Luggage

Luggage is an important aspect of your safari and weight allowances do vary depending on which safari you travel on.  Always travel with soft-sided bags as hard suitcases are unsuitable for safaris and will most likely get damaged along the way.  More important is observation of the weight restriction on light aircraft flights, which can be anything from 15kg in total to around 20gk in total - including your hand luggage and your photographic equipment.  Extra weight allowance can be purchased in advance - normally by purchasing an extra seat weight allowance.

Southern Africa - because of the size of aircraft and the luggage stowage area of many of the light aircraft flights, many flights only accommodate soft bags (i.e. no rigid sides or wheels) and your entire luggage complement (including carry-on and camera equipment, etc.) should weigh no more than 20 kg (44 lbs) – but do double check as each carrier is different.

East Africa - in total luggage should not weigh more than 15kgs for most East Africa domestic flights and 12kgs on smaller charter flights. This allowance includes camera equipment. Suitcases and other heavier items can usually be stored in city hotels while on safari – please ask.

On a purely driving safari again one soft-sided bag and one smaller piece of hand luggage per person are recommended.  Do bear in mind that on some small group safaris every seat will be occupied and the boot area of the vehicle will have a space capacity.

Wherever you go do pack light for your journey - you really only need to pack a maximum of three or four days’ worth of clothes as many camps and lodges offer a laundry services – in some cases this will be included in the cost of your safari.

Avoid bright colours, whites, and because of the attraction to tsetse flies – black and navy blue.  Natural khakis, beiges, greens and browns are best which blend into a natural environment.

A day pack is essential to carry important safari essentials – binoculars, camera equipment, sunhat, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm, guidebooks etc.  

What to Pack

This list is not exhaustive but will offer you an idea of what to pack for your safari.  We are always available to offer you advice on the telephone or by email before you travel and any last minutes queries or questions:

·      Long sleeved light shirts or t-shirts

·      Short sleeved shirts or t-shirts

·      Long lightweight /fast drying trousers (some offer insect repellent)

·      Shorts if required

·      Soft broad-brimmed hat and a good pair of sunglasses (i normally take two pairs as they can easily break or get lost)

·      A warm jacket (a lightweight down jacket is ideal) with hood if travelling in cooler winter months or

·      A lightweight, windproof top – early mornings on open vehicles can be chilly, even in the heat of summer.  If travelling in green season do take a waterproof jacket.

·      Buffs (multi-functional tubular bandanna) or cotton kikoi/sarongs – a must for keeping your hair off your face or protected from the elements, the sun or cold wind off your neck and the dust off your camera

·      Warm tops (fleece/hoodie type)

·      3 pairs of socks (again good with insect repellent)

·      PJs and underwear

·      1 pair lightweight but sturdy closed shoes (waterproof/quick drying)

·      1 pair sandals or flip-flops

·      Your favourite travel-size toiletries (many lodges and camps offer eco-friendly toiletries)

.      A small torch /spare batteries 

·      Sunblock and sun-protective lip-balm - high SPF

·      Mosquito repellent (most effective with DEET)

·      Rehydration Salts – very important.  You can also take a sports rehydration product and drink lots of water on a daily basis to avoid getting dehydrated in the first place

·      A small supply of travel medicines such as malaria tablets, anti histamines, diarrhea medication, a bottle of TCP or liquid antiseptic, plasters – all may come in handy.

·      Wildlife and bird guides (e-guides are handy - the Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa and Wildlife of Southern Africa apps are excellent)

·      Binoculars – bring a fairly compact pair e.g. 7x40 and do bring one pair for each traveller!

·      Camera equipment - a powerful bridge camera or SLR with good zoom lenses.  Extra batteries and SIM cards are very useful!

Pack for a Purpose

Many lodges and camps support this wonderful initiative - for example, for just 2.2 kg (5 lbs) of your weight allowance you can bring one of the following:

• 400 pencils

• 5 deflated soccer balls with an inflation device

• A stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and 500 Band-Aids

Ask us for further information!

Children on Safari

Taking children on safari is a wonderful education and we at Tracks Safaris have experience of travelling to Africa and around the globe with our own children – who are all in their 20’s now!

