Prepare for your Safari

To prepare for your safari you need to check the type of luggage to use, the weight limits, type of clothing you need to take, camera equipment required, medical requirements and related aspects.

We are addressing the most typical questions asked – but are always available should you require more information.

Please also check the travel guides of the specific countries you are visiting:

What luggage should I use?

While weight limits and size restrictions vary for airlines and charter flights between safari camps, the following generally apply to air transfers in safari areas:
– only soft bags are accepted as no hard suitcases or bags with wheels can be transported
– maximum dimensions are generally 76 cm (about 30 inches) in length.
– weight is almost always 20kg at most, sometimes only 12kg.

Even if you are not flying, these criteria serve as a good guideline for any safari and the best choice is a soft duffel bag.

How much luggage may I bring?

There are strict weight restrictions in place on any itinerary including light aircraft transfers. Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20kg per person in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and 12kg to 15kg in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Also note that passengers weighing more than 100kg must advise in advance as an extra seat may have to be cost into the reservation – for safety purposes.

Most African safari camps / lodges and hotels provide basic toilet amenities. Laundry can be done on a daily basis.

Please also note that it is imperative that you do not put anything of high value in your checked-in baggage, as luggage can be tampered with and valuables removed. Lock all your luggage with a suitable approved lock to deter opportunistic theft.

Can a suitcase be left in storage at an International Airport while on safari?

Yes. If you go to “Lock-up-Luggage” at Terminal 2 in the basement below International Arrivals at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg,  they will store your suitcases.

The other international airports offering a lock-up facility are Cape Town, Durban and Windhoek.

What clothing should I bring?

Mainly casual clothing is required and it is recommended that you limit your luggage to the basics. Bright colors and white are not advised while on safari.

Clothing should include a sun hat, golf-shirts, t-shirts and long-sleeved cotton shirts; shorts/skirts; long trousers/slacks; underwear and socks; good walking shoes; sandals; swimming costume; warm winter sweater; warm anorak and scarf / gloves for the cold winter months (May to September) and light rain gear for summer months (late November to April).

You also need to bring good quality sunglasses; camera equipment and plenty of digital storage; personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments); malaria tablets; moisturizing cream & suntan lotion; insect repellent e.g. tabard; basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, imodium, antiseptic cream and anti-histamine cream etc); visas, tickets, passports, money, etc.

Waterproof/dust-proof Ziploc bags for cameras and if you wear contact lenses, bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust or pollen.

Binoculars are highly recommended as well as a bird book – if you are keen.

Is there electricity in the camps?

Camps and safaris in the remote wildlife regions of Southern Africa have no access to electrical power due to the remote nature of their locations. Most camps have generators on site with 220v electricity or they make use of solar panels.

The generators are not normally heard by guests as they are run for a couple of hours at a time in the morning and afternoon while guests are enjoying their activities.

The electricity is used to power ice machines, fridges and freezers that keep the food and drinks cool and fresh. The generator charges batteries that provide the power for the bedroom lights and overhead fans in the rooms. There is plenty of power available to charge batteries for cameras and video cameras, but not for hairdryers and the likes.

For most mobile tented camps there is no electricity; lighting is by paraffin lamp and campfires in the true traditional style of Africa.

Lodges and rest camps in South Africa have ample electrical power. The electrical current in lodges is 220 volts. If you plan to bring 110-volt electrical devices, it’s suggested that you pack an electrical converter and an adapter plug set .

Is communication with the ``outside world`` possible?

Most lodges in South Africa offer full telephone and internet services for those who do not wish to detach from the world completely.

For people wishing to visit the more remote parts of Southern Africa, you’ll find communication by phone, fax, etc. is out of the question given the remote locations of the camps. All camps do however have radio communications with their town/city offices in case of any emergencies.

Are medical supplies available?

It is best to bring prescription medication with you. But cities and towns all have drugstores/pharmacies equipped with everything one requires. Bear in mind that South Africa has a first world infrastructure, but the further north one travels, the more difficult it may become to acquire a specific medication.

Are there doctors and hospitals?

South Africa has many top private hospitals, excellent specialists and state of the art equipment and facilities, including emergency rescue and air ambulance.

But the further north you travel, the fewer and less developed the facilities are. Government facilities are overcrowded.

What camera equipment is essential on safari?

A 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) camera with an interchangeable lens is recommended. A 35-70mm lens works well for landscapes; a zoom lens such as a 70-210mm lens is good for moving subjects; and a long lens such as an 80-200mm lens is good for wildlife photography.

The African sun provides good lighting, and a UV filter may be helpful.

Protect your equipment on safari with a solid camera bag, as well as a lens cleaning cloth and a soft brush to eliminate dust.

Users of digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, adaptors and converter, and one or two high-capacity memory cards to store the photos you’ve taken. For a digital video camera, bring long-life batteries, charger, and adaptors and converter for the charger.

Do I need travel insurance?

It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves and dependants or traveling companions for the duration of their trip to Southern Africa.

This insurance should include coverage in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities: cancellation or curtailment of the trip to Africa, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, and damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods.

What are the entry requirements?

The nearest consulate office will be the best to answer this question; especially for the latest visa requirements. All people traveling to the Southern African region require a valid passport that is normally valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay.

There are a number of countries exempted for having visas when staying 90 days or less.

Please note for traveling to South Africa, passports MUST be valid for at least six months after your return home date. The passport entry requirement for any travelers entering South Africa is a minimum of two blank pages in their passport.

If however you should be traveling to more than one African country via South Africa, then you must allow for sufficient pages for each country visited and also have the minimum of two blank visa pages for each re-entry into South Africa.