Aug 20-29, 2021 “Whales, Wildlife, Wine, and the Western Cape” Small Group!
Come explore the majesty of Table Mountain, feel the thrill of Big Five safari game drives and listen to the songs of the humpback whales. We’ll call this our Big Six expedition. Where else would you experience Africa’s iconic wildlife on both land and sea? No place can rival the dramatic landscapes, variety of animals and diverse cultures as glorious South Africa. Yes, many AFSers have joined us here before – but never with this array of activities. And who wouldn’t want to revisit Cape Town, the most visited city in Africa?
You’re in for heart-pumping fun with photos to rival Nat Geo on our journey. I call this one “Safari Light” because it’s such an easy and affordable escape! No visa, malaria-free zones, easy roundtrip air to CPT and the best ranger guides you’ve ever met. August is “winter” here with perfect temps and it’s the height of Whale Season. We’ve also gotten the lowest rates at the finest properties because they love AFS.
Next is a scenic coastal drive to spectacular Aquila Private Game Reserve, set against the rugged Karoo Mountains. You’ll love the stunning cottages and gourmet meals here. Morning and night game drives reveal countless animals from giraffes to leopards and birdlife from eagles to flamingos. Aquila is truly a sanctuary. It is home for lions rescued from the “canned hunting trade” and baby rhinos, orphaned by poachers. You’ll get outstanding photos. Laze by the pool, indulge yourself at the spa and enjoy a horseback safari here!
And just when you think it can’t get better, we travel the spectacular Whale Coast along the ocean to the Eastern Cape, home of the friendly Xhosa people. Our home is Hermanus, voted “World’s Best Whale Watching Spot.”(The whale population here exploded in recent years. Scientists say over 20, 000 humpbacks splash these Indian Ocean waters as they migrate in August from Antarctica to Mozambique.) Past groups loved our chartered sailing day to view the omnipresent dolphins, Cape Seals, Southern Right whales, humpbacks and Bryde’s whales.
Africa changes us with a magic that can’t be described. So vast, it’s where everything is magnified and leaves the most enduring memories. You have to experience it to believe it. Join us as we explore three different regions in one vacation to encompass your dreams. There’s no prep. Just show up and let AFS be your concierge for large fun in South Africa.
Experience the majesty of Table Mountain, the soul of the African safari and the songs of the Humpback whales all in one jam-packed week.
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Aug 20 – Depart USA to Cape Town or go a day early. See AFS Trip Tips.
21 August Arrive Cape Town D
Today land portion begins.
Welcome to South Africa . We transfer to hotel, relax and explore the area.
Your hotel is situated in the heart of the bustling V&A Waterfront with its many restaurants, shops, and wonderful Watershed craft market on your doorstep. Boat trips, the Robben island gateway and the Two Oceans Aquarium are also just meters away.
Overnight: Portsmouth Hotel, V&A Waterfront. (4 nts)
Overlooking the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront with views of Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Harbour and the Atlantic Ocean is the Commodore Hotel. Stylish living, quality service and a tranquil setting make this a favorite for visitors.
Tonight enjoy AFS Welcome Dinner and get to know your fellow travel lovers.
True African hospitality will warm your heart from the moment you enter, a unique and colorful decor will pique your curiosity and draw you further inside, the marimba band’s catchy beat will loosen you up and all this leads up to the authentic African cuisine and meaty meals that will satisfy your tummy. Mama Africa, strategically located on the energetic Long Street, attracts plenty of young tourists and anyone seeking a good helping of traditional African food.
22 August Full day Cape Point Tour B
Experience some of the most spectacular views in the world. The tour begins with a scenic drive along the Atlantic coast passing through the fishing village of Hout Bay. Here you will have the option of taking a short boat trip to Duiker Island to view the Cape Fur seals (optional extra). The tour then heads along Chapman’s Peak Drive on to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. From there we travel to False Bay and return to Cape Town by way of the Simon’s Town naval base where we visit the Penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Travel via Fish Hoek fishing village and Muizenberg to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens for an optional short walking tour of these beautiful gardens (time permitting). Return to Cape Town in the late afternoon.
