“Under Canvas in the Masai Mara”
Timeless Kenya is everything you imagine Africa to be. And an African safari is the dream of a lifetime. Witnessing the plentiful wildlife of the grasslands of the Masai Mara is an experience that changes you. One’s senses are stirred – your spirit moved to a different level with the thrill of anticipating what will happen next.
After being cooped up for two pandemic years, it’s time to pamper yourself with a Classic Safari into the country where the concept originated. Of all our adventures on the Dark Continent, AFSers consistently rate safaris to Kenya as their “Best Vacation Experience of All.” From our 5-star luxury tented camps, you will have a front-row seat to an abundance of wildlife and truly the Greatest Show on Earth – the annual wildebeest migration. During exhilarating daily game drives across the sweeping savannahs of the Masai Mara, you are virtually assured of seeing the Big 5 – lions, leopards, buffalo, rhinos and elephants. But for the most part, you won’t even have to leave your tent for you’ll be living in a beautiful private Mara concession directly in the path of the migration.
Imagine hot air ballooning at sunrise, followed by sitting in an infinity swimming pool literally on the edge of the Mara with a herd of elephants strolling by you. You’ll be that close! We have negotiated unheard-of rates at the sought-after exclusive locations such as & beyond’s Kichwa Luxury Tented Camp, a refuge for celebrities and the ultra-rich. This rare camp has consistently won travel awards for its pampering safari experience, complete with spa, bush dinners under the stars, interactive kitchen, organic gardens, so much more.
This trip of a lifetime includes daily game drives, village visits, gourmet meals, special visits to Karen Blixen’s home, animal rehabilitation centers like the Ol Pejeta Chimp & Rhino Sanctuary and the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary. And we’ll get to know members of the Masai tribe who call these lands their home. Forget watching National Geographic. Here you experience it! From the old-world charm of colonial Nairobi to quality time under luxurious canvas tents in the Bush as few will ever know, you will get up close and personal with some of the world’s most magnificent wild creatures.
This 10-day glorious adventure is tailor-made for animal lovers and photographers but is only being offered as a small group of 26 travelers. October is the perfect time to visit not only because of the temperate weather, but this allows you to witness the legendary great migration of the wildebeests and zebras across the Masai Mara to the Serengeti. Come channel your inner Livingston for an Out of Africa experience like no other.
Lonely Planet says…
Big Five safaris Not only were safaris born in Kenya, but so was the very word itself – it means ‘journey’ in Swahili. Spotting the much-heralded Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) is a major aspiration of many visitors to Africa, and as one would suspect, Kenya provides some of the continent’s most impressive natural venues for it. None of which is more famous than the Masai Mara, where sightings of all these species is common. Lake Nakuru National Park, with its flamingo-lined lake and forest-clad escarpments, is another incredible place for Big Five safaris, as is Amboseli National Park, where Mt Kilimanjaro provides a staggering backdrop. Samburu Game Reserve in the remote north is prime safari territory too, and also hosts its own ‘Samburu Big Five’: Beisa onyx, Grevy’s zebra, long-necked gerenuk, reticulated giraffe and Somali ostrich.
The Great Migration It’s been called the greatest natural spectacle on the planet, and for good reason – each year from July to October, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra make a dramatic crossing of the crocodile-infested Mara River to feed on the lush grasses of the Masai Mara. The flood of animals filling the open savannah includes herds of elephants and giraffes, and trailing this sea of prey are lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. Needless to say, there is never a shortage of drama during the great migration.
Cultural encounters Although it is dreams of Kenya’s wondrous wildlife that draws most people to this East African nation, many people’s lasting memories revolve around their interactions with Kenyans themselves. The Maasai people, with their traditional red shukas, brilliant smiles and overwhelming presence, add a depth of warmth to any trip into the Mara region. The same can be said for the striking Turkana people in Loyangalani along the eastern shore of the Jade Sea (Lake Turkana) – visitors to the Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival in early May will also meet many of the other enigmatic and colorful tribes from the Kenya’s remote north, such as the El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Dassanatch, Gabra, Borana, Konso, Sakuye, Garee, Waata, Burji and Somali. The diversity of cultures in Kenya is truly astounding. While the Swahili people on the coast differ in that they don’t share a common heritage, they are bound by a language and an African history that is tied to Arabia and Persia – there is no better place to immerse yourself in this world than in the labyrinth of crooked alleyways in Lamu.
