Why choose us?
With so many safari operators in Africa, it is hard to select one for your trip. Here are some compelling reasons to choose Native Safaris.
We are more than just a travel safari company – our experience and connections within the wildlife/safari community mean we are able to offer original travel experiences in our destinations. Native Safaris clients often gain access to restricted, rare to see or special one-off activities.
We strive to protect and conserve the environment and local communities
Native Safaris is a responsible ecotourism company, which means that we actively support conservation and community initiatives through our involvement with various organizations including the Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Uganda and many others. For every safari sold, we make a donation to a project in line with our mission.
A guide can make or break a safari, and ours are a select group hand-picked for their knowledge, experience and love of what they do. Each one is a personable individual, proud to show visitors the beauty of his or her homeland, and many become friends with our clients, even after they return home.
It’s the little things that make a difference
We take great pride in getting the details right –little things that others may not even bother with or be aware of. From start to finish, our clients are treated as honoured guests, with personal attention paid to every stage of the planning and running of your trip.
We’re truly independent, so we can be truly objective
Many safari companies own their own lodges; where you may end up staying, regardless of what your personal preferences may have been. We can be truly objective and do what we do best – select the best possible solution and give the best advice on planning your trip.
Almost anything is possible
As a company, and as individuals, there is a single quality that unites us…our “can do” attitude. From setting up a personalised mobile camp, to organising, at short notice, a helicopter tour of Uganda’s historical sites, nothing is too unusual for our team.
Our staff and consultants live in the countries that you want to travel in and they are able to use the specialist local knowledge that only comes with living in a destination for your benefit.
Perfectly detailed yet spontaneous, our journeys embrace the unexpected.
Journeys created just for you
The ideal journey begins when we take the time to listen and understand what you expect from your trip. Then we use our knowledge and our imagination, to create the perfect adventure, which is as much about the where and when as it is about the intangibles – a sense of place, a story, an experience of the heart.
Travelling hand in hand
We’re totally committed to looking after you, from the moment you meet our first friendly welcoming face to the moment you leave, and providing you with a journey that will leave you wishing you could do it all again.
What language is spoken in Uganda, what’s the weather like in Kenya in September and what currency is used in Tanzania or Rwanda? We have answers to all these and more.
Capital city: Kampala
Area: 236,040 km² / 91,136 sq miles
Population: 33.5 million
Time zone: GMT +3
Currency: Ugandan shilling (USh)
Geography: Deciduous savannahs, grassy plains and rain forest in the areas around Lake Victoria and similar areas.
Language: English is the official language.
Religion: Predominantly Christian, but also Muslim and many other religions.
Capital city: Nairobi
Area: 582 650 km² / 224 960 square miles
Population: 40.5 million
Time zone: GMT +3
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
Geography: Low coastal plains and central highlands bisected by the Great Rift Valley.
Climate: Summer 16 – 33°C / 61 – 91°F; winter 15 – 30°C / 59 – 86°F
Language: Swahili is the official language, but English is widely spoken.
Religion: Predominantly Christian, but also Muslim.
Area: 945 087 km² / 364 900 square miles
Population: 44.9 million
Time zone: GMT +3
Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)
Geography: Coastal plains rising to a central plateau and highlands in the north and south, including Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.
Climate: Winter 10 – 23°C
Language: Swahili and English are official languages.
Religion: Equally divided between Christian, Muslim and traditional beliefs.
Capital city: Kigali
Area: 26,798 km² / 10,347 sq miles
Population: 10.6 million
Time zone: GMT +2
Currency: Rwandan Franc (RWF)
Geography: Consists mainly of grasslands and rolling hills.
Climate: Temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to April and November to January.
Language: English, French and Kinyarwanda.
