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Important Travel Information

Important Travel Advice For South Africa

Passport, Visa, and Medical Advice

Passport & Visa

CURRENT ENTRY RULES IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) - Updated 12 November 2020: International borders into South Africa reopened on 12 November 2020. International air travel is currently restricted to Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, Durban's King Shaka International Airport and Cape Town International Airport. All land borders are fully operational. Tourists are now permitted from all countries.

On arrival, travellers need to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result (paper copy). The test must have taken place no more than 72 hours before your departure. We strongly advise taking multiple copies of the test with you. It is also possible to transit South Africa and travel onto another country but you must still show a paper copy of your negative Covid-19 test. If you cannot produce a negative COVID-19 test, you may be required to quarantine in a government-appointed quarantine facility for 10 days, at your own cost. Travellers will also be asked to download the COVID Alert South Africa Mobile App. You will need to provide proof of accommodation upon arrival in case you need to self-isolate during your trip.

Screening processes have been introduced at all major ports of entry, including airports, for arrivals, departures and transit passengers. Additional screening may include temperature measurements and check on recent travel to affected areas.

It is expected that these rules will be lifted and that the entry requirements will revert to normal as soon as the government of South Africa deems it safe to do so.

Normally, holders of the following passports do not require a visa to enter South Africa when travelling as a tourist for stays up to 90 days: United Kingdom; United States of America; Canada; Australia; Ireland; Belgium; Netherlands; Italy; France; Germany; Spain, Switzerland.

If you are a passport holder from another country, please contact your local South Africa High Commission or Embassy for up-to-date visa requirements, as citizens of certain countries (including New Zealand) are required to obtain visas before travelling. Please note that if you are applying to the Embassy for your visa, some visas can take a long time to be processed so please do take this into consideration, as it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa in place before you travel.

Please note that anyone travelling to South Africa should have a valid return ticket and a valid passport. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity from the date of entry to South Africa so to avoid problems on arrival, we advise that your passport meets this requirement instead. The passport must also have sufficient pages for entry/exit stamps - AT LEAST 2 BLANK PAGES.

TRAVELLING TO/FROM SOUTH AFRICA WITH CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS OF AGE AT DATE OF TRAVEL: It has been recently announced that the immigration laws for children travelling to South Africa who do NOT require a visa are to be relaxed, however not all airlines have updated their systems at the moment to reflect this amendment. Therefore, until we have received notification that all systems have been fully updated with the new relaxed rules, we are strongly advising that all passengers still adher to these following guidelines:

Parents travelling with children must produce an unabridged birth certificate for the child, showing full details of the child's parents. If the 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. If the child is adopted, the adoption certificate must be produced. If only one parent is travelling, said parent must also show consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent named on the birth certificate authorising the child to travel (the affidavit must be no more than 3 months old from the date of travel), or a court order granting full parental responsibilities to the travelling parent, or (where applicable) a death certificate for the deceased parent. Legally separated parents should also provide a court order when the other parent does not give consent. Where a person is travelling with a child who is not their biological child, he/she must produce an unabridged birth certificate for the child supplemented by affidavits from the child's parents/legal guardian giving consent for the child to travel and copies of the identity documents or passport of the parents/legal guardian PLUS their contact details. There are also additional rules for unaccompanied minors - available on request.

PLEASE NOTE: All documents must be original - PHOTOCOPIES ARE NOT ACCEPTED. In the case of foreign countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country should be produced. For more information, contact your local South Africa Embassy or High Commission,  or contact the South African Department of Home Affairs via http://www.dha.gov.za/.

PLEASE NOTE: Countries can change their entry requirements at any time. Travel Butlers try to ensure that the information displayed here is correct, but the onus remains with the traveller to verify the information with the relevant High Commission or Embassy and ensure that they can comply with the applicable entry requirements.

 
 

Medical

You are advised to contact your doctor or clinic around 4-8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations and to get their professional medical advice regarding travel to South Africa.

To help avoid heatstroke, drink plenty of bottled water/fluids, and keep out of the midday sun.

Tap water is purified and safe to drink in major cities and towns, however, we do advise that you do not drink the water in more remote places such as the camps in the National Parks - the water may be safe to drink, but it simply is not worth the risk, as bottled water is widely available.

Whatever you do, do not drink water from any river lake without firstly purifying the water. Always take water with you when you go on a hike, and have a bottle in the car on a long journey to avoid dehydration.