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
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Oct 2, 2022 Depart from the U.S. All details to com in AFS Trip Tips
Oct 3 Jambo! Welcome to Nairobi
Land into Jomo Kenyatta International airport (JRO) and meet with your driver/guide and be given a welcome safari hat… The BEST way to start your African safari in Kenya. The drive to your hotel is about 5 minutes away from the international arrivals. Arrive and check-in at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel. After check-in, time at leisure experiencing the hotel facilities or optional excursions depending on the time of arrival.
Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel
Oct 4 Nairobi – Olpejeta Conservancy (Meals) B, L, D
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we drive to the cool Kenyan highlands to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and pristine Sweetwaters Tented Camp, passing through the lush Kikuyu farmlands and coffee plantations. Situated in the foothills of snow-capped Mount Kenya in central Kenya’s Laikipia County, Ol Pejeta is an award-winning conservancy, famous for protecting the world’s last two northern white rhinos. It is also one of the largest black rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. You might spot lions prowling the plains, giraffes and elephants munching on whistling thorn trees, cheetah scanning for prey or even elusive wild dogs and leopards.
We arrive at the sheltered oasis of Sweetwaters midday where we enjoy a leisurely lunch. Afterward, we have a unique opportunity to visit Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Chimpanzees are not indigenous to Kenya and these intriguing creatures have all been rescued. We learn about their habits and care, and you may also choose to adopt a chimp. We then set out on an afternoon game viewing drive in the conservancy where its privileged seclusion allows for optimum private game viewing in the animals’ natural habitat. Return to the camp as the sunsets. Our groups love Sweetwaters where you can watch the animals right from your deluxe tent.
Overnight: Sweetwaters Tented Camp
Oct 5 Nairobi – Olpejeta Conservancy B,L,D
We start early with a morning game drive and will spend our day exploring Ol Pejeta’s open plains and secret valleys. We’ll come back to a hot breakfast and leisure time. You have the day to spend time as you wish, enjoying lunch on the grounds and exploring the camp itself. The camp offers several things to do in your spare time, including guided bush or river walks.
Another game drive awaits in the afternoon and we return to dinner and overnight at the camp. All game drives are presented early dawn and at sunset when the predators seek their prey and the bush comes alive!
Overnight: Sweetwaters Tented Camp
Oct 6 Lake Nakuru B,L,D
“Safari” means to journey or to move. In Kenya, we move each day to follow the game. After breakfast, we set out for the Lake Nakuru National Park, reaching the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge by lunch. This uniquelodge is laid out in such a way that most rooms and sitting areas afford stunning views of the lake and the park. The Lodge incorporates natural landscaping with tall acacia trees, winding walkways and greens dotted with bird feeds.
After lunch, we enjoy an afternoon game drive where we can see the lake’s massive population of Flamingos. Songs have been written about this amazing area. The surface of the lake occupies about a third of the park and supports a dense bloom of the blue-green Cyanophyte Spirulina from which it derives its color. The Park is known for its leopards also contains Kenya’s largest population of rhinos as well as a number of species of wildlife.
Dinner and overnight at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge
Oct 7 Lake Nakuru – Masai Mara B,L,D
Today, we head to Kenya’s most famous Game Reserve – the Masai Mara, stopping periodically along the way to take in sights and stretch our legs as we breathe in the cool savannah fresh air.
We arrive at the &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Luxury Camp in time for lunch before our first game viewing drive in this magnificent reserve. The greatest attraction in the Mara is watching the animals in their natural element; a lion’s roar, a cheetah making a kill, the large herds of the migratory wildebeest, an elephant trumpeting in anger and lots of other animal activities are all very fascinating events. As an exclusive property on a private concession, walking safaris with armed rangers are offered here.
We’ll be back at the camp to enjoy activities provided here followed by an amazing sunset over the Mara with a Bush Dinner.
Dinner and overnight at Kichwa Tembo Luxury Camp this small luxury camp goes beyond the expected with top Rangers, a community visit, hearty fresh meals with wines, drinks, free laundry and Wi-Fi.
About &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Luxury Camp
Oct 8 Masai Mara and Village Visit B,L,D
Flying high up in the skies above the Masai Mara is the ultimate safari experience. The landscape below is a never-ending exciting mixture of riverine forests, sprawling savannahs, towering escarpments and rugged rivers. Against a backdrop of stunning sunrises, hot-air balloon flights in the Masai Mara give you a unique vantage point of the abundant wildlife living below. There’s really nothing quite like it, the view is unparalleled and the experience is unforgettable.
Head off to another adventurous safari drive in search of wild animals. The early mornings and evenings are the best times to watch the big cats hunt – the lion, the cheetah and the leopard. Return to the camp for a full buffet breakfast. Help the chefs in the organic garden and interactive kitchen, if you like.
