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Frequently Asked Questions

Guest/Clients Medical Declaration: Medical and Travel Status and Access

 

All Guests/Clients will be required to complete our Client Indemnity and Medical Declaration Form. This will be prior to arrival/check-in/boarding/entering/pick-up, as appropriate. All Guests/Clients must compete the form, not just the contracting party.

 

The declaration must be signed prior to arrival/check-in/boarding/pick-up to ensure it is up-to-date. In addition, Sustain may ask several questions upon booking/reservation, may suggest that high-risk individuals postpone their trip, or may decline the reservation.

 

Declaration Form to Include:

  • General health, chronic and other conditions, and medication;

  • Physical impairments;

  • Symptoms experienced during the prior 30 days;

  • Smoker status and fitness level;

  • COVID-19 history;

  • COVID-19 status disclosure signed-off;

  • Record of trip – full current trip itinerary (past and future) for tracing;

  • Recent travel history other than this trip – 1 month;

  • Next of kin/friend not travelling with you name and contact details;

  • Nationality;

  • ID or passport number;

  • Travel insurance declaration and proof (international guests).

Best Months to Visit

 

Southern Africa is an all year round ecological and wildlife destination.

BEST BIRDING MONTHS

The best birding months are during the summer from November to early April when the birds are in breeding mode and the Palearctic and Intra-African Migrants are present. Species with breeding season plumage such as Weavers, Widowbirds and Bishops are in full breeding regalia. This goes for all regions except the Western Cape, which is a winter rainfall area and for which the best birding months are during the spring from late July to the middle of October.

 

BEST MAMMAL MONTHS

Mammal viewing peaks in the dry season, from June to mid-November. During these months water is scarce and thus the animals are more concentrated around water holes and rivers. Furthermore, the depleted foliage allows for better viewing and photographic opportunities. During the summer, when there is abundant water, the animals are generally more dispersed. Each season however has its own appeal, such as the mass birth of impala lambs during early summer, and game viewing can be very good throughout the year.

 

BEST BOTANICAL MONTHS

For lovers of floral diversity, the best months are December to May when the vegetation is lush and green, and also when most plants are in flower. An exception is Namaqualand in the Western and Northern Cape Provinces of South Africa. This area becomes a floral masterpiece in spring (mid-August to late-September), when the desert-like terrain is transformed into a carpet of flowers and birds are actively courting and displaying. The Western Cape is better for botany in late Winter and Spring (mid-July to mid-October). Note that the flowers are dependent on the rains and the timing and quantity is variable.

What to Bring

Please refer to our What to Bring on Safari page

Which Field Guides and Birding Apps?

  • SASOL ILLUSTRATED BIRDS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R. & Tarboton, W.R. 2002, 3rd Edition, Struik Publishers, Cape Town. This is the recommended field guide for identification purposes. This book is excellent and is recommended for intermediate to advanced birders.

  • ROBERT’S BIRD GUIDE TO SOUTHERN AFRICA. Chittenden, H. 2007, John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. This comprehensive field guide covers over 950 Southern African bird species and is linked to the legendary Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa, the definitive reference book on our birds since 1940, currently in VII edition.

  • Birding Apps: 3 good quality apps exist for smartphones and tablets exists in Southern Africa. These include: Roberts Bird Guide (second edition); SASOL Birds of Southern Africa; or BirdPro South Africa.

Precautions to Take 

 

  • MEDICAL:

    • Please inform guides of any medical conditions before the safari departs, preferably when making your reservation.

    • All necessary personal medication should be supplied by the client. Basic medication can be bought en-route in all areas as well as at some of the camps in parks. Please confirm with your guide should you need anything.

    • Southern Africa has minimal health-risks for the traveller. For more information, consult your medical practitioner or health centre or contact The Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA). Their web address is www.masta-travel-health.com

  • THE SUN: One must be careful not to underestimate the effects of the African sun. Plenty of sun cream (preferably factor 50), a good sun hat and gradual adjustment are recommended. Avoid excessive exposure between 10h00 and 16h00.

 

  • MALARIA: Some regions of South Africa fall under intermediate to low risk malarial areas. The north-east, including the Kruger National Park is considered intermediate risk, with anti-malarial drugs recommended from October to May. The far northern KwaZulu-Natal Province is now considered very low risk, with only non-drug preventative measures required. The highest risk period is the summer season (October to May) and the lower risk period is late winter (June to September). The Drakensberg, Highveld (interior plateau), southern Zululand and KZN Midlands are free of malaria all year round. The following websites offer excellent information and advice on malaria prophylaxis, malaria in general and required inoculations:

    • Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the northern parts of Botswana and the Caprivi strip region in Namibia are still considered malaria areas. Please consult your doctor for the necessary prophylaxis before you visit. We recommend bringing insect repellent. This is often supplied at select lodges and can also be purchased at some of the camps’ shops or in the towns en-route.

    • Long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes when outdoors at night.

    • Take the malaria tablets recommended for the region you are travelling to, and keep taking them until the course is complete. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your pills at night, after dinner as this usually minimizes the effect of the symptoms.

    • If you come down with flu-like symptoms within four to six weeks after your visit, seek your doctor's advice immediately.

www.travelclinic.co.za

www.malaria.org.za

  • INNOCULATIONS: Travelers entering South Africa and other countries within Africa may be required to have specific inoculations.​ For all advice on inoculations, please contact your relevant travel medical doctor in your own country.

  • Yellow fever and Ebola are not risk factors in Southern Africa, but may be for Central and West Africa visits. Please consult your doctor.

What Not to be Concerned About

  • All accommodation in the parks in malaria areas have mosquito netting in front of the windows and doors, and the private lodges also have wrap-around mosquito nets, so mosquitoes are very seldom found within the rooms.

  • The camps and lodges are well lit, but a torch/flashlight may be needed when returning to your bungalow from our dining area or a night drive.

  • All camps in the national parks and game reserves, with the exception of the bush camps, have a shop where basic toiletries can be purchased. These shops also sell snacks, beverages as well as souvenirs.

  • Most camps, with the exception of some bush camps, have swimming pools. 

  • All camps in the national parks are fenced to keep animals from entering. There have however been a few incidents where dangerous animals have managed to get into a camp.

  • The majority of private lodge are not fenced in - please be alert when walking around at night.

Tour Guides/Leaders

  • Our guides are all registered and qualified as Tourist/Field Guides and have a good knowledge of the areas we operate in.

  • Our guides are very familiar with the routes traveled while on safari. Please accept that they are well experienced in their field and will know which routes are best to travel and where the best areas are for seeing various animals and bird species.

  • Although our guides have are very knowledgeable, they are only human and do not always know the answers to everything. They will always do their best to ensure all guests have an enjoyable safari. On the occasion they cannot provide an answer, please be fair to them. The guides are also not personal servants, so please treat them with respect.

  • Guides know best when dangerous encounters occur. Please adhere to their rules and guidance for your own safety.

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Tipping/Gratuities

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  • Tipping in South Africa is not compulsory, but is customary. 

  • Restaurants waiters are generally tipped 10% of the bill.

  • Our guides and chauffeurs receive a salary and are not dependent on tips from guests, but please feel free to tip your guide / chauffeur if you have had an enjoyable experience while on safari and feel like he/she has made your safari memorable.

  • As a guideline we recommend guides are tipped around US$10 per person per day.

  • You should never feel pressured to tip.

  • Please email us if you have any comments or suggestions you would like to make. We are always keen to improve.

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What to Expect

  • Groups are generally averaged at 4-6 individuals per safari but may be 12 at times.

  • It is important to remember that people may come from different cultural and religious backgrounds and for this reason guests need to be as flexible as possible while on safari. Making friends with your fellow travelers will certainly help your overall experience of your safari.

