Frequently Asked Questions
A safari in Africa is one of the most fascinating and most enjoyable vacations one can ever experience!
Nowhere else in the world can you see such a variety of game, without sacrificing modern comforts - luxurious accommodation, connoisseur cuisine and very comfortable transportation!
Why go with African Safaris and Travel?
We have been involved in the safari business since the early seventies. Under the leadership of Louis van Tonder who grew up in Africa and lived there for more than 40 years, we have the experience necessary to ensure that you will be correctly informed with all the "W" - words:..... "When, Where, Why, Who, What Time and With Whom".
We have selected the companies we represent according to a strict set of guidelines, compiled over many years of service.
The companies we represent, all subscribe and adhere to the following:
- Involving the participation of rural communities and stimulation of
- Promoting the advancement of green frontiers and bio-diversity,
- Offer interpretative experiences aimed at enlightening and educating,
- Are located in the most diverse scenic and wildlife locations,
- Have the largest tracts of private wildlife land on the continent, or,
- Have small, beautifully designed private camps with impeccable service.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Most African safaris and vacations are customized to individual interests, time frame and budgets. Rates for destinations cover a wide range and typically vary significantly from the “high season” to the “low season” – which in itself can be somewhat confusing, as low and high seasons indeed vary between some safari countries!
The cost of individual camps and lodges and safaris are indicated on our website at the bottom of every camp or safari description - where available. For any not listed, please contact us so a current quote can be requested.
You are encouraged to
contact us directly for a quote based on your requirements; we
are here to assist you in planning your dream safari.
really are passionate about what we do and we welcome all
In terms of wildlife safaris, Southern Africa includes the countries of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, while East Africa is essentially Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), are all destinations popular for Gorilla tracking safaris, and are generally considered Central Africa. Malawi and Zambia are also sometimes classified as Central Africa.
Historically and up until the 1980’s, East Africa was the preferred destination for safari-goers and wildlife enthusiasts. Kenya and Tanzania offered superb wildlife viewing with a well-developed safari infrastructure of operators with both permanent camps and mobile safari circuits. In contrast, the countries in Southern Africa, while full of wildlife and beautiful wilderness areas, were either politically unstable or mostly undeveloped for safari tourism.
During the 1990’s things began to shift. South Africa’s apartheid came to an end and its monetary unit, the Rand, historically very strong, began to depreciate, making South Africa a very attractive travel destination. Entrepreneurs in South Africa took advantage of the increase in tourism to open up Botswana and Zimbabwe to hunters and photographers. With the increase in tourist capital, the safari industry in Southern Africa grew and permanent camps and mobile safaris opened in its pristine wildlife areas. In terms of landscapes and attractions, the regions are quite different. East Africa boasts Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti Plains / Maasai Mara ecosystem and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Southern Africa includes Botswana’s Okavango Delta wetland, the semi-arid Kalahari Desert, the Skeleton Coast, the Namib Desert of Namibia, the Skeleton Coast, Kruger National Park of South Africa, and the lower Zambezi River basin including Victoria Falls along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The wildlife species found in the two areas are essentially the same. Most of the predators and plains game can be seen in both regions and only some birds and a few mammals and reptiles are endemic to certain regions. The major difference is in the numbers of certain species and the general experience a visitor will have when viewing them.
East Africa offers herds of zebras and wildebeests in the hundreds of thousands. The annual migration between the Maasai Mara in the north and Tanzania’s Serengeti in the south is a spectacle unequaled anywhere on earth today. However, Botswana and Zimbabwe are home to 80% of Southern Africa’s 300,000 elephants and huge herds are a common sight along their northern borders.
The weather also varies between the regions. In East Africa, October marks the beginning of the “short rains” while April brings “long rains.” Many of the safari camps close during the long rains due to difficult driving conditions.
In Southern Africa, while each country varies, the rains generally fall between November and March with the rest of the year being mostly rain-free. A plethora of websites refer to the period between December - March in Southern Africa as the “Rainy Season” - technically correct, however we need to place this into very clear perspective. The rainfall in Southern Africa is minimal when compared to most places – it is a semi-arid region. The rain that Southern Africa gets is usually in the form of quick thunderstorms which disappear almost as quickly as they came, usually in the late afternoon.
Most of the camps in this area stay open year-round. The rainy or “green” safari season in Southern Africa offers benefits such as herbivores having their babies, lush green landscapes and dramatic skies, all of which combine to create superb photographic opportunities. Temperatures are similar between the regions with May through August being the cooler months.
The major differences between East Africa and Southern Africa for safaris are the density of tourists, the safari accommodations and the safari vehicles. East Africa, in general, has earned a reputation for a high density of tourists staying in hotel-styled lodges. The most common safari vehicle in East Africa is the mini-van with its pop-up roof, whereby passengers stand up to take pictures while peering out of the roof or sit in the enclosed vans. Conversely, Southern Africa is known for its luxury tented safari camps and huge concession areas with very low tourist densities, making for a private safari experience. The safari vehicles used here are modified open-air Land Rovers or Land Cruisers, which also add to the intimacy of the experience.
That said, there are a growing number of luxury safari camps popping up in East Africa, particularly in Tanzania, and these lodges offer a far more exclusive experience than the large safari lodges, which may have typified Kenya and Tanzania in the past.
For the most part, game areas in Southern Africa, also known as wildlife concession areas are owned or leased by luxury safari camp operators, and these concessions are for the sole use of the individual camp and its guests. With an average camp size of only 10-16 guests and only one or two vehicles for the entire concession, one can drive all day and not encounter anything but wilderness and wildlife.
Africa's biggest enemy is the international media who represent all 46 African countries as a single entity and not as unique and individual countries with their own characteristics. This misrepresentation is actually due to lack of education on the part of the media. What most people seem to forget is the fact that Africa is a CONTINENT, and with that being the case, nearly 5 times larger than the United States of America!