We then pay a visit to a Maasai Boma (Masai village tour). As you arrive at the village, excited children and adults welcome you with song and dance with dancers launching themselves to unbelievable heights as they jump straight up. You’ll be invited to try jumping, too!! Our host will give us an insight into Maasai life, showing us the village huts (called Manyatta) where they live. Made of cow dung and clay plastered over stick frames, their construction is practical for their lifestyle.
After lunch, we have leisure time before another exciting evening safari in search of the “big five” – Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard and the Cape Buffalo, most dangerous of all.
Oct 9 Masai Mara to Nairobi B,L
After breakfast, we take a leisure drive back to Nairobi across the Great Rift Valley, stopping for lunch at the famous Carnivore restaurant. Everything on this day depends on our drive times from the Mara but we will try to visit as many sites as possible.
In the afternoon, we’ll visit David Sheldrick’s, and the Giraffe Center where you can hand-feed the giraffes. Then stop at the Karen Blixen house, once lived in by Karen, and made world familiar as the movie set for “Out of Africa” with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. (Try to see the movie again!) Ms. Blixen’s good works, among and for the local people, have made her into a legend. If you are interested in the local jewelry you can visit the Kazuri Bead Factory, it’s an all-woman craft workshop that is renowned for making fabulous clay beads and jewelry. The Factory is a cooperative enterprise founded several clay beads are as amazing as the story of the Factory’s evolution.
Check-in at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel.
Oct 10 Depart for flight home
After breakfast transfer to airport for your journey home. Flight options and more details to come later.
” Africa, so dramatic and hypnotically unintelligible, gives us the feeling that the world is fast and noble. Kenya magnifies the safari experience in a way no other place can. The happiest years of my life were spent here.” – Paul Theroux
Land Price $3775 pp twin share Plus $50 pre-paid gratuities.
Limited to 28 participants
Includes: AFS GTL, all meals and tours listed, entrance fees, safari vehicles, lodges, ranger guides
Not included: visas, gratuities for your Safari Ranger Guides est. $10 per day per person
Group Air: Small group no group air but we are at the Crowne Plaza at airport has free shuttle service
- Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
- Single rooms limited with $ supplement. Cost varies. Email us for availability. AFS will find you a roommate.
- The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it. A minimum number of 12 is needed.
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy. Travel insurance is important nowadays. It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
- Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details.
Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport, an IHG Hotel 5-star
Nakuru – Sarova Lionhill Game Lodge
andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp
- All prices are per person twin share. Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies. Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably. AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.
- Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
- We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary.
- Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!
AFS TRIP TIPS KENYA 2022
Please check back for updates.
Prepare to be thrilled by magical Kenya, land where safaris began! We’ve sent hundreds of AFSers here and all rated this as their best vacation ever. Our last group was four years ago but we added even more for you on this. So many wonders and game drives to enjoy each day. You’ll love the bush walks, balloons and encounters with the Masai. The highlight is our exclusive tented camp in a private Mara concession directly in the path of the wildebeest migration. It’s the best Game Show on the planet! All will be open with a warm welcome for you October 2022. Even now, incoming flights are back to normal operations and health protocols are in place to ensure you have a safe visit. There’s no need for you to research anything as we are fully intended to all changing rules and aspects of this trip. Just wait for my updates to come. Anticipation is half the fun of a journey.
We have a wonderful group of 26 solo travel lovers. I know most of you and can’t guarantee there will be much laughter on drive times. We secured the best range your guides for you in each region. For now, connect on your private Facebook group page.
It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes to these Trip Tips. Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy your vacation!
Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information. Updates and addendums will be posted here. Check back from time to time.
IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES
- FINAL PAYMENT DUE JUN 1, 2022 Pay by check directly online digitally for no fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase. As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.
Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.) You’ll love Carol. our Afrioca specialist.
Carol has been on 20+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 92+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for the past 25 years in the banking industry. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve and keep clients happy. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.
During a recent sabbatical, Carol coordinated and lead a once in a lifetime journey around the world, visiting 13 countries! Carol’s excitement to discover new things is complimented by her unique ability to get along with and relate to people of all backgrounds. She has a deep understanding of new and seasoned travelers with a knack to inspire all. Carol is all about the experience: from skydiving to trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda, leading a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and always making many new friends along the way.
Trip Prep: At this time you need to get a negative PCR test 96 hours before departure and fill out the Kenya traveler health form. Wait until we advise.
- Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
- Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. Scan your important documents – Covid tests, trip tips, passport etc. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email folder on your phone to re-issue new one quickly.
- To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
- Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
- Vaccines – I got mine feeling it will eventually be necessary for travel. Many countries now are eliminating Covid test and quarantine for vaccinated visitors. Bring your vaccine card. Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it. You can take photo of both sides and store on phone or copy both sides and laminate the copy. Login to your trip file booking form and answer question about Vaccine Yes (or will) or No. Suppliers want this info.
- All airline Covid rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules to ensure a smooth departure! Click here for the latest info on PCR tests required to travel abroad. Failure to get the correct test may cause the airline to turn you away. It’s your responsibility to know the airline rules that can change right up to departure. They won’t speak to us with reservation in your name. All websites post their Covid rules at top of landing page. All airlines in the process of making significant routing and scheduling changes now as they scramble ramping up hiring for the travel surge to come. How to reach them? Call direct or request a callback time. Check to see if your questions can be resolved on the airlines mobile app or via Twitter or turn to their social media for assistance. Travelers get best results via Facebook message to the airline.
- The local supplier and AFS may require you sign a Travel Pledge before departure. If so, we’ll email a form to you prior.
Visas – Visa is required to enter. The new E visa is so easy to obtain by following our four steps later. The tourist visa is good for three months. $50. Will send email instructions in Sept. You will go to evisa.go.ke – you’ll need a copy of your passport, vaccination card, air ticket, traveler form with QR code and photo.
Travel health – no shots are needed unless you’re adding another African country to this you’ll need yellow fever. All properties are first class with pure meals and water. It is dry season, but if you want to take anti-malaria pills, see your health professional. It’s a personal decision. See more below.
Fitness level – Easy
Air – At present, we don’t offer a group air with a small group of seasoned travelers but if I find a great rate, will advise. Land dates are October 3-10. You must be in Nairobi (NBO) October 3 by 4 PM. Many airlines fly USA to Nairobi (NBO) including KLM, United, Turkish, Air France, Kenya Airways, British Airways (avoid), Qatar, Lufthansa but the best routes are on Emirates. You depart USA October 1 or 2. Return home Oct 10.
Doing Own Air– Trip dates are firm. You may arrange your own air from your hometown. We like Google Flights and Skyscanner. We highly recommend that you not rush to buy air until a Group Air is set (when offered). If your arrival or departure times do not align with Group Air times, you’ll need to arrange your own airport/hotel transfers. If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins. All should check airline websites often for any new CV news or schedule changes. Airlines or the country may require a Covid test prior departure. See testfortravel.com – more later. In today’s air & hotel landscape, avoid booking tickets on 3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, Google Flights, hotels.com and more! It’s too difficult getting refund and it’s nearly impossible to change your ticket. Use sites only to view air prices. Then go directly to the airline or hotel website and book through them for your best protection and price.
Transfers- We get only one airport transfer in and out to hotels and will give you set times closer to departure. Chosen times will be based on the majority of arrivals of airlines. If your flight time coincides with the group, you may take our single airport group transfer. It’s your responsibility to find the group as they exit baggage claim. If your flight time falls outside the group, you’ll need to make your own transfer arrangements. Consider Uber or sharing taxi ride with group member.
Meet Up With Group- On Oct 3 a time will be set to meet the group at the hotel for a briefing. More on this later.
Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland. You change hotel properties 5 times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 40lbs – weigh on a bathroom scale – are ideal. This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage safari vehicles. No hard-sided cases allowed! Space in jeeps very limited. Laundry is available.
If you overpack by adding side pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. So many cool new luggage trackers with GPS available now to prevent lost baggage! We like LugLoc, DynoTag, Samsung or Apple Trackers. The new hard cases are difficult to fit in coach storage. Be sure to attach ID to both bags. Leave space for great souvenirs.
Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. November is summer in this part of the world and the perfect time to visit. Temps should be in the 90’s. Read Suzy’s Africa below and Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS https://www.afstravelers.com/heading-abroad/
Pack your hygiene kit and munchies in clear plastic bags. Airport and inflight food service may be limited. Safaris are totally casual. Mornings are always cool so pack a jacket that is warm. Dress in layers! Shorts and T-shirts fine by day. Long pants and sleeves after dusk. Bring a day pack, DEET insect repellent, wide rim hat with chin strap, sunglasses, sunscreen, swimsuit, sandals and comfy sneakers or walking shoes. No hiking boots. Bring goodies for kids (see below),
Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug. AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers. All countries use the same round 3 pin plug (WA-10), so only one adaptor is needed. Check Amazon for adapters. See https://bit.ly/3CvjzHJ
Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $400 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card. Always bring some cash! Wise to have new crisp bills.) Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM. Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency. Master Card and Visa widely accepted. Amex rarely accepted.