Religion: Predominantly Christian, but also Muslim.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Capital city: Kinshasa
Area: 2,344,858 km² / 905,355 sq miles
Population: 65.9 million
Time zone: GMT +1
Currency: Congolese franc (CDF)
Geography: The DRC is roughly divided into four topographical regions. The coastal region consists of a low, relatively treeless plain, with occasional high spurs jutting down from the Mayombé Escarpment. Vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east
Climate: Tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator – wet season April to October, dry season December to February; south of Equator – wet season November to March, dry season April to October
Language: French is the official language but Kikongo (Kituba), Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili are the other major languages.
Religion: Predominantly Christian, but also Muslim and traditional beliefs.
|What does ‘Safari’ mean?
Safari is a Swahili word that means a journey or travel. Initially, it was taken to be the hunting expeditions in Africa but has now become a more eco-friendly form of adventure for people of all ages and walks of life. Safari has become the dream vacation of a lifetime, combining adventure with comfort for travellers. Visit Africa’s most beautiful game reserves, observing wildlife from your safari vehicle. Relax in comfortable lodges surrounded by scenic valleys and plains. Time takes on a new meaning as you learn to sit quietly listening to the sounds of Africa. The balance of nature will no longer be empty words you will see it daily in the drama of animals fighting for their survival and coexistence.
When is the best time to go on a safari?
This does depend on the type of animal you wish to see. Certain reserves have good game viewing all year round but others will have particularly good elephant sightings or other migratory animals at different times of the year. It is generally felt that the African winter (June – August) is the best time to go on safari, as the grass is dry and vegetation sparse making game viewing easier. It is also the time when animals are on the move looking for food and water. In Kenya and Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the migration of over two million wildebeest and other herbivores.
Can I visit Africa from any country?
Yes, we have international clientele; however it is important to check the visa requirements as these can change. We can make all arrangements within Africa including transportation, accommodation and activities for anybody, from any part of the world. However, we can only arrange international flights originating from selected countries where we have a representative office. Visitors from other areas not represented are requested to make own flight arrangements to Africa. Please Contact us for more information.
Can I have my clothes washed while on safari?
Most of east Africa’s safari lodges and camps offer a complimentary laundry service (some at a small fee) but please note that undergarments are often excluded, it is just polite to do that. You may wish to bring a small supply of liquid laundry soap.
What are the Vaccination and healthcare requirements ?
Please check with your healthcare provider for current information on recommended vaccinations and anti-malarials for the country you are visiting. Certificates are often required for proof of vaccination against yellow fever. Malarial risk is general and prophylactics should be taken. If you are on prescription medication, please ensure you have an adequate supply to last the duration of your stay and a copy of your prescription(s).Please note: Comprehensive travel insurance should be purchased for the duration of travel in Africa.
How will I get round on Safari in East Africa?
The roads are generally in good condition, however rough terrain is also very likely to be encountered. Four-wheel drive vehicles will be required for up-country use, especially in the national park during the rainy seasons. We have access to a fleet of saloon cars, mini-buses and four wheel drive vehicles, available on either a self-drive or with a Native Safaris driver as required.
What animals will I see on Safari?
When it comes to game viewing, please be advised there are no guarantees; visiting without having set expectations is the best way to experience the diversity of wildlife and enjoy Africa; it is a privilege to see any animal in their natural habitat. Take only a photograph; leave only a footprint. However in East and Central Africa a client has 95% of viewing a variety of animals.
What is the weather like?
East and Central Africa enjoys ideal weather conditions ranging from the warmth of the lowlands to the coolness of the highlands. Mean temperatures are between 21C and 31 C (or between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit) all the year around. Wet seasons are March – May and October – December.
What should I bring to wear?
Light summer clothing supplemented by a sweater or jacket should be sufficient all year round. Usually dressing is informal. Cotton slacks and flats-heeled comfortable walking shoes are recommended on safari, and walking boots for gorilla trekking. Don’t forget to bring a hat for sun protection and a swimsuit. Umbrellas are recommended in the wet seasons. Request additional details at the time of booking or check out our list of things to pack on this site.
What sort of food will I eat?
Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables are plentiful throughout. A wide range of dishes, both traditional and international, are served in the hotels and restaurants. We make sure our guests are well fed on trips!
