Research before your trip.
Will I be safe?
We take every possible precaution to ensure your safety. The South Africa Holidays, Bespoke Safari Holidays, and African Vacations designed by Africa Explore Safaris are fully guided by a highly experienced Safari Director throughout the itinerary unless specified to the contrary. Your Safari Director will take care of all arrangements and details to ensure your safe and enjoyable journey. In the event that you are on an un-guided itinerary, your itinerary will be carefully crafted to avoid areas and places of concern. You will receive a comprehensive tour dossier to guide you every step of the way.
Do I need a Visa to visit the countries of Southern and East Africa?
Yes, a visa is generally required and this varies by country. We will provide you with detailed information, however, it remains your responsibility to ensure that you have the necessary visas for the countries that you will visit. Please ensure that you consult the embassies or consulates for each of your destinations to ensure you have the correct visa prerequisites, depending on your passport. Visas may now be applied for online and this should be done within 90 days of your planned entry to that country.
What is the best time to travel to Africa?
In the Western Cape Region of South Africa around the city of Cape Town, they enjoy a Mediterranean Climate. In other words, it has cold wet winters with long dry summers. When visiting Cape Town during the winter months from June to August, it is quite windy and wet with several warm balmy days between the squalls. It is definitely the best time to see the Great White Sharks and the large numbers of Southern Right Whales that make their way to the Whale Coast on the Southern edge of the continent.
The rest of Sub-Sahara Africa has a summer rainfall season that is generally split into early summer rains (November/December) and mid-summer rains (late January). The winters are crisp evenings with warm days and dry weather providing excellent opportunities to view the spectacular African Wildlife when they tend to congregate around dwindling water sources in this dry part of the year. It is also the season for the great Wildebeast Migration that takes place in East Africa.
What do I pack for my African Safari Tour?
You definitely need a good camera with a wide-angle zoom lens. Several extra high-speed memory cards and binoculars. Good sunglasses are a must, and a small flashlight is always handy. A handheld gimbal for your mobile phone will ensure that you get spectacular videos but note that selfie-sticks are dis-allowed at many venues. It is also advisable to pack a portable modem so that you may buy a local sim card to stay connected throughout your holidays to Africa.
The dress code on safari is casual. A smart casual shirt with trousers for men or a dress with sandals for ladies is the “dress-up” required for dinner. In terms of clothing, we recommend the following: long trousers, fleece jacket or warm sweater, waterproof windbreaker, T-shirts, shorts, swimwear, sandals, comfortable walking shoes, and a hat – preferably a wider brimmed hat. A warm jacket, scarf, and gloves will come in handy during the cool evenings and early morning game drives on safari. Khaki, beige, and brown colours are preferred on safaris.
Items that you could purchase locally include Lip Balm, Sunscreen, Batteries, and Insect Repellant. DO NOT forget to pack the chargers and cables for all your electronic devices.
Do I need travel insurance and medical insurance?
You are advised to protect yourself adequately with the best insurance at your disposal. Take note that it is highly advisable to arrange this cover when you make the initial bookings for your planned holiday. This allows you recourse should you be unable to travel due to a medical or another issue beyond your control, and when dealing with problems that may arise during your journey.
What inoculations do I need for travel in Africa?
Your medical practitioner or Travel Clinic will advise you in this regard.
What health precautions do I need for travel in Africa?
Should you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should consult with your medical practitioner about your travel plans. If you require medication, please ensure that you bring a sufficient amount for the duration of your trip, as there may not be medical provisions available in certain areas. It is also good practice to carry copies of the doctor’s prescription with your travel documents in the event of having to purchase additional supplies. You may also be required to prove to the authorities that the particular drugs are legally prescribed. You will have access to excellent medical care in countries like South Africa.
You may require yellow fever shots for certain countries. It may also be necessary to take anti-malaria prophylaxis as a precaution for certain areas around Africa. We will advise you of these risk factors and our team at Africa Explore Safaris can design your holidays to South Africa and your African Safari Tour to avoid the areas with a higher risk factor. We will not travel to areas where cholera has been identified.
Ticks may be encountered when your travel itinerary includes the African bush and the possibility to hike in the bush. Ticks are prevalent in early spring through summer. Tick Bite Fever is easily detected and treatable. It will probably only manifest itself after you return home due to the incubation period. Bilharzia may be encountered in some areas but it is easily detected and treatable. It is highly unlikely that our guests will have an opportunity to be swimming in rivers where this parasitic disease can be contracted. We recommend that all our guests visit their physician for routine tests within two after travel and be sure to advise the physician of your travel routes.
Is Malaria a risk factor?
The Northeastern area of South Africa and many countries in Africa that have a more tropical climate are malaria areas. Malaria is a potentially fatal disease. Please consult your health practitioner as to what prophylactics you should take for the particular area being visited, as there are many different strains of malaria. Take note that you must advise your health practitioner during post-travel check-ups that you have traveled through a malaria area for up to six months following your travel. The gestation period can be up to six months long before malaria manifests itself. It is possible to create an entirely malaria-free safari itinerary for you.
During your Holiday
How do I stay safe as a solo traveler?
At Africa Explore Safaris we take extra care to provide as much information as possible when we have solo travelers booking their safari holidays with us. While traveling as a solo traveler on your African vacations you need to simply stay informed by discussing your movements with the hotel that you are staying at as well as other service providers. Even the shopkeeper down the road can be a good source of local information. Do be careful about putting too much score on the news available on social media networks as it has usually not been verified. Do not display your valuables and carry as little with you as possible when you are out walking.
May I claim my tax back when I depart?
The tax you pay when you purchase non-consumables may be claimed at the airport when you are checking in for your flight. You will need a merchants tax invoice reflecting the VAT paid for the item and you should be able to produce the item for inspection should it be necessary. Ensure that you ask for a tax invoice when making your purchase. The refund process may take some time so be sure to allow for this. Once all the invoices have been checked you may check in to your flight and complete all immigration procedures. The tax refund process is completed at a Tax Refund Counter once you have finalized the passport control and immigration process. You cannot claim tax/VAT on food, beverages, or accommodation.
How much should I be tipping?
A tip of 10% to 15% is customary for meals and beverage service. Tips for porters, guides, Rangers, Trackers, and hospitality staff are greatly appreciated and they are very reliant on these tips. Tips are at your discretion, not obligatory but highly appreciated!
Do we have internet connectivity on the safaris?
Yes, there is reasonably good internet available at all the accommodations. Wireless access via cellular 3G networks is widely available in urban centers and along most of the routes. The coverage and stability of the connection vary in countries, and the connections are slow compared to the first first-world connectivity.
Can I use my mobile phone in Africa?
All the GSM-enabled mobile phones will function within the networks available in Southern and Eastern Africa. In sparsely populated areas such as Namibia, there will be areas with little or no coverage. The coverage in South Africa is good and also extends into some of the safari areas. In other countries in Southern and East Africa coverage is less extensive but generally good in urban areas. It is also a good idea to carry a portable modem so that you may purchase a local sim card to ensure that you have convenient internet access without paying roaming rates.
Do we have access to banks and ATM’s?
Yes, this will not be a problem while traveling through Southern Africa and East Africa. In certain rural areas, it may require some forward planning but there are good banking services and many ATMs available in the urban areas which include Bureaux de Change outlets. Banking hours are generally 09h00 to 15h30 Monday to Friday and 08h30 to 11h00 on a Saturday. Certain banks such as Capitec and Nedbank are open till 17h00 during the week and 12h00 on a Saturday. Your Africa Explore Safaris guide and Safari Director will be able to advise and assist you in this regard. The banks at the international airports have extended trading hours to accommodate the international flight arrivals. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted along with most other International cards. Sometimes the Amex card presents problems so be sure to discuss this with our consultant.
Is there a danger or threat from local wildlife or snakes?
You will always be given a thorough safety briefing by your Safari Director and at any venue where you may come into contact with wildlife. Please follow explicitly the instructions given in such a briefing. Wildlife is potentially dangerous, but as long as you adhere to the instructions, there is very little to worry about. The wildlife is more familiar with people and less intimidated by your presence when you are in a safari vehicle, on horseback, and around the camps, lodges, and viewing points. Never tease, approach, or corner wild animals – they will feel threatened and this may cause an unpredictable response and a potentially dangerous reaction. Never feed any animals. No matter how cute and hungry they may look. This can cause them to become habituated to humans and lose their fear of humans.
Africa is home to a number of potentially dangerous species, such as snakes, scorpions, spiders, and a large variety of insects which are usually just a nuisance. Very few visitors actually see snakes and scorpions or are adversely affected by them. Should you go for a walk it is advisable to wear comfortable, closed walking shoes, socks, and long trousers – just as a precaution.
What do I do with my valuables and my luggage?
The safekeeping of your belongings remains your sole responsibility. You are provided with lock-up facilities and room safes at every venue. Please lock up your valuables at all times. Remember the saying “Out of sight – out of mind!” Do not create temptation by leaving valuables in sight. This also applies when you are traveling in a vehicle or moving about. It is always a good practice to keep your bags securely locked when you leave them in your room.
Please make a photocopy of your passport and any visas and carry that with you while ensuring that you have a digital copy of these to access if the need arises. Credit cards may be used for most purchases, but at local markets, you will need some cash. Have some local currency and low denomination US Dollar bills and keep it in a zip pocket or travel wallet – avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Is the food and water in Africa safe to consume?
On safari holidays in Southern Africa, you will find the food to be of excellent quality, very reasonably priced, and safe to eat. Food from street and market stalls should however be avoided if you have a sensitive stomach. The water in the major cities of South Africa is safe to drink. All the hand-picked lodges and camps on the Africa Explore Safaris packages provide purified and bottled water. We advise that you bring your personal aluminum bottle that can be refilled with purified water.
For wildlife safaris in East Africa, our selected restaurants, hotels, lodges, and camps provide food of the highest quality, and safe purified water is provided. The food from street stalls and markets should be avoided. As a precaution you may apply this rule – IF YOU CANNOT PEEL IT, THEN DON’T EAT IT!
Will I see Lions and Leopards hunting?
We will provide you with every possible opportunity to see the Lions and Leopards, along with Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo, Hippo, Nile Crocodile, Monkeys, Baboons, and a spectacular variety of Antelope and Bird species at the reserves, parks, and lodges that Africa Explore Safaris recommends for your special safari. You will be viewing wild animals that move freely within their territories so no sightings of any specific species can be guaranteed. Africa is the last wild continent and you will be truly amazed by the magical sights, sounds, and experiences that differ each day.
How many guests are there on your tours and safaris?
Africa trips and Africa vacations with Africa Explore Safaris is a private holiday experience designed for you, and any group of friends that you may wish to travel with. We design your unique holiday based on your personal requests and you, therefore, enjoy as much privacy as you desire. You will be met on your arrival at the international airport by the Africa Explore Safaris representative or your Safari Director, and you will be taken care of until you are ready to check-in for your departure flight at the end of your African vacation.
What electrical plugs and adaptors do I need?
Southern Africa and East Africa operate on 220-240 volts, 50Hz mostly delivered through a three-pin socket and a smaller two-pin socket as well. South Africa still uses the round pin variety of the three-pin socket while the rest of Africa has the square-pin socket. We advise that you purchase your adapters after your arrival as many of the all-in-one adapters sold internationally do not work locally. All the hotels and lodges have international adapters fitted in the rooms, or they have portable adaptors available for guests to use. Usually, there are insufficient adaptors available so be prepared and purchase your own.