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Here’s How it Works:

1. Reserve Your Spot

For as little as $99 deposit.

2. Pay in Flexible Installments

Pay for your dream safari in monthly installments that suit You.

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Get ready for your dream Safari!

Cape Town and African Safari in Pilanesberg


An incredible journey through the diverse landscapes of South Africa Starting from $3,569 $1,349


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Cape Town, African Safari & Victoria Falls


10 days / 9 nights extraordinary adventure starting from $6,699 $2,799


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Cape Town, Johannesburg & Kruger


9 days / 8 nights journey through the heart of Southern Africa starting from $9,040 $4,305


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Cape Town and Kruger Safari


8 days / 7 nights journey in the vibrant city of Cape Town plus Kruger Safari starting from $11,399 $5,199


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Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kruger & Victoria Falls Luxury


13 days / 12 nights journey through the jewels of Southern Africa starting from $15,099 $6,999


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Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kruger, Victoria Falls & Chobe


16 days / 15 nights captivating journey through the jewels of Southern Africa starting from $22,099 $10,499


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Kruger, Victoria Falls & Chobe


10 days / 9 nights safari extravaganza through the untamed beauty of Southern Africa’s most iconic destinations starting from $19,399 $9,199


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Kruger Safari & Victoria Falls


7 days / 6 nights awe-inspiring journey through the heart of Africa starting from $12,199 $5,799


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Kruger Safari, Victoria Falls, Chobe & Okavango Delta


13-day safari extravaganza through the untamed beauty of Southern Africa starting from $29,399 $13,999


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Cape Town, Okavango Delta & Savuti


11 days / 10 of African trio adventure starting from $23,099 $10,999


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Victoria Falls, Chobe & Okavango Delta


9 days / 8 nights adventure through three of Southern Africa’s most remarkable destinations starting from $19,899 $9,475


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Splendor of Tanzania Tour


Embark on an unforgettable Tanzanian adventure, priced from just $14,999 $7,315


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What You’ll See:








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What You’ll do:








Heritage Africa Clients Say it Best:

“Five years ago Heritage Africa planned our family trip to Africa. Every detail of our travels was handled with unequaled professionalism, flexibility and kindness. There were 18 of us ranging from age 8 to age of 70 and each family member believes this trip was just designed to please them. All these years later we all believe it was the best trip we’ll ever take. I would gleefully rcommend Michael Giles and his company to anyone wanting a trip of a lifetime for those they love.”
Luci B. Johnson
Luci B. JohnsonDaughter of the 36th US President
“I was breathless every twenty minutes.
It was life changing.
Thank you Heritage Africa from the bottom of my heart!”
T. Coye
T. CoyeBoston, Massachusetts
“I’m a believer – Heritage Africa is the best
and only way to see South Africa!”
Rev. Marilynn Robinson
Rev. Marilynn Robinson
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Frequently Asked Questions



I’ve Never Been on Safari Before, How Does It Work?

Depending on the location, you can view animals on game drives, bush walks, from hides, from boat or by air.  The focal point of most safaris is on the wildlife, with the Big Five featuring prominently.  The Big Five are lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo.  They are named the Big Five because historically trophy hunters considered them the most dangerous to hunt.

On the safaris we host, which are NON HUNTING, most people still enjoy seeing the Big Five but there is an enormous range of other animals, birds, and plantlife to enjoy.  In general, you’ll head out for morning and afternoon drives in the bush and avoid the hotter parts of the day when the animals are less active. You’ll be accompanied by a professional driver guide, and, in parts of South Africa, a tracker too. You’ll share a game drive vehicle with 4 other people. You will be in 4 wheel drive vehicles.

You have a snack before heading out, you are out for about 3 hours, then return to a full breakfast.  After breakfast in many places you can relax, go for a bush walk, potentially visit a local African village and return for lunch.  The afternoon you relax by the pool or hang out with other safari goers or take a nap.

In the late afternoon, you have a tea break – normally with cakes or other delightful treats – then head out for the late afternoon game drive.  Enjoy a stop for sundowners and watch the glorious African sunset – with a drink in hand.

This drive often turns into a night drive since it ends after sunset.  You get to see a dome of stars if the night is clear.  Remember you are in the Southern Hemisphere so you see stars you don’t see in the Northern Hemisphere!

Return to camp for dinner and drinks.  Normally around a roaring fire you savor the highlights of the day with your guide and new found friends!



What Happens On The Motherland Tours?

What are the Motherland Tours?

The Motherland Tours combine a focus on Africa’s beauty and wonder and African culture, traditions and history.  Experience Africa with Black travelers on a journey of discovery as you are hosted by excellent local English speaking African guides, enjoy great local food, shop for African crafts & art, enjoy African music, experience a soulful wildlife safari.  

Walk through Mandela’s Presidential Mansion, experience Robben Island, the Apartheid Museum, explore the beauty of Cape Town, take the cable car up Table Mountain, meet the locals in Soweto, live history at Constitution Hill, dance with Lady Luck at Sun City, experience a soulful safari inKruger National Park, Victoria Falls, Botswana and more!

Selected departures through the year especially around school holidays so kids can live and learn their history! And have fun too!

Priced so that you can live this legacy!  Various itineraries but all include all flights WITHIN AFRICA.

You always stay in well reviewed hotels & safari lodges in the best locations. No compromising on comfort or safety!

Just authentic, fun, life changing experiences where you also make lifelong friends! All at a fraction of the cost of comparable trips.

I guarantee you will love these trips because I have personally inspected & hand picked each hotel, each experience and every destination.

Don’t miss out on this unique chance to create ONCE IN A LIFETIME memories IN THE MOTHERLAND!



