TRAVEL DO’S AND DON’TS FOR CENTRAL AFRICA
Get some rest on your first day in Central Africa. You are on a different time zone and need to adapt to it.
Unlimited foreign currency can be brought into the country and can be re-converted at the airport bank on departure, but this takes time and patience. We recommend you change only what you intend to spend.
Do not exchange money on the street. You may be approached by someone willing to give you a 50% to 70% premium for your dollars. This is what is known as the black market. It is illegal. Do NOT therefore, get involved. Hotels, Camps and Lodges can change money but sometimes their exchange rate is lower. There are several foreign exchange bureaus in Central Africa offering competitive rates.
Safekeeping of passport and valuables
Please keep your passport and money ON YOU at ALL times. Never leave money or valuables in your room or in your vehicle. You can check valuables into security boxes at the hotels and lodges. Be especially careful whilst in camps and lodges and on special excursions such as boat-rides. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry (necklaces etc.).
Banking hours are from 0830 – 1530 Monday through Friday and 0900 – 1200 every Saturday.
Do not walk in Central African countries at night without a guide who knows the area very well or please take a registered taxi instead. Always let a tour member know where you are going when you go off to do your own thing. Please take the same care-and common sense precautions-that you would do in any other part of the world.
Be careful of the “hustlers” in Central African countries. You may hear a hard luck story which is designed to get you to donate money to some cause. We strongly suggest you do not get involved.
Whilst on safari the lodges operate on Satellite phones which you may use for making calls to USA, however these are expensive and could cost up to $7 per minute. E mail facility is available through the satellite system but you may not be able to access the internet for browsing. Cities are the best place to make calls and use the internet. Most hotels in Central African countries have telex, facsimile machines and internet services.
Spectacles & Contacts
On safari be prepared for bumpy and dusty roads. These can be an irritant to contact lens wearers. Eye drops and a spare pair of glasses are a sensible precaution.
Safari attire is casual and comfortable. Dress mainly for outdoor comfort with a change of informal clothes for the evening. Evenings and early mornings can be chilly especially in the mountain areas. Warm jerseys, socks and walking shoes or trainers are recommended. Footwear should be low-heeled and comfortable. There is not much walking and you stay in your vehicle during game runs. Bring a light-weight raincoat and a hat for sun protection. Roof hatches on safari vehicles are left open whilst game viewing. In the rainy seasons, Central African countries are cooler so we do recommend warm clothing such as long pants, sweat shirts and a jacket.
Our equatorial sun is strong. Too much can cause dehydration, nausea, dizziness and headaches. We recommend that you wear sun screen and a hat, as well as a strong pair of dark glasses. Most of the lodges and hotels have swimming pools. When sunbathing use common sense.
In Central Africa and on safari, we recommend that you do not drink the water from the taps and even out of the thermos or flasks provided. We recommend instead, that you purchase bottled water at the lodges. Use mouthwash to brush and wash your teeth. Ice is generally frozen from boiled water and is ok for consumption.
Food in Central African countries is delicious, varied and plentiful. Lodges offer a varied cuisine ranging from Italian, western, Chinese and traditional Cameroonian meals, famed fruits abound such as , pineapples, pawpaw, mangoes, avocados, passion fruits, banana, pears, and strawberries. Fresh vegetables are equally abundant.
The hotels, lodges and camps in which you stay are renowned for their high standard of cuisine. However, a change of climate and traveling can, in a few instances, cause travelers‟ diarrhea, a minor complaint not comparable in severity with ‘gypsy tummy’. Eating in moderation, avoiding cold buffet lunch tables that have been exposed to the mid-day sun, and fasting for a day (whilst drinking plenty of bottled water) should you be stricken, are sensible precautions.
Spirits, beers, wine and cigarettes
All is available in Central African countries. The price of soft drinks and beer is reasonable, whilst imported spirits, wine and cigarette tend to be on the expensive side.
Generally, unless otherwise requested, bed and breakfast is the meal plan provided for in Central African countries, and full board on Safari.