- Currency Exchange Rate $1= 112 Kenya Shilling
- Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet
Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees. A reminder that Visa and Mastercard accepted everywhere – Amex more difficult in Africa due to very high cc charges. Use CC to pay for most things except craft markets. Here they will accept USD and possibly give change in local currency which can then be used for tipping. ALWAYS rather carry small denominations of USD so you don’t land up with loads of local notes.
Gratuities – It’s protocol to tip our rangers, local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally. For Kenya these are not prepaid. Please budget $100 (bring mix of $5-$10-$20’s). Understand this is only the suggested minimum. If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a personal stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Bell staff/porters – AFSers roll bags to their room. If you use a porter, please tip $2. Restaurants – 10%. For group lunches
Tipping on safaris can be complex as you will have your allotted ranger throughout your stay whom you will get to know and love. Rangers average $10 a day pp. Carol will tell you how to tip your game drivers on own per vehicle and lodge staff.
Communication– Internet is available. With cell phones/smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Roaming rates (used by Facebook and other apps) are expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, What’sApp and Facebook messaging when using WIFI are best! I don’t know anyone who makes calls home nowadays.
Be Smart: “Avoiding Hackers on Vacation,” Experts say! …Thieves not only want your money but also your hard-earned Frequent Flyer Points! Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN. It’s worth the cost. In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech. Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors. Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask. Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!
Retail Therapy – Tribal art, beadwork, Ebony carvings, masks, endless cool African handicrafts. Bargain all.
Speak Swahili – Hello – jambo, How are you – Habari, Buy – Kwaheri, Thank you – Asante sana
Websites of Interest: ktb.go.ke magicalkenya.com andbeyondkichwa.com
Chewing- Meals are listed on itinerary B= Breakfast, L = Lunch , D = Dinner Meals not included are very affordable. Nearly all meals included. All food and water at properties are purified. Fresh meals and best deserts are so delicious you’ll put on pounds.
Accommodations – Please see the itinerary Hotel tab for details. Hotels can change, but it’s rare. You can Google these or see web.
Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all. Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching. 99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night. Note, kindness begets kindness.
Recommended Balloon Option – Hot air balloon in over the beauty of the Messiah Mara for incredible photos followed by a champagne breakfast. It’s always expensive but always worth it. Flights range $460-490 headcount later for those interested.
Leisure Time – For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions. We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results. Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.
Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time. We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips. Visas and shots can become complex.
Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time. We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.
Private Facebook Group Page – The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour. Where can I find the FB link? Ask us for an invite.
Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/ and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle all home for true Emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone. 3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.
Cancellation Penalty: At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again: https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/
Travel Insurance– Nowadays we highly encourage all to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation. Call to ask what Covid coverage they have. Some companies cover Covid related issues. Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com. CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive. Note that no company covers for fear.
Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage. The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period. We like TravelSafe, World Nomads and Seven Corners.
- Click here to Purchase Travel Insurance online
- Phone them at 888-885-7233 and give code “ADVGA02”
- Click to learn about Travel Insurance 101.
- Or copy this link https://www.afstravelers.com/solo-travel-trip-insurance-101/
- If you need assistance, I will email the form to you upon request.
Travel Psychology 101 – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit. If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience. Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude. Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness. Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.
The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy
“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman
Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel. In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK: Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.
Book AFS with Confidence 2021– Thank you for booking! We are blown away by the support from all of you throughout this pandemic. It validates the trust and values AFS was built on over 34 years. As countries reopen, so will we. Travel is a shared experience. Together we press on and travel boldly. Below are new guidelines. We all must adapt and embrace any challenges with confidence for the freedom and privilege to travel.
We’ve faced many challenges over decades and the health of our travelers always comes first. As the world slowly opens, we are dedicated to creating responsible adventures! All our trips are different, so specific plans in each region may be circumstantial. We work closely with our local partners to know the best practice in each country. That being said, we present a blanket procedure below to be followed on ALL AFS trips. Our local guides will brief you on arrival with the support of our Trip Leaders to ensure we follow local safety protocols. They are fully committed to aiding your well-being.
