Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How safe is it to book directly with a tour operator in Tanzania?
  • When is the best time to go on a safari?
  • How many days should be spent on a safari?
  • When is the best time to see the migration in the Serengeti?
  • What are the best national parks to visit?
  • What is Tanzania’s Environmental History?
  • Is there any etiquette to follow in game viewing?
  • Is there any danger from wild animals?
  • How safe is Tanzania?
  • What is the difference between budget, deluxe and luxury camping?
  • What is the standard of lodges like in Tanzania?
  • Is there malaria and sleeping sickness in Tanzania?
  • What is the standard of driver-guides?

How safe is it to book directly with a tour operator in Tanzania?

Swala Safaris has been operating safaris since 1999. They are an accredited member of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) and are licensed to operate safaris by the Tanzania Tourism Licensing Board(TTLB) and has what is called a TALA License. Payments to Swala Safaris bank account may be made in full confidence and security. Details of bank transfers to Swala Safaris bank account will be sent on confirmation of a safari. Normally 40% – 50% deposit is required to pay for confirmed accommodation deposits and booking charges. The balance can be paid either on arrival or before the safari commences. Paying before the safari commences will avoid the hassle and delay of having to pay. Swala Safaris accepts debit & credit cards bearing VISA, VISA Electron, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus or American Express Signs for Deposit or final payment in the office through our Barclaycard Machine.

Method of Payment: 1. Bank Transfer. 2. Travelers cheque. 3. Cash. 4. Debit/Credit Cards (VISA, VISA Electron, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus and American Express).

Have travel insurance to cover last minute incidents that will lead to you canceling a safari, e.g. death or severe illness of a close family member.  Normally, Swala Safaris will refund what they themselves do not have to pay or will allow a postponement of the safari subject to the lodges approval of the changes.

When is the best time to go on a safari?

No hard and fast rule. Tanzania’s northern circuit is usually excellent during the whole year although we don’t recommend late March through to end of April because of heavy rains. This can make traveling a little slow and vehicles may get stuck. However, this is also an excellent time to see the large herds of wildebeeste and zebra in the southern Serengeti. Another benefit is that hotel rates are 10 to 15 per cent less at this time (but not including the Easter season).

The two busiest tourist periods are mid-July to end of August and mid-December through to mid-March.

How many days should be spent on a safari?

Three days will be sufficient to visit Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara or Tarangire. A more realistic time period is 7 to 8  days. Don’t try to include the Serengeti in less. If time is limited, fly one way. Don’t rush. Map distances are deceptive in Tanzania as only the main trunk roads are tarred. Allow an average speed of 70 k.p.h. for straight driving. In the National Parks the speed limit is 50 k.p.h.

When is the best time to see the migration in the Serengeti?

The movement of the big herds of wildebeest and zebra are:

January to mid-May: southern Serengeti.
May to June: central Serengeti: Ikoma, Banagi, Seronera.
July to October: western Serengeti, Grumeti and northern Serengeti (Lobo).
November to December: central Serengeti: Ikoma, Banagi and Seronera.

What are the best national parks to visit?

All parks have their own ambience. You’ll invariably find something new every time you visit a park. Some, however, will have a seasonal variation in the number of animals and species to be seen. The times given below will vary quite a bit depending  on local weather conditions. Exceptionally, they can be as much as six weeks out..

Tarangire: excellent mid – July to late October. Lots of  elephants.
Serengeti – south: January to May excellent. Big herds on the Plain.
Serengeti – north: July to October very good.
Serengeti – west: July to October: very good.
Serengeti central: June to July and November to December very good.
Lake Manyara: good all year round.Very diverse habitats. Prolific bird life April to June. Lots of elephants.
Ngorongoro Crater: good all year. During rainy season vehicle movements may be restricted.
Lake Natron: main breeding ground for lesser flamingos. Outstanding scenic beauty. Not on normal tourist route.

Note: Wildebeest Migration calendar is not perfect always this is because of changing weather conditions, please ask us where the current migration is or where will it be during your safari and we will inform you.

What is Tanzania’s Environmental History?

Tanzania has more than 31% of its land area in national parks, game reserves, forest reserves and other protected areas. There are 16 National Parks with others yet to be gazetted. The Game Reserves allow the shooting of animals, primarily by foreigners who enjoy enjoy shooting them. The Reserves normally act as a buffer zone between National Parks and local communities. The new concept of Wildlife Management / Controlled Areas is being introduced with the aim of giving local communities more control over the natural resources of their own area. These areas are normally rich in wildlife and are adjacent to national parks or game reserves.

Poaching is of paramount concern to the National Parks. Large amounts of revenue devoted to anti-poaching controls. Some of the better hunting companies do a great job in community development and wildlife awareness.

Etiquette of game viewing?

Be considerate of both the animals you are watching and of people who are watching them. Don’t make hasty movements in the vehicle and don’t get out of the car when animals are within 100 metres. If you do get out of the vehicle, look very carefully for hidden animals in long grass. You don’t want to surprise a lion or a hyena.

Is there any danger from wild animals?

Very little. Don’t be out of your car if within 100 metres of an animal. It is extremely unlikely that you will be confronted with a dangerous situation but if you are it will be entirely unexpected. Animals can move incredibly quickly – don’t try to race a lion back to the car and don’t go close to the water’s edge if there are crocodiles around. If you are on a walk, follow the instructions of the your guide or ranger. Buffaloes perhaps the most dangerous. Hippos also dangerous, especially if you happen to be between them and the river. Lions seldom a threat, but a lioness will not tolerate any threat to her cubs. Hyenas eat anyone and anything – don’t leave any clothes or belongings outside your tent, especially shoes.

In some of the permanent camps animals will be roaming around at night. There is no danger from them providing you stay in your tent. Do not disturb them as other people may be watching them.

How safe is Tanzania?

Tanzania has enjoyed political stability since Independence in 1961. The U.S. Embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam was a terrorist attack directed against U.S. policy in the Middle East. There were a few incidents of robbery in 1998 from Somali bandits in northern Tanzania; however, the government stepped in quickly and there have been no Somali incidents since. In some of the larger towns robberies occur. Take the normal precautions for your own safety. Travel Advisories are available. Some of them, particularly those issued by the USA, seem paranoid to the locals.

What is the difference between fly, budget, de luxe and luxury camping?

Camping is borne out of necessity. If no accommodation is available, one must camp.

  • Fly Camps: very basic. Suitable in remote areas where where vehicle access is difficult e.g. walking safaris in Ngorongoro Highlands.
  • Budget camping: basic. Probably the cheapest way to go: you – pays – for – whats – you – get. Not recommended for the fastidious. Takes time to pitch and strike camp. Vehicle can be limited for space. Food good, but limited to what can be carried. Public camp sites crowded; limited toilet facilities.
  • De Luxe / Classic Camping: serviced camp of high standard. Spacious tents, camp beds, shower, toilet. Good food. Support vehicle and camp crew.

What is the standard of lodges and permanent camps like in Tanzania?

Lodges: There are number of large hotel groups operating in the national parks. It is recommended to book through Swala Safaris in order to get the best rates.

  • Serena Lodges; Located in Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara, Arusha and Zanzibar.
  • Sopa Lodges; In Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Masai Mara.
  • Hotels & Lodges; Lobo, Seronera, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Zanzibar.

Permanent Camps: Some retain the traditional camp ambience, others are more like tented lodges. They are comfortable, affordable and eco-friendly. Good value. Large self – contained tents. Small bar and dining room. E.g, Tangayika Wilderness Camps, Ang’ata Camps, Nasikia Camps, Kuhama Camps and Lemala Camps Groups.

Tented Lodges: Large self – contained tents. Bar and dining room.

Is there malaria and sleeping sickness in Tanzania?

Unfortunately, yes for both. Zanzibar and the mainland coast can have a rather virulent strains of malaria. Take prophylactics before and after your visit. See your doctor for advise and the latest medicines. Symptoms of malaria are flu-like – aches, chills, fever, high temperature. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. if you should go down with these symptoms after having visited a malaria area, inform your doctor.

Sleeping sickness, or Trypanosomiasis, is uncommon. Although most national parks have tsetse flies, it is very rare for anyone to contract sleeping sickness. The National Parks have introduced tsetse fly traps along the main roads. The traps have no ill-effects on birds or other wildlife that may prey on insects killed by the traps.

What is the standard of driver – guides?

Very good. Swala Safaris driver – guides have a sound knowledge of animals, birds and  plants as well as being knowledgeable about the various tribes of Tanzania. They will be happy to discuss politics and social matters. Tanzanians tend to be quite clued – up politically and will tell you about the politics of their country. All drivers have a basic knowledge of mechanics.