It is always difficult to know exactly what to bring but I would always recommend that guests have at least US$500.00 with them in small notes ( $1 , $5 and $10 ) Any more than that is at your own discretion when it comes to tipping, shopping. etc, bear in mind that nearly all expenses are covered in the price of your trip, Credit cards are also not always useable, except in the larger centres and big airports.
On most safaris you will be transferred between the various destinations in light aircraft which have strict baggage restrictions ( you cannot pay for excess luggage on the bush airstrip! ). They are also limited with space so soft canvas type bags are recommended. If you are going on to other destinations that require more elaborate clothing then in some cases a plan can be made to store this luggage and get it to you at the end of the safari. This should be pre- arranged.
This is at your own discretion but remember that in nearly all camps a laundry facility will be available so you don’t need to carry two weeks worth of clothes. Colours to avoid are white and any very bright colours. In general a light jacket for night time and early mornings will be necessary, 3 x long sleeved shirts, 2 x T shirt’s, 3 Trousers (zipped on legs is very convenient.) a broad brimmed hat, underwear, comfortable walking shoes and socks.
There are books written on this subject so for those that are experienced photographers there is little I can tell you except that you should be prepared with your equipment to guard against dust as many of the roads are very dusty, also bear in mind that when you are walking it can get uncomfortable carrying a big heavy lens around. Tripods also are not always very practical and in general a plan can be made if you need to steady your camera. For the less experienced there are some very good digital cameras available today but you should make sure that the optical zoom not the digital zoom is at least 6x or more or your camera will only really be suitable for scenery and people photographs. I personally use what is called a “Crossover Camera; I find it very versatile and good for most safari conditions. The use of cellphones as the preferred camera option is becoming more common and if you do choose this bear in mind that they only real deal with scenery and people pictures well your more close up of animals or birds away from you is not really there strong area. If you do choose to rely on your cell phone then I suggest bringing a selfie stick as you can create some really interesting angles with these when animals are close by or during walks.
Another subject that there is much to talk about. My contribution to this is that personally I use 8 x 32 binoculars and they work well for me in most conditions and I would always recommend you getting the best quality that you can and waterproof if possible, as cheap binoculars borrowed from a friend for the trip will not let you see what you could potentially be looking at.
<p> In camp and on my person I always have a first aid kit, however any personal medications that you need should be bought by yourself and bring enough for the trip. This may be a pain medication you like, Diarohea treatment, rehydration salts, eye drops and maybe a broad based anti-biotic as it is likely they will not be available during the safari. Prophylactics are essential and you should get medical advice on these before travelling. Essential also is a good sun cream and bug spray.</p>
Most safari camps and operators will insist that you have travel and health insurance prior to travel - what we recommend is that your health cover has you covered for the country you are travelling to and includes a remote evacuation cover. For the Travel Insurance we suggest you take this out shortly after booking your safari and buy the insurance that has a cancellation " for any reason " clause. Often a safari is booked a good many months ahead and you never know what might happen to you or your family in the time leading up to your safari. Often the deposits are non refundable and the closer you get to your safari travel date reduces any possibility of a refund for the safari. So if you do have a drama prior to your safari it is a relief to know that you will not be out that money as well. I think the saying of insuring what you can't afford to lose applies here.
Airlines, Safari Camps and Hotels are changing the way they usually operate to do their best to minimize the risk of exposure for you and their staff. But you must play your part as well.
The safari camps are working with reduced numbers on the safari vehicles - extra cleaning protocols in the rooms and public areas - change in meal plans with more emphasis on plated food versus buffet style and more use of room service - staff testing before and after going on days off - temperature checks for staff and guests regularly during your safari - airlines are disinfecting planes between flights and changing some of their seat layouts where possible. Their are many other initiatives that are being taken and this is evolving as we find new and better ways to do things and what can be done in various circumstances. The bottom line is that the tourism industry is doing it's best with this new situation, but it also needs your co-operation and change in expectations to help make it work. The simple things that you are familiar with such as bringing your own face masks and personal sanitizers, combined with social distancing all will help with countries and camps to deal with this pandemic.
The rules are also changing regularly on what is required for entry or departure from a country so we will advise as we get closer to the safari the requirements and some times this may necessitate a change in plan to cater for a COVID test that is necessary for departure or arrival. For many of the safari countries at the moment many are requiring a Vaccination Card for entry and if you do not have this then a PCR test is needed.
This is something expected and relied on by the staff in all the safari camps and countries, we will send you specifics prior to travel as to what is relevant in that country and the currency to use. But as a rough guide, budget on approximately US$10 per guest per day, which is in general handed over at the end of your stay and distributed amongst all camp staff. Your guides are usually tipped individually and a similar amount of $10 per guest day is a reasonable number to work from. But please remember that you are not obligated to do this and is dependent on what you feel is the effort and level of service you have received.
Before you travel it’s a good idea to get some idea of the conditions to expect to help your packing decisions. We will also give advice on this when discussing your safari.
The weather can also effect which areas are possible to visit and potentially what the game viewing will be like, and with this, it can be a factor in the costs for the various camps depending on the time of year you would like to travel. We will discuss all this with you when planning the safari, but it is good to have an idea on the general conditions to expect prior to travel as this may effect the decision on which areas to go on safari.
Cell Phone reception is becoming more and more widespread across Africa so check with your cell provider before you travel whether your service is available in that country or it is reasonably simple to buy a phone line and airtime plan at the airport when you arrive. More camps are now offering wi-fi availability for their guests however some are firmly against this or it is just not practical such as a small mobile tented camp. The usual plan in the more permanent camps is that either there will be a specific area in the camp where wi-fi is available or for more upmarket camps they are tending to make wi fi available in your room and it is not available in the public areas. It is not yet in all camps but this is quickly changing and if it is important to you let us know and we can advise what camps to choose.