We will re-discover the world through more slow, easy and mindful travel. Our groups will be smaller. All clients must take the AFS pledge that they are Covid free and will follow all safety protocols. Booking travel now is complex because rules always change. Tour companies can’t become “health and safety experts” when policies are inconsistent. Even experts are in the dark at times with the changing patchwork of government laws, but we are committed to doing our best. This is a learning process for all of us and as we go, we will strive to make each step and seamless as possible for you.
As in life itself, travel comes with some inherent risk the minute we step out our door. Travel isn’t dangerous. Being irresponsible is. For your protection we want you to be proactive in following new health guidelines. They involve teamwork and personal responsibility, but they do not preclude you from having fun and enjoying your trip! Things constantly change and it’s a huge challenge for airlines, airports, hotels, cruises and tour companies. We will do our best to keep you up to date with any adjustments. Please understand we reserve the right to amend any tour activities, if needed. To present responsible travel, we at AFS will do all possible to help your trip run smoothly.
Safety measures on a trip; frequent hand washing, (bring personal sanitizer), exercise social distancing and wear a mask when applicable. Insurance provides trip cancellation, (but not from fear), trip interruption, added medical protection and more. Call them to understand coverage. We are not responsible for any additional cost to you due to quarantine or illness on your trip, so insurance in important now.
Helpful CV Resources– Below are helpful links to facts and stats for you to reference as you gear up for all your travel domestically and abroad.
- US State Department Travel Advisories (Often old news)
We assure you we’ll continue to offer you quality trips to countries that are going to extraordinary lengths now to provide a safe visit. Each destination is far less crowded than ever before and that means better personal attention. Planes are half full and we can trust our astute global suppliers to advise when each country is clear to visit. We ask you to remain positive with us.
Our Pledge to You – Our global, vetted suppliers uphold the highest standards under new CDC guidelines.
- We ensure that heightened sanitation methods have been adopted in every place we visit and that all hotel properties and vehicles have passed cleanliness protocols.
- Our guides and drivers must be vaccinated and pass stringent safety measures.
- Most of our groups will be limited to half the size of normal in the past.
- We are choosing destinations with wide-open spaces for physical distancing.
- Some private tours for groups of friends only can be arranged.
- We’ll monitor your trip closely and provide a 24/7 emergency number if your trip is disrupted.
- All clients must take the AFS pledge that they are COVID-free and will follow all the safety protocols.
- We relaxed booking conditions with most trip deposits at only $250 and final payment deadlines from 4 months out to 70 days before departure. This is a learning process for all of us as we go. We will strive to make each step as safe and seamless as possible for you!
Your Pledge to AFS – We ask you to assume personal responsibility to protect your health and the well-being of your fellow travelers, guides and locals. Know the COVID rules of the airlines you’ll fly. Get vaccinated (if you choose not, it’s your responsibility to follow PCR tests.)
- Read and print all updated Trip Tips on your trip’s AFS webpage.
- Get travel insurance with trip interruption
- Stay healthy with vitamin D and zinc
- Confirm within 14 days of departure but you have no symptoms of Covid nor being in close contact with anyone diagnosed with it.
- You agree to assume any risk of participating in trip activities, comply with applicable government, airline and health authorities. Some suppliers may request signature on waiver of liability.
- Exercise social distancing and local guides directions whenever possible.
- Sanitize your hands and phone throughout.
- Read more here – https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/
Rapid COVID-19 PCR Tests – Rules are changing daily! At this time, we must rely on each airlines policy. Read Covid rules at the top of airline website up to a week before departure. Every airline and country differ. Just prior we will send you final AFS departure letter with instructions specific to your trip. Airlines may require online form to complete. Store this on your phone and bring a paper copy. Again, always bring paper Covid vaccine card with you.
Non-vaccinated people – Under a new Biden dictate travelers must arrange on own CV test at destination within 24 hours before departure home. You must show negative test to enter back to USA.
As of January 26, 2021, a rapid PCR test is needed to board airlines and or enter most countries. We hope this will be eliminated by the time your trip goes. RT-PCR (by nose swab) is only test excepted.
- PCR Test – This is PCR test with Rapid Test Results within 24 hours. Most urgent care places offer these. Read Covid news below. All tests are free or covered by insurance, but these may have a line to wait. Now appointments are taken. To get fast with no wait, make appointment at private lab, but can be pricey. There are now thousands of labs around US. Also, more testing sites opening daily with easy drive through. Just google “Covid PCR test near me”.