What Animals Will We See on a Safari?

  • What Animals Will We See on a Safari?
    In a typical day you can expect to see 15 to 20 animal species – lions, elephants, giraffes and rhinos, to name a few. Buffalo and wildebeest may be in herds of hundreds or more. 

Others, like cheetah, are more likely to be found alone. And then there are the birds, over 1200 species! Birds in Africa are particularly colorful and easy to spot. Even if you’ve never looked at a bird before, with the help of your guide you’ll easily learn to identify twenty to thirty of the most striking and beautiful birds of Africa. 

Experienced birders can expect to see 60 to 100 different species in a single day. A special thrill is in store if your safari coincides with the annual wildebeest migration. You’ll see thunderous herds of wildebeest and zebra, totaling more than 2  million, stretching across the horizon. 

On their trail follow the predators the big cats, and the scavengers hyenas, jackals and vultures. Whenever you go, you’ll see animals as you’ve never seen them before roaming free, just as they have for millions of years.

The big five is a term originally used by the “Great White Hunters” in Africa to refer to the five most

dangerous prey animals to hunt: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhinoceros. 

Today, these animals are thankfully more often hunted by those with a camera than by those with a rifle (although legal and illegal hunting is still possible for all of these animals). It is possible to see all five of the Big Five in certain areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana still today but not guaranteed. 

For us, African safaris are about more than checking off the “Big Five”. It is a magical experience with nature and with wildlife that is virtually impossible almost anywhere else on earth. Yes, we go to look for the big cats, lion, leopard, cheetah and we love seeing the rare and endangered wild dog (or African painted dog), but there are so many other incredible animals in Africa, each with interesting behaviors of their own.



What Kind of Accommodation Can I Expect?

The lodges and luxury tented camps in our itineraries meet the standards of the most discriminating traveler. All camps and lodges are handpicked, and all maintain the highest standards, which will ensure your ultimate comfort during your stay. 

All  generally fall within first class to luxury range.

Lodges are permanent structures (mostly under thatch) which have been aesthetically designed to blend

into the landscape and retain a rustic ambiance, providing luxurious and modern facilities. Most lodges

also have swimming pools.

Camps are relatively small and may be permanent, semi-permanent or mobile camps. Whatever the

nature and structure, the camps are fully catered (you do not have to participate in any chores)  and have a high staff to guest ratio.

 Camps are either thatched chalets or permanent and luxuriously

furnished walk-in tents.

Tented camps are luxurious, most have en-suite bathrooms, beds with fine inner-spring mattresses and

conform to all the modern conveniences which will ensure that your stay will be very comfortable and

enjoyable. Look at our itineraries & find the accommodation that best suits your needs.



Is It Safe to Visit Africa? Are Safaris Safe?

This is on many people’s minds.  And the answer is both simple and complex.  Are you concerned about crime or terrorism? Are you concerned about not getting sick from unhygienic conditions?  Are you concerned about not getting eaten by wild animals?  Or all the above.

Let’s deal with each of these concerns. First let’s deal with crime and terrorism.

 

Remember Africa is huge.  The US could fit within Africa 3 times.  So like anywhere in the world there are safe places and places that are downright dangerous.  The best guide to get a feel for relative safety in terms of crime and terrorism are the travel advisories issued by governments like the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.  These are professional assessments give a largely impartial view of how much risk each destination has.  

 

In the case of US government travel advisories they are given number from 1 to 4 with 1 being the safest countries to visit and 4 being the ones to avoid or get out of.  Most people think of countries like Switzerland as being very safe – and it is a Level 1 country.  But most people do not realize that Botswana – one of Africa top safari destinations is also a Level 1 country.  And South Africa which has a reputation for crime is a level 2, which is the same as the  UK, Italy, & France.

 

So what is going on?  Well if you really care about crime then what you need to make sure of is that you know where to go and where not to go.  And that is where local expertise comes in.  Local guides and the staff at your hotel can go along way to keeping you safe – if you listen!

 

Next let’s deal with getting sick or physical safety.  

 

Here you can avoid a lot of problems by making sure that you stay in good hotels which supply bottled water and that you avoid street food.  Plus avoid fresh fruit that has been cut, or not washed with clean water.

 

Next safety on safari

 

Here the best advice is to listen to your guide.  Don’t stand up in the game vehicle, keep your hands and arms inside and don’t tease or call the animals to get their attention

Keep in mind that often you will be traveling in a group that is lead by local, experienced African guides.

They will be in charge of transporting you to and from each destination of this trip (so you don’t have to drive). Most importantly, they will be giving you explicit instructions on how to be safe regarding everything from interacting with wildlife in Africa to sightseeing in the urban areas of South Africa.

 It is always recommended to use international travelers’ best practices: Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Stick with your group. If it seems suspicious, don’t do it. And when in doubt, ask your guide or hotel’s front desk.



How Far Ahead Do I Need to Plan and Book My Trip?

We recommend you book as soon as you can. Certainly start planning as soon as you can. Many of the small, exclusive camps get booked even a year or more. So the sooner you plan and book the better.

Another advantage of planning early is that payments can be paid in installments before travel and the longer you have to look forward to your amazing trip!

International air tickets should also be booked a year to 3 months in advance to get the best possible fare



Is English Spoken?

English is spoken throughout East and Southern Africa, especially by those involved in the tourist trade. 



How Do We Get Around in Africa?

In our itineraries we fly you between destinations (Cape Town to Kruger for example). We don’t have long bus rides through the region.  Our trips are not budget trips with hour upon hour on a bus.

