Africa’s wilderness areas are often remote and isolated, far removed from its main towns and cities. Many countries, such as South Africa, are very large, with significant distances to be covered between the various attractions. Some countries boast well developed transport networks, whereas conditions in other are a little more basic. Wherever you want to travel within Africa, &Beyond’s knowledgeable consultants can advise you on your options and book them on your behalf.
A number of domestic airlines, as well as air charter companies operate throughout Africa. A network of scheduled and private charter flights usually connects most main cities with tourist hotspots, even in the more remote regions. Flying into game viewing areas is a good option in East Africa and Botswana, where driving conditions are difficult or when guests need to cover long distances between attractions in South Africa or Namibia. Please bear in mind that luggage restrictions on most charter flights are 15 kg (33 lb), packed in a soft duffle bag.
Self-drive is a popular option in countries such as South Africa and Namibia, where there is a good road network and rental cars are widely available in most large towns and cities. Driving is on the left and a valid driver's license or an international driver's permit is required. Road signs are in English and speed limits are clearly designated. While there is an extensive network of tarred roads in Namibia, driving into game reserves may require negotiating some dirt roads and a 4x4 vehicle may be recommended. Travelling distances between attractions in East Africa, as well as Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are often large and road conditions are poor. Self-drive is not recommended in those countries.
Guided safaris are those on which you book a place on a pre-set route or itinerary, during which you may be accompanied by other travellers. These safaris provide a safe and reliable mode of travel through Africa, particularly where conditions are poor and self-drive is not recommended. Tours are accompanied by professional guides who use their extensive knowledge and experience to your benefit. Itineraries vary from those that cover the most popular tourism destinations in a country, such at the &Beyond Botswana Explorer Expedition, to routes that cater for specific interests, such as the Live with Bushmen experience in Botswana or a Kilimanjaro hike in Tanzania. The disadvantage of guided safaris is that they feature a set number of days and pre-determined routing, and you cannot choose to spend more time at a destination or vary the routing. Guided safaris also offer a specific number of seats per departure and you may find yourself travelling with other people whom you do not know.
Private Guided Experience
This mode of travel is similar to a guided safari, except that it is tailored specifically to you and your group, and does not include other travellers. You will be able to set your own itinerary and choose your own activities while on a private guided experience. These safaris are generally very flexible, with the guide able and willing to adapt the daily plans according to your preferences. An example of this kind of experience is the &Beyond Private Journey Host, who accompanies you throughout your tailor made travels. These charming, expert guides are former &Beyond rangers and offer a wealth of knowledge on Africa's most popular attractions, as well as little known gems that promise to delight. The Private Journey Hosts can also book restaurants, adventures and specialist activities, and will ensure that your travel arrangements (think transfers and scheduled flights) run seamlessly.
The railway network is not very reliable through most of Africa and is not a recommended mode of travel. The notable exception is South Africa, where The Blue Train and Rovos Rail bring alive a bygone era when the romance of rail entranced and delighted travellers. Furnished in luxurious period fashion, the trains run throughout South Africa, up to Victoria Falls and even all the way to Dar es Salaam in East Africa. Wrapped in indulgent elegance, the trains offer panoramic
views of the landscape, as well as sightseeing excursions at stops en route. Formal dining cars, cocktail lounges and observation cars add to the experience.
Boat / Ferry
With Africa's mighty rivers and extensive coastline, there are many boating experiences that can add to your African adventure. Try game viewing from a different perspective with riverboat cruises on one of Africa's mighty rivers or indulge in a canoeing safari that allows you to camp on the banks or island of some of Africa's best known waterways. Botswana's exceptional Okavango Delta is best explored by mokoro, or dugout canoe. Sailing safaris on a traditional dhow meander between the many islands off the coast of Mozambique or traverse the clear blue waters off Zanzibar.
Africa is filled with adventure, from the unforgettable thrill of seeing the Big Five on safari to its dramatic landscapes, sun-drenched beaches, captivating people, intriguing cultures, sumptuous food and vibrant music. There is so much to see and do, and a great number of exceptional destinations to choose from.
Adding to the thrill of the adventure is the sense of mystique that still permeates this vast continent, which its untouched wild places. Africa is a land of magic and mystery, but it is also a quintessentially modern continent. Stretches of pristine wilderness where rural people still live out the traditions of old are interspersed with vibrant, bustling cities and the most up to date facilities. At &Beyond, we help you make sense of the many contradictions that Africa offers with tips about travel on this extraordinary continent.
African hospitality is legendary and travellers are warmly welcomed. However, as always when travelling, it is wise to take basic security precautions. Make sure you carry a record of your passport number, airline tickets, traveller's cheques and credit card numbers, and ensure that these items are kept in a safe place. Make use of hotel safe for expensive items and never leave baggage or personal items unattended in public. Do not walk or park in isolated spots after dark. If in doubt, ask your hotel concierge about the safety of the locations you want to visit.
Travelling With Children
Africa offers wonderful value for families, with many lodges and camps running specialised children's programmes. While South Africa is an ideal destination for children of all ages, the long distances travelled and frequent short flights in East Africa and Botswana are more suited to children eight years and older. For safety reasons, children five years and younger are generally not allowed on game drives. Please note that there may be different age limits for walking safaris and adventure activities. Our travel experts can advise you of these and recommend the best family travel options.
As certain African currencies are difficult to exchange outside their country of origin, it is advisable to only change money as required. Most international airports have banks where money can be changed, and facilities are usually available at hotels and safari lodges. Most major credit cards are widely accepted, although not at remote bush lodges. As exchange rates fluctuate, it is a good idea for you to check with your local bank or business media before departure. ATMs are available across South Africa, as well as in large cities in other African countries. Should you bring cash, we recommend that it be US dollars in notes of $50 and less. One dollar notes are very handy for tipping.
You will require comfortable, casual and semi-casual clothes for a trip to Africa. Bright colours are not suitable for game viewing, and game drives are conducted in the early morning and late afternoon, which can be cold, especially in winter. Light cotton trousers or shorts and shirts (both long and short sleeved), comfortable walking shoes, windbreaker, sunhat and fleece are all useful. For winter, pack a warm jacket. In the cities, evening wear in most restaurants is smart-casual and few, if any, will require a tie or jacket.
Most Africans who have been regularly exposed to tourists do not mind being photographed, but it is always polite to ask for permission, particularly if you are taking a photo of a women. Some tribes in rural areas, particularly the Maasai, may resent being photographed without permission. Many African countries also have restrictions on where you can take photos, and it is safer not to take shots of airports, military installations, border posts, bridges and railways stations.
Film and memory cards are generally available in bigger towns and cities, but it is important to check expiry dates and bear in mind that these may have been stored in areas with high heat and humidity. For best results, unless travelling in the main centres of South Africa, it is probably safer to bring your own supplies.
Beggars and Hawkers
Poverty is a reality in parts of Africa and you should be prepared to encounter a number of beggars and hawkers. Although it may be difficult to resist, please don't hand out money, sweets or other goods to children on the streets. Should you want to make a contribution, consider donating to a community centre, school or other local programme that is able to make a difference in a sustainable manner. Guests travelling with &Beyond can contribute to the &Beyond Foundation, which works with the communities surrounding the reserves where our camps and lodges are located.