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
This vast country is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth. Fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', South Africa has 11 official languages and its multicultural 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 remarkably untamed wilderness with its astonishing range of wildlife roaming freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world-famous Kruger National Park. With all of this variety on offer, it is little wonder that South Africa has fast become Africa’s most popular tourist destination.
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.
Principal air routes are serviced by SAA and British Airways. There are also low-cost carriers on main routes, namely Kulula.com, Mango and Safair. Facilitating travel around South Africa are 10 airports managed by the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa). In addition, there are some 90 regional airports, including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit and the Skukuza Airport, offering access to the Kruger National Park.
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 such as Greyhound and Trans-Lux. 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. More luxurious options are the Blue Train, Premier Classe and the steam train Rovos Rail. There is also the Gautrain rapid transit railway system in Gauteng Province llinking Sandton and Marlboro to the O.R.Tambo International Airport and a Commuter Service linking Rhodesfield, Marlboro, and Sandton (east-west link) and Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Central and Hatfield (north-south link). All stations with the exception of the Airport station have integrated car parking facilities.
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.
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.