Will I need a visa?
All our guests must check visa requirements for their country of origin and as needed organise a visa; this is usually not a difficult procedure as there are many visa agents who can handle this for you. Visas are also generally available at all entry points including all airports in any of the countries, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC but you need to have all relevant documentation with you and a fee is changed, payable in US dollars. The information provided here is liable to change so please check with the embassy in your country.
Am I safe from the wild animals?
When on safari, you will typically be tracking and viewing wild animals, herds of elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino, leopard and many others. You may feel very exposed; however the wild animals are mostly accustomed to vehicles and will usually ignore them. You will always be accompanied by an experienced ranger, you may at times, be accompanied by an armed ranger; your safety is our highest priority. Please however always follow the advice given – remain in the vehicle at all times; don’t stand up; and observe silence when requested. Wild animals are wild and as such unpredictable and deserve a high degree of respect.
When on a foot safari, the ranger will not track carnivores or the larger, more dangerous species. However, such encounters can occur, once again, follow the instructions of the ranger for your own and the group’s safety. Never turn and run. Your ranger is armed and is there to protect you in the unlikely event that this is necessary.
Anything else I need to know about my safaris with Native Safaris?
Be on time. Nothing is more irritating to other group members than to have to constantly wait for someone. Be at appointed meeting places, ready to go. If you do not wish to go on all game drives or sightseeing do be sure to tell your driver or guide, in advance, so he won’t wait for you.
Be quiet. Part of the beauty of the African bush is the silence and serenity. If you notice others aren’t speaking, it’s probably a sign they wish you weren’t either. On game drives you risk scaring away the animal you want to see by shouting or speaking loudly. Quietly point out to the driver the animals in question and be assured he’ll respond appropriately.
Be considerate. Some in your group may want to keep moving while others want to linger to get that perfect shot. If your group is large, you can often sort yourselves out into minibuses of people with similar habits.
Don’t assume that you are the only person who likes the front seat. It’s always best to ask. Refrain from smoking in vehicles and during meals.
Don’t be a complainer. Most problems are easy to rectify when the right person knows about them. If something is bothering you tell the person concerned or your guide. But please remember you are in Africa on the adventure of a lifetime, and it is not and will not be “just like home.”
Are their opportunities to meet with local people or visit villages?
There are many opportunities for cultural interactions. We can arrange visits to local schools, markets, and village.
Can I drink the water?
We recommend only bottled water. It can be purchased inexpensively throughout your trip and is good insurance for healthy, enjoyable safari. Native Safaris will provide you with bottles of water on game viewing expeditions.
Can I take electrical appliances?
If you bring along electronic or electrical appliances make sure they are 220 AC and 50-cycle current or that you have an adapter for English 3-pin sockets. Game lodges use generators, which shut down at bedtime. Camps in most of the countries only run generators for a few hours per day; however this usually is enough to recharge video your personal equipment. Most of the Safari lodges have solar electricity with designated places for charging electrical devices, e.g. laptops, phones and any related devices. Please remember that if you are out in the bush, you can’t count on electricity being available all of the time.
East Africa offers exceptional opportunities, from the unforgettable excitement of safari to the dramatic landscapes, sun-drenched beaches, captivating people, intriguing cultures, sumptuous food and vibrant native music. There is so much to see and do, and a great number of exceptional destinations to choose from.
Adding to the thrill of the adventure is the sense of magic that spans this vast continent, with its untouched wild places. Africa is a land of majesty and mystery, but it is also a distinctively modern continent. Stretches of pristine wild areas where rural people still live out the traditions of old are interspersed with vibrant, bustling cities and the most up to date facilities. The Native Safaris team will help you make sense of the many contradictions that Africa offers with tips about travel on this extraordinary continent.
Hospitality in Africa is next to none and travellers are very warmly welcomed. However, as always when on a journey, it is wise to take the necessary security and safety precautions. Always make sure that you carry a record of your passport number, traveller’s cheques, air tickets and credit or debit card numbers, and ensure that these items are kept in a safe place. Make use of hotel safe for expensive items and never leave baggage or personal items unattended in public.