It would come as a surprise to many people to find out that there are in fact areas that are worse off in more developed countries than in the "dangerous" African countries. No country can claim to be 100% safe, and so as with travel to any new or unknown destination, it is advisable to take certain standard security precautions. Visitors should take the same precautions as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep an eye on your purses, wallets, passports, money and cameras when walking in a crowd. Avoid walking in the cities at night and place valuables in your hotel safe. Choosing a knowledgeable operator such as African Safaris and Travel as your specialist Safari tour operator is the best move you could make.
staying at African safari lodges and tented camps you are
typically far removed from human settlement and crime in the
camps is virtually non existent (we have never heard of it and
have been traveling to the camps for years). We advise that
valuables be locked away or kept under the supervision of the
camp or lodge manager, or better yet, left at home if you are at
We are extremely knowledgeable about the continent (having been born and lived there) and can therefore minimize any possible risks for our guests. Most of your travel time on safari in Africa is likely to be spent away from the large cities where crime is most prevalent. You will be visiting areas and regions that are remote and where crime is almost non existent. Even if your African holiday involves spending time in the cities, having a company like ours able to choose the appropriate lodging, locations and simple security advice, you will find the cities we recommend are as safe as travel almost anywhere.
Finally, we simply do not recommend visiting destinations that we ourselves are not comfortable with. This is why you will find that we do not recommend visiting certain areas in certain African countries. We have lived in Africa, we know its cultures, and we know what is safe and what is not. In the same way we only recommend the finest African safari camps, and we also only recommend visiting certain cities while away from "the bush".
Over the last couple of years Zimbabwe has received a large amount of negative press surrounding President Mugabe's decision to permit "re-distribution" of privately owned farms to the "war veterans". This process has been accomplished with its share of crime and violence, especially by those who were removed from their life-long farms. However, this violence has largely been limited to in and around the cities and farming areas, and then mostly in the central and southern portions of Zimbabwe.
Fortunately, the northern National Parks and reserves in Zimbabwe have not been affected and these amazing wildlife areas offer some of the best safari bargains in all of Africa. Game viewing is outstanding and on a par even with Botswana. These areas are located far away from the heavily populated cities and surrounds where the crime is centered. These northern parks - Mana Pools, Matusadona, and Hwange offer great camps, superb guides, and amazing game viewing all at bargain prices.
There is a travel advisory from the US State department and we agree that this warning is possibly accurate for the farming areas and the cities. The northern parks however, are still havens of peace and tranquility, offering a superb Zimbabwe safari experience. Encouraging travel to Zimbabwe will help to keep the conservation efforts in this country going and keep the poachers out. The bottom line is, Zimbabwe's northern parks and reserves are completely safe and offer fantastic African safari deals. Guests first fly into Victoria Falls from Johannesburg. After enjoying all the varied and superb experiences Victoria Falls has to offer – our guests then fly from camp to camp, all of which are within totally safe National Park areas far removed from any urban hotspots.
As vaccination requirements change from time to time, check with your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. The most important health consideration in Southern Africa is Malaria and it is strongly recommended that prophylactics (i.e., oral tablets) be taken as a preventative precaution.
It is reassuring to point out that the safari camps in Southern Africa are not located in densely populated areas and this greatly reduces the risk of being infected by malaria. Anopheles mosquitoes start biting by late evening and the peak of biting activity is at midnight and early hours of morning. Protect yourself against the bites in the evenings and early mornings by applying mosquito repellant, wearing garments that cover the body as much as possible, and at bedtime, by using mosquito nets without fail.
All of the camps provide mosquito repellant in the tents and in the lounges and on game drives. Most also provide mosquito "coils", an incense-like slow-burning substance that produces a smoky repellent that can be lit inside the tent before heading for dinner so that the tent is cleared by bed time. Finally, the majority of the camps also provide a mosquito netting over the beds to keep the "mozzies" out while you sleep.
Wearing lightweight long pants instead of shorts and covering the ankles especially is also very helpful during dinner and in the evening hours. Use the bug spray after sundown on game drives as well. The next best precaution is to begin and complete a full regimen of anti-malarial medication for your African safari. The medication usually begins before you leave and is completed after returning home. Check on the internet or with your physician for further information.
The most serious risk while traveling in Southern Africa on safari is malaria. We will not "talk down" this risk as we both know people, albeit all individuals who live and spend time in the Africa bush, who have contracted malaria. This is NOT something to take lightly and it can be a lethal and at the very least, a long and uncomfortable disease.
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodia. It is a disease that can be treated in just 48 hours, yet it can cause fatal complications if the diagnosis and treatment are delayed. Humans get malaria from the bite of a female malaria-infected Anopheles mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests microscopic malaria parasites found in the person’s blood. The malaria parasite must grow in the mosquito for a week or more before infection can be passed to another person. If, after a week, the mosquito then bites another person, the parasites go from the mosquito’s mouth into the person’s blood. If a mosquito bites this person while the parasites are in his or her blood, it will ingest the tiny parasites. After a week or more, the mosquito can infect another person.
The safari camps in Southern Africa are not located in densely populated areas and this greatly reduces the risk of being infected by malaria. Anopheles mosquitoes start biting by late evening and the peak of biting activity is at midnight and early hours of morning. Protect yourself against the bites in the evenings and early mornings by applying mosquito repellant, wearing garments that cover the body as much as possible, and at bedtime, by using mosquito nets without fail. All of the camps provide mosquito repellant in the tents and in the lounges and on game drives.
Most also provide mosquito "coils", an incense-like slow-burning substance that produces a smoky repellent that can be lit inside the tent before heading for dinner so that the tent is cleared by bed time. Finally, the majority of the camps also provide a mosquito netting over the beds to keep the "mossies" out while you sleep. Wearing lightweight long pants instead of shorts and covering the ankles especially is also very helpful during dinner and in the evening hours. Use the bug spray after sundown on game drives as well.
Remember that the best precaution against malaria is to reduce the likelihood of being bitten. The next best precaution is to begin and complete a full regimen of anti-malarial medication for your African safari. The medication usually begins before you leave and is completed after returning home. Check on the internet or with your physician for further information.
For more information, please also visit the following links:
CDC Information on Prescription Drugs for Malaria: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentMalariaDrugsPublic.aspx.