- At present, some international airlines may require a negative Covid test within 96 to 72 hours of departure! Read your airline website. This may change as rules are always being revised or eliminated by departure. Don’t stress, just refer to this if you need it. I’ve done 4 free PCR test runs with no problems. Millions of passengers have gotten their PCR test to fly. You can too! Call your healthcare provider or Urgent Care near you. Or Google “free no cost Covid testing near me”. Most state and federal programs provide this. Rural areas are more challenging. You may need to drive to an appointment in a nearby city. All our clients prefer Urgent Care Centers over Walgreens and CVS because they are fast an accurate. They will bill your insurance company. (Best trick – if you say you may have been “exposed to a Covid person” or if you feel “symptoms” like fatigue or say CDC recommended, it must be free.) Call or email to get appointment. Schedule test within your 72 – 96 hours departure window, usually 3 days prior for email result needed in 24 hours. This way you still have a backup day in case you get a false positive. Bring printed copy. Also screenshot copy on cell phone. Test must read “PCR”. (We’ve had nobody test positive yet, if so, call us 770-432-8225. Many tests are inaccurate and a re-test shows negative.)
Outbound – Read specific airline rules on website, also any rules on connections in transit. Those vaccinated may still need to show a test.
Homebound – Airline and US Customs now require negative Antigen test to board departure flight to USA. Antigen tests are easy and affordable. (We hope this is eliminated by your trip date.) A few airlines instead require a PCR test to fly home and US Customs will accept this. Be sure to check with your airline.
If an Antigen test is necessary within 72 hours of departure, we can help arrange test for our group in each country. Details later by email. New mail in-home kits approved by CDC is an option. You can buy kit to bring and do there for return into USA. The CDC only certifies some kits (ask airline). Our travelers have returned to USA and said they loved NAVICA app from emed.com, They range for $19-$70, but you should be tech savvy.
Other ways to get an antigen test for your departure home include getting information from your airline, your hotel, local pharmacies, US Embassy page, Google Maps Covid testing sites and many airports now have test sites.
kits (ask airline). Our travelers have returned to USA and said they loved NAVICA app from emed.com, They range for $19-$70, but you should be tech savvy.
Other ways to get an antigen test for your departure home include getting information from your airline, your hotel, local pharmacies, US Embassesy page, Google Maps Covid testing sites and many airports now have test sites.
Suzy’s Africa Travel Tips
“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa. For he has so much to look forward to.”
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere else. How can you describe its magic? How can you explain the fascination of the past and noble dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? How are experiences here in a way no other place can? Maybe it’s because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind. The happiest years of my life were spent here.” Paul Theroux
Some travelers who’ve never been to Africa think a safari is non-stop action. Behold the stunning boredom! The fact is there’s a lot of glorious downtime between early morning and evening game drives. Time in the bush is like entering a remnant of an earlier era. Everything slows down. Shade seeking lions flop over like house cats, zebras stand still as statues, leopards drape over branches to sleep. All game rests. With them, we engage in a communion of laziness. We relax. We observe.
Wildlife Encounters – All animals are wild and you are prey. Respect proximity. Wild animals are totally unpredictable. If you ever encounter a predator in the bush-never run! You will always be the slowest. Animals may roam into lodge camp. Never deviate off path or walk alone at night. Guards will escort you. Never walk near a riverbank or swim in lakes. Hippos hide well.
Game Drives – You will be divided into groups of 4-6 per safari vehicle. Do not interfere with or direct your expert rangers – guide who lived there. He’s far more than a driver with years of experience and intense certifications. Your safety is their number one concern. They can spot everything from ground to sky. Suggested tip is $5 per game drive. If several days of drives, wait until the end.
Animal sightings are not guaranteed. AFS past groups have been extremely successful on all. Over 3 decades, we never had a bad safari. Big cats are usually present, but leopards and cheetahs tend to hide. Don’t just search out the big mammals. You’ll miss the marvels of small creatures like badgers to bushbabies and spectacular birdlife.
Photography- Rather than hauling big lenses, small digital cameras get incredible shots nowadays. Edit/delete each night. On drives, keep camera in the bag to protect it from dust and sun. Don’t forget extra batteries! Best light on safaris is 6 to 10 AM and 4 to 6 PM. Rangers will assist with the best vantage points. There is usually a pair of binoculars to share in jeep. Always get consent before photographing local people.
On return home, share your pics on AFS private Facebook page or use Shutterfly.com. (I have over 8000 photos of elephants and lions. Please take human photos as well as wildlife. Better yet, take photos AFS humans with the wildlife.)
Expert Africa Packing: Bring only soft-sided luggage. No hard cases can fit in Safari vehicles. If we use small charter aircraft deep into bush like Botswana, I’ll advise of strict weight restrictions for both bag and carry-on. Pack light and wear the same clothes more than once. Laundry is always available.
