) has a dry winter season from around April to October while the rains come during the summer months of November to March. Parts of southern Tanzania (the Selous) also fall into this pattern. Most, but not all, safari properties are closed during the rainy season months December – April.

East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya and including Rwanda/Uganda) has two rainy seasons – ‘short’ rains in October and November and ‘long’ rains late March, April and May. Most safari properties are closed in November and again April and May. We are happy to give you further information on the weather especially concerning the expected impact on the Migration, which maintains a complicated and variable pattern.

Further information on weather can be found in Destinations. Below is a guide to the weather in East and Southern Africa designed as a quick reference to help you understand at a glance the best safari destination at any given time of year.

Month East Africa Southern Africa
JANUARY
Summer
Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rainy season
FEBRUARY
Summer
Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rainy season
 MARCH
Summer
 Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rains ending
APRIL
Summer
 Long rainy season begins Rains ending
MAY
Autumn
 Long rainy season Rain (Unlikely – prime time)
JUNE
Winter
 Long rains ending Rain (Unlikely – prime time)
JULY
Winter
Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rain (Unlikely – prime time)
AUGUST
Winter/Spring
Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rain (Unlikely – prime time)
SEPTEMBER
Spring
Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rain (Unlikely – prime time)
OCTOBER
Summer
Rain (Unlikely – prime time) Rain begins late Oct – prime time
NOVEMBER
Summer
 Short rainy season Rainy season
DECEMBER
Summer
Short rains ending Rainy season
We need to understand your requirements perfectly. At all times, but particularly during the initial planning process when you are making decisions and have lots of questions to ask, we attempt to offer you our prompt and undivided attention.

In order to get started please tell us if you have any initial ideas, suggestions from friends, etc that you would like to incorporate into your safari.

We need to know which year, the time of year you plan to come to Africa, and what length of safari you anticipate. Destinations we recommend will be entirely dependent on Africa’s different weather patterns throughout the year.

We need to know the size of the group so that we can give you an estimated cost. We also need to know if there are any children in the group as we will, in this instance, design a child-friendly safari!

We then need to know the sort of comfort level you would prefer, e.g. mobile tented, permanent tented or lodges; comfortable but rustic accommodation; 5 star throughout; or a mixture of the above?

Another question to answer is the level of activity you prefer – i.e. would you like game viewing on foot combined with other methods of game viewing, e.g. vehicle, canoe, boat etc; the emphasis on walking, no walking at all, etc.

Besides game viewing, do you have any particular interests e.g. birding, geology and scenery?

Would you like to spice your safari up with a little adventure such as a camel trek or a walking trail, perhaps sleeping “out” in an ultra light-weight tented fly camp?

Please go to CONTACT US, and complete and return our pre-safari contact form.

Without question Africa is a wonderful family holiday destination; we often put together safaris for multi-generational families. Being on safari is not only a time to be away from it all and together as a family, which we all know is something we all do too little of these days, but also a schoolroom like no other. Throughout East and Southern Africa various camps and lodges do not accept children under 12 years of age, but this is not at all a limiting factor as these are usually not environments children of this age would be happy in anyway. There are many other choices.
Once you have decided on your safari destination and planned an itinerary we will send you comprehensive safari information particular to the country or countries you will be visiting which we hope will pre-empt your questions. This information covers such topics as what clothes and other items, to bring along; current airport departure taxes; time differences, etc.
The Big Five are lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. The term came from trophy hunting during the colonial era when hunters ranked animals in terms of how dangerous they were to hunt. Equally magnificent animals, such as hippo and giraffe, were easy to hunt and so not included.

The Big Five often appear on the wish list of first-time safari goers. These five animals will probably not be found in the more remote areas of Africa (where the overriding advantage is also fewer visitors). However there are places where the likelihood of seeing the Big Five during your safari is more likely. Obviously these areas are very popular.

