Preparing for your trip

Package: Highlights of Southern Africa, 2020

Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!

Printed 11/17/2019. Please visit https://www.friendlyplanet.com/before-you-go/?tourId=1510 for the latest updates.

Checklist

Item Due
Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your return date. Immediately
Complete your registration. You'll receive a link to the registration form after you complete your booking. Within 24 hours of booking
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due.
75 days prior to travel
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 75 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e‑tickets
Obtain required travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email by 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry them with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel
Confirm your flight times and any special meal requests with the airline, and print and carry a copy of your e-ticket. 72 hours prior to travel
Check in for your flights online and download/print your boarding passes (if available). 24 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Documents

Visa Required

For Zimbabwe, U.S. citizens must have a visa for entry. Zimbabwe visas will be granted upon arrival. See below for more information.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Kenya

You must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. In addition, your passport must have at least 2 blank visa pages per country to be visited.

U.S. citizens require a visa to enter Kenya. Travelers visiting Kenya must obtain an e-visa prior to arrival through the Kenya e-visa portal, www.ecitizen.go.ke. Kindly ensure to bring a print-out of your E-visa approval.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

Kenya requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry for passengers arriving from Yellow Fever Endemic Countries (this does not include the US). Find a local vaccination center.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for South Africa

Your passport must be valid at least 6 months after your return date from South Africa.

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter South Africa. However, all visitors are required to have two consecutive blank passport pages for each entry into South Africa. Note that some of our packages include multiple entries into South Africa. You may be denied entry if your passport does not have enough blank pages.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

For travelers arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, South Africa requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. (This does not apply to most of our travelers, including anybody arriving from the U.S. or Canada.) Learn more.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Zimbabwe

Your passport must be valid at least 6 months after your date of entry to Zimbabwe.

A visa is needed for U.S. passport holders to enter Zimbabwe, which can be obtained online or upon arrival; getting it upon arrival is generally much easier. The cost is $30 USD for a single-entry visa or $45 USD for a double-entry. Though it may be possible to pay with credit card, we strongly suggest you carry this exact amount in cash. You should have two consecutive blank pages in your passport for entry into Zimbabwe. Please also carry a copy of the e-ticket for your return flight, in case this is requested. Some of our packages offer an excursion from Zimbabwe to Chobe in Botswana. If you are taking this, obtain a double-entry Zimbabwe visa and be sure to have an additional blank passport page for entry into Botswana. For more information, please check with the Zimbabwe Embassy or Consulate or the U.S. State Dept.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

For travelers arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, Zimbabwe requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. (This does not apply to most of our travelers, including anybody arriving from the U.S., Canada or South Africa).

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Botswana

Your passport must be valid for at least 90 days after your return date, though we strongly recommend at least six months.

U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to enter Botswana for stays up to 90 days. Passports must have at least one blank passport page. See the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

For travelers arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, Botswana requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. (This does not apply to most of our travelers, including anybody arriving from the U.S., Canada or South Africa).

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • We provide visa & entry requirement information for the convenience of our travelers, and we try to keep it up-to-date. Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to determine the passport and visa requirements that apply to you and to comply with them, including securing proper travel documents by the required deadlines and carrying them with you. Requirements are subject to change, sometimes without notice, and we suggest you verify them with the relevant embassy or consulate, the U.S. State Dept (if you're a U.S. passport holder), and/or with an expedited visa service such as VisaHQ. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding, your trip may be disrupted, and travel insurance may not cover your losses if your passport and visa are not in order.
  • To travel abroad, U.S. citizens must have a passport. In general, it should be valid for at least six months after your return date, and passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. We recommend that passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. If your passport does not have this many pages, you should obtain a new passport as soon as possible.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding if the name on your passport does not match your tickets.
  • Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!

Travel Insurance Documents

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our protection plan, you can find a link to the full policy on our travel protection page. Carry this document with you when you travel, as it includes contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Questions about your flights before you depart? Read the information below first. If you still have questions, contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 2 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Flights & tickets: For this package, we generally book your flights and issue tickets after we receive your final payment.