CDC Health Information for Visitors to Southern Africa: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/regionSouthernAfrica.aspx.
All people traveling to Africa require a valid passport that is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. At present, holders of American passports are not required to obtain visas for South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Holders of American passports however do need to obtain visas for Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Visas for Zimbabwe and Zambia can be obtained at the point of entry for a nominal fee. It is advisable to check with the consulate of the country that you intend to visit as requirements can change without notice. +++++++ KENYA has recently launched eCitizen, an easy-to-use and efficient e-visa service, where all nationals requiring a visa can log onto the online portal and apply for their Kenya entry visa before travel. This process will become compulsory from 01 September 2015, however there will be a two month changeover process until the end of August 2015. During this transition process, travellers will still have the option of purchasing their visa upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Thereafter, nationals will not be allowed to purchase visas when landing in Kenya
South Africa... IMPORTANT:
Southern Africa passport control has become very strict with regards to passport control requirements. There have been instances of visitors being deported due to non-compliance. Passports MUST be valid for at least six months after your return home date. We recommend a validity of nine months to prevent any problems in this regard. The passport entry requirement for any travelers entering South Africa is a minimum of two blank pages in their passport (in addition to the two endorsement pages in US passports). If however a guest should be traveling to more than one African country via South Africa, then the traveler must ensure they allow for sufficient pages for each country visited and also have the minimum of two blank visa pages for each re-entry into South Africa.
New South African Travel Regulations specific to Children – with effect from 1 June 2015
23 June 2015: This is a summary of information provided by the South African Department of Home Affairs and various organisations within the travel industry. Wilderness Safaris cannot be held liable should any of this information prove to be incorrect nor if there is any deviation from these immigration requirements upon arrival or departure.
1. All children under the age of 18 travelling to, remaining
in transit or departing from South Africa are required to carry
an unabridged birth certificate to accompany their passport –
along with the relevant visa if required.
2. Additional requirements are necessary in the event of a child travelling:
• with one parent
• with someone who is not their parent i.e. family member or friend
• with their adopted parents
• as an unaccompanied minor
An “unabridged” birth certificate means that the birth certificate must be complete and reflect the particulars of the parents of the child.
An “affidavit” is a written statement that a person swears is true and can be used in a court of law.
“Copies” of the documents mentioned below may be presented but they will have to be certified true copies of the original by a commissioner of oaths/notaries or equivalent commissioning authority.
A “Commissioner for Oaths” is entitled to administer an oath and is the person before whom members of the public must sign an affidavit. The following persons are amongst those who may be qualified to act as commissioners of oaths: an advocate; an attorney; the manager of a bank; the principal, headmaster or headmistress of a school; a senior officer in the military; members of the police service, chancellors or registrars of universities.
1. IF CHILD IS TRAVELLING WITH BOTH PARENTS
unabridged birth certificate, passport and visa if required when
arriving, departing, or transiting South Africa.
Ø Same sex (gay) parents are recognised if it is their names that appear on the birth certificate.
Ø If a country does not issue unabridged birth certificates, then a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the for foreign country should be produced.
Ø All documents must be original or certified as a copy of the original by a commissioner of oaths or equivalent authority.
Ø The parents of adopted children must product proof of adoption by means of an adoption certificate.
2. IF CHILD IS TRAVELLING WITH ONE PARENT (INCLUDING SINGLE PARENTS AND LEGAL SEPARATION)
Present an "unabridged” birth certificate, passport, visa if required PLUS:
1. Consent in form of an affidavit from the other parent registered on the birth certificate of the child (but not travelling) giving permission for child to travel with the other parent.
2. A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child.
3. Where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate.
4. If as a single parent, the child’s unabridged certificate only reflects the name of one parent, parental consent from the absent parent is not required. If the names of both parents are shown, then the other parent must provide consent in an affidavit. If the absent parent cannot be traced, a letter of special circumstance must be applied for.
3. IF PERSON IS TRAVELLING WITH A CHILD WHO IS NOT THEIR
BIOLOGICAL CHILD (AUNT, UNCLE, GRANDPARENT, FRIEND)
an "unabridged” birth certificate, passport, visa if required
1. An affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child.
2. Copies of the identify documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
3. Contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
4. IF CHILD IS TRAVELLING AS AN UNACCOMPANIED MINOR
Present an "unabridged” birth certificate, passport, visa if
1. Proof of consent from one of or both his/her parents or legal guardian in form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa.
2. Letter from the person who is to receive the child in South Africa, containing his/her residential addresses and contact details where the child will be residing.
3. Copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or Permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child South Africa.
4. Contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
"Effective from the 1st October 2016 minors (= children under 18) traveling through the countries borders will be required to produce certified copies of unabridged birth certificates in addition to their valid passports.
In the event that one parent is
not traveling with the child, the other parents affidavit
consenting to such travel should be availed. However an
affidavit will not be required if the father's name does not
appear on the child's birth certificate." Please find a link to
the copy of the press release
Here is an overview on the regulations, which are currently in place:
Child + Both Parents
Parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate
and a valid passport.
Child + 1 Parent
Parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate, a
valid passport and a court order/ death certificate/ affidavit
confirming the absent parent has given permission for the child
Child + Guardian Only
Guardian must produce an unabridged birth certificate,
a valid passport and a court order/ death certificate/ affidavit
confirming the parents have given permission for the child to
Child must produce an unabridged birth certificate, a
valid passport and affidavit confirming permission to travel
from both the parents or legal guardians and letter from person
who will receive child in the final destination including their
full contact details and a certified copy of their passport or
* Travellers need to make sure that they issue all the
required documents already in their country of residence
prior to travel. Please be aware that some countries may require
more time to process these documents. So we advise these are
applied for well in advance of the date of travel.
* The documents need to be valid for at least 6 months before travelling. Certificates & affidavits older than 6 months at the time of travel will not be valid.
