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TRAVEL ADVICE

Africa can be a challenging place, and safari journeys are different in their requirements from other things you may have experienced. We will be with you on every step of your adventure, but if you'd like to browse some considerations in your own time the below information may be of use. If you have any further questions about any aspect of African travel, we'd be delighted to assist - call +27 11 467 4704.

Entry Requirements

Please ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months after your return and you have at least 3 blank visa pages (not endorsement pages). You are also required to ensure that the names given to us correspond to the names on the passports of the individuals concerned. Visa requirements differ between countries; please check these before departure with the particular embassies.

Health and Vaccinations

There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Southern Africa, although it is recommended that you are protected against Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A, Malaria and Yellow Fever (compulsory in Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa if you have previously visited a Yellow Fever infected area).

Please consult your doctor for up-to-date advice on compulsory medication and vaccinations. Alternatively, M.A.S.T.A. (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad) provides up-to-date health briefs for the traveller (www.masta.org).

The most important health issue is that of malaria. We recommend that you take tablets throughout Africa (except if only visiting limited non-game areas in South Africa). Please consult your doctor for advice on malaria prophylactics. Malaria prophylactics are readily available from chemists.

The malaria parasite requires a human host in order to complete its life cycle. In most cases, the camps are situated in remote, unpopulated areas, so the chances of contracting malaria are very slim. Nonetheless, it is worth taking preventative measures. Both chloroquine-resistant and normal strains of malaria are prevalent in Africa. Malaria is transmitted by a very small percentage of female Anopheles mosquitoes. They are only active in the early evening and throughout the night, at the times when one is usually sleeping or sitting around the campfire.

Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylaxis. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite chemoprophylaxis, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported. Please remember that the best insurance is the preventative kind: avoid being bitten by using mosquito repellents liberally.  Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings. If staying in a bungalow or tent, spray with an insecticide like DOOM to kill any mosquitoes that may have flown into your room. Mosquito coils are also effective. Most lodges supply insect repellent, screens, mosquito coils or pads.

If you become ill on your return, while still on prophylaxis or even once you have stopped taking them, make sure that your doctor does everything necessary to establish that your illness is not malaria and that you advise your doctor that you have been on holiday in Africa. Malaria is not a serious problem if people are sensible and take basic precautions.

It is very important that you drink plenty of water, especially during the warmer months. It is generally recommended that one drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water per day to limit the effects of dehydration. This excludes tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages, which act as diuretics and can actually contribute to dehydration. Water in Botswana is generally safe to drink, even from the rivers and lagoons of the Delta. All camps provide bottled water, so please do not allow yourself to become dehydrated.

Insurance

It is imperative that all visitors to Africa have fully comprehensive travel insurance. Please ensure that you are covered under a similar or superior policy that includes medical evacuation, cancellation and curtailment, safari activities, flying in single engine light aircrafts, as appropriate etc. Hartley’s Safaris can bear no responsibility in the event that you fail to procure insurance cover, which is at least commensurate with that offered by the company, and/or if you fail to procure any insurance at all.

Currency

We recommend that you take your spending money in USD or GBP currency and on arrival in your country of destination, obtain the required local currency.

Gratuities

Tipping is not obligatory or expected, but is always enthusiastically received if you are happy with the service. Amounts are at your discretion and vary at different camps and in different countries, but we recommend the following:

  • Safari Camps: US$ 5.00 per guest per day. Most camps have a central kitty system for guides, kitchen and cleaning staff. If in any doubt please ask the camp manager.
  • Mokoro polers: BWP 10.00 per poler day. We have excellent polers who are great capitalists and have found that clients get outstanding results if they get rewarded for their hard work directly.
  • Private Guides: US$ 150.00 to 450.00 for a weeks safari, split between a small party, although some clients feel it is inappropriate to tip an owner / operator and only tip the camp staff.
  • Restaurants: tips are not generally included and about 10 – 15 % is appropriate.
  • Blue Train and Rovos Rail: cabin attendants R50.00 per person per journey, dining car waiter R50.00 per person per journey.

Park Fees

Unless stated, park fees are not always included in your package. Where National Parks are used the fee will be added to your bar account at certain lodges or prepaid here before your departure.

