Masking Up

Masking Up

Here’s what yesterday’s CDC mask-wearing recommendation changes means for travelers:

For the foreseeable future if you travel most anywhere you’ll be significantly changing the way you traveled before: Mask wearing, social distancing and many other pandemic protection characteristics will now become the status quo when traveling, perhaps for years to come.
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Covid Chicanery

Covid Chicanery

Reopening is a contentious topic. Loosening the rules for dining out, for example, is an explosive issue as much in New York as Nairobi. Not just personal freedom and sanity, but for the large part of the economy on which dining is based.

But get real folks, not for vacation travel.

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Corona Crests

Corona Crests

This blog is about travel prospects to sub-Saharan Africa, but in preparing it my jaw dropped.

South Africa has a sixth the population of the United States but has tested a million of its people. Comparatively that’s two to three times better than the U.S.

The U.S. handling of the pandemic is a chaotic mess. South Africa and other countries know this, and it’s why the prospects for Americans traveling to Africa is getting worse and worse.

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Corona Crisis

Corona Crisis

Oh my. A careful reading of the Presidential Proclamation limiting travel starting midnight Friday, and Homeland Security’s accompanying brief shows how woefully inadequate and perhaps intentionally baneful the action is.

The limitation does not apply to Americans, green-card holders and a host of others including most NGOs, cargo and health workers, nor of course the crews and staff of airlines or other transport companies. These exemptions put in certain doubt the effectiveness of the ban.

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Worth What?

Worth What?

Beware traveling this summer. The facts suggest that the Trump administration’s demeanor and policies have loosened the reigns so much on airline regulation, that consumers are suffering terribly.

Here’s a story of one Cleveland family who returned home from Africa yesterday. Perhaps you can learn something from their travails.

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Is Uganda Safe?

Is Uganda Safe?

John Gilman wrote:
My daughter has an opportunity to travel to Uganda with a group called Sozo Children. Are you familiar with the group? Is Uganda a safe country to visit? Thank you.

Dear John,
I am not familiar with the group.

As my blogs in the last several months have pointed out, I am cautious about travel to Uganda. I would not go there for a vacation, but that is not necessarily an indictment of going there for any other reason. Vacations are supposed to be worry-free and relaxing. I doubt that a mission anywhere in the world could be classified in that context.

It would also depend upon where she was scheduled to go. The areas in and around Kampala and Entebbe and the entire western part of the country I’d consider too unsafe or too close to the most recent ebola outbreaks to travel to right now.

Regards,
Jim Heck

Bringing Handguns into Kenya

Bringing Handguns into Kenya

Pastor Jim wrote:
Jim, I travel to Kenya once a year for a month. I go into areas that are not safe, expecially in turkana, Kisumu, and Nairobi, ect.. Can an American get a permit to bring in a handgun and then leave with it?

Dear Jim,
Ever since Kenya banned hunting in 1978, it’s very difficult to enter the country with any kind of gun. Permission must be requested through the American embassy, and that is the first big obstacle. Even after the embassy requests the permit on your behalf, it is unlikely that it will be granted unless your profession is one that normally requires weapons (such as a policeman), or unless you are ultimately transiting to another country like Tanzania that allows hunting.

But much more than that, Jim, if you ever had to use your gun, you would probably end up in jail in Kenya, even if the use was in self defense. The gun laws in Kenya are extraordinarily strict. Use even in self-defense is limited. And the embassy would give you no support.

Kenya is in the midst of fighting terrorists, and any individual attempting to bring in a weapon for whatever reason is suspicious.

I travel often to Kenya. I have businesses there. I haven’t been to Kisumu for a while, but I do get into the Northern Frontier. I have never been armed.

– JIM

You Can’t Befriend Somalia without Training

You Can’t Befriend Somalia without Training

Matthew Wrote:
Jim i want to begin providing aid in somalia, would you recomend Garissa a good
place to live and creat a relationship with somalians?

Matthew –

In your straight-forward email, I sense a dogged commitment and very high moral belief in what you’ve decided to do, so far be it from me to dissuade you. But that’s what I’ve been doing most of my life in Africa.

I have a forty-year view. Individual charity or “missions” are almost always bad. But there are thousands, probably tens of thousands of people exactly like yourself who are successfully helping Africa. They do it with proper training, first, and then by joining some of the outstanding organizations like the Red Cross or Medecins sans frontieres for health issues, or by joining NGOs like USAid or UN agencies. Those groups of people do Africa enormous, untold good.

Good individuals like yourself often help African individuals, but it’s like biofuels here where I live near Iowa. We spend more energy and other resources to make biofuels then we get out of them. Most individual charity work expends more money, human resources, intellectual effort than it produces good. Especially someone as clear-minded as yourself. You belong in the foreign service, not on an individual mission. You probably don’t even know the extent of your own talents, but a good organization will determine that and will maximize your individual effort.

Go back to my blog and navigate to “charity” on the right-hand panel and then read the thumbnails of a dozen blogs I’ve written that explain this more fully.

I’m not telling you not to go. I’m telling you to make a short turn first, to a good organization.

Regards,
Jim Heck

Touring in Laikipia

Touring in Laikipia

miriamb@centurytel.net> asked:
When is the best time to see wildlife at Mt. Kenya vicinity? What is the cost of a safari there?

The “Mt. Kenya” area is usually known as “Laikipia” and is an area with abundant wildlife, but also great ranches and several densely populated cities. North of Mt. Kenya and a bit north of Liakipia is Samburu to the west and Shaba to the east, both at the beginning of the great northern frontier, and at this point there are few ranches or populated cities.

You can obtain much more information by googling Laikipia, Samburu or Shaba.

Everyone has their own preferences for when a given area is the best. For me it is just as the rains begin or end, which in this part of East Africa is mid-November through mid-December, March or June.

