Do You Need a Visa to Travel to Africa?

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If you’re a frequent traveler planning for your next vacation, you should consider going on an African safari. While on safari, you’ll experience sights and sounds that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, leading to a trip that you’ll remember for as long as you live.

However, if you’re a cautious person, then you might have some concerns about going on safari, including whether or not you’ll need to apply for a visa for your trip. Find out how you can plan a visa-free African safari and learn why a safari should be the top choice when you’re planning for your next vacation.

What is Visa on Arrival?

The reason so many travelers resist vacationing in another country is that applying for a visa can be a very time consuming, stressful process. Fortunately, many countries that you may wish to visit on safari offer visas on arrival, simplifying your trip to a significant degree.

Simply put, visa on arrival means that you will apply for a visa when arriving in a country instead of before your trip. This means you won’t have to waste any of your valuable time visiting your local visa office while you should be making other preparations for your trip. So, as you can see, it is possible to plan a mostly visa-free African safari.

Restrictions on Your Visa

Before you book your African safari, it’s important to understand that you’ll need to acquire a visa on arrival for almost every country that you visit. While you shouldn’t have trouble obtaining your visa, there are a few restrictions that you will need to keep in mind.

For example, almost every country that you visit on your safari will restrict the length of your visa, meaning you will need to return home before it expires. Fortunately, these visas will last between three and six months, which is considerably longer than the typical safari vacations. While not every country in Africa requires a visa for entry, you should be prepared to apply for a visa as soon as you depart from your plane.

Additional Factors to Consider

If you want to make sure the process of applying for your visa goes as quickly and smoothly as possible, you must make sure that you have all necessary paperwork in order. For example, while you probably don’t need to apply for a visa before your trip, you will need a valid passport.

Every country you will visit on safari will require that you have a passport before a visa will be issued. Generally, your passport will need to be valid for at least six months and will need to contain one to two blank pages.

If you’re not quite sure about the visa and passport requirements for the countries on your African safari itinerary, you should contact the U.S. Department of State for current information.

For travelers that aren’t interested in filling out pages of paperwork before their vacation, it is possible to plan an essentially visa-free African safari. By booking your safari for the right countries, you will only need a passport and visa on arrival to enjoy a once in a lifetime trip.

Choose a Safari to Match Your Personality

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From time to time, everyone needs to get away from the humdrum of their everyday life and let loose on an exciting vacation. If you’re looking for a trip that you’ll remember long after you’ve returned home, few choices are better than going on a safari.

There are countless benefits of choosing a safari as your next vacation, but one of the most enticing is being able to plan a trip that perfectly matches your personality. Here are safari options that you could choose and advice for planning a vacation that fits your individual wants and needs so that you have a great time.

Relax in a Small Group

While many people go on vacation to add a little excitement to their life, other travelers are mostly interested in forgetting about the pressures of their normal life so that they can finally relax. If relaxation is what you’re looking for out of your next trip, then your best option is going on a small group safari.

Unlike other safari options, small group trips will give you the individual time that you’ll need for rest and relaxation. While there will be group activities, you can also spend time on your own enjoying the beautiful African scenery and reflecting on what’s most important in life. Small group safaris are the perfect idea when you want a restorative vacation that you’ll always remember fondly.

Fill Your Trip with Activities

If you do the same things day in and day out, then your goal for your vacation may be to break free from boredom and participate in activities that get the blood pumping. For adventure seeking travelers that don’t mind meeting new people and taking part in new experience, going on an overlanding safari is an excellent decision.

With an overlanding safari, you’ll have a unique vacation where you make new friends and go on adventures that you can only find in Africa. If you’ve never tried bungee jumping, for example, you could book an overland safari that includes a stop in Vic Falls, one of the world’s most thrilling bungee jumping locations. Overlanding trips will also include great sightseeing opportunities where you can enjoy both exotic plant and animal life.

Extroverts looking for their ideal vacation should strongly consider an overlanding safari.

Consider Your Needs

Small groups and overlanding safaris are just two of the many options you could choose if you’re finally ready to go on an African safari. This means that the best way to book a safari vacation of your dreams is to take some time to consider your needs.

