We hope that these tips will be useful as you prepare for your holiday in Southern Africa!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ARE GUIDELINES ONLY
Local projects supported by Africa Tourist Info: Africa Tourist Info has chosen to support two local projects; one working towards the development and security of Namibia’s youth and another focusing on Namibia’s wildlife. We are confident that donations to these projects go direct to Namibian based ground operations as neither project has large administration costs and as such we are happy to support these smaller organisations rather than larger, foreign based aid projects. If you would like to join us in helping either of these projects, please see the donation section at the bottom of our booking form.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation: http://www.giraffeconservation.org Their vision is that of a sustainable future where all giraffe populations and (sub)species are protected and secure in the wild. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation mission in brief is to: Establish the current status of all giraffe populations and (sub)species to support and inform their conservation and management, identify key threats to giraffe and innovative ways to mitigate these, increase awareness about the plight of giraffe, secure viable, and protect existing, habitat for giraffe and other wildlife & maintain a close working relationship with the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group (GOSG) to provide comprehensive educational and technical support.
What are my passport requirements? Make sure that you have a signed passport and that its validity will extend to six months after the date of your return. This document must also be carried with you at all times when travelling around Southern Africa. For entering any country in Southern Africa, you must have at least two empty pages in your passport for the entry visa, otherwise they may turn you away upon entry! If you are entering more than one African country, please make sure that you have at least 2 empty pages per country. It is advisable to carry copies of your passport, flight tickets, visa/s and any other important information separately from your valuables in case the originals are stolen or mislaid.
Do I need to apply for a visa in advance? It is your responsibility to check whether you need a visa to enter the countries you will be travelling to. Please ask us for advice if you are unsure, and we can check the latest information that we have access to, but the ultimate responsibility for this lies with you. Please make sure that all the relevant documentation is in order before your departure date.
Which vaccinations should I have before arrival? Most countries in Southern Africa do not presently require a vaccination certificate for entry, but we do recommend tetanus, meningococcal meningitis & hepatitis A, in addition to your Covid vaccination of course. If you are travelling into the region from any Yellow Fever at risk country, or if you have travelled to such a country recently, you will require a Yellow Fever Certificate.
It is very important that you consult your doctor in regard to required vaccinations, as certain injections may be necessary for your travel insurance. Please make sure that you carry any personal medication on you at all times and that you have enough for the duration of your safari.
Do I need to take malaria prophylaxis? Although the incidence of malaria in most of Southern Africa is low, we do recommend that you take prophylaxis. Prevention is better than cure and in addition to the prophylaxis, whilst in malaria areas you should also wear long, loose cotton clothing between dusk and dawn, sleep under a mosquito net or in a tent and use mosquito repellent. You must speak to your doctor about the type of malaria prophylaxis which is best for you, Malarone seems to be the current favoured drug, but we certainly do not recommend Larium (also known as Mefloquine).
Do I need to take out insurance? As part of the Terms and Conditions of your safari with Africa Tourist Info we require our guests to purchase insurance which covers at least the costs of medical expenses, repatriation, cancellation and/ or curtailment of your holiday. We cannot be held responsible for any costs incurred if you are forced by circumstances beyond our control to cancel, alter or curtail your trip and do not have the necessary insurance.
Is there any limit to the amount of luggage I bring? For fly-in and guided driving safari departures the luggage limits are between 12 and 20kg per person and soft bags must be used to minimize luggage damage. For self-drive trips we also advise soft bags, as these are much easier to transport and to pack into the vehicle. Any excess luggage can be safely stored with us in our Windhoek office, or in Maun or Kasane if you are flying into the Okavango Delta.
How much money should I bring, and in which currency? The amount that you bring will depend on the length of time you are travelling, and how many meals you will need to buy during your safari. Please feel free to ask us the cost of food etc. along your personal route.
Travellers’ cheques are largely redundant nowadays as many areas that you will travel to do not have banks, and lodges do not exchange them. Visa and MasterCard are readily accepted in most banks, shops, lodges and restaurants in Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana but cash is recommended for more rural areas such as local communities or campsites. The currency of Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (N$), this is linked 1:1 with the South African Rand, and Rand notes and coins are accepted throughout Namibia. The Botswana Pula is the currency of Botswana (BWP) and in South Africa it is the South African Rand (ZAR).