If you were to compare the cost of a trip to Hawaii, staying in decent hotels, compared to the same time on a continent that offers a unique and once in a lifetime experience, it appears that for a totally new experience, the minimal increase in cost is worth every penny. The even bigger drawing card of the region, particularly South Africa, is that the US Dollar is so strong (around 7-10 South Africa Rand's to the $US over the past several years for example) and the value of the local currencies is so low that it is extremely inexpensive once you are there. You find that you can eat like a king at a very nice restaurant for the price of a simple meal back home. Most other world wide regions are relatively cheap to get to but costly once there, so in theory there is a balancing effect when you consider it might be slightly more expensive to fly to Africa, but once there, it is extremely cost effective.
An even bigger bonus of the African safari industry is that it is all inclusive in most parts (i.e., meals, drinks, game drives and guides) are included, so there is no additional need to pay for anything once you have arrived, except for perhaps the odd curio.
Most of the African safaris camps we represent accept Master Card and Visa credit cards for purchases of curios and even accept them for guests to pay gratuities to the camp staff and guides.
A note on gratuities at the African safari camps: Gratuities are not expected, but a reasonable tip would be US $10 per guest, per day for your driver/guide and perhaps $5 per day for the overall camp staff. Believe me, this amount will seem like nothing after you experience the fine service in the camps we offer.
hese can be paid by credit card so cash is unnecessary. If you are visiting Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lusaka, etc., a highlight is visiting one of the flea markets that offer beautiful African woodcarvings, batiks and other VERY inexpensive but nice arts and craft items. For purchases made in the flea markets, you will typically want some cash. The artisan’s artworks are typically of nice quality and make excellent mementoes of your trip or gifts for your friends and family. The shops and restaurants in cities as well as the hotels in generally all accept credit cards.
When we travel for say three weeks to Africa and include two weeks on safari, we typically take around $300 / $400 in cash. This however is only a guideline. Traveling with more cash than this is unnecessary.
Very few, it all depends an what kind of a safari you are going on. One nice thing about a safari is that almost everything is included in the price you pay before you leave. Please view the rates as indicated, of the individual camps and lodges.
Alcoholic beverages are generally excluded. Gratuities for your professional safari guides are also excluded in the quoted rates, and in this regard we US $10 per guest, per day for your driver/guide and perhaps $5 per day for the overall camp staff.
Believe me that this amount will seem like nothing after you experience the fine service in the camps we offer! Again, these can be paid for with credit card so cash is unnecessary. Extra expenses may include some side trips to areas of personal interest, boat rental, fishing trips and any extra nights you may require due to combining safaris.
The traffic departments of both South Africa and Namibia are now enforcing a law (which was passed in 1998) which requires that travelers applying to rent a motor vehicle be in possession of a valid "International Drivers Permit / License". Should travelers not be in possession of an International License, they will not be permitted to hire a vehicle in South Africa nor Namibia.
Anyone using motor vehicles, other than hired ones, (i.e. making use of a company or friend's vehicle etc.), they will STILL need to be in possession of such license. Anyone driving without a valid driver's license (either domestic or International) will incur penalties should they be stopped by the police. Licenses will NOT be issued to foreign visitors upon arrival to South Africa nor Namibia. Travelers must be advised to carry their Foreign Drivers License as well as their International license.
Typically, a safari day includes two major activities - one that begins early in the morning and the second, which occurs in the mid to late afternoon and continues until dark or sometimes up until 2 hours after sunset.
A safari activity may include game drives (viewing) in Land Rovers (or other safari vehicle), water activities like canoeing, mekoroing or motor boating, or game walks. Most safaris are predominantly game drives as this is usually the best way to see wildlife, unless your safari is on a river or in a permanent water area.
Morning activities begin with tea or coffee and a light morning snack before sunrise with the drive or activity beginning at or just after sunrise. The mornings are really the best opportunities to see good wildlife and interactions as it is still cool and the nocturnal animals are still quite active. There is usually a break to get out and stretch and have another coffee and snack.
Morning activities are usually over by late morning and guests return to camp for a full breakfast / brunch.
The middle of the day is on your own. Because southern Africa's climate is warm, midday's are typically very warm to hot and the animals are therefore quite inactive for the most part and seek shelter in the shade to wait out the heat. Guests may relax at the camp swimming pool or take a siesta, read, etc. Most camps will allow a short midday activity like a game walk or a visit to a hide.
After the siesta, guests return to the main area for tea (drinks, snacks, etc) before heading out on the afternoon safari activity. This activity typically starts at 3:30 or 4:00pm and the weather at this time is usually quite warm. The activity will carry on until just before sunset, when the guide will stop at a safe and picturesque spot, for guests to enjoy ”sundowners”- some drinks and snacks – followed by the drive back to camp which turns into, or is known as a night game drive.
On arrival back at the camp, there is ample time to freshen up, come down for drinks at the bar, followed by dinner. After-Drinks around the camp fire are always offered, but most folks find that they are tired from all the fresh air and are in bed by 10pm!
The next day begins again before sunrise and you're out in the bush exploring again. It's addicting!
Most of the regions visited in Southern Africa are in areas where you are within the natural habitat of the wildlife and so there are no fences surrounding the camps.The best advice to be given here is to listen to your guide's instruction while in camp, ensure that your accommodations are not left open, doors are closed etc. At almost all the camps the guides walk you to and from your tents or chalet and they are trained to handle any situation, should it arise. Keep in mind that animals do wander through the camps during the day and at night, so at all times just be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine.
Having wild animals in such close proximity is one of the main reasons people visit the area – enjoying them in their natural habitat is what makes the experience all the more special.Game drives are conducted in open-air vehicles, which really allows you to get up close and see the animals from an unimpaired viewpoint. Many people argue that animals only see the vehicle as it would a tree (albeit, a tree that moves") and not the people in it. This point is debatable but, personally, with hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent on game drives; we feel that most of the animals, and most likely the larger cats like lions, are keenly aware of human presence. They do not view a Land Rover with people in it as a threat.