What type of fun are you looking for out of your vacation? Do you want to reconnect with nature, or are looking you experience new cultures and meet new people? Is a trip that’s loaded with adventure from start to finish the right choice for you, or do you want time on your own to explore? Answering these questions before you start booking your trip will guarantee that you have a vacation tailored to your specific tastes.

If you want a vacation that provides your perfect idea of fun, you should start exploring your safari options so that you can take a fun and memorable trip.

Big Five of the Sea

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If you’ve ever done any research about going on an African safari, then you’ve likely learned about the Big Five, which are five of the most famous animals you could see on your vacation. However, what few people know is that the sea possesses its own Big Five, and if you prefer spending time on the water to being on solid ground, you need to be sure your safari includes these interesting marine creatures.

Here’s some information about the Big Five of the sea and advice for seeing these interesting creatures the next time you take an African safari.

Spend Time with the Cape Fur Seal

The most playful member of the marine Big Five is the Cape Fur Seal. These fun-loving mammals can be found up and down the west coast of South Africa, but are especially numerous in the Cape Town area.

Unlike some other animals on this list, you can actually interact with the Cape Fur seal up close and in personal, both on land and while snorkeling.

See the African Penguin

If you prefer your animals to be cute and cuddly, then you’re going to love the African Penguin, the smallest member of the Big Five of the sea. These small birds can be found in a variety of South Africa locations, including gorgeous Boulders Beach

When you visit Boulders Beach, you’ll be able to swim with these adorable creatures, which is an experience you’ll always remember fondly.

Do Some Whale Watching

Whales are some of the most majestic animals in the world, and if you’ve always wanted to go on a whale watching adventure, your African safari will provide the perfect opportunity.

Between the months of June and December, you can see Southern Right Whales off the coast of South Africa. Because these whales are endangered, there are several nurseries in the area where you can get a great view while the whales swim and play. Be sure to bring your camera, because you’ll definitely want to commemorate seeing this member of the Big Five of the sea.

Swim with the Dolphins

If you’re like many people with a fondness for the ocean, you probably dream of seeing dolphins while you’re out on the water. Fortunately, the waters off the coast of South Africa are home to multiple dolphin species, including the well-known bottlenose dolphin

During the period between May and July, the sardine population in near Africa explodes, drawing dolphins to the area. If you want to see dolphins on your trip, make sure your safari takes place during this time of year.

Beware of Great White Sharks

Just like the normal Big Five, the Big Five of the sea features a deadly predator: The great white shark. One of the deadliest creatures on the planet, seeing a great white shark swimming in the African ocean is a unique thrill that shouldn’t be missed. While you’ll definitely want to keep your distance, you’ll always remember seeing a great white shark in the wild.

If you love seeing marine animals in their natural habitat, then you should be sure to watch out for the Big Five of the sea on your next African safari.

Types of Accommodations in African Safaris

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When you embark on an African Safari, you need a place to stay. Since the safari industry has grown over the past several decades, you have more options than you might think for your lodgings. Take a look at this list of options for your accommodations when you book an exciting African safari.

Full Size Lodges

For a luxurious safari experience, book yourself a full size African safari lodge. These safari lodges all the comforts of home and then some while situating you in the gorgeous savannah of Africa. There are many different sizes you can choose from including facilities that mimic western hotels to full size resorts. These lodges are permanent locations, so you can expect a brilliant design that mixes flawlessly with the natural landscape.

If you want delicious cuisine in between your safari outings, lodges are the choice for you. The service is typically excellent, allowing you to be pampered when you’re not out exploring. Don’t worry about the hotel being too separated from the landscape, as you can still enjoy gorgeous views of the African countryside from virtually every room in the lodge.

Tented Lodges

While windows and balconies go a long way to offer scenic views of the African landscape, tented lodges take it a step further. These are still permanent structures, but the walls are canvas tent sides which allow the smells and sounds of nature to pour through. You get to enjoy the intimate and secluded atmosphere of a tent, but you still have access to the services of a typical lodge.

In fact, tented lodges tend to be the more expensive option when it comes to accommodations. You get the best of both worlds. With the canvas sides, you get to feel like you’re roughing it in the wilderness while still enjoying all the luxuries of a premium hotel. Some tented lodges even include air conditioning and fast internet access.

