What are the general safari dos and don'ts?
Never stand up on a safari vehicle as this breaks the outline and the animals suddenly see a human form, which could upset them and even evoke a charge.
Never run from a wild animal (even if in camp). They are so much quicker anyway and when you run you act as prey!
Do not photograph people without asking your driver guide's consent. Always remember how you would feel if you were at home and a foreigner drove past and snapped your picture without asking.
Do not walk outside your room at night and always close the door. If you do, you are perfectly safe from any wild animal.
Do not use your cellular phone on a safari drive or in a public area of the lodge. Most people are trying to get away from the rat race.
Resist the urge to say "Psssst" to the wild animals or to say something like "Here Kitty" and snap your fingers, or to do anything else to draw their attention. These are wild animals and we need to respect them as such. Invariably your attempt to manipulate their behaviour will fail and you will be left looking sheepish.
ALWAYS ask to stop if you see something of interest or that you want to photograph. This trip is about you, and don’t be shy as we are super flexible here in Africa. Sometimes it is hard to hear in the front, over the engine noise, so if we do not hear you the first time, shout "STOP" even louder. We love to reverse or back-up in Africa!
There is no such thing as a stupid question in Africa. Trust me, we have heard them all, so please ask away.
Are doctors available on Safari and are there hospitals?
Yes, many. The further north, the fewer there are. South Africa has many private hospitals, excellent specialists and state of the art equipment and facilities, including emergency rescue and air ambulance.
What about Malaria?
Our safaris are mostly conducted in low risk malarial areas or at low risk times but for your own peace of mind, I recommend that you take a prophylactic. Malerone (although expensive) is excellent, and I have had no clients display any serious side effects while on this medication.
Malaria is a dangerous disease, but if you take your anti-malarials, your chances of getting it are extremely slim. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes carrying the disease and as the insects are more active at night, it is recommended that all travelers wear long-sleeved trousers and sleeves at night time; sleep under mosquito netting where possible and take along mosquito repellent. When you arrive back home and you feel sick, it is very important to tell your doctor you visited a malaria area!!
What about medicine?
Please check in with your local travel clinic or doctor for advice.
I find it practical to travel through Africa with the following medical items:
- Immodium (keep this handy when in transit)
- Buscopan (for tummy cramps)
- Pain killers (that contain both paracetamol and a muscle relaxant)
- Antihistamine cream and tablets for any insect bites or allergic reactions
- Melatonin to help speedy recovery from jet lag
- Any medicine or ointments that you would normally take at home
- Mosquito repellant
- Tweezers for any thorns or splinters
- Re-hydrant sachets (very important)
- Disinfectant or antibiotic cream (just for nicks, cuts or grazes)
- Plasters (to cover nicks, cuts or grazes)
- Lots of high (30+) factor sunblock
- A broad spectrum antibiotic (like Cypro) is seldom needed but does offer peace of mind for any major tummy issues or cold/flu infections and can also be used for toothache. Speak to your doctor about this.
Do you require Insurance whilst traveling in Africa?
All travelers should be adequately insured against all eventualities and circumstances. This applies anywhere in the world. There are many companies offering travel insurance, so ask your travel agent to recommend the best one for you.
What visas do I need?
Please make a make a certified copy of your passport which you can carry with you in case of emergency. Perhaps also e-mail a copy to yourself which you can access if needed.
Please note that South Africa insists having 2 clear pages available when you enter the country.
Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your date of departure from Africa.
You are personally responsible for ensuring that passports, visas, vaccination certificates and other travel documents are in order and for all costs relating thereto.
Please note that it is not advisable to use more than one passport (to avoid visa payments) when travelling. When entering a neighboring country the immigration official will want to see an exit stamp from the country you are leaving, in the same passport
As visa requirements vary depending on your nationality, please contact the various embassies or visa service agencies to re-check visa requirements at least four weeks prior to departing for your tour. Please note that visas are the responsibility of the traveler and we will not be held responsible for clients being denied entry should they not be in the possession of the relevant visas.
Is it safe to drink the water?
It is safe to drink the tap water in most African countries. Tap water in hotels and at other lodges in Southern and East Africa is also safe to drink, but bottled water is available in shops if you prefer. If you are ever in doubt, stick to bottled water. Dehydration is a common ailment on trips so please be sure to drink sufficient water
Is it safe to travel in Africa?
The most visited countries in Southern and East Africa like – South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia – are really quite safe to visit. If you adhere to the basic principles, like you would in any large city anywhere in the world, like: not carrying valuables in plain view, keeping cameras hidden and not go about walking alone at night – you should be safe and sound. Be aware of onlookers and make use of lodge safety deposit boxes. While on safari in the bush, the only dangerous creatures are wild animals. The people are gracious and hospitable in those areas.
Is there internet available in Africa?
Certainly. Most city hotels will have either internet connection in the bedroom, or a business centre where you can spend time online.
There are also some safari lodges and camps in South Africa which offer this facility. In remote areas, however, there is no internet connection.
What camera equipment is essential while on safari?
Binoculars are recommended. A good 35mm camera with a powerful zoom or telephoto lens will reward you with superb shots.
What clothes should I take on Safari?
One should carry only a few items of light clothing, preferably cottons, for your stay in the bush. Clothing should be in neutral colours, e.g., khaki, beige, bush green.
It is a safe bet is to expect cool conditions in the mornings (trousers and a jumper). By mid-morning it is already hot and the heat builds until the late afternoon. There might be a thunder shower in the afternoon and the nights can be cold in the Winter. The best advice I can give is to layer! Expect temperatures to range between 0 – 36 degrees Celsius on any given day. Try to avoid light coloured clothes on any safari and especially avoid white clothing if you will be conducting a walking safari. If in an area with tsetse flies, avoid wearing solid colours and especially blacks and blues. Stripy clothing works well for tsetse flies.
In the hotter part of the day, it is fine to wear short pants and even sandals in camp (although watch out for acacia thorns). Dress comfortably and layer (repeated just for added effect). I find that a jumper and a light wind-breaker are ideal for the colder part of the day and then shorts and t-shirts for the rest of the day.
There is not much of a dress code in the lodges so rather focus on being comfortable.
Bring a costume on safari as they are light, wash easily and you never know when or where you might be able to take a dip.
A general word of advice, to ensure that you enjoy your safari as much as possible, is to remember that Africa is 3rd World and therefore things do not work like clockwork and nor do they always make sense. This can either frustrate you or you can go with the flow and let it add to the charm.
My advice is generally to relax and to pack your sense of humour. Slow down as Africa is not in a rush and remember that the safari camp staff have a very rural background, that is miles away and removed from your world. Sometimes you might want to jump in and fix some simple service issue, but remember that the staff take pride in their work and they do not have the privileged and educated background that many of us have.
What to pack?
Your luggage is limited to one large bag and one day pack As a general rule, if you cannot lift your own Luggage and walk with it, you’ve got too much a common mistake is to bring too much. Please note that soft bags are better suited for the rip as we do travel on some bumpy roads and would want to minimize any damage to the more expensive hard suitcases.
A money belt is an excellent way to carry your cash and personal documents on your person.
You should pack the following:
Kit for all weather conditions including:
- 2/3 shorts/skirts
- 1 jacket/anorak
- 2 pairs of long pants/jeans
- 1 pair of walking shoes/boots/trainers
- 1 pair of sandals
- 3 or 4 T-shirts/short sleeve shirts or sundresses
- 2/3 Long Sleeve Shirts
- Smart casual change of clothes
- Underwear & socks
- Sun Hat – preferably that covers the back of your neck.
- Beanie and gloves if you're travelling in Winter
- Your clothing should be easy to wash and dry and should preferably not need ironing. Avoid synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Many people underestimate how cold Africa can be – remember your jersey/jacket! There are also
Nights that are warm but you must still wear clothes that cover arms and legs from mosquitoes, or there are days that are warm but nights that are freezing so plan carefully. Take a set of casual but smart clothes for the occasional evening out in a restaurant...
If you wear glasses (or contacts) it is also advisable to bring a spare pair along.
Towel (although provided for in all lodges, all ways handy to have).
A good pair of binoculars ( binoculars are an important tool especially for game viewing)
- Personal toiletries
- Torch & spare batteries
- Camera & spare batteries and memory cards Please note that we will be travelling on dusty gravel roads and be in areas where dust and sand is plentiful. Please have sufficient protection for your expensive camera equipment as dust can play havoc with the electronics of the equipment).
- Water bottle
- Insect and Mosquito repellent
- Suntan lotion, sun block & after sun lotion
- Passport (plus a copy of your passport & visas)
- Vaccination certificates
Are there laundry facilities available during the safari?
The lodges will usually see to your laundry requirements. Most days we will arrive late and leave early. So it will be best to do laundry on the days we sleep 2 nights.
What currency should I take with me on safari?
Most major developed-world currencies are available throughout Southern and East Africa. Any of the following currencies are accepted: US$, Euro and UK pounds.