  • The first and last day of your safari can in particular be long, as you will need to get to and from the particular park. While in the parks extensive game drives are conducted, particularly in the early mornings and late afternoons/early evenings. Depending on the group dynamics and everyone agreeing, there may be the option of doing game drives throughout the day. Your guide will however be able to give you the best advice on the day and will make the final decision.

  • Breakfasts and dinners are prepared out in the open. We feel that this is a much better way of experiencing the African bush than sitting in a restaurant. Please note that there may be times when guides will take you to a restaurant. This may be because of unforeseen circumstances such as rainy weather or late arrivals at camp.

  • For your own safety we prefer that guides do not drive into the night, and therefore ask your co-operation to ensure that time is not wasted unnecessarily.

  • South African roads are generally in a good condition and there should be no / very few delays.

  • Please note that animals do not have a preference for one or the other. Your guide will drive you where he/she feels that you will have most success at seeing a variety of animals.

  • While in the private reserves, open 4x4 vehicles are used as this may be necessary for some of the roads in the area.

Participation and Meals

  • Our guests are not expected to participate with general chores, but guides work long hours and will appreciate any help offered.

  • Guides or camp staff will prepare all breakfasts and dinners, and guests are never expected to do this. On our standard safaris, we generally have a full time chef on-site who will take care of culinary matters. On our budget safaris guests will need to assist with meals.

  • Should you have any specific dietary requirements, please inform us upon making your reservation.

Communication

  • An enjoyable tour depends on open and honest communication between yourself, the guides and your fellow passengers. Many problems have their root in lack of communication. Most parks have good cell phone coverage and you should not have any difficulty making phone calls from the camps where you will be staying.

  • Please refrain from using cell phones while out on game drives in consideration of fellow passengers and the wildlife. In an emergency please feel free to contact our office directly.

Accommodation

  • Note that some safaris are only available as fully-inclusive safaris.

  • Facilities vary from park to park, and sometimes from camp to camp, and the information below should be seen as a guideline only. Camp specific information is available on request.

  • Classic Safaris make use of en-suite accommodation units (either brick-and-mortar, steel and glass, luxury canvas tent, or timber cabins, or a combination thereof). These are all comfortable, and will provide air-conditioning, twin or queen beds, bathrooms, towels and soap at the very least. Most units contain tea and coffee stations, and small fridges where drinks and snacks can be kept cool. Families may be booked into family units, which generally consist of separate bedrooms, a small lounge area, and sometimes a small kitchen. Please note that the booking of such accommodation depends on availability.

  • Budget Safaris may not have accommodation units (either brick-and-mortar, steel and glass, luxury canvas tent, or timber cabins, or a combination thereof) with en-suite facilities. These may not offer air-conditioning and fridges, but will generally include twin or queen beds, towels and soap, while ablutions may be shared.

  • We have little to no control over the allocated accommodation upon checking into a camp. We will however always endeavor to accommodate guests' preferences and have all guests staying in the same standard of accommodation.

  • Should there be anything within your accommodation which is not in working order then please notify your guide who will request that  staff attend to the necessary repairs.

Photography

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  • Please feel free to take as many photos as you like while on safari, unless advised differently by your guide for a certain reason pertaining to your safety.

  • Guides will always try and position vehicles in a way which allows for guests to take the best photos under the circumstances.

  • Please ask the guide to stop if you would like to take photos at any time. The guides will also stop at panoramic viewpoints along the route, to ensure you get the best scenic photos. Please stock up on memory chips (film) and spare camera batteries before departure, as these may be difficult to find en-route. 16GB memory cards or more are recommended, especially if you are interested in photography!

  • Our guides will also be taking photos and sometimes videos on tour, and these can be emailed to you at the end of the tour for mementos and sharing.

  • All lodges/camps have electrical points to charge batteries and other equipment.

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