Travel Tips

Passports

Passports

Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of your return. In addition there must be at least three blank pages in the passport. You may be refused entry into the country if your passport does not meet these 2 requirements. We recommend that you view www.smarttraveller.gov.au for specific clarification. You will need to produce your passport at check-in as well as carry a copy of your itinerary in case you need to prove that you have a return booked within the visa free period (90 days for Australians, less for other countries)

Visas

Visas

Passport holders from Australia, Canada, USA, UK and UE do not require a visa to enter South Africa although length of stay varies from 30 days to 90 days.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations

The South African Department of Health has advised that passengers returning from or travelling to Zambia (Vic Falls) no longer require proof of a Yellow Fever vaccination. In-transit passengers, irrespective of the time period in transit in Johannesburg, still require proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination. Please note that Australian authorities require visitors who’ve been to East Africa to hold valid Yellow Fever certificates upon re-entry.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance to cover your time away from home, including: medical costs and personal accident, loss or damage to baggage, loss of traveller’s cheques and credit cards.

Health

Health

Antimalarial medication is suggested for some remote areas of South Africa such as the Kruger National Park. Although there are few cases reported from this area, there is still a risk and you should see your doctor or visit a travel clinic at least eight weeks before you travel if you plan to take antimalarial medication.

Prescriptions & Medical History

Prescriptions & Medical History

A copy of your prescriptions is essential in case of any health problems. Ask your doctor to assist you by preparing a list of your medications. If you have health issues, your doctor can prepare your medical history for a foreign doctor. It should include your name, address, emergency contact, blood type, medical history, current medications and dosages, drug allergies, reasons for prior hospitalisations and list of immunisations and dates. Pack sufficient medication for the duration of your tour. Try to ensure that your medication is always close at hand. It is a good idea to pack it in your carry-on luggage and to carry a list of your medications in case they are lost. If you have lost your medication, most pharmacies in South Africa will provide minimal replacement without a prescription for many medications if you produce your passport at the counter, but it if this fails you can obtain prescriptions from a South African doctor provided you have sufficient documentation from your doctor back home.

General Physical Fitness

General Physical Fitness

We recommend that you consider carefully the type of tour that you select as some include walking or standing for periods of time.

Allergies

Allergies

If you have a food allergy or another condition that needs to be managed on tour, please advise us as well as your cruise tour director upon arrival, because most suppliers require advance notice to accommodate this. Some operators may ask you to fill out a form or waiver.

What to Bring

What to Bring

Although international air baggage limitations can be 30kg, the maximum baggage allowance for travel within Africa is usually one bag per person with a maximum of 23 kg and a small carry-on bag. A small carry-on bag is suggested for game drives. Daytime temperatures (May to August) in winter are generally mild but evenings can be cool, so pack multiple layers of clothing to ensure you stay comfortable and warm on afternoon game drives. Avoid bright colours too. Bring a pair of gloves and a hat, as sometimes the winter game drives can be chilly. Standard safari gear must include a broad-brimmed hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. For walking comfortable shoes are fine, there is no need for heavy boots on safari. For those travelling on the Blue train or Rovos Rail tour extension, the day dress is smart, casual and comfortable. More formal attire is required in the evening, jacket and tie minimum.

Electrical Appliances

Electrical Appliances

Power outlets are in South Africa are 230 volts so appliances from Australia or UK can be used with an adaptor plug. In most hotels, there are outlets that will allow foreign plugs to connect directly but we recommend you purchase an adaptor to ensure you are always able to recharge your phone or connect your laptop, etc. Adapters can be purchased in most Airports or electronic stores.

Valuables & Security

Valuables & Security

Do not take anything with you that will create emotional or financial hardship if lost or stolen. There is no guarantee of absolute safety anywhere you travel but you can minimise risk by carrying all documents, money, passport, tickets etc. with you whenever possible. Do not pack these items in your checked-in luggage, not only to prevent theft, but because you will require your passport to pass through security checks and customs. Never leave hand-luggage unattended in hotel lobbies or dining rooms. Avoid exploration on your own of unfamiliar streets or areas. Discuss any travel not arranged by your tour guide with your hotel concierge as they will know the area and will be able to give you advice to ensure your safety. Also avoid excessive displays of jewellery or cash. When sightseeing, keep all valuables locked in the safe in your room.

Language

Language

English is the official language in South Africa.

