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|SOUTH AFRICA |
Cape Town and the African Safari 2 - FAQ
The word Safari originates from the Swahili word for "journey", and no other word better sums up the experience of traveling in South Africa. If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed before your journey, we're here to help! Below, you'll find some useful information as you prepare for your trip to Cape Town and the South African safari in South Africa.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time year-round, which equates to 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. When it's noon in Cape Town, it's 2 a.m. in San Francisco and 5 a.m. in New York.
There are so many beautiful things to bring back with you from South Africa, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase. There are no luggage restrictions on this tour, beyond South African Airlines' restrictions of the maximum of 50lbs. for checked-in luggage and the maximum of 18lbs. for carry-on luggage. If your luggage exceeds these limitations, you will be responsible for paying the overweight luggage fees. Packing light is always a good idea, so you should pack smart: loose cotton clothing, especially long pants, will afford both comfort and protection from mosquitoes. You do not need any formal clothing for this trip. For your time spent on the safari, you should bring dark or neutral colored clothing, as white and bright colors could potentially make the animals stay away. Of course, comfortable walking shoes are a must, as well as a sun hat to protect your head from the unforgiving African sun. You should also bring insect repellent, a pair of binoculars, anti-malaria pills, swimsuit, sunglasses and sunscreen, as well as a backup pair of glasses if you wear contacts and want to avoid the dust. Bring any prescription or special medication with you, as pharmacies may not have exactly what you're prescribed. Both the hotel in Cape Town and the safari camp come equipped with hair dryers. They also have electricity adapters, but to save the hassle of going to reception and paying a deposit, bring your own.
Visitors to South Africa require a current passport, valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure, and with at least two facing each other blank pages, marked "Visa". Visas are not required for citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Upon entering, you will automatically be given a free entry permit sticker. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase.
Travel insurance will be required, so please ensure you purchase one before this trip.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts and ends in Johannesburg, South Africa (airport code JNB).
Whether you are arranging your intercontinental flights through Sights and Soul Travels or making your own arrangements, all domestic flights are included in the cost of the tour, including the flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town when you first arrive in South Africa. This tours starts on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, and you will depart North America on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue or if you want to acclimatize to the warmer climate, we recommend arriving a day early. The only airlines flying from North America directly to South Africa are South African Airlines (from JFK and from Washington Dulles) and Delta from Atlanta. We will book your flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town in accordance with the time you arrive in Johannesburg. We have arranged for individual airport transfers on arrival, and you will be met by our chauffeur on your arrival at the Cape Town airport.
This tour ends in the afternoon on Friday, November 6, 2020 at the Johannesburg Airport, and all North America bound flights leave in the evening, arriving in JFK/Washington Dulles/Atlanta the next morning. If you are combining the Cape Town and the African Safari tour with the Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park tour, at the conclusion of that tour you will arrive at the Johannesburg airport from Kasane in Botswana in the afternoon of February 3, 2020, and your flight home will be departing in the evening. In addition to offering competitive airfares to South Africa from Washington Dulles and JFK airports, we can also arrange add-on airfares from most US and Canadian cities. Please call us if you have any questions about booking your flight.
To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The Cape Town and the African Safari tour to South Africa group is limited to 16 women + the tour director. The travelers will be taken care of by the tour director, the full time guide, and a driver in Cape Town, and rangers, trackers and the safari camp staff while on the safari.
Parts of the Kruger National Park are classified as having a "mild malaria risk", and it's imperative that you contact your physician or travel clinic regarding recommendations for anti-malaria pills, such as Malarone. In addition, you should have strong mosquito repellents that can be safely sprayed or rubbed on skin, and make use of mosquito nets at night while in the safari camp. Mosquitoes generally appear in the evening, and you should try to prevent being bitten. Vaccination against yellow fever is not mandatory for South Africa, but may be required to enter the country if you have traveled to a country where yellow fever is reported (such as Zambia) within the last 6 days. For additional recommendations, check with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can get very hot under the African sun, so you should bring a high-factor sunscreen, a hat that will protect your face, and good sunglasses, and be vigilant to prevent overexposure to the sun. Otherwise, visiting South Africa should pose no threat to your health: private hospitals are efficient and the staff is of the highest caliber, hygiene is rarely a problem in tourist areas, tap water is safe, stomach upsets from food are rare, there are no strange tropical viruses, and medical assistance is generally always within a driving distance. While you will find a wide range of over-the-counter medicines in pharmacies, bring your own prescription medications as well as copies of your prescriptions, with the generic name, in case you lose your pills or run out. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, pack an extra pair. If you're hiking through the bush, beware of ticks; tick-bite fever is very unpleasant, though you should recover in 4 days. To remove ticks, smear Vaseline over them until they let go. When on a safari, you should bear in mind at all times that you are in a wilderness area: even animals that look cute are wild and should not be approached (this includes baboons). Even when you're in a safari vehicle on a game drive, your ranger will caution you not to stand up, make sudden or loud noises, or otherwise draw attention to yourself. It is probably unnecessary to point out that lions and crocodiles are dangerous; however, hippos kill more humans in Africa than any other mammal, and you should take this seriously. Hippos may look harmlessly ponderous, but they can move amazingly fast and are absolutely lethal when provoked. Even some of the smaller animals should be treated with a great deal of respect.
South African tap water is safe to drink in all cities and most rural areas. Bottled water is provided while at the safari camp. The market for bottled water is growing in South Africa, and supermarket shelves hold numerous brands, some of them well-known international names. Your choice includes still and sparkling waters, and a range of fruit-flavored variants.
