Frequently asked questions

What do you do exactly?

We design completely bespoke safari vacations, made just for you and yours. We work with the best folks in the business—people we’re also proud to call our friends.

How much does all of this cost?

Custom trips are, by their very nature, hard to pin down cost-wise—there’s a whirlwind of variables to consider, from common travel variables to the particulars of a specific safari destination. But as a ballpark figure to toss around and consider, expect between $700 and $1000 per person, per day.

Can you break down the cost of the trip for me?

While we can give some estimates on some elements of the trip as pertains to daily costs, a thorough line-by-line breakdown isn’t very feasible or accurate. Many portions of our expenditures are bundled together on the provider side, and our services are not so cleanly divided into billable hours—we just do what we need to until your trip is looking tip-top.

How do I decide where to go and what to do? Where do we start?

Perhaps the most important question with perhaps the easiest answer: just give us a ring and we’ll chat all about it. We also hope you’ll find our website helpful for jogging the brain and drumming up some inspiration.

Do you arrange for flights or other transportation to and from my destination(s)?

We can offer some casual advice on getting to and from Africa—we’ve done more than our fair share of flying there and back again—but the particulars of your arrival and departure are up to you. Once you’ve touched down, though, we’ll take you under our wing right away. Everything during your time with us will be arranged for you.

Can’t I just plan a safari myself?

We’d wager that you could, given enough resources and effort. Planning a trip isn’t about magic or genius—just hard work, know-how, know-who, as well as time, diligence, and meticulous follow-through. We’d flatter ourselves that we’re smart anyway, but it’s a cornucopia of those latter qualities that we bring to the table and take off your plate. Now it sounds like we’re stealing food.

When does the service start and end?

Maybe it’s already begun! Hope you’re enjoying the site. We suppose it officially starts with a phone call to get to know each other, and ends with you gushing about what a wonderful time you had and dreaming of your next safari with us.

How long does it take for you to plan a trip?

It can be as quick as a week or up to a few depending on a handful of factors—availability of accommodations and activities, length of time before your desired travel dates, modifications to the plan, and how many things we’re packing into your experience. That said, whatever your timeframe is, we’ll work to make things work for you.

How far in advance should I contact you to plan a trip?

Speaking a little in generalities here, about 12 months out is ideal. Safari can be tricky as pertains to time of year and availability. A lot comes down to what you want to see and do, and we’ll sort all that out once we talk. If it’s three months out and you’re curious about what might work, by all means give us a call and we’ll see what we can pull off.

Can I change things once we’ve started planning? What’s your cancellation policy?

You can modify small bits or large parts at any point of the process, up to and including during your trip—it does need to be said, of course, that things are more flexible in advance and become more involved as it gets down to the minute.

Do you offer deals or discounts?

Everybody loves a good deal, but we’re not ones to get our feathers ruffled over bargain hunting. We’re after the good stuff first and foremost. Sometimes it works out to be a little steep; other times, delightfully cheap!

What’s the process for obtaining visas?

It varies depending on where you’ll be going exactly, but it’s all rather straightforward whether done online or at entry—we’ll help you sort that out well ahead of time.

I want to go to a certain location or camp not mentioned on your site. Can I do that?

It’s certainly a possibility worth exploring and discussing, and of course highly dependent upon where this mystery locale might be.

Do I have one guide with me all the way?

We make sure that you're always with the best guide for the area and activities you're involved in. This could work out to be one all-star, but often your trip will call for a team effort between specialists in different environs. Whoever the hand-off is to, they'll already know the ins-and-outs of your game plan.

How long are your trips?

Your trip is as long or as short as you’d like it to be—you’re calling the shots. Given the time investment for most folks in getting here and the general nature of safari, we’d recommend at least a week or two to get the full experience. If you want to get away for a while longer, that’s all dandy, too—we’ve had ourselves some lovely stretches out on safari.

What time of year is best to go on safari?

