Below are the most common questions we are asked about our School Trips. If you have a question that is not addressed in this section do not hesitate to contact Debs at info@AfricaExpeditionSupport.com.
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East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) is one of the most diverse exciting regions on earth; from mountain ranges to beaches to game parks teeming with wildlife to friendly welcoming locals – East Africa has it all. East Africa in some ways is caught in a time warp – local hospitality and customs are still formal and traditional while still enjoying modern conveniences like internet access, mobile phone reception, shopping malls with designer stores, coffee shops and internationally acclaimed restaurants.
East Africa offers the best game parks in all of Africa from the splendour of the Masai Mara game reserve, to the beauty of the Serengeti; from the majestic Lake Nakuru National Park to the dramatic Hells Gate National Park (the location for filming Tomb Raider). Game viewing can be enjoyed in custom built safari trucks to mountain biking to walking safaris.
For the adventurous East Africa offers multiple activities at multiple levels from an epic 8 day Mt Kilimanjaro climb to a gentler 1 day Mt Logonot hike, half day to multiple day white water rafting; Kayaking and canoeing to name a few.
Despite the cities displaying every modern convenience imaginable rural areas offer school groups the opportunity to work side by side less advantaged communities; maybe spend a few days installing solar power systems with Napenda Solar Community, teaching English in a local school, making school furniture side by side local tradesmen, assist in harvesting produce for market with small subsistence farmers, participate in animal and environmental conservation projects, or helping with the day to day activities at an orphanage. Life in rural East Africa is much slower than the city, where the community is more like family, everyone knows each other and there is always someone offering a helping hand.
East Africa is the ideal location for school trips, its offers students a variety of activities to keep them busy, as well as physically and mentally stimulated.
At Africa Expedition Support we take safety and security very seriously. We have been organising school trips to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania since 2005 and apart from the odd student receiving minor injuries from tripping over or hitting their thumb with a hammer all our trips have been largely incident free.
Keeping safe and secure while traveling should be a concern regardless of the destination and East Africa is no different. The international media has a fascination in reporting only the bad news about Africa. Africa is a large continent and just because an incident happens in one small town or village does not necessary reflect on the entire country or continent. I guess if one puts it into perspective, an incident in a city 100 miles from your home town does not necessarily mean your hometown is any more dangerous or at risk.
While we recognise some towns and cities may have a greater risk of petty crime, majority of crime is targeted at locals rather than tourists. Despite this, we develop itineraries that largely avoid areas where crime might be slightly higher.
While no one can guarantee 100% safety and security anywhere in the World, we at Africa Expedition Support have a number of policies and procedures in place to ensure the highest level of safety and security exists in everything we do.
Following a few very basic safety procedures ensures the safety of every group.
English is widely spoken across Uganda and Kenya. In fact English is an official language of Uganda along with several indigenous languages. English is also spoken in Tanzania but not as widely as Kenya and Uganda.
There are dozens of official languages spoken across East Africa however the most common indigenous language is Swahili.
Yes, visas are required for Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Visas can either be obtained at the airport or land border upon entry or applied for in advance from the respective Embassies in your home country.
*Kenya is in the process of changing over from visas being issued at point of entry to being available only online.
**South African’s staying in Kenya for 28 days or less doesn’t require a visa for Kenya. Those staying more than 28 days require a visa costing USD$50
***Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have introduced a joint visa called the East African Visa, this costs USD$100 and is available at point of entry and allows for travel throughout the 3 countries over 3 consecutive months.
For all other nationalities and up to date visa information please refer to Debs at email@example.com
At Africa Expedition Support we have organised student trips for over 700 students throughout Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Egypt. So this is something we know and have been doing successfully for over 10 years!
We are an on the ground operator based in East Africa. The Directors, Deborah originally from Australia and Thiemo originally from Germany, have over 20 years combined experience organizing and leading tours through East Africa, West Africa, North Africa and South Africa. 10 years ago we decided to base ourselves in East Africa as it is the place we feel most at home.