US$ is the official travel currency in Zimbabwe, and is widely accepted in Zambia. Petrol/ diesel and National Park entry fees in all countries must be paid for in cash only, in the currency of that country.
We advise our clients to let your credit card company know the dates that you will be travelling and the countries you will be visiting so that they do not block your card when you try to make purchases in Africa. It is also worth double checking your daily/monthly limit!
For self-drive clients petrol in Namibia & South Africa costs around Rand/N$15 per litre. In Botswana it is around about the same equivalent amount in Pula.
What kind of weather can I expect? Namibia and Botswana have very favourable climates with Namibia averaging 300 days of sunshine each year. South Africa has a temperate climate with the weather being quite changeable.
Summers (October to March) can be very hot with temperatures reaching 35C, but this also the rainy season so a lightweight rainproof jacket is very useful. Winter days, during April to September, are agreeably warm but temperatures can plummet to below zero at night so warm clothing is essential. Make sure that you bring plenty of high factor sun cream, and apply this regularly. Wear a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the elements, and stay in the shade as much as possible, rather than the direct sun. During summer storms, take care to avoid lightening dangers.
What kind of clothing should I bring? Neutral coloured casual clothing (shorts/shirts) for everyday wear, one pair of stout shoes (with soles thick enough to protect against thorns and for walking), one pair of open sandals, a light waterproof jacket for summer, warm jumpers/ fleeces for winter, warm long trousers for winter, two sets of good casual clothes for evening dining where appropriate, swimming costume and for ladies a sarong/ kikoi for wearing around the pool or drying yourself.
What else should I pack? A towel, a broad brimmed hat with a strap, sunglasses, high factor sunscreen, 2 litre water bottle (you could also just buy a mineral water bottle when you arrive and re-fill it), camera with spare memory cards & batteries (these can be purchased in Southern Africa, but you should bring a good supply in case you can’t find exactly what you want here), binoculars with strap, bird book or app if you are keen birders (Sasol or Newman’s birds of Southern Africa are both very good), spare glasses if you wear these or contact lenses, any personal medication, a basic kit of re-hydrate salt sachets, diarrhoea tablets, painkillers, antihistamine cream, insect repellent, plasters and antibiotic ointment. We provide self-drivers with a couple of heavy-duty rubbish bags to wrap their luggage in as the back canopies of some of the 4×4 vehicles let quite a lot of dust in!
What documentation must I bring when travelling with children? If you are travelling with children or young adults under the age of 18, you must bring certified copies of their birth certificates to show immigration. If the parent’s names on the passports are different from their names on the birth certificate, for instance if they changed after marriage, please also bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate. If only one parent is travelling with the child/ren, you will need to obtain an affidavit from the non-travelling parent which gives permission for the child/ren to be taken out of their country of residence.
What kind of plug adaptor do I need in Namibia? We use a three round pin plug:
In Botswana, the same plug as the UK is usually used (3 pin square blade), but they also sometimes use the different types below:
Most lodges will have adaptors in the rooms, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own just in case.
What extra things do I need for a camping trip? A powerful torch (maybe the headlight type for ease of use), sleeping bag (four seasons for winter) one can usually be hired if you don’t want to bring your own – just ask us for details. A pair of sturdy gardening gloves is also very useful for collecting firewood etc.
Do I need an international driving licence? If the essential details on your driving licence are written in English you can use this, but if not then you will need to acquire an International licence. If you do stop at a police block, some will also ask to see your passport to prove that you have a valid visa for the country so you should always keep this handy. You must keep your driving licence with you at all times when you are driving as it is a finable offence to be without it.
How bad is the crime in Southern Africa? This region is very safe for travellers and the people are generally very friendly and welcoming as they rely heavily on tourism for foreign revenue. However, all countries in the world have a degree of crime and it is always better to be cautious.
Avoid walking around towns and cities after dark, and even during the day make sure that you do not display your camera, money belt and day-bag obviously. Preferably don’t walk alone in quieter ‘off the beaten track’ areas. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle unless one of your party stays with the car, and keep luggage as hidden as possible. Always listen to local advice in this regard. If the room you are staying in has a safe, use it! If not then take all valuables with you when you leave your room. Always keep your credit cards in sight when making payments. Don’t be distracted by someone trying to sell curios at one side of the car, another person may be trying to open the car from the other side to steal belongings.
It is worth remembering that you will be carrying clothes, camera equipment and luggage that would cost most people in Southern Africa several year’s wages to purchase. Hence, it is best not to tempt people who may not have very much.
What do I need to know about driving in Southern Africa? With most hire vehicles, you will need to leave a credit card authorisation when you collect the car, and this acts as a guarantee to the hire company that you will pay up to a specified amount should there be any damage to the vehicle before it is returned. We usually sell zero excess hire only, so the only authorised amount on your credit card will be for any additional drivers/ contract fees or fuel if you return the car less than full. Most vehicles also include unlimited kilometres as the distances are so vast here!
When you collect the vehicle, you should check that the spare wheel tyre/s is in good condition and that you have the necessary tools to change the tyre. You should also check the condition of the other tyres, glass, engine, body work, interior & level of fuel to avoid being charged for damage that is a result of normal wear and tear. Ensure that any discrepancies, shortcomings or damage/scratches are noted in writing & acknowledged by the car hire company upon collection & return.
Once on the road you should make sure that you fill up with fuel frequently to allow for any detours, unexpected lack of supply (this does not happen often) or getting lost. It should also be noted that often towns/cities are FAR apart with no petrol stations in between so NEVER allow your fuel gauge to drop below ½ (half). In addition you should carry emergency supplies of water and basic food. We recommend a 5l bottle of water as well as some snacks. You should also check your tyre pressure, oil and water every morning before setting out on your day’s journey. The speed limits vary in different countries, but in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa it is 120km per hour on tar roads and 80km per hour on gravel/ dirt roads. To ensure maximum safety, you should not exceed these limits, especially on gravel roads that offer unpredictable conditions. Do not, unless in an emergency, drive after dark as the roads can be very dangerous with many animals and poor lighting!
Only stop at official Police road blocks. If asked to pay a fine, politely insist on a receipt. We do have some issues with bribery here, although thankfully it is still a rare occurrence. Please try to get the name of any official who tries to bribe you, and let us know so that we can follow it up with higher authorities.
Responsible Tourism – Enriching the Experience
Please have a read through these tips which we have designed to help travellers plan their holidays responsibly.
- Before you travel, try to read up as much as you can on your destination, local customs and cultures, history and appropriate dress. A few words of the local language, especially greetings, will go a long way towards breaking the ice. In Namibia English is the official language although Afrikaans and German are widely spoken, as well as many local languages. English is also the official language of Botswana and one of the official languages of South Africa. In Botswana everyone speaks Setswana, in South Africa the local language depends very much on which area of the country you visit.
- Dispose of as much excess packaging as you can before you leave home. Recycling and waste collection is not as well regulated and is more difficult to organise in Southern Africa.
- If you have space then a few gifts will always be very welcome. Good things to bring include clothes or shoes, toys, books written in English or crayons & colouring books (the latter can also be purchased on arrival if you have time, so that you can help contribute to the local economy as well). Ask us for tips on where best to distribute the gifts that you bring during your personal itinerary.
- Ask us for advice if you are interested in visiting any local community or environmental projects whilst you are in Africa. We can make suggestions about which projects would fit into your itinerary.
- Arrive with a wide open mind and plenty of humour, African life works at a different pace to western countries so bear this in mind and enjoy the diversity.
- Tipping etiquette varies throughout the region although it is always seen as something that is offered for good service and is not automatically expected. We recommend the following approximate amounts, please remember that this is just a guideline! Ask us if you are travelling elsewhere in the region.
