Tuesday 9 May 2017

Tips to Travelling in South Africa- part 1

When travelling to South Africa or anywhere around world we understand that it can be time consuming looking for flights, trying to find the best and lowest price, the least amount of time waiting in the airport and the most direct flight. Here at Umdende Hunting Safaris we would like to make your planning a bit easier so here are few important tips to know before booking your flight
Booking the best flight at the lowest price
Flight journeys are the fastest and the most convenient means of travelling to any destination across the globe.  However, flight journeys are usually an expensive affair and not meant for everyone’s budget. However, with the increase of low cost flight companies online, it is easy to book a cheaper flight at much lower prices than regular flights. Here are a few tips from our Travel agent on how to book the best flight at the lowest price:
  • While looking for flights online, you will often find that the prices increase after searching it a few times in your web browser. Most of the time flight prices are deliberately increased on the basis of cookies on your browser. Therefore, it is advisable to book for flights in “private browsing mode” to see the lowest prices.
  • Use a flight booking portal, when searching for flights. This saves you a lot of time. What is a booking portal, this is a internet booking engine that allows a customer to specify their travel requirements such as city of departure, destination, departure date, return date and class of travel. Once this information is received, the IBE will offer a list of available air tickets, hotels and excursions which the customer can then book.
Example of a Booking portal

  • There are many theories regarding booking your flights on specific days, but it is advised to quickly look for the prices of the whole month and see if there are any specific specials for your route.
  • As said above there are theories in booking flights on different days. Book on Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday but make sure you fly on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the best prices and least layovers.
  • Low cost airlines make it possible to enjoy flight journeys at cheaper prices than its full-service counterparts. You might have to compromise a little here and there, but your journey will be completed in the same duration at much lower prices.

 Tips on Booking flights
There are many factors to consider while booking flight tickets, but the top priority is getting a comfortable seat, without having to pay an arm and a leg for your ticket. If you act smart, this can be done easily! Here are a few tips from us to book yourself the most comfortable seat at the best price:

  • Book your flight well in advance, for this will ensure you are the first in line to get a better seat if there are available.
  • When checking the air tickets make sure to know all the details about the flight. Some flights have expensive seats that are not luxurious and others will be cheaper and be far more luxurious. Make sure you get what you pay for!
  • Looking at reviews of previous clients will make picking the most comfortable seat easier.
  • Make sure you check into your flight 24hrs in advance
  • Make sure your ticket is flexible

Some advice
When booking your flights online or through an agent, you have to be very careful! If you purchase separate tickets, you don’t have any protection, as there are two separate contracts, so you have to present yourself on time at check in, bag drop and boarding
for the flight on the other ticket. You are carrying AL the risk of not making those deadlines, and if you do miss them for any reason (including a delay on the inbound flight) you ‘d be classed as a no show, unless you have the most expensive fully flexible ticket, your ticket will be cancelled. Not only will you miss the flight but you would have to buy a new ticket at the walk-up fare, which will likely be much more expensive than the one you just lost. And note that if your ticket is cancelled that applies to all remaining flights on that ticket. If you have a return or multi-city ticket, it's not just the one flight you would lose it's all of them. You can't 'make good' by just buying a single fare and using your return or intermediate portions later, because when you miss the outbound, the return and any other flights are automatically cancelled. In regards to your luggage if booking separate tickets the following will happen

  1. Your luggage will normally not be checked through, meaning you will have to collect it at the intermediate airport and take it yourself to the other airline’s check in desk (which may be in another terminal).
  2. If the first ticket is an international flight you would need to clear immigration and customs at the intermediate airport in order to collect your bags.
  3. You will also need entry clearance for the country where you switch tickets, possibly including a visa. Even if you have carry-on bags only, the first airline will check for entry clearance as that is the final destination on their ticket, and if they’re not satisfied you could be denied boarding for your first flight.
  4. Finally, if there is a schedule change on either ticket that means you don’t have enough time to change flights, you would be on your own and have to change at least one of the flights yourself.

