1. Is it possible to store luggage at O.R. Tambo International Airport while we are on safari?
Yes. The Lock-up-Luggage is in Terminal 2 in the basement below International Arrivals at O.R. Tambo International Airport. The charge is approximately US$35 per item per week, or US$5 per day. There are also storage facilities at the airports in Cape Town, Durban and Windhoek. This facility can also be arranged through Tembelani Safaris prior to arrival.
2. Who will meet us at the airport?
You will be greeted by a uniformed member of the Tembelani Team, who will be easily spotted under our Tembelani welcome sign. For your own safety, please do not leave the arrivals area with anyone else.
3. What medical and travel insurance do you recommend?
We strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance when confirming your booking. This should cover any medical situation (such as hospitalization), as well as cancellation or curtailment of arrangements and loss of your baggage.
At some lodges, hotel and safari camps, you might be covered by their emergency evacuation insurance. This provides emergency medical services/evacuation to hospital should you suffer either sever illness or injury at one of their lodges.
As this is for emergency evacuation only, it does not cover the cost of treatment once in hospital and in no way replaces your normal travel insurance, which must be purchased prior to travel.
See that your insurance covers you for private hospitalization med-vac to get there. Carry your emergency numbers with you and see that they are valid locally and that your insurer knows what country you will be travelling to.
4. What medical supplies are available?
In the towns and cities in South Africa, There is good access to medical supplies, both or the basics in the supermarkets and through hospitals, doctors and chemists. However, if you are on chronic medication, especially if you are going further north in Southern Africa, then it is better to come prepared with all the medication you will need.
Carry a copy of your medical prescription if you are on chronic medication.
5. What medical vaccinations do we require?
Apart from large portions of South Africa, most parts of Africa are malaria areas and it is recommended that travellers see their doctors, prior to travel, for a course of Anti Malaria prophylactics.
When travelling to Zambia, Kenya or Tanzania, you will require a recent yellow fever inoculation, and travellers travelling to or via South Africa, Botswana or Zimbabwe and coming from a yellow fever region (e.g. Zambia) must also be inoculated against yellow fever.
Please refer to the CDC website for more information on vaccines: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/south-africa.htm#vaccines
6. What precautions should we take against malaria?
While we will alert you if you are going to be entering a known malaria area, it is wise to ensure that you are immunised against the illness before you come to Africa. Prophylaxis provides prevention against malaria; however, no immunisation is 100% proof. In many areas mosquitos have developed immunity to Chloroquine, so it is a good idea to check with your medical practitioner before you leave.
7. Where can I find an ATM?
ATMs are found throughout major city centers and shopping complexes in most of Africa.
8. Can I use my credit card in Africa?
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in most restaurants, shops and hotels in South Africa, as well as in most large cities throughout the continent. Diners Club and American Express may not be accepted outside South Africa. Proof of identification may be required when paying by credit card, so be sure to carry some form of photo identification at all times. In East Africa park fees can only be paid using cash or traveller’s cheques.
9. Do shops in Africa take international bank cards and, if not, where is the best place to get local currency?
Shops in all the major cities and towns take credit and debit cards from most banks around the world. You can also pay by card at some of the larger lodges. However you may need cash in some places, and you can draw it from ATM machines at any airport, before leaving town, or change at any of the Forex counters in the major banks or airports. Most tourist places in Africa accept US$.
10. What is the most suitable clothing to bring with us?
The most important items of clothing to take with you is peel-off type clothing and a rain-proof jacket. Bearing in mind that you cannot carry much luggage on safari due to space and weight restrictions, it is as well that the days are generally warm when on safari. Shorts and t-shirts in neutral colours – brown, beige, olive or khaki – are ideal, along with a comfortable pair of practical walking shoes. You can also bring a pair of flip flops for around the camp. High heels are not recommended. Evenings can be cold so long trousers, a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket are necessary. These will also protect you from the mosquitos which are abundant in the early evening.
11. What is the ideal luggage size and weight?
Small hand luggage size bags are preferred for taking on safari. The light aircraft that often transport you into the camps have a maximum weight of 20-40lb (10 – 20kg) per passenger which limits what you can, and cannot, bring with you. A soft bag or rucksack is the best type of luggage as hard suitcases are bulky and can cause a problem when packing light aircraft or safari vehicles.