There is a risk of malaria in and around the Kruger National Park/Mpumalanga Province, the Limpopo (Northern) Province, and the north-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal - check with your doctor about suitable antimalarial tablets. Try to avoid mosquito bites wherever possible - wear loose long-sleeved clothing and trousers, and use a repellent on clothing and exposed skin.

There is no risk of yellow fever in South Africa, so a yellow fever vaccination is NOT required for travellers whose sole destination is South Africa. However, in accordance with International Health Reguations, South Africa requires all travellers over one year of age arriving from a yellow fever risk country, or having been in transit longer than 12 hours at the airport of such a country, to have a yellow fever certificate. These countries include Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda but it is up to the traveller to check the full list via http://www.who.int/ith/2015-ith-annex1.pdf?ua=1.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance.

 

Time Zone

South Africa Standard Time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2) and they do not operate Daylight-Saving Time.

Languages

The 11 official languages are Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swati, Venda and Ndebele. Whilst many visitors will hear at least a couple of the tribal languages during the course of their stay, it is possible to travel extensively and comfortably with just English as a language.

The South African society is quite liberal, as gay marriage was legalised in 2006 nationwide and everyone’s rights are protected under the constitution. In some more rural areas, however, the local people may not be quite as liberal thinking, so whilst everyone is of course entitled to their own sexual preferences and gender identity, we would advise all clients of the LGBT+ community to refrain from public displays of affection (including kissing and holding hands) and to be as discrete as possible about their relationship if travelling to a rural/remote area.

Currency

South Africa's currency is the Rand (R). South African bank notes come in R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 denominations. There are 100 cents to R1, and coin values are 1c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.

Visa and MasterCard are generally more widely accepted than any other credit card. Some establishments will only accept card payments using a chip and pin machine, so if your credit card does not support this we advise taking additional cash. 

Electricity in South Africa

The South African power is 220 - 240 volts, 50Hz, which is delivered through a 3 pin round socket.

Although the socket is 3 pin, it is not the same as a UK socket, so an adaptor will be needed. Most airport shops sell adapters for foreign plugs, or they can be bought in selected hardware shops in larger towns.

Electricity supply is reliable in cities and towns, but you may experience problems in more remote areas, especially during heavy thunderstorms, and you should be prepared for a sudden power failure!

Water in South Africa

Tap water is purified and safe to drink in major cities and towns, however, we do advise that you do not drink the water in more remote places such as the camps in the National Parks - the water may be safe to drink, but it simply is not worth the risk, as bottled water is widely available.

Whatever you do, do not drink water from any river lake without firstly purifying the water. Always take water with you when you go on a hike, and have a bottle in the car on a long journey to avoid dehydration.

Using The Phone in South Africa

The international dialling code for South Africa is +27, followed by the regional code and then the number.

Mobile phone coverage is generally extremely good throughout South Africa. Overseas visitors can use their own mobile phone with 'international roaming' enabled (remember to activate this before leaving home), but this can be extremely expensive - a much cheaper option is to switch to using a local provider during your stay in the country - the 2 main mobile phone providers are MTN and Vodacom.

South African emergency telephone numbers are as follows: 10111 - Police; 10177 - Ambulance; 10178 - Fire Department. You can also call 1022 which is a general main number for the Police, Ambulance and Fire emergency services.

Important Travel Advice For Mauritius

Passport, Visa, and Medical Advice

Passport & Visa

CURRENT ENTRY RULES IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) - Updated 01 October 2020: From 1 October, the Mauritian government is allowing international visitors entry to Mauritius under subject to the following quarantine restrictions. To enter Mauritius, you must:

  • Book airline travel and accommodation via the official Mauritian Tourism Promotion Agency website.
  • Undergo a period of “in room” quarantine in a government-approved hotel on a full board basis for 14 days on arrival.
  • Take a COVID-19 test no more than 7 days before your departure for Mauritius and demonstrate a negative test result on entry. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
  • Take a COVID-19 test on the day of arrival, and on day 7 and day 14 of your stay. If at any point, you receive a positive test result, you will be transferred to a public medical facility for treatment.

It is expected that these rules will be lifted and that the entry requirements will revert to normal as soon as the government of Mauritius deems it safe to do so.

Normally, holders of the following passports do not require a visa to enter Mauritius when travelling as a tourist:

United Kingdom; United States of America; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; Ireland; Belgium; Netherlands; Italy; France; Germany; Spain; Switzerland; South Africa.