Visa and Travel Documents
Most Foreigners (USA/Germany/Austria) who wish to visit South Africa DO NOT need a visa, however they must have passports / travel documents valid for thirty (30) more days after the intended return date from South Africa.  The passport must contain at least two (2) unused (blank) pages labelled Visa when entering South Africa.
Some Nationalities do need a Visa, which needs to be applied before in the country they reside.

South African Customs regulations allow visitors into the country to bring in certain goods without incurring duties and value added tax (VAT).  These are limited in quantity and value. On arrival, you can take the green ‘nothing to declare' channel if you stick to these allowances:
  • Personal effects
  • New or used goods not exceeding R3 000 (additional goods, new or used, exceeding R12 000 will incur a duty charge of 20%)
  • Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person over the age of 18
  • Spirits and alcohol not exceeding 1 litre per person over the age of 18
  • Cigarettes not exceeding 200 units and cigars not exceeding 20 units per person over the age of 18
  • 250g cigarette tobacco or pipe tobacco per person over the age of 18
  • Perfume not exceeding 50ml and eau de toilette not exceeding 250ml per person
If you have goods in excess of these allowances, take the red channel and declare your items. Here you will be billed at the applicable rates by representatives of South African Customs. If you are importing for business and commercial intent, you will not qualify for these allowances, other than that relating to personal effects.
Customs in South Africa further stipulates that individual travellers are entitled to a duty-free allowance of R5 000 per person, where no duties or VAT apply. These allowances may not be pooled and only apply on a per person basis.

Airlines of choice
Umdende Hunting Safaris would recommend picking a flight as direct as possible. Delta Airlines flies directly between Johannesburg and Atlanta, New York and Washington DC. This can sometimes mean that it is direct but with a short stop (no change of planes though), for refueling. A security check is done before each departure. Flying direct saves you not only time but also money and you will have a lot more energy left when you fly straight to your destination, than to get off and on to two or three planes from leaving home until you reach your destination. Layovers at each airport can be up to 48hours. Sitting around in the airport, staying awake, spending money, eating… This will work out more expensive than rather to pick the direct flight. If your budget does not allow for a direct flight and you have to have a layover we recommend that you have a look at the layover times, don’t give yourself too little time as you might miss your connecting flight if your flight is delayed for any reason and then you will have to wait even longer and maybe even up to 24hrs for the next flight. So have at least a 3-4hr layover.

Another good airline which Umdende Hunting Safaris recommends is to South African Airlines. SAA serves around 26 locations worldwide from its Johannesburg hub. SAA is our preferred airline as it has the biggest direction network.  If you come from Asia, Singapore is the hub of South East Asia and travelers from this vicinity can easily get entry to South Africa via Singapore airways. This airline flies to over 65 destinations in Asia, South Africa and the central east. Coming from Australia or New Zealand, SAA fly from Sydney and Perth to Johannesburg. Even if you come from the South, SAA will be able to fly you from Sao Paulo straight to South Africa. When it comes to making plans for your African Adventure, SAA is the best option!!

Travelling with Children-
Please this is extremely important when travelling with Children under the age of 18. Under the new law, all minors under the age of 18 years are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry. It is the responsibility of passengers to ensure their children have the correct documentation or risk being denied boarding. The new law is being enforced by airlines and immigration officials across the board (land, sea and air). Although airlines and travel agents are doing everything to keep passengers informed, ultimately it is the passengers’ responsibility to know what is required of them. In all cases an Unabridged Birth Certificate is required for minors departing and arriving in South Africa ... they are not allowed to travel without it.

Example of a Abridged and Unabridged Birth Certificate

In cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
Non-South African Citizens travelling to SA:
Will still be required to submit an original birth certificate and, as necessary, parental consent or certified copies during the visa application process.
For visa-exempt countries a strong advisory has been issued, with travellers advised to have proof of relationship and consent from the absent parent/s or guardian/s, in case they are asked to provide such on arrival. It has been recommended by the US Embassy that US citizens (and other visa-free travellers) should carry an authorisation letter that is notarised. You may not be asked for this but in the meantime it seems like the best possible insurance against complications at the border.
When a child is travelling alone to South Africa the child must carry a letter from the person that will be receiving them in South Africa, containing the person’s address and contact details, as well as a copy of the host’s identity document or passport (in this case it is probable that no birth certificate will be required)

