Just booked first safari

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Jun 2nd, 2018, 06:23 PM
  #1
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Just booked first safari

We just booked our first safari and I am so excited.We are going to Kenya to see the big cats (their my favorite). I'm hoping you seasoned travelers will be able to answer some of my questions. What is the going rate for tips per person per day? How much cash should we take ( I'm guessing that no one accepts Travelers Checks anymore)? Can anyone recommend a good camera for the novice, one that is relatively easy to use and has a good zoom? Bug spray- what type works the best and is there one that is natural that actually works? I'm looking forward to your replies.
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Jun 2nd, 2018, 09:30 PM
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Your lodge or camp will provide you with tipping info. Ask ahead of time for budgeting.
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Jun 3rd, 2018, 06:53 AM
  #3
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Thanks for your response. The lodge did give guide lines I just wanted to make sure they were inline with the going rate.
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Jun 12th, 2018, 07:25 PM
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For our 2016 trip, we budgeted $10/pppd for drivers and $5/pppd for camp tip box. And then took some extra in case we wanted to throw a little extra in, which we generally did. i.e. we budgeted $630 for our tips, but took $1000 for 3 weeks. Think we actually tipped out about $900ish if memory serves.

Have not used any kind of bug spray at all on either one of my safari trips. Got hit by 1 tsetse fly in Tanzania the first trip, and 1 mossie in Kenya on second trip. Never saw any bugs in Rwanda. I'm not necessarily convinced it's a necessity. (I generally get chewed up if anyone is going to) I've only been to Kenya during dry season, so perhaps rainy season is a bigger concern? (you didn't mention what time of year you're going) Just my experiences...YMMV

Gosh, do banks even have traveler's checks any more? ;-)
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Jun 13th, 2018, 05:29 AM
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Stacey, sorry I missed this, I was in Peru!

Generally I think the tipping is $10-20 pppd for guides, a bit less for drivers and a $5-10 pppd in the staff tip box. That always feels super cheap to me, so I do more than that unless the guide has really stunk. I've been blessed with some awesome guides who I reward for their efforts. Same with camp staff.

I have the Sony RX10 iii bridge camera (not a point and shoot, not a DSLR, it's in between) and love it. I upgraded from the Nikon P510 which I had lens issues with (but was otherwise a great camera). Some like the Panasonic Lumix bridge cameras. No matter what you get, you will want to PRACTICE. Tons. And go to zoos and farms to shoot wildlife, get up early and shoot sunrises. The best, most expensive camera in the world will never be good enough if you don't know how to use it in the conditions you're traveling in.

I always take cash and change it at the exchange window outside baggage claim at Nairobi airport. I don't worry about safety as I generally go right off on safari and the camps are very safe (I keep the money in my day bag which goes everywhere with me). Always tip in local currency. The recipients shouldn't have to pay to exchange it, and it may be a while before they are near an exchange to exchange it anyway.

I use Repel Sportsman rollon insect repellent. The roll on means I don't have to worry about liquids (I travel carry on only) and also don't have to touch it to apply it (it is toxic). It works well. I've always been bitten a few times without it. Not eaten alive but a bite here or there.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 05:20 AM
  #6
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Thanks for your reply. We are going the end of February to the beginning of March.

Stacey
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Jun 14th, 2018, 05:25 AM
  #7
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Thanks Amy,
I had a feeling you were out of town since you always respond quickly. Your info is extremely helpful and gives me a track to run on. How was Peru??
Stacey
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Jun 14th, 2018, 07:58 AM
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Peru was excellent, but it was not Kenya. And therein lies my problem! My countdown to November begins now in earnest!

I'm glad you're all booked! It will fly by, but you have all your packing to plan for now!
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Jun 16th, 2018, 03:49 PM
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We are leaving for our first safari on July 31. Tanzania, cannot wait! My safari consultant said that it is perfectly acceptable to tip in America dollars so that is what we plan to do. We will take new, crisp bills. For guides, it was suggested $15-20 pp per day. Less for others. I think our guide will also be our driver.

We also have cameras that are not quite DSLRs but not point and shoot. We both have Olympus Pen cameras, they are micro four thirds. I do have a Nikon DSLR but it is big and bulky and I am not taking it. We are bringing telephoto lenses and a tripod. Good advice to practice with it.

Amy, does that insect repellent contain deet? My consultant told me that the camps and lodges have repellent but not to depend on it and that we should bring Deet to be safe. Insects, especially mosquitoes, love me and the last thing I want is to have horrid itching, or worse yet, get malaria. We do have an appointment next week with a travelers medical clinic to malaria meds, typhoid and whatever else is needed.
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Jun 17th, 2018, 12:12 PM
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Yes, laurieco, the Repel Sportsman does contain DEET, it's 30%.