If you are a passport holder from another country, please contact your local Mauritius High Commission or Embassy for up-to-date visa requirements, as citizens of certain countries are required to obtain visas before travelling. You can also check this website: http://passport.govmu.org/English/Passport%20and%20Visa%20Requirement%20in%20Mauritius/Pages/Visa-Requirements-in-Mauritius.aspx.

Please note that if you are applying to the Embassy for your visa, some visas can take a long time to be processed so please do take this into consideration, as it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa in place before you travel.

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. Your passport should have at least one blank page.

PLEASE NOTE: Countries can change their entry requirements at any time. Travel Butlers try to ensure that the information displayed here is correct, but the onus remains with the traveller to verify the information with the relevant High Commission or Embassy and ensure that they can comply with the applicable entry requirements.

 
 

Medical

You are advised to contact your doctor or clinic around 4-8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations and to get their professional medical advice regarding travel to Mauritius.

To help avoid heatstroke, drink plenty of bottled water/fluids, and keep out of the midday sun.

There is no risk of malaria in Mauritius, however cases of dengue fever transmitted by mosquitoes have been reported. Try to avoid mosquito bites wherever possible - wear loose long-sleeved clothing and trousers, and use a repellent on clothing and exposed skin.

Stonefish stings are rare but can be fatal. Seek urgent medical attention if you are stung. Many hotels stock anti-venom serum.

There is no risk of yellow fever in Mauritius, so a yellow fever vaccination is NOT required for travellers whose sole destination is Mauritius. However, in accordance with the Mauritius Ministry of Health regulations, Mauritius requires all travellers over one year of age arriving from a yellow fever risk country, or having been in transit longer than 12 hours at the airport of such a country, to have a yellow fever certificate. These countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.

For the full list of countries that the Mauritius Ministry of Health deem as being infected areas for Yellow Fever, as well as further medical guidance for Mauritius, please check here: https://govmu.org/EN/infoservices/healthandmedicalservices/Pages/healthadvice.aspx

 

Time Zone

Mauritius Standard Time is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2) and they do not operate Daylight-Saving Time.

Languages

The official languages of Mauritius are English and French, with the latter being more widely spoken. Other languages on the island include Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Arabic, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Mauritius is a relatively conservative society. Although homosexuality is not prohibited by law, local attitudes can be less tolerant and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. Whilst everyone is of course entitled to their own sexual preferences and gender identity, we would advise all clients of the LGBT+ community to refrain from public displays of affection (including kissing and holding hands) and to be as discrete as possible about their relationship.

Currency

They use the Mauritian rupee. Mauritian rupees do not circulate outside Mauritius so that you can only change money on the island. EURO/GBP or US$ travellers cheques and cash can be changed in the banks but please note that the exchange rate for traveller's cheques is much better than for cash. There are banks in the airport and also in Grand Bay and in other major towns on the island. Major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted in restaurants and hotels and also in some shops and supermarkets. In addition you can use credit cards to obtain cash in the banks or use them together with your PIN number to get money from cash dispensers.

Electricity in Mauritius

The power supply is 240 volts and the power sockets use the British 3 pin standard.

Water in Mauritius

The local water is relatively clean and the Mauritians drink it. You need therefore have no fear if you use it for cleaning your teeth etc. However, it is better you boil the water before drinking it or buy bottled water which is freely available in the local shops.

Using The Phone in Mauritius

The International Dialling Code for Mauritius is +230. City codes are not required. The Mauritius emergency telephone number is 999 - Fire, Police, Ambulance.

General Information About Safaris

A Typical Day, What To Take, Tipping On Safari And More

Going on a safari, whether it is your first time or you are a seasoned safari goer, is still an exhilarating experience and will undoubtedly be one of the main highlights of your trip to Africa. You spend your days waking up to the sounds of the African bush, taking exciting game drives over the plains and through the bush to spot Big 5 animals in their natural environment, and ending with a relaxed dinner under the starry night skies – there cannot be a better way to pass the time!

Are Safaris Demanding?

Generally, safaris are not demanding in terms of heavy physical activity, however there are elements which can be tiring that you need to be aware of.

Game drives tend to be in 4x4 safari vehicles (or in Kenya, you can be in a safari minibus). Due to the nature of the terrain the roads are often bumpy and can be a little tiring. Open 4x4 vehicles also expose travellers to the elements more than closed vehicles, meaning greater exposure to the sun in summer and cold winds in winter. Some open safari vehicles will have a canopy overhead to minimise exposure to the elements, however there are some lodges who do not use canopies in order to enhance photographic opportunities for their guests.