Currencies and Banking

Currencies and Banking

ATMs are available throughout South Africa and the currency is Rands (ZAR). Virtually all foreign bank cards and credit cards will work in ATMs so you can draw funds directly from your accounts at home. Banks, some hotels and even casinos can cash travellers cheques or exchange foreign currency.

Gratuities

Gratuities

All fees and charges are included in your tour so tipping is not required but is commonplace. Incomes in South Africa are low by world standards so you will find that all tips will be gratefully received.

Travel Within South Africa

Travel Within South Africa

Travelling to any foreign destination always involves some risk and although South Africa has received some bad publicity over the years, it is, in fact, a safe country in which to travel. The infrastructure and system of government are equal or even superior to many popular tourist destinations and we feel that you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of accommodation, transportation and food provided. In addition, we greatly reduce risk by only dealing with established, reputable operators. We have had personal contact with every operator we use and have viewed their methods and establishments before engaging them. Your safety is always our first priority. In general, South Africans are extremely friendly and many visitors are humbled by their hospitality.

In an Emergency

In an Emergency

On tour, all vehicles used have mobile phones and signal coverage throughout South Africa is very good. Radios are also fitted in safari vehicles to keep the safari camps and lodges in contact with the drivers. Although your tour host will be with you most of the time, their contact details are provided to all guests and are contactable 24 hours a day. Travel insurance is essential and medical treatment, if required, is of a high standard and readily available in most towns and all cities.

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

South African cuisine offers a vast array of dining experiences. In Cape Town, try exotic Cape Malay fare or delicious seafood at one of many restaurants in the world renown water front area. Experience traditional African cuisine made from fresh local produce. Throughout your trip, there will be wonderful new dining opportunities, such as bush dinners in breathtaking African wilderness settings while touring the country or outdoor ‘boma’ dining, providing the quintessential African safari meal under the stars. South Africa is also renowned for its world-class wine regions – anyone with a taste for wine will not be disappointed with the quality and choice provided. There are over 150 wineries in the Stellenbosch area alone. Or enjoy a ‘Sundowner’ while watching the distinctive African sunset on the Highveld. There are so many cuisine choices and magical memories awaiting.

Game Viewing on Safari

Game Viewing on Safari

It is important that you are aware that while on safari you will very likely come into close contact with wild animals. Safari lodges and camps are not fenced and wildlife is free to move in and around these areas. While in a game reserve, always follow the safety instructions from your guide and staff in regards to moving to and from your accommodation and while on game viewing activities. In addition, whilst travelling to and through game parks, you may encounter unsealed roads, which can be rough and bumpy. If you have a pre-existing back or neck injury we recommend that you consult with your doctor prior to travelling.

Learn About Your Destination

Learn About Your Destination

Knowing a little about the places or locations that you will be visiting can greatly enhance your enjoyment. You can familiarise yourself with the areas, cities, and game reserves that you will be visiting by referring to your itinerary when researching.

Useful ways to research:
  • Contact your tour host at Escorted Tours Africa
  • Use the internet and visit site such as Google or Yahoo
  • Read travel books such as Lonely Planet or books relating to Safari
  • Read fictional books such as Power of One or Cry the Beloved Country

Toiletries, Medications & Miscellaneous

Toiletries, Medications & Miscellaneous

A useful tip - Most chemists sell travel-size toiletries which can be taken in carry-on luggage. In addition, all South African hotels supply basic toiletry items although you may want to bring your own items that suit your personal taste.

Items to consider bringing:
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, comb or hair brush, razor, feminine products, cosmetics
  • Tissues, washcloths, antibacterial wipes
  • Travel alarm clock, money pouch
  • Medications such as prescriptions, antacid, immodium, aspirin, flu medicine, vitamins, Band-Aids
  • Prescription glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses
  • Flashlight, batteries, pocket calculator, electrical converters/adaptors, luggage lock
  • Essential - Sunscreen and mosquito repellent

Medicines
For your own safety, pack your prescription medicines in their original container showing the prescription label along with your doctor’s contact number. If you forget or run out of a prescription drug, you can usually get a minimal dose from most chemists in South Africa, however this should only be in an emergency situation. Useful tip - If you get diarrhoea on tour, increase your fluid intake, avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks and tell your Tour Director.

Water
Whenever traveling it is always best to drink bottled water. Well-known brands of beverages are safe too.

