It is possible to go on safari at any time of the year. However for most visitors an African safari is a once in a lifetime experience and they want to maximise their game viewing experience. African safari areas each have their own unique seasons and the benefits of travelling at different times of the year need to be weighed up according to your unique individual needs and desires. It is best to speak to a professional and experienced tour operator like Africa Exclusive – who can tailor make your itinerary.
Is Africa a good destination for families / how old must children be?
Africa offers great value for families and is one of the most exciting and rewarding holidays you will ever take. Although some of the camps and lodges do not take children under twelve years and children under five years are generally not allowed on game drives (or you may be required to reserve a private vehicle), it also depends on the maturity of the child. They need to be able to sit quietly in an open vehicle and behave when sharing a small camp with adults and not wander off on their own. They will also need to obey the instructions of your safari guide if you go into the bush on foot or by boat. Africa Exclusive will advise you on the best options for your family safari.
Is Africa safe?
Yes, Africa is as safe as any other travel destination. Safari destinations are usually a long way from human habitation. Your safety is of paramount importance. When you are with a trained guide you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Your guide is trained to understand the animal’s behaviour, and will never put his guests in any threatening situation.
How much luggage can I take?
Strict weight restrictions apply on light aircraft flights because most airfields are 3000 ft above sea level and located in the tropics – therefore the permissible aircraft carrying capacity is reduced. The aircraft also have physical space restrictions so only soft holdalls are accepted (no hard rigid suitcases) with maximum dimensions of 25cm wide x 30cm high x 62cm in length. As with any worldwide travel there is a risk of theft from checked in baggage. We recommend that you do not travel with items of high value and to purchase suitable locks for your luggage to deter opportunistic theft.
Generally the following weight restrictions apply (these weights may vary – your safari co-ordinator will be able to confirm :
12kg on Zimbabwe safari
12kg on Malawi safari
20kg on Botswana safari, Namibia safari and South Africa safari
15kg on Zambia safari
15kg on Kenya safari
15kg on Tanzania safari
Do I need travel insurance?
There are no health schemes in Africa and visitors are responsible for their own medical expenses. Comprehensive travel insurance is compulsory and must adequately cover you for medical costs, in the unlikely event that you incur them, emergency evacuation and repatriation. It is also strongly recommended that your insurance covers you for cancellation, curtailment of arrangements and baggage. Remember to take the details with you.
Are the animals dangerous?
Wild animals are naturally unpredictable and their behaviour is never guaranteed. However most of them are scared at the sight and smell of humans and will flee rather than attack. Unprovoked attacks on humans are therefore very rare. You should never venture out alone, especially at night – always consult with your guide. Your armed guides have an amazing amount of knowledge about the local wildlife and will accompany you on activities – you should always pay attention to your guide and adhere to any instructions he may give you whilst on your activities.
How much money should I take with me on safari? Can I use my credit card and what currency should I use?
You will need very little spending money on most safaris as the majority of meals, drinks and activities are included in your itinerary. You will usually have to pay for lunch, dinner and drinks when you are staying at hotels in cities. Bills can be settled in US dollars, by traveller’s cheque or credit card – however use may be restricted in small towns and rural areas. In South Africa the local currency (the Rand, ZAR) is the preferred currency and in Zambia all domestic transactions must be made in the local currency (the Zambian Kwacha, ZMK). Automatic teller machines are situated outside most banks in towns and cities but because Africa can be unpredictable we do not recommend that you rely on ATM for your currency needs. All major currencies and travellers cheques can be changed into local currency at airports and banks (small bills are best). Always keep your receipt so that when you depart you can change your money back to your preferred currency.
Do I need a visa?
Firstly, you need to ensure that your passports are valid for at least six months AFTER you leave Africa and that you have sufficient blank VISA pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport for the countries to be visited. We recommend three blank pages (with at least two blank opposing pages) or even four if you are travelling through more than one country on your holiday. Some nationalities will be required to obtain visas prior to departure. It is wise to check with the relevant consulate or embassy before travel as the visa requirements are constantly changing. We will be happy to advise you on your visa requirements.
It is also advisable to take photocopies of all your important documents, e.g. passports, air tickets, visas and credit cards and keep them separate to the original documents. In the event of loss of any of the original documents whilst travelling, replacement will be much easier.
What about vaccinations and malaria?
Travellers to Africa should start with basic long term health protection which as a guideline includes vaccinations against Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Typhoid, Hepatitis A/B and Meningococcal.
If you are visiting any of the following countries you will be required to have a Yellow Fever vaccination.
• Tanzania & Zanzibar
• Zambia (this is officially not regarded as a Yellow Fever region, however as of 01 October 2011, all passengers travelling from Zambia to South Africa (even if via another country such as Botswana) will be required to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination on arrival into South Africa (unless in possession of a valid official exemption certificate).
Almost all countries will request to see proof of Yellow Fever vaccination (or ask you to show a valid official exemption certificate) at Immigration if you are travelling from, or have recently travelled to, any country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission, regardless of the amount of time spent in the country or even at the airport if just transiting.
Please note: Travellers who are unable to have the Yellow Fever vaccination for medical reasons can be exempt from this - you must however carry a valid official medical exemption certificate from your Doctor or Travel Clinic explaining why you cannot have the injection. It is recommended that the certificate is also accompanied by a detailed letter from the Doctor specifying entry and departure dates from each country and a full medical reason for the exemption.
Naturally malaria is also a concern however in safari areas, malaria medication has proven to be effective for adults and children with few and many times no side effects. Malarone is usually the medication of choice and is available on prescription from your GP. A paediatric formula has been developed for children weighing 33lbs and over. There are non–malarial safari destinations – South Africa being the most popular choice for younger families. We advise you to consult your GP or local travel clinic regarding malaria medication and inoculation requirements at least four weeks prior to travel.
Are there laundry facilities available on safari?
Most camps offer laundry facilities, however this is often limited due to water restrictions. It is also worth noting that underwear is not included in the laundry service due to local traditions.
What type of food is served on safari?
The quality of food served on safari is excellent and most visitors are very impressed with the quality and quantity. Some of the camps provide the same quality and presentation of food as you would get in a five star hotel in any top city. Camps will also cater for special dietary requirements as long as they are informed of your needs in advance.
Is the water in Africa safe to drink?
Tap water is safe to drink in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe but bottled water is available if you prefer. It is best to drink bottled water in the rest of Africa
What happens if we need urgent medical attention whilst on safari in Africa?
All camps have medical emergency kits and even the remotest of camps have communications to summons a doctor or if necessary medical evacuation.
Is there mobile coverage in Africa?
Mobile phone coverage is not guaranteed, especially in the remote areas. If you must take your mobile phone with you, please have respect for other guests. In most hotels, camps and lodges, mobile phones are banned in public areas. They may be used in the privacy of your room or tent, but only to retrieve messages or to dial out. Phones should be switched off at all other times. If you are going to an area where there is no mobile coverage and you need to access to a communication you can hire a satellite phone at most airports.
Is tipping compulsory?
Although tipping on safaris, at lodges and camps is always welcomed, it is not compulsory and should be given at your discretion. It is often best to tip the drivers, guides and lodge manager who will distribute the gratuities amongst the lodge or camp staff. As a rough estimate you can tip US$5 to $10 for each traveller per day at each camp or lodge. Tipping at restaurants is usually 10%.
Is there electricity at the camps?
Remote camps and lodges do not have access to electricity and rely on generators and solar power. The generators usually run in the morning and afternoons when guests are on activities. This ensures minimum disturbance. There is enough power to charge batteries for cameras and video cameras (we advise taking a spare battery, plug and converter). In most areas you will not be able to use an electric shaver or hairdryer.
We recommend only packing casual clothes, unless you are going on a luxury rail journey or staying at a luxury city hotel where formal attire is compulsory at dinner etc. We do not recommend taking brightly coloured clothing – traditional safari colours like khaki and beige are best. Here is a list of recommendations:
Good quality sunglasses with good UV protection and preferably polarised
Bush hat or sun hat with brim (may need a separate hat for game viewing as wind can lift it off as you drive).
T-shirts and a long sleeved cotton shirt
Shorts and/or long trousers
Underwear and socks
Walking shoes (trainers are fine)
Sandals/flip flops or light slip on shoes
Sweater/fleece for chilly mornings and evenings (plus a scarf for sun protection or warmth)
Camera equipment and film/memory cards, spare batteries, and charger
Binoculars (one pair per person, 8x40 or 8x42 magnification is ideal for most safari purposes)
Torch (Note - camps always provide a torch in rooms but you might like to have a small one as back up).
Basic medical kit (aspirin, plasters, antiseptic cream, antihistamine etc)
Malaria tablets (if applicable)
Sunscreen, lip-salve, and moisturising cream
Insect repellent (recommend one with upwards of 50% DEET content)
Personal toiletries (including a small amount of washing powder for underwear) Unscented products are best and perfume is not recommended as animals have a keen sense of smell)
Towel (optional, as towels are always provided at properties – including beach towels)
If you wear contact lenses we recommend that you take a pair of spectacles in case of eye irritation from dust
A small rucksack or waist bag for use on walks and in the vehicles
Swimming costume/trunks & poolside deck shoes or flip flops
Please note that ‘military style’ clothing (such as camouflage pattern trousers) is not acceptable in many parts of Africa, (especially in airports).
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Call our team of Safari Specialists
UK & Worldwide Clients Call: +44(0)1604 628979
USA & Canada Clients Call: 1-866-871-3829 or 1-800-958-1509