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, are 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 with ranges from 80° – 90°F during the day, however nights are much cooler, especially in the Kalahari.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
Practically the only pants you’ll need for your Botswana safari, these ultra-lightweight khakis (almost half the weight of jeans!) are classically tailored for a stylish look and feature an abrasion-proof fabric that keeps you dry in rain, cool in heat. Plenty of pockets for your essentials, elastic at the sides of the waist, wrinkle-free, and they pack small—buy a couple pairs and you’re set for your adventure!
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. 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.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination 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 and for those who have booked extra night(s) at our group hotel. The Intercontinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel is located 500 meters from the airport and the hotel provides a complementary shuttle.
Your room will become available to check-in as of 2:00p.m. If you would like to guarantee an earlier check-in time, please contact us and we can reserve an additional night for you at the InterContinental O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
Due to restrictions on the charter flights within this program, baggage is restricted to one soft-sided bag per person and one carry-on not to exceed 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of total weight. If you purchase items en-route, you may need to arrange to have the items shipped back in order to remain within these limits. Only soft bags will be accepted–no wheels, frames, or rigid structures can be transported as flexibility of the bag is limited and restricts physical loading into the aircraft.
IMPORTANT: Please take these weight restrictions seriously as it will delay the group if any participants have to unpack and reorganize part of their belongings. Local authorities set the weight limit for these small bush planes. Also, as baggage holds are limited in size, we ask that you use soft carry-all or duffel bags, 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. 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. The bush planes used between camps operate within a limited body and luggage weight allowance. 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 are traveling with excess luggage, arrangements can be made to store your baggage in Johannesburg.
We recommend that you carry with you your essential toiletries, prescription medications, and 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.
PLEASE NOTE: Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
The weather in Botswana is generally pleasant throughout the year – warm to hot days with cool to warm nights. Our trip takes place during the summer and within this time, the average lows for March/April are between 48-63°F and the average highs are 71-88°F.
The following are average high/low temperatures in March & April for selected locations on our itinerary:
|Johannesburg, South Africa||75º||48º|
|Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana||88º||65º|
|Okavango Delta, Botswana||88º||58º|
Please be advised that the information above 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 the open-air vehicles we use.
Credit cards (Visa and MasterCard only) may be used 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 smaller purchases.
As of October 2016, the exchange rates are as follows:
|$1 US dollar (USD)||13.87 South African rand (ZAR)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||10.56 Botswana pula (BWP)|
Most of your expenses have been prepaid; therefore, we recommend that you carry most of your spending money in smaller denominations of US dollars. It is possible to obtain South African currency through ATMs in Johannesburg, but you must have a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your card. The South African rand is also frequently accepted in Botswana.
You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to your departure.
All electricity runs at 220V in South Africa and Botswana with three-prong outlets either of the round or flat variety. However, as there is insufficient electricity available at the permanent tented camps to power appliances, we ask that you not take them on safari. Fortunately, there will be facilities for recharging batteries at the camps. At these locations, you will need to bring a European, round, two-prong adapter and converter if your equipment is not compatible with 220V electricity.
PLEASE NOTE: 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.
Certain flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions start and end in remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Johannesburg/Maun and Maun/Johannesburg/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.
Airlines change flight times frequently. We will send you any updates from the carrier for flights booked through Zegrahm Expeditions. Still, 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.
Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended for travelers to southern Africa and Chloroquine-resistant P.falciparum has been reported. Malaria is widespread, but with a few basic precautions it is easily avoidable.
A yellow fever vaccination is not required if traveling per the group arrangements. However, a yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into South Africa and Botswana if arriving within six days after leaving or transiting infected or endemic areas in another African (or Latin American) country with risk of yellow fever. Please refer to the CDC’s website for a list of yellow fever infected and endemic countries.
Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as pharmacies are not found in the remote areas of this expedition.
Insect bites can be a problem, and we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect repellent and bite relief products.
Protect yourself against the heat and the strong sun. Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Bottled water will be available throughout the day during the course of the safari. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, polarized sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.
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 your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
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
To help you in the event that you must be reached during our expedition, you will be provided with a complete list of our local offices, group hotels, and camp contact information with your final departure documents.
Please bear in mind that communication can be very difficult at times. Safari camps do not offer telephone, fax, e-mail, or radio service except in emergencies.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00am||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|10:00am||New York, NY (EDT)|
|4:00pm||South Africa / Botswana|
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 wines at lunch and dinner. Additional beverages are not included in the cost of the program.
Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure packet, 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, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal taste 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 done one day ahead so it will be returned in time for our group checkout.
Rugged, lightweight, comfortable, and casual clothing that can be layered is most suitable. Bring light materials (denim is discouraged). A warm jacket will be needed for the mornings and evenings.
Come prepared for warm weather and the strong sunshine. Bring adequate sun-protective clothing and gear. Wear hats and polarized sunglasses and use sun block, as we will be out for extended periods of time.
Dress in the safari camps and in the lodges is causal and informal. You will not have a need for formal clothes, such as a jacket and tie, on safari.
Your clothes for safari should be in neutral, muted colors such as tan, khaki, and bush green. Navy blue and black can attract insects and bright colors, like 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. Remember, your hat should also be neutral-colored.
For protection against insect bites, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are useful as well. Also, bring along insect repellent with a high concentration of DEET. You may 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.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation on this program. It must be valid for at least six (6) months after your return home, through October 6, 2017. 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. Please be sure you have at least three blank pages available in your passport for entry/exit stamps. As of January 1, 2016, the US State Department has eliminated the application to insert additional pages into your passport. If you require additional pages, a new passport must be obtained. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
Due to heightened security, each participant is required to send us a color copy of their passport information page with their Personal Information Form. We also suggest that you carry a copy of your passport when you travel.
Visas are not required of US nationals for entry into South Africa or Botswana for a maximum stay of 90 days per country. If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the expedition, check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the US 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. Airfare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US 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 and 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.
Please be aware that this safari may take you into close contact with wild animals. Attacks by wild animals are extremely rare to travelers, but no safari into the African wilderness can guarantee that this will not occur. Please note that the camps are not fenced and animals do wander through the camps at all times. Neither Zegrahm Expeditions, nor any principal or employee, nor any agent or agency, can be held responsible for any injury or accident on the safari.
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. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to choose items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.