However, while on safari sometimes you will be transferred between lodges, camps, hotels, and different national parks by road, boat and/or air. But you fly between the major destinations and that is included in our tour cost. 

Air travel is the most convenient and preferred method of moving between destinations. Depending upon your choice of safari you may travel by scheduled flights. The majority of commercial airlines use modern jet or turbo prop aircraft. 

Alternatively guests may fly aboard smaller single, or twin, engine charter aircraft seating 6 to 12 people.

What types of vehicles are used on safari for wildlife viewing? In East Africa most safaris are conducted in closed Land Rovers seating 5-6  passengers (all with window seats) with a guide and roof hatches for game viewing. You also see mini-buses with hatch roofs. A smaller number of East African safari lodges /camps offer open sided 4×4 vehicles for game viewing.

In Southern Africa in exclusive lodges, open sided 4 x 4 vehicles are mainly used.



Do I Need Travel Insurance?

We strongly recommend travel insurance. Obtaining travel insurance is highly recommended for all travelers to help with loss, damage, or theft of personal luggage and belongings, personal injury, accident or illness, cancellations etc. In addition we strongly recommend evacuation coverage – this will cover costs associated with getting you back to your own hospital in your home country. Here is a link that we find has been helpful to our clients https://partner.globalrescue.com/heritageafricasafaris



What Expenses Are Not Included in the Tour Price?

Fees for obtaining passports, visas, inoculations; airfare not specifically mentioned as included; excess baggage fees, trip protection coverage, international airport departure taxes (except for port of entry

Nairobi) are not included, optional tours, any items of a personal nature such as beverages, laundry,

phone calls, cables, or room service, driver, guide or porter tips, excess mileage

carried out at the request of the passenger or any other expense not specifically included.



How Much Cash Should I Take with Me?

  • Most of the African safaris camps accept Master Card and Visa credit cards for purchases of curios and even accept them for guests to pay gratuities to the camp staff and guides.

A note on gratuities at the African safari camps: Gratuities are not expected, but a reasonable tip would

be US $10 per guest, per day for your driver/guide and perhaps $5 per day for the overall camp staff.

This amount will seem like nothing after you experience the fine service in the camps we

offer. These can be paid by credit card so cash is unnecessary.

If you are visiting Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Arusha  a highlight is visiting one of the local markets that offer beautiful African wood carvings, batiks and other VERY inexpensive but nice arts and craft items. For purchases made in these  markets, you will typically want some cash. The artisan’s artworks are typically of nice quality and make excellent mementoes of your trip or gifts for your friends and family. 

The shops and restaurants in cities as well as the hotels generally all accept credit cards. 

Also note that there are ATMs and you can withdraw local currency.  



Do You Offer Tailor Made/Custom Tours?

  • Yes, we do! We require a non refundable planning fee of $500 that gets applied to your trip once you book. 

So if you have checked the trips we have on offer and nothing fits in your dream safari, just fill in our Dream Safari Request so we can develop an itinerary that works for you. In order to do so we would need to know your interests, your budget, the type of accommodation you prefer, the length of your journey and the number of people in your party. With this information we can make you a customized itinerary and discuss and advise you on the many options so you can have your dream safari.

 



Are Children Welcome on a Safari?

Most safari lodges welcome children from  8 to 12 years of age. However, there are a number of safaris that are geared toward families, specializing in itineraries that offer family oriented activities.



What Is There to Do for Kids in Africa?

A better question would be, “What isn’t there to do for kids in Africa?”

One of the most unique aspects of an African safari is how tangible much of the knowledge, information, and ideas you have learned and acquired throughout the years becomes in such a remarkable place.

The majestic roar of a lion in hunting-mode like thunder darting through your skin; the bouncing and trouncing of gazelle packs blatting across the expansive safari plains; the bird -chirped solace of the night, uninterrupted and untapped by human civilization

These are only some of the many things your child can only imagine through a coloring book or child encyclopedia, but which they will be able to experience face to face on an African safari. In other words, your children’s senses, imagination, and perspectives will be tapped in ways that nothing else can accomplish; and they will carry this pristine experience with them throughout their life. 



What About Children Under 6 Years?

It depends on the child.  We started taking our daughter on safari as early as 2.  In many cases, going on safari is not suitable for children under six years of age UNLESS you are doing an exclusive use safari where you have the entire camp for just you and your family.  And even then participation on game drives is at the discretion of the camp management – this is due to safety reasons.
Normally for non exclusive use safaris, it is not suitable to have very young children. There will be some long hours in the game vehicle, and constant animal sightings are not guaranteed. 



Is South Africa a Good Family Destination?

South Africa is a great family destination. There are activities for children of all ages and plenty of adventure for the whole family. During the summer months, the beaches are wonderful for children of all ages and numerous adventure activities like boat rides and cruises, horse riding, surfing, hiking and many others are offered.



I Am Thinking of Traveling Alone, Will This Be a Problem?

  • Not at all.
    At Heritage Africa Safaris we have packages suited for singles, couples, groups of friends as well as families.
    Check the packages we have on offer and once you select the itinerary that matches your interests you will find the rate applicable for a single traveler. You can travel solo but not alone.

 



Isn’t It Difficult and Expensive to Get to Africa?

Actually, it’s easier and less expensive than you probably think. There are daily direct flights from New York, Washington D.C. and Atlanta to either Johannesburg or Cape Town in South Africa, with a flying time of around 17 hours. Once in South Africa there is a well developed network of scheduled flights throughout southern Africa.

There are also a number of airlines that fly from the US to Africa via Europe and the Middle East. Sometimes these flights cost less than flying non stop. 



How Much Is the Airfare to Africa Anyway?

Well that depends on the time of year and specials that the airlines offer. Peak airfare occurs from June – Sept, around Christmas and Easter. (up to $2000+ per person for economy from NY for example)  Check for deals other times of the year (sometimes as low as $750 per person round trip economy).



Are the Animals/Safari Dangerous?

 

Short answer yes the animals can be dangerous.  Even deer like animals like impala have sharp horns to defend themselves.  So it is imperative that you do what the guides tell you to do.

Most of our safaris  are in areas where you are within the natural habitat of the wildlife.  Meaning there are no fences surrounding the camps. So you are the visitor.  The best advice is to listen to your guide’s instructions while in camp, ensure that your accommodations are not left open, doors are closed and locked when leaving for meals (monkeys and baboons are very smart and know how to open unlocked doors!). 

At almost all the camps the guides walk you to and from your tents or chalet and they are trained to handle any animal encounter should it arise.

Keep in mind that animals do wander through the camps during the day and at night, so at all times just be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine. Having wild animals in such close proximity is one of the main reasons people visit the area–enjoying them in their natural habitat is what makes the experience all the more special.

 

Is the Safari Dangerous?
Game drives are conducted in open-air vehicles, which really allows you to get up close and see the animals from an unimpaired viewpoint. Many people argue that animals only see the vehicle as if it would a tree (albeit, a tree that moves”) and not the people in it. 

This point is debatable but, personally, with thousands of hours spent on game drives; we feel that most of the animals, and most likely the larger cats like lions, are keenly aware of human presence. They do not view a 4×4 with people in it as a threat. The animals actually become accustomed to the vehicles and eventually ignore them for the most part. This allows guests to view animals exhibiting their natural behavior.



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 behavior 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.



Can I Fit Sports, Culture or Beach into My Safari Experience?

Certainly.
There is golf, mountain climbing and hiking, encounters with chimpanzees, camel safaris, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, and diving and snorkeling at coastal resorts.

Viewing wildlife from the vehicle is one way of experiencing Africa. If you are a more active person: Walking, biking, canoeing and a variety of cultural excursions give you the opportunity to see Africa from a different perspective and get out of your car and stretch those legs for a few hours! Of course you are in no way obliged to take part in these activities just choose and pick whatever takes your fancy.

Our activities are described in detail on our website.

A safari can be tiring. A few days on the beach is a great way to relax at the end of your trip.

Tanzania has a beautiful coast to wash off the dust of your safari with a dip in the Indian Ocean And have a chill out time on the beach. We have been to Zanzibar ourselves various times and have selected some really nice places: laid back atmosphere, Zanzibar style, right on the beach, great food, the Indian Ocean is really all one could wish for. Parts of the island are very touristy but there are definitely very unspoilt parts left.



What if I Want to Go on Safari and Combine This with Another Activity?

Broadly speaking we’d recommend East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) for safari trips with the beach, Uganda or Rwanda for safari trips with gorilla trekking, and South Africa for safari trips with Cape Town. For those who want to visit Victoria Falls, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana all work equally well.  And we can do Vic Falls with East Africa as well!



Where Can I Do Shark Cage Diving?

Gansbaai, Western Cape South Africa.  Home of Shark Alley!  It is a few hours drive from Cape Town.  You can also do Shark Cage diving from places closer to Cape Town.
Few things compare to the adrenalin rush and exhilaration one gets from being face to face with a 3 meter (10 foot) Great White, especially when they curiously cruise right up to the cage!

Normally it is better to do this from June to September.



Can I Do a Horseback Riding Safari and Where?

Yes, horseback riding is available at camps in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya

South Africa.



Where Can I Surf in Africa?

South Africa has one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world Jeffrey’s Bay or J Bay as It is known by the locals in the Eastern Cape.

Jeffreys Bay is home of the best right hand surf break in the world! International surfers flock to catch the legendary waves in this, a paradise of sunshine, aloes, dolphins, shells, perfect points & classic reefs. Surfers and others who found it hard to leave such an idyllic spot have turned Jeffreys Bay into a year round fun place to be, creating a thriving local craft industry besides the surf shops on just about every corner.
There are other great surfing beaches along the coast including Cape St. Francis where part of the movie Endless Summer was filmed in 1966 the ultimate surfing adventure, crossing the globe in search of the perfect wave. We must not forget Buffel’s Baai and Victoria Bay which are in the Eastern Cape too.



Is the Focus on Safari Purely About Game Drives and Photography?

Only if you want it to be! There are all sorts of different camps offering many different ways to explore Africa, such as photography safaris as at Kaingo in Zambia; walking safaris as at Karisia Walking Safaris in Kenya; boat safaris as at Impala Camp in Tanzania; starlit sleepouts as at Sand Rivers in Tanzania; and even microlight flights over the bush as at Tafika in Zambia.



Can I Drink Tap Water?

No, the tap water in most African countries is not safe to drink. However,throughout your tour and safari experience, you will have filtered and bottled water available that is safe to drink.



What Foods Should We Avoid?

  • In the vast majority of cases it is safe to eat ALL of the foods offered by lodges and camps as they take great care to ensure that food is prepared in a healthy manner. If you are really worried about contracting a “stomach bug” don’t eat salads, avoid ice cubes in drinks (many places use purified water for ice cubes simply ask if you are concerned), and eat only fruits that have thick skins which are peeled (oranges, bananas).

You can also send us your food preferences and we can pass those onto the safari lodges.  They are excellent in terms of abiding by them.  But review this with your butler at meal time!

 



Can I Get There with My Airmiles?

Yes – but you would handle all of that yourself.  