Once we have issued your tickets, we'll send you an "e-ticket receipt" which contains all of your flight information, including times, carriers, an airline booking reference number, and an e-ticket number. If you have not received this, or have questions about the flights we booked for you, please contact our air department. You will not receive paper tickets. We recommend you print and carry a copy of your flight details, including the airline booking reference number and e-ticket number, as some airports require this to enter the terminal. You do not need to reconfirm your flights with the airline prior to your departure, as we will handle this for you.

You may contact Kenya Airways directly for your preferred seating once you receive your electronic tickets via email. Otherwise, seats will be assigned at the airport when you check-in.

Want to reserve specific seats?

That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, or email us at air@friendlyplanet.com after you book. Then:

If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).

If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.

If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Look for "More Flight Options" when you book online, or ask us about price and availability when you book by phone. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.

Flight Schedule

You may review the sample flight schedule(s) below. This information is for general planning puposes. You will receive your your actual flight schedule and details by email once we issue your tickets.

Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please confirm your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again 72 hours prior to departure.

Sample Flights from New York (JFK) Feb 8 - Mar 14, 2020:

Kenya Airways (KQ) Toll-free number is 866-536-9224

DEPARTURE
FLIGHT FROM TO DEPART ARRIVE FLIGHT TIME
KQ 003 New York (JFK) Nairobi (NBO) 12:00 PM 10:30 AM (next day) 14.30 hrs
KQ 784 NBO Cape Town (CPT) 2:35 PM 7:20 PM 5:45 hrs
RETURN
FLIGHT FROM TO DEPART ARRIVE FLIGHT TIME
KQ 002 NBO JFK 10:55 PM 5:55 AM (next day) 15 hrs

Sample Flights from New York (JFK) Apr 11 - May 16, 2020:

Kenya Airways (KQ) Toll-free number is 866-536-9224

DEPARTURE
FLIGHT FROM TO DEPART ARRIVE FLIGHT TIME
KQ 003 New York (JFK) Nairobi (NBO) 12:55 PM 10:25 AM (next day) 14.30 hrs
KQ 784 NBO Cape Town (CPT) 2:45 PM 7:30 PM 5:45 hrs
RETURN
FLIGHT FROM TO DEPART ARRIVE FLIGHT TIME
KQ 002 NBO JFK 10:55 PM 6:55 AM (next day) 15 hrs

 

Connecting Flights

If you plan to purchase connecting flights to your departure city, we strongly suggest waiting until 75 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment) to ensure materialization and to reduce the chances that your international flight times might change—since airlines sometimes change schedules even after flights have been booked. Before purchasing connecting flights, always confirm the times for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Airport Transfers

Please make sure to arrive at the airline check-in counter at your gateway city at least 3 ½ hours before departure. Please check-in individually and advise the check-in agent you would like to check your luggage through to Cape Town. Proceed to the departure gate to board your flight to Cape Town via Nairobi. Upon arrival in Cape Town, kindly go through immigration, collect your checked luggage and proceed through customs. Our representatives, ERM Tours, will be waiting for you at the arrival hall, holding an ERM/Friendly Planet Travel group sign.

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. They will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Packing & Luggage

Baggage allowance: Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage and one carry-on piece. Your checked-in luggage should weigh no more than 44 pounds, and each piece may not exceed 62 inches as a sum of all three dimensions (length, height and width). Most airlines do not consider roll-aboard as hand luggage. Kindly make sure that your carry-on luggage will fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. For your safety and protection we suggest that your checked-in luggage have a (TSA approved) lock on it. *Please note: Luggage that is irregularly shaped will not be permitted at check-in counters at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in South Africa. Luggage that is round, has long straps, or does not have at least one flat surface will not be allowed to be checked.

