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"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

   
 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

 
Are Laundry Facilities Available? What Animals Will I See?
Are Wild Animals Dangerous? What Forms Of Payment Are Accepted?
How Do We Travel From Camp To Camp? What Are The Entry Requirements?
How Much Cash Should I Bring? What Are The Health and Safety Factors?
How Safe Is My Luggage? What Is A Walking Safari?
How Up Close and Personal Would You Like To Be? What Is The Best Time For Game Viewing?
Is Communication With The Outside World Possible? What Do I Pack?
Is There Electricity In The Camps? What Is The Weather Like In Africa?
Is Travel To Southern Africa safe? What Travel Insurance Should I Obtain?
  What Types Of Food Will I Be Eating On The Safari?
   

Are Laundry Facilities Available?
Yes, this service is included in the accommodation of our safari camps. Hotels in the cities charge a nominal fee for it. Most underwear and delicates are not washed by the local people due to their traditions and so washing up powder is supplied in most of the rooms/tents for this purpose.
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Are Wild Animals Dangerous?
Most of the regions visited in Southern Africa are in areas where you are within the natural habitat of the wildlife and so there are no fences surrounding the camps. In South Africa you will find that most of the private reserves are fenced, but within the confines the animals roam freely and you still need to be cautious.

The best advice to be given here is to listen to your guide's instruction while in camp, ensure that your tent flaps are not left open and doors are closed etc. At almost all the camps the guides walk you to and from your tents and they are trained to handle any situation, should it arise. Keep in mind that animals do wander through the camps during the day and at night, so at all times just be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine. Having wild animals in such close proximity is one of the main reasons people visit the area - enjoying them in their natural habitat is what makes the experience all the more special.

The game drives are conducted in open-air vehicles which really allows you to get up close and to see that animals from an unimpaired viewpoint. Many people argue that animals only see the vehicle as it would a tree (albeit, a tree that moves) and not the people in it. This point is debatable but, personally, with hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent on game drives, we feel that most of the animals, and certainly the primates like Baboons and Monkeys and most likely the larger cats like Lions, are keenly aware of human presence. But they do not, for the most part except if you are in an area that has seen poaching from a vehicle, view a Land Rover with people in it as a threat. The animals actually become habituated to the vehicles and eventually ignore them for the most part - this allows guests to view animals exhibiting their natural behavior. It is truly a pleasure, I can assure you.

Occasionally an Elephant, especially the females in the breeding herds, become annoyed and their protective, motherly instincts take hold and they chase a vehicle off, but this is rare. Also, the guides at the camps are very good with reading an Elephant's moods and will avoid situations which could be potentially dangerous. Mostly, you are in no danger whatsoever if you listen to the guides and keep aware of your surroundings - always remember that you are in a wild place, with wild animals. After all, this is Africa's allure!

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Can You Describe A Ttypical Day On An African Safari?
Every camp and safari location will differ in terms of its activities and schedules, but in general, safaris follow a general pattern which is consistent throughout southern Africa.

Typically, a safari day includes two major activities per day - one which begins early in the morning and the second which occurs in the mid- to late-afternoon and continues until dark or sometimes up until 2 hours after sunset.

A safari activity may include game drives in Land Rovers (or other safari vehicle), water activities like canoeing, mekoroing or motor boating, and also game walks. Most safaris are predominantly game drives as this is usually the best way to see wildlife unless your safari is on a river or in a permanent water area.

Morning activities begin with tea or coffee and a light morning snack before sunrise with the drive or activity beginning at or just after sunrise. The mornings are really the BEST opportunities to see good wildlife and interactions as it is still cool and the nocturnal animals are still quite active. There is usually a break to get out and stretch and have another coffee and snack.

James Golden Rule on Safaris: NEVER miss a morning game drive.

Morning activities are usually over by late morning and guests return to camp for a full breakfast/brunch. 

The middle of the day is your own. Because southern Africa's climate is warm, midday's are typically very warm to hot and the animals are therefore quite inactive for the most part and seek shelter in the shade to wait out the heat. Guests may relax at the camp swimming pool, in a hammock, take a nap, read, etc. For the intrepid, most camps will allow a short midday activity like a game walk or a visit to a hide.

After the siesta, guests return to the main area for tea (drinks, snacks, etc) before heading out on the afternoon safari activity. This activity typically starts at 3:30 or 4:00pm and the weather at this time is usually quite warm. The activity will carry on until sunset or afterwards for a night drive. Guests return to camp, freshen up, come down for drinks at the bar and sit for a full dinner. Drinks around the camp fire are always offered but most find that they are tired from all the fresh air and are in bed by 10pm.

The next day begins again before sunrise and you're out in the bush exploring again. It's addicting!

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How Do We Travel From Camp To Camp?
There is an independent air charter company, Sefofane Charters that handles most of the travel between camps. Sefofane is a Setswana word, which means airplane. Flying is an integral part of our itineraries as it is the only method to access some camps and it is a wonderful way to get a bird's-eye view of the countryside. All aircraft are well maintained and flown by commercially rated bush pilots. Inter-camp flying is included and costed on a seat-in-plane basis. Most guests traveling to/from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Maun, or Victoria Falls will most likely use scheduled flights on South African Airways or Air Botswana.

For the inter-camp air transfers, space and safety concerns don't allow for lots of baggage on these planes. In Zimbabwe there is a strict 12kgs (26lbs) baggage limit on all flights. Our safari flights in Botswana and South Africa permit 20kg (44 lbs) per person.
All bags must be soft to allow us to squeeze your bags into tight corners. The 12kgs in Zimbabwe doesn't sound like much, but as the dress code in the camps is casual and our camps offer a laundry service, the 12kgs can be made to work.

If you have to have more baggage, then we can often sell you an extra seat on each flight, which will allow you and your party up to an extra 70kgs (also in soft bags). If you have lots of bags, but don't need the bags in the camps, we can often send your bags ahead to your next city as unaccompanied baggage. There is an additional charge for this service.
Check with us for details.

If you come with more than your allotted baggage allowance and you have not made arrangements with us for your extra baggage, you will be forced to leave some of your baggage behind and/or arrange a private charter at considerable extra cost and inconvenience to yourself.

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How Much Money Should I Bring?
Guests often want to know how much cash to bring. First, all camps take Master Card and Visa credit cards for purchases of curios and even accept them for guests to pay gratuities to the camp staff and guides. A note on gratuities at the African safari camps: Gratuities are not expected, but a reasonable tip would be US $20 per guest, per day for your driver/private guide and perhaps $5 per guest, per day for the overall camp staff. Believe me, this amount will seem like nothing after you experience the fine service these camps provide! We always tip in cash and tend to tip our guides on the high end due to having a private vehicle. The guide's depend on their tips for their families so we try to cover what a guide would make with a full vehicle of guests.

If you are visiting Johannesburg, a highlight is one of the flea markets that offer beautiful African wood carvings, batiks and other VERY inexpensive quality arts and crafts. They make excellent mementoes of your trip or as gifts for your friends and family. For the flea markets, you will need cash. These artisans are also found in Victoria Falls. The shops and restaurants in Joburg and Cape Town as well as the hotels in Vic Falls all take credit cards.

When we travel for say three weeks to Africa and include two weeks on safari, we typically leave home with $500 in cash, and immediately after clearing immigration in Joburg we will draw $300 equivalent in SA Rand at an airport ATM. Most of the camps today have in-room safes and we split up our cash and credit cards when moving about. This is only our guideline for ourselves; however, we feel that traveling with more cash than this is unnecessary. 

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How Safe Is My Luggage?
On camp to camp flights, your luggage never leaves your sight. There has been an increase in the incidence of theft of personal belongings from checked-in luggage at airports in southern Africa. Authorities are addressing this problem, but the level of occurrence remains high. As such, it is imperative that you do not put anything of high value (personal or financial) in your checked-in baggage, as luggage can be tampered with and valuables removed. This includes, but is not limited to jewelry, cameras, video equipment, reading /sunglasses, laptops or other computer/electronic equipment, medication (especially chronic medication) etc. We also suggest you lock your luggage with a suitable TSA approved lock to deter opportunistic theft.

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How Up Close and Personal Would You Like To Be?
With a dedicated vehicle, a lot of patience, a lot of silence and a little bit of luck you can get truly up close and personal. We dedicate a lot of time. Sometimes we follow. Sometimes we wait. And as in many things in life, one makes much of one's luck. We live for the moments when the eye of an animal nearly fills the lens. 

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Is Communication With The Outside World Possible?
Is Communication With The Outside World" Possible?
For most people wishing to visit the remote parts of Southern Africa, getting away from civilization so to speak, is a major attraction. As with electrical power, communication by phone, fax, email etc. is out of the question given the remote locations of the camps but more recently some of the smaller camps are acquiring satellite but they are still far and few between. (A satellite cell phone will work fine.) All camps do however have radio communications with their town/city offices in case of any emergencies. Most lodges in South Africa offer full telephone and internet services for those who do not wish to detach from the world completely.

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Is There Electricity In The Camps?
Camps and safaris in the remote wildlife regions of Southern Africa have no access to electrical power due to the remote nature of their locations. Most camps have generators on site with 220v electricity or they make use of solar panels. The generators are not normally heard by guests as they are run for a couple of hours at a time in the morning and afternoon while guests are enjoying their activities.

The electricity is used to power ice machines, fridges and freezers that keep the food and drinks cool and fresh. The generator charges batteries that provide the power for the bedroom lights and overhead fans in the rooms. There is plenty of power available to charge batteries for cameras and video cameras, but not for hairdryers and the likes.

For most mobile tented camps there is no electricity; lighting is by paraffin lamp and campfires in the true traditional style of Africa. For any lodges in South Africa there is ample electrical power.

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Is Travel To Southern Africa Safe?
(This is the question we are asked most often by prospective travelers)
Africa's biggest enemy is the international media who represent all 46 African countries as a single entity and not as unique and individual countries with their own characteristics.

It would come as a surprise to many people to find out that there are areas in North America that are as bad or worse than those in Southern Africa. No country can claim to be 100% safe, and so as with travel to any new or unknown destination, it is advisable to take certain standard security precautions. Keep an eye on your purses, wallets, passports, money and cameras when walking in a crowd. Use a money belt. Avoid walking in the city street at night and place valuables in your hotel safe. Choosing a knowledgeable operator such as your specialist Southern African tour operator is the best move you can make. On a personal note I have walked around many places in Africa and have never had a problem but that is no guarantee that you will be safe as i am very trusting of people.

While staying at African safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far removed from human settlement and crime in the camps is virtually non existent. We advise that valuables be locked away or kept under the supervision of the camp manager. Other than a wedding band, if you are married, leave jewelry and fancy watches at home.

Most of your travel time in Southern Africa is likely to be spent away from the large cities where crime is most prevalent. If your African holiday involves spending time in the Johannesburg or Capetown, following straight forward security advice, you will find the cities safe.

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What Animals Will I See?
The variety of animals found in the Southern African Sub region is incredible. For example, there are 337 different species of mammal and 480 different reptile species currently known to occur here. As for bird species, the number is difficult to give with certainty because the known total is constantly changing as new species are often recorded. However, a recently compiled list of birds in Southern Africa gives a total of over 900, with all doubtful species not included.

Of course, most visitors want to see "The Big Five. The big five is a term originally used by the Great White Hunters in Africa to refer to the five most dangerous prey animals to hunt: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhinoceros. Today, these animals are thankfully more often hunted with a camera than by those with a rifle (although legal and illegal hunting is still possible for all of these animals). It is possible to see all five of the Big Five in certain areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana still today.

But for us, African safaris are about more than checking off the Big Five. They are a magical experience with nature and wildlife that is virtually impossible almost anywhere else on earth. Yes, we go to look for the big cats, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and we love seeing the rare and endangered Wild Dog (or Africa Painted Dog), but there are so many other incredible animals in Africa, each with interesting behaviors of their own. (A dung beetle is fascinating to watch).

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What Are The Entry Requirements?
All people traveling to the Southern African region require a valid passport that is normally valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. At present, holders of American passports do not require visas for South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. They do however require visas for Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, but all but Kenya ma be purchased at the point of entry for a nominal fee. It is advisable to check with the consulate of the country that you intend to visit as requirements can change without notice.

South Africa... IMPORTANT: Southern Africa passport control has become very strict with regards to passport control requirements. There have been instances of visitors being deported due to non-compliance. Passports MUST be valid for at least six months after your return home date. We recommend a validity of nine months to prevent any problems in this regard. The passport entry requirement for any travelers entering South Africa is a minimum of two blank pages in their passport (in addition to the two endorsement pages in US passports). If however a guest should be traveling to more than one African country via South Africa, then the traveler must ensure they allow for sufficient pages for each country visited and also have the minimum of two blank visa pages for each re-entry into South Africa.

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What Are The Health and Safety Factors?
As vaccination requirements change on occasion, we recommend that you check with your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. The most important health consideration in Southern Africa is Malaria and it is strongly recommended that oral tablets be taken as a preventative precaution. We return time and again to the African bush and now only take Malaria prevention tablets. Many doctors also advise a dose of Hepatitis-A vaccine, which we took years ago, along with the yellow fever shot.

Certainly you need not rush off and get every possible inoculation and take every pill under the sun just to travel to Africa. Do not go overboard with the information put out by the disease control centers. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist for complete details and safety. Many parts of Africa do have problems with their water and foods; however, the food and water in Southern Africa is much safer than the rest of Africa, especially in the African safari camps and hotels you will be traveling to. Please do not over-react to the detriment of you own enjoyment. We have never experienced any problems with the food or water in any of the camps or hotels we have traveled to over the years.

As long as we're discussing water, one thing you must be careful of, especially during the hotter summer months and in the desert areas, is dehydration. Plenty of fresh bottled water is always available at all of the camps throughout the day and should be consumed regularly and in quantity. We have seen many guests, even experienced African travelers, who forget to drink enough water and become dehydrated. A case of dehydration will usually put you out of action for up to a day and is no fun. All the camps stock re-hydrating tablets which help to set you right again, but we wanted to mention it as this is the most common ailment we have observed among guests on African safaris. Drink lots of water!

More on Malaria: The most serious risk while traveling in Southern Africa on safari is malaria. We will not talk down" this risk as we have met people, albeit individuals who live and spend time in the Africa bush, who have contracted malaria. This is NOT something to take lightly and it can be a lethal and at the very least, a long and uncomfortable disease.

One of our reasons to repeatedly visit Africa in the winter, dry season is that mosquitoes love us both. The mosquito population is minimal August/September. All of the camps provide mosquito repellant in the tents and in the lounges and on game drives. They also provide mosquito coils, an incense-like slow-burning substance that produces a smoky repellent that can be lit inside the tent before heading for dinner so that the tent is cleared by bed time. Finally, the camps provide mosquito netting over the beds to keep the ;mossies out while you sleep and if there is a fan in room quarters - use it. Wearing lightweight long pants instead of shorts and covering the ankles especially is also very helpful during dinner and in the evening hours. Use the bug spray after sundown on game drives as well.

Remember that the best precaution against malaria is to reduce the likelihood of being bitten. The next best precaution is to begin and complete a full regimen of anti-malarial medication for your African safari. The medication usually begins before you leave and is completed after returning home. Check on the internet or with your physician for further information.

Visit the following links for more Health and Safety Issues:
Prescription Drugs for Malaria: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentMalariaDrugsPublic.aspx
Visitors to Southern Africa: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/regionSouthernAfrica.aspx

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What Do I Pack?
*PLEASE NOTE* There is a luggage limit of 44lbs (20kg) per person on the charter flight so pre-pack your luggage accordingly in a soft-sided bag.
1. Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Imodium or other anti-diarrhea, antiseptic cream and Anti-histamine cream, Malaria tablets, etc).
2. Binoculars.
3. Camera equipment and plenty of film and/or digital camera and plenty of storage.
4. Good but not expensive quality sunglasses - preferably polarized.
5. Golf-shirts, T-shirts and long-sleeved cotton shirts.
6. Good walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine).
7. If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust or pollen.
8. Insect repellent e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc.
9. Light rain gear for summer months (November to April).
10. Long zip-away safari pants, jeans or slacks.
11. More formal attire for your stay at prestigious city hotels or on one of the luxury trains.
12. Sandals.
13. Shorts/skirts.
14. Sun hat.
15. Sweat pants/sweat shirt.
16. Swim suit.
17. Underwear and socks.
18. Warm Parka and scarf / gloves and hat for the cold winter months (May to September).
19. Warm winter sweater.
20. Personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments).
21. Malaria tablets (highly recommended).
22. Moisturizing cream, suntan lotion and SPF sun block.
23. Small flashlight and extra batteries.
24. Tissues/Wet Packs.
25. Visas, tickets, passports, money, etc.
26. Waterproof/dust-proof Ziploc bags/cover for your cameras.

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What Forms Of Payment Are Accepted?
Forms of Payment:

Credit Cards

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What Is A Walking Safari?
A walking safari is the ultimate way to experience the African bush. The thrill of walking up to a bull elephant, black rhino or gorillas is exciting beyond words. An expert guide can help you identify birds, flowers, trees and wildlife. You will even learn how to track animals by their spoor footprints). Walking safaris are available in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda.

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What Is The Weather Like In Africai?
In general the climate in southern Africa is as near perfect as you can get with dry season temperatures similar to those of the Mediterranean, but without the humidity. Daytime temperatures average 70 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit but can get much hotter, especially in the months of October and November, just before the rains arrive.

During the winter period June through August nighttime temperatures in some areas can drop to freezing or below. Early morning game drives during these winter months can start out very chilly and you should bring a warm sweater, gloves and even a hat to cover your ears. However, by mid morning (9 am or so) the layers will start coming off as the days will heat up dramatically. The rains occur each year during the period November through March with the dry season stretching from April through October.

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What Travel Insurance Should I Obtain?
It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their trip to Southern Africa.

This insurance should include coverage in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities: cancellation or curtailment of the trip to Africa, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, and damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods.

For The Love Of Africa will take no responsibility for any costs, losses incurred or suffered by the guest, or guest's dependants or traveling companions, with regards to, but not limited to, any of the above mentioned eventualities.

Guests will be charged directly by the relevant service providers for any emergency services they may require and may find themselves in a position unable to access such services should they not carry the relevant insurance cover.

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What Types Of Food Will I Be Eating On The Safari?
Top class British and European cuisine as well as some local dishes are served in the hotels, lodges, camps and restaurants. Most foreign visitors are very impressed with the quality and quantity of food provided while on an African safari. Some of the more up-scale camps provide food, presentation and service which rivals that of a 5 star hotel in any top city. The tables are elegantly set under the stars, under thatch or even in a boma - and you will never go hungry.

The standard 3 meals a day is done away with in the bush as the meals are geared around the game viewing times and activities. Typically one starts off with a light continental breakfast upon waking before heading out on the early morning activity. Guests usually return at about 10/11 am for a large brunch, which incorporates meals from both the breakfast and lunch menus. A light tea and snack is offered before the afternoon activity and upon returning to camp in the early evening, a hearty three-course dinner is enjoyed followed by after dinner drinks around the campfire.

The camps are able to cater for all food types as long as they are made aware at the time of booking so as to ensure sufficient time to fly in the necessary supplies.

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What Is The Best Time For Game Viewing?
This is a question for which there is no exact answer. For most visitors, an African safari is a once in a lifetime experience and they want to of course maximize their game viewing experience in the time they have allotted. However, Africa and the African safari areas have their own true seasons and the benefits of traveling during one time of year versus another must be weighed by the individual guest. We will not try to sway someone into booking in a specific time of year; rather, we offer some of the characteristics of the different seasons on an African safari.

Generally speaking, the Southern Africa game viewing safari areas (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa) have a rainy season (which falls during the southern hemisphere's summer months of November - March) and a dry season (during the winter months of May-September).

Most visitors who research this aspect of African safari travel by reading up in books or website's are steered to the dry, winter months for the best game viewing. The reason for this is that the water holes are smaller, fewer and farther between and the little remaining green vegetation is widely spread out. The result is that all animals have to come to these watering holes to drink daily and so the wildlife is generally easier to find. Makes sense! The other side of the coin is that the landscape during this dry season is less colorful and there is a great deal more dust. Photographically, the greens of the summer months are mostly absent and your photos will bear a more brownish color. Still, with less vegetation and cover for the animals, it is generally easier to spot them. You could drive past a thick, heavily vegetated area in the rainy season and drive right past a sleeping pride of seven Lions and not see them; however, driving the same route in the dry months, without the thick green cover, practically everyone on the vehicle would likely spot the big cats.

Some repeat visitors to Africa have found that they prefer the greener, summer months for several reasons. As mentioned, the green colors make the scenery breathtaking. Additionally, as the summer is also the rainy season, one finds dramatically beautiful skies to compliment the lush greens of the landscapes. However, there is always a risk of a missed game drive here or thereGenerally though, Southern Africa's rainy season only brings brief, but powerful bursts of precipitation and not long days of rain. Storms usually blow through with a vengeance but pass after a few hours.

Another aspect of the summer months is that many of the antelope species like Impala, Tsessebe and Wildebeest give birth to their young during this time to take advantage of the plentiful, sweet and nutritious green grass which covers the ground during the rains. Believe us, the baby animals are everywhere and, in our opinion, the scene of young animals against the verdant green backgrounds with big, beautiful fluffy-white clouds in the sky is unbeatable. Most of the predators also switch to hunting the young animals at this time to try for easier meals and, while this sounds unfortunate for the youngsters, it is part of nature's way and many more survive than are taken. For those who want to see the predator-prey interactions, the summer months provide some of your best opportunities to see hunting behavior and predator interactions.

Finally, because most visitors tend to focus on the dry months for their African safari, the winter in Africa is considered the high season and the operator rates reflect this higher demand with higher prices. Occupancies are higher, safaris must be booked a bit further in advance and your costs are greater. Still, many visitors swear by the winter months as THE time to go - it is really a personal preference.

The bottom line and our final comments on this subject are thus...if you spend several nights in one of these game-rich areas, there are no guarantees, but you will almost certainly see excellent game. Africa is not a zoo; it is wild and unpredictable and the animals roam freely, and for the most part, wherever they wish. Finding them in the huge African safari areas is part of the thrill of the African safari. But you WILL certainly see animals and birds and beautiful scenery. Can we guarantee Lions every day?...NO; Can we guarantee Wild Dogs if you stay for 2 weeks?...NO; Can we guarantee you will see a kill?...Nope. Can we guarantee animals?...YES, Predators?...almost certainly; Lions?...probably. Of course, the longer your stay, the better your chances. It's why those of us who are totally passionate about African safaris keep going back. Every day is full of exciting surprises - and finding those Lions or Wild Dogs or witnessing a hunt is always the greatest of pleasures!

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Resources
 
 
Lion-Park Africa Map Flora Couture by Floral 2000
Africatravelresource.com Currency Converter Hotlink Data
  Safari Activities

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