Please note: The internal flight restrictions on baggage are much less than that on international flights so please try to travel light. It is possible to leave luggage at a lodge in Johannesburg, but you will need to make sure that the luggage you want to take on safari does not go over the weight limit of the internal flights.
12. What type of camera and lens are recommended to take on Safari?
A good quality 35mm camera with a wide angle or telephoto lens will get you some fantastic memory shots. If you are looking for something more professional, make sure you bring a camera that is light weight and not too bulky. A ‘point-and-shoot’ camera is also very useful and make sure you have a back-up battery with you.
13. How much camera memory will be needed on a full safari?
You will not be able to buy memory cards while on safari, so make sure you bring as much as you will need. 4 to 6 GB of data storage should be enough for a 21 day safari. Prepare to take several thousand pictures. Memory is very expensive in Africa.
14. What strength of binoculars should we carry with us?
Wide angle binoculars with a strong zoom and depth of view are a great addition to your safari viewing. Try to bring binoculars that are lightweight and not too bulky, especially if you are going to be doing any walking. It is best to have a pair of binoculars for each person.
15. Is it ok to take photos everywhere in Africa?
As always, it is courteous to be sensitive and ask permission before photographing people. In most African countries it is illegal to take photos of airports and military installations.
16. What plugs and chargers can be used on Safari?
South Africa’s electricity supply is 220/230 Volts and a round pin, three prong plug is used. This plug is not included in the World Travel Adapter kit, however, you can purchase an adapter at the airport or once you arrive in South Africa if you haven’t found one before you arrive. Please be aware that the US voltage is 110/120 Volts and make sure that your appliances have a universal voltage or that you have a suitable transformer. The standard voltage throughout Africa is 220V AC. South and Southern Africa make use of three-pronged round plugs, while a three-pronged square plug is used in East Africa.
17. Where can we shop for gifts and curios?
Most of the tourist towns have vendors selling gifts and curios; you will also find curio shops at most of the major resorts and lodges, in many hotels and at the airport. The airport shops will, of course, be the most expensive, but you should have ample curio/gift shopping time while in African towns or resorts. There is also curio shopping at Victoria Falls and the Johannesburg markets.
18. What is the dress code for the evenings?
Around the campfire in the boma a slightly more formal dress is expected. Long pants and button down shirts are preferred for men – you will find this prevents the mozzies from attacking too – and the equivalent in women’s clothing is requested. Your guides will follow the same dress code and you will find them ‘dressed up to the nines’, in their opinion, when you settling down for your evening dinner around the campfire.
19. Will I be able to buy memory cards or batteries for my camera?
Memory cards are available in most large cities and towns. However, the quality may vary and can also be expensive in Africa, so it is recommended that you bring your own. It is advisable to carry spare batteries for your camera, especially if your camera has a non-standard size battery. If your batteries are re-chargeable make sure that your charger is compatible with 220v electricity power supply.
20. What temperatures and weather can we expect while on safari?
While Africa does have four seasons, they are less obvious than those in the Northern hemisphere. Africa is guided by the wet seasons, when the rains come, and the dry seasons when the rains stop. In Southern Africa, which includes South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Namibia, the dry season lasts from April/May – which in the North would be classed as Autumn or Fall – to October when Spring sets in and temperatures start to rise. The wet season starts in about November along with the onset of summer and the humidity and heat cause deluges of rain which prevails until April or May. The coldest months are June and July during the dry season.
It is true that the dry season is colder, most of Southern Africa does not suffer from the extreme cold temperatures that the Northern hemisphere experiences. In fact, barring the freezing early hours of the morning, this time of year is usually very pleasant in Africa. For those who don’t enjoy the often overbearing heat of African summers, this can be an ideal time to spend here.
Don’t dismiss the wet season as a great time to explore Africa either. Although the idea of sitting cooped up under a tree while a tractor comes to pull your vehicle out of a muddy quagmire might be a bit off-putting, the truth is that African rain often comes in the form of a torrential late afternoon downpour, followed by clear skies, fresh, clean air, a vibrant, life-filled atmosphere and abundant wildlife out in the open.
