Traveling to Africa can be daunting, and it’s natural to have some questions before your adventure.
You asked, we answered
Our team has answered some of the most commonly asked questions we receive from our clients below.
If you have any other burning questions about your upcoming trip, consult with one of our expert today.
We are here to guide you every step of the way!
The ease of planning your dream vacation alongside a team of our travel experts remains unsurpassed in this day and age. Although planning your African holiday may seem as easy as booking your accommodation online, picking a flight and packing your bags, there are many advantages of having someone at your beck and call before, during and after your trip to Africa.
The logistics behind a luxury safari in Africa can be complicated and our expert team are clued up to answer any questions you may have and provide peace of mind while you travel.
Once we receive the client’s go ahead, the team will start to make every single booking for the trip. We are a full service provider and can book your international flights, local transfers, luxury accommodation, meal reservations, tours, activities, concierge services – you name it.
We are a full service provider and can book your international flights, local transfers, luxury accommodation, meal reservations, tours, activities, concierge services – you name it. Our luxury concierge team, known as Customer Experience Coordinators, provide the next level of service to each trip. This includes personalizing each activity such as arranging private dining options, making bookings at the most exclusive restaurants and setting up world-class spa experiences.
Our Customer Experience Coordinators are available 24/7 throughout each client’s stay and are available to assist with whatever the client needs. This is why we consider ourselves as an Ultra-Luxury service provider.
Ideally we recommend up to 3 to 4 months for low season, and 9 to 12 months for shoulder/high season. Many of the top lodges are in high demand during the peak season and the more exclusive luxury lodges have limited accommodation options, so you will want to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
For bucket list safaris that are month dependent, like the Great Wildebeest Migration in East Africa and the seasonal flooding in the Okavango Delta, it is recommended to book more than 12 months in advance.
That being said, it is never too early to start a conversation about making your safari dreams a reality. There have also been many occasions where we have put together exceptional trips for clients at the last minute, but this all depends on what flights are available. It is always recommended to secure flights first, and then move on to book any safari arrangements.
Planning a trip is enjoyable and exciting, but there are many factors to consider. This is why it is recommended to plan in advance and use a travel professional with locally based knowledge on the ground like Ker & Downey® Africa. A good travel operator will be with you every step of the way and is the single most important aspect of your safari.
Before your consultation, visit our website and browse through the many exciting destinations, itineraries, and experiences to enjoy in Africa. During your research, narrow down some key destinations you would like to visit and consider the dates when you can or want to travel. These will serve as important considerations to guide the preparations for your unforgettable safari adventure!
After sending through an enquiry to our specialist team of LuxVenture® Designers, you will be contacted within a few hours and a call will be set up to chat to you personally. After obtaining more information about the best options for your trip, a bespoke itinerary will be carefully crafted to suit your exact requirements. This detailed itinerary will take into account your chosen destinations, budget range, room configuration, number of persons travelling, age of persons travelling, duration, special occasions, type & level of accomodation, and what you would like to do and see while in Africa. This process takes between 2 to 3 days to craft and the team will go above and beyond to ensure the perfect camps and lodges are selected and that there are unique experiences for you to enjoy while traveling. When you consider for example that the Serengeti National Park has over 115 properties and that the international and regional flights need to link in with the availability of the lodges, there is a lot that goes into planning the perfect organised program tailored to your needs.
Once you receive your itinerary with the full quotation, take time to go through it in detail with inclusions, exclusions, experiences and activities. Some itineraries might look more cost effective than others but do they have the same inclusions, like number of wildlife game drives per day, extra activities and meals.
It might take a couple of email exchanges, updating of itineraries and walk-through calls before you commit to your final itinerary. For longer itineraries, it can take up to 3 weeks from time of enquiry to final confirmation. Then it’s time to pack your bags!
After receiving the deposit which is paid at the time of confirmation, you will receive a link to a pre-travel questionnaire so that we can enhance your overall travel experience even further. A copy of your passport will be requested for any flights to ensure we have the correct information.
One of our valued travel experts, usually either a Customer Experience Coordinator or Operations Manager will be in contact with you to share helpful and important material including country travel guides, a packing guide and a final checklist for what we like to call ‘armchair safari prep’. We provide a world-class service to our clients and any other activities and day tours can be secured closer to the time or whenever you are ready. You will receive multiple important communications from our team leading up to your departure including reminders to check with your local embassy about visa requirements and what the luggage restrictions are on charter flights used for transfers.