I advise you travel with US Dollars and make sure that they are notes post 2008. Small denominations are handy. Once you land, you can exchange for local currency. To avoid traveling with loads of cash, you can also draw money on your Visa/Master card at ATM machines which are now readily available in African cities. Visa and Master cards seem to work best in Africa.
Advise your bank before you travel that you will be using your card in a different country to avoid them blocking access to your card.
ATM cards are a good way to withdraw local currency on arrival and in towns. This may not always be possible but it is an option in most cases. Cards should have a chip and pin. The amount that you withdraw depends on how long you will be in the country for and what you plan to spend your money on while you’re there. Please be careful for people seeing your pin or trying to help you.
South Africa - The South African Rand (ZAR) is the local currency that is used in this country. No other international currencies is accepted.
Namibia - South African Rand (ZAR) is accepted in Namibia and is 1:1 to the Namibian dollar (N$). You are welcome to use both currencies. No other international currencies are readily accepted. Credit Cards are widely accepted in Namibia, however in remote areas they may struggle with connection. Maestro and Electron Debit cards are widely accepted too.
Botswana - US$ and the local currency Pula (BWP) are accepted in Botswana. In most cases Credit Cards will be accepted, as well as Debit Cards, however it is best to always carry cash with you in case technology fails.
Zambia - The local currency Kwacha (ZMK) is accepted in Zambia although you will find some prices quoted in US$. Cash can be exchanged at Foreign Exchange Offices in Livingston
What types of food would we expect on Safari?
It is possible to get vegetarian, halaal and most food preferences in Southern and East Africa. If you have any special dietary requirements let us know in advance we will be able to cater for you. As a rule wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
Will my Mobile Phone work in Africa?
Yes, there is extensive coverage throughout Southern Africa. In some countries, this may be primarily in and around major urban areas. However, in South Africa, networks cover all national roads, towns and cities. Before traveling, ask your mobile phone service provider to open your phone to allow international roaming.
The cellular industry in Africa is pretty good and if your phone is on roaming you will get signal (even if patchy) in most locations. In Africa we go by the saying "no news is good news" so advise loved ones of this before you depart and enjoy the break.
In terms of African culture is there any behavior that can offend when on an African photo tour?
Africans are friendly people and the best way to approach people is by being polite and friendly. This will almost ALWAYS be reciprocated. Being rude and demanding is not the way to go in Africa as it will generally just get you even more frustrated. In Africa people are almost never in a rush and two perfect strangers will almost always stop to speak to each other. This is very far removed from the rushed 1st World, so try to slow down a bit.
A general word of advice, to ensure that you enjoy your safari as much as possible, is to remember that Africa is 3rd World and therefore things do not work like clockwork and nor do they always make sense. This can either frustrate you or you can go with the flow and let it add to the charm. My advice is generally to relax and to pack your sense of humour. Slow down as Africa is not in a rush and remember that the safari camp staff have a very rural background, that is miles away and removed from your world. Sometimes you might want to jump in and fix some simple service issue, but remember that the staff take pride in their work and they do not have the privileged and educated background that many of us have.
What about buying curios from local vendors when on safari in Africa?
My suggestion is to work out the price of the item in your own currency and decide what you are prepared to pay for it. You might need to pay slightly more but be prepared to make a final offer, and walk away. If you do not barter you will get ripped off.
What is included and excluded in the cost of your safaris?
I try to make the safaris as inclusive as possible so that once you land in Africa, you can relax. Please check each individual itinerary for a list of included and excluded items.
Excluded are visas, purchases of a personal nature (e.g. curios), gratuities, personal travel and medical insurance, flights and special activities not listed in the itinerary (e.g. helicopter flights). All breakfasts and 17 dinners are included. No lunches are included. We will either stop at a supermarket or make a quick sandwich on the side of the road.
How did the “big five” get their name?
The “big five” are leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo. These animals constitute a wish list for many people on safari. The term is a reference from colonial trophy hunting. Hunters ranked African animals as to how dangerous they were to hunt. This is why hippo and giraffe – despite their stature – are not among this elite, sought-after group.
Can the itinerary change?
Although we intend to stick to the published itineraries it is critical to understand we have the right to change the itinerary for any unforeseen circumstances which make it impossible and or dangerous to proceed with the published itinerary.
Will we be traveling long hours?
The days usually start early, especially in wildlife areas where we try to make best use of the early morning light and movement of the more nocturnal animals. We do travel long distances so please expect that someday a large portion of the day will be travelling cross country. Lunch will be taken on route. Please note that facilities are not always available and sometimes a comfort stop is in the middle of nowhere.
How does the power point look on the trip?