There is something to be said for every season in Africa and choosing your moment depends very much on your preferences. Or you could try them all…
21. When are the summer and winter months, what is the difference in temperature in Southern African?
For South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, the seasons are as follows:
Spring – September to October – usually mild to warm – can be the hottest months in Botswana.
Summer – November to March – rains and thunder storms possible.
Autumn (Fall) – April to May
Winter – June to August – usually driest except for Western Cape / Cape Town (South Africa), which has winter rains. Temperatures can fall to 0°C and below in high lying and desert areas.
22. Please explain what safari tents are.
Safari tents differ slightly depending on what type of accommodation you are booked into. They are generally all made from sturdy canvas material with a waterproof roofing material over the top. In luxury tented camps you will commonly find a stone or concrete floor, one double or two three-quarter sized beds, beautiful décor, private facilities and a viewing deck.
23. Are the ablutions easily accessible or a fair way from the tents?
Luxury safari tents are equipped with en-suite ablution facilities including, in some places, private indoor and outdoor showers.
24. What does a typical day on safari entail?
It is very difficult to sleep late in the African bush, as the wildlife is up and about before dawn, so the day starts early for us too. After a light breakfast we set out on a 2-3 hour game drive during which refreshments are provided. We have an early lunch back at camp and then relax during the hottest part of the day when there is little activity from the wildlife and therefore not much to see. After tea we head out for some more game viewing followed by sundowners and snacks before a delectable dinner under the stars around a fire. The ambient music is provided by the wildlife orchestra.
25. What type of vehicles will take us on game drives and do they have adequate visibility for all passengers?
Open Land Rovers or other similar open 4X4 vehicles are used for game drives. These vehicles carry 6 or 7 passengers on 3 rows of tiered seating. This ensures that everyone has excellent visibility and the perfect photo will not be marred by a fellow passenger’s hat being in the way. In Kenya vehicles are closed.
26. Is it customary to tip, and how much should I give?
Please only tip if you feel the service warrants it, and use your common sense – there is no expectation for exorbitant tipping anywhere in Africa.
We recommend that you tender small amounts to hotel or lodge staff at the end of your stay.
When in doubt, please ask lodge managers for a tipping guideline. It is customary to tip 10% of the bill at all restaurants and 10% of the fare to taxi drivers.
27. How does gratuity work and what amount should we give lodge staff?
Tipping (gratuities) in Southern Africa is not compulsory, it is considered a thank you for good service. To follow is a guide line to assist you in placing the right value on a service tip.
Generally guides are tipped about U$ 5 – 8 .00 per guest per day as long as they have done a great job and offered you excellent service. Specialist guides who spend the entire safari with you might deserve about US$10 per guest per day.
You can tip camp staff about US$ 5 – 8 .00 per guest per day in the designated tipping box. This is then distributed equally amongst each of them when they are paid.
The Mokoro paddlers, in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, seem to put in a great effort in the hope of a tip and so their service is often second to none. They are very happy to receive US$ 3 – 6.00 per guest per day.
The guides that transfer you between accommodation and to and from airport can usually be tipped about US$ 2 – 5 .00.
As mentioned at the beginning, tipping is based solely on excellent service and should be paid at your discretion – it is not included in your bill.
28. How tiring is it being on safari?
Being on safari is an invigorating experience with early mornings, an abundance of fresh air and often slightly overwhelming heat – a good reason for the after lunch siesta – all of which can take their toll. However, even on an extensive 21 day safari you are given ample time to recharge your batteries – and those of your camera – in between activities. The guides that transfer you between accommodation and to and from the airport can usually be tipped about US$ 2 – 5 .00.
29. How do we go about washing our clothes?
There is usually a laundry facility at the lodges and camps that will take care of your laundry for you on a daily basis.
30. What medical supplies are available?
In the towns and cities in South Africa, there is good access to medical supplies, both for the basics in the supermarkets and through hospitals, doctors and chemists. However, if you are on chronic medication, especially if you are going further north in Southern Africa, then it is better to come prepared with all the medication you will need.
31. Do I need a visa to travel in Africa?
As a rule, it is very likely that you will need a visa to travel to your selected destination in Africa.
