Essential Travel Tips

Please note some points may not be applicable dependant on the type and style of safari that you will be taking. The essential thing to remember is to travel light!

Passports and Visas

Travellers arriving in Africa are required to have permanent passports that will be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival and contain at least two blank Visa pages for affixing visas and arrival stamps.

What to Wear

Light cotton clothing is normally the most comfortable. Dress code is casual on most occasions and for visits to restaurants as well as hotels smart-casual dress is acceptable. At beach resorts and safari destinations, shorts and open-neck shirts are acceptable at restaurants during the day with long trousers preferred in the evening.

Dressing for Safari

On safari it is best to wear clothes of neutral and natural shades that blend better with the natural surroundings of the African bush. For the duration of your stay on safari, the dress code is informal and casual. You will not be required to dress up for evening meals during your stay. Most people wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and put on long sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening for warmth as well as protection from mosquitos. Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun, a loose cotton shirt is essential during the day.

White is not a suitable colour for safari, as it increases your visibility to the wildlife you want to get a closer look at and it will get dirty quickly. A fleece or sweater or a windbreaker for game drives will be required as it is highly likely that you may go out on a hot day but be faced with a chilly evening on your return. Remember that layering your clothing will keep you warmer than relying on one thick item. The advantage of layering is that in the mornings you can dress warm for the early morning drives, (which can be chilly due to open air vehicles and wind chill factor) and then as it warms up the layers come off. The reverse of this is applicable to the evening drives where you dress for the warmth of the afternoon but take layers with you to put on and keep warm as the evening starts to chill.

You might be on your feet a lot during the trip and walking over some rough and slippery surfaces. We recommend you wear sturdy walking shoes or similar supportive sports shoes that offer good traction. We also recommend you bring a pair of rubberized sandals for wearing around the lodge and general warm weather use.

The Sun

You should not underestimate the dangers of the African sun. Hats, sun screen and sun glasses are strongly recommended.

Medications

Do not forget to visit your doctor before you travel. You will probably receive inoculations and preventative medication for malaria. Make sure you bring these and a good supply of any medications you take on a regular basis with you. Make a list of any medications, including their strengths, and carry the list in a separate place in the event your bag gets lost.

If you suffer from motion sickness, do not forget to use your preferred medication – patch or tablets.

Packing

Recommended packing lists can be found below. Each person is allowed one soft sided bag and one day pack (with cameras, suntan lotion, etc.) while on safari. The bag and carry-on luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs) in Southern Africa and 15kgs (33lbs) in East Africa. Should internal flights be part of the itinerary, bag weights are strictly enforced. If your bag exceeds the specified limit, you will be required to pay for an additional seat on the flight – rate on request. When packing, think about the possibility that your international airline might delay your luggage and consider what you need in the event this happens. Carry those items in your carry-on bag.

It is important that travellers reconfirm with their airline on what is allowed in carry-on luggage.

Most lodges and safari camps offer laundry as part of their service. Hotels all offer laundry at an additional cost. Your bag should be soft sided and similar to the pictures below:

Men’s Clothing (Suggestions, but should be adjusted depending on the length of stay)

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes that would be appropriate for a nice restaurant
  • 1 pair of sturdy shoes or boots for hiking
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 3-4 pairs of socks
  • 1 nicer long slacks for use in restaurants
  • 1-2 pair of long casual trousers
  • 1-2 pair of shorts
  • 1-2 belts
  • 1-2 swimming suits
  • 3-4 pair underwear
  • 3-4 golf/tee shirts
  • 2 long sleeve casual shirts
  • 1 dress shirt
  • 1 sweater and light jacket / windbreaker
  • 1 rain poncho
  • 1- 2 Hats with a brim for sun protection (baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck)
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • Prescription glasses if used, with back-up pair suggested (contact lenses get scratchy due to lots of dust)
  • WINTER MONTHS: From June to August you will need a pair of gloves, a beanie and a thick warm jacket.

Women’s Clothing (Suggestions, but should be adjusted depending on the length of stay)

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes that would be appropriate for a nice restaurant
  • 1 pair of sturdy shoes or boots for hiking
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 3-4 pair of socks
  • 1 nicer skirt for use in restaurants
  • 1-2 pair of long casual trousers
  • 1-2 pair of shorts
  • 1-2 belts
  • 1-2 swimming suit
  • 3-4 pair underwear
  • 1 sports bra (recommended during game drives over bumpy roads)
  • 3-4 casual short sleeve blouses
  • 2 long sleeve casual blouses
  • 1 sweater and light jacket / windbreaker
  • 1 rain poncho
  • A sarong or kikoi type garment
  • 1- 2 Hats with a brim for sun protection (baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck)
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • Prescription glasses if used, with back-up pair suggested (contact lenses get scratchy due to lots of dust)
  • WINTER MONTHS: From June to August you will need a pair of gloves, a beanie and a thick warm jacket.

Essentials

  • Toilet kit. The safari lodges and hotels you will be staying at provide high quality amenities including shampoos, soap and shower gel.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and shaving cream
  • Insect repellent if you have any allergies. The safari lodges supply good quality insect repellents.
  • Hand wipes or ‘Baby wipes’
  • Stuff-sacks or plastic packets; to compartmentalise items within your travel bag
  • Repair kit: needle and thread, nylon cord, rip-stop tape
  • Sunscreen or block with a high level of protection
  • Moisturizer, lip balm
  • Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, antihistamine cream, aspirin, Immodium etc)
  • Vitamins that you might normally take

Accessories

Some other things you might consider for your trip:

  • Binoculars – the best you can afford
  • Good quality sunglasses plus protective case
  • Camera and memory card. Don’t forget your battery charger.
  • Spare batteries. Memory cards and batteries can generally be obtained at lodges, but at a price. Please be sure to have sufficient supplies for your needs. You will use 2 or 3 times more than you anticipate!
  • Pens, paper, journal
  • A good novel or two (keep weight at a minimum) or your Kindl, iPod or iPad.
  • For those interested, it is advisable to bring your own birding and animal identification books for reference whilst out on safari (but sold at most airports, hotels and safari lodges)
  • Zip-Lock type bags to keep the dust and moisture out of belongings and keep your wet swimsuit in
  • Money belt or similar. The best is a pouch that fits in the front inside your shirt or trousers.
  • Most of the hotels and safari lodges now offer Wi-Fi at least in the common areas.

Check-in Baggage for Departure out of O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg)

In order to increase operational efficiency and on-time performance for luggage processing, O.R. Tambo International Airport has embarked on an awareness campaign through a soft launch to enable departing passengers to comply with acceptable baggage restrictions. Round bags, bags with long hanging straps and those without flat surfaces are the largest sources of jams in the baggage handling system, causing shutdowns, delays and inconvenience to passengers and airlines.

The acceptable baggage rules are:

  1. Only regular-shaped bags will be allowed at check-in counters.
  2. Bags must have at least one flat surface to be accepted.
  3. Bags with long hanging straps will not be accepted for check-in. Passengers will be requested to secure or remove straps before checking in.
  4. Round bags will not be allowed at check-in counters.

To comply:

  • Passengers may visit a baggage-wrapping station at O.R Tambo International Airport to wrap their bags at a standard cost per bag
  • All costs required to make an irregular bag compliant to the requirements will be for the passenger’s account.

*Note: This rule only applies to passengers departing out of O.R. Tambo International Airport. The normal rules for hand luggage are still applicable.

Back Up Copies
Travellers should make copies of their passports, visas (if purchased in advance), itineraries, emergency contact numbers, names of prescription medication together with the actual prescription from your doctor and other important information and carry the backup copies in a separate place or have a travelling companion carry them.

Arriving in Africa

Airports

Most airports in Africa are smaller than those in other continents and may not offer the same services found at home. Many do not have jet ways. Immigration
Travellers arriving from overseas must comply with immigration formalities on arrival. Travellers going between African countries need to complete immigration formalities. Landing cards are generally provided by the airline in advance and must be completed for each traveller.

Customs

On arrival, travellers must also pass through customs. Tourists generally are not questioned; however, customs officials have the right to inspect all luggage. Patience and courtesy are important.

Arrival Delays

Should events such as missed or delayed flights mean that a traveller will arrive late, the traveller should contact Journey Beyond on +27 (0)82 856 1937 as soon as possible so arrangements can be made.

Lost Luggage

Should a traveller arrive without their luggage, a report must be filed with the airline before leaving the airport. If the bag has been locked, it is important that keys and combinations be left with the airline so they can open and clear it with customs. Once luggage has been located, we will work with the airline to help the bag catch up with the traveller. Should there be any costs for forwarding luggage, the traveller must meet those costs and recover them from their insurance or airline.

Health, Safety and Security

Health

To help overcome the effects of long flights, we suggest drinking a lot of fluids including juice and bottled water. Should you feel ill during your trip, let your driver-guide or local representative know.

Safety and Security in Cities

If you are staying in a town or city during your trip, you should ask for advice from the local representative or hotel staff concerning safe places to visit. Walking at night is not recommended. Taxis should be arranged by the hotel and a price agreed before starting the trip. We suggest you do not wear expensive jewellery at any time during your trip.

Safety and Security on Safari

During the safari, the driver-guide will offer instructions concerning safety. This includes advising travellers when it is safe to exit the vehicle. At lodges and camps, the staff will often escort guests to and from the rooms to ensure safety. Remember that wild animals can be dangerous.

Inoculations, Malaria Prevention and other illnesses

All travellers should consult their doctors before travel and get advice as to the appropriate medications and inoculations for their safari. It is important that travellers take their medications as instructed for the full duration indicated.

Money and Tipping

What to Carry

Our safaris generally include most costs. The exception can be certain meals, beverages, laundry and items of a personal nature such as telephone calls. Tips to the hotel staff, camp crews and driver-guides are also not included. How much to carry depends on individual tastes and needs. Someone who likes champagne and cognac will certainly need to bring more money than someone content with a bottle of water and a slice of lime.

The same is true with gift purchases. Some travellers may be happy with a few small carved animals where others might purchase gemstones or large intricate carvings. The amount you carry depends on what you feel you will purchase. It is best that you bring a mix of smaller and larger notes. Many places offer a better rate of exchange for larger bills, but sometimes lodges cannot change larger bills and can only deal with smaller notes.

Though travellers’ cheques offer security, they are not accepted by all establishments and many businesses impose fees for accepting them. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many locations, but you may be charged a fee. ATMs are available in most larger towns and cities. Your bank may charge a fee for using an international ATM. Money is issued in local currency from ATMs.

Tipping

Service staff in Africa depend on tips as part of their livelihood. However, we recommend that tipping be based on the quality of service provided. As a guideline, hotel porters get about $1 per bag carried each way. Restaurant staff and bar waiters might be tipped at 10% – 15% of the value of the meals or beverages purchased. Transfer drivers at $2 per person per transfer. Safari lodge general staff at $10 – $20 per day per room. Driver-guides and rangers are with you the most and tips to them generally amount to $10 to $20 per person per day.

General

During Game Drives

In many cases, the ranger will switch off the engine when closely observing wildlife on game drives. This is both to create a quieter and vibration free environment for observation and to save fuel.

Litter

We request that litter is never thrown from vehicles. This includes bits of food such as banana peels.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle operated by our suppliers. Smokers will have opportunities for breaks during their trip, but it is imperative that no lit matches or cigarettes be left behind. An accidental brush fire in the bush could cause grave damage to the environment and wildlife.

Photography

Our safaris often provide amazing opportunities for photographers to capture some remarkable images. We ask travellers to respect the privacy of people they encounter during their trip. In some places, it is permitted to take photographs of people in tribal dress such as organised visits to African Traditional villages. In some cases, a “negotiation” of a small fee is required before you can take photographs. Always negotiate before taking the photos. The driver-guides will be happy to assist.

Cultural Considerations

Where possible, we try to reduce the impact of visitors on local cultures and customs.

Children

Many visitors like to bring gifts for the local children. It is more than likely that the children will be encountered during the trip and that they will look to visitors to share gifts with them. Confectionery is not a good idea. Gifts such as school supplies or clothes are much better options.

We also suggest that gifts and donations be made through local schools and orphanages. This gives travellers a chance to help the local community without reinforcing the culture of begging. We have contacts with excellent organisations that can make sure the children with the most need get the benefit of visitors’ generosity.

Street Beggars

We do not recommend that travellers give anything to street beggars and street children encountered in the towns and cities.