We strongly recommend that you take anti-malaria medication. Malaria is rare in most highland areas, but traveling in the hot bush and coastal areas requires precautions. If, on your return home, you develop influenza symptoms, please see your doctor immediately as you may well have contracted malaria.
The larger towns in Central African countries have pharmacy and hospitals, but you should carry with you adequate supplies of your own medicines and toilet items as in the smaller towns these cannot be obtained.
A spare pair of prescription glasses is recommended.
There are several hospitals in Central African countries, staffed by doctors with internationally recognized degrees. Most Central African hotels have their own house doctors for emergencies, appointments can be made if a doctor is necessary.
DO NOT take photographs of the locals without their permission. NEVER take photographs of military, military institutions, armed forces barracks, policemen, the President, Government officials or airports. Always keep your camera loaded and ready for action. You never know when it is going to start. Do please remember that our animals are wild and should never be approached on foot. Please be alert and cautious in the lodges and camps when walking from your room to the public areas. Carry binoculars for added pleasure whilst game viewing.
Get to know both your driver-guide and your safari tour guide. Their knowledge of Africa is a bottomless treasure of travel. Be friendly. Sometimes, at the outset of a safari, the driver-guides can be shy and need encouragement to open up. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to make requests of both your driver-guide and your safari tour guide.
Air ticket reconfirmation
Air tickets must be reconfirmed for all domestic and international flights. Our representatives in all the Central African countries will assist you with same. You will be required to produce the tickets to our representative. We will do all possible to secure your specific seat requests but this cannot be guaranteed.
Airport Department Tax
For all passengers departing from the Nsimalen international airport, Douala international airport, Garoua international airport and Salak international airport in Maroua, an airport service charge is payable as follows:-
– International flights – US $23 person (payable in local currency)
– Domestic flights – US $ 3 per person (payable in local currency)
Most people, when visiting a foreign country, like to be given some guidelines regarding tipping. Bearing in mind that tipping is an extremely personal matter, the below are mere guidelines. Ultimately, expectations are left to the discretion of the individual safari member. However, if in doubt, please check with either your hostess or safari guide for advice.
These guidelines are for those lunches and dinners you may enjoy on your own that are not included in your itinerary. If the menu says 10% service charge included, you do not need to tip. Otherwise, 10% is considered usual and customary.
When ordering from the bar waiter, a 10% tip is fair.
Ever since the early days of “safari-ing”, driver-guides and naturalist/ tour guides in Africa have had their expert bush skills acknowledged in the form of tips. We recommend 4 – 5 dollars per person per day, but this entirely at your own discretion.
The tip for your naturalist/tour guide is entirely discretionary. A good tip for the guide is determined by the numbers in a group. We recommend 2 dollars per person per day. These tips are payable on the final day of your safari program.
During your stay at the game lodges
It is best to give your gratuity to the camp manager or drop it in the gratuity box rather than giving individual tips. This is then distributed to all staff at the lodges.
The safari experience
Please look at any inconveniences with a positive attitude. Flat tyres and a few unexpected delays are all part and parcel of the safari experience.
*Terms and Conditions Apply
Our Hot Air Balloon Safari
Up up up we fly in the chilly morning air
Close your eyes, and for a moment feel your bodies lift up, with you having no control over it. The feeling is indescribable, crispness of the African chilly morning air hits your face as your hot air balloon gradually rises, smoothness in the exhale of your breath, and the excitement to see and learn more. As you finally start to get a grip on the elevation, an inner smile that resonates on one’s face does not need an explanation.
After approximately one hour aloft, the balloon lands while a breakfast is being prepared for us nearby. The smell of bacon, sausages and eggs drift on the breeze as we sample exotic Kenyan fruits and homemade pastries and, if you wish, glasses of bubbly to toast our flight, a tradition initiated by the Montgolfier brothers.
The sheer pleasure of experiencing a birds’ eye view of the gracefully moving wildebeest