Closer to the departure date you will receive a final detailed itinerary with travel vouchers and flight tickets if applicable. This is usually sent out 60 days prior, once the final payment has been received. This is a comprehensive online itinerary that has all the necessary details you will need during your trip such as flight details, accommodation details, transfer times, restaurant bookings (if applicable), day tours and activities.
Once the planning process is complete, you can relax and look forward to your trip of a lifetime!
Deposits are due within 24 hours especially if flights are involved.
72 days prior to the departure date of your trip, you will receive the balance invoice from one of our team members. The final balance is due 70 days prior to travel.
We are one of the few companies in Africa that accept payments into our denominated account in ZAR, USD or EUR for wire transfers. A link to our payment gateway is sent for credit card payments via Paypal (USD) or Pay Genius (USD & ZAR) or a wire transfer is acceptable as bank account information is provided on the invoice for the deposit. Pay Genius is a secure 3D platform. The invoice highlights the terms and conditions for your trip.
While some travel companies charge clients a fee separate from trip expenses, Ker & Downey® Africa does NOT charge any consultation or service fee for the creation of your travel itinerary. The cost on your quotation is final and we offer a price guarantee, meaning that you will not be able to replicate our offerings for any better price.
This is an important part of the planning process as it will protect your vacation spend, health and belongings.
Good quality travel insurance protects the cost of your trip to cover medical expenses in the event of:
– Injury or becoming ill while traveling abroad
– Travel delays, curtailment or cancellation
– Personal accidents
– Loss, delay or damage to personal property or luggage
Some plans offer full travel insurance or only travel cancellation insurance (trip cancellation trip interruption and trip delay benefits) or purely travel emergency medical insurance. Choose the plan that suits your requirements and that will give you peace of mind while you travel with a 24-hour hotline.
We highly recommend separate COVID repatriation insurance as well, as not all travel insurance plans cover COVID-related problems.
Purchase travel insurance within 14 days of paying your vacation deposit to be covered for pre-existing medical conditions.
Be sure to consult your LuxVenture® Designer to provide you with more information.
Two days prior to departure you will receive a ‘Bon Voyage’ email and a WhatsApp group will be created with your travel consultants so we can stay in touch with you during your trip. Either all members of your traveling party or just one nominated member can be added to the WhatsApp group and we will be available around the clock to ensure you are provided with superior service. Your LuxVenture® Designer and dedicated team at Ker & Downey® Africa will never be more than a WhatsApp call or message away.
Safari Clothing Recommendations
– Most lodges have a swimming pool, so remember to bring a swimsuit. A swim is essential for ending off a warm day in the most relaxing way possible and rinsing of some accumulated dust.
– It can get both very hot and very cold on Safari. Layers of clothing are most practical for the fluctuating day/night temperatures in Africa.
– Depending upon what time of year you safari, lightweight clothing of cotton and cotton blends is most suitable.
– During the winter months it can become very cold and a warm jacket will be needed for early morning and evening game viewing activities. We recommend a Down jacket as they are lightweight and don’t take up a lot of space in your bag.
– During the summer months a lightweight water + windproof jacket in case of rain is recommended. Except for sudden rain storms the temperatures are very warm.
– For evenings bring lightweight long-sleeved clothing as protection from mosquitoes. Neutral colours such as khaki, beige/cream or olive green are appropriate, and are less conspicuous to the animals.
– We also recommend that you wear closed shoes, to protect your feet from the cold in open vehicle drives. Heavy walking boots are unnecessary unless you are doing a walking safari. Simple, lightweight shoes / trainers are more than sensible. The key words are “sturdy”, “support” and “traction”.
How much should I pack?
For safari of a duration of one week or longer you can pack 2 shorts sleeved shirts, and 2 long sleeved safari shirts. For a shorter duration trip adjust the quantity accordingly.
A general rule of thumb is that you should usually need only 3 changes of clothing. Remember that most camps and lodges offer complimentary laundry services.
Insider tip: Although lodges and camps often include a laundry service, laundry detergent will be supplied for guests to wash their own undergarments. The reason for this is that all laundry is washed by hand due to the remote locations of the lodges. We therefore suggest packing extras.
It is important to note that many lodges have a minimum age requirement and this may influence your trip. This is typically between 8 and 12 and even in some cases 16. Most of the lodges that do allow children younger than this won’t allow them on game drives, both for safety and disruption reasons, unless you book a private game vehicle. And we don’t want the little ones to be left out, so it’s important to know which lodges cater specifically for your children’s ages.