While some airlines may permit two checked-in bags per person, we strongly suggest to bring only one checked-in luggage with a maximum weight of 44 lbs. We recommend a lighter weight and smaller dimensions for both the checked-in and carry-on luggage than what airlines typically allow in order to fit in the overhead compartments on the motor coaches used for transfers and touring. Porterage during your tour is covered for only one checked bag per person. Kindly note that these limitations facilitate an easier, faster, and smoother approach towards the collection and transport of your luggage throughout the tour. In the interest of comfort and convenience for you and your fellow travelers, we recommend that you do not over-pack and to take a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind. We appreciate your understanding and your cooperation regarding these limitations.

Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.

Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags. It's so much easier and faster for you to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat, especially on buses. For your protection, we suggest your checked luggage have a TSA-approved lock.

Luggage tags: We will mail you Friendly Planet luggage tags with your invoice. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip. However, we are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

While on Tour

What to Expect

This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations, sometimes on bumpy unpaved roads and may have limited rest stops.

Please remember that you are traveling as part of a group, and your personal cooperation will make the trip better for everyone. Please be on time for group activities, and please note that smoking is not permitted on our tour buses. Be sensitive to the local customs, as many activities may be conducted differently than in our own country. You will find a polite, gentle approach and a friendly, positive demeanor will help you achieve the best results as you travel.

In General: While we have made every effort to secure comfortable accommodations and transportation, we ask you to keep in mind that the standards you will encounter may be different from those you are used to at home. This is primarily due to the fact that the tourism infrastructure, while extensive, is still in the development stages, and therefore somewhat limited in some areas. On touring days, you may encounter some delays due to the tremendous congestion and traffic in and around the city. Your patience and understanding are appreciated.

Please remember that you are visiting countries where customs are not the same as in the USA. Many people speak English, and you may assume you are being understood, but it is often the case that the person you are speaking to does not clearly comprehend. Be sure to ask your guide, the hotel clerk, the waiter or any other service providers to confirm that what you have asked or said has been understood. This is very important when shopping.

Road Conditions: On some days during your trip, a considerable driving distance is involved. Please note that due to poor road conditions in some of the areas visited, some discomfort during those days should be expected.

Game Reserves: There will be various safaris through Game Reserves. Please keep in mind that wildlife viewing is a matter of luck, and although experiencing game drives is wonderful, there are no assurances that you’ll view all the animals you would like to see.

Remember that you're a guest in someone else's homeland, and that you're traveling to experience their country and culture. Be sensitive to local customs and manners, as many things may be done differently than what you're used to. And while we have made every effort to secure modern and comfortable accommodations and transportation, please note that the standards in other countries may be different from those you are accustomed to at home. Overall, you will find a polite, positive, patient, and open-minded approach generally yields the best travel experience!

Please keep in mind that you'll be traveling with a group. Sharing your explorations with like-minded folks can often be a source of joy, and some of our travelers become lifelong friends. But traveling with strangers can also sometimes be challenging, especially in a foreign country. We ask that you be patient and respectful with your fellow travelers, including their needs and preferences. Also remember that you have responsibilities to the group—please be prompt for group activities so you don't keep everyone else waiting. Lastly, please defer to your tour leader, guide or manager. They are there for your safety and wellbeing, and to ensure the journey goes smoothly for everyone. If you have a problem with one of our tour guides or managers, please let us know, either while you're on tour or after you return, and we'll make sure your concerns are addressed.

Accommodations

Our hotels are all Western-style, and your room includes a private bathroom. Please be aware that the water in the hotel tap system is not potable. Hotels will normally provide bottled water at a small fee. On occasion, a first bottle will be in your room upon check in. If not, you will have plenty of opportunities to purchase bottled water in and around the hotel. However, any water that you consume from the hotel mini-bar will be charged to your room, and you will be responsible for payment.

Eating & Drinking

The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary. For all other meals, you're at liberty to dine where you like. Your hotels will have several dining choices, from coffee shops to specialty restaurants.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Tipping

If your professional guide, driver and others with whom you are traveling are doing a good job, please take our suggestions for tipping seriously. While we have already prepaid porterage, you may find that porters will ask for additional tips. If you wish to give porters an extra tip, a dollar bill will be considered generous. Dollar bills are handy for tipping in other situations as well, so we suggest taking a supply of single dollars with you so that you can be prepared for such situations.

