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Africa provokes thoughts of liquid gold sunsets, thousands of wildebeest roaming the vast open plains, spectacular scenery and friendly people. The reality is that it is very different from most developed countries and that normally brings up a few questions. We have compiled information on Africa travel and listed below some of the questions frequently asked by our clients while planning their safari to Africa.

If you have any other questions or seek information on Africa, please do not hesitate to contact one of our safari specialists to assist you. They would gladly assist in planning your ideal safari holiday to Africa. Our travel experts are there to assist you with any further questions, quotes and bookings.


Is it safe to travel in Africa?

Southern and East Africa welcomes millions of international visitors year round and are safe destinations for travellers. However, it is wise to take certain standard security precautions while travelling. These precautions should be applied while travelling anywhere in the world. Following basic advice can avoid most potential problems.

Most safaris take place in remote wildlife areas and game reserves, away from villages, towns and cities. This means that you will most probably not find other people around, except those who look after your every need while on safari! The transfers (by road, air or water) between airports, hotels and lodges are operated by reputable companies or by the properties themselves. This means that you will not be unattended at any time during your safari.

A few tips to consider are the following: make photocopies of your passport, airline tickets, drivers license and other important documentation. Also keep a record of the numbers of your travellers cheques. These should be kept in a safe place. Rather leave expensive jewellery at home.

When in towns and cities, do not carry large amounts of cash in your pocket. Keep enough for the expenses of the day and place the rest in a safety deposit box at the hotel/lodge or money pouch under your shirt. Also be discreet with an expensive camera or jewellery. Take note of onlookers and keep your possessions in sight at all times to avoid opportunistic theft. Make use of your hotel safety deposit box for expensive items. Never leave baggage or personal items unattended, especially at airports. It is best not to wander around the streets after dark.

If you are travelling in a car (self drive safari), it is important to lock all the car doors and keep the windows as far up as possible. Plan ahead and know which route you intend to take using clear maps. When leaving your car, do not leave your purse or bag lying on the passenger seat in clear view - rather keep them in the car boot. Never pick up hitchhikers. South Africa and Namibia are ideal self-drive destinations.

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What's the easiest way to get to Africa?
Southern and East Africa can be reached by regular international flights to the major centres or by ocean cruise liner.

Once I'm there, how do I get around?
Public transport in the different countries includes rail, bus, minibus and ferry. Private transport available includes hired car, 4x4 vehicle or light aircraft. Self-drive is a convenient option for South Africa and Namibia.
Please note: The Safari Company discourages clients from using public transport.

What travel documents do I need?
All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. Nationals of certain countries do not require visas - this depends on the country you are visiting. It is advisable to check with the Consulate of the country you intend visiting for the latest visa and entry requirements. We assist our clients with information regarding the visa requirements for each destination visited.

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What are the roads like?
The best self-drive destinations in Africa are South Africa and Namibia for the simple reason that these two countries have well maintained and extensive road networks. Although Namibia has many gravel roads (untarred dirt roads), it is still easy to travel around. The Safari Company has excellent self-drive safaris for the independent traveller. Our in-depth knowledge of each destination ensures that you experience the real Africa on safari, even if you drive yourself. Most of the other destinations in southern and east Africa are better explored by an organised safari or fly-in safari.

Botswana: About 24% of highways are tarred. Rough, sandy and badly signposted tracks in reserves - 4x4 essential. The best way to visit these areas is by pre-booked mobile or fly-in safari to the many lodges and camps scattered sparsely across the national parks and private reserves. The Safari Company offers many different options to choose from.

Kenya: All major roads are tarred. Surface of lesser roads vary. Many roads only navigable by 4x4 in rainy season. Mostly fly-in safaris. Contact us for more information on safaris in Kenya.

Mozambique: About 19% of highways are tarred. The main road along the coast (EN1) is tarred and roads are constantly being upgraded. The main attraction is Bazaruto, easily reached by air.

Namibia: About 12% of highways are paved. Extremely good infrastructure of roads - two-wheel drive vehicle adequate for self-drive holiday.

South Africa: Roads well-maintained. A comprehensive road network across most of the country. Number of toll roads present. Good self-drive destination.