Umdende Hunting Safaris highly recommends Renate Meyer as the best agent to book your tickets with. She will make sure you have a good seat and a ticket worth your money. We make use of her travel services all the time and have become great friends with her. You can contact her via email on Amakhosi: rm@amakhositravel.com 

Watch out for our next blog which goes more into detail about connection times,electricity and what clothes to pack

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Packing for your African Safari

When going on a hunt in Africa, you need to realize that the terrain can be tough and wild. You have to have the correct Protective Clothing and Equipment, not just for safety purposes, but to make your hunt and stay as comfortable as possible.

The most important factors when deciding what you need to pack
are based on 'Where you are hunting?' and 'What time of the year you are travelling?'. The luxury level of your accommodation together with the type of hunting terrain and weather, will determine what goes into your travel bag.

Remember each airline has their own baggage dimension and weight limits, so before you pack anything get this information and stick to it, or you'll be digging deep to pay over-weight. Most lodges offer a laundry service depending on their location and level of luxury. Enquire with your Outfitter which lodges you are staying at offer this service and if it is daily or every 3rd or 4th day.

Be sure you take clothes you feel comfortable in and have worn in
before. Hunting locations are not generally close to cities and stores should you need to get a quick change of clothes. The newer quick drying fabrics, shirts with ventilation and trousers that convert into shorts are all worth considering.  

Please keep in mind that some fabrics are noisy in the bush and will definitely hinder your hunting during walk and stalk. Cotton, dark brown or dark green colours are essential for hunting in Africa. Camo is an option if you are only staying at hunting lodges. If you have booked post-hunting safari trips to other eco-tourist lodges some guests will be offended by camo outfits, so keep this in mind.

Most lodges that cater specifically towards hunters are very casual
in terms of clothing; sneakers and jeans are the order of the day. If you have booked a luxurious lodge then throw in a nice sweater or evening shirt but on the whole this on not essential. As we all know hunters are very relaxed and Outfitters don't fuss over smart attire. 
Ladies we wouldn't suggest bringing along those high-heels. There may be a short walk from your lodge to the room over grass, and high-heels just don't work well in this terrain. Climbing up and down guest steps into Safari vehicles will also be awkward with those high shoes.
For the hunters, pack yourself at least two pairs of well-worn and comfortable walking boots with thick soles. The best being waterproof boots that cover your ankles and thick socks. Gators come in handy to keep the bugs at bay but must not create noise while you are walking. A pair of slip on sandals or comfortable shoes for the evenings and day tours.

Packing for an African Hunt, you have to bear in mind that the weather
can change at any minute. Africa's hotter summer months are November to end of February and winter is May to end of July. Rain seasons depends on where you travel in Africa. Cape Town's rainy season is during the winter months and the more Northern areas of South Africa

have rains during the summer months. Make sure if you are hunting in the Northern areas and plan to travel to Cape Town after your hunting days, that you time it well with the rainy seasons. Winter evenings can become extremely cold and you might just find a scarf, gloves and layered clothing comes in handy, despite the days being fairly mild.

Remember Africa's accommodations are not catered towards very cold weather, sealed windows and underfloor heating are replaced with a fireplace and blankets. A waterproof raincoat, hat and jacket are suggested sticking to the same dark colours. Ladies - Game drives can be very bumpy and a good (sports) bra would probably not go amiss.

Africa's winter and summer sun can be potent and we suggest
using odourless sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 20. Bring insect repellent as the summer evening's call for insect and in certain areas mosquitoes. If you stay in the Northern parts of  Africa during winter time, swim gear will also come in handy. Google Weather is a great friend - check this a week before you fly out!

Going out into the bush for hunting or sightseeing requires binoculars, these make your hunt a lot easier and through the lens 

you will enjoy so much more of nature. A binoculars strap is essential when considering your hands need to be free when the hunt is in full motion. 
Make 100% sure with your airlines and private charters what their packing and transport requirements are for both the firearm and the ammunition. There will also be paperwork required to clear each border you go through and having this prepared in advance is imperative.
Contact your Outfitter who can advise all these details. Bring enough ammo, you don't want to run out in a remote hunting area. 200 rounds per calibre are allowed through the South African airports or a suggested minimum of fifty to seventy rounds. Remember your rifle's cleaning equipment, however good Outfitters will supply this for you and generally have firearms available to rent. 

Whether you stay in a tent or a 5-star lodge, remember to bring your flashlight / torch. This always comes in handy as Africa's electricity supply can be intermittent.

Catch the moment... Use a good smartphone, camera or camcorder, to make your dream moment last forever. Bring with enough memory sticks or cards to ensure you do not run out of memory. 

Each electrical appliance has its own recharging cord, make sure to put this in to avoid a flat battery at the moment you need your appliance the most. In South Africa we make use of 220V electricity so bring a converter plug, South African shops in general are not well stocked with US converter plugs.

If you don't have a friend going with to take the photos, ask your Outfitter for contact details of their Professional Photographer. Hire a Professional, this is the only memory you will have of your trip. Your PH (Professional Hunter) is there to focus on guiding you and covering all safety aspects. A good book will also come in handy. You never know when flights may be delayed or bad weather comes in.

If you are using chronic or pre-script medicine, we suggest you bring along the prescription and original containers you received your medication in. South Africa is generally less austere regarding controlled medication, but it is better to come prepared. Ensure that
your travel insurance is arranged prior to your travel, in the unlikely event of an accident. If you travel to the North Eastern parts of South Africa it is recommended to discuss taking anti-malaria medication with your doctor, prior to arrival. Your Outfitter should send you a 'Client Information' form well in advance of you Safari which will cover any medical issues, allergies, food preferences etc. In this way your Outfitter is well prepared for your arrival.

The usual toiletries are essential. Again the standard of the lodge
you are staying at will determine if you also need to bring things like shampoo and conditioner etc. Make a list of contact numbers in case of an emergency. Put all paperwork, passports, itineraries, travel insurance, firearm forms and air tickets together and keep it safe. Copies of these documents left in safe hands at home can be very helpful should documents get misplaced.

If you wear prescription glasses, make sure to bring more than one pair, or use contact lenses. You will be outdoors most of the time, be prepared. Remember your mobile phone, laptop/tablet if needed. You are on vacation, but for certain hunters business back home has to continue. Keep in mind that due to the remoteness of certain lodges in Africa you may not have Wi-Fi or internet access available.

If you forget anything, most cities in South Africa have shops that cater for hunters at affordable prices.

The Hunting Outfitter you have booked with will have 99% of the answers to any questions you have! Please use their knowledge and experience, and assist your Outfitter in their preparations of your Safari with any information requested.


Monday 24 October 2016

How to introduce your child to hunting...

Living in Africa can only be described as amazing, especially living in this country of wide open spaces and clean fresh air. A Lifestyle for children that money cannot buy!

The way you introduce your child to hunting and the outdoors is by teaching them that it is a privilege to hunt not a right, and to have respect for mother nature and the animals in it. Getting kids to understand that they have to be quiet and organised while hunting, is far fetched, rather teach them to be proud of the outdoors and conserve nature. Bare in mind... they are kids. You can not change the fact that they will get tired or hungry or can not be quiet.

Keep the following 10 things in mind, this may help to culture hunting as a love for your little-ones.

1. This will not be your normal, quiet, hunt...
Young kids want to explore by asking questions about all the unknown things they come across.
Encourage your child to ask even more questions, by answering the questions enthusiastically it will make them even more curious about what they see. This allows them to learn an enormous amount of information in one day. When hunting, keep it short and active. Because in that little brain there are so many unanswered questions and boredom will cause them to "give up" on their curiosity - our aim is to give the kids the same proud, adrenaline filled experience that we as hunters experience, and keep them hooked for life!

2. Safety is priority number one...
Accidents happen quickly, and working with an inexperienced person, makes the chances of an accident happening much higher. Make sure you help them to practice enough. Teach them that it is dangerous and they should be extra careful at all times. Set an example, rather than just to try and tell them how to do it - let them see how you do it.