We do not recommend Botswana for children under the age of 6 years. Most activities have an age restriction – mokoro from the age of 12 years, game drives from the age of 6 years, walking safaris from the age of 12 years. Many camps will also require families to hire a private safari vehicle in order to allow kids to join on safaris. Most camps offer child minding services. We recommend Botswana for multi-generational families with kids 6 years and above.
Tanzania is a very child friendly destination. With the closed safari vehicles children are allowed on the game drives. Most of the camps also offer child programs to keep the little ones entertained. It is also recommended to look at camps that have a pool for the kids to enjoy besides the safari element.
Consult your LuxVenture® Designer who will have insider knowledge about things like which lodges are child friendly, which lodges specifically cater for children, which guides work best with children and which travel experiences really appeal to kids.
Read more about our Luxury Family Safaris HERE.
Some hotels and lodges provide international adapters in the rooms/tents. It is important to note that some camps/lodges are in remote locations and run off generators or solar power. Some camps also only have a certain charging station where you can charge your camera batteries or phone. A useful site to use for checking which adaptor you will need, visit Electrical Safety First.
While drives are normally shared between up to six guests; some guests prefer to upgrade to a private safari experience, where they enjoy the full attention of their tracker and guide in their own private vehicle. We have increasingly found that guests enjoy this personal experience on safari. Here are two main reasons why:
Your own private guide and tracker
Your tracker and guide are such an important part of the experience; and a private safari vehicle ensures that you have their full and personal attention for your stay, while they tailor the experience to your needs and loves. Having their full attention also ensures you learn so much more as their wealth of knowledge is not directed elsewhere. A personal guide makes the safari all the more enjoyable and memorable, and you leave having become real friends with your trackers and guides
With a private safari vehicle, you can sit with your guide at the beginning of the drive and plan the day exactly how you want it. Perhaps you want to spend the entire day searching for lions in the far north of the reserve: that’s perfect. Maybe you want to follow leopards all day: let’s go. Or perhaps you just love looking at the little things, and want to spend a morning birding, then there are no other expectations to be met and you can spend a few hours looking for eagles and hornbills and robins.
Spend as long as you like at a sighting
In the bush, patience is always rewarded with amazing sightings. Some people love to spend hours at a specific sighting. In a private safari vehicle, it’s totally up to you how much time you want to spend with the animal. The lions might be sleeping; but if you wait a little longer, there’s a good chance they will get up and start hunting. When it’s just your group in the vehicle, you get to make those decisions with your guide and perhaps line yourself up for the sighting of a lifetime.
We absolutely love hearing about our clients’ adventures! Sending feedback is also a great way to revisit some of the unforgettable memories of your trip. You can send your feedback by leaving us a review on Google or Facebook, or send an email to your LuxVenture® Designer and team of dedicated experts who helped make it all possible!
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A valid, machine-readable passport issued by the country of which you are a citizen is mandatory for all international travel. This includes travelers under the age of 18.
Passports must be valid for at least six months after your return date. You cannot enter East Africa if your passport expires in less than six months.
Your passport must contain at least two consecutive blank pages for the visas and entry stamps for each country you are visiting. Please note that airlines may refuse to board you or immigration officials to process you should your passport have insufficient blank pages.
NOTE: It is always advisable to make a physical copy of your passport and keep it in a safe place, and make a digital copy that you can access from your email address in case of emergency.
Foreign visitors may be required to obtain a visa before entering any of the East African countries. Please consult with your LuxVenture® Designer, or contact your local Tanzanian, Kenyan, Uganda or Rwanda embassy for the most current visa information.
Travelers should check for visa requirements pertaining to their citizenship, as entry requirements vary between countries.
It is advisable to obtain your tourist visas before departure whenever possible. Please note the tourist visas obtained at the port of entry are often payable only in cash.
Travelers requiring a visa to allow for multiple entries in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda can apply online for the T12 East Africa Tourist Visa. The East Africa Tourist Visa is valid for 90-days.
All visitors to any one of the East African countries (including Zanzibar), even if in transit, require a yellow fever inoculation certificate if you have visited a yellow fever endemic country.
Certificates must be produced for all travelers over the age of one year and are valid for 10 years. Failure to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate at a port of entry could lead to refusal of entry, or quarantine until the traveler’s certificate becomes valid.
Quarantine will not be longer than six days.
Read Vaccines in Africa – A guide to safe travel for more updated information.
Most commercial airlines flying into Africa still require travelers to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test conducted within 72 hours of departure.
However, with the vaccine rollout steadily underway across the globe, we are hopeful that the strict protocols will be eased as the vaccine’s effectiveness is evaluated more thoroughly.
Until this happens, each country in Africa has its own set of COVID-19 entry requirements. These are being updated daily by our team of travel experts and can be viewed HERE.
Many East African safari destinations are reachable only via shared light aircrafts. Small aircrafts have weight and luggage restrictions that are strictly enforced for the safety of passengers:
If you weigh more than 220 lbs. (100 kg)*, please advise your LuxVenture® Designer.
*Airlines are strict with their weight allowances and might charge extra per person with body weight over 220-264 lbs (100-120 kg).
Each traveler is allowed no more than 15kgs / 33lbs of luggage.
All luggage must be soft sided and manoeuvrable. Wheels are only permissible if they are not part of a rigid structure or frame.
Maximum luggage dimensions:
W: 25cm (10 inches) wide x H: 30cm (12 inches) high x L: 62cm (24 inches) long
Please note that hard cases and overweight suitcases will not be accommodated on shared light aircrafts under any circumstances. Your True Vine Lux Agent will let you know if your trip requires light aircraft flights.
Gorilla trekking is the experience of a lifetime! But there are some important things to note before you go.
Mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human illness. Even brief proximity to an ill person can seriously infect and potentially kill an entire gorilla family. It is imperative that you are in perfect health when you arrive in Rwanda, Uganda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo as you will be denied participation in the gorilla trek if you are even slightly sick.
Slots on gorilla treks are limited and non-refundable due to illness. To maintain your health and to ensure you have the best trekking experience, we recommend that you:
– Ensure that you are at least moderately fit, if not fitter. Gorilla trekking can be strenuous. Depending on where the gorillas are, you can expect to hike long distances through the humid forest to find them.
– Ensure you are up to date on all routine vaccinations and have immunizations for influenza, hepatitis, tetanus, and diphtheria.
– Consider cutting down or quitting smoking, if you are a smoker, as smoking is not allowed near the gorillas and the scent of smoke will alarm them of a foreign presence.
Strict regulations have been enacted to protect the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas and their habitat. It is essential that you obey any direction given to you by your guide and tracker when trekking with gorillas to ensure both your safety and the safety of gorillas.
It is important to note that while incidents are extremely rare thanks to the careful approach taken by highly experienced guides, if you are injured by a gorilla, you may be far from medical assistance.
Best gorilla trekking practices include:
– A maximum of 8 people per day may visit the gorillas. For this reason, it is important to book your trekking opportunity well in advance to secure your space.
– Only 1-hour is allowed with the gorillas. Do not pressure your guide into staying with the gorillas for longer.
– Maintain a distance of 7 meters (23 feet) from the gorillas at all times and listen carefully to directions provided by your guide and trackers.
– Wash your hands before trekking as gorillas are highly susceptible to human disease.
– Keep your voice low and do not make sudden, or erratic movements.
– Do not litter.
– Always stay close to your trekking group and never wander off alone as the jungle can quickly become disorientating.
– No eating, smoking, or drinking is permitted near the gorillas. No flash photography is permitted.
Travelers planning to go on a gorilla trekking expedition should pack lightly, but appropriately for the trekking conditions. We recommend wearing and/or bringing the following items in a small day pack on your trek:
– Long sleeve and lightweight trousers and t-shirt to protect from thorny vegetation and insects
– Gloves, long socks and appropriate hiking boots
– Lightweight trekking poles that you can easily collapse small enough to fit into a backpack
– Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm
– At least 1-litre of potable water in a reusable hard plastic container.
– Aspirin, or your mild pain reliever of choice
– A small hand towel or bandana
– Tissues or wet wipes
– Your camera along with an extra battery and storage card
– A portable charger to charge your camera or cell phone (with sound and notifications turned off at all times)
The best time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda is during the dry seasons between the months of December to March, and June to September each year. Not only will the terrain be easier to navigate, but it will be much easier to spot the gorillas hidden within the bamboo forests. However, weather in Rwanda is notoriously unpredictable so make sure to pack a raincoat and waterproof hiking gear.
Although gorilla trekking in Uganda is considered a year-round activity, the humid rainy seasons and muddy terrain can make it extra challenging and lessen your chances of spotting the gorillas. To make it easier for yourself, we recommend traveling during the dry seasons from January to February and June to September. For the best game viewing on your Uganda Safari, we recommend traveling towards the end of the dry season, when wildlife is concentrated around water sources.