Booking Your Safari

Why Africa?

A luxury safari in Africa is one of the few places you can still experience raw adventure in amongst ancient and undisturbed landscapes. These unique vistas remain largely untouched and teem with wildlife unique to Africa. A true get-away from the modern world. Africa has so much to offer; from the thunderous Victoria Falls to the serene Okavango Delta; from the vast Serengeti plains full of herds of wildebeest to the undisturbed and pristine beaches of Mozambique.

I’ve never done this before: what’s the process for booking a safari?

We understand that booking a safari can be an unfamiliar process. Check out our easy 5 Step Guide to get an overview of what happens next.

Booking Your Safari

How far in advance should I book my safari?

We recommend booking as far in advance as possible to ensure all individual requests can be met. Generally speaking, for safaris longer than a week in length, we would recommend booking at least 3 – 12 months in advance. This is especially important for travellers booking private safaris.

Can I make my own itinerary?

Absolutely. We specialize in personalized tailor-made safari itineraries. It’s what we do. Just contact us to start the process. We’ll listen to your needs and give recommendations based upon your specific interests, timeline, and budget. Our select clientele know that they can rely on us to craft the perfect safari for them.

Can I take my children on safari?

Yes, you can! We think taking your whole family on safari is a wonderful way to share all of the excitement and often life changing experiences that an authentic safari experience has to offer. Some lodges do have an age restriction, however many of our lodges actively welcome children and have a number of child-friendly activities on offer. We have specifically crafted family safaris designed for parents travelling with kids six years of age and older.

Do you offer disabled access-friendly safaris?

This entirely depends on the type and severity of the condition. We will always do our best to accommodate all members of a safari group, but certain camps are equipped with disabled access features whilst others are not. Please get in touch to let us know more about any conditions or specific requirements you may have.

Health & Safety

Are safaris in Africa safe?

Yes, they are! You will be well looked after by professional and attentive staff. It is very important to listen closely to safety briefings given at lodges and camps, especially those pertaining to wildlife activity in the area and conduct on game drives and canoe safaris. Whilst on safari you will be accompanied by experienced licensed guides with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of wildlife. In addition, many professionally trained and licensed guides carry firearms for your safety

What shots should I get?

For medical advice, it’s always best to consult your doctor. Most travellers receive a vaccination for yellow fever and a course of anti malarial pills. Keep in mind that you’ll be staying in camps and lodges designed to accommodate American and European guests.

More information on region-specific vaccinations can be found on the CDC’s vaccines website.

Should I be worried about malaria?

A lot of the camps and lodges are quite remote and the chances of contracting malaria are low. However, as most southern and east African safari destinations do have occurrences of malaria, it is definitely worth taking preventative steps. Malaria is transmitted by a very small percentage of female Anopheles mosquitoes. Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylactics. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite taking tablets, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported.

Please remember that the best insurance against contracting malaria is to try to prevent being bitten, so use mosquito repellents liberally. Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings. You should spray your room prior going to dinner with an insecticide like Doom, which will kill any mosquitoes that may have flown into your room. Mosquito coils are also effective. We do suggest you contact your own doctor prior to leaving for your African holiday, to advise him/her of where you will be travelling and let him/her prescribe the best suited prophylactic. If you become ill on your return, while still on prophylactics or even once you have stopped, make sure that your doctor does everything necessary to establish that your illness is not malaria. If caught early on the disease can be effectively dealt with.

Medical Facilities

South Africa boasts world-class hospitals and medical care. Whilst other African countries do have limited medical services, most countries and their camps have well established emergency medical evacuation services to South Africa. For this reason, it is very important that all travellers carry the appropriate insurance, in the event of an emergency evacuation.

Travel

Will I need a visa?

It is the responsibility of the client to ensure that their passports are valid for travel to Africa, for at least 6 months after the end date of intended travel. The passport must also have at least 3 – 4 blank pages in it. This is critical, as you will not be allowed into South Africa without meeting these requirements. Daniella can advise on passport/visa requirements.

Safari Lodges & Wildlife Viewing

Will I stay in tents or lodges?

We appreciate how important choice is when planning a trip. That is why we offer an wide variety of luxury accommodation options. Many more in fact than we could illustrate on our website! It is entirely up to our clients to choose what kind of accommodation they would like to book. We have selected listings varying from more opulent high-end lodges through to more rustic tented camps situation in the deep wilderness. Be sure to peruse the accommodation section of our destination listing.

When is the best time of year to go on safari?

In sub-Saharan Africa, wildlife can be seen all year. However, there are seasonal variations. and game viewing is usually best in the winter when the bush is less dense and animals tend to gather where there is available surface water, rather than being scattered over the plains.

