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

There are three main seasons on safari: the dry season (May to September), the green season (January to April) and the hot season (October to December).

The dry season is the most popular time of year for safaris as the game viewing is at its best and the moderate southern African winter temperatures make for a pleasant and comfortable experience. There is no rain and fewer insects during the dry season.

The green season, from January to April, is the most beautiful time to go to southern Africa. Areas tend to be less lush and less crowded, and lodges often offer specials at this time of year.

While temperatures frequently may rise over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the hot season, it is an ideal time of year for game viewing. It is very dry so game congregates around the few remaining waterholes offering some outstanding sighting opportunities. Guests who choose to come on safari at this time of year are happy to bear the temperatures in exchange for good specials at lodges.

What’s the weather like in Africa at the moment?
What books should I read before I go on safari?

A Marriage of Inconvenience by Michael Dutfield

It is an amazing true story about the 1948 marriage of Ruth, an English woman, and Seretse Khama, a native of Botswana who became the first president of Botswana. England and Botswana were against the marriage and persecuted them. Nonetheless, they persevered and eventually he was made President and she was loved by the people of Botswana. It gives you a good background on the history of Botswana. It is out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon.

Order this book here.

Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens

The account of a couple who were the first to truly study the wonderful environment of the Central Kalahari in the 70s.

Order this book here. 

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard

With the utterance of a single line—“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”—a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventure—defined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.

Order this book here.   

Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventureby Tim Jeal

Wonderful tales of the first European explorers.

Order this book here. 

Killing for Profit by Julian Rademeyer

An incredible account of today complex poaching problems.

Order this book here.   

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison

This book is not going to win any literary prizes but an easy fun read for the plane over.

Order this book here.   

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Townby Paul Theroux

A great tale of traveling from Cairo to the Cape via public transport.

Order this book here.

Are there any helpful apps I should download?

It will be helpful to download the following apps to your iPad, iPhone or smartphone before you come on safari. The more you know about the wildlife you see, the more you will get out of your trip.

Nat Geo World Atlas
African Maps
Sasol E birds
eSnakes SA
eTrees SA
Star Walk
Mammals SA
Whatsapp (You won’t have signal in many places while on safari but if you do get to a place with internet, Whatsapp is a very useful way to send messages to family and friends)

What are the passport requirements for travelling in Africa?

You will need a valid passport together with onward travel documents and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. All visitors to southern African countries must have a passport which is valid for at least six months beyond their intended departure date from Africa.

How many blank pages do I need in my passport?

Please ensure you have enough blank VISA (not endorsement) pages in your passport, with at least two consecutive/side by side blank pages. Our recommendation is a minimum of three blank pages (four or more if you are travelling through several countries on your journey). If there is insufficient space in the passport then entry into a country could be denied.

Do I need a visa?

For Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, you will be issued with a travel visa valid for 30 days upon arrival. If you travel to Zimbabwe or Zambia, visas can be purchased from customs upon arrival.

Do I need travel insurance?

Guests must be in possession of full travel insurance which is inclusive of baggage cover, cancellation cover, curtailment cover, medical expenses cover, evacuation and repatriation cover. Wild Places can not be responsible for:

• Compensating the guest for loss or theft of their personal belongings (Baggage Cover)
• Refunding guest if trip has to be cancelled at short notice by the guest (Cancellation Cover)
• Refunding guest if trip has to be cancelled by the guest at any stage once it has commenced (Curtailment Cover)
• Costs associated with any medical treatment that the guests may require during the course of the trip (Medical Costs Cover)
• Costs associated with any evacuation or repatriation that the guest may require during the course of the trip either to the nearest suitable medical centre or to their country of residence. This cover should include the repatriation of mortal remains (Evacuation & Repatriation Cover).

What do I need to know about health concerns when travelling to Africa?