Tanzania: About 4% of highways are tarred. All key roads are in good condition. Road conditions in reserves and parks were rough but are constantly upgraded and maintained. Guided 4x4, minibus and fly-in safaris are conducted in Tanzania.

Zambia: About 18% of highways are paved. After rains, most gravel roads only passable by 4x4. Mostly fly-in safaris.

Zimbabwe: About 47% of highways are paved. Outside parks and reserves, where 4x4 is advisable, road conditions good and well signposted. Self-drive is an option.

Please note: Always consult your local travel experts about current road conditions in the destinations you are visiting.

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When is the best time to go?
We carefully assess each travellers need and answer accordingly, as every traveller has different requirements. Interests range from Africa's spectacular wildlife to the wide variety of birds that occur in Africa at different times of the year. Other interest are botany, culture and natural phenomena (such as the sardine run on the east coast of South Afrcia or the migration of wildebeest in Serengeti and Kenya). Many travellers use their favourite activity as the foundation and build their holiday around these activities such as fly-fishing, diving, kayaking, photography or horse riding.

Botswana: All year round. Best birding: Nov-March. Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July-October. Middle season: May-June.

Kenya: All year round. Great migration: June-September.

Best time: winter (April-Sept). Best fishing months: summer (Oct-March)

Namibia: All year round. Best birding: summer (Nov-April). Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July-October. Middle season: May-June.

South Africa: All year round. Best game viewing (in north): winter (May-August). Southern regions: summer destination (Sept-April).

Tanzania: All year round. Best climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Aug-Oct and Jan-March. Great migration: April-June and Oct-Dec.

Zambia: Many lodges are closed Nov-May. Victoria Falls spectacular after rains: April-May.

Zimbabwe: All year round. Best white water rafting: Aug-Dec. Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July-Oct. Middle season: May-June.

Tip: See the full details on the best times to visit Africa.

Is there a "best time" to go on safari?
It really depends on the type of animal you wish to see or the activity you would like to partake in. Certain reserves have good game viewing all year round but others will have particularly good elephant sightings or other migratory animals at different times of the year. It is generally felt that the African winter is the best time to go on safari, as the grass is dry and vegetation sparse making game viewing easier. It is also the time when animals are on the move looking for food and water. In Kenya and Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the migration of over two million animals.
Temperatures in winter are generally mild but can become considerably cooler in the evening, so pack multiple layers of clothing to ensure you stay comfortable on afternoon game drives and walks. It goes without saying that the standard safari gear must include a broad brim hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
In areas where malaria is prevalent, summer is generally a more risky time to travel. So, before you go on safari, consult your doctor for the necessary anti-malaria medication.

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What makes a destination special and what are the highlights?
Botswana: Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve & Okavango Region, Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve.

Kenya: Aberdare National Park, Amboseli National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Meru National Park, Tsavo National Park, Mombasa, Malindi, south and north coast.

Mozambique: Bazaruto Archipelago. Beautiful beaches and water sports: Bazaruto and Benguerra. Maputo (capital) and Beira.

Namibia: Namib Desert (highest dunes in the world), Namib-Naukluft Park, Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park, Kaokoveld (the Himba), Fish River Canyon, Damaraland and Caprivi Strip.

South Africa: Mpumalanga region (Kruger National Park, Pilgrim's Rest, Blyde River Canyon), KwaZulu-Natal (Drakensberg Mountains, Durban), Western Cape (Cape Town, Peninsula, Winelands, Garden Route), Limpopo Province (Waterberg region) and Sun City.

Tanzania: Great migration, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Arusha National Park, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, Tarangire National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Zanzibar, Pemba.

Zambia: Livingstone Town, Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Liuwa Plains, Lower Zambezi National Park, Kafue National Park, South Luangwa National Park.

Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Zambezi Valley & Mana Pools, Gonarezhou National Park, Save Conservancy, Chimanimani, Hwange National Park, Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe and Matobo Hills National Park.

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What is the landscape like?
Botswana: Flat, landlocked country, almost entirely covered by the Kalahari Desert. There is a lush delta, arid sandveld, scrub savannah and several saltpans.