On return there are many options for dinner within close, safe walking distance of the hotel.
Overnight: Portsmouth Hotel
23 August Free at last! B
Why?? Because there’s so much to do in Cape Town, our last groups insisted on it. Today is your day free to explore, have fun or book yourself on one of a host of activities:
Options to consider:
Table Mountain Cableway
A trip up Table Mountain is quite rightly one of the first things a tourist wants to do when arriving in Cape Town. Once on the top, a 1000m above the city below, you are rewarded with spectacular 360 views. Take your time and enjoy this unique environment, go for a walk or have a bit to eat at the restaurant with arguably one of the best views possible.
Robben Island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Robben Island has been used as a prison and a place where people were isolated, banished and exiled to for nearly 400 years. It was also used as a post office, a grazing ground, a mental hospital and an outpost.
Today it is an icon of struggle, freedom and hope made famous by Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment here.
Cape Canopy Tours
Cape Canopy Tour is a fully guided nature experience with a strong emphasis on client comfort and safety. Two trained guides will accompany each group on the 3½ hour tour. They will provide information about the endemic fynbos and geology of this unique World Heritage Site. Included in the tour is a 4×4 journey through the nature reserve, refreshments on one of the cliffside platforms as well as a light lunch afterward.
Uthando (Love) South Africa
Uthando (Love) South Africa is an award-winning Fair Trade in Tourism certified non-profit organization that is creating a unique link between tourism and community development projects.
Icarus Tandem Paragliding Cape Town
Icarus Tandem Paragliding Cape Town is an approximately 25 to 45 minutes tandem paragliding adventure offered by Icarus. The tandem paraglider is specifically designed to carry two people
24 August. Optional – Full day Winelands & Eagle Encounter B
Experience the stunning beauty of the Cape Winelands with its rolling vineyards against the spectacular mountain backdrops.
Cape Town and surrounds are known for the beautiful wine regions of which some of the most well known are Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Today you will depart Cape Town at 08h45 heading for the Cheetah Outreach program in Somerset West. Visit this rehabilitation center which promotes the survival of free-ranging cheetah in South Africa through education and research. They also have other smaller predators.
Thereafter a visit to Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch for a wine tasting and visit to the Eagle Encounters program. A short stop at the Roots 44 market outside Stellenbosch for a bite to eat and market visit. We will drive through the town of Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa and now a university town, before traveling over the Helshoogte pass to Franschhoek. The town of Franschhoek is surrounded by mountains and vineyards and offers spectacular landscapes. The gorgeously quaint village of Franschhoek abounds in art galleries, antique shops, restaurants, and curio shops. Visit one of the wine farms for a second wine tasting in this region before heading home. ($65)
Overnight: Portsmouth Hotel
25 Aug Safari Time! BLD
Depart beautiful Cape Town to travel through the Western Cape mountains to Aquila Private Game reserve. You will get there in time for lunch and to check in before heading out on your first game drive. Time to head into the bush in search of the Big 5.
Overnight: Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa (2 nts)
Just 2 ½ hours from Cape Town, Aquila is acclaimed for its social responsibility and renewable energy projects as well as its conservation programs. It offers a wonderful wildlife experience within easy access of Cape Town.
26 Aug Game drive adventures BLD
Get your cameras out for some great pics on your morning and afternoon game drives. The morning or afternoon game drive can be swapped for a quad bike safari on the reserve. Horseback safaris also available
Aquila also has the most magnificent spa and all our AFS’s are given free access to the spa during their stay to make use of the 2 large heated indoor pools, steam room and sauna. It has a nail bar and 10 treatment rooms, so plenty of space for those wanting to book their treatments.
Overnight : Aquila
27 August Heading to Hermanus, whale capital of the world BL
Travel through the beautiful Breede River Valley to get to the town of Hermanus. Hermanus has recently been voted as the world’s best whale-watching spot. Each year the whales come into the bay to mate and have their young between June and November – this is perfect whale watching time. (If time permits we’ll offer an early morning Great White Shark Cage Dive for our adrenaline junkies.)