The animals actually become accustomed to the vehicles and eventually ignore them for the most part. This allows guests to view animals exhibiting their natural behavior. It is truly a pleasure, I can assure you.Occasionally an elephant, especially the females in the breeding herds, become annoyed and their protective motherly instincts take hold and they chase a vehicle off, but this is rare. Also, the guides at the camps are very good with reading an elephants moods and will avoid situations which could be potentially dangerous. Generally speaking, you are in no danger whatsoever if you listen to the guides and keep aware of your surroundings – and always bear in mind that you are not dealing with domesticated animals.
Most foreign visitors are very impressed with the quality and quantity of food provided while on an African safari. Some of the more up-scale camps provide food, presentation and service, which rival that of a 5 star hotel in any top city. The tables are elegantly set under the stars, under thatch or even in a boma - and you will never go hungry.
Meals are geared around the game viewing times and activities. Typically one starts off with a light continental breakfast upon waking before heading out on the early morning activity. Guests usually return at about 10/11 am for a large brunch, which incorporates meals from both the breakfast and lunch menus. A light tea and snack is offered before the afternoon activity and upon returning to camp in the early evening, a hearty three-course dinner is enjoyed followed by after dinner drinks around the campfire.
The camps are able to cater to all food requirements as long as they are made aware at the time of booking so as to ensure sufficient time to fly in the necessary supplies.
For the most part, communication by phone, fax, etc. is out of the question given the remote locations of the camps. In areas where cell phone reception is available, guests are requested to turn off their cell phones in the public areas and on game drives, and to make calls only from the privacy of their rooms. All camps do however have radio communications with their town/city offices in case of any emergencies. Most lodges in South Africa offer full telephone and internet services for those who do not wish to detach from the world completely.
Most safari camps in Southern Africa offer a laundry facility, but there are a few where water restrictions may apply and because of camp location, this service may not be available. Please check with us to make sure. Laundry service is included in the accommodation cost for most African safari camps. Hotels in the cities as well as some lodges charge a nominal fee for it. Most safari camps and lodges also provide washing powder in the rooms/tents in order to hand wash underwear and delicates.
On tailor-made fly-in African safaris, inter-camp transfers are done by light aircraft, also affectionately known as “bush taxis”. They do a circular route, picking up and dropping off clients at their next safari camp. If you prefer to book a plane for your party's exclusive use (to ensure that you are flown directly to the next camp and possibly to allow you an increased baggage allowance), we will gladly arrange that for you, at an additional charge.
Inter-camp transfers are done in Cessna 210s, Cessna 206s, Cessna Caravans and Islanders. Charters in larger and faster planes are possible from Johannesburg to Maun and Victoria Falls as well as on some of the other longer routes. Most guests however traveling from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Maun, Victoria Falls or Windhoek use scheduled flights on SAA, BA/Comair, Air Botswana or other reliable carriers.
For the inter-camp air transfers, space and safety concerns don't allow for lots of baggage - so there is a strict 20kg (44 lbs) per person baggage limit on all flights (unless you have booked a private flight). All bags must be soft to allow us to squeeze your bags into tight corners. 20kg doesn't sound like much, but as the dress code in the camps is casual and as most camps and safaris offer a laundry service (and most often this is a free service), the 20kg allowance is ample. If you require more baggage, then we can often sell you an extra seat on each flight, which will allow you and your party up to an extra 70kgs (also in soft bags).
If you have lots of luggage but don't need the extra bags in the camps, we can often send your bags ahead to your next city as unaccompanied baggage. There is of course an additional charge for this service. Pilots will not compromise on safety. If you come with more than your 20kgs baggage allowance and you have not made arrangements for your excess luggage, you will be forced to leave some of your baggage behind and arrange a private charter at considerable extra cost and inconvenience to yourself.
Most safari camps welcome children over the age of eight. There are few exceptions, so please check with us when making an enquiry. These rules can be waived by booking out smaller camps for exclusive use by parties with young children. Families with children between the ages of 8 and 12 will have to book private activities so as not to disturb other guests.
Depending on the size of the family, this may necessitate additional costs at certain camps or at certain times of the year. Some camps have family tents where families are able to have their children in the adjoining tent (sometimes sharing the same bathroom). Children staying in the family tents get a discount for this type of accommodation.
To elaborate further on age issues, there are no upper age limits at most safari camps. On some cross country and camping safaris, suppliers set an upper age limit due to the active nature of some of the safaris. Please advise ages of passengers if you are in doubt and check with us for any possible restrictions.
Sure! A safari is the ideal trip for the independent traveler. Go to new places - meet new people! Just be aware that many of the lodges and camps charge a single supplement.
If you prefer to travel with a group, please review some of the safaris tours we offer which have set departure dates. If you are unsure about this, feel free to contact us and we will gladly assist with the information you require.
Camps and safaris in the remote wildlife regions of Southern Africa have no access to electrical power due to the remote nature of their locations. Most camps have generators on site with 220v electricity or they make use of solar panels.
The generators are not normally heard by guests as they are run for a couple of hours at a time in the morning and afternoon while guests are enjoying their activities. The electricity is used to power ice machines, fridges and freezers that keep the food and drinks cool and fresh.
The generator charges batteries that provide the power for the bedroom lights and overhead fans in the rooms. There is plenty of power available to charge batteries for cameras and video cameras, but not for hairdryers and the likes. For most mobile tented camps there is no electricity; lighting is by paraffin lamp and campfires in the true traditional style of Africa. For any lodges in South Africa there is ample electrical power.
If you bring along video camera, electric iron, razor or hair dryer, make sure they are adaptable to 220 AC and 50 cycle current and that you have adapter plugs for English outlets. Game lodges use generators which shut down at bedtime.
Most camps only run generators for a few hours per day, however this usually is enough to recharge video batteries. On mobile camping safaris one can re-charge camera batteries from the cigarette lighter plug in the vehicles.
The variety of animals found in the Southern African Sub region is incredible. Of course, most visitors want to see "The Big Five". The big five is a term originally used by the "Great White Hunters" in Africa to refer to the five most dangerous prey animals to hunt: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhinoceros.
