The new safari
Safaris nowadays aren't as rugged as they used to be, and for most of us they still represent the kind of dream which we would like to fulfill if only Uncle Oscar or Aunt Hettie remember us in their wills. The lure of the untamed jungle, the fascination of the greatest and most savage of wild animals running free in their native land, is a strong one. And for those who can afford it or those who want to save for it, safaris can be accomplished in safety and comfort. Today's big-game hunter is carried to his game in specially built cars and trucks out of Nairobi, in Kenya Colony, the world's safari capital. Game is selected and spotted for him, even shot for him surreptitiously should he miss. Multicourse dinners in the wilderness, foam-rubber sleeping mattresses and linen sheets make the modern safari seem like a Waldorf on wheels. For those who want to dream, for those who are saving for it, or for those who can afford safari right now, here's what you need to know.
None of the conveniences of a modern safari come cheaply. Nor can they be arranged for on the spur of the moment. Your safari must be planned a year in advance. Remember, it takes four months to ship your gear to Nairobi, which is not exactly around the corner. You should expect to pay something like $7,000 to $10,000, including travel expenses, for a one-month safari for two, allowing two weeks for getting to Nairobi and back and several days there on either end of the safari proper to make all arrangements.
When to go...
Make your safari between rainy seasons. Long rains occur from late March to mid-June and short rains from late October to early January. Generally, your best month is August, with July, September and February next best. In the rainy seasons, safari becomes too difficult because of swollen rivers and boggy roads.
Five areas are especially recommended. Take in one or more, depending on what you're after and how long you can stay. In general, you'll find lion, buffalo, eland and plains game in the Masai Reserve in Kenya. The Garissa area is the best elephant country in East Africa and also features Hunter's antelope, lesser kudu and gerenuk. Isiolo and Garba Tula are renowned for bird shooting, cheetah, waterbuck and greater kudu. Northern Tanganyika provides rhino, roan antelope, fringe-eared oryx, plains game, topi and fine bird shooting. For big specimens, the Northern Province District of Kenya has a high concentration of game which has not been overshot—rhino, buffalo, leopard, oryx, wildebeeste and impalla. For photographic safaris, try Amboseli National Park or any of the game preserves where hunters are not allowed.
...and for how long
Most safaris last a month to ten weeks. The 30-day safari is recommended for persons whose time and enthusiasm are limited. It offers ample opportunity to bag a reasonable number of trophies and see many more. If extra time is available, take one or more of the numerous side trips out of Nairobi—to the national parks, game preserves or the heights of Mts. Kenya or Kilimanjaro.
You'll need a regular passport as well as special visas for Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. Apply to the British Consulate for these. Immigration authorities require a vaccination certificate and certificate of inoculation against yellow fever that must be franked by a government department. Inoculations against typhoid are recommended.
Money can be transferred to Kenya easily. Open an account with the Standard Bank of South Africa, Nairobi, with enough funds to cover all expenses. The current exchange rate is $2.80 to the pound sterling.
For clothes, use neutral colors for hunting apparel at all times. Don't overload on clothes, as servants on safari wash them nightly for you. A recommended list to bring from home includes two pairs of light, ankle-height walking boots with rubber soles, sneakers, raincoat, a pair of walking shoes, three changes of undergarments, six pairs of gray or khaki wool socks, neutral-color woolen pull-over sweater, two pairs of pajamas and nonglare glasses. Items bought more conveniently in Nairobi include two khaki drill bush shirts and trousers (custom fitted in 48 hours at $12.50 a suit), three khaki shirts, mosquito boots, sun helmet and a tin trunk to hold clothing.
Nonprofessional photographers should bring a .35 mm. still camera with 13.5 cm. or equivalent photo lens and tripod and gun stock mountings, .16 mm. turrethead camera with 1", 3" and 6" wide-angle lenses, exposure meter and film. You are allowed free import of 500 feet of eight and 16 mm. film per week for a one-month stay, 1,000 feet thereafter if intended for safari use and brought in with the baggage accompanying you personally.
Bring your own weapons or rent them (about $34 a month) from the group planning your safari. They will advise you of the best weapons for the game you want. In general, the best rifle for big, dangerous game is the heaviest caliber you can handle accurately. Bird hunters should use a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun. Select from suggested light-caliber 30.06 Springfield or Winchester, .300 Magnum or .275 Rigby Magnum; medium-caliber .375 Holland & Holland Magnum, .375 Magnum, .350 Rigby Magnum or .318 Westly Richards; or heavy-caliber .465 Holland & Holland, .470 Evans or .475 model. Light or medium rifles will suffice for plains game.
For ammunition, an approximate month's supply includes 30 solid and 20 soft rounds for heavy rifles, 200 silvertip and 40 solid rounds for medium rifles, 400 rounds each for light and .22 rifles and 100 No. 4 and No. 6 for shotguns. Arms licenses costing $1.40 are required for all weapons.
Big-game licenses are required at extra cost. A major license for hunting most game costs $140, with additional licenses required for shooting one elephant ($210), two rhinos ($84), one leopard ($28), two giraffe ($42) and one ostrich ($6). Typical safari licenses total about $500.
These groups will provide nearly everything on safari proper except liquor, of which one case per person a month is suggested for moderate drinkers. Remember, your white hunter, or professional guide, expects to share your cocktail hour as well as comparable accommodations to yours in the field. The safari organization provides tentage, equipment, food, medicine chest, native staff and all motor transport, with a free allowance of 1,600 miles on the hunting car and 1,000 miles on the truck. You can contact a safari organization by writing the East Africa Tourist Travel Association, Box 2013, Nairobi, Kenya Colony, East Africa. Tourist agencies in the U.S. can also help you.
Air is best as sea travel takes several weeks. TWA, BOAC, Scandinavian Airlines or Air France will get you to Nairobi. Round trip for one is about $1,160 including tax and pickup flight from Mombasa to Nairobi.
To sum it up, if you have the time, the money and the desire—safari will be an enormously rewarding experience. Good luck!