Accommodation

It is strongly recommended that you reserve all your accommodation as far in advance as possible if you plan to visit during the peak seasons (i.e. big game safaris between July & October, the Cape between December & March and Christmas & Easter everywhere) since availability is at a premium during these periods.

On safari acceptance of a simple lifestyle is required. Any reference to tented accommodation generally suggests a spacious, walk-in tent with proper beds, clothes hanging facilities, toilet, shower and sometimes a veranda, although some are more basic with shared showers and long drop loos. However some camps are very much more sophisticated with truly luxurious comforts like private plunge pools, air-conditioning, indoor and outdoor showers, crystal glass and silver cutlery etc.

You may be required to sign an indemnity form at some of the camps, depending on camp policy. This is standard procedure in most lodges, as it is in all hotels throughout the world.

Hotel check in times are between 12.00 and 14.00 and check out times are usually around 11.00.

Luggage

Free allowances vary according to flight and destination but in general 20 kg are permitted on international economy flights, 30 kg in club / business and 40 kg in first class.

On safari, luggage on all light aircraft flights is restricted to a maximum of between 12 kg and 20 kg per person in SOFT BAGS, including reasonable camera equipment, for safety and space reasons. Specific details of luggage allowances on light aircraft flights will be given in your final travel documentation.

No hard framed suitcases are allowed and you will be charged accordingly for excess baggage that will usually incur the cost of an extra charter aircraft.

Clothing and Suggested Packing List

On safari light casual comfortable clothing in khaki or neutral colours is recommended. Black, white and bright colours are not recommended and army camouflage uniforms / hats are forbidden. A laundry service is offered at most camps. We suggest the following checklist to help you with your packing:

  • Wide brimmed bush hat
  • 2 long sleeved cotton shirts
  • 2 – 3 T-shirts
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of long trousers / slacks
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimming costume
  • Good walking shoes
  • Sweater / anorak for morning and evening game drives (May – August)
  • Very warm clothing for June and July (nights can drop to freezing)
  • ‘Smart-casual’ outfit for staying in city hotels (inc the Victoria Falls Hotel, Blue Train and Rovos Rail)
  • Good quality polarised sunglasses (tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light). If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you carry a pair of glasses in case of dust irritation
  • Personal toiletries, insect repellent, malaria prophylactics, lip salve, high factor sun protection cream, personal medication
  • Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Imodium, antihistamine, antiseptic cream)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera equipment and extra camera batteries
  • A good torch with a strong beam and spare batteries (mini maglite)
  • Travel documents, tickets, visas, passport, insurance, money etc.

In South Africa dress is casual on most occasions, and for visits to the theatre and restaurants smart- casual dress is quite appropriate. At holiday and coastal resorts, shorts and open neck shirts are acceptable in restaurants. Rovos Rail and the Blue Train require a jacket and tie.

Photography

The choice of the correct camera equipment and film will determine the quality of your photographs on the trip. For good photography of birds and animals, a good SLR camera and telephoto lens is necessary.  A zoom lens can be extremely useful on safari and the minimum recommended size is 70 – 200mm, though a 100 – 400mm is ideal.  Modern image stabilized lenses are best as they allow photographers to hand hold their cameras at slower shutter speeds with sharp results.

The new high-resolution digital cameras are outstanding and give superb quality images, especially if you are using a digital SLR camera body, with inter-changeable lenses. Camera bodies like the Canon 20D, Digital Rebel and Nikon D70 are excellent. The advantage of digital photography is that one can get instant feedback on images and adjustments can be made in the field to ensure that your photographs are correctly exposed. 

Spare batteries are essential and a storage device of some sort is recommended.  Make certain you have enough card storage – most people take more photographs than they expect to.  Camps have facilities for recharging batteries and storage devices.  Strips for charging more than one device are suggested for more serious photographers.

For people using film, colour reversal film (slides) will give better quality results than print film.  There are good high-speed films, 400 ASA, on the market that give good colour with very little grain – either Fuji or Kodak.  This is especially useful when using a big lens in low light situations.  The guides’ personal preference is for slower film (either 50 or 100 ASA) as this gives almost perfect quality for normal light.

