• FAQ's & Safari Packing

Frequently Asked Questions

Safari FAQ's and packing advice to get you started.

How far in advance do I need to book?

The further in advance the better! Some destinations are very popular, especially during high seasons, and the best accommodations get booked up fast. However, even if you aren’t booking well in advance, we’ll do our best to put together a top-class safari with whatever accommodations are available at the time.

How do I book and pay?

Quick answer: email us at [email protected] or fill the contact form and one of our team members will be in contact with you. Once you're satisfied with your safari plan, we'll send you a booking form and Terms and Conditions. Pay a 20% deposit to secure your safari, with full payment due eight weeks before it starts.

More detail: In this day of WhatsApp being an ever-popular communication method, we still prefer to chat to you via email, at least after the initial contact is made. So, the first step will be to email us at [email protected], or via the contact form on this website. Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you want to go, what your main areas of interest are, how many people are in your group and we’ll take it from there, either putting your names down for a set-departure or planning a custom safari for you. Once you are happy with the itinerary / tour, we’ll send you the links for our online booking form and Indemnity Waiver (which includes all our Terms and Conditions). Once these have been completed, we’ll ask for a 20% deposit to secure the safari, with full payment due eight weeks before the start of the safari. We aim to have one consultant dealing with you from start to finish, but there are times when we’ll have to hand you over to another consultant but, as we’re a small team, that won’t present any problems (usually you’ll hand over from Leon to Mavourneen or Jodie, as Leon is often out in the field on safaris). We’re happy to field any questions you may have; we are here to help you get exactly what you want. And if you don’t know what you want, we’re happy to provide expert guidance.

Can I pay by credit card?

Yes, we accept Visa and Mastercard credit card payments via Payfast.

Is it more expensive to book through you?

Quick answer: We offer competitive prices for top-quality safaris compared to similar standards offered by other companies.

More detail: The old saying ‘comparing apples with apples’ is very much applicable to safaris. We are not really a ‘budget safari’ operator – we don’t to ‘participatory safaris’, where guests help with cooking etc; we don’t do camping safaris where we set up camps each night; we don’t put our guests in hotels outside the park gates to save on park fees; we don’t put our guests in ‘dome tent’ camps set up within the bigger camps… So, you may well come across cheaper options out there, but we don’t like to compromise on the experience to make a safari cheaper. We use good accommodations; we stay in the national parks as far as possible; we budget enough for good food; we use experienced guides who charge more than ‘rookie’ guides – basically, you’ll find our prices to be very competitive when compared to safaris of a similar standard offered by other companies.

What financial protections do you offer?

We have substantial passenger and public liability insurance. We are a member of SATSA (South African Tourism Services Association), member number 251. This includes bonding, which protects your pre-tour deposits. Find out more about why you should book through a SATSA member company: Why Use a SATSA Member

What insurance do you have?

We are members of SATIB24, an emergency response service, which gives access to their 24/7 emergency operations center, with a direct line to doctors, nurses and security professionals.

We do recommend taking out personal travel insurance before embarking on any safari.

Do you arrange flights?

We can arrange local flights for you. These we book over the internet, but we don’t get any discounts, so it’ll be the same price that you pay if you booked via the internet (we don't put a markup on flights booked by us). The price is usually only 100% confirmed once we make the booking, but we'll give you an estimate at the time of quotation. We don’t book international flights.

Do I need a visa to visit South Africa?

Citizens of most countries, i.e: countries in North America, Europe, Australasia etc, do not require a visa to visit South Africa. For more information visit: South Africa Visa Requirements. Note that it is the traveler's responsibility to make sure they have the correct paperwork in order to visit any of the countries we operate in. 

Is it safe to go on a safari?

Our safaris are safe, with minimal to rare incidents of petty theft. Although isolated incidents make headlines in the media, there's never any news about the millions of visitors who have safe and enjoyable safaris across Southern and East Africa every year.

What are the accommodations like?

The accommodations we use are highly varied, from small guest houses and B&B’s to hotels in some instances, tented camps, national park rest camps, luxury lodges etc.

At the most basic they are all clean and comfortable, with en-suite bathroom facilities. Tell us about any specific accommodation preferences you may have when chatting to us (such as budget or luxury).

What is the food like on the typical safari?

Quick answer: the food is good and plentiful, offering a mix of dishes. Special dietary needs can be accommodated.

More detail: The food on a typical safari is good and plentiful! Most of it comprises dishes that are pretty normal by western standards – you generally won’t come across strange meats etc, unless it’s on an optional basis, and in that case it’s mainly game meat (from a small variety of Antelope species generally), which can be delicious, and is moreover less ecologically harmful than farmed meats (no mass transport, no hormones and drugs, no stressful ‘living’ conditions etc). Fish and chicken are generally readily available. There will probably be a mix of ala carte and buffet meals, depending on the exact itinerary. If you have special dietary requirements, let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure all the establishments cater for you. Note that not all African countries cater for vegan and gluten-free diets very well, but again, we’ll do our best to make sure that you are catered for in such cases – note that we aren’t doing the catering ourselves, we are relying on lodges, restaurants etc, so can’t be held responsible for errors made by kitchens in far-flung parts of the continent. But in such cases, speak to your guide, he / she is there to look after you. And rest assured, no tourist has ever starved on a safari!

What kind of vehicles are used?

This will depend on the specific itinerary and group numbers. For South Africa and Namibia, we generally use something like a Toyota Fortuner SUV for couples, and a van for bigger groups. In the Kruger National Park we usually use open-sided safari vehicles. In East Africa we use custom Land-Cruiser touring vehicles, with ‘pop roofs’. And at safari lodges the most commonly used vehicle is the Land-Cruiser game viewer, some totally ‘roofless’, and others with a roof.