We pride ourselves on developing partnerships with schools, local communities and projects. These partnerships go far beyond simply running a tour but provide ongoing support to school organizers from the time of first enquiry through to the students arriving back home. Often there are hundreds of questions accompanying the decision to travel to East Africa. Students and parents have a list of very specific questions which can only be answered by those who live and breathe East Africa – are there ATMs? Can I use my SWITCH card? Do I have to bring 3 week supply of toilet paper? What altitude will we be at? Are there toilets at the local schools? Are there toilets? Do I have to bring my own vegemite? What does the bread taste like? Does Sprite taste different in Africa?...... We are more than happy to answer all of these questions openly and honestly, simply because we know the answers.
We also advise on “What to Bring”, what kind of insect repellent is best, and whether or not mobile phones or i-phones work, and if there are charging facilities etc.
There is peace of mind knowing that the people answering the questions, advising on details are also those who will be on hand, on site, making sure everything is going to plan while the group are in East Africa.
A key question parents ask before deciding to send their children to East Africa is who is going to be taking care of their children. Are they trustworthy, responsible and honest? Will they put my child’s welfare first?
Our crew are highly skilled group facilitators with many years experience in leading trips throughout Africa. Most of our western crew come from professional backgrounds – nurses, lawyers, mechanics, ambulance officers, community development officers and diver masters; our local African crew are married with children and are well educated and skilled.
Africa Expedition Support crew have extensive experience in working with young people, they are experienced in recognizing when students are not happy or have an issue and can aid as a bridge between teachers and students. Without stepping over their role as Africa support crew. They know Africa and understand the many different cultures.
Normally all school groups include the services of 2 experienced crew – driver/mechanic and tour leader/cook. Not only does this contribute to client satisfaction it also provides additional support to the accompanying teachers and chaperones. Africa Expedition Support crew role is to ensure the day to day is taken care of (food, accommodation, resources, permits, border crossings etc), and assist teachers with local idiosyncrasies they may not be familiar with.
Some teachers prefer to take a back seat role and let the Africa Expedition Support crew run the trip entirely, this is totally fine also. Africa Expedition Support works with schools to ascertain the roles of teachers/chaperones and our crew to ensure we all complement one another!
The group size will depend on the school. Most schools opt for a maximum of 18-20 students and 2-3 teachers/chaperones per group. We believe this is the ideal number per group. Should your school have more students then we recommend splitting the group either into 2 smaller groups or stagger group activities so everyone participating gets the most out of their school trip.
This is particularly important if your school is interested in participating in a community service project, the bigger the group the less students may gain from the service project.
If the students are 18 years and below then the group needs to be accompanied by teachers or chaperones who have been assigned as the legal guardians for the minors.
14 years and above is the ideal age for student trips to East Africa. At this age we believe students will have an incredible life changing experience and will be able to apply their learning and experience to real life.
Every itinerary is custom designed to the schools dates, learning objectives and budget. The process usually involves the school/teacher telling us what they are after and we offer suggestions to meet these requirements. Together we work on an itinerary based on our experience of working with school groups, what is available locally and what the school wants their students to go away with at the end of their trip of a lifetime.
Each school request is different; some schools want their students to be immersed in the local culture and work on a project like Napenda Solar Community for the majority of their school trip and a few days at the end for a rewarding safari in one of Africa’s premium game parks. Other schools want more variety incorporating 2-3 countries with time at a local school teaching English, wildlife conservation, hiking, Napenda Solar Community, safari and some beach time on Zanzibar. There are plenty of options and together we will develop the ideal itinerary for your students.
Accommodation depends on the requirements of the school. Majority of schools opt for camping or a mix of camping and hostel/dorm accommodation. Camping is a great way to not only bring the group together but offers the most budget option. East Africa has no shortage of safe and secure well-equipped campsites offering large grassy areas, western toilets and showers and BBQ/cooking shelters. Some campsites offer dorm and budget shared accommodation as well as WiFi, swimming pool, pool tables, darts and other activities for students. Campsites have plenty of space so ideal for games and leadership activities without disturbing other travellers.
When camping we use spacious waterproof tents comfortably sleeping 2-3 students of the same gender, we also supply mattresses so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own.
Other accommodation options range from dorm rooms, budget shared rooms, hotels, lodges and depending on the location private guest houses.