Naturally, tipping is personal and completely voluntary. If you have not received good service, your tip should reflect this fact. (You should also let us know without delay.) But just as you would never think of having dinner at a restaurant without leaving an appropriate tip, you should apply the same thinking to tipping as you travel.

Optional Excursions

To enhance your visit, your local guide will offer optional excursions and cultural/dining evening activities. Payments for these excursions should be made directly to your guide. Payment must be made by cash only in U.S. Dollars or South African Rand. Rates quoted are below. Optional excursions purchased locally may be subject to availability.

Cape Town

  • Cape Winelands Tour, 1270 ZAR per person (Day 4 – purchased locally) This morning, head to the premier wine producing regions of Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch through the heart of the Cape Winelands. Visit the town of Franschhoek, passing the Huguenot Monument. Experience breathtaking views from the Taal Monument in Paarl, one of the Cape's first farming districts. Stellenbosch is world-renowned for making some of South Africa’s premier wines. Enjoy a tour of this historic town with its well preserved architecture, pop into some of the local stores and markets, and enjoy some of the fine wines as you enter a renowned wine estate.
  • Bo-Kaap Melting Pot Tour & Cooking Class, $145 per person (Day 5 – can only be pre-purchased) This morning, join a Bo-Kaap "Melting Pot" tour to discover the heritage, culture and cuisine of the Cape Malay people. We visit the Bo-Kaap Museum, the oldest Mosque in South Africa, pass the oldest house, the first farmhouse and take a walk past the famous colorful houses. Next you will step into an aromatic spice shop to learn about the origins of the spices. Visit a Cape Malay home and learn how to cook an authentic pot of curry, fold a spicy samosa and knead, spin and roll a perfectly flaky roti. As a finale to your cooking lesson, enjoy tasting your delicacies together with your host.

Please Note: The sequence of visits may be reversed.

If you have not prepaid Friendly Planet for the optional excursion(s) and are interested in joining, you may sign up and pay for the excursion with your local guide, pending availability. There are no refunds for unused optional excursions.

Independent Activities

You can leave the group and explore on your own at any time. However, should the group have planned activities for that day, please make sure to inform your guide in advance. There is NO refund for unused group arrangements. We suggest taking the name of the hotel and phone number with you so that you can communicate with taxi drivers. The hotel staff will gladly assist you.

Special Needs & Requests

Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Country FAQs

Fast Facts about Kenya

Overview

Capital: Nairobi
Population:  46 million
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
Languages: Swahili and English
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: GMT/UTC +3

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

The CDC recommends for anyone traveling to or coming from a yellow fever endemic country to take the Yellow Fever vaccine prior to travel. The CDC deems certain parts of Kenya to be at risk of yellow fever. Please click on the link below to view the CDC map which indicates the areas that may require the yellow fever vaccine: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever-malaria-information-by-country/kenya#5323. Travelers may be denied entry for not having sufficient proof of immunization. An exemption may be granted under certain medical circumstances, so be sure to discuss this issue with your physician. Please consult with your personal physician or local public health authorities regarding taking anti-malaria pills. You may wish to consult your personal physician or local public health authorities as to their suggestions on other health concerns or requirements.

Weather

Since Kenya is located on the Equator, the weather is temperate with average daytime temperatures in the 60's-80's. However, in higher elevations you may experience cooler temperatures enough for a sweater at night year-round. In the arid, desert like region like Samburu National Park, temperatures may be hotter.

What to wear

We suggest bringing clothes made of cotton, preferably in neutral colors (especially for game drives). A hat, scarf, sunscreen and insect repellent are also valuable accessories for your trip. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken in, not brand new) walking shoes, by all means, take both pairs. Since weather can be unpredictable anywhere in the world and to be sure you are comfortable during your trip and prepared for all types of weather possibilities, we recommend that you carry a small folding umbrella (or poncho) and take with you a light jacket or sweater. Packing to dress in layers is another way to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Finally, remember that the countries visited on this tour are casual, and comfort should dictate your wardrobe for the tour. Binoculars are also suggested.