It won’t really do to qualify “best” here. In the continent’s vast and varied ecosystems, fascinations abound at any time of year. It’s all about what you want to see and experience. For instance: November can get a bit rainy in popular northern Tanzania, but that’s a superb time to head west to the Mahale, where the foothill forests harboring chimpanzees are relatively dry—and far less crowded.

Will weather have an impact on my safari?

It might in small ways—rain gear today, shorts and tees tomorrow—but nothing's likely to change your carefully laid plans. We'll make certain that you're prepared for whatever comes your way, and you'll always have the final say on what you want to do should the forecast get interesting.

Is tipping practiced or expected?

Gratuities are the norm in many places. We'll help you figure out the where-when-and-how of what's appropriate in any situation.

Can I get by speaking English?

Certainly, but color us surprised if we don’t have you speaking at least a little Kiswahili by the time you’re leaving camp! For any situations that would require the services of a translator, your guide will be speaking on your behalf.

What’s the recommendation for different age groups? Is safari family friendly?

Safari is an exciting venture for people of all ages, and there isn’t too much in the way of restriction or complication outside your personal preferences and comforts. As always, we’ll be tailoring things to your group especially, so everything will suit your needs. Some limitations may exist for children under five years of age.

What does a typical day look like?

Since these are all custom-made trips detailed to the whims of individual people, that’s a tough question to answer well enough to paint a good overall picture for you. There could be a day jammed full of wildlife encounters on the savannah, rafting down canopied rivers, hot-air ballooning, meals in the bush and sundowner parties—or a blissfully uneventful day at camp, interrupted only by a morning massage and a late dinner under the stars. Nonetheless, we hate to show up empty-handed. Here are a few days taken from itineraries we’ve put together in the past to give you an idea: (link link etc)

What kind of physical fitness would be needed to enjoy my trip?

Just about any kind of shape you’re in will do, honestly, and we can plan enriching engagements for any level of, or interest in, physical activity.

What kind of food and meals should I expect?

Everything from delicious hyper-local fare to back-home comforts like steak and pizza—your plate will runneth over. And we're always stuffing our pockets and sacks with bevvies and snacks, so something's on-hand no matter where you go.

How safe is safari?

In a word: safe. Common sense provides a sturdy foundation here—you would have to go out of your way to put yourself in danger. Though the animals are unequivocally wild and the environments savagely pristine, operating with a certain level of respect and awareness goes far enough to mitigate any threat. Our guides and camp directors will share how they conduct their drives and daily activities in harmony with the untamed wilds around them.

Is there access to electricity?

There's electricity at each and every camp—you'll be able to charge up wherever you go.

Is Wi-Fi available?

Many camps are wired for wireless, and you'll never be too far from a signal if you find yourself in need.

Is there a preferred currency?

U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere, so long as the cash is fresh—only bills printed after 2013 are widely reliable. Many camps also accept major credit cards.

I have specific medical concerns or medications that I need. Will I be ok?

With the blessing of your primary care doctor, all should be fine. We’ll be happy to consult with you to ensure that everything can be handled properly.

Am I able to enjoy a safari vacation from a wheelchair?

Absolutely. While many safari activities are naturally outdoors in ungroomed environments, options do exist for folks of differing mobility needs.

Are there certain immunizations or vaccinations I need to be current on?

For Africa at large and certain countries within, yes. It’s best to consult with your primary care doctor about your travel plans regarding vaccinations.

Where does the name Penwell come from?

From the singular Mr. Penuel Tango—a dear friend and safari guide extraordinaire. We hope to introduce you!

What’s that feather in your logo?

That right there is a bonafide, beautifully speckled feather that belongs to a helmeted guineafowl. It’s our spirit animal. They’re crazy little birds. We saw them bustling about on our first safari a long time ago, and they were going “come back! come back! come back!”— so we did and did and did. (the guineafowl call a la this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtfhN-s43gE)

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