Travel Resources & TipsCheck the Frequently Asked Questions below for important information regarding your safari and for some travel tips
Why should I book with TrueAfrica?
To put it simply, we know what we’re talking about. We’ve traversed this continent over the years and most have us have lived and worked in the bush. Unlike many of our competitors who fly into a country for two weeks a year and call themselves experts, our team know the bush, the people, the places and the wildlife more completely.
All our trips are tailor-made with each clients’ specific budget, preferences and travel style in mind. We don’t offer set itineraries or ‘run-of-the-mill’ experiences.
We also believe in offering our clients solid advice and value for money. If we believe that you don’t need to spend money on something, we’ll tell you… we will always try and find “best bang for your buck” and never suggest you pay for anything you don’t need.
We have clients that come back year after year and around 50% of all our trips are with repeat clients – which is pretty telling!
How much does a safari cost?
How long is a piece of string? There’s no easy way to answer this as there are so many factors to consider, however, the age-old proverb of “you get what you pay for” has never been more true than in Africa. You can get what would be considered a “back-packers” type safari for as little as US$500 for 3 days, but you’ll most likely be crammed into a mini-van and race around the busy areas of the parks with an unqualified/inexperienced “guide”. We don’t do this and we can’t organize this for you. Sorry!
To give you an idea for high-season prices, a “lead-in” safari will start from around US$500 per person per day of service; a “mid-range” safari will start from around US$680 per person per day of service and a “luxury” safari will start from around US$850 per person per day of service.
Some properties right at the top end of the market charge more than US$2000 per person, per day – though, to be honest, we’re not convinced they’re worth this price and we’ll likely be able to offer something better, for less! Note: in Green Season and Low Season there are some great special offers available! Speak to us and we will be able to advise you further.
Why are safaris so expensive?
Think of it this way… when you’re at a hotel in New York, London or Sydney, the yogurt you have with your museli is probably from a large catering company which delivers food on a daily basis from a nearby warehouse. Sounds simple, right? Well, when you’re in the middle of the Serengeti, the nearest supermarket that stocks yogurt could be a 14hr drive away. Not so simple… The operating costs of most camps are really quite high and therefore, all of these operating costs (for example, the yogurt you have for breakfast) has to be factored into the daily rate.
Then, in addition to this, add on high taxes charged by the governments, Park / Conservation Fees (which, by large, go back into conservation efforts); then all of the other pieces of the puzzle – the vehicle, accommodation, meals, guide, internal flights, special levies etc etc. All of this adds up quite quickly.
Speak to us if you would like to get an indication for the price of your ideal safari.
What to pack for a safari?
The secret to packing for a successful safari is to pack lots of layers. The temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day so you may need to peel layers off, or put them back on… See here for more information about ‘What to Pack for a Safari’ (download PDF)
Would it be cheaper to book everything directly with the properties?
Because we’re a preferred operator for most camp companies, we do generally get the best rates available. You can try and secure better rates online, but 99% of the time, we’ll still be able to offer better prices – and, a much more qualified perspective of things. Keep in mind, most properties look great online, whereas our team has seen more than 700 properties in Africa and therefore, we’re definitely qualified to provide advice 🙂
That said, some of the large hotel brands do offer what is called “best available rate” whereby they use an algorithm (much like airlines) to price their rooms lower based on high availability. Typically, we don’t recommend these hotels as they don’t really offer a unique African experience and are much more “hotel-like” or “resort-y” than the small, unique and authentic properties we prefer to work with. Contact us if you would like to find out more.
Any advice on Visas & Entry Requirements?
Please ensure you have the correct visa required for travel. Most nationalities will require Tourist Visas for entry into most African countries. Many of these can be obtained upon arrival, but it is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure they qualify to do so. A useful website for you to review is www.projectvisa.com however please note, this is not official advice and that this should be sought.
Note; as the requirements for each country’s visa requirements do change on a somewhat regular basis, please contact the relevant embassy in your home country for the most up to date information.
How about Insurance?
Although every care is taken by our guides and the staff at each property, we/they cannot be held responsible for any accident, injury or illness that you may incur, or loss or damage to your property during your safari. We strongly recommend that all clients take out comprehensive travel insurance.
In most cases, we provide all of our guests with temporary Emergency Air Evacuation Insurance which covers any emergency evacuation from the bush to a nearby reputable hospital – as this is not always covered in most international insurance policies. This emergency air evacuation insurance ends at the entrance at the hospital and does not cover any medical expenses.
What do we need to know about Healthcare?
All travelers should visit their personal physician or travel clinic at least 6 weeks prior to travel to ensure you have the necessary vaccinations for travel in Africa.
Please note Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificates may be required to cross a country’s borders. Requirements vary based upon the regulations of your destination country as well as onward travel. They change often and your travel health clinic or the relevant embassy in your country should be able to give you the most up to date information.
Hotels, camps and lodges will provide either bottled water, or filtered water for drinking. Please do not drink the tap water.
How about Luggage & Flying?
If you are catching a domestic flight in East Africa, you should be aware that the weight limit is 15kg (33 lbs) – if your bags are heavier you may have to pay an excess luggage charge. Sometimes you may be able to get away with an extra kilogram or two, however, please use 15kgs total as a guideline.
Soft-sided bags are mandatory on light aircrafts and a lock for your bag is always useful.
Some safari planes are able to facilitate additional luggage to be carried at an extra charge.
As with all international travel, luggage does get lost / delayed from time to time on international flights. We will make every effort to help you get the bags to you as soon as possible, but please be aware that it might take a day or sometimes longer. You may be liable for any costs incurred to get it to you in the bush – however, a good insurance coverage will refund you for this upon submitting a claim.
Please note, some airlines do require travelers to disclose their weight and should anyone weight more than 100kgs (220 lbs), the airline may request you book an additional seat.
What should we know about money and currencies?
The preferred currency for transacting is USD (though GBP and EUR can be used) – there is no need to obtain local currencies. Make sure you bring enough cash with you in small denominations for tipping (US$5 and US$10 notes), curios/souvenirs and any extra personal purchases you wish to make.
Some properties do not include drinks and therefore these will need to be paid for upon check-out. There are limited ATMs available in East Africa and only in town centres. There are very few credit card facilities available and often these come with high fees associated (often up to 6%). We recommend only using your credit cards at tented camps / lodges for any additional purchases such as drinks etc.
Money can be changed at most banks, bureau de change, hotel or lodge, though, the rates aren’t likely to be the best. We would recommend that it’s best to try and bring enough cash with you to avoid being dependent on local ATMS, banks and currency exchange offices.
How about Tipping & Gratuities?
If you are pleased with the service, you are more than welcome to tip your guide and the staff in the various lodges and camps. Obviously, tipping is an extra reward for excellent service and is not compulsory.
As a guideline for tipping your driver/guide, we suggest about 10 USD per person per day, up to a maximum of 30-40 USD per family or group. Tipping is usually sorted out at the end of your safari – you should tip your guide directly.
You can tip the general staff at each property by using the ‘communal tip box’ that most lodges/camps have in their common area or reception. This ‘communal tip’ should be around 5–10 USD per person per day stayed and is then distributed among the cooks, waiters, housekeepers, porters etc.
What do we need to know about security?
Your possessions should be safe in the vehicle, however, in rare cases, theft can occur at hotels and lodges in towns. Many properties will have a safe deposit box available and we highly recommend that you request to put cash, passports, and other precious items in here or to keep valuables with you at all times. Don’t bring expensive jewelry or other unnecessary valuables on safari with you.
Your personal safety is paramount and we will never allow you to travel to an area which is not considered safe.
How about Safety?
You will be briefed upon arrival at each property as to the specific safety precautions. However, please do not wander around on your own outside. Remember that there is a great deal of potentially dangerous wildlife in the area, so please do not wander around on your own outside of your tent.
The rules in the National Parks are very specific and our guides obey them at all times. Please do not encourage your driver to leave the road in order to get closer to animals unless you are in an approved “off-road driving” area – your guide will know these areas.
Remember that driving is only allowed during daylight hours (apart from special night game drives which need to be booked beforehand). Please don’t make too much noise, observe the wildlife quietly and try not to disturb the animals unnecessarily. Please do not leave any litter behind.
If nature calls, tell your guide in advance so he can find a spot for you that is safe and private. You should not leave the vehicle whilst inside a National Park except with the instructions of the guide. If you are a smoker, only smoke in designated areas, use extreme caution and do not leave cigarette butts on the ground.
What do I need to know about Gorilla Trekking?
There are a few specific rules and some important information about gorilla trekking in Rwanda. We recommend having a read through our Important Information about Travel to Rwanda to ensure you’re up to date with everything you need to know!
Please note, the minimum age for gorilla trekking is 15yrs old.
Contact us if you have any specific questions.
Can I use my mobile phone in the bush?
Mobile phone coverage is only available in some areas and is very intermittent at best. Please advise your family/friends back home that you may not be contactable. Wi-fi is increasingly more common at the camps and lodges however it is not available everywhere. There may be an additional fee to pay, and speed is probably not what you are accustomed to back home.
Please feel free to pass on our details to your family and friends back home should they need to contact you. We will know the best way to get in touch with you.
What about Local Interaction & Cultural Sensitivity?
There may be times where you come across severe poverty, beggars and street children – especially in cities and towns. It may seem harsh, but it is best not to give any money. Whilst your intentions may be good, giving money directly to children only perpetuates the problem by keeping them on the streets and making them vulnerable to abuse. On this note, please also don’t bring sweets or coloring pens to hand out to children.
If you would like to donate to a relevant charity or school, please let us know and we can recommend suitable charities which you can support.
You will also find that many people are photo shy or have learned that they should be rewarded for photographs. Always ask permission before taking a photograph of someone and keep in mind that a small payment may be required. Please speak with your guide about this.
If you go for a cultural village walk, feel completely free to take pictures. The situation may be different in a Maasai settlement – your guide will assist in this. In Stone Town (Zanzibar) and other parts of the African coastline, it is important for women to dress modestly and appropriately out of respect for Islamic beliefs. It is especially important to cover shoulders and knees. Of course, in the various lodges in these coastal areas it is perfectly fine to wear shorter skirts, shorts and shirts or beach wear.
Can you accommodate our Dietary Requirements?
Generally speaking, most properties we work with can accommodate almost all dietary requirements. Please speak to us when confirming your safari regarding your specific requirements.
What about Payment Information?
We require a 30% deposit to confirm an itinerary (this is what most properties require, so we simply use the same policy) and then the balance is due 2 months prior to travel. If you’re looking “last minute” (i.e., within 2 months of your date of arrival), then full payment is required by us and the properties.
Most of our clients pay via direct bank transfer (we bank with Investec International), however, you can also pay by credit card (Visa and Mastercard) using a secure online payment gateway. Note, the bank does charge a 4% processing fee for payments by credit card (much like most banks in Africa).
Can I still make changes once my itinerary is confirmed?
Depending on what the changes you would like to make are, and when you’re looking to make them, our team will do our best to accommodate these changes. Note, some of the properties may charge cancellation fees or change fees, but we’ll do our best to negotiate these down for you.
What are your Cancellation Policies?
We apply a US$500 per person admin fee for any cancelled bookings and then work with each property to secure as much of a refund as possible for our clients. We are usually quite successful with this and can often negotiate to postpone a trip, rather than cancel altogether, and in which case, usually any cancellation fees are waived.
This is all done on a case-by-case basis depending on when you’re cancelling and for what reason.