Kenya: Lies on Indian Ocean and on the equator. Four geographical regions: arid desert, savannah grassland, fertile lowlands (coast) and the highlands. There are extinct volcanoes, lakes and rivers.

Mozambique: Coastline on the Indian Ocean with lagoons, coral reefs and spectacular strings of islands. There is vast wooded savannah, mountainous regions, patched with forests and about 25 rivers.

Namibia: Large, mostly arid country. Its four geographical regions are the Namib Desert, the Central Plateau, the Kalahari sands and wooded bushveld.

South Africa: Washed by Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Three major geographical regions: the coastal belt, high plateau and mountain ranges. There are also veld plains and rivers.

Tanzania: Lies on Indian Ocean. Includes Zanzibar. Mainland has lush coast, savannah, and semi-desert. Extinct volcanoes, lakes and mountain ranges including Mount Kilimanjaro.

Zambia: Landlocked country, bordering eight countries. Vast plateau with deciduous savannah, small trees, grassy plains and marshland. Rain forest around Victoria Falls. Major rivers include the Zambezi.

Zimbabwe: Landlocked; lies entirely between the tropics. Largely plateau with bushveld, giving rise to many rivers like Zambezi.Mountainous highlands and Victoria Falls, Africa's biggest waterfall.

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Are the cultures very different?
Botswana: Main ethnic groups are the Batswana (descendants of iron age immigrants from Central West Africa), the Basarwa (San, indigenous hunter gatherers, pre-iron age), and the Herero (pastoralists). 80% of the population of Botswana are rural inhabitants.

Kenya: Over 70 tribal groups. Differences between many of them are blurred - Western cultural values are becoming more deep-seated and traditional values are disintegrating. Other tribes include Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo and Kikamba.

Mozambique: Indigenous tribal groups make up about 99% of the population. There are 16 major ethnic groups - the largest is the Makua in the north. Other groups include the Makonde, Sena and Shangaan. Europeans like native Portuguese and Asian residents make up less than 1%.

Namibia: Ovambo tribe make up 50% of the population. Other tribes include Kavangos, Herero, Himba sub-group, Damara (or Nama), San (Bushmen) and remaining German colonials.

South Africa: 75% black, 13% white (60% Afrikaner descent, rest mostly British descent), 8% Coloured race, 3% Asian descent. The two major cultural groups are Nguni (Ndebele, Swazi, Xhosa and Zulu tribes) and Sotho (Tswana, Pedi and Basotho).

Tanzania: Tanzania's culture is a result of African, Arab, European and Indian influences. There are 120 African tribal groups. The largest group are of Bantu origin including Dukuma, Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai are of Nilotic origin, as are the Arusha and the Samburu.

Zambia: About 99% of the population are made up of over 70 indigenous tribal groups. The major groups are Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja and Tongo.

Zimbabwe: The Shona people make up about 71% of the population and are the ruling class of Zimbabwe. The Ndebele make up about 16% and occupy the area around Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. There is slight animosity between these two tribes.

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What is the weather like?
Botswana: Summer: Nov-April. Winter: May-Oct.

Kenya: Summer: Oct-April. Winter: May-Sept.

Mozambique: Summer: Oct-March. Winter: April-Sept.

Namibia: Summer: Nov-April. Winter: May-Oct.

South Africa: Summer: Sept-April. Winter: May-Aug.

Tanzania: Summer: Oct-March. Winter: April-Sept.

Zambia: Summer: Nov-March. Winter: April-Aug.

Zimbabwe: Summer: Oct-April. Winter: May-Sept.

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Are there activities for children?
Southern Africa offers a multitude of unique delights for the younger traveller. There are natural attractions such as climbing giant orange sand dunes and building sandcastles on sunny beaches. Children five years and younger are generally not allowed on game drives in the parks and reserves.
Man-made attractions include going on rides in thrilling theme parks, splashing around in water parks or choosing colourful beads and animals toys at craft markets. Some lodges offer children-specific activities such as foraging trips where kids collect seed pods, feathers, bugs and leaves under the watchful eye of their own ranger. Animal identification and baking 'Big Five' cookies are also on the program.