Tipping

A small gratuity to your guides and drivers will be greatly appreciated by them. The recommended amounts are as follows: $7-10 per person per day for your Safari driver/guide/game spotter; $3 gratuity to restaurant staff per meal (lunch/dinner); and $1 to hotels/lodges porters upon arrival and departure is also appreciated It is also customary to tip the hotel staff. Our recommended amount is $1 per person per day for housekeeping. The same amount is recommended for restaurant staff. As always, gratuities are an individual expression of thanks and should be based on the level of service provided.

Money & Credit Cards

The local currency in Kenya is the Kenyan shilling. Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for "street shopping" you will need local currency. Your hotel will be able to exchange your cash to local currency.

Credit cards are the most convenient way to pay for items you purchase as you travel. Be sure to call your credit card providers to let them know you will be traveling abroad, the places you’ll be visiting and the dates of your trip. This is important for your own protection. For small purchases, we recommend that you use the ATM machines to get cash in local currency so that you can avoid using your credit card in unknown shops where there is a higher risk of having your credit card numbers “borrowed” for unauthorized purchases. We suggest that you bring along cash in small denominations and we highly recommended that you bring crisp, new bills. If you wish to exchange U.S. dollars to the local currency, new, crisp U.S. dollar in large bills ($20, $50, $100) are preferred. Old, torn, crumpled bills & US dollars printed 2012 or earlier are not accepted in East Africa. Travelers’ checks are not accepted in Kenya.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

There will be some opportunities to shop for souvenirs, including artwork and handicrafts. Cash may be the only form of payment accepted for shopping in Kenya, particularly throughout the Masai Mara and at the Masai Village. While we take great care in arranging the components of your tour, we have no relationship with the shopping venues you’ll encounter, and we cannot be liable for any purchases you make. Please keep in mind that many, if not most stores outside the U.S. will not allow exchanges or refunds for your purchased items.

Please Note: Strict conservation laws in Kenya make it illegal to purchase coral, shells, ivory, or the skins of endangered species. The penalties for trying to transport or smuggle these items out of the country may be severe.

Tips for Bargaining: Bargaining is a way of life in Kenya. If you want to purchase something, and you think the price you’ve been quoted is too high, thank the vendor and walk away. Generally, he/she will come after you with a lower price. It is usually considered good bargaining policy to offer half the asking price, and negotiate from there. The negotiations should be done in a respectful way. Kindly note that most hotels and shops maintain fixed prices.

Electricity & Power Adapters

240 volts. Plug G. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Photography

Cameras and video recorders are permitted, and photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. Memory cards for digital cameras will be available in major cities.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kenya

  1. I heard Kenya has banned plastic bags?

    [September 2017] In an effort to curb litter and support environmental sustainability, Kenya has banned most single-use plastic bags. Those arriving in Kenya via airports or land borders will be required to surrender any prohibited bags. (You will not be fined as long as you comply.) The Ziploc® bags used to carry liquids through security are exempt from this ban. The following sorts of bags will not be permitted:
    • Duty-free carrier bags
    • General shopping bags
    • Bin liners (sometimes used to protect luggage during rain)
    • Dry cleaning bags (commonly wrapped around clothing)

    Some suitable & allowed replacements:

    • Paper bags
    • Durable, reusable shopping bags
    • Bags made from cloth, woven grass or sisal

Fast Facts about South Africa

Overview

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial)
Population:  49 million 
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
Languages:  Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Swati, Tshivenda, Tsonga, North Sotho
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: GMT + 2

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Malaria is present in South Africa. Take precautions against getting mosquito bites, and talk to your doctor about taking a prescription medicine to prevent malaria (before, during and after your trip). Also ask your doctor about vaccinations for typhoid and hepatitis A and be sure you are up-to-date with other routine vaccinations like such as measles.

For travelers arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, South Africa requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. (This does not apply to most of our travelers, including anybody arriving from the U.S. or Canada.) Learn more or locate a vaccination clinic in the U.S.

Find more information about health precautions when traveling to South Africa on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) site.