There are many safaris which specifically cater for and welcome children of all ages throughout Africa and this is where we can help you!  It is essential to find a safari which is entirely compatible with the ages of your children, your interests and who you are travelling with.

We can recommend accommodation or full itineraries specifically tailored to your expectations – from private safari houses in the Masai Mara or Swahili coast to adventurous small group journeys all the family can enjoy.

We are being increasingly asked for multi generational journeys – grandparents, parents and grandchildren – or groups of friends who love travelling together. 

Whatever the ages of your children please do contact us and let us know the ages of your children, who is travelling, your interests and what you are hoping to see and a rough idea of your budget and we will be delighted to recommend options for you family!

Check-in/out Times

Rooms are generally not available for occupation until 13:00 hours. Check-out is normally 10:00 hours. Early check-in, late departure or day rooms can be arranged for a supplement - please ask!

Currency

This varies from country to country.  Do take a credit card (or two!) but do not rely on it as remote lodges may not have signal when you are checking out.  Some lodges do accept US Dollar and Pound Sterling travellers’ cheques but again please do ask before you go. On the whole USD cash and a small amount of local currency is best - bring cards and cheques as back up.  

In South Africa and Namibia Rand is best. Please remember to use official money-changing agencies such as banks, ATM's and at hotel receoption areas and avoid street-dealers who may pass on fake notes or give you the wrong change.

Drinking Water

Many lodges will now offer you your own drinking bottle for the duration of your stay which you can fill up at a designated filtered and safe water station before you go out on your game drive.  This reduces the number of plastic bottles consumed in very vulneralbe wilderness areas and eliminates the need to fly or transport plastic out.  Most lodges and camps throughout Africa and india are aware of the dangers of local water to their guests and will only offer you bottled or mineral water and ice during your stay.  When out and about do double check that caps are sealed on the water bottles you buy and do beware of consuming ice and ice cream purchased locally.

Electricity

The supply in Africa is 220-240v and plugs three-pin square or round. Apart from a few of the bush camps and mobile safaris, all accommodation has some form of permanent electricity and some camps have installed an international board of adapters in tents and rooms for their guest's convenience . If you have a video camera, make sure your battery charger is of the same voltage.  For more information on worldwide plugs visit: http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/ 

Food and Drink

You will be surprised at the high standard of food and drink on safari - even the remote camps and lodges can produce amazing meals with very little equipment!  Imagine a home baked cake or fresh bread baked in a simple ground oven on a remote palm island in the middle of the Okavango Delta!  With freshly-grown vegetables, herbs and fruits and a wide variety of good quality meats and local fish, food on safari is usually above people’s expectations. Imported and locally produced alcoholic spirits, beer or wine are also readily available.  Do let us know if any dietary rquirements or preferences before you travel and we can let the camps and lodges know in advance - almost all can cater for specific diets if they have prior notice!

Health

We recommend that you always consult your doctor or travel health professional well in advance of travel. Malaria is prevalent in Africa and India and we cannot stress too highly the importance of taking the correct precautions against it. You will also need to ensure that your inoculations are up to date for the area you are visiting.

Excessive heat and not drinking enough water is one of the main causes of illness or tummy upset whilst on safari so do drink as much water as you can especially during the first few days when you are most vulnerable and your body is adjusting.  

Most camps and lodges produce amazing food, and basic hygeine and food production skills are of a very high standard.  Do be careful about what you eat if eating off the street or in local restuarants in towns and villages and ensure meat is cooked well - especially chicken.  Do not drink water from the taps unless you have been speciifically told that it is safe to do so - even then it may contain minerals that your body is not used to which may upset your tummy.  Any fruit obtained from any other source apart from your camp or lodge adhere to the rule that 'if you can't cook, boil or peel it - don't eat it'!

Insurance

Adequate travel insurance is a condition of booking. Please ensure that insurance includes medical, repatriation and baggage damage/loss charges.

Language

English is widely spoken in cities and tourist areas, however, other European languages are less commonly understood. Multilingual driver-guides can be supplied if required.  

Do try and learn a few words of local language before you travel - this will really impress local people and your guide!