What about malaria when travelling with children?
A children's version of the antimalarial drug Malarone is available. The most important precaution against being bitten by mosquitoes is to cover up and to apply repellent. Your kids should have the right gear for their safari. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers are essential for early morning and evening. A child-friendly high -concentration DEET repellent is available on the market.

Don't let malaria keep you from enjoying a safari with your family. There are several malaria-free reserves in South Africa to choose from. Addo Elephant, Kwandwe, Shamwari and Madikwe are to name but a few. Please have a look at our child-friendly safaris and contact a travel expert for detailed information on the lodges in these reserves and national parks.

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What types of accommodation are available?
The accommodation type in Southern Africa varies from hotels and inns to luxury lodges, B&Bs and tented camps.

Botswana: Advanced bookings recommended. Lodges and safari camps range from tented sites to permanently tented camps, to reed or brick chalets. Campsites at national parks are very basic.

Kenya: Advanced bookings recommended. Most safari lodges have rondavel or banda type accommodations, with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Tented accommodations vary from super deluxe to standard tents.

Mozambique: Best hotels, including major international hotels, found in cities and along coasts, particularly on the islands. Private lodges of high standards in tourist areas. Cheap hotels, pensãos, or slightly better pousados in cities and bigger towns. Range of campsites along coast.

Namibia: Advanced bookings recommended outside of major centres. Lodges and safari camps tend to be on private ranches and offer luxurious standards. Campsites in national parks are of a high standard with excellent facilities.

South Africa: Advanced bookings recommended. Lodges and safari camps often set on private ranches - high standards. Luxurious "tented camps" pitched on concrete bases popular. Hotel chains in most cities and major towns. Guesthouses, B&Bs and campsites with excellent facilities.

Tanzania: Advanced bookings recommended. Tends to be of rondavel or banda type with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Luxurious "tented camps" pitched on concrete bases popular. National parks also offer ordinary campsites. All major towns have luxury hotels and at least one good guesthouse.

Zambia: Advanced bookings recommended. International hotels available in cities and major towns. In national parks, there is camping, self-catering huts or chalets and top end lodges with luxury chalets or permanent tents.

Zimbabwe: Advanced bookings recommended. Private game reserves offer both standard and luxury accommodation. National parks have cottages, chalets or lodges, which are all fully equipped. Government campsites well-maintained.

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When are the public holidays?
Countries in Southern and East Africa have on average twelve public holidays a year. These holidays vary from country to country, except for Christmas (25 December) and New Year's Day (1 January).

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How do I phone the country?
You can dial an international country direct. First dial the your country's international code (+) for dialling out of the country (for example, 00 in England). Then dial the specific international code required for the country you are calling (see below), the area code of the region you need and then the specific number.
Up to 20 seconds may pass before you hear ringing. In certain countries, ringing resembles an engaged tone. In these cases, an engaged tone will be a short signal repeated rapidly.

The international dialling codes for each country are listed below.

Botswana: +267
Kenya: +254
Mozambique: +258
Namibia: +264
South Africa: +27
Tanzania: +255
Zambia: +260
Zimbabwe: +263

What is the time difference?
Botswana: GMT +2 hours
Kenya: GMT +3 hours Moçambique: GMT +2 hours
Namibia: GMT +1 hour/GMT +2 hours
South Africa: GMT +2 hours
Tanzania: GMT +3 hours
Zambia: GMT +2 hours
Zimbabwe: GMT +2 hours

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Is English spoken widely?
Yes. English is spoken throughout Southern and East Africa, especially by those involved in the tourist trade. Many countries use English as their language of education in schools and universities.

European and Middle Eastern languages spoken in Southern Africa include: Portuguese (Mozambique), German (Namibia) and Arabic (Tanzania).
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Is vegetarian/halaal/kosher food available?
Yes. Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Southern Africa. Please give advanced notice to places where you intend staying if meals are included in your package. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians, depending on their forte. Local specialities can be surprisingly good! With the exception of a few upmarket lodges, halaal and kosher food is not available at most camps/lodges.
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Is it safe to drink the water?
Botswana: Tap water is purified and safe to drink at hotels, inns, lodges and other public places. Remember water is a scarce resource, especially in this drought-stricken country, so please be respectful and help to conserve water.