AT THE AIRPORT

AT THE AIRPORT

Reconfirmation of Flights
We suggest that you contact your airline or travel agent at least 72 hours before your initial flight, to confirm your departure details. With most airlines, it is usually possible to check in 72 hours before departure.

Luggage Restrictions and Security
International checked in luggage limits vary with different carriers so check with your airline. Most allow one bag of 20kg and many allow more. Carry-on is limited to 7kg and must fit in an airplane overhead compartment. Passengers should make sure that they do not include anything of high value (personal or financial value) within their luggage. This includes, but is not limited to jewellery, cameras, video equipment, reading/sunglasses, laptops or other computer/ electronic equipment and medication. We recommend that all checked luggage is locked. It is also a good idea to use ID tags and attach an ID label inside your checked in and carry-on luggage. Sometimes luggage is delayed during air transit. It is recommended to take a change of clothing and any essential medication in your hand luggage, or pack some clothing in your travel companion’s bag. If your luggage is lost, having your name and contact details on your luggage will help with its location and safe return to you. Should your luggage be delayed, it is the responsibility of the airline to deliver it to you. Claims for reimbursement should be submitted directly to the airline – a claim form should be filled out at the appropriate airline desk upon arrival. If you need assistance in contacting the airlines for information regarding your delayed luggage, please ask your Tour host.

Airport & Airline Security Do not forget your passport. Check it is in your carry-on luggage when you leave for the airport. Do not put your passport in your checked in luggage. Arriving early at the airport is advisable – 2 hours before departure for domestic and 3 hours before departure for international is recommended. This allows time to check in, pass through border control, security and get to your boarding area. Keep in mind that sharp objects and most liquids should be stored inside your check-in luggage as they will be confiscated if they are in your carry-on luggage (liquids of less than 100ml are allowed in carry-on luggage). Be aware that you may be required to put your shoes and belts through x-ray checks, so be prepared to remove them.

Customs
When returning to your home country, be aware that luggage can be inspected by Customs or Quarantine officers. All food and other such items of plant and/or animal origin need to be declared, as do items on which duty or tax might be payable (check with Customs about the duty free concession).

Late or Missed Flights
The purchase of travel insurance is essential. Please ensure that you have travel insurance as a missed flight can be expensive. In the unfortunate event that you miss a flight completely, please immediately advise the airline representative that you are a tour passenger bound for a specific location, as well as the date and time to join your tour or to check into a pre-tour hotel.

Comfort & Avoiding Jetlag
  • Wear loose clothes and comfortable shoes during your flight
  • Try to hydrate yourself constantly with water (avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks, and eat light)
  • Alleviate pressure in your ears by chewing gum, yawning, swallowing, or gently blowing your nose
  • If possible, try to walk up and down the aisle to stretch out your limbs and get blood circulating. You could also do a few isometric exercises while seated
  • If you arrive in the morning, try to sleep during your flight so you can stay awake until the evening
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses during your flight because aircraft cabin air tends to dry them out

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE INFORMATION

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Airport Transfers
All transfers are included in the tour. You will be met at the airport in the arrivals area and escorted by the tour host to your hotel.

Hotel Information
Hotels in South Africa operate much the same as elsewhere in the world with a 2pm check in and 10am check out in most cases.

GAME PARKS

GAME PARKS

Game Park Seasons
South Africa is a year-round destination with opportunities for game viewing throughout the entire year. However, the dry season is the optimal season in which to see animals. Watering holes attract a large concentration and wide variety of animals, making it easier to view wildlife. The thin vegetation during the dry season improves viewing as well.

General Information
The Big Five The Big Five are the main animals sought after in Africa. They are rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. Walking Around the Camp/Lodge For reasons of safety, when staying at camps and lodges within game reserves, you are restricted to walking only along designated paths. Longer walks will be taken with a guide or ranger but cannot be taken unaccompanied.

Useful websites

Useful websites

Information: www.google.com
Climate: ww.climate-zone.com
Time: www.timeanddate.com/worldclock
Currency Conversion: www.xe.com
Customs Australia: www.customs.gov.au
Customs New Zealand: www.customs.govt.nz
Customs Canada: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
Customs UK: www.gov.uk/uk-border-control/overview
Customs EU: www.ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm
Customs USA: www.cbp.gov
International Telephone Calling: www.countrycallingcodes.com
Australian Government Advisory & Consular Service: www.smarttraveller.gov.au