Weather

South Africa is located in the southern hemisphere and therefore has the reverse season to those of the U.S. The weather is temperate, and even during the winter time you’ll enjoy comfortable temperatures. Average daytime temperatures are in the 60’s and 70’s from April-Sept and in the 70’s and 80’s from Oct to March. Overnight temperatures are about 10-20 degrees cooler.

What to wear

We suggest bringing clothes made of cotton, preferably in neutral colors (especially for game drives). A hat, scarf, sunscreen and insect repellent are also valuable accessories for your trip. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken in, not brand new) walking shoes, by all means, take both pairs. Since weather can be unpredictable anywhere in the world, and to be sure you are comfortable during your trip and prepared for all types of weather possibilities, we recommend that you carry a small folding umbrella (or poncho) and take with you a light jacket or sweater. Packing to dress in layers is another way to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Finally, remember that the countries visited on this tour are casual, and comfort should dictate your wardrobe for the tour. Binoculars are also suggested.

Tipping

A small gratuity to your guides and drivers will be greatly appreciated by them. The recommended amount is $6-$8 per person per day for the Johannesburg, Cape Town and safari guides and $4-6 per person per day for your driver and safari game tracker. It is also common to leave a $1-$2 in the room for the maid service. While airport porterage of 1 suitcase per person is included, hotel porterage is not. We recommend a $1 tip to the hotel staff that brings your suitcase to the room. As always, gratuities are an individual expression of thanks and should be based on the level of service provided.

Money & Credit Cards

South Africa’s local currency is the South African Rand. Hotels and some stores in South Africa accept major credit cards; however, for "street shopping" you will need local currency. You will be able to exchange your cash to local currency at foreign exchange bureaus in South Africa, located in malls, airports, and on the streets. Most charge a commission. Hotel front desks will almost always exchange money for you, but the exchange rate is usually not as favorable. We highly recommend you bring crisp, new bills in small denominations; old, torn, crumpled bills may not be accepted. Travelers’ checks are no longer widely accepted.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Your guides will suggest some favorite shopping places, where the vendors are known, provide good quality merchandise and probably pay some sort of commission from sales to the guide. This should not surprise or offend you, as this is how business is done throughout the world; however, please be aware of this when you shop, especially if you are buying jewelry or other valuable items. If you plan to buy jewelry or other expensive items, be sure to inspect the items before you leave the store. Most stores will not allow you to return or exchange purchased items.

Electricity & Power Adapters

220/230 volts. Plug M. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit before your South African vacation.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Photography

Cameras and video recorders are permitted, and photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. Memory cards for digital cameras will be available in major cities.

Did you know?
  • South Africa has three distinct capitals: Pretoria (administrative and executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). Johannesburg is regarded as the country’s unofficial economic capital! 
  • South Africa’s flag is in the only one in the world with no emblems or insignia and six different colors! And their national anthem is the only one with five languages!
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi (later Mahatma Gandhi) once practiced law in Durban, South Africa. In 1893 he was evicted from a “whites only” train carriage, an incident that propelled his career in politics.
  • South Africans often affectionately abbreviate city names! Locally, Johannesburg is Jozi, Durban becomes Durbs, and Cape Town is warmly referred to as the Mother City.
  • On the same language lines, South African slang is particularly colorful! For example, traffic lights are called Robots and elevators are referred to as lifts. Read more about South Africa slang over on the blog!  

Fast Facts about Zimbabwe

Overview

Capital: Harare
Population:  15.6 million
Currency: US Dollar
Languages: English, Shona, Ndebele, Tswana, Xhosa, Chewa, Venda, Tsonga, Tonga, Southern Sotho
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: UTC +2

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Malaria is present throughout Zimbabwe. Take precautions against getting mosquito bites, and talk to your doctor about taking a prescription medicine to prevent malaria (before, during and after your trip). Also ask your doctor about vaccinations for typhoid and hepatitis A and be sure you are up-to-date with other routine vaccinations, such as measles.

For travelers arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, Zimbabwe requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. (This does not apply to most of our travelers, including anybody arriving from the U.S., Canada or South Africa). Locate a vaccination clinic in the U.S.