I'd change the US$ over at the airport for TZ shillings. This is high season in East Africa now and most of those camp employees won't be near any place to change the money for a long while. And they really shouldn't have to absorb the fee to change it either. You can do it while you're waiting for your luggage to turn up.
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Jun 18th, 2018, 07:11 PM
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I agree about tipping in the local currency. We just returned from Kenya and Egypt and there were two ladies from London on our tour who only brought their local currency and insisted on using it for everything including tips. They refused to go to the ATM to get local currency. I found it very rude to assume that the local guides would want to be tipped in a currency other than their own.
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Jun 19th, 2018, 04:45 AM
  #12
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Thanks for your input. My husband and I agree on the local currency.
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Jun 19th, 2018, 12:51 PM
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we tipped in local currency ... until the last day, when we had a great driver (after a missed pickup) - he drove like a madman to get us to the airport, so we tipped him what we had left in local currency and then some bonus US $. He was that good.

cameras: the best advice I have is to practice. But also learn your camera. and then do it again. go out in the bright sunshine and shoot flowers, then spin and shoot something in the dark shadows. If both photos don't turn out well, learn to adjust your settings so that they will. I usually shoot manual, but you don't have the time to adjust quickly. I learned to set ranges - both for ISO and shutter speed - I set a fixed aperture (2.8). I found this worked well and I am happy with my photos.

bug spray: we actually came home with most of it and didn't use it a ton. In the mornings, we started out in pants and long sleeves (and fleece at elevation). During the day, when we were at "chill" time, we changed into comfy shorts. This is when I would shower - organize clothes - upload photos, etc. In the evenings, I would put back on my "safari pants" and go out again. Only one day did we wear shorts in the evening - and we regretted it because we did get a few bites then.

Also consider packing anti itch lotion or spray (benadryl spray or something) because if you get a few bites, it will help reduce the itching. We also wished we had aloe gel - one afternoon, we were sitting outside reading and the sun moved - and the girls got sunburnt legs and feet. The camp was kind enough to actually use an aloe plant for their sunburn, but we wished we had brought something.

have a great time!
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Jul 10th, 2018, 04:41 AM
  #14
 
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Hi. we just returned from our second kenyan safari. never got a mosquito bite in mara so we did not use spray but we spent some time on coast and we did need spray. re: tipping-we stayed at all kicheche camps and we were told $10 pp per day per guide and same for staff. we always gave the guide a little bit more. trust me, you will be so happy to give extra money to these kind people.
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Jul 10th, 2018, 08:34 AM
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Glad you are back plambers. Was it as good as your first??
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Jul 11th, 2018, 09:54 AM
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Hi amyb. Happy to report it was as good if not better! The first safari can be a bit overwhelming-tons of information. This time we knew the names of the animals and many birds, and some of their behaviors. We focused more on behaviors and i came to appreciate some of the "less sexy" animals like topi and wilderbeast.

We did all 3 Kicheche camps in the Mara for 13 days. Very different conditions in Mara North than last year same time. This year, the grasses were very high in Mara North, and this made finding and photographing animals a bit more difficult. We did find a leopard in a tree with its kill on the first day so that was great! It was also initially colder and rainier than last year, when we had 1 hour of rain the whole time and blue skies. We loved Kicheche Valley-our favorite guide too-Micah. We had a few very close (but misses) on kills here. We saw an amazing cheetah kill of a tommy at Bush Camp as far as numerous sightings of Fig. She had 2 different kills in 2 different trees. What a beauty she is!

Our 2 teens said the 13 days was about 3 days too long--getting up at 5:20 is brutal. But after safari, we stayed at a lovely oceanfront home in Malindi for a week where we kayaked, paddle boarded and snorkeled (and woke up at 8!).

As you remember, my husband was so apprehensive on our last trip. This year he just thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Africa is in our blood but we now need to start saving for college for my daughter, who is a rising junior in hs. I will have to travel vicariously through you for awhile!!
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Jul 11th, 2018, 12:38 PM
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Thanks for this report, plumbers. I’m considering these camps for next June.
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Jul 11th, 2018, 07:30 PM
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plambers, thanks for your report! Isn't it interesting, how different conditions are from year to year? Last time I was at Kicheche camps several years ago in June, Bush Camp had so much rain and tall grasses, they all came over to Mara North for game drives (Bush Camp was fully booked with a photography group on a trip with one of the owners of Kicheche...I forget his name). The time before that, same month of the year, had been dry and I was at Bush Camp: very easy to see every little creature on the ground.

Glad you had a good trip.
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Jul 12th, 2018, 12:46 AM
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leely, was it paul goldstein? i have to admit, i figured weather and conditions would be very similar to last year, so was a bit surprised when it was so chilly in the early mornings and my daughter layered two of the kicheche ponchos together! we actually used the hot water bottles to keep our hands warm too!!

shouldbewriting, i recommend kicheche camps! guiding, vehicles, food, etc are wonderful.

safari is wonderful regardless!!
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Jul 13th, 2018, 05:34 PM
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plambers, yes, it was Paul. All my safaris were in June/July timeframe and conditions/weather/grass height were always very different. Makes it interesting, that's for sure.
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