Everyone lover Hermanus. The lovely coastal town surrounded by mountains and sea offers beautiful cliff walks, coffee shops and restaurants and varied activities Today you have lunch at one of our favourite spots – Bientangs Cave Seafood Restaurant with one fo the most unique restaurant setting in the world. Created out of a traditional cave previously inhabited by the Koi Strandloper of the same name, the restaurant spills out onto the rocks of Walker Bay in Hermanus, where Whale Watching is the preferred local pass-time. The rustic charm and natural ambiance of the cave and it’s surroundings is a delight to all guests with great whale watching opportunities.
Spend the afternoon walking on the cliff paths, exploring this quaint town with its lovely market and many coffee shops – all within walking distance of the hotel.
Overnight: Windsor Hotel, Hermanus (2 nts)
28 August AFS Whale watching cruise B
Today you will spend the morning out at sea with Southern Right Charters in search of the whales and dolphins. This up, close and personal encounter with the gentle giants of the ocean promises to be an ‘experience to be treasured.
WHAT YOU CAN ENCOUNTER
Southern Right, Humpback & Bryde’s whales.
Dolphins, Seals, and a large variety of marine birds including the African penguin.
This afternoon you are free to explore. See hermanustourism.info for hundreds of fun ideas, from Wine Hopper Day to Fernkloof Nature Reserve hikes.
29 August Departure day B
Today we are heading back to Cape Town along the beautiful Clarence Drive coastal route to get you back in time for your flights out.
Land Price: $1795 pp twin share based on 36 participants
Deposit: $500 second $500 deposit Mar 18 and final payment Apr 18
- Meet and greet and road transfer to V&A Waterfront
- 4 nights Commodore Hotel in the V&A Waterfront , B/B
- Arrival welcome dinner at Mama Africa
- Full day Cape Peninsula tour including Cape Point and the Penguins at Boulders
- Road transfer to Aquila – 2 1/2 hours
- 2 night Aquila Lodge in premier rooms including all meals and two game activities per day
- Road transfer to Hermanus – about 2 1/2 hours
- 2 nights Windsor hotel in sea-facing room, B/B
- Morning whale watching trip with Southern Right Charters
- Lunch at Bientangs Cave
- Road transfer back to Cape Town – 2 hours
Not Included: Gratuities, air, optional Winelands tour ($65)
Air: Cape Town is Hot for 2020, so seats will be limited. We found a great air rate and schedule on Emirates (EK) via Dubai round-trip Newark to Cape Town (CPT). Not enough wanted it, so everyone needs to get own air. You can use the schedule below as a guide.m Airdates: AUG 18 – 29
- Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
- Single rooms limited with $ supplement. Cost varies. Email us for availability. AFS will find you a roommate.
- The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it. A minimum number of 12 is needed.
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy. Travel insurance is important nowadays. It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
- Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details.
Air: Cape Town is Hot for 2020, so seats will be limited. We found a great air rate and schedule on Emirates (EK) via Dubai round-trip Newark to Cape Town (CPT). Not enough wanted it, so everyone needs to get own air. You can use the schedule below as a guide.m Airdates: AUG 18 – 29
Hotels and Lodges
The stylish Portsmount Hotel boasts a spectacular location in Cape Town, beautifully overlooking the bustling harbour, the Table Bay and Mountain, Signal Hill and Robben Island from its high elevation on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Savour an exquisite meal at the gourmet on-site restaurant, relax by the outdoor swimming pool, or visit the hotel’s spa featuring a variety of sauna and massage treatments. Portsmouth Hotel combines its wonderful décor, unique maritime atmosphere, premier services, and contemporary facilities to create a comfortable and unforgettable stay. So many amenities here.
Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa
Overnight accommodation in premier lodge rooms
Amenities include: In-room heating/ air conditioners, En suite shower and bath, Tea/ coffee making facilities, Balcony with view, Hairdryer, Cigar Bar, Curio Shop, Outdoor swimming pool, Tranquila Spa
Windsor Hotel, Hermanus
The independently owned Windsor Hotel stands proudly on the edge of Hermanus’s breathtaking Walker Bay with a panoramic vista featuring the world’s best whale-watching available in most rooms. The 120-year-old Windsor, near the town center and its rich variety of restaurants, galleries and shops, has been modernized but steadfastly retains its family atmosphere with home-from-home hospitality.
- All prices are per person twin share. Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies. Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably. AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.
- Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
- We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary.
- Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!
AFS SOUTH AFRICA TRIP TIPS
Prepare to be thrilled by the wonders of South Africa’s Western Cape on our most affordable Safari ever! From uber-cool Cape Town to the bush teeming with wildlife and whales long breathtaking coasts – we pack a wallop of the fun adventures on this trip. All our past groups love the incredible diversity of SA with countless photo opps. August is a perfect time to visit. I’ve done this route and I wish I could join you but Salanda, our Africa expert won out. We have a wonderful group of 34 AFS travel lovers. You’re fortunate to get a spot on the sold-out trip. After final payments are in, we will send you the contact and room lists.
March 29 update – Thank you for joining us. Together we will adapt to new norms for the privilege to travel. We’ve guided groups around the world over 34 years. Your safety and well-being is paramount to us. Read our AFS pledge below. Things are changing weekly in each country now. Airlines are reinstating flights. Safety protocols and entry rules are ever-evolving. No need for you to google country/.gov/CDC sites because these rules will change before your departure. Our expert and vetted supplier team has the most accurate info which they monitor daily. Will update you here with changes. As vaccines roll out fast now, we hope all restrictions will be lifted by your departure. Relax. Embrace the joy found in anticipation.
It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes to these Trip Tips. Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy your vacation! Updates and addendums will be posted here. Check back from time to time.
2nd DEPOSIT: None FINAL PAYMENT: (June 6) We prefer checks for Final Payment. Credit card fees are costly for a small company to absorb. While we build costs into smaller deposits, we incorporate a $60 credit card convenience fee as a line item on each invoice in order to defray processing costs. When paying by check, deduct this $60 amount. Make your payment out to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080. If you won a contest on a past trip and have a coupon, mail it in and we’ll process it just like a payment made by check. You may review at any time your balance, booking information, and profile after logging into www.afstravelers.com.
Your Fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly) Salanda Williams
Salanda has decades of experience in the travel industry and has worked over 12 years as a travel consultant for one of the world’s largest management companies! She has been on dozens of AFS solo travel tours over the years. With a passion for nature and unique culture is, she chooses and has led some of our most exciting adventures – (Kilimanjaro, Mt Everest base camp and Galapagos to name a few.)
I call her “gadget girl” because she always comes equipped with the coolest new travel items – pocket-sized washing machine and video recording sunglasses. She video-recording 6 continents, 60+ countries, all 50 states, and countless islands! Her preferences are international destinations with action and a focus on nature. But she’s thrilled to fly you anywhere. We received many emails praising her excellent performance and attention to detail. Salanda has never met a stranger in this friendly to all. Everyone will appreciate her leadership and astute leadership skills.
Trip Prep –
- Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
- Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after your return date and has two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
- To speed through US Customs, download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
- Notify bank and cc companies of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
- No visas, no shots!
- Vaccines are rolling out faster than ever now. Be patient. I just got mine feeling it will eventually be necessary for travel. Many countries now are eliminating Covid test and quarantine for vaccinated visitors. Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it. You can take photo of both sides and store on phone or copy both sides and laminate the copy.
- All airline Covid rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules to ensure a smooth departure! Click here for the latest info on PCR tests required to travel abroad. Failure to get the correct test may cause the airline to turn you away.
