Pre Departure information for your overland adventure safari
Travelling in Africa is unpredictable. Expect the unexpected.
Our safaris are not luxury tours and trips of this kind do not always proceed as planned. At times it may be dusty, dirty, wet, hot or all of these at the same time! Our vehicles are all serviced and maintained at our different workshop points throughout Africa, but bearing this in mind, the continent and roads you are travelling on are at times very rugged and very hard on vehicles and clients.
If you approach your trip with a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude, you and your fellow traveller's will get the most out of the journey.
Thank you for choosing an African safari with us. The following information is provided to assist you in preparing for your trip.
All our safaris are camping trips. They are mostly aimed at young, adventurous people with a limited timeframe who wish to visit East, Central and Southern Africa. However, we do not impose an upper age limit.
On all our safaris we provide cooking and camping equipment with the exception of a sleeping bag and mat. Transportation is by specially converted Mercedes or MAN trucks that are completely self-contained, carrying all the necessary equipment, passenger's baggage, fresh water, fuel and food stocks. In addition, all our vehicles carry a range of spare parts and at least one crewmember is an experienced mechanic. Before each truck begins a safari it will have been thoroughly serviced and overhauled but it is comforting to know that in the unlikely event of a breakdown the necessary spares and experience are available.
Accommodation on our tours is in two person dome tents with sewn in groundsheets and mosquito netting on doors and windows. Passengers are expected to participate in all aspects of the tour. This means pitching and dismantling your own tent and, on a roster basis, helping with daily chores such as cooking, washing up, truck cleaning and packing. On all our African trips we have a safari cook although we do ask you to assist in food preparation and shopping. This can be great fun bargaining in the local markets and helping produce a meal for between 10 & 29 people on African trips.
The advantages of group travel are gained when the group works as one. Sharing the responsibility for the roster duties as well as security of the vehicle, equipment and belongings will help to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
All passengers contribute to the Local Payment for each of our safaris equally. It is payable direct to your Trip Leader at the start of your trip in US dollars cash. Please check the brochure for the excursions included in your safari and excursions that are at your own expense.
We have calculated the Local Payment amount from our experience in running trips in and around Africa.
As stated we calculate the Local Payment contribution of each trip based on previous experience. However we often have to publish Local Payment contributions a year or two prior to the time the particular trip enters a country, and it is impossible to anticipate exactly how exchange rates, local inflation and price rises may change so far in advance. It very rarely happens that extra contributions have to be made, but if it does prove necessary, it is usually only a few dollars
PRE DEPARTURE MEETINGS AND DEPARTURES
The pre departure meetings usually last for approximately one hour and is a great opportunity for you to meet your fellow travellers. The meetings cover a range of topics and important information that should make you feel a lot more comfortable with how your trip will operate as well as ways for you to maximise your experience. Please make every effort to attend this meeting or advise your travel agent or operator directly if you know you will be unable to attend.
NAIROBI: For all trips departing from Nairobi, we have a pre departure meeting at 5.00pm on the day prior to departure at the departure point. On the day of departure, check- in is at 8.45am for a departure at 9.30am.
Departure / Check-in Point: Boulevard Hotel
Harry Thuku Road, Nairobi.
DAR ES SALAAM: For all trips departing from Dar Es Salaam, we have a pre departure meeting at 5.00pm on the day prior to departure at the departure point. On the day of departure, check- in is at 7:30am for a departure at 8:30am, or as confirmed by your trip leader at pre departure meeting.
Check-in Point/ Departure Point: Kipepeo Beach Camp
Plot 4, Mjimwema, Kigamboni
KAMPALA: Departure time on day of departure is 5am, with a pre departure meeting late afternoon the day before departure at the Red Chilli Hideaway
Check-in Point/ Departure Point: Red Chilli Hideaway
Plot 82, Sunderland Ave, Mbuva, Kampala
VICTORIA FALLS: For trips departing from Victoria Falls, we have a pre departure meeting at 5.00pm on the day prior to the start of the trip. The trip remains in the Falls on the first day of the trip, before leaving on Monday morning. This allows you more time to enjoy the numerous activities that only Victoria Falls can offer you prior to leaving Zimbabwe.
