Last updated on September 19th, 2019 at 11:08 pm
We are planning another trip to Africa for July 2018. This will be a 12 day photo safari in Kenya and Tanzania to see the great migration in the Masai Mara that we have seen on TV on the National Geographic Channel.
The best time is between July and August. If it is a warm year, then July is great. If not, you need to wait until August. Of course, to plan ahead, you must decide before you really know what the weather will be, so plan it and hope for the best weather, but enjoy it either way.
Just a few dozen years ago, this would have been a very dangerous trip because of the rampant poaching. Thanks to the Mara Triangle Conservancy, that is no longer the case and we are looking forward to an exciting, but not a dangerous, trip.
For this trip, we want to do the safari during the beginning of the migration, rather than in the middle of it. We will not see as many animals, but that just means that we will see a few thousand animals rather than hundreds of thousands of animals. That being said, it will be summer in the northern hemisphere at home in California, but winter in the southern hemisphere in Africa.
Of course, we cannot fly to straight to Nairobi from the U.S. yet. Just in case you are interested, there will be a direct flight from JFK to Nairobi starting in October 2018 on Kenya Airways. It would be a very long flight, about 15 hours or so. We prefer to break our flights up into flights of 10 hours or less. Also, since we will be flying into Nairobi to start our photo safari, we need to find the best routing to and from there. Based upon my research, the best option is to fly round trip from London to Nairobi. Therefore, we will fly from California to London, and then on to Nairobi. With that in mind, we plan to add a week long visit to London on the way to Africa. We would have preferred to do 3-4 days in London on the way to and from Africa to break up the flight both ways, but it did not fit our schedule. So it will be a very long, long trip home. Probably about 36 hours of travel time. Drive from Arusha Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya, then fly Nairobi to London, layover, London to Dallas, layover, and finally Dallas to Sacramento.
Now that you have seen our general plans, what should you be doing to get ready if this was your trip. You could call your travel agent and describe the trip you wish to take and let the agent gather the appropriate information that is needed to set up the trip. Keep in mind that you should plan on paying the agent for doing all the work to put the trip together. If you don’t want to do that, then it is time for you to do some work to gather all of the info needed to set up your timeline for the various steps along the way.
My first step would be to check with the State Department and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find out what requirements the countries require of a visitor. Things like a visa, shots, passport, etc…
You are probably are thinking that you have a passport and don’t need to worry about that. Did you know that some countries won’t let you visit if you have only a couple of months left on your passport? Did you know that some countries won’t let you enter if you have a brand new passport? Did you know that some countries require you to have several blank passport and visa pages available for them to use. So, do your homework. I could tell you what I found for Kenya and Tanzania, but since that information does change and I have no idea when you will be reading this post, I suggest that you do your own research.
While you are on the State Department’s website, you will see links for Travel Advisories, passports and international travel. We will start on the International Travel page. On that page, click on the Traveler’s Checklist link and go through their checklist. The first thing they say to do is to research the entry/exit requirements for the countries you will be visiting. For example, we will visit Kenya and Tanzania. You can click on them to see what issues to be concerned about. Another thing to remember is that you may need to bring along your children’s birth certificates in some parts of Africa because of issues of child trafficing. So, bring their passports but bring valid copies of their birth certificates too, just in case.
Of course, the State Department recommends that you register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive updates if there are problems in the country where you plan to visit.
Why is this important? Because if civil war breaks out, you may want to cancel your trip. That brings up another issue, which is travel insurance. In fact, that is almost as important as the entry and exit rules for where you plan to visit. You need to talk to your travel agent about your travel insurance needs before you make any reservations. Especially if you want to be able to purchase a policy to cover you if you have pre-existing health conditions that may cause you to have to cancel the trip. Please take the time to learn more about travel insurance here. When you are ready to purchase a policy, your travel agent will handle it for you. If you are doing your own trip planning, click here to order a policy.
Now that I have done some of the needed research, I need to double check our passports to make sure that we have at least 6 months on our passports beyond the time we will be in England and Africa and that we have at least 2 empty pages for passport stamps and visa stamps. Along those same lines, we need to go online to order our mulit-visit visa for Kenya since we fly into Kenya, drive into Tanzania then back into Kenya before flying home.
We will not be getting our Tanzania visa before we leave home. We don’t want to send them our passports and hope we get them back. Also, there is more than one type of visa to visit Tanzania. There is one for people who are transiting the country. At the time of this writing, that is about $30. For those who are visiting Tanzania, the fee is about $100. Also, they want newer, clean, crisp $20 dollar bills, or in the case of the transit visa, a couple of $5 dollar bills to go with your $20. Also, if you are with a guide, they won’t believe that you are transiting the country so make sure to have the $100 in clean cash.
While waiting for the visa, it is time to get started on shots. When we went a couple of years ago, we had to get a series of shots, some before the trip and a final one after we got home. So, I called Kaiser to set the appointment with the Travel Nurse to discuss what shots and meds that we may need for our trip.
Don’t forget that you need to consider the re-entry process when we return to the U.S. The first choice would be to get the Global Entry paperwork done before hand, but that means going to San Francisco to do the interview. A pain in the back side. Also, after you fill out the documents and pay the fee, you can still end up waiting months before you get your conditional approval. Additionally, after you get the conditional approval, you need that to sign up for the interview, but it could be several more months before you can go in for your interview. You can get an interview on the fly if you return from an international trip and land at one of the several dozen airports that allow it, you can do your interview there after you disembark, but before you leave the passport control area. Check with the folks at Global Entry for more info. Also, since our Pre-Check was expiring, we had to renew it because of the long delay in getting Global Entry.
The second option is using the app on your phone called Mobile Passport. We chose the second option.
Once all of that is in process, we can finally book the trip and buy the travel insurance. I will talk more about that part of it in a follow-up blog post.
Just in case you were wondering about why we are going to Kenya and Tanzania, it is so that we can see the great migration. You know, the migration of hundreds of thousands of animals that you have seen on the National Geographic Channel.
The bottom line is that we are turning more dreams into memories. You should be doing the same.
Turning Dreams into Memories,
One Vacation at a Time.
As you might guess, this document is a compilation of information from our travels as well as from other travelers. I hope it has been of value to you. Check out the important links below.
- Packing Checklist
- Parent Authorization Letter For Unaccompanied Minors
- Medical Treatment Authorization Letter
- Travel With Minors – Permission Letter
Don’t hesitate to email us when you return from your trip with any suggestions that will make this document better for you and your fellow travelers!
You may also want to visit our Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/TeamEdwardsTravel