Kenya: While mains water in major towns is chlorinated and relatively safe to drink, it is safer to stick to sealed bottled water, available from most hotels and lodges.

Mozambique: Tap water is usually safe to drink, but bottled water is available should you prefer this.

Namibia: Tap water is purified and safe to drink at hotels, inns, lodges and other public places. Remember water is as precious as diamonds in this drought-stricken land.

South Africa: The tap water in South Africa is safe to drink. If you prefer, bottled water is available.

Tanzania: It is advisable to drink boiled or bottled water, bottled or canned drinks. If camping - bring drinking water and all other camping provisions.

Zambia: Tap water is usually safe to drink, but bottled water can be purchased if preferred.

Zimbabwe: Tap water is purified and safe to drink at hotels, inns, lodges and other public places.

Please note: Always consult your local travel expert about current conditions in the destinations you are visiting.

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When are the banks open?
Banks in Southern Africa are generally open on weekdays during office hours or mornings only. Some countries have banks that open until about 11:00am on Saturdays.

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Can I use my credit card?
Botswana: All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. Certain lodges and restaurants do not accept payment by Diners or American Express.

Kenya: Most major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) are widely accepted.
Diners Card is not accepted by some lodges in Kenya nor is it generally accepted by other properties.

Mozambique: Credit cards are usually accepted only at the more upmarket hotels.

Namibia: International Visa and MasterCard credit cards are generally accepted throughout Namibia. Holders of other credit cards are advised to clarify with a commercial bank whether their card is acceptable in Namibia. Credit cards are not accepted at petrol filling stations.

South Africa: Visa, American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard are accepted by most restaurants, stores, hotels, car rental firms and other points of sale and service. Proof of identity may be requested in some instances and it is therefore useful to carry a passport or some form of photo identification at all times.

Tanzania: Visa and MasterCard are accepted by most top hotels and lodges around the country. In addition to credit cards, clients should bring US dollars cash and traveller's cheques.

Zambia: All major credit cards are accepted at the bigger hotels and shops. Note that certain lodges do not accept payment by Diners or American Express

Zimbabwe: All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. However, please note that certain lodges and restaurants do not accept payment by Diners or American Express.

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Are there any medical precautions?
As vaccination requirements change from time to time, we suggest you consult your local doctor or health department for prophylactics and the latest health precautions. Some countries require advance inoculations (and certificates thereof) - The Safari Co.'s travel experts will advise you of these. Most lodges have qualified emergency first-aid staff members.

Malaria is present in many parts of Africa - your travel expert will advise you if you will be visiting a malaria area. Anti-malarial precautions are essential when travelling to Africa with exception to some parts of South Africa. Please see Malaria in Africa for more information.

If you are on prescription medication, please ensure you have an adequate supply to last the duration of your stay and a copy of your prescription(s).

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What wildlife photography advice can you give?
A good camera will make the difference between having photos of spectacular wildlife and having vague, little dots of animals to show family and friends.

The more common "point-and-shoot" cameras are too small. On safari, you won't always be able to get up close to wildlife. A SLR (single lens reflex) camera with a 200-300mm lens is recommended.
More serious photographers may choose telephoto lenses of 400 or 500mm. Larger lenses often require a beanbag, to stabilize the lens. A tripod doesn't really work for wildlife photography when used on a moving vehicle. A 2x teleconverter is useful for doubling the focal length of your lens.

A zoom lens, such as a 70 to 210mm lens, is probably the best option for shooting a moving subject.
The harsh African sun provides excellent lighting, but using larger lenses will require faster film, especially in early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer. In this case, 200-400 ASA film is recommended.
Film and batteries are usually available along major tourist routes and from lodges, but rather bring your own. A lens hood and ultra violet filter are advisable. A good bag for your equipment including a dust cover (plastic bag) is essential.

Important Note: Not all African cultures are familiar with cameras. Rural folk will often shy away from having their picture taken. Please be sensitive. Some locals may ask a fee for having their photograph taken. It is recommended you avoid photographing anything relating to government and military, including personnel (soldiers and police) and buildings (post offices, banks, airports, border posts, railway stations and bridges).

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