What do I need to pack?

Once you've done a number of safaris, the packing is quite easy. But for first timers especially, it can be a bit daunting. Please see our comprehensive blog post: Pack like a Pro: packing advice from a seasoned safari guide.

Is there a best time of the year for a safari?

Quick answer: There's no bad time for a safari; each season has its advantages. We'll plan the best safari for your chosen time.

More detail: Not a simple question! The underlying answer is ‘no’, but each season is different, with pros and cons. In Southern / South-Central Africa there’s basically one wet season, November to May, and the dry season, June to October (though each year is different, and the seasons becoming more and more unpredictable). The wet season is generally better for birding, is more pleasing on the eye in terms of landscapes, and many areas offer ‘green season’ discounts. Note that lodges in some parks, such as Kafue in Zambia, are closed during the wet season. The dry season is traditionally the best game viewing season, as surface water is limited, and animals congregate around water holes. But, in some areas, such as the Okavango region of Botswana, the rates are highest in the dry season. November and May are nice ‘shoulder seasons’, offering a blend of both wet and dry seasons.

East Africa has a 'long' rainy season from March to May, and a 'short' rainy season in October / November. Again, the predator viewing is generally better when it's dry, but the birding and scenery is better when it's wet. The decreased predictability of the rains is also a factor in East Africa.

But, as mentioned, there is no bad time to be on a safari, and we can arrange a top class safari at any time of the year, choosing what’s best in any given month.

What currency is best?

Quick answer: In South Africa and Namibia, use ZAR. In the rest of Africa, US Dollars are widely accepted.

More detail: In South Africa and Namibia ZAR (South African Rand) is best. In SA it’s the only legal tender, while in Namibia one can use ZAR or Namibian Dollars, which are ‘one to one’ (1 Rand = 1 N$). In the rest of Africa, US Dollars are best. Try to bring small denominations, as $100 notes are harder to use (lodges seem reluctant to accept big notes, especially older notes). Try to bring a lot of $1 and $5 notes for tipping porters etc.

Can I pay with credit card while on the safari?

Yes, credit card (Visa And MasterCard are best) is generally widely accepted at lodges, hotels etc.

What does the typical day on safari look like?

Quick answer: Safaris involve early starts, with morning and afternoon drives. The schedule varies by location and season.

More detail: Safaris generally involve early starts! The idea is to be out early in the morning, when predators may still be active, and when birds are also active. As the day warms, so the activity levels decrease generally, though the heat of the day can be a good time to visit waterholes, when animals come down to drink and bathe. In East Africa, close to the equator, the sunrise times don’t vary too much, and one will generally head out at about 06h00. In Southern Africa, further from the equator, sunrise times vary, so in winter one may head out relatively late, between 06h00 and 06h30, but in summer that starts can be very early, as early as 05h00 in mid-summer (Kruger’s camp gates open at 04h30!).

In East Africa we usually take a packed breakfast with us, and do long drives, returning for lunch and a siesta before a shorter afternoon safari. In Southern Africa the general routine is a long morning drive, of between 3 and 5 hours (depending on the venue), followed by a ‘brunch’, some time to relax or watch birds in the camp, and an afternoon drive (which runs till after dark in private reserves).

Private lodges may have a fixed routine, but in national parks such as the Kruger, Serengeti, Etosha, Masai Mara etc, one is free to be out of camp for the whole day, though we generally try to include some ‘down time’ to enjoy the lodge and take a break from being in the vehicle. But no matter what safari you are on, the days are full and rewarding!

Is there internet connectivity while on safari?

Quick answer: Most accommodations have Wi-Fi, but it may vary. You can also get local SIM cards or roaming packages.

More detail: Most private establishments have Wi-Fi. Some national park camps have Wi-Fi as well – only in the ‘main areas’, not in the rooms. Some national park camps don’t have Wi-Fi. On the average safari you’ll probably have access to Wi-Fi at most of the accommodations, but perhaps not all. You can also pick up a local pay-as-you-go SIM card at the airport to have internet access while on the road; or you may be able to get an affordable ‘roaming’ package from your provider.  

What about tipping?

Quick answer: Tipping is customary but not compulsory. Basic guidelines for various situations:

Meal Tipping: Standard is 10-15% of the bill. 
Porters: They usually expect tips, so keep $1 / ZAR 10 notes handy for tipping them.
Camp Staff: Most lodges have a tipping system in place. A general guideline is $5-$10 / ZAR 50-100 per day.
Safari Guides: Tipping is discretionary, not compulsory. A general guideline is between US$10 to $35 per guest per day, which can be in various currencies
These are just guidelines, some guests are more reserved, some are more generous. It’s entirely up to you.

More detail: Many safari clients are unsure about tipping, which has long been a 'safari tradition'. Here we’ll give you some basic guidelines.

In terms of meals, the standard is 10 -15% of the bill. But for most safaris your guide will be paying for most of the meals, or they will be included in the rates, so you don’t have to worry about this too much.

Porters generally expect tips, so keep $1 / ZAR 10 notes handy for tipping them (one Dollar or 10 – 20 Rand per main bag).

Camp staff: most lodges will have a tipping system in place, whereby you put a tip into a box on check out, and this is divided among the staff members at the end of each month. The amount you tip is up to you, a general guideline is $5 – $10 / ZAR 50 – 100 per day.

Safari guides: this is discretionary, not compulsory. General standards are between US$ 10 to $35 per guest per day, which can be in US Dollars, Euros or Pounds, or in local currency such as ZAR. This is just a guideline, some guests are more reserved, some are more generous. It’s entirely up to you. Either way, guides always appreciate tips.

 

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