SA Hunting Basics
SA Hunting Regions
What to Hunt in SA
SA Health and Travel
South Africa is a relatively "soft" country when it comes to health risks as the medical facilities are world class, with many capable hospitals, clinics and private practices throughout the country. Unless something really serious happens, like if you get badly shot, gored, bitten or suffer a heart attack out in the bush, there is not much reason to be concerned.
As with any travels to Africa, it is important to check your own medical insurance policies. That said, you'll find that you will need to pay up front (cash or credit card) for all medical treatment and then claim from your insurer on your return.
There are no immunizations required to enter South Africa. However, if you have recently passed through one of Africa's yellow fever zones then an International Certificate of Immunization is required for yellow fever (if you plan on hunting the countries to the north, this "Yellow Book" is essential).
Pack these items for your trip: your own regular medication, malaria prophylactics (see below), tick repellent (DEET), mosquito repellent creams and sprays, sun block and sunburn cream, diahhorea tablets, plaster for blisters and sore feet, general pain killers, antacid, anti-histamines, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic tablets (e.g. Phenergan). Eye-drops are useful in the dry season.
Your number one concern health wise is, of course, Malaria. In comparison to other African countries, South Africa is relatively safe to visit and does not demand the use of prophylactics countrywide.
However, you will definitely need to take preventatives if you are hunting in the following areas:
- northern Kwazulu-Natal (Pongola, Mkuze, St Lucia, Magudu, Richards-Bay, Empangeni etc)
- northern and eastern Mpumalanga (areas close to and around the Kruger Park)
- the northern boundaries of the Northern and North West provinces along the Orange, Molopo and Limpopo rivers.
It is important to note though, that South Africa has recorded an unprecedented number of malaria cases this year. This is due to both the influx of infected immigrants from neighboring countries as well as the heavy rainfalls this season.
Remember, Malaria is a real threat and your safest defense against it is DON'T GET BITTEN. Cover up in the late afternoon around sunset and in the evening and spray your room before you sleep. MORE INFORMATION....
Tick-bite Fever is quite common to get this if you are hunting in Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal. Make sure you check yourself ALL OVER (!) when you bath each night as they are tiny and very difficult to see. Although not fatal this disease can cause damage if not treated.
South Africa has its fair share of snakes and many people are bitten each year mainly through their own ignorance. Of the 131 snake species which occur in southern Africa, 14 can cause death if they bite you and a further 18 carry venom which can lead to serious complications. MORE INFORMATION....
Travel to South Africa
Since the early 1800's, South Africa has been the gateway to the interior, first by ship through Cape Town and today by air through Johannesburg.
The country is geared towards travel by air and road with an extensive network of well-maintained tar roads and many domestic, as well as private charter, airline services.
There are 3 international airports: Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban in order of size and traffic. Domestic / provincial hubs are: Kimberley & Upington (Northern Cape), Bloemfontein (Free State), East London & Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape), George (Garden Route), Nelspruit (Mpumalanga) and Richards Bay (northern Kwazulu-Natal).
About 50 airlines provide service to and from the country. The major ones are British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, SwissAir, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Alitalia, Sabena & Virgin with regular flights to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town.
South African Airways is the national carrier, distinctively a class above other African airlines in terms of service and reliability (they have a 99.8% take-off record). They connect to all major European hubs as well as the continental US and the Far East.
For hunters from the USA, the best direct connections and sometimes the cheapest are with SAA/Delta out of one of their US hubs with a flight time of approximately 18hrs. Otherwise, flying via Europe possibly offers more flexibility of US departure cities and times especially with British Airways and KLM. There is usually a couple of hours stop-over en route.
GUN friendly airlines should be your biggest concern when visiting Africa. Most notorious for bad service are British Airways, with hunters consistently having to delay their safaris because of lost rifles or badly damaged cases. SAA, KLM, Lufthansa and SwissAir all seem to be proficient at handling and accommodating travelers with firearms.
VISA's for South Africa - Visitors require a passport valid for at least 6 months after the intended day of departure from South Africa. It is best to comply with this one as immigration officials can be difficult.
No visas are required for nationals from the USA, European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Usually, when a visa is required it can be issued upon arrival and is free.
Visitors can stay for a maximum of 90 days provided they have proof of exit: a return air ticket, onward connection and proof of sufficient funds such as travelers' cheques and cash.
Safety and Crime
South Africa has a bad reputation for crime; petty, violent and political crime. While this is definitely true, please don't let it put you off booking a hunt. Your PH is fully aware of unsafe areas or activities and much of the time you'll be out of the urban areas which is where the majority of this crime takes place.
Much of the crime is typical of big city areas - car jacking, mugging, assault, credit card fraud and the usual "big city" precautions should be taken. There is still ongoing political violence much of it related to tribal differences or gang and drug violence. It is highly unlikely that you'll be visiting these volatile areas. There have been some unexplained bombings, none of which have been solved and no-one has claimed responsibility for any of them.
More often than not, the most dangerous part of your safari to South Africa will be driving on the country's roads.
South Africa has one of the highest road accident rates in the world, especially during school holidays when it is traditional for families to drive to their vacation destinations.
If you can try avoid long drives between hunting areas and provinces although often this is the best part of a safari.
First class rail services are available on the world renowned Blue Train and Rovos Rail which operate scheduled services between Johannesburg and Cape Town and other areas of interest. If you're the kind who likes the golden era of rail travel, then this is a must!
The unit of currency is the Rand, divided into 100 cents. Rates against the major world currencies fluctuate so many outfitters may tie their prices to this fluctuation.
Travelers' cheques and banknotes of all major currencies are easily exchanged at banks and exchange bureaus at a commission of about 1-2%. Some cheques like AMEX offer commission-free encashment.
Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners Club are all widely accepted in shops, hotels and restaurants. More and more automatic teller machines will give cash advances from these cards as well. Check with your bank to see if you can use your bank or ATM card at tellers displaying the CIRRUS sign.
Most hunting outfitters will require you to pay the balance of your daily fees and trophy fees in cash or travelers' cheques before you depart. This can mean carrying a wad of banknotes or cheques around which is worrying and cumbersome. A good idea is to wire-transfer the amount you think you are likely to spend to the outfitter, prior to your departure and then just top it up when your safari is over.
Your travel agent is the best person to sort out your immigration requirements as they handle this kind of thing everyday. Otherwise contact the South African Department of Home Affairs at (Tel: +27-12-3148911 Fax +27-12-326 8328) or from the Embassy of South Africa, 3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. Tel: +1-202-23244. There are consular offices in Beverly Hills, Chicago and New York as well.