Most camps or lodges have a good library, and your guide should be carrying with him a few good reference books during the day when you are out of camp. You might like to bring your own books. For animals we’d suggest a good general animal reference book “A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa” by Jean Dorst and Pierre Dandelot. For East African birds “The Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa” (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi) by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshaw and for Southern Africa, “Birds of Southern Africa” by Ken Newman.

Try :

Booksite Afrika – www.booksite.co.za
Kalahari – www.takealot.com

We will send you a Recommended Reading List prior to your safari, too.

John Stevens’ personal recommendation is that each person in a safari group should have with them their own pair of good quality binoculars. The initial outlay may seem excessive but once you arrive in Africa and can look through a good pair of lenses, which will bring to life this wonderful new world, the expense will be completely justified. Look for wide-angled binoculars not the new-generation compact variety.
These requirements change constantly so it is best to get up-to-date information. For the current information concerning visa requirements please visit:

USA – www.travel.state.gov
Australia – www.smarttraveller.gov.au
UK – www.fco.gov.uk
Canada – www.voyage.gc.ca

Vaccination requirements change from time to time and so we advise that you contact your health department for this information.

Try:

World Travel Guide – www.worldtravelguide.com

World Health Organisation – www.who.int

Most of the game areas in Africa are malarial areas. You should get proper advice on prophylactics from your doctor.

All camps should have comprehensive first aid kits. We recommend that prior to your safari you take out comprehensive medical insurance cover, which includes medical air evacuation.
Generally we advise the layer method, i.e. dress in layers that can come off or be put on depending on the variation in temperature throughout a day. Further information regarding clothing and personal items to bring along will be sent to you once your itinerary has been finalised.

Your safari will take you to different places, where it’s possible to help either conservation or community projects (normally, these go hand in hand). We like to work with operators who practise responsible and sustainable tourism, and help support the wildlife and communities in which they work. There are many opportunities on safari to “give back” and these include:

  • Pack for a Purpose
  • Various conservation initiatives and community projects – get involved by teaching, playing, painting, building, networking, planting and learning
  • Volunteering
  • Your safari dollars can help support a worthy cause – ask us to outline how coming on safari can also benefit wildlife and communities

Talk to us about how you can get involved. We can help in this regard and make suggestions/identify various projects or initiatives for the country and destination you are visiting. Beware of tourist “scams. We are here to advise and assist you.

Richard Ferris Burton, Explorer 1821 – 1890

“The gladdest moment in human life is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands.'
2018-06-13T14:46:08+00:00
“The gladdest moment in human life is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands.'

Anon

“Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along.”
2018-06-13T17:55:59+00:00
“Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”
2018-06-25T16:27:58+00:00
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”

Charles Kingsley (Writer 1819 – 1875)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
2018-06-25T16:24:08+00:00
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”

Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”
2018-06-25T16:28:31+00:00
“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”

Gustave Flaubert

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
2018-06-25T16:27:12+00:00
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

John Muir

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
2018-06-13T17:56:23+00:00
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

Bartle Bull, Safari. A Chronicle of Adventure

“Even today, to visit Africa is a feast for the senses. The bush literally brings one’s faculties to life, as you learn to see better, to smell for the first time, to be silent and to listen.”
2018-06-13T17:55:34+00:00
“Even today, to visit Africa is a feast for the senses. The bush literally brings one’s faculties to life, as you learn to see better, to smell for the first time, to be silent and to listen.”

Karen Blixen

“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and makes you feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”
2018-06-25T16:24:43+00:00
“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and makes you feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”

Marcel Proust

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
2018-06-25T16:26:19+00:00
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Anita Desai

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
2018-06-25T16:25:31+00:00
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”

Sylvia Dolson, Joy of Bears

“If you reconnect with nature and the wilderness you will not only find the meaning of life, but you will experience what it means to be truly alive.”
2018-06-25T16:22:53+00:00
“If you reconnect with nature and the wilderness you will not only find the meaning of life, but you will experience what it means to be truly alive.”

Mark Twain

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
2018-06-25T16:29:07+00:00
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Bill Bryson

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
2018-06-25T16:29:37+00:00
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
Contact Us Now