There are a few basic health matters that require care and attention, including malaria, yellow fever and ticks. It’s important to consult your medical practitioner and check with your health department/travel clinic prior to departure from your home country, in the event there have been changes in the health regulations of the country you are visiting. Please remember to notify us of any medical condition you may have prior to your arrival. This includes any allergies e.g. bee stings, nuts, shellfish, or intolerances such as lactose or gluten.

Download this PDF for further medical information on malaria, yellow fever and ticks.

What precautions do I need to take for malaria?

Malaria prophylactic recommendations for travellers to Africa: Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylaxis. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite chemoprophylaxis, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported. Both chloroquine-resistant and normal strains of malaria are prevalent in Africa.

Please remember that the best precaution is the preventative kind.

• Avoid being bitten by using mosquito repellents liberally. Camps provide a locally made repellent, however, please feel free to bring your own if you suffer from any skin sensitivities or allergies.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings.
• Please use the mosquito net over your bed where supplied/available.
• Where provided, please use the insecticide supplied to kill any mosquitoes that may have flown into your room.
• Mosquito coils are also effective.

Malaria is transmitted by a very small percentage of female Anopheles mosquitoes. They are mainly active in the early evening and throughout the night. Malaria transmission is at its highest during the warmer and wetter months of November through to April. From May through to October the risks of contracting malaria are reduced. There is also less prevalence in remote areas where most camps are situated; nonetheless, you need to consider taking preventative measures.

There is a six to seven day minimum incubation period before symptoms present themselves. If you become ill on your return, while still on prophylaxis or even once you have stopped taking them, ensure that your medical practitioner does everything to establish that your illness is not malaria. Malaria can be prevented if you are sensible and take basic precautions. There have been very few cases of guests contracting malaria. It is inadvisable for pregnant women to visit malarial areas as malaria infection during pregnancy can be detrimental to mother and child. Caution should be exercised with small children as they can be more susceptible and are unable to take some forms of medication.

Download this PDF for further medical information on malaria, yellow fever and ticks.

Is the water safe to drink?

Generally, water throughout southern Africa is safe to drink directly from the tap. However, bottled or filtered water is readily available, so please do not allow yourself to become dehydrated. It is very important that you drink plenty of water especially during the warmer months. It is generally recommended that you drink at least two to three litres of water per day to limit the effects of dehydration. This excludes tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages, which act as diuretics and can therefore, actually contribute to dehydration.

What should I pack?

It is helpful to pack your luggage in a soft bag with a maximum weight of 35lbs per person excluding normal airline regulation carry on.

Tee-shirts and polo shirts
Warm parka and/or fleece
Long-sleeved cotton shirts
Long pants
Sun hat
Socks – both athletic and wool/warm
Light rain gear (for summer months of late November to April)
Scarf/gloves/warm hat (for winter months of May to September)
Shoes for travel/night time (loafers, moccasins, clogs, etc.)
Good walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine)

Toiletries and medicine
Personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments)
Moisturising cream and suntan lotion
Insect repellent
Basic medical kit (aspirin, imodium, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, etc.)

Binoculars – essential
Good quality sunglasses Camera equipment Waterproof/dustproof bags/cover for your cameras
For contact lens wearers: we recommend that you bring glasses in case of dust irritation
Bag for game drives that fits binoculars, camera, sunscreen, etc.
Visas, tickets, passports, money etc.

Please note
Bright colours are NOT advised whilst on safari. White can be worn on game drives, but not on walking safaris. Khaki, brown and olive green are the best colours to wear and comfortable clothing is of the utmost importance. If you are travelling during the winter months, a variety of warm layers is recommended.

Where should I fly into and out of?

We recommend that guests fly in and out of Johannesburg. If your safari includes a stop in Cape Town this is also a good destination to travel in and out of.

All internal domestic flights can be organised by Wild Places if you prefer and all small aircraft inter-camp transfers are included in your itinerary.

For guests flying from the United States, we suggest that you fly via Europe or the East Coast. A stop off in New York, London or Amsterdam may also be a good option to break up the travel and get over jet lag.