Modern air travel and excellent government organization have put a safari in East Africa within reach of more Americans than ever before. Our safari was outfitted by White Hunters ( Africa) Ltd., one of several excellent organizations operating out of Nairobi, Kenya, the safari capital of the world. The reputation of White Hunters was well known to us and we had heard much about Owen McCallum to make us want him for our guide. Most outfitters are booked a year in advance, so it is advisable, particularly if a special hunter is wanted, to plan an African safari early.
Once the reservation is made, an outfitter such as White Hunters Ltd. arranges all details from time of arrival in Nairobi to ultimate departure.
We traveled Scandinavian Airlines, which flies directly to Nairobi from New York or from California. Round-trip first-class fare from New York is $1,521 per person; $1,125 tourist. Service is excellent in both classes, but if the budget permits the extra money, first class is less tiring for this two-day-and-two-night flight.
White Hunters Ltd. took over upon our arrival at the Nairobi airport. They saw us through customs, were ready with the necessary permits for our firearms and ammunition and secured our hunting licenses. The $3,500 which we paid for a 30-day safari for two hunters included McCallum's guiding services, tents, food, a full staff of natives, the Willys jeep and a five-ton truck (plus the first 1,200 miles on each), all hunting area permits and a dozen personal services which can't be given a price. This fee did not include beverages (liquor, coke, beer: $160), extra mileage ($500), tips ($100), or our hunting licenses, which broke down as follows: two general licenses ($140 each), two elephant licenses ($210 each), two rhino licenses ($112 each), and one leopard and one Masai lion license ($70 each). We dined and danced away a couple of hundred dollars more in Nairobi's plush Mogambo and Equator clubs.
With us we brought five firearms and 280 rounds of ammunition. In addition to my Winchester .458 we had a Remington Model 721 in .300 H&H for heavy plains game, and a Winchester Model 70 in .308 for smaller antelopes. From White Hunters Ltd. Bob rented a double-barreled British .465 for his big-game hunting. By the end of the trip he was sold on my .458, however, because of its lighter carrying weight and beautiful performance. For it, I had 40 rounds of 510-grain soft-nose and 40 rounds of 500-grain full-patch ammo. We also had 100 rounds of 180-grain Silvertips for the .308 and 100 rounds of 180-grain Core-Lokt soft-points for the .300 H&H. We bought ammunition for our two 12-gauge A. H. Fox doubles in Nairobi, where German shells were available.
Although we were equipped with a Bausch & Lomb 6X scope for the .300 and a BALvar 8 for the .308, we found telescopic sights useful in our kind of hunting chiefly for their light-gathering qualities in early morning and late afternoon. One good variable such as the BALvar 8, which adjusts instantly from 2�- to 8-power, would have done the job. Good binoculars, of course, are invaluable. Although Owen had a pair of his own, he relied upon our sharper Bausch & Lomb 7�35s almost continually for spotting game and studying terrain.
On the photographic side, we had a 16-mm three-lens-turret motion picture camera and 6,000 feet of Kodachrome; two 35-mm still cameras and four lenses with 120 rolls of color and black-and-white film, and three light meters. A stock of plastic bags and a pound of Silica Gel protected film and cameras from dampness and excessive dust.
Insects were not generally a problem but on several evenings they caused us trouble. A new U.S. repellent which we brought with us, Meta Delphene, was very effective and less messy than most products.
Clothing was the smallest portion of our overweight, which cost $192 one way—actually no more than shipping our equipment in advance would have cost. Since laundry on safari is done every day, a few changes of underwear, two or three shirts, socks, a pair of flannel pajamas and two pairs of khaki trousers is an ample basic wardrobe. Nights and mornings in Kenya's high country are quite cold and made more uncomfortable by dampness, so a medium-weight sweater and a warm jacket are essential. I even found red flannels welcome on a number of days. Trousers can be custom-made in Nairobi in 24 hours for $6 a pair, and are as good if not better than any brought from home. Crepe-soled suede hunting shoes can also be made in a day and cost $8 to $10. We generally wore these in the morning and switched to sneakers as soon as the grass dried at midday.
At the end of our safari we had 14 trophies which we wanted to bring home. These were dipped and prepared for shipping by Rowland Ward in Nairobi and cost just over $300 to bring to the U.S., where George Lesser of Johnstown, N.Y. is handling the taxidermy. That bill is still to come, but all in all, we figure our safari cost roughly $10,000. That's a large sum to spend in six weeks but both Bob and I are convinced that the adventure and beauty which Africa has to offer was more than worth it.