Many lodges offer walking activities ranging from one to 3 hours and this is generally the most strenuous activity you will encounter, and individuals of average fitness should experience no problems. Walking in single file, you will be introduced to how to spot tracks in the sand or mud, the uses of many different types of trees, and much more. If you are extremely lucky, will come across wildlife such as impala, giraffe or even something larger!

If your itinerary includes a light aircraft flight, these are often very compact and there is a certain amount of stepping and bending to get into the aircraft and manoevering yourself into your (rather small) seat. Travellers are also more likely to experience travel sickness in smaller planes than the larger commercial aircraft and this should be kept in mind.

A Typical Day on Safari

Even though every day will bring a different experience in terms of your wildlife viewing, safaris tend to follow a general pattern, which is consistent wherever you go.

The day starts with a wakeup call before sunrise at around 05:00 to 05:30, with tea/coffee at the lodge before you depart. The mornings are the best opportunity to follow fresh tracks and see wildlife, as some of the nocturnal animals are still active. Depending on what there is to see, the game drive is normally 3 to 4 hours long. When you return to the lodge, a delicious breakfast will be waiting for you - normally buffet style, followed by a cooked offering if you are still hungry!

The next few hours are spent resting and relaxing in camp as this is the hottest part of the day and animal activity is minimal.

At around 15:00 high tea is normally served before you head off again for an afternoon game drive (usually around 15:30 to 16:00). If you are in a National Park, the Park regulations require your guide to have you back at the lodge by sunset, however if you are in a private concession or community area, you will often enjoy a sundowner drink stop out in the bush before experiencing a night drive en-route back to the lodge, aided with a spotlight to search out the nocturnal animals.

On arrival back at the lodge you will normally sit around the camp fire and enjoy drinks while waiting for dinner. Sometimes dinner is served outside under the stars in a 'boma' around an open fire, with candles or lanterns as the only form of lighting. Chatting about your experiences and adventures with your fellow guests is a perfect way to round off the day, and a great feeling of camaraderie soon begins to exist between everyone. Many lodges will seat everyone on the same table for all meals, which gives you the opportunity to really get to know other people. After dinner, drinks may be enjoyed again around the fire however most people find they are tired from the fresh air and early start and are in bed by 22:00.

In some areas, such as East Africa, and especially if you are with a private driver-guide for your safari, there is also the opportunity to elect to go out after breakfast on a full day game drive with a picnic lunch, which means you do not have to return to the lodge until sunset.

What to Take on Safari

The dress code on safari is very relaxed, so there is no need to even consider packing dinner jackets, ties, formal shirts or cocktail dresses for your time on safari! Shorts/t-shirts are ideal for walks and the warm midday periods, but long trousers and long sleeved shirts are a good idea to wear in the evenings to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Try to take neutral coloured clothes – so greens, beiges, etc – and avoid taking anything too brightly coloured. Also, try to avoid taking anything white – firstly the dust will soon turn your pristine white t-shirt into a not-so-attractive dirty colour, and secondly white does attract bugs at night. Camouflage printed clothing is OK for the bush but please do not wear in towns or when crossing borders (particularly in Zimbabwe).

In addition, a warm sweater is useful for the cooler morning and evening temperatures when out on game drives – you also have the ‘wind chill’ factor of being on a moving vehicle.

If you are going on safari during a known rainy season, a waterproof jacket is obviously a good idea, and during the Winter months you will certainly need several warm layers for your game drives, including a hat, scarf and gloves, as it can be extremely cold when the sun goes down in the evenings, and when you first set off on the morning game drive.

Comfortable walking shoes, trainers or hiking boots are advisable if you want to go on a bush walk – otherwise sandals are ideal to wear at meal times and around the lodge area. Covered shoes on the game drives in the Winter months may also be an idea, as there is nothing worse than cold toes/feet!

A sun hat or baseball cap, or anything really to keep the sun off your head, is a good idea to stop sunstroke when out on game drives, and also will help to shade your eyes from the sun. A good pair of sunglasses will also help you to scan the landscape for the wildlife without squinting into the sunlight and getting a headache! Sun block and lip balm are also recommended.

Swimwear is not something most people would associate with a safari, but as many lodges do have pools, it is worth just throwing into your case just in case you fancy a cooling dip inbetween game drives.