Do not walk or park in isolated spots at night. If in doubt, ask your hotel contact staff about the safety of the locations you may want to visit. If using a tour guide, ask them the same questions. They normally will advise you accordingly and let you know about the way of life around the areas you visit or will stay.
CURRENCY AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATES
Some African currencies are difficult to exchange outside their country of origin and therefore advisable to only change money as required. Most international airports have banks where money can be changed. This is usually possible also at hotels and safari lodges. Most major credit cards are widely accepted, although not at remote safari lodges.
As exchange rates fluctuate, it is a good idea for you to check with your local bank or business media such as the newspapers before departure. Forex Bureaus normally offer better exchange rates than most banks in almost all the African countries. Should you bring cash, we recommend that it be US dollars/Sterling in mixed denominations; one dollar notes are very handy for tipping which is at your own discretion.
Comfortable, casual clothing is what you require for a journey to Africa. Dull colours such as green, grey, and similar shades are suitable for game viewing, and game drives are conducted in the early morning and late afternoon, which can be sometimes be cold. Light cotton trousers or shorts and shirts (both long and short sleeved), comfortable walking shoes, windbreaker, sunhat and fleece are all useful. For cold weather, pack a warm jacket. In the cities, evening wear in most restaurants is smart-casual.
Most Africans who have been regularly exposed to tourists do not mind being photographed, but it is always polite to ask for permission, especially when taking a photograph of a woman. Some tribes in rural areas, particularly the Masai, but also others in the regions we operate may resent being photographed without permission. There are restrictions, in many African countries, on where you can take photos, and one should not take shots of airports, military installations/personnel, border posts, bridges, diplomatic missions (embassies) and railways stations.
Camera film and memory cards are generally available in bigger towns and cities, but it is important to check expiry dates and bear in mind that these may have been stored in areas with high heat and humidity. For best results, it is probably safer to bring your own supplies and accessories.
ON THE STREET
In many parts of Africa, poverty is prevalent, so you should be prepared to encounter a number of hawkers and beggars. Even though it may be difficult to resist, please don’t give out money, sweets or any food or goods to street children. Should you want to make a contribution, consider donating to a community centre, school or other local program that is able to make a difference in a sustainable manner. Guests travelling with Native Safaris can contribute to the Native Child Program or the Native Wildlife Trust, which works with the communities in some of the areas we operate.
Travelling in East Africa
East Africa’s wilderness areas are often remote and isolated, far removed from main towns and cities. Many countries, such as Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are very large, with significant distances to be covered between the various attractions. Some countries boast well developed transport networks, whereas conditions in others are more basic.
Wherever you want to travel within the areas in which we operate in Africa, Native Safari’s experts can advise you on your options and book them on your behalf. We take the risk and hassle out of your safari experience.
A number of domestic airlines, as well as air charter companies operate throughout Africa. A network of scheduled and private charter flights usually connects most main cities with tourist hotspots, even in the more remote regions. Flying into game viewing areas is a good option in East and Central Africa, where driving conditions are difficult or when guests need to cover long distances between attractions. A full day’s drive could be covered in a short 90 minute flight, so most safari itineraries include scheduled or chartered flights directly to the landing strips of the lodges you will be staying at.
Flying into and out of the correct international airports will save you a lot of time and could also save you untold money on unnecessary internal flights.
If your itinerary ends on Zanzibar then flying home from Zanzibar International or Dar es Salaam International will help. If you would like to start your safari in the north of Tanzania, for example, it would be better to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport. Cheaper flights would fly into Nairobi, but an overnight in Nairobi and a possible connection to your next destination should be calculated for to find out the “real cost” of getting to your destination.
Nairobi to Kilimanjaro, for example, could cost as much as US$250 per person. We can get you from one country to another easily and flights are now readily available between Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
In addition, we help you with all of your arrangements and will advise you on booking the most suitable international flight routing. Generally, we encourage our clients to book their international flights directly with the airlines as we find this to be the cheapest option. We would prefer to take care of all local flight arrangements to ensure a seamless experience.
Guided safaris are those on which you book a place on a pre-set route or itinerary, during which you may be accompanied by other travellers. We provide you with a driver / guide who will take you on safari. These professionally trained guides know the roads and conditions and they are there to get you safely from A to B safely.
Safari vehicles are mostly 4 x 4 Toyota Land Cruisers or Land Rovers that are modified for superior safety and game viewing. 4 x 4 capability is needed to handle some of the tough road conditions in Central and East Africa.
These safaris provide a safe and reliable mode of travel through Africa; particularly where conditions are poor and self-drive is not recommended.
PRIVATE GUIDED SAFARIS
This mode of travel is tailored specifically to you and your group, and does not include other travellers. You will be able to set your own itinerary and choose your own activities while on a private guided experience. These safaris are generally very flexible, with the guide able and willing to adapt the daily plans according to your preferences.
A self drive safari in Africa is a great way to experience destinations on your own, to visit the places you want to see, at your own pace. Self drive safaris and car hire is easy and hassle free.
Driving is on the left and a valid driver’s license or an international driver’s permit is required. Road signs are in English and speed limits are clearly designated. While there is an extensive network of tarred roads in regions, driving into game reserves may require negotiating some dirt roads.
The more adventurous self drive destinations demand a strong and reliable 4×4 in most cases and are at times unforgiving. It is not advised for an inexperienced driver to venture into the very remote areas of Africa alone and unprepared. However if you are experienced, and the time to explore off-the-beaten tracks in Africa, definitely don’t miss out on the adventure of a lifetime.
Where available, travelling by train is a wonderful way to get around Africa. Even the shortest rail journey can be a classic experience, full of cultural exchange, amazing landscapes and crazy stations where all kinds of food, drinks and goods are hawked at train windows.
The railway network is not very reliable through most of Africa and for most times not usually recommended although when wrapped in indulgent elegance, the trains offer panoramic views of the landscape, as well as sightseeing excursions at stops en route.
For example, one of the most scenic ways to travel to Kenya’s Coast is through Tsavo National park, Dinner, breakfast on the vehicle cabin which a great and magical way of travelling through this land of the vast wild plains. The train here has been nicknamed – “The Iron snake of Africa.”
BOAT / FERRY
With Africa’s many mighty lakes, rivers and extensive coastline, there are many boating experiences that can add to your African adventure. Try game viewing from a different perspective with riverboat cruises on one of Africa’s rivers or indulge in a canoeing safari that allows you to camp on the banks or islands of some of Africa’s best known waterways.
Down the east coast there’s a little cargo traffic and ferries from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, but you’ll find small Arabic-style dhow sailing vessels plying the coastal waters. Similar to dhows are feluccas, the ancient sailing boats of the Nile. Pirogues (tiny canoes) ferry people across remote waterways where small, diesel-powered (and often unreliable), pontoon-style car ferries are not available. Not many ferries or boats take vehicles, but you can get a motorbike onto some.
At Native Safaris, we believe that we can help to protect Africa’s threatened ecosystems, endangered species and the precious diversity of its wilderness area through our model of low impact responsible adventure tourism.
Our core values have always been ‘Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People’. We believe that the wild spaces of Africa are a precious resource and that the only way to sustain them is through realising their true value.
By placing an economic value on conservation and wilderness land, and ensuring that the local communities benefit from our activities, Native Safaris can help guarantee that these wild areas have a future. However, we can only do this by engaging with those communities and through maintaining the value of Africa’s wilderness regions by ensuring exceptional guest experiences.
Our guests play a crucial part in helping us realise our vision. By travelling with us, you enable us to make many small but meaningful differences to the world that surrounds us. Whether it is coming face to face with a previously endangered rhino, shaking the proud hand of a local elder whose once destitute community now has a future or simply witnessing the sun rising over lands that have been restored to their natural splendour.