Below you will find answers to the most common questions we get asked about our African Photo Safaris. If you have any other questions that are not answered here, please feel free to get in touch with us, we are more than happy to help in any way we can.
WHAT ELECTRICAL SYSTEM CAN I EXPECT TO FIND ?
Each country has its own electrical and plug system. After you have registered to do a photo safari with us, you will have access to our "PLUG & VOLTAGE" information document within your client area. This will help to explain what you need based on the country you are planning to visit.
WHAT ARE THE LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS?
On all our safaris it is preferable to use a soft duffel type bag for your main luggage (no hard suitcases) These are easier to pack into vehicles and planes. The normal luggage restriction as far as weight goes is 20 kgs for hold luggage and 8 kgs for Cabin Luggage. We all know that as photographers 8 kgs for camera equipment is not enough! However, you will find that the size of the bag is more important. A normal Think Tank type camera bag (airport accelerator) should carry the amount of equipment you need for your safari. When checking in, politely explain that it is expensive camera equipment and cannot go in the luggage hold.
Usually, they allow you on with no problem as long as the bag can fit either in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you. If for any reason you are refused to board with your camera bag (this seldom happens) then they will ask you to "sky check" your bag. Here you take your bag to the plane and leave it at the bottom of the stairs where it will be taken to a special storage area for the duration of the flight. When you step off the plane at the end of the flight, your bag will be waiting for you.
DO I NEED A VISA FOR MY PHOTO SAFARI ?
It is best to contact the embassy of the country you will be travelling to, and double-check to see what their latest policies are with regards to Visas and whether you should apply for them before you travel or if you can obtain them at the port of entry.
WILL OUR VEHICLES BE IN RADIO CONTACT WITH OTHER SAFARI VEHICLES ?
Yes, the vehicles in our group are in radio contact with each other and our guides will pass on important information.
Our local guides are also excellent at acquiring any relevant pieces of information from their colleagues and friends. In Kenya, our guides do make use of cell phones to relay relevant information when radio comms are weak.
I REALLY ENJOY PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS, DO YOU TAKE TIME TO STOP FOR THESE TOO ?
Yes, we do spend time photographing birds.
On our photo safaris, we will be stopping for "the large and colourful birds". If you would like to try and cover the birds in more detail then we recommend you travel with a like-minded photographer or that you book out a private safari vehicle so that you can go entirely at your own pace.
The pace of a regular photo safari compared with a bird photo safari is very different. If you do stop for every single bird no matter the distance or size, you will fall far behind the other vehicles who might find other sightings that you might not be able to get to in time. You would need to understand this and know that you cannot be everywhere at the same time and you will miss out on other sightings and photo opportunities. Also be aware that if you are sharing a vehicle with other photographers that you do not know, they may not be as interested in stopping for every single bird.
CREDIT CARDS OR CASH - WHAT SHOULD I BRING ?
Credit Cards are by far the most convenient 90% of the time. Bringing along some cash as a backup is also a good idea. US$ are readily accepted in most African Countries and can also be used in some local shops (**Please note that there are some exceptions like South Africa and Namibia - both of these countries DO NOT ALLOW the use of US$ in their economy).
** If you are unsure please ASK us about which option is most suitable for the safari you are doing.
As far as tipping goes (more on the tipping section) you could separate it into the following two scenarios:
1) Your Local Driver / Guide / Ranger: - this can be done in US$ - CASH only
2) Lodge / Camp staff
> Kenya - this can be done in US$ - CASH or CARD
> Tanzania - this can be done in US$ - CASH only
> Botswana - this can be done in US$ - CASH only
> South Africa - this can be done in US$ - CASH or CARD ** this depends on the actual accommodation used - please ask us for clarity **
> Namibia - this can be done in US$ - CASH or CARD ** this depends on the actual accommodation used - please ask us for clarity **
Any other major foreign currency will also be readily accepted (EURO, GBP)
If you have any concerns please contact us and we will clarify it for you further.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH UNEXPECTED EMERGENCIES WHILST OUT ON SAFARI ?
All of our safaris have emergency procedures in place. We will have contact with the office via either radio, cell phone or satellite phone. The office would then dispatch the relevant help - be it medical or otherwise. In the case of medical assistance, the initial recovery from the field to the most relevant medical facility would be covered by our safari insurance. Your medical insurance would need to cover you for all other expenses.
If your family members need to get hold of you on a safari, they can email our office to pass on any emergency messages.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH COMFORT BREAKS ?
Spending long hours in the safari vehicles will inevitably end up in folks needed a bathroom stop. We have to respect the rules of the different parks when it comes to this and these rules will be explained before the start of each safari.
Generally, the safari saying of "any tree is a lavatree (lavatory)" goes. We will make sure we stop in a safe location for the comfort break.
Some reserves like the Kruger National Park do not allow you to get out of the vehicle for any reason. The Kruger in particular has designated clean washroom facilities and you are expected to use these.
Most places however do not have dedicated washroom facilities and this will be pointed out to you by your guide, depending on which trip you are on.
HOW EARLY CAN WE LEAVE CAMP AND HOW LATE CAN WE RETURN?
On all of our photo safaris, we aim to leave before sunrise and return again just after sunset. At some locations, there are exceptions to this so it is best to ask about the specific location you will be visiting.
CAN I DRINK THE LOCAL WATER IN AFRICA ?
In general, we would recommend that you stick to bottled drinking water on all of our safaris. In Kenya and Tanzania, this also includes brushing your teeth with bottled water. In South Africa it is possible to drink the local water and brush your teeth with it, so the risk of getting ill is small, however, we still recommend you drink bottled water.
WHAT VACCINATIONS DO I NEED FOR AFRICA ?
This is a topic you would need to consult a doctor or travel clinic about as details of these change on an ongoing basis. Be sure to ask your doctor or clinic about YELLOW FEVER as it is relevant in some of the countries we visit.
We highly recommend that you contact your doctor or clinic as soon as you can after registering on one of our photo safaris.
IS THERE A RISK OF GETTING MALARIA ON THE PHOTO SAFARI ?
On any trip to Africa, there is a risk of getting Malaria. Some areas have a higher risk than others. As we are not medical doctors we cannot advise you about whether or not you should take malaria medication. Our advice is to consult your local doctor or travel clinic and ask them for their opinion based on the most up to date and relevant information regarding malaria as well as any other potential diseases.
WHAT FITNESS LEVEL IS REQUIRED ON YOUR PHOTO SAFARIS ?
All of our scheduled photo safaris (except for Namibia) are vehicle based for the majority of the time. You will need to be in reasonable health but we will not undergo any long walks or hikes unless you personally choose to do so, or unless it is detailed in the safari description. Our extensions and custom safaris might warrant a different fitness level - please ask us for more details about the fitness level required for your specific custom photo safari or chosen extension.
Our Landscape tours of Namibia do require a fairly good level of fitness to get the most out of them. There is a lot of sand in Namibia and walking in this sand and up sand dunes are part of the trip. If you have more questions about fitness levels PLEASE ask us before signing up on any of our safaris.
I HAVE SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS, CAN YOU CATER FOR THIS ?
Yes, we can cater for special medical dietary requirements, but you need to inform us of these requirements when you register. We will then be able to inform the lodges/camps we will be staying at about your requests well in advance.
Depending on what your special requirements are there may be a surcharge for this service.
IS SMOKING ALLOWED ON YOUR PHOTO SAFARIS?
Smoking is not allowed in the safari vehicle and generally, it is not a very good idea to smoke in the bush as the grass is often tinder dry and bush fires can start easily. We do not take specific breaks for smoking either, but we will stop at relevant times for everyone to have a break and stretch their legs or have a cup of coffee. This would be your opportunity to have a smoke break. We ask you to respect the environment and carry your cigarette ends away with you.
Other General Questions
IS OFF-ROAD DRIVING ALLOWED ON YOUR SAFARIS ?
In recent times due to an increase in visitor numbers and safari vehicles, off-road driving has been banned in most reserves in an attempt to try to preserve the environment. In these reserves, you are expected to stay on the purpose-buit roads.