Today, these animals are thankfully more often hunted by those with a camera than by those with a rifle (although legal and illegal hunting is still possible for all of these animals). It is possible to see all five of the Big Five in certain areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana still today. If this is your goal, we can direct you to camps where it will be possible, and in some cases, even probable that you will see all five.
For us, African safaris are about more than checking off the “Big Five”. It is a magical experience with nature and with wildlife that is virtually impossible almost anywhere else on earth. Yes, we go to look for the big cats, lion, leopard, cheetah and we love seeing the rare and endangered wild dog (or Africa painted dog), but there are so many other incredible animals in Africa, each with interesting behaviors of their own. Still, if you are interested in specific animals, like birding or predators or rhinos, let us know and we can arrange an African safari with this as the goal.
Every year the wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti National Park into the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. From the vast Serengeti plains to the champagne colored hills of Kenya's Masai Mara over 1.4 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra and gazelle, relentlessly tracked by Africa's great predators, migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain ripened grass.
There is no real beginning or end to a wildebeest's journey. Its life is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water. The only beginning is at the moment of birth. An estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during a six week period early each year - usually between late January and mid-March.
DECEMBER, JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH
The Serengeti National Park / Ngorongoro Conservation Area is arguably the most impressive wildlife sanctuary in the world. During the months December through March the seemingly unending plains of the southern Serengeti and the Conservation Area are inhabited by enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra. The great herds graze on rain ripened grass.
In the calving season (late January through mid March) the
herds concentrate at the Ndutu and Salei plains (Southern
Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area) attracting the
attention of predators like lion, cheetah and hyena.
During this period the migration is best observed from Ndutu Safari Lodge, Kusini Camp or any of several private tented camps used by mobile safaris such as our "Wildlife Adventure by 4x4 Safari". These include campsites in the Ndutu / Naabi area.
During April and May the depleted plains are unable to sustain the endless herds. The migration, sweeping west and north, moves from the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the long grass plains and woodland of the Serengeti's western Corridor, almost to Lake Victoria.
This period is during the long rains and is considered off season for wildlife viewing in East Africa as roads are often impassable. Ndutu Safari Lodge, Kusini Camp and the Serengeti Serena Lodge are fine for wildlife viewing during this time. So are campsites in the Ndutu / Naabi area.
By the end of May the wildebeest have exhausted the Western
Corridor's best pastures and the herds must move further north.
Entering the Lamai Wedge and the Mara Triangle, breeding occurs
May through June.
This is the transitional period between the rains and the dry season. The Serengeti Serena is a central, easily accessible lodge for viewing the migration at this time. Grumeti River Camp, Migration Camp and Kirawira Camp are also options. Seronera and Moru area campsites are best.
JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER
By July the countless herds have amassed along the swollen
Mara River - a final barrier from the short sweet grasses of the
Masai Mara. Sometimes the crossing place they have chosen is
shallow allowing the majority of animals to pass safely. In
other areas the waters boil with drowning wildebeest and
Between July and October the Wildebeest Reside in the Mara.
We recommend Governor's Il Moran Tented Camp as the leading safari camp in the Masai Mara. Other tented camps include Governor's Main Camp, Little Governor's Camp and Bateleur Camp. Tanzanian lodges recommended during this time include Kirawira Tented, Migration Camp, and Grumeti River Camp. Kirawira and Moru area campsites are best.
The arrivals of the short rains call the migration southward. During the short rains of November the wildebeest migration is best viewed from either Lobo Wildlife Lodge or Klein's Camp. Campsites in the Lobo area are best.
As November ends the migration is making its way back to the southern Serengeti and early in the year they once again give birth. The circle of life is complete.
* Note - the migration is a natural event and the timing varies month by month; year by year, further determined by rainfall patterns…. All this will contribute to probably the most enjoyable vacation you will ever have.
This aspect is very exaggerated. You will rarely see a snake, but if you do, it will most likely be from the safety of your safari vehicle. Tents and lodges all have bug screens fitted to windows. In most areas where bugs or mosquitoes are prevalent, rooms and tents are also equipped with mosquito nets, adding to the romantic ambience... Bear in mind that malaria is a threat in most wildlife areas, and it is essential to consult your physician for advice before embarking on your safari.
In general the climate in Southern Africa is as near perfect as you can get with dry season temperatures similar to those of the Mediterranean, but without the humidity. Daytime temperatures average 70 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit but can get much hotter, especially in the months of October and November, just before the rains arrive.
During the winter period (June through August) nighttime temperatures in some areas can drop to freezing or below. Early morning game drives during these winter months can start out very chilly and you should bring a warm sweater, gloves and even a hat to cover your ears. However, by mid morning (9 am or so) the layers will start coming off as the days will heat up dramatically. The rains occur each year during the period November through March with the dry season stretching from April through October.
In East Africa, October marks the beginning of the “short rains” while April brings “long rains.” Many of the safari camps close during the long rains due to difficult driving conditions.
In Southern Africa, while each country varies, the rains generally fall between November and March with the rest of the year being mostly rain-free. A plethora of websites refer to the period between December - March in Southern Africa as the “Rainy Season” - technically correct, however we need to place this into very clear perspective. The rainfall in Southern Africa is minimal when compared to most places – it is a semi-arid region. The rain that Southern Africa gets is usually in the form of quick thunderstorms which disappear almost as quickly as they came, usually in the late afternoon.
Most of the camps stay open year-round. The rainy or “green” safari season in Southern Africa offers benefits such as herbivores having their babies, lush green landscapes and dramatic skies, all of which combine to create superb photographic opportunities. Temperatures are similar between the regions with May through August being the cooler months.
For most visitors, an African safari is a once in a lifetime experience and they want to optimize their safari experience in the time they have available to do their safari. Again, different countries have different “optimal” times, and quite a number of different factors come into play when considering exactly when to go on safari. Generally speaking, we will not give any person a “sales pitch” as to which particular season he should be doing his safari – instead we will discuss the pros and cons of different seasons in the different countries. Generally speaking, the Southern Africa game viewing safari areas (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa) have a rainy season (which falls during the southern hemisphere's summer months of November - March) and a dry season (during the winter months of May-September).
