On safari, most people wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and put on long sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening for warmth as well as protection from mosquitoes. Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun a loose cotton shirt is essential during the day. Khaki, brown, olive and beige colours are best for and safaris and game walks. White is not a suitable colour for these activities, as it increases your visibility to wildlife you want to get a closer look at and it will get dirty very quickly. Fleece or sweater and a windbreaker for game drives, because it is highly possible that you may go out on a hot day, but be faced with a chill evening on your return. Remember that layering your clothing will keep you warmer than relying on one thick item.
Clothing to Pack for Safaris:
For overland Safari travel, the best type of luggage to bring is a soft bag, or backpack with an internal frame. As packing space in Safari vehicles is limited, only one bag is allowed, but you should also have a daypack for all of your personal items/camera/binoculars. Hard suitcases are usually scuffed or damaged in transit and are inappropriate for a game safari.
For safari's in South Africa these hard suitcases are not a problem as transfers to the lodges is normally in comfortable vehicles.
Light aircraft: Important note - If part of your itinerary includes light aircraft flight s(mainly in Botswana or Namibia), there are serious weight restrictions. You are usually restricted to 10 or 12kg (22 or 26 lbs), per person, in a soft bag. Storage space in a light aircraft is at a premium, and the pilot may refuse to take on bulky or excessive luggage. The most common aircraft types used for charter work are Cessna 206 or 210, and Cessna 208 Caravans. A reasonable amount of hand luggage and camera equipment is generally allowed. Remember that the charter pilot has the final say in terms of taking the luggage and you will be responsible for costs should your luggage need to be forwarded for you, or should an extra aircraft be required for transportation.
If you are on a guided African safari, your chances of encountering problems are minimal. Tour operators make it their business to know the areas they travel in thus reducing risk to travelers. However, it is sensible to take normal precautions on your African safari, particularly when travelling through urban areas.
Always have a photocopy of your passport, and any visas. Also, have a list of traveller’s cheque numbers. These copies should be packed separately from the originals. It is never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash, and most urban centres (hotels, shops) do accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard are most common), and traveler’s cheques. You might need cash for purchases local markets – keep this in a travel wallet, or a zip pocket.
Never leave cameras and hand luggage unattended, whether in a vehicle, or even in a hotel foyer. Never pack valuables (this includes medication), in your check-in luggage.
When travelling independently on your African safari, stay informed in terms of the local news. Ask at your hotel about any unsafe areas, and codes of dress and behaviour. Don't openly carry valuables. If you must carry your passport and money, keep them in a buttoned-down pocket.
Your guide will always do a safety talk with you, whether your game viewing is to be done from a vehicle, or on foot. Wildlife is potentially dangerous, but as long as you adhere to what you guide tells you, there is very little to worry about. At viewpoints, hides and camps, wildlife is more familiar with people and less intimidated by your presence. Never tease or corner wild animals - this may cause an unpredictable response and a potentially dangerous reaction. Never feed any animals, as this can cause them to lose their fear of humans.
Although Africa is known to be home to a number of potentially dangerous species, especially snakes, scorpions, spiders, and insects, very few visitors are adversely affected. Snakes tend to be shy, and generally stay away from built-up areas. Lodges and camps generally have insect (especially mosquito) proofing in their rooms. If you go on a walk, it is always a good idea to comfortable, enclosed walking shoes, socks, and long trousers – just as a precaution.
The worst bug is the "safari bug" once this has bitten you will want to go on more and more safari's ...
The essential thing to remember is to travel light!
Travel to South Africa poses no medical threat. At most properties, and in most areas, the water is safe to drink, and is less chemically treated that you might imagine. In those rare cases where a property itself is concerned about water, bottled water is always provided. Indeed, bottled water is readily available at properties, and on safari.
Malaria is a prevalent disease in much of Africa, but lodges all take precautions – with a combination of mosquito nets, and sprays. Be sure to continue the prophylactic regime when you return home, as it is generally required up to 4 weeks after travel as well. Please see Malaria information for more details.
Yellow Fever is caused by a virus carried by a species of mosquito, and has been known to occur in certain East African countries. There have been no recent outbreaks, but as yellow fever is contagious, many countries require travelers to get a yellow fever inoculation. Travelers should be inoculated at least 10 days prior to travel (a certificate is issued). The inoculation certificate is not generally required when entering the country in question (e.g. Zambia, Kenya or Tanzania), but is required for your return to your country of residence or to South Africa. Please consult your Travel Clinic, or doctor, prior to travel.
Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) is a waterborne parasite carried by snails, and occurs in stagnant water of lakes, dams and slow flowing rivers. However, lodges, and guides, will always caution you as to where it is safe to swim. In Africa, many lakes and rivers are home to Hippopotamus and Crocodiles anyway – so swimming is not generally recommended!
If you travel extensively in remote areas, you might also want to consult your Travel Clinic about Hepatitis A and B, and tetanus inoculations.
When on Safari, always ensure that you drink sufficient quantities of water. Day time temperatures can be extreme, even in winter, and you don't want to suffer from dehydration.
Complications from sunburn should also not be ignored – always wear a hat with a brim, and ensure that you carry a good supply of sun protection cream (the higher the screen factor the better).
Malaria is a potentially fatal illness of tropical and subtropical regions. The disease is caused by a parasite, which is transmitted to human beings bitten by infected Mosquitoes.
Within South Africa’s borders the disease is encountered mainly in Northern and Eastern Mpumalanga (Kruger National Park area), Northern Kwazulu Natal and the border areas of the Limpopo and Northwest provinces. Malaria transmission is at it’s highest during the warmer and wetter months of November through to April. From May through to October the risks of acquiring Malaria are reduced to almost zero.
Prevention of Malaria relies on adopting personal protection measures designed to reduce the chances of attracting a mosquito bite, and the use of appropriate anti-malarial medication are important, and neither should be neglected at the expense of the other.
Personal protection measures against Mosquito bites include the use of an appropriate insect repellent containing Di-ethyl Toluamide (Deet), the wearing of clothing to conceal as much of the body as practical, sleeping under Mosquito nets, and the spraying of sleeping quarters with a suitable Pyrethroid containing insecticide. Some places spray their rooms and surrounding dams where Mosquitoes breed with an eco-friendly Pyrethroid on a weekly basis.
Anti-Malaria tablets (Prophylaxis) There are a number of different types of Anti-Malaria tablets available. Choosing one depends both upon the particular area being visited, and your own medical history. Within South Africa’s borders the recommended tablets are Mefloquine (Mefliam) or Doxycycline as being the most effective. Both these drugs require a prescription. Mefloquine is taken in adult dosage of one tablet per week. This should be commenced at least one week before entering the Malaria area and continued for four weeks after leaving the area.
Meflocuine is best taken at night after a meal, and with liquids. Doxycycline is taken in an adult dosage of 100mg per day, starting a day or two before entering a malarious area. Like Meflocuine it should be taken for four weeks after return. The drug should be taken after a meal, and washed down with plenty of liquid. It should be avoided in pregnancy and children. A combination of Chloroquine and Proguanil can be used as, prophylaxis and is available without a doctor’s prescription. This combination is more difficult to use than the simpler Mefloquine and Doxycycline regimes, and is believed to offer less protection.
No method of Malaria protection is 100% effective and there is still a small chance of contracting Malaria despite the taking of Anti-Malaria medication and the adoption of personal protection methods. This does not mean that Anti-Malaria and personal protection measures should be neglected, simply that any traveler developing possible symptoms of Malaria should seek medical advice despite having taken the prescribed precautions.
Symptoms of Malaria may include a generalized body ache, tiredness, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, and fever. It is worth emphasizing that these symptoms may not be dramatic, and can easily be mistaken for an attack of influenza or similar non-life-threatening illness. Deterioration can then be sudden and dramatic, with a rapid increase in the number of parasites in your bloodstream. A high swinging fever may develop, with marked shivering and dramatic perspiration. If you develop any Influenza-like illness or fever within seven day of entering, or six months of departing a Malarious area, seek immediate medical attention. Blood tests should be taken to check for possible Malaria infection. It may be sensible to have a second blood test taken if a first test is negative for Malaria, to be certain of excluding the disease.
South Africa is a great family destination. There are activities for children of all ages and plenty of adventure for the whole family. During the summer months, the beaches are wonderful for children of all ages and numerous adventure activities like boat rides and cruises, horse riding, surfing, hiking and many others are offered. Sun City is a very popular family destination.
Almost all safari lodges allow children and offer "junior ranger" programs to entertain children and give the parents time to enjoy their safari. Most lodges do not allow children under 5 years old on the game drive due to safety reasons, but it is wise to check with the tour operator for requirements regarding children on safari.
In South Africa it is recommended to exchange currency into local Rands as most establishments will not accept foreign currency or will give you a very bad rate of exchange. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Most other countries in Africa will take payment in US$ but it is always advisable to exchange an amount into the local currency in small denominations in case of emergency or to by drinks and curios.
In most countries it is easy to exchange money into local currency and the airport is probably the best as not all banks have forex departments.