3. Fill the trip with fun...
Kids hate being bored. Keep them interested by
teaching him/her about the trees and all the different grass/plants types you pass. Allow them to take a toy with, so they will be able to show you when they are not interested in the hunt anymore and then try again on another day. Or give your child a "play" gun or bow and make them pack their own little bag. By carrying their own "hunting backpack", they will feel more involved.

4. Go prepared...
Pack everything that your child is used to having with them at all times. Depending on your child's age: Toys, to ensure they do not feel lost in the wild. Food, snacks and drinks, as us parents all know, kids prefer to eat at times that are usually most inconvenient for any adult. Take with that special pillow and blankie, to avoid them crying when they are tired or irritated. Don't forget to pack enough warm clothes, kids get cold much faster than we do. Pack it in a way that it is easy to reach, so when they get difficult, you can just reach out and give it to them.

5. Most kids are not emotionally ready to kill...
You might have told them lots of stories. They might have played "guns & gangs". They might seem to be ready to shoot an animal like Dad or Mom do, but the reality of shooting a beautiful animal, may still be too much for your child's feelings. Do not push them to shoot! Let him/her tell you when they feel ready. And even then, be ready for the reality that might make them cry. Always discuss the whole hunt that evening, allowing your child to give their full input and show your children how proud you are of their determination and efforts.

6. If the weather is bad, make it quick and effective...
Image result for kids hunting photosHunting can include bad weather conditions. Take them on that hunt, even if the weather is terrible. But make sure that you only go out for a short period of time to prevent the kids from getting sick and creating a bad experience of hunting. Put on warm clothes and make it fun - perhaps get the same style gloves or warm hat or buff as your child so you "in-it" as a Team. They have to learn that bad weather is part of the fun...life is not always moonlight and roses, and when they finally hunt on their own the luxuries may not be included and they will lose their love for hunting. 

7. Practice makes anything perfect...

If your child tells you that he/she is ready to hunt, one of the first and most important lessons is firearm-safety and respect. Practice firearm handling and target shooting daily before each hunt. Your child might just miss or wound the animal making them feel like they failed and that could cause them never to try again. To have a bad day does happen, however try to avoid it on their first hunt with as much preparation and practise before-hand. Having a Professional Guide help a child with their first hunt, often helps the child's confidence as should he/she fail at the shot, they sometimes don't feel they have directly disappointed their Parent.

8. They cannot just get everything on a tray...
If you decide to go off on a hunt, please make the kids help you with the preparations. He / she should pack their own hunting gear, food, maps, caps etc. (Obviously as the parent you need to double check everything). Hand the map over to your child, and let them help with planning the route. If you shoot an animal, help them follow the blood trail. In this way they will feel involved and needed enticing them to want to do more and indirectly learning every step of the way. By doing this you will culture not only the love for hunting, but also the love for being Adventurous and Responsible.

9. Don't Shame them, after a kill...
Each child will react differently after a successful hunt, some may even cry. Do not ignore them. Do not try to dismiss their feelings. And most importantly - DO NOT shame them for their reactions! Rather use this opportunity to talk to your child about how hunting contributes to Conservation, provides healthy meat for the table and is an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. A successful shot is only 10% of the hunt, taking in the whole aspect of what your child is learning around them is the balance!

10. Everyone is different...
Not every child wants to go hunting, and this is okay. If you have 3 children, they will have 3 different personalities and perhaps none of them want to hunt. Do not force it. The more you push it, the less they will want to do it. And if you keep pushing they might even hate it, just out of revenge. If you used to hunt with your child and he/she suddenly stops [especially when entering their teenage years], do not stress, they will 9 out of 10 times pick it up again when they are adults.

The above points are 10 suggestions based on our experience hunting with kids to try and ensure that your children can share the same love for nature as you do. Remember that enjoying quality, focused time with your children is a lot more important than to culture the love of being a hunter or to try to make them love the outdoors. Time with your loved ones is always time well spent!! And always take photos of your time together, these memories are priceless...