The wildlife in Africa can be seen all year round.  The African winter months, between June and September, are considered the ‘high season’. This is a time of year during which vegetation is sparse, allowing for enhanced wildlife sightings. Water resources are also more scarce, meaning that a larger number of animals will congregate together to drink throughout the day. However, during the fringe ‘green’ season, guests are treated to an entirely different but equally amazing experience. Mothers give birth to their young, whilst bird migration patterns result enhanced viewings of rare species. It entirely depends on what you wish to see on your safari!

At what time of year does the Great Migration occur?

Wildlife is prevalent year round however the great migration varies depending on the weather from year to year. Each year, approximately 1.4 million wildebeest, 250,000 Burchell’s zebra and a vast number of Thompson’s gazelle make the yearlong round trip from Tanzania’s Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya.

The herds can be found on the lush plains of the Serengeti National Park from November to May. From January onward, after calving, wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle alternate between the woodlands and plains depending on the weather. In May, as the Serengeti grasses dry up, the herds begin the roughly 500-mile Migration. They move north, and by June they are in the more lush plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara. This is where they generally stay until October.

What kinds of animals will I see on safari?

You will see the wildlife you’ve always dreamed of encountering on safari—elephant, lion, giraffe, zebra, hippo, leopard, warthog, wildebeest and so many more! In sub-Saharan Africa wildlife can be seen all year. However, there are seasonal variations and it is important to remember that winter months are better for optimum game viewing as the bush is less dense and animals tend to congregate near to areas near water.

Is being around wild animals safe?

 Most private camps in Southern Africa are unfenced with wildlife free to move through them. It is important to listen carefully to and abide by the instructions given by licensed guides and camp staff prior to your safari, as the behaviour of wild animals cannot be guaranteed. However, most animals are frightened by humans and will flee rather than attack. As a degree of danger does exist, most guides carry a firearm as a precaution.

Is there a code of conduct for game drives?

As the objective would be to see as much wildlife as possible, it would be wise to observe the animals in silence and with as little disturbance as possible. Do not stand up when the vehicle is close to dangerous animals and do not make any noises to attempt to attract an animal’s attention. At all times respect the advice and judgment of the guide and never wander off on your own. Do not litter as this sort of debris could poison animals and refrain from smoking. Fires can spread very easily through a dry African landscape. Each camp/national park may have their own regulations regarding game drive etiquette; guests are filled in on these prior to their game drives.

What electrical voltage is used in Southern Africa?

The electricity in both east and southern Africa is 220/240 volts. This includes Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Most safari lodges have their own generator and are not connected to a mains electrical supply and as such you may not find plug sockets in some the rooms. Lanterns and/or lamps are often provided for additional light at night time.

 Will I have Internet access?

Many lodges offer Internet access, however, this can depend on the location/regulations of the camp. A number of safari camps in Africa do not offer internet access in order to offer a more fully immersive experience in the wild.

Will I have service on my mobile/access to a telephone?

Please note that the whilst certain camps in Southern Africa do have telephones, quite a few, especially in Botswana, which are very remote do not have telephones or mobile reception. A number of guests have brought a satellite phones along with them on safari. As most people come on safari to get away from the outside world, we urge you to restrict the use of your mobile whilst on safari. Please note that some camps forbid the use of mobile and satellite phones by their guests. Radio communications or a camp satellite phone are often offered for guest use in the case of an emergency.

Clothes, Food & Weather

What will the weather be like?

In Southern Africa summer is from October to April and winter is from May to August. Summers tend to be hot, with temperatures around 30°C (86°F), and therefore is the preferred time to go on beach holidays, such as in Mozambique. Winter temperatures during the day are around 15°C (59°F) and fall to as low as -10°C (32°F) overnight. It can be extremely chilly on early morning or evening safari drives so it is advisable to pack some warm clothing for your trip!

East Africa (namely, Tanzania) enjoys warm weather year round with an average daytime temperature of 70°F. You may need a sweater at night and in the early morning.

Can I have my laundry done whilst on safari?

The camps and lodges we book offer a laundry service and this is usually included with a fully inclusive stay. However, certain cultural restrictions in a very few, particularly in Botswana, mean that underwear cannot be accepted by staff for washing.

What should I pack?

Safari clothing should be both comfortable and casual and recommended colours are khaki, muted green, tan and brown. We recommend wearing layers, as early mornings and late evenings can be unexpectedly chilly! It is recommended that your packing list include the following items:

1. Good quality sunglasses – preferably polarized for enhanced visibility. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light.
2. Hat/cap with good shading.
3.  Good walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine).
4. Swimming costume.
5. Warm winter jersey, anorak or parka (important for the cold winter mornings i.e. May-September and in the case of rain).
6. Scarf and gloves for the winter months (May to September).
7. If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case of irritation from the dust.
8. Binoculars – ESSENTIAL!
9. Malaria tablets (most importantly in the ‘green’ season of October to May.
10. Suntan lotion.
11. Strong insect repellent e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc.
12. Visas, tickets, passports, money etc.
13. A flashlight (optional).
14. Newman’s bird book if you are a keen birder! Or any other reference literature of your preference.

WHAT NOT TO PACK:

As no formal clothes are needed, we recommend that you keep your luggage to the basics for your African holiday. Whilst on Africa safari bright and contrasting colours (black & white) are NOT advised as this increases your visibility to animals. Try and ensure your clothes are of a neutral colour such khaki, beige or green. Please note that ARMY CAMOUFLAGE UNIFORMS OR ARMY HATS ARE FORBIDDEN in certain African countries. Dark colours are not a good idea especially if you are going to be out in the sun, as they absorb the heat. Tsetse flies love colours like blue or black. A suggested clothing list is attached for your African travel information.

What’s the food like?

All our luxury lodges have chefs that prepare fresh gourmet meals using where ever possible fresh local produce. The style of cuisine is broadly international with a selection of local dishes.

Is drinking tap water safe?

Although tap water in many cities and small towns is purified and safe to drink, it may be wise to drink filtered water, which is readily available at all of our featured camps.

Can special diets be accommodated?

With advanced notice, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and diabetic-friendly meals can be arranged at a number of camps. Please make sure that you inform us well in advance of these requirements when booking your trip.

Will I have a chance to interact with local people?

Many of our trips provide opportunities to visit local villages and interact with the people. However, if your itinerary does not include these visits, you’ll still be able to gain valuable local insight from your expert guide. If you have a strong interest in learning about observing and interacting with the local culture, please let us know well in advance as we try to ensure that these visits are as unobtrusive as possible.

Are there a lot of bugs in Africa?

There are more bugs in many places in the U.S. than you will encounter on safari! As in North America, deet-based repellents and citronella-based products work well if you encounter mosquitoes or other small insects on safari.

Itineraries

Why should I book through an agent?

In Africa, probably more than any other travel destination, local knowledge and experience and information is vital. Selecting the right travel partner is an essential foundation to a successful African safari. Using an agent not only guarantees the most suitable destinations, is always means that we will negotiate and arrange the keenest rates available from the best camps and lodges for you, our client.

Sikeleli Africa Safaris creates and arranges individual tailor-made safari itineraries for the discerning traveller. Our relationships with travel service providers and extensive knowledge of their destination camps and lodges mean that you will get the best tailor-made safari at the best price. We cover all major destinations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Payment

Bookings

Reservations: Need be well in advance, by the Agent on behalf of the travellers, as some lodges, camps and hotels are limited in size, and sell out well in advance due to seasons. To assure the traveller’s first choice of accommodation, an early reservation is essential.

Fees, Deposit For Passage & Payments

Planning Fee: The Planning Fee for the planning and reservation stage of the traveller’s tailor-made safari may be waived at the discretion of the Agency.

Payment Sequence: Sikeleli Africa Safaris Limited only arrange customized tailor-made safaris for you. Payments are made in separate stages. Firstly the Deposit for Travel and secondly the Balance Payment.

Deposit for Travel: In order to secure and confirm the traveller’s reservations, Sikeleli Africa Safaris Limited requires a non-refundable deposit for travel of 30% of the total cost of the safari. Payment of the deposit for travel will be deemed as acceptance, by the traveller, of the terms and conditions of the Agreement.

Balance Payment: The balance of the cost of the safari must be paid no later than eight weeks before the departure date of travel.

Settlement: Payments can be made by either secure international wire transfer or by using your credit card through our secure credit card processing partner Moneris. Sikeleli Africa Safaris Limited accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.

What’s the policy on tipping on safari?

Tipping (gratuities) is at your discretion. Each lodge and camp manager will be able to give you regionally-specific guidance on this, although you can take the following as a rule of thumb:

1. Guides
: We would recommend about US$10 per guest per day, provided that the guide has done a good job. If you have a specialist guide who accompanies you all the way, this could be increased but only, again, at your judgement.

2. General camp staff
: We would recommend between US$5 – 10 per guest per day.

3. Transfer guides
: We would recommended between US$ 2 – 5  per transfer trip.

However, please keep in mind that tips are only to be paid at your discretion, if you feel the service provider deserves a little something extra. It is by no means compulsory!

Can I pay with cash, credit card or traveller’s cheques?

For all additional expenses not included in your safari package, we recommend payment by credit card or cash. Most places, even the safari camps in Southern Africa, accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards; however it is a good idea to carry some cash with you to pay for curios, bar accounts and gratuities. Some camps also accept American Express and Diners Cards, although these are fewer and far between. In South Africa, it is advisable to change your money into South African Rand as it is the accepted currency countrywide. When travelling in Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and even Namibia, it is easiest to carry some cash in USD, but in small denominations. The reason for this: when paying for something with USD, you will usually receive change in the local currency, which you can then use whilst you are still there, but won’t be able to change back to USD once you have left the country.

We strongly recommend that when you book your safari with us, you enquire as to which camps take local currency, USD or credit cards. 

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