Mobile Tents

If you’re trying to really enjoy the African landscape, mobile tents and seasonal camps are the way to go. These aren’t permanent structures, so you have a limited time to book one. These tents are put up for three to six months in strategic locations after major wildlife movements to expose you to as much wildlife as possible. When you stay at a mobile tent or seasonal camp, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll see more wildlife than guests at a lodge.

You won’t have to rough it in the desert either as you can still enjoy some useful amenities. There’s running water and flushing toilets, so you don’t have to worry about your hygiene going bad. There’s also a separate dining tent, and often a lounge area as well. These seasonal camps are set up away from popular tourist areas, so you don’t have to worry about crowds.

Fly Camping

For the truly adventurous seeking an outdoors adventure, you can set up camp in the savanna at the place of your choosing. If you like the idea of hippos and leopards being within feet of you with only a thin mosquito net and canvas tent in between, there’s no better choice. If the thought of nearby dangerous animals doesn’t keep you up at night, the noises might. The wildlife gets quite loud after sunset and can be too much for some to sleep through.

When you’ve determined which accommodation type is right for you, it’s time to book your African safari. Prepare yourself to embark on an adventure like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

 

Safari Vehicles: Open vs Closed

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What kind of vehicle do you picture when you think of an African safari? Some of you might picture an open-air 4X4 while others might think of a minibus type vehicle. It turns out both are options when it comes to African safaris. However, determining which one is right for you can be a bit tricky.

While open safari vehicles and closed safari vehicles both have unique advantages, they offer considerably different experiences. Learn more about the pros and cons of each and discover which safari vehicle you want to take on your African safari adventure.

Open Safari Vehicles

If your safari takes you to countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and other places in southern Africa, you’ll likely be venturing in an open safari vehicle. These 4X4s lack a roof altogether and perform incredibly well in the African brush and savanna. The openness of the vehicles leaves nothing in between you and the African countryside. You can more easily hear and see the gorgeous wildlife as you travel through the brush. The vehicle will be moving, and animals certainly aren’t going to stop for you. Thus, simply being able to turn your head without anything blocking your sight makes it much easier to keep track of the wildlife.

The downside of an open safari vehicle is that you’re left exposed. You don’t have to worry about the animals as your vehicle can easily outrun anything you might encounter though the chances that animals will come after you in the first place is incredibly low. What you really have to worry about is the rain. If your African safari is during the wet season, an open safari vehicle leaves you completely exposed. Some vehicles are equipped with sunshades that can help keep the rain at bay. The sun will also be bearing down on you the entire time, so make sure you pack sunscreen and insect repellant.

Closed Safari Vehicles

When your African safari takes you to eastern Africa into countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, you’ll be more likely to encounter closed safari vehicles like minibuses. This is in large part due to the extensive system of roadways in eastern Africa not being as prevalent in southern Africa. It’s common in eastern Africa for the same vehicle to pick you up from the airport and take you on the safari tour.

While these vehicles are better equipped for traveling on the road, they offer limited visibility when you’re trying to see wildlife. You need the walls and roof to protect from the wind when going at highway speeds, but those same walls and roof leave small openings for you to take pictures or even catch a glimpse of the animals. Most vehicles have a roof that can be propped up in the middle to allow a viewing space of sorts for rear passengers. To make use of this, however, you have to stand up and poke your head through which can be uncomfortable and still offers limited viewing capabilities.

No matter which vehicle you travel in during your African safari, you’re in for an experience like no other. Book your African safari today for an exciting adventure you’ll never forget.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Game Reserves and National Parks: What’s the Difference?

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When you’re planning to go on African safari, it’s likely that your main goal is to spend time in nature and see some of the most beautiful plant and animal life in the world. However, many people going on safari for the first time aren’t quite sure how to best accomplish this goal.

For instance, while researching your safari, you’ll probably see references to national parks, wilderness areas, game reserves, and conservancy, making it hard to know which you should visit for the most enjoyable safari experience possible. Here is some information to help you learn the difference between game reserves and national parks so you can easily plan an African safari.

