1. Create a list of what you want to see and do.
The first step to planning a memorable African Safari is to create a “must see or do list”. Are you traveling to participate mostly in game viewing or hunting? Or are you looking to have amazing encounters with Cheetah? Listing what you really consider your ‘Must Do’s, is a great place to start.
2. Choosing the right Safari Company or Outfitter for you.
So you have a few things narrowed down, the what, where, when, and how’s… This leaves us with WHO! Who is going to help you, if anyone? There are Outfitters scattered all over the place and most are filled with detailed, first-hand knowledge of traveling and hunting in Africa! Use them! They can even help you while you are narrowing down your wish list.
3. Timing – find out from your Outfitter or Safari company when the best time of year is.
There are so many timing issues to take into consideration, and all are linked back to the activities that mean the most to you. Bird Hunting Season is 31st May – 31st August and Hunting season is from March – November.
This is crucial as different hunting regions around the world have different hunting seasons. This includes the South African Bird Hunting season (Watch out for Umdende Hunting Safaris blog regarding these dates.) In South Africa our hottest months are from late November through to mid -February, this is also our rainy season and breeding time of species, so our suggestion of the best time to visit South Africa is between mid-February and early November. Please keep in mind that should touring Cape Town be an add on with your Safari, that the rainy season there is May /June
4. What areas you want to visit.
Alright, so you have decided the what you would like to hunt and when you would like to come to Africa, now we need to talk about the areas your Outfitter has recommend, look up the weather in the certain area and see what the landscape is like.
5. Inclusions and exclusions of your package.
While you are talking to your Outfitter , you need to ask what is included in the price. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. A few extra costs to consider are: flights to and from your host city, internal flights or transfers, are meals included, are activities all-inclusive or ala carte? A great deal can spiral out of control if you arrive in Africa and find out that every activity will cost you extra!
6. Africa here you come…
You have done it! You have made the lists, consulted the professionals, and found the perfect African experience! Now all you have to do is go! Remember to take lots of photos, write down what you do every day (you will be amazed at how quickly the details will start to blur), and soak it all in! Enjoy the fruits of your labour, and relish in the now.
7. Create a List of what you want to see and do.
First things first, if you cannot think of what you would like to do or hunt but you know what Country you want to go to, Google is your friend! If you like to
Bird hunt, google Bird Hunting in South Africa and have a look at the different Outfitters that offer top class Bird Hunting. Contact them, ask them to send you a pricelist or packages that they offer, or as Umdende Hunting Safaris does, we offer tailor made Bird Hunting packages to suit your needs. The same applies to Plains Game and Dangerous Game hunting.
8. Choosing the right Safari Company or Outfitter for you.
Once you have some idea of what different Outfitters and Safari Companies offer, we suggest choosing the one you feel the most comfortable with, the company that responds the quickest and has all the information on hand.
This shows that they are passionate about their way of hunting and looking after you as their client. Request a list of references and look at their reviews – always a good idea to get first-hand information from past clients. Check the Outfitters credentials, for example are they still licensed, are they affiliated to any organisations like SCI, PHASA or DSC,then you know they are in this passionate about their business and it’s not just a weekend hobby.
9. What Species are you looking for?
Deciding on the animals you would like to harvest, especially for first time hunters, there are a variety of Plains Game animals and Dangerous game animals available in South Africa. Check with your Outfitter if any permits are needed, how big the area is, is the lodge on the hunting area or will you need to travel daily to hunt, photos of the lodge, will there be other guests at the lodge (please note that this is normal unless the lodge is booked out exclusivity by the Outfitter.) Different species are located in different areas throughout South Africa, so your Safari may consist of some travel time.
10. Inclusions and exclusions of your package.
Ask the Outfitter or Safari Company about their general Inclusions and Exclusions and what your package includes and excludes, for example does your package include permits, trophy fees, accommodation, meals, drinks, conservation levies etc. This is a crucial step so you are not surprised when you get your final bill at the end of your Safari. A Safari Contract Agreement between the client and Outfitter helps to make a joint decision between both parties involved and a clear understanding on all costs.
So you have decided on the Outfitter or Safari company that you will go on Safari with and you have all their information about their company and what they have to offer. Now depending on what time of the year you are going you need to find out some extra details which we have provided below from personal experience.
What to pack: Hunters clothing suggestions.
- Dark khaki and hunters green colored clothing is recommended for all hunters, including hats.
- 2 good pairs of hunting boots (preferably waterproof).
- We suggest including a rain jacket and peel-off layers of clothing due to varying temperatures during the day.
- Temperatures range from 0º to 30º Celsius depending on the time of year.
- Protective eye and ear wear are recommended for shooting and a good sunscreen while in the fields.
- Binoculars with a sling.
- Soft gun bag to protect your gun while on the move.
- Thin shooting gloves to protect hands while loading and firing.
- A good shooting vest or belt-attachable shell bag-optional.
- Gun cleaning equipment (barrel brush & lubricant) to clean guns daily. Available at Umdende Hunting Safaris.
- An alarm for early morning shoots and a small flashlight is suggested or use your Smartphone.
- Confirm with your Outfitter if waders or knee-boots are required for Wing shooting. Not required with Umdende Hunting Safaris.
- Most Outfitters have no dress code; casual, comfortable clothing is recommended by Umdende Hunting Safaris.
- Camera or Smartphone to capture Africa’s brilliant color.
Do they offer extra activities or tours?
Find out if your Safari Company offers any tours in the same area you are hunting and what the travel times are. This allows the non-hunters or observers the chance to explore should they not join the hunts, or on a rest day that everyone can enjoy! Certain tours need to be booked in advance and are non-refundable should you cancel.
Below are examples of the tours available with Umdende Hunting Safaris, depending on the areas you are hunting.
- Cheetah Sanctuary / Rehab centre Interaction – Interact with Cheetah, Serval, African Wild Cat and Caracal. This is a one in a lifetime experience!
- Elephant Interaction – Interact with these magnificent creatures up close and personal.
- Zulu Cultural Village gives an amazing insight into how the Zulu’s live, the details of their culture and how they differ to the other tribes in South Africa.
- Horseback riding between wild animals in a reserve.
- Guided walk in a Big 5 game reserve.
- Guided game drive in a Big 5 game reserve.
- Battlefields tours- experience the South African history of the Anglo-Zulu War – Isandlawana and Rorke’s Drift.
Malaria and medications
One of the main concerns when travelling to new areas around Africa is Malaria. Please consult with your Outfitter or Safari company if they are located in a Malaria zone.
if so you will need to see you family doctor and ask them what medications they recommend and how long before departure you need to start your course. 98% of Umdende Hunting Safaris hunting areas are Malaria free. We do suggest packing a few headache, flu and stomach tablets, just in case.
Paying for extras in South Africa.
South Africa’s official currency is the Rand (ZAR).
Foreign currencies and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged / used in most big cities, however in smaller towns this can be a time consuming process as not all banks cater for forex and travellers cheques. Foreign personal cheques are not accepted.
We highly recommend exchanging a small amount of your currency into Rands (ZAR) at your departure airport for curio purchases. Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and Diners are widely accepted in larger cities and certain towns and can incur a service levy of 3%-5%. Please make sure you inform your bank PRIOR TO DEPARTURE that you will be traveling and using your card. 14 % VAT (current South African TAX) is applicable on most items purchased, daily rates, and non-exported trophies taken / wounded.
It is important to discuss with your Outfitter or Safari Company how they prefer your extras to be settled on completion of your safari. Nobody enjoys carrying cash with them, but your hunting area may be too remote to allow for card payments or the Outfitter may not have this facility available.
Contacting your loved ones.
As we all know your loved ones need to know that you are safely at your destination and all went well with the flight etc. Ask your Outfitter or Safari company if they have WiFi available at their
lodges so you are be able to send and receive any urgent emails and of course send a message to your family. Some lodges do charge for this service. 80% of Umdende’s lodges have WiFi purely because of location. If possible a hotspot can be created for emergency purposes. Make sure you have activated your international roaming with your mobile service provider if you would like to make calls while on Safari.
Immediately after each hunt, your Outfitter should tag and prepare your Trophies in salt according to the manner in which you wish to have your Trophies mounted, this drying process takes 2-3 weeks. All animals you have taken must be recorded on your Professional Hunters
Register and the necessary licences and permits signed for prior to departure home. This paperwork can take some time so calculate this into your airport departure times. Once the Outfitter receives full payment your Trophies are delivered to the Outfitters Taxidermist. Should you have a preferred Taxidermist the Outfitter may charge for delivery. Please confirm with your guide before or while on Safari what the procedure will be and if they will inform you once your trophies have been dropped off. Should you require your trophies to be mounted by your own taxidermist in your country, by South African law,
they will first need to be dipped and packed by an accredited agent in South Africa. The dipping, packing and mounting of your trophies is for your own account. Umdende Hunting Safaris assists every client in the process of communication between the Hunter and Taxidermist to ensure the smooth arrival of your Trophies back home. Taxidermy and delivery is a lengthy process so please be patient, it will be worth the wait!
It has been an amazing few days and you have had a once in lifetime experience with your Outfitter or Safari Company, now it’s time to settle the bill. Depending on the Safari Company, you can pay via credit card, wire transfer or cash. Check your bill against your Safari Contract Agreement and prior agreed charges, and that all your animals and extras are included on the bill. You don’t want to get home and find extras have been put on that you did not know about. Gratuities are also highly appreciated in the hunting industry so please keep in mind the whole Team that made your dreams come true!
Next is show and tell when you get home, as we are sure your family and friends want to know about your Safari!
Firearm and ammunition recommendations.
Rifle hunting is certainly the most popular method employed on hunting safaris in South Africa. The question of which caliber is best and which rifle to bring on safari can be a topic of endless discussion. Experienced hunters and Professional Hunters alike will surely have their favorites and are more than willing to discuss the subject. The right rifle will largely depend on the bag of trophies you are interested in taking. The “old timers” are still “locking horns” over the pros and cons of the .375 H&H versus the 9.3 X 62 and that debate is sure to go on until the last impala is in the salt. In my opinion the .375 H&H can be used to hunt both small and Big Game from Suni and Red Duiker all the way up to the might African Elephant. Bottom line here is; if it is dangerous game that you are after, the .375 caliber is the minimum prescribed by law in most African countries. For the average hunter coming to Africa for plains game, bring a rifle that you are completely familiar with and comfortable shooting.
Calibres and bullets, Any 30 caliber type firearm that you shoot accurately is great. 308, 30.06, 300 Magnum, 7mm Magnum etc are all great calibers. If you can find one that shoots 180 grain bullets well, that would be outstanding. As a general rule, premium quality, heavy for caliber bullets are your best choice. Many fine bullets are on the market today; the Nosler Partition, the Swift A-Frame, Woodleigh Weldcore, Barnes X & Triple Shock, just to name a few. Many of these fine bullets are available in factory-loaded ammunition and can also be hand-loaded, if you possess those skills. African game seems to be a bit tougher than game found elsewhere in the world. Perhaps this is due to evolution and the extensive predication to which they are subjected, so do not “skimp” on ammunition.
As an Outfitter, while lesser calibers will do just fine on the smaller antelope, the .270 Win should be considered the minimum for most medium-sized plains game species. With the proper premium grade bullets and good shot placement, the .270 is fully capable of taking many of the larger plains game animals.The 300 Win Mag is an excellent all-round choice, especially if your safari will take you to areas where long shots may be necessary. The above-mentioned calibers are merely examples and should in no way be considered as recommendations. BRING A RIFLE THAT YOU SHOOT WELL AND ARE COMFORTABLE WITH!
You can bring the finest rifles to Africa in just the right caliber, with the perfectly matched heavy for caliber premium quality bullets and all will be for nothing if your shots are not placed correctly.
SHOT PLACEMENT is the most important aspect of any discussion regarding hunting with a rifle. Put in its most simple terms: “It’s not what you shoot him with, but where you shoot him that matters the most.” A badly placed shot with even the largest of rifles and the finest bullets available will result, at best, in a very long day of tracking and, at worst, a lost trophy. The loss of a fine trophy can be a big disappointment but, in case you have not heard: if you make it bleed, you pay for it.
Your Professional Hunter will guide you in this matter.
Trust his judgment and do your best to put your shot where he recommends. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with the shot, do not take it. They will understand as they also don’t want you make a poor shot.
You can stack the odds in your favor here by doing a bit of homework. An excellent book, “Perfect Shot” by Kevin Robertson, a veterinarian and professional hunter, is available. It details shot placement on just about every species of African game that you might encounter. And by all means, go to the rifle range and practice. Sight your rifle in at the desired distance, usually between 100 and 150 yards using a solid bench rest. Once your rifle is “on target”, get off the bench and shoot from the shooting sticks, off hand, sitting, kneeling and the various other positions, Learn to shoot on shooting sticks as that is what you will be using for the most part when you take your shot. You might use a tree or a bush if it is available and convenient.
Even the most experienced shooter needs to hone his skills with the rifle. Ammunition is cheap compared to the cost of the safari, so practice, practice, practice!
Bottom line is you want to be accurate and you want to be accurate to 200 yards minimum. If you can be accurate to 300 yards, that increases your chances of collecting your trophies but most of your shots will be 200 yards and closer. If you don’t have the dial up and shoot type set up, I would recommend 200 yard zero and then just know where the bullet hits at 50, 100, 150, 250 and 300. I don’t shoot past 200 unless it is absolutely necessary.