There is a huge variance in the cost of a safari. An overland camping safari in a big Bedford vehicle where you share the truck with up to 30 other people can cost as little as $100 per person day. Most lodge safaris cost around $400 per person per day. And boutique luxury camps can cost upwards of $800 per person per day.

Regards,
Africaanswerman

Zambian Safari

Zambian Safari

Hi Jim,
Hope all is well with you!
Well, thanks to you and our amazing time in Kenya last year, we are officially addicted to Africa. So much so that we just bid and won on a 6 night safari in Zambia! Friends of ours started a charity several years ago to build schools in southern Africa (check out their site at scaleafrica.org). They held a fundraiser last week and a subsequent online auction had the Zambia safari as a prize.
We are now sorting out the logistics and would love your help for the remainder of the trip if possible. I promise we will be back to Africa again and when we are, we’ll plan that safari in its entirety with you. For this trip, we will have 3 nights at Kapani Lodge (Norman Carr Safaris) and 3 nights at Luangwa River Camp (Robin Pope Safaris). Are you familiar with either? Either before or after the safari leg of our trip, we are thinking we’d like to visit Victoria Falls, but are interested to hear if you have other ideas or recommendations. We have to take the trip before mid-June. Between now and then, what do you think is the best time of year to go? Realistically, we couldn’t make it until January of next year so that leaves us with a window of January-June 2013.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Katie

Jim’s reply below:

Katie –
Congratulations! And those two camps are outstanding, couldn’t be a better combination. In fact I’ll be in Nkwali with Robin Pope Safaris the end of February guiding a private safari. So that will reveal when I think a good time to go is.

The “high season” for Luangwa and for that matter all of southern Africa is July-October, their winter. But this most expensive and heavily booked time is not better for game viewing or anything else. It’s basically when northern hemisphere people travel. The highest of high season is Christmas. So as you make your decision don’t be put off by what seems to be heavily booked or what is more expensive.

As you can imagine Africa’s summer, its rainy season, is my preferred time. It’s when it’s most beautiful, everything is in bloom, when they day is the longest, when the animals foil and calve, basically everything peaks in summer time. The problem is that in southern Africa summer is deadly hot. That doesn’t bother me so much, but it does both many northerners. Go to either weatherunderground.com or our own NOAA and navigate to climate statistics for the exact figures but essentially it’s over 100F in Luangwa from about mid-November to mid-February. It then (in normal years but it’s been anything but normal recently) declines rapidly so that average highs are in the 90s from mid-Feb to mid-March and then upper eighties until mid-May. The rain shouldn’t deter anyone. It’s good. It may break one or two game drives, but it’s worth the gamble to see the veld in full bloom and the animals at their best. One caveat to that, too. The drier and colder it gets, the better is the viewing for cats. That’s logical. As fodder on the veld reduces, predation increases.

What should you add? VicFalls is a wonder. Your local air fare putting in Livingstone (VicFalls) to an itinerary that includes Mfuwe (Luangwa) will add $5-600. In a normal year, the falls are very hard to see from mid-Jan to the beginning of May because the flow is so strong and the mist so blinding. Other than that, I would just stick to Zambia. There are many wonderful additional camps in places like the Zambezi National Park and Kafue, some of my favorite. And if you have a minimum of 2 weeks on the ground and a bit bigger budget, I’d add a couple camps in Botswana. There would be replication here except for the Okavango Delta, which is so unique. Trouble again is that the local air fare between camps in Botswana and your very east Zambian destination is pretty high. Adding Botswana to the program will add about $12-1400 in air fare.

Hope this helps. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.

Regards,
Jim

Ethiopia Journey

Ethiopia Journey

Dear EM,

First of all, read carefully the British travel advice to the country at this site:
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/ethiopia

Then, note that Ethiopia is one of the strictest dictatorships in Africa. Police and military are all-powerful. Tourists who have failed to comply with local laws and police directives have been jailed.

The above two cautions understood, the popular game viewing areas in and around Gambela and Konso are probably not advised. But the great wilderness areas with some game in the Simien Mountains, which include some of Africa’s finest treks, should be fine.

The two weeks you have scheduled there are perfect for what is known as the “Historic Route”, the triangle that includes Bahar Dar, Gonder and Lalibela. There may even be enough time to include Axum. I consider Lalibela one of the greatest sites in Africa.

Because accommodations are very limited once you’re outside Addis, you won’t have any choices as to where to stay when traveling in the hinterland. For that reason I’d trust your journey with a local agent as opposed to a reseller in whatever country you’re coming from. You’ll save a lot of money and be closer to the source of planning. You can find a number of reputable local agents using the internet.

Regards,
Jim Heck

On 6/27/2012 2:55 AM, EM Widmark wrote:
> EM Widmark wrote:
> Suggestions for 15-30 August 2012 in Ethiopia?

Wants to volunteer and travel in Africa

Wants to volunteer and travel in Africa

Stacy Candaria writes:

Hello,

I am looking to travel to Africa in the next couple of months. I would like to
start in South Africa where I am keen on a volunteer program working with lion
cubs.

After that i would like to find a volunteer program that has the most “hands on”
with Gorillas and Chimpanzees. If I cant get into a program I would at least
like to do a tour.

Could you advise me on Programs and Tours. I will also be on my own so safety is
obviously necessary.

Many Thanks,
Stacy Candelaria

Jim responds:
Stacy –

Thanks for your email. It’s my understanding right now that untrained volunteers will not be accepted for any primate research programs in east or central Africa. (There are no primate research programs elsewhere.) Click below to better understand why and also to get some advice regarding gorilla touring:

Volunteerism not always good

Paying to volunteer a bad thing

Good intentions gone awry

And regarding gorillas in particular:

Click here and click here