Most school trips are not overly physically demanding, however if you want to incorporate extreme hiking such as a Mt Kilimanjaro trek then it is physically demanding.
As we develop the itinerary with you we can adapt it to meet the physical needs of your school group.
At Africa Expedition Support we have a fleet of custom built overland safari trucks that can take up to 26 passengers. These vehicles are custom built to appreciate the diversity of the landscape and maximise social and communal style of travel.
Our vehicles are homes on wheels! They are self-sufficient with their own fresh water tanks, tents, mattresses, camping chairs, tables, extensive kitchen and storage space; as well as a stereo with an amp for music, internal and external lighting, fridge or cooler box, medical kit, fire extinguishers and firewood locker to name a few of the amazing features.
Occasionally we will use smaller registered tourist 4x4 vehicles for certain activities where it is not practical to use the larger overland trucks.
No. Africa Expedition Support does not use public transport for student groups. The public transport system across East Africa is not the safest, it is not uncommon for public buses and matatus (public mini vans) to speed in order to get from destination to destination in impossible times. Accident rates on public transport are very high, as is the risk of petty theft and pickpocketing.
We are asked from time to time to organise student trips by public transport – we do not do this as safety and security of your students are our highest priority and we do not believe taking public transport is a safe way to travel across East Africa.
We use our own vehicles for school trips and group charters, on occasion we will use registered tourist 4x4 safari vehicles for certain activities such as safari in the Serengeti NP, transfers on the island of Zanzibar and transport to the start of Mt Kilimanjaro trek.
This is a very common question parents often want to know they can contact their children whenever they need to. Different schools have different policies; some schools allow the students to have their cell phones with them at all time, others only on certain days and others not at all. This is up to each every individual school.
However, there is cell phone coverage over most of East Africa even in rural and remote areas. Internet access is also available across most of the region although in rural and remote areas the service is likely to be very slow.
More and more places we stay are connecting to WiFi although there are still plenty of places that do not have it.
In case of an emergency our office in Nairobi operates 24/7 and can contact the road crew and ensure a message is delivered and vice versa.
Yes, most places we stay have charging facilities. East Africa works on 220/240 volts and 3 pin English plugs therefore you may need to pack a plug adaptor and those from North America will need to bring an adapter to convert 110 to 220 volts.
With our student groups we try to include as much as possible in the overall price – safari, community service projects, meals, bottled water, and activities therefore students don’t have to bring a large amount of money just enough for visas, drinks (sodas), snacks, WiFi (most places it is free), laundry and maybe a few souvenirs.
On average most students won’t need more than USD$100 per week. We recommend bring spending money in USD cash. Although there are ATMs in cities and major towns sometimes they do not work or out of cash so cannot be relied upon.
Yes, there will be several opportunities to buy souvenirs. There is a vast range of locally produced curios (souvenirs) including soap stone sculptures, traditional kangas (sarongs) and Masai blankets, handmade jewellery, wooden carvings and various other trinkets.
Yes, there are chances to do laundry along the way.
For this style of travel a soft backpack is the most practical option. As students will be required to carry their own luggage, sometimes up and down stairs and on and off the overland safari truck a soft backpack is ideal.
Hard suitcases are often awkward to lift in to the overland safari truck and as the ground surface in campsites is usually uneven grassy surfaces, a suitcase, particularly one with wheels is simply not practical.
Our advice is to keep it simple. You don’t need any special clothing for your safari. Most African countries are conservative and you should think about this when packing. Keep clothing conservative – long trousers, T-shirts, long shorts (to the knees) and something warm for the evenings. A comfortable pair of trainers or walking boots is highly recommended as are a pair of flip flops or sandals. Keep colours neutral but avoid army camouflage clothing.
A complete clothing packing list is included in the trip dossier information supplied a few months prior to travelling.
As our vehicles are fully equipped with kitchen facilities and we supply 2 crew per trip (driver/mechanic and tour leader/cook) our tour leader/cook is responsible for your meals while camping or staying in accommodation where we can supply the meals.
If we are staying in accommodation that does not allow us to cook our own meals we can ensure meals are supplied through the establishment or if you prefer you can organise your own meals with some guidance from the crew.