Visa & Entry Requirements

Visas are required for many passport holders. Please check with the respective embassies, well in advance, as processing can take from a few days to a few weeks. If you need Visas from both countries, this will only add to the amount of time required. Remember that it is your responsibility to obtain necessary Visas in advance of travel.

All countries in Africa require that you be in possession of a valid passport with an expiration date no less than six months from your final departure date from that country.
Many African countries, including Zambia, Kenya and South Africa, require that you have two consecutive blank visa pages in your passport, which lie side by side. Also note that the blank pages at the end of US passports are simply amendment and endorsement pages.

See what is required for the country you are visiting

Tanzania
Rwanda
South Africa
Botswana
Zimbabwe (Vic Falls)
Zambia
Kenya



Are the Electrical Plugs the Same in Africa as the USA?

No. 

Most, if not all, of the camps and hotels in your itinerary will have adaptors but if you want to bring your own then this is the place to look.

https://whatplug.info/

https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/

These websites list the appropriate adapter you need to purchase according to the country you will be visiting.

If you want to bring your own hairdryer – again most have this – then note the electrical and voltage issues identified in WhatPlug.



What About My Dietary Preferences & Restrictions?

We send your dietary preferences and food allergies to the safari lodges.  Of course when you arrive check with them to make sure they have complied.
At hotels you will be selecting from menus or buffets often they have vegetarian options.  Some have halaal and kosher options.



Do You Have Safaris Accessible to Guests with Disabilities?

  • This entirely depends on the type and severity of the condition.  In all cases some one must be able to assist the person with disabilities at all times.

Certain camps are equipped with disabled access features while others are not. In terms of the game drives, in most cases anyone who is capable of transferring into the game vehicles by themselves or with the assistance of a family member, friend or personal attendant can participate. (The person would sit next to the ranger in the front seat of the game vehicle.)



Tipping

 

              Please note, the below are guidelines only. Gratuities are at your own discretion and are not compulsory.

              But they are very much appreciated!

Waiters and Drivers                   10% of the fare or bill

City Guides

Private transfer                           USD 5 per transfer

Private half-day tours                 USD 10 per tour

Private full-day tours                  USD 20 per tour

On Safari

Ranger/Guide                              USD 20 per couple per day

Tracker                                        USD 15 per couple per day

Butler                                           USD 15 per couple per day

Camp Staff                                   USD 15 per couple per day



Do I Need Shots? Malaria? Yellow Fever Vaccination?

You should consult with your doctor to determine if you need vaccinations or shots before you take your safari.  What is required varies by country.  For example there are no shots required if you are only visiting South Africa.  But if you are visiting Rwanda for gorilla trekking you need a Yellow Fever Certificate.

With regard to malaria, only South Africa offers totally malaria free safari options. (The Pilanesberg is malaria free, Kruger is not malaria free.).  Of course you don’t need to take malaria prophylaxis (preventative tablets)  if you are going to Cape Town or Johannesburg.  

Most other safari destinations – Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe for example – are in malarial areas. 

Here is a current list of African countries that require Yellow Fever vaccination certificates. Countries that require vaccination for all travelers older that 9 months or 1 year: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameron, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d’lvoire, DRC, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Niger, Togo.  Go to the below Africa Centers for Disease Control for the most recent list.

Yellow Fever

 



What Happens in Case of an Emergency or Sickness?

We strongly recommend travel insurance, since in almost all places you will need to pay first if you need more than routine first aid.  In addition you want to be able to get evacuated not to the nearest clinic or hospital – they may well be far below the medical care you would want.  The goal is to get you as quickly as possible to the most excellent medical facilities in Africa after you are stabilized.  And then get you back to your home country and your selected hospital there. 

So that may mean first getting you to Nairobi in Kenya or South Africa, then getting you home. Wholly apart from travel insurance coverage for baggage loss, trip cancellation etc.  Some people don’t want to buy travel insurance, with the thought that they can self insure.  But remember in an emergency you will have to pay first for good care.  So no matter what you decide to do about travel insurance, we strongly recommend evacuation coverage – this will cover costs associated with getting you back to your own hospital in your home country. Here is a link that we find has been helpful to our clients https://partner.globalrescue.com/heritageafricasafaris

If you simply buy travel insurance MAKE SURE it covers medical evacuation services that you are comfortable with.

 



What Is the Weather like in Africa?

In general East and Southern Africa have 2 seasons –  dry season and rainy season.  The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the rainy season in Southern Africa is NOT like East Africa’s rainy season.

In East Africa’s long rains (April and May) a number of camps are closed because roads are impassable.  This does not generally happen in Southern Africa.  This is one reason that year round safaris are possible and indeed desirable outside of the dry season – which is often the peak and most crowded season.

East Africa dry season daytime temperatures with sunny blue skies average 20 to 25 degrees centigrade (70’s).  

In East Africa climate variations are determined by altitude, but in essence the area is dry except for the months of April and May, during the long rains, and November, which is the short rainy season. 

East Africa’s Central Highlands and Rift Valley have a pleasant climate, averaging about 20 degrees centigrade with cool nights. June and July are the coolest months in East Africa and temperatures can be very chilly at night and first thing in the morning, particularly in areas of high elevations such as the Ngorongoro Crater and the Laikipia Plateau.

Southern Africa’s dry season is the winter period from June through August, early morning and night time temperatures in some areas can drop close to freezing or even just below in exceptional cases.

However, don’t let this dissuade you from a safari at this time of year, as by mid-morning temperatures are back in the low to mid 20s (70’s)  and warm enough for shorts and a short sleeved shirt.

In southern Africa rains occur sporadically during the period December through March with the dry season stretching from April through October/November.  



What Are the Big Five?