Most toilets in South Africa are the standard western-style flushable toilets. You may want to carry your own supply of soap and toilet paper, as they are rarely provided. Please keep in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them.
Safety rules for travelers in South Africa are the same as elsewhere in the world. Most incidents of crime in South Africa occur in the townships and in areas away from the main tourist destinations. The South African authorities make it a high priority to protect tourists; tourism police are deployed in several of the large towns, and the vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without incident. However, criminals operate out of the airport in Johannesburg, so you should not accept unsolicited assistance with luggage or transport when arriving at this airport. Secure your luggage with (TSA)-approved locks; use an airport plastic wrapping service; and avoid placing electronics, jewelry, cameras, or other valuables in checked luggage. Don't flash expensive jewelry or fancy cameras or phones; wear handbag straps across the neck, and keep a good grip on items. Don't walk any of the major city-center streets after dark, especially if you're alone. While on the safari, always treat all wildlife with respect, and encourage your driver to keep a safe, respectful distance when viewing and tracking animals.
As long as you take the normal precautions when traveling abroad, South Africa does not offer significant problems for women. When you're on your own, you may attract more attention from men than if you're in a group - a firm "no, thank you," should dissuade any unwelcome advances.
During the Cape Town and the African Safari tour, we will travel by a private bus while in Cape Town, by a private game vehicle while on the safari and by plane. The activity level on this tour is considered easy, as most of the safaris (game drives) are conducted from a vehicle. However, to be able to enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you will need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 3 miles throughout the day. You will need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you will need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, though it is busy. You must be prepared for some full days and early starts, especially during the safari when we leave the lodge to go on the safari drive very early in the morning.
|IMPORTANT SAFARI CONSIDERATIONS |
Your ranger and tracker will look out for you and inform you of the safari rules (such as not alighting from the vehicle while in a national park for any reason). The time to be especially vigilant and alert to the potential dangers in the wilds is while out on bush walks or hiking safaris. Whatever the case, you will always be with an experienced (and quite often armed) ranger, guide, or tracker. It is absolutely in your best interest to follow his or her instructions very clearly and be on full alert at all times. This is not the place to let your guard down. Under no circumstances should you ever wander off alone, even in broad daylight, and when you are out walking, always inform your guide or ranger if you need to use the toilet or are going to stop for a moment to take a photograph. Most precautions in the bush are actually linked to common sense, but it's easy, when staying in luxury lodges and camps, to forget that you're in the middle of a different world, one where the beasts still rule. Do not swim in dams, lakes, or rivers. Hippos may be grass eaters, but they're Africa's biggest killers (after mosquitoes) and are known to snap humans in half with their powerful jaws. And just because you feel safe in your safari vehicle, don't think the animals aren't sensitive enough to know if they're being teased, taunted, or cajoled. Always treat any and all wildlife with respect, and encourage your driver to keep a safe, respectful distance when viewing and tracking animals.
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, with dry and warm summers (from October to February). The annual average temperature in Cape Town is a comfortable 62°F, and South African temperatures range from lows of 46°F in winter to 82°F in the summer. The "Cape Doctor" wind can be quite strong in summer months in Cape Town. South Africa is a relatively dry country, famous for its sunshine, and the summer months bring the most rainfall, but it's more often warm and breezy.
Cell phone network coverage and Internet hot spots are adequate in large cities, but very limited in rural and wilderness areas. Our hotel in Cape Town has an easily available WiFi Internet access. The Kapama private game reserve also has WiFi, but the signal may not be as strong.
Outlets in South Africa supply 220/230 volts of electric current. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with two wide round pins. If an adaptor is called for, consider bringing one with you, although they can be purchased locally. Bring a multi-adaptor/converter with power surge protection. Most hotel rooms have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers and appliances.
There are 11 official languages spoken in South Africa and many unofficial ones. English, along with the Afrikaans, are the main official languages of business, politics and media but on South Africa's streets you'll find a heady mix of languages spoken from all over the world, most notably Africa, Europe and Asia.
The official currency in South Africa is the South African Rand. The written abbreviation is R, or ZAR. The rand is divided into 100 cents, and coins come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5. Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, exchange bureaus, and some hotels. Try to bring bills that are relatively new, as banks have been known not to accept older U.S. bills. The easiest and best way to get cash is from an ATM. Most banks in South Africa have ATMs, and they take four-digit PINs. However, in remote regions, they are few and far between. Credit cards are a safe alternative to cash and are widely accepted in hotels, upscale souvenir stores, and restaurants. All major credit cards are accepted in the country, particularly MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club.
Tipping in South Africa is widely practiced, and when dining outside of the group meals, you should leave a 10% to 15% tip at restaurants and bars, even if the service charge is already included. Hotel porters usually get around 5 Rand per bag, and housekeepers are commonly tipped 50 Rand per day. The cost of the tour does not include tipping for the safari rangers, trackers and staff. $10 per day is a common tip for safari rangers and $5 per day is a common tip for safari trackers.
Shopping in South Africa offers a wealth of choices from shopping malls, excellent art galleries, numerous flea markets, and even bargains from roadside vendors. Some of the most popular items to buy include jewelry and gemstones, wooden and soft stone carvings, hand-painted fabrics, beading, weaving, pottery and basket ware. South African wines are another sought-after purchase, and most wine estates and dealers will make arrangements to ship your selection abroad. You can shop responsibly by choosing not to buy ivory, coral or animal products nor support businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.