Our tour leader/cook is used to cooking for different nationalities, age groups and dietary requirements so they are in the best position to supply hearty, tasty and nutritious meals for your students. They are also experienced in hygiene ensuring food preparation and handling is done in the highest standards possible. After all keeping your students well and healthy is our primary concern.
We do however recommend that students help out in meal preparation and washing up, this is often organised on a rota system in conjunction with a few other daily chores (sweeping the truck, emptying the rubbish etc.). This provides students with the experience of cooking for a large group with an outside camp kitchen under the careful eye of our tour leader/cook. Not only is this a good experience but also great fun – turning meat as it sizzles on a BBQ, applying a little of your own creativity to food presentation and learning how to make sauces from scratch without relying on a pre-packaged jar!
The cost of meals is included in the overall price unless otherwise stated or requested.
Schools and parents are often concerned about what their students will eat while away from home on an African safari tour or student trip, whether there will be enough food and will students recognize what is in front of them!
We have been working with student groups for over 10 years from all the over the World. We recognize that British students are going to eat slightly differently to American students and totally differently to Korean students. Hence a menu is planned with nationality and age in mind.
All meals are prepared by experienced safari cooks (with assistance from students) who are accustomed to catering for large groups from a variety of cultures. We have an extensive repertoire blending locally available produce with a range of international dishes.
Wherever possible fresh ingredients are used limiting tinned/canned foods to only when certain items are not available. Fresh produce is purchased from reputable establishments to ensure the highest quality and hygiene standards.
On any safari trip, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Therefore on a typical day expect Cereal (granola, muesli, Weetabix or oatmeal), fresh fruit, toast with various spreads, yoghurt PLUS bacon and eggs or pancakes and maple syrup or French toast or Spanish omelette or English fry up or hash browns, sausages and baked beans or scrambled eggs are just some options you may wake up to.
Lunch is usually on the go. We’re 4x4 touring or game driving to view wildlife, so unless we are parked up for the day and have plenty of time, typically we serve a variety of cut up or grated ingredients to “build your own” sandwich or wrap. In most places we can source fresh cucumber, tomato, lettuce, carrot as well as cheese, ham, tuna and salami. When we are in camp and have a bit more time for a relaxed lunch, the options are endless from burgers to special fried rice to pizza to nachos to a variety of salads (potato, rice, chicken, tuna, pasta and Greek).
In the late afternoon or just before dinner we usually serve fresh homemade soup and bread. This is a great way for teens to not only enjoy a late afternoon snack before dinner but also to replace fluids and electrolytes lost throughout the day. Over the years we have found this simple intervention has prevented teens from becoming ill due to dehydration.
At dinner the options are endless, from BBQ chicken and herb couscous to spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread to bangers (sausages), mashed potato and gravy to steak medallions to lasagne to stir fried chicken and crispy noodles to marinated BBQ pork ribs to a roast dinner with all the trimmings. Dinners are always served with plenty of fresh vegetables and/or salads,
From time to time we will serve dessert which could be anything from chocolate fondue to tea cakes with cream and strawberries to custard and fruit to smores!
Students are often curios about traditional meals, therefore we try to include a few local meals. Some meals we will make a group exercise and include everyone in preparing a traditional meal while learning about the ingredients and history of the dish. Sometimes we will work with a local community to have them prepare a traditional meal for us. Trying local food is part of the cultural experience and gives students a deeper understanding of traditions and history.
There is always plenty of food, more than enough for students to return for seconds if they so desire. Keeping students well fed is something we take very seriously.
Most certainly. If you tell us your school has a no nut policy (or any other ingredient) then we will make sure we don’t stock the truck kitchen with anything containing nuts.
However, we do ask if a student has a nut allergy they still bring along their epi pen or other medication just in case. Although we check all labels to ensure nuts are not included sometimes products are manufactured in a factory handling nuts, and occasionally, although unlikely, cross contamination can occur.
Yes, we can. Well in advance of your trip we request a list of student names, DOB, allergies/medical issues and if there are certain foods they cannot eat due to moral/religious/allergy/intolerance/medical reasons. We then devise a meal plan taking this into consideration to ensure everyone is catered for.