The big five is a term originally used by trophy hunters to refer to the five most dangerous animals to hunt: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhinoceros. 



Is There a Guarantee to See the ‘Big Five’ as Well as Other Wildlife On Safari?

No. And any company that tells you that is telling you something else as well.  That the animals they are taking you to see are not free to move around naturally.  What exactly does that mean? It means that the lions for example are kept in a fenced off area and often are fed by humans. 

They aren’t allowed to roam freely and hunt.   This happens in very small reserves.  I would not call them glorified zoos and some are as small as commercial animal parks in the US.  And if that is what you want to experience, save yourself some money and go to Orlando and see that.

We concentrate on safaris in Africa’s best game parks.  Those which have the most animals and the animals are truly free – meaning they hunt or find their own food, go where they want and behave naturally.  The fact is that even in Africa and even a game reserve as big as Kruger National Park is partially fenced in. But remember that Kruger is bigger than the state of New Jersey.  Other national parks like the Serengeti, Selous, Botswana’s Chobe/Okavango/Kalahari and their bordering wildernesses are the size of France or Texas. 

And unlike many, many other safari itineraries we have you staying WITHIN these parks – not outside of them.  So that means that you are right in the heart of Africa’s most game rich areas. You don’t have to drive 5, 10, 20 miles or more to enter these fabulous natural areas. 

But even then there are no guarantees in nature – the only way to guarantee seeing certain animals is to go to a zoo or one of these small reserves that say they have the Big Five – but note that are not going to be truly free.  You will note that such reserves are often a couple of hours drive from cities like Cape Town and will never tell you how big they actually are.   Kruger is a 2 hour flight from Cape Town. But it will be an experience you will never regret..

Going to a major reserve is the best way to maximize your chances of seeing the big five AND to see them in their natural environment.  Assuming you stay on safari as many days as you can and go on all the game drives.

Then you will see the most wonderful assortment of animals and birds –  antelopes like gazelles, impala and zebras, hippos,, giraffes, etc. And because the camps and lodges in our itineraries are in the best locations for seeing animals,  since they are located in game rich natural areas, you have the best chance of seeing the big five (elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo) in their natural habitat.



Can We Feed the Animals?

No, according to the safety guidelines issued by the park authorities you are not allowed to feed or pet the animals.  They are wild!



What Should I Consider in Planning a Trip to Africa?

1) How many days/weeks do I have for this vacation?

2) What is my budget?

3) What am I interested in seeing/doing?



What to Bring & Wear For Your Safari?

Safaris are extremely informal vacations and the main goal is to pack lightly and smartly. Most lodges and camps will launder your clothes for free or a small fee.  You get your clothes back within 24 hours. Loose fitting, casual and comfortable clothing is recommended, as you will be spending the majority of your safari wildlife viewing in a vehicle.

Be prepared for daily highs ranging from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s & more (20’s to 30’s + C) and lows in the 50’s and 60’s except during the cold season (June,July and August) when the lows can drop down into the 40’s.

There is little or no opportunity for fashion while on safari though you may wish to bring a nice outfit for a special dinner. All the lodges allow casual clothing and traditional safari wear while dining. There can be a large temperature range each day and it is recommended to wear layers enabling you to adjust to the varying temperatures.

It can be quite cold on early morning game drives and long pants and a warm sweater are needed. In contrast, shorts and t-shirts can be worn on afternoon game drives as it can get hot during midday especially with the strong equatorial sun shining down in an open vehicle. It is important that you wear a wide brimmed hat and apply sun block frequently to all exposed areas.

Dark colors do tend to attract unwanted attention from certain insects. The tsetse fly (active only during the day) is attracted to dark colors (primarily dark blue) so these should be avoided when game driving. Tsetse areas include the woodlands of the West Serengeti, Tarangire and a few parts of the North Serengeti. The plains of the south and east Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and the southern areas of the Central Serengeti are tsetse fly free.  All of these in Tanzania.  

There are also tsetse flies present in parts of Botswana.

It is recommended to wear long pants and shirts when game driving in an area known for concentrations of tsetse flies. Lighter and more natural colors such as khaki, brown, beige, olive and green should be worn during the day. During the nights, the color of your clothing is irrelevant. From dusk to dawn, it is recommended that you protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing pants, long sleeved shirts, socks and shoes plus insect repellent.



What Do I Need to Pack for My African Safari/Adventure?

  • Will you be taking small charter planes at any point on your trip? How long will you be traveling? The answers to these questions will help you determine what to pack. For example, there are often weight restrictions for how much you can bring on a small plane. If you’re traveling for more than a week, you’ll also want to consider only bringing a few changes of underwear and socks, which can be washed in rotation. 

Do you like to pack as light as possible, or do you like to carry many options with you? Take all of these questions into consideration, as well as the type of luggage (backpack, duffel bag, etc.) recommended for your safari of choice.

The essentials you’ll need are:

– Lightweight clothes that are hand washable

– Long sleeved, lightweight shirt(s) to protect you from potential insects (despite the heat)
– A light fleece or jacket for cool nights

– Travel size toiletries

– Hiking boots (lightweight, waterproof, and durable!)

– Pair of flip flops

– Waterproof bag

– Sun hat with a tie for around the chin (so it doesn’t blow off)

– Sunscreen

– Sunglasses

– Insect repellent (the camps and lodges in our itineraries will have this)

Other luxury items you’ll want to consider are a camera, reading device/book, shawl, an inverter plug if you need to charge batteries and ear plugs.

We will send you a packing list with the itinerary you select when you place your deposit.



What Type/s of Currency Do I Need to Have in East & South Africa?

We recommend that you use your credit card wherever possible and minimize the amount of cash you carry.  If you need local currency – to tip porters for example – you can often get it at ATMs at very good exchange rates.  Just let your bank know that you will be traveling to Africa and which countries so your card is authorized for cash withdrawals and purchases (so your bank won’t block the transactions because of suspected fraud). 


In Tanzania, the currency is the Tanzania Shilling (TSh). Currency can be exchanged at authorized dealers, commercial banks, exchange booths, international airports and at many of the safari lodges/camps.

In Kenya the currency is the Kenya Shilling (Ksh). The currency exchange at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is open 24-hours. You will find ATMs in/around Nairobi, or an exchange can be made at your hotel, but the rates here will be less favorable.

In South Africa the South African Rand is the currency used for all purchases. You can see how your currency converts by linking to the following website: www.xe.com

Don’t hesitate to bring US dollars, Euros or GB pounds, these dependable hard currencies are gladly accepted as cash in the game reserves as gratuities. Again buy as little local currency as necessary-they are volatile and the buy-sell gap is enormous for that reason.



What Types of Food Are Served on Safari?

The food served at all of the safari lodges and tented camps we handpick is of the highest quality. At certain lodges, gourmet cooks bake fresh breads, and produce soups, salads, and entrées that could easily grace tables at top restaurants around the world.

Meals are international in flavor with soups, salads, cold meats, pasta dishes, meat and fish dishes, breads and other starch. We use camps and lodges that opt for good, wholesome homestyle cooking at elegantly set dining tables (sometimes under the stars, sometimes under thatch or canvas) where guests can discuss and debate the day’s events with their guides and fellow guests. Or sit at private tables by themselves.

Meal times are geared around the best game viewing times and other activities specific to a particular camp.

Your day normally starts with coffee, tea and biscuits before the morning activity, returning to the lodge or camp late morning when brunch will be waiting. Buffet brunches are typical with a warm dish such as stew served with salads, quiches and cold meats. Cereals, fruit, bacon, eggs, sausage, and toast are also usually on offer. Cake and tea is served before the afternoon activity. Dinner consists of an appetizer followed by meat, fish and pasta dishes served with assorted vegetables and sauces. This is followed by coffee and tea, cheeses and sinful desserts!

If you have special dietary needs, do not hesitate to let us know in advance and we will send it onward to the camps or lodges.



How Is the Local Food?

Great! International cuisine is available at all the hotels you will be staying. Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Africa if you need. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians.

Local specialties can be surprisingly good!

With the exception of a few lodges, halaal and kosher food is not available at most camps/lodges.

For your safari, please give us advance notice so that we can let the lodges and camps you are scheduled to stay at.

 



When Is It the Best Time to Travel to Africa to View Wildlife?

You can have an excellent safari anytime of year.  Many of our best safaris have been in “off season”.  This makes sense when you realize a few things:

  1. Africa is huge – more than 3 times the size of the US.  So no matter what time of year there is a wide range of climatic conditions and weather patterns.
  2. The animals are always here, you just have to know where they are.
  3. The skill of your tracker or ranger will be critical to your ability to find animals whenever you travel.  And this is immensely important because you can then travel without the crowds.
  4. Peak season is often determined more by when Americans can travel rather than the quality of the game viewing. Why? Americans are the biggest market for wildlife safaris goers and US school vacations are the single most important driver of demand.

In southern Africa there are truly year round safari destinations: Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.  You can have excellent wildlife safaris nearly every month in Tanzania as well. 

Because I think that the skill of trackers and rangers can help you escape the conventional wisdom of when it is best to go on safari.  If you are driving yourself then conventional wisdom applies.  

Here is the conventional wisdom:

The best wildlife viewing is during the dry season period from May through October each year with July, August, and September being the most desirable months in terms of climate and temperature.

In East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), exceptional wildlife viewing can be experienced during the dry seasons from January to March and June to October. On a typical year with normal weather patterns the migrating wildebeest and zebra herds will be in the Serengeti in Tanzania from December to June, in the Maasai Mara in Kenya from July to October and traveling between the two areas during the other months. Wildlife viewing is, in part, predicated on the amount of surface water available. 

During the rains (December through March in southern Africa and April/May and November/December in East Africa) wildlife is scattered as there is abundant surface water to drink (puddles, waterholes, perennial rivers).  Once the rains end wildlife congregates around remaining surface water (pools, lakes, and large rivers).

Please note that travel during southern Africa’s ‘green season’ (November through April) and East Africa’s short rainy months (November and December) does have some advantages. The bush will be lush and green and many wildlife species will have newborn in tow. 

Dust, which can be a nuisance during the dry season, is greatly reduced and night-time temperatures are milder than during the dry winter months. But again some places like Botswana actually offer better wildlife viewing during the months October through May as the Okavango Delta flood waters are lower. The Victoria Falls are in heaviest flow during the period January through June. 

Lastly, during the ‘green season’ many northern migratory birds visit Africa making the region an ornithologist’s paradise!



When Is the Wildebeest/Great Migration?

Every year the wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti National Park into the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. From the vast Serengeti plains to the champagne colored hills of Kenya’s Masai Mara over 1.4 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra and gazelle, relentlessly tracked by Africa’s great predators, migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain ripened grass.

There is no real beginning or end to a wildebeest’s journey. Its life is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water. The only beginning is at the moment of birth. An estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during a six week period early each year usually between late January and mid March.

DECEMBER, JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH

The Serengeti National Park / Ngorongoro Conservation Area is arguably the most impressive wildlife sanctuary in the world. During the months December through March the seemingly unending plains of the southern Serengeti and the Conservation Area are inhabited by enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra. The great herds graze on rain ripened grass.

In the calving season (late January through mid March) the herds concentrate at the Ndutu and Salei plains (Southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area) attracting the attention of predators like lion, cheetah and hyena.

APRIL, MAY

During April and May the depleted plains are unable to sustain the endless herds. The migration, sweeping west and north, moves from the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the long grass plains and woodland of the Serengeti’s western Corridor, almost to Lake Victoria.

This period is during the long rains and is considered off season for wildlife viewing in East Africa as roads are often impassable. 

JUNE

By the end of May the wildebeest have exhausted the Western Corridor’s best pastures and the herds must move further north. Entering the Lamai Wedge and the Mara Triangle, breeding occurs May through June. This is the transitional period between the rains and the dry season.

JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER

By July the countless herds have amassed along the swollen Mara River, a final barrier from the short sweet grasses of the Masai Mara. Sometimes the crossing place they have chosen is shallow allowing the majority of animals to pass safely. In other areas the waters boil with drowning wildebeest and slashing crocodiles.

Between July and October the Wildebeest Reside in the Mara.

NOVEMBER

The arrivals of the short rains call the migration southward.

By November the migration is making its way back to the southern Serengeti and early in the year they once again give birth. The circle of life is complete.

* Note the migration is a natural event and the timing varies month by month; year by year, further determined by rainfall patterns…. All this will contribute to probably the most enjoyable vacation you will ever have.



How Does A Southern Africa Safari Compare to a Safari in East Africa?

Many of the animals may be the same but the experiences are delightfully different.  In East Africa you have unheard of numbers of animals that you view at a glance.  You can seem to be afloat in a sea of wildlife.  The crown jewel of East Africa is the Serengeti with its singularly impressive Migration.

Southern Africa offers more diversity, in landscapes, in ecosystems, and in some ways surprises.  You often spot animals unexpectedly since you have to look for them more than you often have to do in East Africa.  For me the crown jewel of a Southern African safari is the Okavango Delta, a vast inland river delta with islands, channels of water teeming with hippos, elephants, lions and birdlife.  A gloriously vast wilderness that invades the Kalahari desert.   Additionally you have Chobe – home to more elephants than anywhere else in the world.  What can be more wonderful than seeing swimming elephants, trunks as snorkels – tiny ones for the babies, huge ones for the massive bull elephants.

Both East Africa and Southern Africa are game rich and to combine the two is the ultimate – until you decide to go gorilla trekking!

In terms of wildlife safaris, Southern Africa includes the countries of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia,Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, while East Africa is essentially Kenya and Tanzania.

Southern Africa includes Botswana’s Okavango Delta wetland, the semi-arid Kalahari Desert, the Skeleton Coast & the Namib Desert of Namibia, Kruger National Park of South Africa, and the lower Zambezi River basin including Victoria Falls along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The wildlife species found in the two areas are essentially the same. Most of the predators and plains game can be seen in both regions and only some birds and a few mammals and reptiles are endemic to certain regions. The major difference is in the numbers of certain species and the general experience a visitor will have when viewing them.

East Africa offers herds of zebras and wildebeests in the hundreds of thousands. The annual migration between the Maasai Mara in the north and Tanzania’s Serengeti in the south is a spectacle unequaled anywhere on earth today. 

However, Botswana and Zimbabwe are home to 80% of Southern Africa’s 300,000 elephants and huge herds are a common sight along their northern borders.
The weather also varies between the regions. 

In East Africa, October marks the beginning of the “short rains” while April brings “long rains.” Many of the safari camps close during the long rains due to difficult driving conditions.

In Southern Africa, while each country varies, the rains generally fall between November and March with the rest of the year being mostly rain – free. A plethora of websites refer to the period between December – March in Southern Africa as the “Rainy Season” technically correct, however we need to place this into a very clear perspective. The rainfall in Southern Africa is minimal when compared to most places, it is a semi arid region. The rain that Southern Africa gets is usually in the form of quick thunderstorms which disappear almost as quickly as they came, usually in the late afternoon.



Is Communication with The “Outside World” Possible While on an African Safari?

Most people wishing to visit the remote safari areas of Africa do so to get away from civilization so to speak. For many it is the major reason for going, however all major centers in South Africa will have access to the internet. Cell phone coverage is better than the run of the mill, but unfortunately not available in every corner of the country, particularly when visiting a safari lodge. All hotels we use will offer Internet facilities and all the ones we use offer free WiFi.

It is advisable to purchase a local SIM card when you arrive in Africa and to do that, you will need to present your passport.

This was enforced by law to prevent terrorists (amongst many others) from attaining untraceable cell phone numbers. International roaming service is not automatically enabled on cell phones. You will need to contact your service provider to activate the international roaming feature.

Or you can buy data and use WIFI enabled services like What’s App or  Skype.



Is There Internet? Wifi?

Yes. We have handpicked each hotel in our itineraries and they all have free WIFI.

As do the game lodges and camps in our itineraries.



Will There Be Snakes, Flying Insects, Spiders or Other “Creepy Crawlies”?

There are snakes in Africa and probably some will be out and about while you are on your African safari, but it is unlikely you will see any. The same can be said for spiders and other creepy crawlies. They’re there.  As to flying insects, especially tsetse and mosquito, these are around and you should take precautions with insect repellent which all the camps we use will supply. Tsetses are around more often during the wet season and depends on where you are.  Very rare in South Africa and most of Botswana, but more present in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

 As to mosquitoes, especially the malaria type… biting time is between dusk and dawn, when you should wear long pants, shirt sleeves, socks and apply repellent on exposed skin.