Use a good mosquito spray
Make sure the mosquito spray you have with you is high in DEET. It is important to cover up and to apply the spray regularly in the evenings every 1-2 hours for full protection, even if it says ‘lasts up to 4 hours’ on the bottle. Wrist and ankle bands soaked in DEET may provide additional protection if you are susceptible to bites.
Drink plenty of water
If you are not used to a hot environment it is easy to become dehydrated so always carry a bottle of water with you.
Carry a small first aid pack
Plasters, bandages and antiseptic spray and wipes are great for any bumps and bruises you may pick up along the way.
Get the right vaccinations
Make sure you consult your doctor or travel clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel to check which vaccinations you might need.
Malaria is the most common serious ailment affecting both residents and visitors to many parts of Africa. Seek professional medical advice as to if you need them and which tablets are most suitable for you. The tablets will probably offer good protection but you must also remember to use a good mosquito spray to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Your rooms or tents may have mosquito nets or gauze net protection on the windows, so it is not generally not necessary to bring a separate mosquito net unless you plan to sleep outside ‘under the stars’ (in which case you are recommended to bring one).
Most governments offer travel advisory services on current safety issues and warnings.
U.K. citizens see www.fco.gov.uk
Australia citizens see www.smartraveller.gov.au
N.Z. citizens see www.safetravel.govt.nz
U.S. citizens see www.travel.state.govInsurance
It is vital that you are insured for your travels so as to cover you should you become ill, injured or lose belongings while you are away.
It is vital you bring your insurance certificate and policy booklet on tour .Please ensure you have cover for the full period of travel and that this is shown on the certificate.
EBOLA IN AFRICA
Africa is a huge continent, containing 47 different countries (not counting the surrounding island nations). It is over 7000km from north to south. “We’re going to Africa” is therefore a very vague description of destination. It’s like saying we’re going to Asia. A good first step is to pull out a map of Africa and look at where the current outbreak of Ebola is found:
The countries affected at the moment are all in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has had one case that was identified on an inbound flight. Subsequently, all flights from affected areas have been cancelled and all countries in the region (including South Africa) are on high alert and have stepped up measures to screen travelers and identify possible victims.
We are certainly not downplaying the crisis and this is without doubt the worst Ebola outbreak in history, with over 700 deaths so far since February. But cancelling a trip to South Africa makes just as much sense as cancelling a trip to Spain because of Ebola. In fact, Spain is closer to the epicenter of the outbreak than South Africa is. All the popular safari destinations in Southern and East Africa remain unaffected by the Ebola outbreak. There is absolutely no reason to cancel your safari trip now. The biggest risk as a traveller right now is that you might have an elevated temperature due to the common flu or cold, and are then quarantined at the airport as a precaution.
HOW IS EBOLA SPREAD?
This is an important question to help asses the risk. Thankfully and significantly, Ebola is not an airborne virus. It is spread through direct person-to-person contact, and contact with body fluids of infected persons – blood, saliva and other secretions. This means that the risk for ordinary travelers remains low, even in high risk areas, as long as you take basic precautions and avoid intimate contact with others.
South Africa is not only an interesting mix of cultures, but also of third world and first world conditions. While many people unfortunately still live in third world conditions, the infrastructure in South Africa is very much first world, and the public health system is good. The department of health is very conservative when it comes to public health policy and disease prevention. For example, South Africa was the first country to require yellow fever vaccines for travellers arriving from Zambia, after a part of western Zambia was reclassified from “vaccine not recommended” to “vaccine generally not recommended” a few years ago. A minor change by the WHO, but the health department responded swiftly and firmly with new regulations (considered unnecessary by many). South Africa also has world class airports with excellent screening, medical and quarantine facilities.
There is no Ebola in South Africa or any of its neighboring countries. Unfortunately, when panic sets in the facts are not always considered in the decision making.
A few things worth considering next time you and your camera find the time to get out in nature.
BE READY Prepare your camera settings for the conditions in advance of any action. You never know what will happen next so give yourself the best chance of capturing the shot!
BE PATIENT If you’ve been waiting for long periods without much action hold out for longer. I’ve seen people waiting in hides for 10 minutes and then moving on feeling that it wasn’t worth the wait. Get comfortable and take hours – it will be worth it!
BE FAMILIAR WITH YOUR DESTINATION Do your research and set your goals. If you know what you want, even if it’s very general, it will help you when deciding on good locations for your photography. Also, remember to chat with people who are familiar with an area, they will surely be able to offer good advice.
DON’T CHASE THE GAME In reserves where driving is the norm, try to find a hide or a good location to park and wait for the action to come to you. When theanimals are comfortable with your presence or don’t know you’re there, you will get great natural behaviour shots.
BE OPEN MINDED If you appreciate and develop an understanding of nature in general you will start to spot opportunities in unlikely places, fuelling your potential and giving great practice and experience.
GET CREATIVE Try new things. You might find that you get a lot of lousy shots, but an occasional gem will make it worthwhile. It’s how we progress and come up with unique styles and maybe even those winning shots!
TRAVEL WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE It is really important, if you plan to spend extended periods waiting, that everyone you are with has similar intentions. People may lose patience quickly and someone will have to compromise – most likely you.
BE CRITICAL You will always be your own harshest critic – it’s a good thing! Review your images think about what you did and how you might improve them if you could have the opportunity again. I look back at many early images that were great at the time and I can see the improvement now; and will no doubt look back at my current images and think the same again.
QUALITY Shoot the highest quality you are able and RAW if your camera allows. RAW will take the most memory space per shot, but also gives high quality and flexibility in post processing. If it means buying extra memory cards then do it. It is so disappointing to take a great image and then find your quality setting was too low for commercial purposes.
ENJOY YOURSELF You won’t get every shot. So relax, just enjoy the experience and watching the animals doing their thing. Put in the time and great opportunities will keep on coming.
What to Pack
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS & MONEY
– Travel Voucher Pre tour Accommodation Vouchers
– Insurance details
– Emergency Contact details
– Spending Money
– Credit card
Day pack or small bag
Camera, charger, memory sticks
Most people make the mistake of bringing too much! Clothes should be easy to launder and reasonably hard wearing. Avoid nylon and other synthetics which can be uncomfortable in the hot weather. Africa, however, can also be much colder than you may think, especially at night. Bring warm clothes and a jacket. Morning game drives in open vehicles can be pretty chilly until the sun rises. This applies particularly if travelling in southern Africa in the southern winter months (Jun – Aug)
SUGGESTED CLOTHING LIST:
Hat, cap, beanie
Sunglasses and case
Quick dry t-shirts and sweatshirts
Warm & waterproof lightweight jacket
Sarong – doubles as skirt, beach towel,
Trainers/ pumps or sturdy boot with ankle support for hiking
Flip flops/ thongs/ or sandals
Western brands may be available.
Toothbrush and paste
Moisturiser or after sun
A nation of spectacular natural beauty, friendly people and rich culture, Zimbabwe’s status as one of Africa’s leading safari destinations was dampened for years by its political instability. But now that the country is transcending its strife and returning to a state of equilibrium, it is once again emerging as a vacation highlight of the continent. Victoria Falls – known to locals as ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ – is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the sheer power of this massive body of water plunging into the Zambezi Gorge is awe-inspiring and unforgettable. Lake Kariba, with its game-rich shores and islands, is an idyllic safari spot featuring mind-blowing sunsets; Hwange National Park is known for its huge herds of elephants; and a kayak trip down the Zambezi through the Mana Pools National Park will appeal to the intrepid traveller, providing close encounters with crocodiles, hippos and a host of other wildlife.
Banking and Currency
The Zimbabwean Dollar was the official currency of Zimbabwe from 1980 to April 12, 2009. The Zimbabwean Dollar was abandoned early 2009, but was reintroduced in 2019. Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD; symbol Z$) = 100 cents. Notes in denominations of Z$200,000, 100,000, 50,000, 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Coins are in denominations of Z$5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 cents. Zimbabwe has adopted a multi-currency scheme; the US Dollar and South African Rand is accepted and can be used for domestic transactions, be it at an agreed exchange rate.
Banks in Zimbabwe are open for business Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 08h00 to 15h00, on Wednesdays from 08h00 to 13h00 and Saturdays from 08h00 to 11h30. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Only VISA and MasterCard are accepted in Zimbabwe, however it should be noted that very limited facilities will have credit card machines, and the connection is not always reliable so it is advisable to carry cash as back up.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Taxis are safe and reliable, and can be booked through your hotel front desk. Taxis in cities travel within a 40km radius of the city. Always take a taxi at night.
Major airlines fly into Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo. Charter flights are available to most attractions and camps.
Zimbabwe has a good road infrastructure, by African standards, although potholed. Between major towns, there are frequent road blocks. Traffic drives on the left side of the road.
If you are driving yourself around Zimbabwe, be sure to check on fuel availability in advance. If you are covering long distances within the country, ensure you carry extra fuel in 5 or 10lt metal containers in case of emergency. Fuel is generally available, but supply can fluctuate. Fuel is only available for cash.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Zimbabwe's native cuisine is based on sadza, a cooked porridge made from ground maize which is normally accompanied by some tasty relish, perhaps made of meat and tomatoes, or dried fish. Safari camps will often prepare sadza if requested, and it is almost always available in small restaurants in the towns.
Camps, hotels and lodges that cater to overseas typically serve a variety international fare, and the quality of food prepared in the most remote bush camps is usually excellent.
If you are driving yourself around and plan to cook, then get most of your supplies in main towns. There are a number of South African shopping chains operating in Zimbabwe which will generally have all that you will need.
Water in the main towns is usually purified.. The locals drink it, and are used to the relatively innocuous bugs that it may harbour. If you are in the country for a long time, then it may be worth acclimatising yourself to it. However, if you are in Zimbabwe for just a short period of time, then try to drink only bottled, boiled, or treated water available in towns and from all camps, lodges and hotels.
Climate and Weather
In Zimbabwe, the rains come principally in December, January,February and March; the further north you are, the earlier the precipitation arrives and the later it leaves. Zimbabwe's higher eastern areas usually receive more rainfall than the lower-lying western ones.
By April and May most of the rain is gone, leaving a verdant setting, which is starting to dry out. Especially in more southerly and higher locations, the night-time temperatures start to drop.
The nights in June, July and August become much cooler, so don't forget to bring some warmer clothes, in case you want to spend an evening outside; the days are still clear and warm. For Zimbabwe, this is the start of the 'peak season'– days are often cloudless and game sightings continually increase.
Into September and October the temperatures rise once again: Zimbabwe's lower-lying rift valley – Mana Pools – can get very hot in October. During this time, you'll see some fantastic game, as the Zimbabwe's wildlife concentrates around the limited water sources.
November is unpredictable; it can be hot and dry, it can also see the season's first rainfalls – and in this respect it's a very interesting month, as on successive days, you can see both weather patterns.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
When in Zimbabwe the cardinal rule is to wear casual, comfortable clothes during the day as temperatures can get very hot. It is advisable to wear light loose-fitting clothing, such as cotton or linen, as they are cool and easy to wash. Warmer clothes are advised for the evenings and rainwear for the wet season.
A brimmed hat and sunglasses are a good idea year-round. Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers will also guard against the scorching sun rays. It is recommended you wear light shoes, especially if your itinerary entails a lot of walking.
For safaris, please remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Earth colour clothes, such as browns, greens and tans are advisable.
Internet availability is very limited especially outside of the major cities.
Most holiday accommodation venues offer internet and/or WiFi (free or paid) to their guests but there are often disruptions in service.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electrical sockets in the Republic of Zimbabwe are Type G (BS-1363) and Type C (CEE 7/16 Europlug) and Type D (BS-546). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.
Electrical sockets usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.
One of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth, South Africa, fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', boasts 11 official languages, and its inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of cultures. Discover the gourmet restaurants, impressive art scene, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches of Cape Town; enjoy a local braai (barbecue) in the Soweto township; browse the bustling Indian markets in Durban, or sample some of the world’s finest wines at the myriad wine estates dotting the Cape Winelands. Some historical attractions to explore include the Zululand battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town. Above all else, its untamed wilderness is astonishing: wildlife roams freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Banking and Currency
The currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. There are R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 notes. Coins come in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.
Banks are found in most towns, and are generally open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays (Closed Sundays and Public Holidays). Most of them offer foreign exchange services - with cash, bank & credit cards as well as travellers cheques. You can also obtain cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs). Several international banks have branches in the main city centres. Always advise your bank that you are travelling outside of the country as they might block your purchases if they are not informed.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Travelling around South Africa is relatively easy by air, road and rail.
Several airlines operate domestic routes with regular links between Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, George, Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth and relatively frequent flights to several smaller towns and cities too.
An extensive tarred road system makes travelling in South Africa by vehicle convenient and easy. You will find gravel roads in rural areas though. Please note that a valid international driver's licence is required. We drive on the left-hand side of the road. Most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa and Uber is available.
Another means of getting around South Africa are inter-city bus services. Metrobus buses are available for in-city transport. Metered taxis must be ordered by telephone.There is the popular MyCityBus system in Cape Town as well as a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The rail system includes the long-haul, inexpensive Shosholoza Meyl Metrorail trains and some more luxurious options are available. There is also the Gautrain rapid transit railway system in Gauteng Province.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety in South Africa, are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots. Tap water in South Africa is safe to drink and cook with when taken from taps in urban areas. Not all tap water in rural areas is safe for consumption, so take precautions if necessary.
It is safe to eat fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, and put ice in your drinks. South Africa's fish, meat and chicken are of excellent quality, so there is no need to limit yourself when enjoying the local cuisine.
Restaurants are subject to South Africa's food safety control legislation, which is implemented by local government. Regulations include certification and regular inspections by health inspectors to ensure hygienic standards are maintained.
Street food is not as common in South Africa as it is in other countries, although vendors selling traditional snacks and meals can be found in city centres and townships. Food safety in such instances cannot always be guaranteed.
Climate and Weather
South African temperatures, which are measured in centigrade, average at highs of 28°C to average lows of 8°C in the summer months while winter temperatures range from 1°C at night to around 18°C in the day. Average annual rainfall is on the low side at under 500mm a year, making the country somewhat dry. Much of the rain falls in the Western Cape in the winter, differing from the rest of the country, which experiences summer rainfall. On the plus side, the South African climate boasts more than its fair share of sunshine, recording an average of 8.5 hours a day.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
Bring clothes that are cool, light and comfortable because summer temperatures can get well into the 30 - 40 degree Celsius range in some areas. Also bring an umbrella or raincoat during summer as this is when most of the country gets its rain, but don't forget a swimming costume (bathing suit).
The winters are generally mild, comparing favourably with European summers. But there are days when temperatures dive, especially in high-lying areas such as the Drakensberg, so be prepared with jerseys and jackets. Cape Town gets its rain during the winter season so it’s advisable to bring rain gear along.
Always bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock as the sun can be strong even in the winter months.
Walking shoes are a good idea all year-round, with warm socks in the winter.
If you are doing business in the country, business attire (suit and tie) is generally called for in the corporate sector, but media for example generally dress more casually.
For game viewing, a couple of neutral-toned items will be useful, but there's no need to go overboard. A good pair of walking shoes is also advisable.
For the evening, if you are dining at an upmarket restaurant or seeing a show, smart-casual attire is recommended.
Most accommodation offer Wifi (free or paid) in their business centres, rooms or restaurants. Internet cafes are found in most business areas and shopping malls. In addition, some South African restaurants offer WiFi access (free or paid).
There are also outlets such as PostNet that offer internet, fax and postage facilities.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electrical sockets in the Republic of South Africa are Type M (SABS-1661). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.
Electrical sockets in South Africa usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.