We never let a birthday slip by without a birthday cake to celebrate. If we cannot purchase one while on the trip our cook will have great fun in baking a birthday cake!
Unless otherwise requested we include bottled water. Unlike some operators who limit the amount of bottled water per person per day we do not. We know that hydration is the best way to keep students well and healthy while travelling therefore we include as much bottled drinking water as the group requires.
We will ensure your school policies are upheld while your student group is in Africa.
Africa Expedition Support works closely with the owners and management of campsites and hotels to ensure students are not served alcohol at the bar. Our crew communicates with teachers and chaperones regularly to highlight possible or potential “danger zones” to ensure students are monitored. “Danger zones” are mostly supermarkets or small shops selling alcohol in addition to everyday items.
Africa Expedition Support has a zero tolerance for illicit drugs and are not allowed near or on clients, crew and vehicles. If a student is found with illicit drugs in their possession they are asked to leave the tour at their expense. Africa Expedition Support will not compromise the safety of the entire group due to one individual.
Illicit drugs are illegal and something local authorities take very seriously with severe penalties often involving jail sentences.
The legal age for alcohol consumption is 18 years of age throughout East Africa. However if your school policy is zero alcohol regardless if the students are 18 years and over Africa Expedition Support will ensure the school policy is upheld.
Keeping students healthy is our priority. Not only do you not want to be spending your time in and out of doctor surgeries with your students neither do we! Illness cannot be stopped entirely but with a number of simple preventative measures it can be reduced considerably.
Everyone will, at some stage, experience a grumbly stomach. Often this is just your body getting used to the different bacteria and will only last for around 24 hours until your body adjusts. This is totally normal.
Debs, one of the owners of Africa Expedition Support, was a Registered Nurse and having worked in Australia and South East Asia as a nurse knows only too well how important health and hygiene policies and practices are.
We use several strategies to keep your students as healthy as possible.
By implementing these simple strategies we have proven that majority of school groups largely avoid any serious illness.
We request everyone to have comprehensive travel insurance including medical and medical evacuation for exactly this reason. AMREF, the Flying Doctor’s service is only a phone or radio call away. They operate international standard state of the art air ambulances (planes and helicopters) throughout East Africa and will transport a sick or injured person to the nearest and best medical facility. This is usually Nairobi, Kenya.
Africa Expedition Support crew can administer first aid and the vehicle carries a comprehensive medical emergency kit.
Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory for most East African countries (don’t forget to bring the certificate!). For all other vaccinations it is best to refer to your local Travel Doctor or GP.
We strongly recommend taking tablets to help protect you against Malaria. Malaria is a serious illness however it is also easily prevented as long as you follow a few basic principles; like taking anti-malaria tablets, along with covering up arms and legs from dusk to dawn and use a reliable insect repellent spray (DEET based is best).
The options are endless for community service projects; we try to match you with the ideal service project for your students.
We work closely with local schools, community leaders and community organisations to ensure community service projects are both rewarding for the community and your students.
Here are just some examples and possibilities;
There are a number of other options, or you may have an idea of what you want your students to do based on the curriculum or learning objectives from home. Email us your requests and we will make it happen firstname.lastname@example.org
We have a very simple philosophy – we do not make money from the community service projects – we do however factor in costs for phone calls, emails, travel to and from project to finalise arrangements if required and administration costs. However this is a very small percentage.
Napenda Solar Community and water catchment projects are our own projects therefore we can honestly say that 100% of your community service project money goes directly to the project.
Some projects will charge a fee for groups to visit and participate; this is to cover their costs and resources allocated to hosting groups.
Let’s face it, community service projects are a great way to assist a community however the cheaper the project or the less your school is prepared to allocate the less likely it is to have a long term sustainable positive affect on the community. For example, it costs more to build and install a solar power system in a poor rural household then it is to paint a classroom wall however the long term sustainable positive impact of a family having electricity in their home (kids can study in clean lighting, no more use for health damaging kerosene lanterns, ability for longer productive working hours etc.) has far more impact than a freshly painted wall.