Photography

Always take a couple of SIM cards and a spare battery - just to be safe.  If using an old camera do take enough film and spare batteries, as both are usually expensive to buy locally.

If possible do bring a a waterproof/dustproof bag to cover your camera equipment.  For good bird and animal photography, a 200mm lens is the minimum recommendation.

Please always ask permission before taking photos of local people.

Security

Africa is no different from anywhere else in the world and by following common-sense rules you should travel without incident. Excessive displays of jewellery, electronic/camera equipment or cash will attract unwelcome attention. Always use the room safe or leave valuables with management. We also recommend that you do not walk around unfamiliar streets at any time in cities, towns or villages without your guide or a trusted local person.

Telecommunications and WIFI

City hotels and large lodges generally have international communication facilities, however, please check the charges. Most remote accommodation does not have telephones and can only be contacted at certain times of the day by radiophone. Some cell phones do have coverage in Africa - again this can vary from country to country and area to area.  

Many camps will also offer either complementary or paid for wifi access.  This may be limited to certain areas of the camp such as reception and the service will be on 'bush time' - probably very slow.  If will most likely be enough to send and receive emails and may even be good enough to upload a photo or two to Facebook.  Some camps do not offer WIFI at all - if staying connected is important or essential to you then please say so and we can recommend camps which do offer the service.  Please also bear in mind that whilst a camp or lodge may offer WIFI it may not be working when you visit.  Flexibility and patience is key!

Tipping

Many of our clients ask us about tipping and how much is expected.  Tips are always appreciated if the job has been well done and you are happy withthe sevice you have received. Tipping is not obligitory and is entirely at your own discretion and budget.  It is common to tip your safari guide - this is usually done on a per person basis at the end of your safari.  You can also tip one off services such as mokoro polers or transfer drivers - again this is not obligitory but it is appreciated.  Many lodges and camps operate a staff tip box which is shared out amongst all the staff - some of whome you will not see during your stay but whose hard work will contribute to the enjoyment of your stay.  We are always happy to give you a guide on tipping - please ask!

Visa Requirements

Please consult the appropriate embassy or high commission on entry visa requirements.  Whilst we are very happy to assit you with advice it is your responsibility to ensure that you travel with the correct documentation and entry requirements.  This includes travelling with children to South Africa which requires a full, unabridged birth certificate for every child showing the full names of both parents which should correspond with the the parent's passports.

We recommend you visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office webpages of the country you intend to visit before travel - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

For further up to date information regaring travelling with children to South Africa visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa 

One Last Word of Advice

Some of Africa’s charm is its slower, more relaxed pace of life. Local people are generally polite, hospitable and always eager to assist, however, may not always understand everything in your terms. If you always remember your patience and sense of humour, you will depart with wonderful lasting memories.

 

Photographic Acknowledgements

Photographic acknowledgements for photos throughout our site - a big thank you to all Tracks Safaris suppliers:

Alpha Safaris, Andbeyond safaris, Ants Nest and Ants Hill Safaris, Azura Mozambique, Cheli & Peacock, Conservancy Safaris, Elewana Safaris, Exodus, Flatdogs, Gamewatchers safaris, Great Lakes Safaris, Kafunta, Isibindi, Kamili, Ker & Downey Botswana, Kwando Safaris, Muchenje Lodge, Nomad Tanzania, Neil Aldridge, Norman Carr Safaris, Okavango Horse safaris, On Track Safaris, Patrick Bentley, Paws Namibia, Porini, Rani Resorts, Robin Pope Safaris, Sausage Tree Camp, The Bushcamp Company, Tongabezi and Sindabezi, Vamizi Island, Wild Places, Volcanoes safaris, Waterberry Lodge, White Pearl Resorts, Wilderness safaris, Yeshey Dorji, Avijit Sarkhel, Banyan Tours, Arka sarkar, RM Shrestha, Vikram Gupchup, Shoba Mohan, Ansar Khan, Pradeep Singh, K Bhargava, Jugal Tiwari, David Raju, Dhritiman Mukherjee, Apurba Chakraborty, Aditya Singh, K V Eldhose, Peter Chadwick - to name but a few!