Citizens of some countries (particularly the Commonwealth), may be exempt when travelling to specific African countries. It is always a good idea to check visa requirements at your local embassy or consulate ahead of travel, as they do change quite frequently.
Although some countries may offer visas at the place of entry, travellers are encouraged to obtain these prior to travel in order to save time and money. When entering an African country, your passport should be valid for at least six months longer than the duration of your stay and must have enough blank pages for the visa and entry stamps.
32. What type and standard of accommodation will I encounter?
A wide variety of accommodation, from 5 Star lodges to luxury safari tents with en suites, bathrooms, can be encountered in most tourist hotspots throughout Africa. In the cities there are also award-winning boutique hotels and spa resorts.
However accommodation in lodges & National Parks, and other places where numbers of visitors are limited, can fill up quickly, particularly in high season, and it is recommended that you reserve all your accommodation as far in advance as possible.
33. Is Africa a good destination for travelling with children?
Africa is a great destination for traveling with children and you can be assured that all young travellers will receive the warmest welcome. Baby supplies are readily available and there is a good transportation network. Namibia is also an excellent self-drive destination for the whole family.
Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania present slightly greater challenges in terms of travel times, with frequent trips in small planes, and may be better suited to slightly older children. Many safari lodges throughout Africa cater for specific age groups and arrange exciting activities for children, although children under six are generally not permitted on game drives.
There are also a number of other adventures available, from beach holidays, boat rides and cruise, horse riding, surfing, hiking and many others.
34. Is tap water safe to drink in Africa?
Tap water in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa is purified and safe to drink, however, bottled water is also freely available. The water in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe is not safe to drink and it is recommended that you stick to bottled water or boil all water before drinking it.
35. What kinds of food will I be able to eat?
Most large cities in Africa offer a large variety of restaurants and cuisines from around the world.
Options in rural areas may be more limited, but most safari lodges and camps pride themselves on their cuisine, which may include variations on local specialities. Most places can cater for special diets, as long as they are given plenty advance warning.
36. Is it Safe to travel in Africa?
Africa is perfectly safe to visit, and the African people are renowned for their warm hospitality. As with any travel, it is a good idea to take the standard precautions. Keep your passport and valuables close at hand or safely locked away and don’t leave luggage unattended.
When travelling in town, check with your tour operator or hotel concierge to see if there are any areas that should be avoided.
Avoid wearing excessive jewellery when exploring Africa’s diverse cities and make use of concealed travel wallets. When driving through Africa, it is not recommended to stop for hitchhikers.
37. Is there internet or communication at the lodges?
Internet connectivity is slow in many places in Africa.
Guests travelling in South Africa should be able to dial up, unless they are at a game lodge or camp in one of the many wilderness areas, where connections may be slow or non-existent.
In most other African countries internet connections are only available in the larger towns.
38. Will I have cell phone reception in Africa?
When travelling in South Africa you should be able to get cell phone reception, unless you are at a game lodge or camps in one of the many wilderness areas. In most other African countries, cell phone connections are only available in and around the larger towns.
Guests are advised to check with their cell phone operator before travelling. Cell phone cards can be purchased in most towns and at the larger airports. There is Blackberry connectivity across South Africa and in most African capital cities (even Zanzibar and at the Ngorongoro Crater).
39. What currency is used in Africa, and where can I exchange money?
The currency varies according to the country that you are travelling in.
- In South Africa, the currency is the Rand.
- In Botswana it is the Pula.
- In Namibia it is the Namibian Dollar.
- Kenyan and Tanzanina Shillings are the legal tender in East Africa.
- Mozambican currency is the Metical.
- Zambian money is known as Kwacha.
- In Zimbabwe, US dollars are accepted as legal tender.
Foreign currencies such as the US dollar are also widely accepted in East Africa, although dollar bills dated before 2003 are usually not accepted.
Most international airports have banks where money can be changed and, in large cities, facilities are usually available at reputable hotels, lodges and at banks.
Please note: It is a good idea to change your money in advance if you are heading into more remote or rural areas.
40. What is the average size of a safari group?
We organise safaris for groups from individuals to a maximum of 12 people. We prefer to use the small and intimate bush camps that focus on luxury accommodation and personal service, and typically these do not cater for much larger groups.