THE REALITIES OF AFRICA
If you’ve been before then skip this part!
If you’ve never been on safari or perhaps never visited Africa before, then it makes sense to get an idea of what to expect….
No … it’s not an “Out of Africa” experience. In fact most movies, documentaries, novels, brochures and travel adverts will emphasize the romance of Africa - its wide open landscapes, huge herds of wild animals, magical sunrises and sunsets, beaches and good wine, its beauty and simplicity. The rich ‘rawness’ of Africa.
Oh it’s all true! … but bear in mind that there’s sometimes a downbeat side that you’re probably not going to be told about up front. Although when you get here you may not even notice them.
It’s just part of the territory (remember we face it every day!): dust, insects, heat, flights that don’t arrive on time, vehicles that break when they’re most needed, ATM’s and phones that simply aren’t available or pestering touts wanting to sell you crafts, border officials who won’t budge or see reason (or want bribes!), shops that don’t sell the one item you need most…..
No - it’s not always that bad! But if it does happen … you’re in Africa and you simply have to deal with things … be ready for it, see the bright side and don’t let it spoil your holiday!
Here is a simplistic outline on how the costing system works
Camps, lodges and safari operators set their prices based on a cost plus margin or in some cases on the price that the market will bear depending on seasonal supply and demand. This is the “off the shelf” brochure price (or rack rate) and usually includes all land costs with accommodation, meals, guide fees and activities.
Some safari operators sell directly to the consumer but they don’t discount the rack rate - if they do they run the risk of alienating their trade support. So to use Inkosi Africa to put your holiday package together won’t cost you any more. The advantages are obvious.
The rack rates are discounted to tour operators (like us) and travel wholesalers by around 20% who then package, market and sell to consumers and travel agents.
The price to consumers (i.e. you) is usually based on the rack rate and can in some cases get discounted (e.g. if booking is last minute and there is space available).
Although there are many items to consider like logistics, insurance, paperwork (visas), medical issues and more…. the secret is …… keep your planning simple!.. and ask us for advice.
If you’re going into the bush - here are some useful tips
- Please listen to your guide at all times. Your life may depend on it.
- The sun is the greatest danger. Bring sunglasses, wear sunscreen and wide brimmed hat (baseball caps are useless!). The message is cover up during the hottest times of the day.
- Wear casual personal clothing in neutral colours: khaki, olive-green, grey, brown, no white (please no camouflage!) so as to blend in with the environment. A bush jacket with large pockets is ideal for carrying photographic gear.
- A long-sleeved shirt and trousers is recommended to ward off chills at night and provide additional protection against insects. A jersey or fleece will be needed during cool evenings from May to August. (Temperatures can drop below 15 degrees Celsius in the Zambezi and Luangwa valleys - Hwange and Botswana generally get a lot cooler.)
- Bring binoculars (one each!). Bring sufficient film (and/or spare batteries) for your camera. Torch, spare batteries, fully charged video recorder,
- Ask permission before taking photographs of locals. Your guide will advise about photographs when near animals.
- Read up / do some research about the country you are visiting - familiarise yourself with the local climate, customs and cultures. The latter will earn you respect and reduce the chances of offending the locals. If possible learn a few basic phrases – it will always bring a smile and have an amazing door opening effect on locals.
- Use water sparingly - water is always scarce.
- Always try conserving Africa’s natural heritage. e.g. Don’t buy products made of endangered fauna or flora.
- Don’t approach animals on foot, or leave your vehicle, unless you are with a qualified guide/ranger.
- Don’t swim in rivers unless your guide tells you its’ safe. Crocodiles, hippos and bilharzia are very real dangers.
- Don’t make fast / erratic movements - this will frighten or aggravate the wildlife.
- Don’t drive off the roads in game reserves and National Parks.
- Whisper in the presence of wildlife.
- Do not feed animals or birds (especially baboons and hyenas) - this creates dependency, so they become a threat to travellers and rangers have to shoot them! What may appear a gesture of kindness may end up in a death warrant.
- Don’t litter. Not even bio-degradable material like an apple core.
- If going to the toilet in the bush (this doesn’t apply to most of you!) bury your feces and burn the paper.
- Luggage for the day should be limited to 10 kg, preferably in a soft bag/back-pack.
- Comfortable walking shoes and spare socks - be sure to “wear-in” any new shoes.
- Hand towel, personal toiletries and medication. Anti-malarial prophylaxis. Deet-based insect repellent works the best.
When to go
In general South Africa’s climate is sunny and temperature throughout the year. However the best time for game viewing is the dry winter months (cooler days, shorter grass, fewer insects, etc) – June to September. However, winter nights can be extremely cold on safari so warm clothes are essential.
When you visit SA - whether with Inkosi Africa or not – do yourself a favour and make sure your guide is a registered Tourist or Field guide.
What is Eco-Tourism?
The objective of eco-tourism is conservation (leave it as you found it) combined with education to give clients an enriching and enjoyable experience of nature while at the same time causing the least possible disturbance to local people and cultures and eco-systems at all levels (e.g. no off-road driving in reserves). We at Inkosi Africa all maintain strict environmental standards at all times:
- Sensitivity and respect for people and places we visit
- A meaningful and educational approach to flora and fauna
- Effective waste management
- Considerate and environmentally sensitive behavior in game reserves.