Safari FAQs

What time of year should I go on safari?

It is possible to go on safari at any time of the year but for most visitors an African safari is a once in a lifetime experience and it is likely you will want to maximize your game viewing experience. African safari areas each have their own unique seasons and our safari design team will be help you weigh up the benefits of traveling at different times of the year before tailor making your itinerary according your individual needs and desires.

Can families travel to Africa?

Africa offers great value for families and is one of the most exciting and rewarding holidays you will ever take. Some 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) but it also depends on the maturity of the child. It is vital that they are 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 tend to be 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 animals’ behavior and will never put his guests in any threatening situation.

Will 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 the correct visas. You should check with the relevant consulate 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?

Travelers to Africa should start with basic long term health protection and this includes vaccinations against Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Yellow Fever. In Kenya and Tanzania it is compulsory to be vaccinated for Yellow Fever; you may be asked for an inoculation card on arrival at the airport.

Naturally, malaria is also a concern; however, in safari areas malaria medication has proven to be effective for adults and children many times with no side effects. Malarone is usually the medication of choice and is available on prescription for your doctor. A pediatric 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 doctor or local travel clinic regarding malaria medication and inoculation requirements at least four weeks before you travel.

What kinds of clothes should I pack for my safari?

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 colored clothes – traditional safari colors like khaki and beige are best. We do not recommend wearing camouflage or military style clothing. Here is a list of recommendations:

Good quality sunglasses with good UV protection – preferably polarized

Bush hat

T-shirt and long sleeve cotton shirt

Shorts

Long pants

Underwear and socks

Walking shoes (sneakers are fine)

Flip flops or light slip on shoes

Sweater/jersey

Jacket (fleece is good) – essential for cold mornings

Swimsuit

Water proof jacket if you are travelling in the rainy season

Camera equipment

Binoculars

A good flashlight

Anti malarial tablets

Basic medical kit (aspirin, band aids, antiseptic cream, antihistamine, rehydration sachets, Imodium)

Soap

Sunblock

Lip balm

Moisturizing cream

Insect repellent

Personal toiletries, tissues and wet wipes and small amount of washing powder for underwear

Towel (optional as towels will be provided)

If you wear contact lenses we recommend taking a pair of glasses in case of eye irritation from dust

A small backpack or waist bag for use on walks and game drives

Will laundry facilities be available on safari?

Most camps offer laundry facilities but this is often limited due to water restrictions. Underwear is not included in the laundry service due to local traditions.

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

15kg on Malawi safari

20kg on Botswana safari, Namibia safari, South Africa safaris and Zambia safari

20kg on Kenya 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 it is advisable to check that your insurance covers you for medical costs in the unlikely event that you incur them, and repatriation is necessary. Remember you will need to take the details with you.

What type of food is served on safari?

The quality of food served on safari is outstanding and most visitors are very impressed with both 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. If you have any special dietary requirements make sure you inform the camp in advance.

Is the water in Africa safe to drink?

Tap water is safe to drink in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe (if you would prefer to drink bottled water it will always be available.) It is best to drink bottled water in the rest of Africa.

Are the animals dangerous?

Wild animals are naturally unpredictable and their behavior can never be 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. In the interests of safety, you should never venture out alone, especially at night – always consult with your guide. Your armed guides have a prolific 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 safari activities.

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 cell phone coverage in Africa?

Cell phone coverage is not guaranteed, especially in the remote areas. If you need to take your cell phone with you, please have respect for other guests. In most hotels, camps and lodges, cell 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 cell 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 then distribute the gratuities amongst the staff. As a rough estimate you can tip US$5 to $10 for each traveler per day at each camp or lodge. Tipping at restaurants is usually 10%.

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 traveler’s check or credit card (credit card use may be restricted in small towns and rural areas.) In South Africa the local currency (the Rand) is the preferred currency. 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 travelers checks 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.

Is there electricity at the camps?

Remote camps and lodges do not have access to electricity; they rely on generators and solar power. The generators usually run in the morning and afternoons when guests are on activities to ensure 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.

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