Enjoy a National Park

If you want to enjoy nature in Africa in a more controlled environment, then your best bet is to visit a national park. As you might expect from their name, national parks are owned and operated by the government of the country where they are located, and are a great way for safari goers to safely experience wildlife in Africa.

Generally, national parks will offer a variety of activities such as guided tours and 4×4 trails, and the roads will be well-formed and easy to navigate. While there are a variety of small national parks throughout Africa, most travelers want to visit the larger, popular parks such as the Kruger National Park.

Game Reserves and Nature Reserves

Some people going on safari choose to skip the national parks and instead visit a game or nature reserve. These areas are a great place to view animals and plants in their natural environment, giving you a more authentic safari experience. However, there are some differences between the two types of reserves.

A nature reserve is designed specifically for the benefit of the animals and plants that it homes. They are intended for conservation purposes and will attempt to limit the impact that human activities have on the wildlife in the reserve. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve, which is located outside of Cape Town, is one of the most well-known nature reserves in Africa.

Game reserves, on the other hand, are focused on the preservation of animal life. In a game reserve, which is also called a game park, animals native to Africa such as giraffes and rhinoceros will be protected. Also, game parks generally allow for activities like hiking through the reserve and viewing the animals. If a game reserve specifically forbids hunting, it usually also qualifies as a nature reserve.

What About Wilderness Areas?

A wilderness area is an area that has not been tampered with by humans. In these areas, there are no roads or infrastructure of any kind, and the plants and animals are allowed to evolve without human involvement. While it is possible to visit a wilderness area while on safari, many travelers find these areas too extreme. However, if you want to experience African wildlife in its natural state, a wilderness area is the place to do so.

Now that you know the difference between national parks, game preserves, and wilderness areas, you can plan an African safari that you’ll be sure to enjoy.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

 

What You Can’t Miss on a Great African Safari

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Going on an African safari is a fantastic choice if you’re thinking about taking a vacation. A safari is a one-of-a-kind experience, allowing you to see exotic animals and plantlife in one of the most interesting locations in the world. However, as with most vacations, getting the most out of your safari depends on planning your trip with the right activities.

Learn about what you can’t miss on a great African safari trip, and how you can book a trip that is tailored just for you and your family.

Safari Guide

The key to a rewarding, exciting safari is being able to see a wide range of sights that will allow you to immerse yourself in African culture. However, if you’re not familiar with Africa, then you might not know which locations you should visit and which should be skipped. It is for this reason that hiring an experienced, knowledgeable guide or ranger is something you can’t skip on if you want a great African safari.

The right safari guide will be both entertaining and informative, and will be able to take you on a tour of game reserves and national parks so that you can see the gorgeous scenery and exotic animals that are the hallmark of an African safari. Choosing the right guide means having a memorable safari.

The Big Five

Even if you’re not an experienced with going on safari, you may have heard of the Big Five, which are animals that a person typically sees when they’re on safari. These animals are the rhinoceros, the Cape buffalo, the African lion, the African leopard, and the African elephant. While there are several sights that you can see while on safari, the Big Five is definitely something you can’t miss.

Ensure that you make time to see these animals on your trip if you want the full safari experience. In fact, make seeing the Big Five the first item on your safari itinerary so that you don’t miss out.

Wilderness Dining

Africa is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire world. While Africa is gorgeous every time of day, the best views come at sundown, when the light gets low and you can see breathtaking colors on the horizon. During your safari vacation, an activity that you need to make sure to participate in is wilderness dining, or enjoying a meal while immersed in the bush.

Many safari lodges offer sunset meals that are the perfect opportunity to relax after a long day of adventuring.  While enjoying a refreshing drink and eating a delicious meal, you can take in the sites and reflect on your vacation.

Be Adventurous

If you’re a traveler that can’t fully enjoy your vacation until you get your blood pumping, then you need to be certain that your African safari includes a little bit of adventure. For example, you may want to plan an excursion to Victoria Falls, where you can enjoy thrilling activities like bungee jumping and helicopter rides. A memorable, fun safari is one that lets you go on an adventure you wouldn’t experience in your normal life.

Include these can’t miss activities in your African safari so that you can have the time of your life.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui