FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PLANNING YOUR SAFARI: STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
One thing you can always count on when being on an African safari, is the unexpected. There is no guarantee which animals, birds and plant life you will encounter – and that’s exactly what makes a trip on this vast, special continent so magical.
At African Aerial Safaris, we can, however, give you some pointers on what you can expect when booking your dream safari. With specialization – and extensive experience – in five of Africa’s safari “heavy hitters”, African Aerial Safaris certainly has the best insights into making your journey unforgettable.
Taking the following into consideration will go a long way towards ensuring your safari is one for the ages.
Africa is a vast continent, and the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to which safari company to choose from and where to go on safari. South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia are undoubtedly among the best safari destinations in Africa. Unfortunately, with so many incredible bucket-list holiday options around the world, most people plan to visit Africa only once. And we say plan, because once you’ve acquired a taste for dust, heard the distinctive lion’s roar late at night, or experienced the magic of an African sunset on the Zambezi River, you will be hard pressed to stick to that one visit.
The difficult question then is where do I start? From the Winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, to the vast landscapes of the Namib desert, the utter remoteness of the Skeleton Coast, the clear blue waterways of the Okavango Delta, the roaring thunder of the Victoria Falls, the incredible walking safaris of the Lower Zambezi valley, or the white beaches and turquoise waters of the Mozambique coast, the possibilities are endless. Luckily for you, we know Southern Africa intimately. We will select the best destinations taking into consideration a wide range of factors such as what you liked and didn’t like about previous holidays, things you are passionate about, or unique experiences you are after. We accept a limited number of safaris per year because the owners, Riaan and Willem, personally plan each of our safaris, ensuring personal, dedicated service from day one.
Let’s start with timing and more specifically high and low season. For the absolute best chance of ticking off all the animals on your must-see list, consider June to October, the dry season. This is the peak safari season, and for good reason. Since rainfall is low, vegetation will be thinner (making animals easier to see) and wildlife tend to congregate at watering holes. Premium spotting season! Temperatures are also milder, making the whole safari experience more comfortable.
In addition, you can look forward to fewer insects and a smoother ride in the aeroplane. Low, or rainy season typically runs from November to April. If it’s a dramatic thunderstorm with magnificent flashing lightning you’re after, this is the time to visit. Another special occurrence during the low season, is the abundance of new-borns and incredible birding opportunities! The beauty of new life awaits. The shoulder season is typically between March and June when the rainy season starts coming to an end. Game viewing is still good, and temperatures start to drop.
When it comes to researching your safari experience, it’s vital to consider the size of your touring group. At African Aerial Safaris, we believe a smaller group makes for a more memorable experience. Just imagine the memories to be shared by your family or tight-knit group of friends for years to come. Also, keep in mind that group size determines how far in advance the booking should be made (to ensure exclusivity and availability of course).
Our unique private flying safaris are ideal for small groups of family, friends, or colleagues and can accommodate up to nine passengers. These epitomize exclusivity. If your group size is bigger than this, there are still many incredible options available. Chat to us to find the best possible holiday experience for your group.
A trip with African Aerial Safaris has something for every age. With that said, it’s important to keep in mind that different suppliers have various policies regarding children – so once again research is vital.
At African Aerial Safaris we create customized itineraries uniquely designed around your family’s ages and requirements. For elderly tourists, mobility and medical conditions should be kept in mind in order to ensure comfort. Once again, we match your unique situation with the best possible options available out there.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty: determining your budget. What does luxury mean to you? A night in a plush bed, or a night under the stars? A full-service breakfast or coffee and rusks at dawn? All of this can easily be arranged for you by African Aerial Safaris, but as always, determining your needs and expectations and deciding how much you are willing to budget are important steps to take. Whatever you choose, Africa is sure to deliver. During the planning phase, we discuss your budget and match this with the most suitable locations and experiences.
There are so many different experiences at your fingertips! When we say Africa has it all, we definitely mean it. Here’s what’s on offer: game viewing; game walks; spa experiences; culinary delights; beach adventures; watersports; adventure trips; photography; cultural experiences; guided or self-drive game viewing; hot air ballooning; special experiences such as horse riding, fishing, diving, rail trips, boating, and sightseeing.
There is also the opportunity to get involved in some incredible philanthropic ventures making a big impact on preserving Africa’s remarkable wildernesses for future generations. Whatever you decide to take part in, we will be there to guide you in making the best possible decisions to ensure the experience of a lifetime.
All safari lodges are the same, right? As we’ve mentioned before, Africa offers more than expected, and the same goes for your safari accommodation. A classic lodge offers all the expected amenities in breath-taking settings, most of them offering all-inclusive packages. If you’re inclined towards the history of adventure, explorer-type lodges are light in their footprint and offer accommodation reminiscent of the Stanley era, with beautiful chests, ball-and-claw baths, and historic maps. For the discerning traveler, the exclusivity of a luxury African safari lodge is unmatched. Every whim, every need, every wish is met in a discreetly opulent manner – travel in style personified. For the ultimate in exclusivity, private villas provide the comfort, space, and amenities of a private residence while located in pristine wilderness locations.
Further considerations include types of rooms (family suite, double rooms, twin rooms, etc) and whether you require exclusive use of the entire lodge. What do you dream of? Include your accommodation specifics in your considerations.
Sometimes staying connected to your day-to-day life is required – whether that be for work-related or personal reasons. It needs to be kept in mind that the charming remote nature of many lodges translates to limited connectivity, and online meetings and document downloads may not be possible. Should this be an important consideration, African Aerial Safaris can/will assist in choosing the best suitable lodges and destinations.
The intimacy of a private vehicle is a memorable experience that will be hard to replicate. Viewing Africa’s majestic wildlife, surrounded only by your nearest and dearest, is an option, should you choose a private vehicle. If you are after exclusivity, this option is for you. Of course, your experience will be none the poorer if you decide to forego this option.
One of the most frequently asked questions is the amount of time needed to enjoy a full safari experience. This is a highly individual consideration, and what works for one might not work for the other. Here it’s wise to take your priorities into consideration: how intensive do you want your game viewing to be (i.e. do you have a list you wish to tick off?); do you want to include different activities (such as those mentioned above?); how wide you would like to travel (coastlines and bush, or only one of the two).
As a rule of thumb though, African Aerial Safaris suggests at least a week for a purely game viewing safari. Start from there and expand, should you wish.
Yes, you do! For most third-party service providers, it is a condition of travel to take out travel insurance. Therefore, it is your sole responsibility to ensure that you have the correct, comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself, any dependants and/or travel companions.
This insurance should include cover, but may not be limited to the following:
- cancellation or curtailment of the safari
- emergency evacuation expenses
- medical expenses
- repatriation expenses
- damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods
- activities you would like to partake in, such as bush walks, game viewing, canoeing, etc
- firearms cover for when your guides carry a firearm
Be aware that you will be charged directly by the relevant service provider for any emergency services you may require. If you do not have the applicable insurance cover, you may find yourself in a situation where you will be unable to procure these services.
Please visit our “Useful Links” section for more information.
CUSTOMS & IMMIGRATION
Also visit the Useful Links section for guidance.
You are solely responsible for ensuring compliance with all passport, visa and other immigration requirements for your entire itinerary (including all transit and stopover destinations applicable to your itinerary). We strongly advise you to confirm the aforementioned requirements with the relevant high commissions, embassies and/or consulates. We do not accept any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses incurred by you or any third party as a result of you being unable to travel due to non-compliance with any passport, visa or other immigration requirements.
The guidelines below are helpful in this regard, and are current at the time of writing. You are required to have a passport valid for 6 months beyond your return date to your home country. Your passport must also have sufficient blank pages (excluding the front and back cover) to enable entry visas to be issued. The general rule is two blank pages per country you visit in Africa. If there is insufficient space in the passport, entry will be denied and you may be detained pending return to your home country. It is recorded that a visa does not guarantee entry to any given country at the point of entry, and boarding of an aircraft or other carriage may be denied at any point, even if you have a valid visa.
It is possible find a raft of valuable information online but be aware that this is not always reliable and should be used as reference only. A diplomatic mission or embassy will always be the most reliable source of information. We strongly advise that you contact them before visiting.
The duration of your trip is not set in stone, since your journey is personalised according to your preferences, needs and budget. However, to optimise your vacation, we recommend a minimum of ten days. As a general rule – due to travel distances and logistics – we do not offer trips comprising less than seven days.
Unfortunately, we do not accept any form of credit or debit cards for payments. This type of payment converts to South African Rand, which will expose you to exchange rate fluctuations and markups in price, owing to credit card interchange fees. We use a Customer Foreign Currency (CFC) account, which only accepts USD payments.
Yes! The maximum number of people who can go on an African Aerial Safari is 8. As far as the minimum goes, if you are keen to be the sole explorer, you are more than welcome!
Dietary requirements are readily accommodated by most safari lodges and camps. However, due to the often remote locales, advance notice is necessary to acquire the proper ingredients before you arrive. Therefore, please make us aware of all your dietary requirements in your booking request and we will do the groundwork with our third-party providers.
Please note: Not all of the properties can provide Halaal and Kosher meals. These meals will incur additional costs when they are specially flown in to the some of the properties.
A single supplement is a charge paid by an individual who occupies a room, to compensate a lodge for revenue foregone by virtue of only one person occupying a room with a two-person capacity. We will give you further information in this regard on request; terms and conditions will apply.
We appreciate that you may want your children to join you on this extraordinary journey. However, due to rules and regulations at various lodges, we prefer to uphold a minimum age restriction of 13 years or older. We will consider requests from families with children younger than 13 years on a case by case basis. The minimum age restriction is for reasons that are of utmost importance, such as possible health issues, safety issues, limited accommodation and activity options. Please do not hesitate to talk to us about your expectations and concerns, as we understand that your children’s well-being and experiences are among your highest priorities. You can rely on open and honest advice and we will always err on the side of caution.
PLEASE NOTE: When you travel with children under the age of 18, you are required to show additional documentation in African countries in order to combat child trafficking. In addition to their passport, you must produce an unabridged birth certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when entering or exiting South African ports of entry (this applies to any applicable law of a port of entry other than South Africa). When you travel with a minor and only one of the parents is present, you are required to show an affidavit confirming dual parental consent to travel. The aforesaid policies change from time to time, so be sure to have the correct documents for travel in this regard.
Yes, there are. Smaller safari aeroplanes are restricted in their capabilities, referring to both space and weight limitations, and our service provider has to comply with strict controls and legislation.
With regard to space, only soft-shell duffel/tog-type bags are allowed. The maximum dimensions for these are: 30cm (11.8 inches) wide x 35cm (13.8 inches) high x 70cm (27.5 inches) long. Under no circumstances are frames or rigid structures accepted, as these physically do not fit in the aircraft. Download more information here.
The weight and balance of an aircraft are crucial to ensure safe and efficient operation throughout the flight. Therefore, the baggage allowance is dictated by the size of the group, the flight route, fuel requirements, landing strips used and the bodyweight of each passenger. The baggage weight restriction for a group of 8 people is 15kg (33 lbs) per person (note that this includes camera equipment and carry-on baggage). Generally we can accommodate more luggage for smaller groups, but we advise you to read the terms and conditions relevant to your specific flight.
African Aerial Safaris endeavours to notify you of any additional travel restrictions which may be imposed by the third party service providers and/or the destination countries. These restrictions may include height, weight and/or baggage limitations.
Please note that, with either walking sticks and/or crutches, these need to be lightweight and adjustable in length for ease of transport and storage.
With regards to either a walker, walking frame or wheelchair, these need to be collapsible. It is important that the dimensions and weight details are provided, in advance, in order for the necessary pre-planning to be made. A solid frame is not permissible, due to limited storage capacity on light aircraft transfers.
No, unfortunately we cannot accommodate excess baggage. As mentioned above, the weight and balance of an aircraft are crucial to its safe and efficient operation, and the safety and comfort of our passengers are our first and most important priorities. Freight forwarding of excess baggage to final destinations and the expense thereof will be your sole responsibility.
Temperatures can vary significantly in the course of a single day, thus dressing in layers is vital.
Bearing in mind the baggage weight restrictions on your safari aircraft, opt for lightweight clothing. Simple cotton works best for shirts and trousers.
It is unnecessary to pack a set of clothes for every day of your safari. In truth, you only need to pack clothing for a maximum of three to four days, as the lodges provide a daily laundry service. Easily washable fabrics are advisable.
- We highly recommend a lightweight long-sleeved jacket for protection against the elements (sun, rain, wind) and mosquitoes.
- During the winter months, warm clothes and jacket are necessary for early morning and evening game viewing activities.
- Should you plan to do any bush walks, you will need comfortable walking or hiking shoes.
- Neutral colours such as khaki, olive or light browns that blend into the environment are encouraged. This is, however, not mandatory.
- We advise against camouflage or military-inspired clothing, as this is prohibited in many parts of southern Africa.
- A hat or cap will offer you protection from the sun and shield your eyes from the glare.
- A gaiter or some sort of face covering and sunglasses for windier game drives is also recommended.
While this isn’t important to everyone, noise canceling headphones are great for airplanes. You can block out the engine noise even if you aren’t playing any music. Keep in mind that they require batteries or their own charge and must be turned off at take off and landing.
We highly recommend the following equipment:
- ample memory and storage devices
- memory card capable of high transfer speeds
- spare batteries are vital, since there are no charging facilities onboard the aeroplane
- professional multimedia DSLR camera with robust capabilities
- 400mm zoom lens with UV filter is essential for wildlife photography
- 70-200mm zoom lens is recommended for aerial photography
- wide-angle lens for landscape photography
- a versatile anti-reflective collapsing silicone lens hood is preferred for taking photos through the aircraft window to eliminate reflections
Due to remote locations, some lodges and camps do not have 220V electricity originating from the national power supply. However, they do have silent generators and solar power that is backed up by batteries. If necessary, you can charge camera batteries in the camp during the day, but note that the use of hairdryers is often not possible as the drain on the electrical system is too high.
Yes, well in advance of your departure you can request a list of the lodges with contact details relevant to your specific route from African Aerial Safaris. Bear in mind that some of the lodges are only reachable via radio from their main offices.
Absolutely! We are proud to say that African Aerial Safaris only uses third-party providers who are committed to conserving and expanding natural habitats, practice sustainable eco-tourism and who benefit local communities. All the lodges document the initiatives and projects in detail on their websites. Thus, by booking a trip with African Aerial Safaris, you will be making a significant contribution to protecting Africa’s wildlife and building a future for its communities.
Unfortunately, drones are not permitted in any of the locations. These regulations are conservation measures, designed to inhibit poaching. Remember though that, on your journey with us, you have the unique added advantage of a bird’s-eye view from your private aeroplane bringing breathtaking landscapes and magnificent wildlife right into your viewfinder.
Although there is no internet connectivity on your private aeroplane, most of the lodges offer free WiFi to their guests in designated areas. Due to the remoteness of the lodges, speed and reliability will vary. In truth, because it cannot be guaranteed, the short answer to this question is: maybe.
Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique are considered safe travel destinations and are financially and politically stable. However, we recommend leaving your valuables such as expensive watches and jewellery at home, thus eliminating the possibility of theft. Wrapping your bags and padlocks for your luggage is also advisable on your transit through South Africa.
Based on pleasant moderate temperatures, smooth flying conditions and magnificent wildlife congregating around waterholes and rivers, we highly recommend the southern hemisphere winter months, spanning the period May to October.
You may travel to areas where there is a high risk of malaria and other tropical diseases, which require precautionary medication. It is your sole responsibility to ensure that you arrange for all necessary vaccinations, inoculations or prophylactics relevant to all your destinations. We urge you to do this well in advance of your departure, and not to rely solely on the information on the internet. Consult your local doctor, travel clinic or the CDC (or equivalent national health authority) for accurate information in this regard.
Please visit our “useful links” section for more information.
Though we urge you to visit your doctor or local travel clinic to obtain advice well in advance of your departure, we can offer the following guidelines:
- sufficient supplies of chronic medication
- anti-malaria tablets
- anti-nausea tablets
- rehydration sachets
- headache tablets
- basic medical supplies (plasters/band-aids, blister pads, antiseptic cream, antihistamine cream, alcohol swabs, gauze pads)
- auto-injector for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis (acute severe allergic reactions) if you suffer from any life-threatening allergy
- moisturizer (namibia is a desert; don’t underestimate how dry it can be) and sunscreen
VERY IMPORTANT: Keep all prescription medication and valuables (documents, camera, wallet) in your hand luggage or on your person in case your baggage is lost or delayed due to connecting international flights.
THE FLYING JOURNEY
Haven’t you always wanted the perspective of a bird in flight? Usually with aeroplane travel between destinations, it is often done as high and fast as possible. At AAS, we do the opposite, flying at much lower altitudes and off the beaten path – thereby expanding your safari experience and giving you a unique new point of view: the bird’s-eye view. The result? Magnificent photographic opportunities.
Not at all. Our professional pilots are highly experienced and have travelled extensively across this magnificent continent. Apart from that, they also comply with all the Civil Aviation Authority regulations regarding minimum flying altitudes. It is of the utmost importance to us that you are comfortable at all times, for you to enjoy and fully appreciate the unique bird’s-eye view of breathtaking scenery.
For the duration of your African Aerial Safaris vacation, your private aeroplane will be yours exclusively. If you wish for the same exclusivity at the lodges, please state this as a requirement or preference when we create your personalised trip, and we will gladly do the necessary groundwork to assess the options and availability. We can also arrange private game drives for you at the various lodges, but be aware that this is subject to availability and carries an additional cost. If privacy and exclusivity are paramount, please take a moment to view our “Small Groups” sample itinerary.
Please read our COVID-19 response for more information.