Luxury Botswana Safari
Before You Go
Travel will be mostly by small charter aircraft and game-drive vehicles. Game drives can be long and strenuous and over bumpy surfaces. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. Travelers to Botswana should be aware that most of the nights spent on safari will be in tented accommodations. These tents are en suite, designed to the highest standards, and are quite comfortable, with hot and cold water and shower outlets in the adjoining bathroom area. Participants will find the tents spacious, with plenty of headroom. All of the safari lodges we visit have separate lounge and bar areas that often overlook waterways, which adds to the excitement and ambiance of being on safari. It should be noted, however, that there are no fences around the camps and animals of all sizes are sometimes encountered within the camp boundaries. Temperatures will be generally pleasant, ranging from 80° to 90°F during the day, with much cooler temperatures at night, especially in the Kalahari.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
Activity Level & Accommodations
Travel will be mostly by small charter aircraft and game-drive vehicles. Game drives can be long and strenuous and over bumpy surfaces. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required.
Tents are en suite and are designed to the highest standards. Some of the safari lodges have expansive lounge and dining areas that often overlook waterways, which adds to the excitement and ambiance of being on safari. Plunge pools and outdoor showers are available at some camps. It should be noted that there are no fences around the camps, and animals of all sizes are sometimes encountered within the camp’s boundaries.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight three hours prior to departure. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain that the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to your final destination, if allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates. However, if you are arriving prior to the group arrival day and have booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, a transfer from the airport to the hotel will be provided.
Airlines change flight times frequently and our air department will send you any updates for flights booked through Zegrahm as they are received from the carrier. Nevertheless, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
If you are booking your own flights or accommodations, please forward a copy of your flight itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions, as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
Zegrahm Expeditions would be happy to assist in organizing any independent, private travel plans that you may want planned immediately before or after the group itinerary. If you want to request any additional pre- or post-hotel nights or tours, please contact your Expedition Advisor directly. If you want to plan a custom package, with a minimum of three nights’ accommodation that includes transfers and tours with a guide, please contact our Custom Travel Team by emailing Ciara.Sampaio@zegrahm.com.
For your international flights to Johannesburg, South Africa / Maun, Botswana and from Maun, Botswana / Home City, please check for luggage weight restrictions with your airline provider or our air department if you are booking your international air arrangements through Zegrahm.
Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend that your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry essential toiletries and prescription medications on board the flight, as well as a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
Internal Air Baggage Restrictions
Due to limitations on the charter flights within this program, baggage must be soft-sided and is restricted to 1 duffle bag/luggage per person and 1 soft-sided carry-on. Each participant is allowed 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of total weight, inclusive of camera equipment and hand luggage.
Only soft bags will be accepted—no frames or rigid structures can be transported as flexibility of the bag is limited and restricts physical loading into the small bush aircraft. As baggage holds are limited in size, we ask that you use soft carry-all or duffel bags that are 10 inches wide x 12 inches high x 24 inches long. No hard-sided suitcases are allowed. There are no exceptions, and your pilot reserves the right to refuse overweight bags. Wheels on a bag are only permissible if they are not part of a solid frame or rigid structure. A collapsible wheeled luggage frame/trolley (separate to the bag) is allowed, as long as the basic dimensions are similar to that of the bag.
The bush planes used between camps operate within a limited weight allowance. Please make sure you complete your personal information forms and follow the luggage restrictions listed. Please take these weight restrictions seriously, as it will delay the group if any participants have to unpack and reorganize their belongings. Local authorities set the weight limit for these small bush planes.
All luggage will be weighed in Maun, and any weight over the limit will be left in Maun. These restrictions are in place for your safety. Most airfields are at a higher elevation and in warm/hot climates. This, in addition to their physical size, reduces capacity on these flights. If you purchase items en route, you may need to arrange to have the items shipped back in order to remain within these limits.
The weather in Botswana is generally pleasant throughout the year—warm to hot days with cool to warm nights. April is the beginning of the dry season and there is little chance of rain, low humidity, and plenty of sunshine, but note that early morning game drives will be cold, so dress accordingly.
Please be advised that the information below is not an exact forecast, and unpredictable weather changes may occur at any time. Also, consider your internal thermostat and the wind chill while traveling in open-air vehicles
The following are average high/low temperatures in April for selected locations on our itinerary:
|Johannesburg, South Africa||73ºF (23ºC)||46ºF (8ºC)|
|Maun, Botswana||88ºF (31ºC)||60ºF (11ºC)|
|Okavango Delta, Botswana||84ºF (29ºC)||48ºF (9ºC)|
As of November 2019, the exchange rates are as follows:
|$1 US dollar (USD)||14.75 South African Rand (ZAR)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||10.76 Botswanan Pula (BWP)|
As a reminder, itinerary related expenses have been included in the price of your trip. Therefore, we recommend that you carry most of your money in smaller USD denominations. It is possible to obtain South African currency through ATMs in Johannesburg and at our camps; however, it will not be possible to get cash advances off any credit or debit cards at our lodge camps; you will need to have some cash available if you wish to make small purchases. South African Rand is also frequently accepted in Botswana.
You will receive your pre-departure information—including a complete packing list and gear certificate—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biography—will be sent approximately one month prior to departure.
The electrical currents for South Africa and Botswana are as follows:
• 230V/230V, AC 50Hz with electrical outlet types D, G, M, & N
PLEASE NOTE: Plugs are available at the camps but are only available for battery charging purposes. It is advised to bring a spare battery, charging unit, and adapter. Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
International flights are not included in the cost of your expedition; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. You will need to purchase airfare for the following legs of the journey:
- Home city / Johannesburg, South Africa
- Johannesburg, South Africa / Maun, Botswana
- Maun, Botswana / Home city
For more detailed information, please contact our in-house air department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
IMPORTANT: Before booking your own flights to/from Maun, please contact our Air Department for the charter flight details to ensure that you have enough time to make your connections.
No gratuities are accepted by the Zegrahm expedition team. All gratuities for group arrangements including hotel staff, local guides, and drivers associated with our itinerary are included in the cost of your expedition. However, gratuities for extra services outside of group arrangements are your own responsibility.
A yellow fever vaccination is required if arriving from, or transiting in the last six (6) days through, countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. Yellow fever vaccinations, valid for life, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip.
However, please consult with your physician before receiving the yellow fever vaccination. You may refer to the following World Health Organization link for more information on yellow fever: https://www.who.int/csr/disease/yellowfev/en/
Malaria prophylaxis is also recommended for travelers to Southern Africa. Insect bites can be a problem, and we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect bite relief products and insect repellent containing DEET, while wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as we will not have access to pharmacies while in the remote areas of this expedition.
We suggest that you contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history. Your doctor may recommend a flu shot, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and other routine vaccinations. This will vary by guest and can only be advised by a medical professional.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty as this can help prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Recommended to not drink tap water during the expedition, throughout the course of the safari bottled water will be made available.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of our expedition includes $100,000 of emergency evacuation and $25,000 for medical expenses. If you would like to request more information about this policy, please contact our office at 206.285.4000, or review the pamphlet included in your final documents package.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
Due to the remote nature of the region, you will not have access to Wi-Fi. Should your family need to reach you, they will need to contact our local operator who will deliver messages to the camp as soon as possible. It is highly unlikely you will have cell service during this expedition. Iridium phones have been known to work on occasion but are not a reliable means of communication. Your final documentation will include contact information for our hotels.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00 a.m.||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|10:00 a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|4:00 p.m.||South Africa (SAST) & Botswana (CAT)|
Professional cooks prepare the food on all safaris. Southern Africans pride themselves on delicious, full-bodied, hearty meals. All safari camps also feature a fully stocked bar. All beverages are included on game drives and boat trips, as well as complimentary beer and house wine at lunch and dinner. Additional beverages are not included in the cost of the program.
Should you have any particular dietary needs, or life-threatening allergies, please let us know on your Personal Information Form, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly.
Laundry service is available by advance request at our hotel in Johannesburg. However, we do not recommend having your laundry done there unless you are arriving several days earlier, due to our limited group time in Johannesburg. All of our camps have laundry service available, excluding undergarments. Dry cleaning is not available. Please remember to have any laundry cleaned one day ahead so it will be returned in time for our group checkout. Porterage is included in Johannesburg.
Rugged, lightweight, comfortable, and casual clothing that can be layered is most suitable. Bring light-weight materials (denim is discouraged). A warm jacket will be needed for the cooler mornings and evenings but come prepared for warm weather and strong sunshine in the afternoons. Bring adequate sun-protective clothing and gear. Wear hats and polarized sunglasses and use sun block, as we will be outside for extended periods of time.
Dress in the safari camps and in the lodges is causal and informal. Your clothes for safari should ideally be in neutral, muted colors such as tan, khaki, and bush green. Navy blue and black can attract insects and bright colors, such as white, orange, and red, should be avoided, as they alert wildlife to our presence and can cause them to shy away. Camouflage-patterned clothing is not allowed as it is associated with the military. Your hat should also be neutral-colored.
For protection against insect bites, bring long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and insect repellent with a high concentration of DEET. Also, consider permethrin spray, which can be applied directly to your clothing before departure and lasts up to three washings, or clothing with insect-repellent already bonded to the fabric, such as Buzz Off clothing.
Comfortable walking or jogging shoes are suitable. You may change to more casual shoes in the evenings. Thongs or sports sandals, such as Tevas, can double as slippers. You may also want to pack a swimsuit, as some of our camps will have swimming pools.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for six months after you return home, through October 30, 2020. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of five blank pages available for entry/exit stamps in your passport.
Visas are not required of U.S. nationals for entry into South Africa or Botswana for a maximum stay of 90 days per country.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the U.S. should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 1 through 119 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. A gift certificate to our Zegrahm Store will offer you the opportunity to purchase essential trip gear from our store. The certificate will be emailed to you approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificate for more details.