Namibia & South Africa – N$40 to 50 per person per day to the guide for a guided trip, N$40 to 50 per room per day for a general staff tip, most lodges have tip boxes which are split between the whole staff but usually exclude the guides. 10-15% in restaurants. N$5 for car guards in parking areas, a little more if it is late at night.
Botswana – BWP50 to 80 per person per day for a guided trip. BWP50 to 70 per room per day for a general staff tip, most lodges have tip boxes which are split between the whole staff but usually exclude the guides. 10-15% in restaurants.
- Rather than giving money to beggars, make a point of donating to a local charity which supports orphaned children or social support schemes. Alternatively you could buy local newspapers or the Big Issue magazine from street vendors, or generously support car guards who look after your vehicle on the street for you. If people make more money by begging than working for a living the local economy can suffer, and giving money to children this way can discourage their parents from sending them to school. In Namibia we support the SOS Children’s Village, we can also recommend a variety of other worthy causes depending on where you are travelling to.
- When carrying expensive items such as cameras and binoculars try not to obviously display these while walking around busy towns or stopping at petrol stations, or wherever you leave your vehicle unattended. If you have luggage in your car, please ensure that at least one member of your party stays with the car and locks the doors. Serious crime is usually low around tourist destinations but a carelessly attended camera can sometimes be a temptation too far.
- Children in more remote areas will often show an interest in your camera, you may like to sit and show them how it works, they love to see digital photos of themselves.
- Be adventurous and eat in local cafes and restaurants, drink local beers and wine (South Africa is the major producer in the region) and eat local dishes rather than eating in chain restaurants and drinking imported brands. Buy curios from street vendors or craft shops that obviously support local artists. In Windhoek, Namibia we highly recommend the Craft Centre on Tal Street as well as Post Street Mall market. In Botswana the best local crafts are usually in the lodge curio shops. Ask us for recommendations specific to your itinerary. Barter with humour and bear in mind the amount of time and skill that went into making these items.
- Do not buy curios made from endangered hardwoods, coral or animal products.
- Use local companies and guides for day trips or sightseeing, but do make sure that they are registered with the appropriate tourism authority. Encouraging local people with an interest in tourism to comply with the industry standards improves the overall quality, safety and reputation of a country’s tourism trade.
- Use water sparingly and try to bring biodegradable shampoos & soaps with you as they are difficult to find here. Be considerate when having laundry done at lodges as they often have to bring water from a fair distance away, especially in Namibia.
- Comply with lodge environmental policy, try to re-use your towels and switch off any lights, TVs air conditioning or fans not in use.
- Please ask permission before you take anyone’s photograph, and check with your guide or us if in doubt about any aspect of behaviour that may be considered disrespectful.
- When visiting National Parks or Game Reserves stick to the marked paths and roads. Driving off road can cause serious ecological damage and in some areas the environment will not recover for hundreds of years. Many guides feel under pressure to drive off-road in search of that elusive leopard or a pride of lion, please reassure your guides that you are happy to view whatever you can from the designated roads and do not pressurise them to break the rules.
- If you experience guides or tourists obviously acting against the bush code please report them to your lodge.
- Keep your distance from wildlife and act quietly and responsibly around wild animals. Do not attempt to feed or touch them.
- If you smoke please be very careful to dispose of your butts back at the lodges, bush fires can be devastating. Adhere to your guides requests as to when and where you can smoke. If you can wait for a cigarette until you get back to the lodge please do so, cigarette smoke can be disturbing to wildlife as well as other guests.
- Please dispose of your other rubbish properly and bring items such as batteries back home to be recycled.
- When you return home please take some time to send us your feedback and include any particularly good or bad responsible tourism examples that you saw. If you made contacts with local people, send them a letter, e-mail or photo, they will love to hear from you.
- Enjoy your time in Africa and soak up the unique sights, sounds and smells. Bore your friends with your photos – and if you have any that you would be happy to share with us please send them through and we will include them in our website gallery. Start planning your next trip, it tends to be impossible for people to stay away for long once they have been to Africa!
Thank you for travelling with ATI Holidays and we hope that you will have a wonderful time in Africa.