So, you are planning to hunt in Africa. You know what you want to hunt, where you want to hunt and have an idea of the anticipated hunting costs. But you realize there’s more to an African safari than just the hunting part. There’s travel, airline tickets, equipment requirements, clothing, etc. – all involving important choices, and sometimes substantial costs. This blog post will cover the basics questions on travelling to Africa. These basics are what you need to get down cold; your chosen outfitter will fill them in with specific details for the place, time, and type of hunting. You can also find more info in our other blog posts dedicated to hunting in Africa.
First of all, you need to choose your destination. As a first time hunter to Africa I would suggest you chose a package hunt offered at a South African or Namibian territory, especially if travelling with the family or wife. Purchasing a package hunt means that you will know exactly what is included and excluded in the deal and going to either of these two countries, you have a huge choice of camps, lodges, territories, species and more on offer. Travel to, from and within both countries is easy and uncomplicated. A big plus if you are English speaking, both these countries use English as one of their official languages. For more information on species and country selection, refer to our previous post.
Assuming you have now chosen your destination, you now need to get there. If you choose to take your own firearms you must ensure that your airline of choice will allow for the transportation of your rifles. Some airlines are now charging a handling fee and it is probably just easier to hire a rifle from your Outfitter for your first safari. While you are busy checking out flights also check the airlines baggage allowances and restrictions. Chose the most direct route as possible if flying with firearms and avoid airports and countries that are not firearm friendly.
Cheap tickets may be bought online, just make sure that you read the Terms and Conditions. If you decide to use the services of a travel agent, then I suggest you look for a broker that specifically deals with booking flights for hunters. Besides being cheaper than booking through the airline, they will assist and advise you with your planning and paperwork.
Make sure you have a valid passport, and check if you need a visa to visit the country. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned safari dates and you must have at least two stamp free pages left in your passport. If you do require a visa these are normally available on arrival at the port of entry. However some countries require prearranged visas and letters of invitation.
If you plan on taking your own firearms you will need to check what documentation is required for the temporary export and import of the firearms from the country origin and your destination of choice. The Outfitter will assist you with the required firearm paperwork to enter and exit the country you have chosen to hunt. Ensure that all paperwork is done timeously, most countries requiring at least thirty days or more to ensure due process is followed. I recommend that this process be completed long before your scheduled departure date.
You must understand Africa is made up of 54 countries each with their own governments, so politically and crime wise, what happens in one country is generally not the same in another country. Your biggest fear of the unknown when travelling will be the flying section of the trip where you need to take responsibility of your own affairs. Once you exit the airport and until you return to the airport your wellbeing and safety will be in the hands of your outfitter. He will not unnecessarily put his life at risk, so rest assured you are in good hands and heed any advice that they may offer. As is the case around the world when travelling, be streetwise.
Be streetwise and do not travel with large sums of cash, if you do be very discreet when handling cash. Discuss with the Outfitter how final payment is to be made as there are so many safe and convenient ways of transferring money nowadays. If a large sum of cash is found on you without being declared at customs, you will be red flagged as possible drug smuggler which will entirely spoil your hunting trip. Ask your Outfitter for advice regarding the importation of foreign currency as some countries are very strictly controlled.
If you are going to be using your credit card overseas, be sure to inform your bank of your travel plans as often cards may be declined as a service from your bank to protect you from possible card fraud. ATMs are available in most countries but the daily withdrawal limits maybe significantly lower than at home.
Check if paying with a credit card if you qualify for cancellation insurance in the event of an unplanned catastrophe. Otherwise, buy the insurance offered when purchasing your tickets to cover you in the event you need to cancel your hunt. Rescue, evacuation, medical and comprehensive travel insurance from Ripcord is available through BookYourHunt. Insurance is an extra cost but gives you peace of mind while travelling in these foreign lands.
Hunting in Africa is not something that you should take nonchalantly. Travel, safety, visas, airfares, are all important, and so are equipment requirements, clothing, etc. So before you take the plunge and book that hunt, I suggest you do a little research which will form part of your basic planning for the trip. Ask yourself all those niggly questions, how, when and why? Which country is it going to be? How are you going to get there? What documents will you need to enter the country and what do you know about the destination? With the availability of the internet it is easy to research all these issues if you decide not to work through a travel agent.
Another excellent source of information are the BookYourHunt blot stories, including:
- The average budget for a hunt in South Africa
- Five most popular species to hunt in South Africa
- The rules for bringing guns to 9 African countries
- Taxidermy choices for an African hunt
- Even more stories about African animals and hunting in Africa
In the next post, Peter Ruddle will share the tips for what to pack, how to pack it, and what to do with it after landing. Sign up to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages so that you don’t miss this content, as well as best hunt deals, #anotherhappyhunter reports, and more.