Most visitors who research this aspect of African safari travel by reading up in books or website's are steered to the dry, winter months for the best game viewing. The reason for this is that the water holes are smaller, fewer and farther between and the little remaining green vegetation is widely spread out. The result is that all animals have to come to these watering holes to drink daily and so the wildlife is generally easier to find. On the other hand, the landscape during this dry season is less colorful and there is a great deal more dust. Photographically, the greens of the summer months are mostly absent and your photos will bear a more brownish color.
Still, with less vegetation and cover for the animals, it is generally easier to spot them. You could drive past a thick, heavily vegetated area in the rainy season and drive right past a sleeping pride of Lions and not see them; however, driving the same route in the dry months, without the thick green cover, practically everyone on the vehicle would likely spot the big cats. Some repeat visitors to Africa have found that they prefer the greener, summer months for several reasons. As mentioned, the green colors make the scenery breathtaking. Additionally, as the summer is also the rainy season, one finds dramatically beautiful skies to compliment the lush greens of the landscapes. However, there is always a small risk of a missed or shortened game drive here or there because of a late afternoon thundershower. Typically, rain in the form of a thundershower may last for 45 minutes or so, and blow over just as quickly as it built up, leaving the air fresh and clean, and dust all clear and gone!
Another aspect of the summer months is that many of the antelope species like impala, tsessebe and wildebeest start dropping their young during this time to take advantage of the lush vegetation. With baby animals everywhere, a safari takes on a totally different dimension!
Cruel or sad as it may sound, most predators also focus on hunting the young animals, making hunting easier for them. While this sounds unfortunate for the youngsters, it is part of nature's way and many more survive than are taken. For those who want to possibly see the predator-prey interactions, the summer months will tend to provide better opportunities to see hunting behavior and predator interactions.
Many visitors tend to focus on the dry months for their African safari, hence the winter in Africa being considered the "high season" and the operator rates reflect this higher demand with higher prices. Occupancies are higher, safaris must be booked a bit further in advance and your costs are greater. Still, many visitors swear by the winter months as THE time to go – as far as I am concerned it is a matter of six in one hand, half a dozen in the other …Can we guarantee lions every day…? NO.
Can we guarantee wild dogs if you stay for 2 weeks...? NO. Can we guarantee you will see a kill...? Nope. Can we guarantee animals…? YES. Predators? Almost certainly. Lions...? Most likely. The point I am trying to make is that the word “guarantee” does not exist in the safari world! The one “negative” I can point out about an African Safari… is it is addictive. Simply put, you will want to return – again and again!
In the major cities of the African safari destinations, you will stay at Hotels or Country Lodges as you would anywhere else in the world. In the wilderness areas or National Parks, you will stay at Safari Lodges and Camps.
We represent strictly selected types of accommodation in Africa’s safari destinations. The lodges and luxury tented camps we use in Africa meet the standards of the most discriminating traveler. All camps and lodges are very carefully selected, and all maintain the highest standards, which will ensure your ultimate comfort during your stay. Universally accepted hotel and lodge ratings are not applied to the different types of accommodation, but they generally fall within first-class to luxury range.
Lodges are permanent structures (mostly under thatch) which have been aesthetically designed to blend into the landscape and retain a rustic ambiance, providing luxurious and modern facilities. Most lodges also have swimming pools.
Camps are relatively small and may be permanent, semi-permanent or mobile camps. Whatever the nature and structure, the camps are fully catered (you do not have to participate in any chores) and generally apply a staff ratio of 3 to 1. Camps are either thatched chalets or permanent and luxuriously furnished walk-in tents.
Tented camps are luxurious, most have en-suite bathrooms, beds with fine inner-spring mattresses and conform to all the modern conveniences which will ensure that your stay will be very comfortable and enjoyable. As each property is indeed quite unique, we invite you browse our Camps and Lodges pages, and discover their individual features and find the ones best suit your needs.
Around the turn of the century (until the 30's and 40's), mobile tenting was the only option, and "camp as you go" was the standard practice. Over the years the luxury connected with the traditional mobile tenting safari has increased. By the same token, one can understand that the cost to have a "luxury hotel" following one around in Africa is expensive. However, most people settle for tented camps which are permanent. Because they are "permanent" they can be equipped with flush toilets and traditional bathroom fixtures and conveniences. Don't be misled by terminology - a permanent tented camp offers the comfort of a 5-star hotel but with the romance and adventure of being surrounded by the sights and sounds of Africa.
A "Mobile Camping Safari" offers a taste of Africa in the old tradition You will travel off the beaten track away from the main stream tourist flow, enjoying more privacy and the thrill of open air life in the African bush. Some would say that this is the only way to see the African Savannah! Traditional East Africa style tents are used, giving you plenty of space. Each tent has its own shower and you can order hot water at will.
Toilets are portable Elsan chemical type and they do flush! By the way, you will not sleep on the floor - proper camp beds are made up with mattress - sheets - blankets and pillows! Authentic canvas chairs, wash basin and towels are provided. Mobile tented safaris are, generally speaking, more expensive than the equivalent itineraries staying in lodges. However, it is really a special experience, and many would consider it the only authentic way to safari and well worth the extra cost. A full crew will accompany your expedition to take care of all the work and details involved in setting up and moving the mobile camps. They will also provide the transport for game drives during the days and catering at nights where appropriate.
Each camp has its own dining tent and a bar is set up every evening for sundowners, and laundry is done on a daily basis. When moving the camp from one location to another, lodge accommodation may be used to give your crew a chance to be ready for you at the new site. You will travel in specially adapted 4x4 vehicles with maximum comfort and roof hatches for excellent game viewing, - maximum number of 5-7 passengers per vehicle. However, many clients on mobile tented safaris wish to have their own private vehicle and can then decide exactly on their own itinerary, subject to logistical considerations.
Over the years, we have compiled a substantial collection of books on all aspects of Africa and we read everything new that becomes available. There are some truly excellent works available - most of them available here in the USA. We recommend that our guests, especially first-timers, do some advanced reading as it certainly will enhance the experience once you are there. Depending upon which region(s) you will be visiting, we can recommend any number of our favorites to give you some up front knowledge of its animals, flora, cultures and history.
Whether it's bird identification guides, beautiful coffee-table photographic volumes, non-fictional history, or general travel guides, we have probably read them and can help you select what is appropriate.
One of the most common questions we receive from our clients is what size and type of luggage is best for an African Safari. The best choice for luggage on a safari to Africa is the SOFT DUFFEL BAG.
While weight limits and size restrictions vary for airlines and charter flights between safari camps, the following generally apply to air transfers in safari areas:
1. Only soft bags will be accepted - no hard suitcases or bags with wheels can be transported, as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft.
2. Maximum dimensions are generally 30 inches maximum in length.
3. Weight is almost always 20kg at most, sometimes only 12kg or 15kg.
There are strict weight restrictions in place on any itinerary including light aircraft transfers for the following reasons:
• The aircraft are designed with a maximum bodyweight and luggage weight allowance.
• Most of our airfields are over 3000 feet above sea level and are located in the tropics, and therefore the permissible aircraft carrying capacity is reduced.
1) Luggage, including camera
equipment and hand luggage, is restricted per person traveling
on seat rates, as follows:
· 12kg in Zimbabwe. · 15kg in Malawi · 20kg in Botswana, Namibia (including the Skeleton Coast safari but excluding the Best of Namibia Wing Safaris and Namibia Explorations) and Zambia · 12kg for Best of Namibia Wing Safaris and Namibia Explorations · 20kg in South Africa.
2) Only soft bags will be accepted - no hard suitcases or bags with wheels can be transported as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft.
3) The maximum dimensions of the soft bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 25cm wide x 30cm high and 62cm long.
Please keep in mind that the baggage compartments on the light aircraft are only 25cm high, so the pilots must have the ability to manipulate the bag into the compartment.
• Passengers weighing more than 100kg (220 lbs) must please advise us in advance as an extra seat may have to be costed in to the package for safety purposes.
• For those who absolutely must bring more than the maximum allowance of luggage, an extra seat may be purchased in advance but the bags must still be soft bags only. Be sure to pre-arrange any extra seats with us at the time of booking.
These luggage restrictions for luggage sound like very little but bear in mind the following:
• Most African safari camps / lodges and hotels provide basic toilet amenities.
• Laundry can be done on a daily basis (and many camps provide this service free of charge but hotels do charge a nominal fee).
• Mainly casual clothing is required.
As no formal clothes are needed throughout most of southern Africa, we recommend that you limit your luggage to the basics. More formal attire is usually required only when staying in the more prestigious city hotel establishments or on any of the luxury trains. On an African safari, casual clothing is the order of the day.
Remember the weight restrictions covered above!
1. Good quality sunglasses -
preferably polarized. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in
2. Sun hat.
3. Golf-shirts, T-shirts and long-sleeved cotton shirts.
5. Long trousers / slacks.
6. Sweat pants / sweat shirt.
7. More formal attire for your stay at prestigious city hotels or on one of the luxury trains.
8. Underwear and socks.
9. Good walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine).
12. Warm winter sweater.
13. Warm Anorak or Parka and scarf / gloves for the cold winter months (May to September).
14. Light rain gear for summer months (late November to April).
15. Camera equipment and plenty of film (or digital storage).
16. If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust or pollen.
17. BINOCULARS - ESSENTIAL (and Newman's bird book if you are keen).
18. Personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments).
19. Malaria tablets
20. Moisturizing cream & suntan lotion.
21. Insect repellent e.g. Deet, etc.
22. Basic medical kit (aspirins, band aids, Imodium, antiseptic cream and Anti-histamine cream etc).
23. Tissues / "Wet Ones".
24. Visas, tickets, passports, money, etc.
25. Waterproof / dust-proof Ziploc bags / cover for your cameras.
There has been an increase in the incidence of theft of personal belongings from checked-in luggage at airports in southern Africa. Authorities are addressing this problem, but the level of occurrence remains high. As such, it is imperative that you do not put anything of high value (personal or financial) in your checked-in baggage, as luggage can be tampered with and valuables removed. This includes, but is not limited to jewelry, cameras, video equipment, reading /sunglasses, laptops or other computer/electronic equipment, medication (especially chronic medication) etc. We also suggest you lock all your luggage with a suitable TSA approved lock to deter opportunistic theft.
We encourage you to plan your African safari as far in advance as possible; 12 to 18 months at a minimum, to ensure a better selection of camp availability. This is especially important if you are planning to travel during the Southern Africa safari "high season" months of July through October.
The best way to start is to have a good look through our website. It's packed with information on the countries and all the camps we sell and there are a lot! When you're ready, you can "start the ball rolling" in several ways. One, go to our "Contact Us" link (in the main navigation menu), and fill out the questionnaire and we will contact you immediately. Alternatively, you can email us or call us directly and we will be happy to answer any and all of your questions and tell you more about the whole process.
Once we have determined what you would like to do - and there are MANY different options, which you already know if you've peeked around our website - we can begin picking out some itinerary options. Once we have an idea of the general areas and activities, your available amount of time, and the general time you wish to travel, we will typically put together several options. The alternative itineraries may include specific African safari camps, possibly a low versus high season pricing option, different add-ons to contemplate after your wildlife portion - perhaps a beach or island visit, Victoria Falls, or Cape Town; it all depends on your intent. What you should focus on telling us is the amount of time you have and whether you want a general all-round African experience or want to focus on some specific theme(s). It's not easy to know what you want with so many options, we know! That's why so many guests keep returning to see more of this beautiful destination. If you're not sure, just give us a call and we will help you make some choices. We look forward to helping you plan an amazing African safari vacation.
Payments to may be made by personal, business or certified check, or by credit card. We accept American Express, MasterCard and Visa.
It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependents / traveling companions for the duration of their trip to Southern Africa.
We have a courtesy link on our website where one can get quotes from various insurance companies:
This insurance should include coverage in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities: cancellation or curtailment of the trip to Africa, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, and damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods