From currencies, visas and ATMs to photography, food and Internet access, here are the answers to all the questions you’ve ever had about travelling in Africa.
Please only tip if you feel the service warrants it and use your common sense – there is no expectation for exorbitant tipping anywhere in Africa. We recommend that you tender small amounts to hotel or lodge staff at the end of your stay. When in doubt, please ask lodge managers for a tipping guideline. It is customary to tip 10% of the bill at all restaurants and 10% of the fare to taxi drivers.
Internet connectivity is slow in many places in Africa. Guests travelling in South Africa should be able to dial up, unless they are at a game lodge or camp in one of the many wilderness areas, where connections may be slow or non-existent. In most other African countries Internet connections are only available in the larger towns.
Africa offers exceptional birding in diverse destinations, boasting not only an excellent array of indigenous species, Endemic bird family and large number of migrants. Tarangire, Manyara, Saadani and the Kitulo valley are ideal, but also Okavango Delta in Botswana is an ideal spot for birding, as are the many Rift Valley lakes of eastern Africa. The coastline of Namibia, as well as the famed Etosha National Park, is a draw card for birders. With its diverse birding destinations and huge variety of species, South Africa is also an excellent country for keen birders.
Memory cards and film are available in most large cities and towns. However, the quality may vary and it is recommended that you bring your own.
Africa is a great destination for travel with children and you can be assured that all young travellers will receive the warmest welcome. Tanzania present slightly greater challenges in terms of travel times, with frequent trips in small planes, and may be better suited to slightly older children that is from seven years of age. South Africa is ideal for travel with even the youngest of children, as baby supplies are readily available and there is a good transportation network. Namibia is also an excellent self-drive destination for the whole family. Botswana, Kenya and Many safari lodges throughout Africa cater for specific age groups and arrange exciting activities for children, although children under six are generally not permitted on game
drives. There are also a number of other adventures available, from beach holidays, boat rides and cruises, horse riding, surfing, hiking and many others.
When travelling in Tanzania you should be able to get cell phone reception, unless you are at a game lodge camp in one of the many wilderness areas. In most other African countries, cellphone connections are only available in and around the larger towns. Guests are advised to check with their cellphone operator before travelling. Cell phone cards can be purchased in most towns and at the larger airports. There is Blackberry connectivity across South Africa and in most African capital cities (even in Zanzibar and at the Ngorongoro Crater).
As always, it is courteous to be sensitive and ask permission before photographing people. In most African countries it is illegal to take photos of airports and military installations.
Africa is perfectly safe to visit and the African people are renowned for their warm hospitality. As with any travel, it is a good idea to take the standard precautions. Keep your passport and valuables close at hand or safely locked away and don’t leave luggage unattended. When travelling in town, check with your tour operator or hotel concierge to see if there are any areas that should be avoided. Avoid isolated or deserted areas, particularly at night, ensure that your car is locked at all times and park in well-lit, busy areas. Avoid wearing excessive jewellery when exploring Africa’s diverse cities and make use of concealed travel wallets. When driving through Africa, it is not recommended to stop for hitchhikers.
Tap water in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and a region in Tanzania called Kilimanjaro is purified and is safe to drink, however, bottled water is also freely available. The water in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe is not safe to drink and it is recommended that you stick to bottled water or boil all water before drinking it.
We strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance when confirming your booking. This should cover any medical situation (such as hospitalization), as well as cancellation or curtailment of arrangements and loss of your baggage. When you travel with Sitasahau Africa, you are automatically covered by our emergency evacuation insurance. This
provides emergency medical services / evacuation to hospital should you suffer either sever illness or injury at lodges. As this is for emergency evacuation only, it does not cover the cost of treatment once in hospital and in no way replaces your normal travel insurance, which must be purchased prior to travel.
The most practical items to pack for an African safari are light cotton tops and cotton trousers or shorts in khaki, brown, white and beige. Due to the high altitude on the rim of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater, night time temperatures are cold even in summer. In South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, morning and evenings can be cold during the winter months (June – August). Travellers to these regions should pack a fleece or sweater, as well as a warm jacket for game drives. Swimwear is a must when travelling to the coastal areas of South or East Africa. Comfortable walking shoes are essential for those planning bush walks or walking safaris. Guests intending to climb Mount Kilimanjaro should pack thermal underwear, light layers, a sweater, warm jacket, good socks and sturdy boots. Travellers heading for Zimbabwe should avoid any camouflage or military-style clothing, as this is illegal in the country.