Taking photographs on a safari is almost a given, so don’t forget your camera (and if you are into photography in a big way, consider different size lenses and a bean bag too to rest the lens on so that you avoid camera shake), binoculars (the ranger/driver will tend to have a pair of these always to hand, but they are there for everyone to share, so if you are not the sharing kind of person, better to have your own pair to use all the time) and spare camera batteries and memory cards – there is nothing worse than seeing the perfect shot, only for your camera to die a death or the memory card to be full (bear in mind too that the opportunity to download photos will be limited). Most lodges will have curio shops that will sell most types of batteries so if you run out, it’s not serious, but prices may be high. If you have a video camera, it may be a good idea to take a spare battery for this as well.

One top tip for camera equipment in particular is to take a pillow case to keep everything in when out on game drives – some camera bags are big and unweldy so take up valuable seat space, plus you end up having to unzip compartments and while the bag is open dust gets in everywhere – having everything in a pillowcase that you can keep relatively ‘closed’ and just reach in to retrieve the necessary camera body/lens is just so much easier and cleaner all round.

Even in malaria-free areas, there are still nasty bugs about that can give you a nasty bite so do take some strong insect repellent with you. Some lodges will supply this in the rooms, but better to be safe than sorry and pack your own just in case.

It is always a good idea to pack your own first aid kit – so plasters, antiseptic cream/wipes, antihistamine tablets, painkillers, etc. If you wear daily disposable contact lenses it is advisable to bring more than you think you will need, as you may want to take the lenses out inbetween game drives if you get too much dust in your eyes. And of course, if you are taking malaria tablets – don’t forget to pack these!

Some lodges have a library but these are limited and so it is useful to bring your own books/novels for siesta hours. Having your own wildlife reference books too will mean you can also read up about more facts on the animals you have seen during your drive. Bird books in particular, if you are an avid birder, are especially good to have, as not every bird will be identified by your ranger along the way, so you can quietly look up anything you have seen and identify it yourself.

Tipping on Safari

It is customary to tip your guide (and tracker if you had one on your game vehicle, or your poler if you take a mokoro in Botswana) when you leave, and also to leave something for the housekeeping staff, especially if they have done a good job of looking after you.

Many lodges will leave guidelines in your room as to what they feel is an ‘appropriate’ tip, however some people feel that these suggestions can be a bit high. Obviously, tipping is optional and what you leave is totally at your own discretion - we would stress that you should never feel pressured into leaving a tip that you are not comfortable with.

If you wish to follow the lodge guidelines, of course that is your decision, but if you feel uncomfortable with their suggested tipping levels, we would like to put forward an alternative method for working out a suitable tip amount.

Your ranger/guide - what we normally suggest is think about your tip in terms of what he/she would appreciate most - so for example, this could be money to cover a really nice 3 course meal out with a good bottle of wine, so that they can treat themselves (and maybe their partner too) on their valuable time off. We would suggest basing this amount on what YOU personally would be happy to pay at home if you were to treat yourself and someone else to the equivalent night out.

Driver-guide (East Africa) – for people who take a longer safari with a private driver-guide, USD7 to USD10 per traveller per day is considered a good tip for a driver-guide (based on 4 to 6 travellers in a vehicle). If there are only 2 or 3 travellers in a vehicle, you might consider raising this amount to approximately USD10 to USD12 per traveller per day in recognition of the individual attention given to a smaller-size group.

Safari escort (East Africa) - some groups are accompanied by a professional safari escort. It is customary to tip your safari escort on the last day you are with them and the recommended tip is USD10 per traveller per day. As with the tip for a driver-guide, smaller groups (5 or less) might consider tipping slightly more.

Your tracker/poler - we would suggest tipping something equivalent to giving him a night out in a local bar, where he can buy himself and friends a few round of drinks. Again, maybe base this amount on what you would be happy to spend at home in your local pub.

Housekeeping/general staff - if they have kept your room spotless, then a tip is certainly a nice gesture - but maybe just the equivalent of a couple of drinks. Some lodges will have communal tip boxes, so all the tip money is pooled and shared between the relevant staff members.

We hope that this helps – but please note this is just a personal opinion, and it is a relatively easy way of estimating a tip amount that should not offend anyone. It is customary to tip on the last day you are with anyone.

Another thing to consider is taking some envelopes with you, so that you can address the envelopes accordingly and seal the individual tips inside - in this way, the tip is not revealed until after you have departed.

Personal Safety

Please listen to your guide/lodge manager attentively on safety precautions particular to each lodge and follow their instructions.

There is an inherent risk associated with going on safari. Most guests will be required to sign indemnities at the various camps and lodges and will also be required to abide by the operator’s code of conduct in order to ensure your safety.

 

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