Some of the more remote areas, as well as private game reserves, have fewer visitors and vehicles. These places do allow some off-road driving which is of a huge benefit to the photographer as it means you can follow animals that walk away from the road and re-position the vehicle for the best light.
It really depends on the safari you are doing as to whether or not you will be able to go off-road. Please ask us for more information if you would like to know if you will be allowed to go off-road on the safari you are interested in.
Please note that even if you can go off-road, you still need to respect the rules of the reserve, the environment, comfort levels of the wildlife and other people.
ARE THERE LAUNDRY SERVICES AVAILABLE AND IS THIS INCLUDED ?
At all the locations we visit it will be possible to do some laundry. In most cases, it is not included unless it is stated in the tour itinerary.
WHAT IS YOUR RECOMMENDED TIPPING POLICY ?
Tipping is a safari tradition in Africa. We respectfully request that you follow our guidelines regarding tipping as it helps to set a standard across all of our photo safaris.
Any form of gratuity should be earned by the recipient through excellent service and effort beyond their job description. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable tipping then please let your tour leader know.
We do our utmost to source quality safari companies/lodges and guides who have a similar work ethic and passion to us. The staff and guides work extremely hard to make sure we have a good time and they are incredibly patient and flexible.
We will send you a detailed recommended tipping policy along with your Arrival Information Document. These are sent out two weeks before the start of your photo safari.
If you would like to know before that time, then please let us know.
WILL I HAVE INTERNET ACCESS ?
Free wifi is now available at most places that we visit. There are a few exceptions, however, like the mobile tented camp we use in Botswana, where there is no wifi.
Please ask us about the location you plan to visit and we will give you the most up to date information about wifi and internet access.
DO YOU OFFER ALL DAY GAME DRIVES ?
Photographic safaris, by their very nature, have to be flexible. We do our utmost to accommodate our client's needs and requests which are very different from regular safari clients. We take each day as it comes and yes we are able to be flexible and stay out all day if a particular situation warrants it.
For example, if we are far from camp and are patiently waiting for a Leopard to descend a tree, a Cheetah to hunt or a group of Wildebeest to cross the Mara River, then we will stay out. It is always a good idea to bring along some extra snack bars for these situations.
However, If there is nothing worthwhile waiting for and no particular reason for us to stay out the whole day, we will return to the camp/lodge for lunch and a short break. We will head out again once the animals start to become more active and the photographic light improves.
A midday break allows you to re-charge equipment, download the morning's images and take a break. It also allows our hardworking guides to get a bit of a break too.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE TO CANCEL MY PHOTO SAFARI ?
Our full booking terms and conditions are found at this link on our website:
WHAT IS A “PRIVATE” PHOTOGRAPHIC VEHICLE ?
We secure the use of "Private" Photographic vehicles on all of our safaris. This is a very important element of a successful photographic safari. Essentially it means that you will not share the vehicle with other guests staying at the lodge/camp who are not part of our group. Regular safari clients and nature photographers do not mix very well. You will want to stay for extended periods at a sighting waiting for the best photo opportunities.
Many regular safari clients just want to see an animal, take one picture and leave to go and look for more animals to tick off their list. We avoid this by securing private safari vehicles at all locations. Understandably there is a surcharge to hire these vehicles as the lodge or camp has to issue a specific vehicle and guide for our group and the vehicle is not filled with the usual 6 (or more) people. In our case, there will never be more than 3 photographers per safari vehicle.
CAN YOU ARRANGE ACCOMMODATION FOR ME IF I WANTED TO ARRIVE EARLY TO HELP ACCLIMATISE BEFORE THE START OF MY SAFARI ?
Yes this is possible to arrange for you - please ask us at the time of registration
CAN I ADD ON AN EXTENSION TO MY PHOTO SAFARI ?
YES, it is possible to add on an extension to any of our safaris if you wanted to stay longer or visit a different place. There are some extension suggestions on the photo safari pages under the "EXTENSIONS" tab. Please ask us if you need help with this.
Alternatively, you can also request a specific extension that you might like to do and we will gladly set this up for you.