Why should I choose Eagle Eye Safaris?
Ernest, Karen, or both of us personally lead every Eagle Eye Safaris trip. We provide you with one-on-one attention while we coach your photography skills, making sure you have the right settings and angles for the shot. We strive to ensure you have a fantastic, memorable, fun safari experience. We love sharing the treasures of Africa–our wildlife–with our guests, and teaching you how to take home photos that will make you proud. Be sure to check out our reviews on Facebook and Trip Advisor!
What sets you apart from other safari companies?
Ernest and Karen are award-winning, published photographers with a passion for teaching. Photography coaching with your camera and Lightroom/Photoshop instruction are included in all of our Big 5 Safaris. We try to keep our groups small, with extra space on the vehicles for your camera gear, as much as possible. We don’t contract out our safaris. We personally lead them all.
Additionally, we offer a Ground Travel Package to make getting to the Big 5 Safari Lodges a breeze. Most safari companies book you, then wish you luck in figuring out how to get to the Lodge. Karen is amazing at figuring out itineraries and travel arrangements. We are not a travel agency, so can’t always book for you, but we can recommend flights, and we can help create itineraries outside of safari such as Cape Town or Victoria Falls. We are happy to offer advice about as much of your trip as possible. We are happy to chat with you via Skype, WhatsApp, or phone calls to discuss your plans.
Our Gorilla & Chimpanzee Treks are also special. Most companies stuff 10 people into the vehicle to maximize profit, and you’ll learn to dread the back seat due to the potholes on Ugandan roads. We limit our Treks to 5-7 people per vehicle, leaving the back seat empty for luggage and gear. Your comfort and enjoyment is important to us–and our Gorilla Treks are very affordable with high quality Lodging and the best Ugandan drivers!
When is the best time to go on safari?
Any time! Winter is the dry season (May, June, July) and foliage is minimal. Animals congregate near waterholes and are easy to spot and photograph. August, September and October are spring, and the bush is bursting with new life as trees bud out and grass begins to grow. Lots of babies are being born during December and January, and you have a great chance of seeing births. Late December through February is hot, and it’s also rainy season. You’ll see a lot of young animals, but run the risk of game drives in the rain. That can make for dramatic photography, and it’s low season—without crowds—for the hard-core photographers. March through May is fall. It’s still green, and the weather is cooler. Wildlife is active. Let us know what you really want to see and experience, and we’ll recommend the best safari for your goals.
What’s the “Big 5?” Will we see them?
The Big 5 are: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and African Buffalo. Our trackers will do their best to find the wildlife you want to see, but we can never guarantee an animal will cooperate and allow itself to be seen. We operate in areas with high concentrations of leopards, the hardest of the Big 5 to spot, and we see them frequently–sometimes 2 or 3 a day! The Game Reserves are open to the Kruger National Park, and we have our own anti-poaching teams, so we often see rhino, the most endangered animal of the Big 5. We will see lots of other wildlife too, such as hippo, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and more. So far, every Big 5 Safari group has seen the Big 5, and we hope to continue that success long into the future.
Do I need vaccinations?
You do not need vaccinations to enter South Africa, but please discuss the risk of malaria with your doctor. Mosquito spray is provided in your room on safari. It’s always a good idea to be up-to-date on tetanus.
You will need proof of Yellow Fever Immunization for travel to central Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. A Hepatitis series is recommended for central Africa. Malaria is also prevalent.
Please check your country’s travel recommendations for additional health recommendations, and definitely talk to your doctor about your travel plans.
Is the water safe to drink?
South Africa has some of the safest tap water in the world. Some Lodges use wells and the water can taste salty. In those cases, bottled water will be provided for drinking, but it is safe to bathe and brush your teeth. Bottled water will always be provided when tap water is not safe to drink, and we will make sure that you know.
Is the food safe to eat?
Yes, everything served at the Lodge has been cooked properly. Vegetables and salads have been washed with clean water and are safe to consume, whether cooked or uncooked. We can accommodate all dietary needs and choices with adequate notice.
Do you have a bar? Can I bring my own alcohol?
We do have bars at the Lodges, and one has a wine cellar! If you have special requests, please give us a few weeks’ notice so that we can try our best to be sure your choice is stocked. There is a corking fee if you bring your own alcohol.
Can I pay for things with Credit Cards? What about ATMs?
When traveling, American Express is not widely accepted on the continent of Africa, so plan to use MasterCard or VISA. We recommend leaving debit cards at home, and arranging with your bank to have a PIN associated with your credit card for cash withdrawals from ATMs. Credit cards are accepted at the Lodges for personal purchases, spa services, and gratuities. You’ll want cash for craft markets and small purchases, and we will suggest a reasonable amount to withdraw based on the length of your trip.
Is it safe to travel?
We do everything we can to help you ensure your safety when you travel. We recommend common-sense precautions—don’t travel with large sums of money, leave expensive or sentimental jewelry at home, don’t show off your camera equipment, don’t walk alone at night, and don’t wander away from tourist areas. The Lodges and Guest Houses that we use are known for being safe, friendly, family-owned businesses. Opting for our Big 5 Ground Transportation Package takes the guesswork out of your lodging and your travel to and from the Lodges.
We recommend getting Travel and Medical Evacuation Insurance no matter where you travel in the world. Your credit card and homeowner’s or health insurance may offer short-term policies, and you can Google to compare rates with public companies. We will cancel a trip if there is political or civil unrest in any location to which we go, or if we feel it is unsafe for any other reason (see our Terms & Conditions).
Why should I book your Big 5 Ground Transportation Package for safari?
Our Ground Transportation Package is a convenience to minimize stress during your vacation. The drive to the Lodges averages 7-8 hours and half of it is not on highways. Getting up at 4am, driving straight through to the Lodge, then jumping onto a safari vehicle for a 3-hour game drive is a long, exhausting day for most people. You are here to enjoy your trip, so we recommend flying to Nelspruit the day before safari (about $250 round-trip; we’ll tell you which flights to book) and relaxing.
You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a tour of Chimp Eden, eat a good dinner and watch the sun set with a cocktail, then spend a restful night. After a delicious, made-to-order breakfast, you’ll watch the scenery and learn about the area from the professional driver during the 3-hour ride to the Lodge. Our package includes a B&B night in Johannesburg so you can get a good night’s sleep after your long flight to Africa, a B&B night in Nelspruit so you can start safari fresh the next day, all ground transportation, the 2pm tour of Chimp Eden the day before safari, and round-trip transportation to the Safari Lodge. (see our GTP for inclusions/exclusions)
You can make your own arrangements to get to the Lodge, too. Our GTP is an option for your convenience, should you want our assistance with travel arrangements. It is not necessary to book our GTP to go on safari with us.
What should I wear?
We recommend colors that are not too bright, and avoid white. Khaki, brown, black, and softer tones of other colors are appropriate. Safaris are casual. You’ll want good walking shoes such as tennis shoes for bush walks and game drives, flip-flops or sandals for around the camp, and a pair of slippers for nighttime comfort. We wear hiking pants that convert to shorts. Bring layers: short sleeved, long sleeved, a hoodie or sweatshirt, and a rain jacket. You’ll need a safari hat! Our Travel Tips and Packing List (on our website) have a detailed list and good suggestions. We’ll let you know about a week before you travel what the expected weather will be so you can edit your packing list.
How far will I have to walk?
For Big 5 Safaris, our Lodges have level pathways with a minimum of steps into buildings (2-4). Bush walks are on moderately level ground, mildly strenuous, and are slow paced. Anyone of average fitness can participate, between the ages of 14-65. We are looking at tracks, markings, and learning about plants that are useful to the local people. There are some shallow washes and logs when we get off the road, but we can remain on the road if our group includes people who need a less strenuous walk.
Over 65 or under 14? You won’t be left out. We can do a mini-walk right around the Lodge, and we will stop during the game drive to see many of the interesting things seen on bush walks.
Gorilla & Chimpanzee Treks are strenuous and you need a moderate level of fitness. We will be hiking on steep terrain that may be slippery, through jungles. You will hire a porter, and your porter’s job is to ensure that you get to see the Gorillas, even if they have to lift you up and carry you. Some of our Lodges are built on hillsides and in those Lodges, there are quite a few steps to your bungalow. Definitely plan to spend time hiking or at the gym prior to a Gorilla & Chimpanzee Trek–and it will be worth it!
I want to bring my family on dates different than your published dates, or on a private safari.
With enough notice, we can create a private, custom safari for you and your family or friends. With 4 or more people, prices are about the same as our published safaris.
Can we bring our children?
Well-behaved children are welcome on Big 5 Safaris. Children under 7 cannot go on game drives. Your child should be able to take direction from other adults, to not scream when excited, to sit quietly around animals for an extended time while people are photographing them, and to be able to sit on the Game Vehicle for 3 hours morning and evening. Please fairly assess your child’s level of interest and ability, and bring them when they are at an age where they will enjoy and remember this amazing experience. Baby-sitting is available at the Lodge for an additional expense.
We want something special for our Honeymoon/Anniversary/Special Birthday/Marriage Proposal.
We have a luxurious Honeymoon Suite at our Luxury Lodge! We will work with you to make your special occasion memorable, whether it’s a private candle-lit bush dinner, champagne and roses on the safari vehicle for your proposal at a beautiful spot, or a decadent birthday cake complete with candles! This is YOUR trip—we are here to make it incredible!
I’m not a photographer. Will I be bored?
Absolutely not! Going on safari with photographers means that you will be in the middle of action as much as possible. We don’t want to photograph sleeping lions…we want to see something happening, and we need to be in the best possible position to photograph it. We’ve seen some insane videos and really good photos taken by our guests with cell phone and tablet cameras!
I don’t have an expensive camera or big lens. Can I rent one?
We can arrange reasonably priced rentals for you in South Africa so that you don’t have to bring equipment with you.
I’m a beginner photographer. Am I out of my league?
If you want to learn, we will teach you! It’s a good idea to read the manual and learn where the buttons are on your camera before you come on safari, and we will teach you what they do, how they work, and when to use them. You’ll go home with the skills and knowledge to set your own settings, plus some cool tricks, too!
Do I need a laptop?
Having a laptop with Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop CC (the $9.95/month subscription) is the best way to learn how to process your photos. We’ll teach you how to download, organize, and edit your photos, following our wildlife workflow process. Please pre-load the programs-WiFi in South Africa is too slow to download the programs.
I’m a little scared of wildlife. Are we ever in danger?
Our Rangers and Trackers are highly trained, and work around wildlife daily. Part of their job is to read the animal’s behavior, and we never put an animal in a position of stress. We can often get close, but only as close as the animal indicates is comfortable. Sometimes we are right next to an animal, and sometimes we must stay quite far away. As much as we want to see an animal, if we ever think that the animal feels stressed or threatened, we will leave and find something else to watch. Conservation and safety are our first priorities, always.