The currency varies according to the country that you are travelling in. In Tanzania and Kenya shillings are the legal tender in East Africa, South Africa the currency is the rand, in Botswana it is the pula and in Namibia it is the Namibian dollar. While the Mozambican currency is the metical. Zambian money is known as the kwacha, whereas US dollars are accepted as legal
tender in Zimbabwe. Foreign currencies such as the US dollar are also widely accepted in East Africa, although dollar bills dated before 2003 are usually not accepted. Most international airports have banks where money can be changed and, in large cities, facilities are usually available at reputable hotels and lodges. It is a good idea to change your money in advance if you are heading into more remote or rural areas.
The standard voltage throughout Africa is 220V AC. East Africa make use of three-pronged square plug while South and Southern Africa make use of three-pronged round plugs.
Most large cities in Africa offer a large variety of restaurants and cuisines from around the world. Options in rural areas may be more limited, but most safari lodges and camps pride themselves on their cuisine, which may include variations on Local specialities. Most places can cater for special diets, as long as they are given plenty of advance warning.
Yes, Sitasahau Africa Safaris can take care of all your travel arrangements, from the moment you leave your hometown to the time you return.
When travelling to Tanzania or Kenya, you will require a recent yellow fever inoculation. Apart from large portions of South Africa, most parts of Africa are malaria areas and it is recommended that travellers see their doctors for a course of prophylactics prior to travel. Travellers travelling to Botswana, Zambia or Zimbabwe and coming from a yellow fever region must also be inoculated against yellow fever.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in most restaurants, shops and hotels in Tanzania, as well as in most large cities throughout the continent. Diners Club and American Express may not be accepted outside South Africa. Proof of identification may be required when paying by credit card, so be sure to carry some form of photo identification at all times. In East Africa park fees can only be paid using cash or traveller’s cheques.
In most African countries traffic drives on the left and gives way to the right. Drivers must have a valid driver’s licence, with photo, or an international driver’s permit. Seatbelts are mandatory. Self-drive in South Africa and Namibia is easy to adapt to, with signposting in English and rental cars easily available in all major cities. There are a number of toll roads in South Africa that are clearly indicated well before reaching the toll stations, where payment may be made at an attended booth. Overtaking on the inside is not illegal in South Africa and is a common practice, so remember to be aware of cars on the inside when changing lanes. In general, speed limits are 120 km/h (75 miles/h) on freeways and 60 km/h (37 miles/h) in towns and cities. In Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania places of interest are generally only accessible by dirt roads, which are often in a bad condition during the rainy season. Road conditions vary widely and a 4×4 vehicle is usually necessary. Self-drive travel in these countries is not recommended.
As a rule, it is very likely that you will need a visa to travel to your selected destinations in Africa. Citizens of some countries (particularly the Commonwealth), may be exempt when travelling to specific African countries. As a rule, it is always a good idea to check visa requirements at your local embassy or consulate ahead of travel, as they do change quite frequently. Although some countries may offer visas at the place of entry, travellers are rather encouraged to obtain these prior to travel in order to save time and money. When entering an African country, your passport should generally be valid for at least six months longer than the duration of your stay and must have enough blank pages for the visa and entry stamps.
A wide variety of accommodation, from five-star hotels to guest houses, game lodges, bed and breakfasts, caravan camps and camps can be encountered in most tourist hotspots throughout Africa. In the cities there are also award-winning boutique hotels and spa resorts. However, accommodation in national parks and other places where numbers of visitors are limited can fill up quickly, particularly in high season, and it is recommended that you reserve all your accommodation as far in advance as possible.
If you are going on safari, remember that luggage capacity is limited on small planes and other modes of transport you are likely to use. It is likely that you will need to restrict your luggage to 15 kg (33 lb), packed in a soft duffle bag, plus a reasonable amount of camera equipment.
ATMs are found throughout major city centres, filling stations and shopping complexes in most of Africa.