Neutral colored clothing (no bright colors or fragrances to alarm animals.) light cotton shorts and T-shirts by day. Jeans/pants with a long sleeve top at night. Early-morning drives always cold-bring warm jacket, fleece or sweater. Smart outfit for evening functions.
Hat with a brim for sun protection and chinstrap for drives. Bring a simple light day pack on drives. Sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent with DEET, swimsuit, adapter plugs, mini flashlight, toiletries.
Lodges or Camps – All first-class properties or “glamping” style tents. All food and water is purified. If water is not, guide will advise. Cover bathroom sink with a washcloth as a reminder not to use. Bottled water in the rooms and always available daily. Hydrate! African air is dry and sun is strong.
Lodges have a staff tip box. $5 to $10 is generous to give and will be shared with all staff.
Ask reception for charging station to plug-in phones, cameras and tablets.
THE BIG FIVE ANIMALS TO SEE ON SAFARI
Be mindful of everything around you, not just the Big 5. I’m a primate girl myself. In times gone by European hunters used to search out for the most difficult to hunt animals in Africa which led Safari club supreme a list of five key animals that were challenged to shoot. These were considered difficult for a number of reasons, including ferocity, visibility, and elusiveness.
Lions really are the kings of the savanna and are at the top of the food chain. As such, they need no introduction. Lions are widespread throughout southern and eastern Africa and you’ll have a good chance of seeing them in most safari locations.
Black Rhino now critically endangered, the black rhino is not actually black, but more off-white. Despite its huge bulk and dangerous reputation, rhinos are herbivores who would rather graze on some grass than attack a person. There are a few rhinos left in a wild due to large increase in poachers hunting them for their horns.
Leopards are nocturnal and secretive, making them the most difficult number of the Big 5 to actually spot. When you do see one, chances are it will be lounging in a tree at sunset having just eaten dinner.
African Elephants as most people know are large thick-skinned herbivores. Elephants are numerous in Africa but nevertheless can be hard to spot in some areas due to their ability to hide in the bush and long grasses. Despite being widespread, elephants face a growing threat from poachers who hunt them for their ivory.
Cape Buffalo is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the big five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.
Meds: Anti-malaria pills may be recommended. Ask your health care provider. Sometimes a Yellow Fever shot is recommended. You get it county health clinic and it’s good for a lifetime. Our groups never had any problems with mosquitoes in two decades of trips to Africa. Phone me direct if you have specific questions at 770-432-8225
About Anti-malaria drugs
This is a common question from our travelers to parts of Africa and So. America. It is a serious disease that can happen when being bitten by an infected female mosquito. However, it’s extremely rare. While locals, tourism staff and guides there do not take pills, many travelers prefer to play it safe with either weekly or daily pills which start a week before your arrival.
In the US, we are limited to only 3 choices; Malarone, Doxycycline or Atovaquone (Larium). Malarone can be costly, but now there’s a generic. Wal-Mart or Kroger has the best prices. See your doctor for a prescription. Sometimes one only needs a strong DEET repellent (roll-on best) and wearing pants and long sleeves at dusk.
Some clients go to CDC website which prepares all for the worst and creates unnecessary fear. We only stay in fine properties with clean food and water. We do not use needles, swim in rivers, work with the sick or have sex with locals.
I don’t want you to over immunize yourself sick, spending hundreds of unnecessary dollars. Over 2 decades selling Africa and South America, no AFS client has ever contracted any disease. Ultimately, it’s your decision on what’s best for you.
Travelers’ diarrhea can happen anywhere outside USA. It can be caused from the stress of travel, different diets and water that is contaminated. However, all lodge meals are hygienic clean meals. (Cause of infection may be virus, parasitic or bacterial, so don’t think Cipro is a cure-all.) You all know not to drink untreated tap water, use ice cubes. It is contagious so be scrupulous with washing your hands and using clean towel to dry. And not to brush teeth with it.
If you get sick, rehydrate with oral rehydration salts, take Imodium or Lomatil. If it doesn’t pass in a week, see doctor. Don’t reach for ‘’stoppers’’ right away. Allow toxins to pass. Fluids are essential.
Things for Children – Bring anything as all we be used. Think Dollar Store of Target. Some store will even donate. (Get creative. I bring hair scrunchies and mirrors for girls and balloons for kids.). I poor places school supplies can be useless with no paper to draw on. They need shoes, socks, clothes. They love caps, toys and inflatable balls. You can always donate cash to the headmaster or visit Packwithapurpose.com to see who needs what in each country.