However, you may consider going to faster film for larger lenses in low lighting conditions.  The only disadvantage with the low ASA film is that you need good support, either a tripod or bean bag, for the early morning and evening shots.  Important: Bring spare film and a spare camera battery.

Binoculars are essential on safari in order to get the most out of your safari and especially where bird watching is concerned. It is also advisable to have a pair per person if at all possible – we recommend Leica 8 x 32, Zeiss Classic 7 x 42B or Plover 8 x 40.

Electricity

Electricity runs at 220 volts in Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Most often sockets are the round 3 pin / 15 amp type and you should carry your own adapter. Battery-run appliances are best, as not many camps have electrical facilities.

Special Diets and Drinks

Please advise us on confirmation of your booking if you have any special dietary requirements. While we are happy to advise our suppliers of these, we can never guarantee their availability.

In safari camps the cost of drinks is usually expensive due to the high cost of transportation. Some camps include bar in their rate, but others work on a system where you run a tab and pay for your drinks at the end of your stay.

In Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi imported alcohol is difficult to obtain so you generally will be sampling local “brews”, most of which are perfectly adequate. However should you have a very strong preference for anything, we would suggest you take your own duty free!

Wildlife and Safety Guidlines

Many of the animals and reptiles you will see are potentially dangerous. Attacks by wild animals are rare and usually only occur when they are threatened. Most camps are unfenced and animals do wander through the camps.

Please adhere to your guides’ instructions at all times. You will appreciate that we operate in a land of unpredictable conditions, therefore all activities and excursions are subject to environmental conditions and are at the camp manager’s discretion.

Neither Hartley’s Safaris, their staff members nor their agents can be held liable for any injuries caused during an incident involving the behaviour of wild animals.

Be sensible. Never leave luggage unattended. Deposit your valuables in the safety deposit box. Don’t stroll around after dark or alone in deserted areas. Always lock your car and keep the windows closed. Do not display your camera around your neck in urban areas and keep valuables out of sight.

Communications

You will be given a detailed contact list of all the properties you will be visiting. Please bear in mind that many safari camps do not have direct dial telephones, but maintain radio contact with their base operations on a scheduled basis.  Under these circumstances we are happy to assist your relatives and business colleagues to make contact with you in an emergency.

Flights

On request, itineraries may include return international flights from country of departure. We offer competitive fares, but are quite happy for clients to shop around and arrange their own flights.

Please ensure that you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departing international flights and one hour prior to domestic flights. If you are dropping off a hire car please allow additional time for this.

Please always reconfirm your onward flights. Please do not change any of your internal scheduled flights. Clients have occasionally done this and found that all their subsequent flights have been cancelled and their ground arrangements are affected. Specific seat requests are normally accepted, though not guaranteed.

All flights and times appearing in your itinerary are taken from the latest schedules in our possession and are subject to change without notice. Failure to reconfirm your onward journey or check-in on time entitles the airline to re-sell your seat.

Recommended Reading

Conservation Projects

Africa is a wild continent with many of its countries deemed as third world. Huge expanses are untouched by man, undeveloped and are home to a multitude of animals, flora and fauna. We are attracted to Africa’s raw adventure and hope to sustain this fragile ecology. As tourists travelling to remote areas you are supporting whole communities.

For example, a majority of hotels, camps and lodges employ or are operated by local staff.  Many properties also support and develop local schools, medical care facilities, housing facilities and educate the local community in conservation.

In addition, many safari operators are involved in much needed wildlife research. Eco tourism is more than a marketing concept and there are many worthy conservation projects desperately needing funds. If you would like to support conservation we would be happy to give you helpful advice.

Happy Holidays!

After your holiday we would be interested to hear about your experiences and any comments or suggestions that you may have on the camps / hotels and services we offer, as this is one of the best means we have of monitoring and improving our service and product knowledge. We want you and your friends to travel with Hartley’s Safaris the next time you are planning an African safari holiday!

Indemnity Forms

As per our Booking Terms & Conditions, you may be required to sign an indemnity form at any of the lodges that you will be visiting during your travels.

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