Do not swim in any freshwater such as lakes or rivers to avoid parasites.

Find more information about health precautions when traveling to Zimbabwe on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) site.

Weather

Zimbabwe is a year-round destination. April thru October is very hot and dry. The Falls tend to be their least impressive, although game viewing is ideal during this period. The rainy season is November through March. Botanical enthusiasts will enjoy the lush, green vegetation during this period. Zimbabwe's weather is most comfortable right after the rainy season in May and June. The grass is highest then, making game viewing difficult and Victoria Falls is shrouded in mist.

Tipping

In restaurants, tip 10-15%.

Money & Credit Cards

The official currency in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe dollar. Cash in US Dollars is widely accepted and preferred for your shopping needs while in destination. Credit card use and acceptance is limited and inconsistent (only available at selected stores and hotels). Per the US State Department, only Zimbabwe bank cards are accepted at local bank and ATMs and therefore travelers should not expect to have access to cash from automated teller machines. 

Important note: Foreign cash may be exchanged to the local currency at the bank or exchange bureaus. We suggest that you only exchange enough cash to cover any incidental during your stay in Zimbabwe. It is recommended to have cash when visiting Victoria Falls, as the ATMs sometimes limit the amount of cash allowed to withdraw. Be sure to call your credit card providers to let them know you will be traveling abroad, the places you’ll be visiting and the dates of your trip. This is important for your own protection.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Shop for minerals, jewelry, dolls, woven hats, wood carvings, copper plaques, wooden spoons, safari clothing, baskets, beads, stone sculptures, and snuffboxes. Ivory has been problematic, and some countries do not allow its import. 

Electricity & Power Adapters

220 volts. Plug D & G. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Fast Facts about Botswana

Overview

Capital: Gaborone
Population:  2.25 million
Currency: Botswana pula (BWP)
Languages: English & Setswana
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: CAT (UTC +2)

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

The northern part of Botswana, including Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, is in a malaria zone. Take precautions against getting mosquito bites, and talk to your doctor about taking a prescription medicine to prevent malaria (before, during and after your trip). Also ask your doctor about vaccinations for typhoid and hepatitis A and be sure you are up-to-date with other routine vaccinations like such as measles.

For travelers arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, Botswana requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. (This does not apply to most of our travelers, including anybody arriving from the U.S., Canada or South Africa). Locate a vaccination clinic in the U.S.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

April through May in Botswana offers clear skies and lush landscapes. The temperature at night begins drop during this time of year, particularly in the Kalahari Desert. Night-time temperatures in drier areas drop close to freezing from June to October, but increase rapidly during the day. The intense heat dries the landscapes, concentrating game to watering holes.

What to wear

We suggest bringing clothes made of cotton, preferably in neutral colors (especially for game drives). A hat, scarf, sunscreen and insect repellent are also valuable accessories for your trip. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken in, not brand new) walking shoes, by all means, take both pairs. Since weather can be unpredictable anywhere in the world and to be sure you are comfortable during your trip and prepared for all types of weather possibilities, we recommend that you carry a small folding umbrella (or poncho) and take with you a light jacket or sweater. Packing to dress in layers is another way to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Finally, remember that the countries visited on this tour are casual, and comfort should dictate your wardrobe for the tour. Binoculars are also suggested.

Money & Credit Cards

The currency in Botswana is the Botswana pula. Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for "street shopping" you will need local currency. You will be able to exchange your cash to local currency at foreign exchange bureaus. We highly recommend that you bring crisp, new bills in small denominations. Old, torn, crumpled bills may not be accepted. Travelers’ checks are no longer widely accepted.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Shop for handicrafts, jewelry, quilts and musical instruments in Botswana.

Electricity & Power Adapters

231 volts. Plug M. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Fine Print

Terms & Conditions: Please check out the terms & conditions for this package.

Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.

Materialization: This package may require a minimum number of passengers to operate. In the unlikely event that your departure must be cancelled due to lack of participation, we will notify you prior to the final payment due date, and offer alternate dates of travel or a full refund. Please do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your package, until this time.