Check-in Point/ Departure Point: Victoria Falls,
Rest Camp & Lodge, Parkway Drive
WINDHOEK: The check in and departure point is at the Roof of Africa lodge in Windhoek, on the day of departure you will be transferred to the bus station for your connection to Swakopmund. Your pre departure meeting will be the afternoon of arrival in Swakopmund
Check-in Point/ Departure Point: Windhoek
Roof Of Africa, 124-126 Nelson Mandela Drive
CAPE TOWN: For trips departing from Cape Town, we have a pre departure meeting at 5.00pm on the day prior to departure. On departure day, check-in is at 8.45am for a departure at 9.30am.
Departure / Check-in Point: Lions Head Lodge / Aardvark Backpackers
319 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, 8001
JOHANNESBURG: For trips departing from Johannesburg, we have a pre departure meeting at 5.00pm on the day prior to departure. On departure day, check-in is at 8.45am for a departure at 9.30am.
Departure / Check-in Point: Backpackers Ritz 1a North Road
Dunkeld West, Johannesburg 2196
ACCOMMODATION - PRE & POST TRIP
Your operator is the only overland company operating in Africa with its own offices in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, and as such we can reserve accommodation for nights prior to your trip as well as at your journeys end.
Obviously, rates vary with the standard of accommodation as well as varying from city to city and from country to country. Finding accommodation at the end of the trip is normally quite easy. Generally we arrive in daylight hours, which enables us plenty of time to find suitable accommodation. Your Trip Leader can recommend somewhere to suit your budget.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
You should have a full passport valid for at least six months after the end of your safari. It is advisable to allow at least one blank page for each country to be visited. If your passport is almost full you may find yourself unable to complete the tour.
Note: it is advisable to bring a photocopy of your passport in case you lose the original.
Visas are your responsibility. Please check visa requirements with the consular office of each country that you will be visiting. Alternatively, consult your agent or us. You should allow plenty of time for obtaining necessary visas. In Africa, most visas can be obtained en-route.
Please consult your doctor or immunisation centre for the relevant vaccination requirements for the countries to which you will be travelling. Please note, however, that a Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory for most African countries. In addition for African safaris, we would recommend vaccinations for typhoid, polio, tetanus, hepatitis, meningitis, and perhaps, cholera.
Note: you should have a photocopy of your Certificate in case you lose the original.
MEDICAL / HEALTH
All our vehicles carry a first aid kit that is for use in emergencies and passengers are asked to replace any item they use. However, we would strongly advise you to bring a personal medical kit. Any reputable medical store will be able to provide this.
Suggested contents includes:
Lip balm anti-histamine cream or tablets
Sunscreen water purifying tablets
Painkillers anti diarrhoea remedy
Moisturiser dehydration salts
Elastoplasts/band aids insect repellent
Sterile dressings antiseptic cream
Malaria is endemic in most parts of Africa. It is your responsibility to provide anti-malaria tablets and other preventative measures. You should consult your doctor as to the correct prophylaxis for the countries to be visited. It is also useful to avoid being bitten through the use of an insect repellent containing DEET and wearing long sleeved shirts and trousers at night.
Personal travel insurance is compulsory for all our safaris. This should include a comprehensive medical cover including repatriation, personal effects and luggage, as well as cancellation and curtailment insurance. If you are in any doubt as to the cover you need, please contact either your agent or us.
Note: Please bring a photocopy of your Insurance Policy and hand to the Trip Leader at the pre departure meeting.
LUGGAGE AND WHAT TO BRING
As a guide we recommend you keep to your airline's restriction I .e.. 20 kg or less. Most people bring along a backpack (preferably with built-in frame) and a day bag. Large suitcases are not recommended, as these can be difficult to store on the truck. Most people make the mistake of bringing too much clothing. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry, but avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Please remember that Africa can be colder than you might expect, particular at night and in the early morning.
The following is a suggested list of clothing and accessories:
2 long sleeved shirts/blouses money and traveller's cheques
3-4 short sleeved shirts or T-shirts vaccination certificates
2 pairs trousers or 1 pair and 1 skirt Passport (plus photocopy)
1-2 pairs shorts camera and film
Tracksuit pants personal toiletries and towel
Heavy sweater water bottle
Light sweater watch (inexpensive)
Underwear sunglasses (inexpensive)
Hat torch and spare batteries
Water/windproof jacket small sewing kit
Boots or trainers washing soap for clothes
Sandals or thongs plastic bags
Set of smart clothes and shoes clothes line and pegs
Swimsuit small scrubbing brush
Sleeping bag, sleep sheet and roll mat penknife
Music (our vehicles are equipped with stereos)
For trips that include the optional Gorilla trek, we recommend that you bring hiking boots and wet weather clothes as well as gloves (such as gardening gloves).
If you wear glasses (or contacts) it is also advisable to bring a spare
If you wish to sleep out on warm nights you will need to bring a mosquito net and ground sheet.
We cannot stress enough the need for you to be aware whilst travelling in Africa. Please do not bring unnecessary valuables along with you such as jewellery or expensive watches.
We also recommend that you photocopy all your travel documents including the first 4 pages of your passport and keep them aside from the originals. Whilst on safari the vehicle should never be left unattended except when we are staying in a guarded campsite.
Vehicle security is a part of safari life and we ask that you share this burden at times with your fellow travellers.
Although all care and attention will be exercised, your operator nor its agents and employees can accept responsibility for anything deposited in the truck safe or left on the vehicle.
Well, only you know to what extent your spending habits will tax you I .e.. whether you smoke or drink, what souvenirs you are most probably wanting to buy, or any extra excursions you may want to do. Africa is not as cheap as a lot of the travel books have you to believe and as such we would recommend that you allow, in addition to the listed optional excursions in our brochure, a figure of US$20 to US$30 per day.
It is advisable to bring spending money in both cash and travellers cheques, preferably in US dollars or pounds sterling, or both. Cash should be in a variety of denominations, and if travelling to East Africa, please make sure that US dollar notes are post 2000
The itinerary as set out in the brochure and this information is intended as a guideline only and may vary slightly as the trip progresses. Each trip must be flexible to allow for all variables, such as road conditions, political situations, weather and even possible breakdowns. Where possible you will see everything listed and probably more.
Most of our African safaris include 3 crew member's, your Driver, Trip Leader and Safari Cook. Your Driver & Cook are generally Kenyan, Zimbabwean, Namibian or South African. They have a wealth of experience and enjoy sharing it with you. Your Trip Leader is generally either European or Australasian. They will have had previous travel experience in Africa and/or the Middle East, either independently or as a passenger. Many have worked in these regions for a number of years and have "on the road" experience in organising and leading trips in developing countries. They are there to make sure that your journey is as smooth and trouble free as possible. Please do not hesitate to ask them any questions you may have. Note: The Trip Leader is there to facilitate the smooth running of the trip and is not a "Tour Guide" in the normal sense. They are not expected to be experts in all aspects of culture, history and wildlife but many have gained experience through personal travel and time spent on the road. For more in-depth information there are usually books on board the truck for passenger's use.
Due to reasons of health, security, or circumstances beyond our control, it may be necessary to make alterations to the planned itinerary. If this is unavoidable the Trip Leader will make the final decision on changes after discussing the issue with the group. Obviously the Trip Leader will bear in mind the wishes of the group, although there may well be occasions when unpopular decisions have to be made. In all matters relating to the trip the Trip Leaders decisions will be final.
OUR OVERLAND SAFARI VEHICLE'S
Our trucks have both inward and forward facing seats that provide very good all round vision. Some of our trucks are 4WD, which can be essential in certain parts of Africa. Others are two-wheel drive Mercedes Benz or MAN trucks, which are ideal for travelling in East & Southern Africa where the roads have good tarmac surfaces.
Food, cooking equipment, spares, etc are stored in other lockers, some of which are inside and some outside the truck.
The seats are all well upholstered and there is good head and legroom.
Large fuel and water tanks allow for a very long range. There are either sliding windows or waterproof canopy with clear windows. Both allow all-round visibility.
All trucks have a tape stereo on board, using a tape connector CD players/ MP3 players and ipods can be connected.
WHILST ON SAFARI
We ask you to preserve the countries that you will be travelling through as much as possible, and as such, please do not drop or leave behind litter. When bush camping we either dispose of our litter by burying or burning it.
"TAKE ONLY PHOTOS, LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS".
The campsites in Southern Africa are generally of a very good quality while the ones in Eastern Africa are of a more basic nature but equally beautiful.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
We ask that each passenger obey all the laws of the countries we are travelling through. Any passenger found in possession of contraband, non prescribed narcotic drugs or firearms will be asked to leave the trip immediately, with no refund of the trip fare.
All of the countries you will be travelling through will have their own individual customs, please respect them.
Naturally, there are many opportunities for photography in Africa. As film can be very expensive in many countries that you will be visiting we suggest you bring plenty from home. If you are visiting the gorillas in Africa you will need to bring fast film as, at times, they are found deep in the forest. Some sources suggest 1600 ASA film but this is arguably too fast, and in the past 200-400 ASA film has proved adequate in most cases, but it is recommended to bring an 800 ASA should conditions prove a bit dark. No flash photography is allowed whilst viewing the gorillas. It is advisable to bring a re-sealable polythene bag to keep dust from your equipment.
Video photography is also possible. Batteries can be recharged at some of the campsites we visit but it is advisable to bring spares.
A note of warning. Under no circumstances should you attempt to photograph government buildings, police, military personnel or any government official. This applies especially at borders. It is not unknown for people to have cameras confiscated if officials even suspect a photo has been taken. If in doubt, ask.
CHARGING OF BATTERIES AND POWER SUPPLIES
Most campsites have electrical points, so generally every 3-4 days you will have the opportunity to charge your camera/ ipod battery, also bring a spare battery and monitor it, keeping the spare charged at all times to avoid disappointment. A universal travel plug is recommended.
Most people do not get any postal mail sent to them whilst on tour. Instead many passengers like to receive emails. Emails can be received and viewed through internet centres at various points throughout the trip. Most commonly these are:
KENYA: Nairobi and Lake Nakuru only
UGANDA: Kampala only (but not definite access)
TANZANIA: Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar (very cheap here)
MALAWI: Sometimes Lilongwe but not definite
ZAMBIA: Usually no access
ZIMBABWE: Victoria Falls has limited access to the internet
BOTSWANA: Maun, if time permits.
NAMIBIA: Swakopmund has good access.
SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town and Johannesburg has good facilities.
Please remember that checking emails usually takes a lot longer in Africa and is relatively expensive. It is also time that is taken out of your sightseeing opportunities, a general idea for frequency of e-mails should be every week/ week and a half
BOOKS AND MAPS
Many people like to read up on an area before visiting it. We have compiled a selection of books and maps, which we feel, will reflect much of what you are going to experience and see.
LONELY PLANET GUIDES - AFRICA
THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA - Thomas Pakenham
VENTURE INTO THE INTERIOR - Laurens Van der Post
OUT OF AFRICA & LETTERS FROM AFRICA - Karen Blixen
GREEN HILLS OF AFRICA - Ernest Hemingway
THE SERENGETI SHALL NOT DIE - B. & M. Grzimek
THE INNOCENT ANTHROPOLOGIST - Nigel Barley
THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA - Elspeth Huxley
THE AFRICANS - David Lamb
FACING MOUNT KENYA - Jomo Kenyatta
LONG WALK TO FREEDOM – Nelson Mandela.
A FIELD GUIDE TO THE MAMMALS OF AFRICA - T.Holtenorth & H.Diller
A FIELD GUIDE TO THE LARGER MAMMALS OF AFRICA - J.Dorset, P.Dandelot
A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF EAST AFRICA - J.Williams & N.Arlott
AFRICA'S TOP WILDLIFE COUNTRIES - Mark Nolting
To follow your trip, we recommend the Michelin 955, which covers East and Southern Africa.
As we have said, conditions in Africa change, therefore we cannot accept responsibility for disruptions and delays that may cause you to miss connections.
We do recommend that you allow 1 -3 days after the scheduled completion date of your safari before flying out.