Fitness level – 2 (No trouble walking)
Air Details – At this time we are not offering group air due to airline changes with pandemic but I’ll look into it. USA round-trip to Cape Town (CPT) is easy with more airlines adding flights in April. Check out websites: United new nonstop, Delta, KLM, South African Airways, British Airways, Air France, Turkish, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Qatar and more. Connect on your Facebook page to see what others are flying. We like Google flights. Be cautious of third-party booking engines like Expedia as difficult to change or get help. Prices are expected to soar! Get air now. Land begins afternoon of August 21 in Cape Town so depart USA 19 or 24 overnight flight. Note-you can also fly any carrier to JNB. Then buy a round-trip ticket to see PT on a discount airline like Kulula Air (many flights but strict baggage weight rules). Some may want to go early to explore Cape Town. I don’t recommend Johannesburg. If you go early to Cape Town, get own hotel. Unfortunately, we don’t have the tools to make individual bookings. Just Google Cape Town Hotels. If you need help getting your own air, call our friend Raj who’s an air expert. Call or text here at (770) 573-7400
- Air update (June 2021). Everyone, check your flights! Airlines are canceling routes left and right now, Manny won’t even inform you by email that there’s been a change. If your flight has been canceled, they MUST Will you book you on any other carrier to accommodate your schedule. Stand firm. If you’re not getting anyplace ask for their supervisor. (Good news conversely many airlines are adding other new routes which be a better fir for you.)
Fly dates- AUG 20-29 USA to CPT s.
- 21 – 25 August – Cape Town
- 25 – 27 August – Aquila
- 27 – 29 August – Hermanus
Transfers – Since all arrive at different times, will arrange one or two transfers airport/hotel that fits most air schedules. More on this near departure. If your flight arrives outside these times, taxis are super cheap. On return home August 29 as we drive from Hermanas, we arrive Capetown Airport around 1 PM. Book your departure home after 3 PM. Most flights depart 3-5PM. We can add a 2nd transfer for earlier flight
Meet Up With Group- On AUG 21 by 4PM at the Commodore Hotel in Cape Town for a briefing.
Accommodations – Please see the Air/Lodging tab on this website for details. Hotels can change, but it’s rare. Google each to see how cool the properties are.
- Cape Town, SA Commodore Hotel – closed – Portswood Hotel. Right on the fab V&A Harbour Front filled with fun things to do.
- Aquila, SA Aquila Safari Lodge – https://www.aquilasafari.com/accommodation/aquila-lodge
- Hermanus, SA Windsor Hotel – http://www.windsorhotel.co.za
Baggage – Think light to ease your burden – not like you’re fleeing your homeland! This is a safari-style trip where you move to different properties 3 times. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45 lbs are standard. Weigh on a bathroom scale. This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans that have limited space. If you pack pre- or post-trip luggage, please make plans in advance as to where to stow excess baggage. Be sure to attach an ID tag to both pieces of luggage. Leave space for great souvenirs.
Packing – This trip is so easy and think light layers. Simply pack versatile clothing including a warm jacket, long flights, and game drives. Also bring rain gear for your whale watching. sun protection, insect repellent, a daypack, wide brim hat, comfy sneakers/walking shoes, and swimwear for pools, and spa. Optional is binoculars (jeeps have them). I also bring bubble wrap for my purchases of painted ostrich eggs and curios. See more below on clothing in Suzy’s Africa Tips below. Don’t forget hygiene mask kit and snacks as many airport venues are limited.
Weather – As our trip falls at the tail end of winter, you can expect moderate temperatures. Temps should be within the 53-68F range in August. Check Google Weather for climate in South Africa a week prior to departure.
Health Matters – Food and water is pure. We will be in malaria-free zones. Just wear long pants and sleeves after dusk. Salanda will advise if DEET spray is necessary.
Electric – Cell phones and tablets don’t need a voltage converter, but you will need an adapter plug. Correct wall plugs for South Africa are two or three round pin plug adapters. Buy on Amazon cheap.
Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. AFSers often leave charger cords in their rooms, so be sure to double check your room before check out.
Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping – $300 should suffice. I convert half of it upon entry. Be cautious when withdrawing local currency from an ATM. The safest ATMs to withdraw from are at airports, banks, or hotels. Independent ones are risky. Always shield your pin number when entering info.
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.
- Currency – Current Exchange Rate (approximate)
- $1 USD = 14.6 South African Rand
- Follow the link https://www.oanda.com/currency/travel-exchange-rates to create a conversion cheat sheet.
Gratuities It’s protocol to tip our local guides, game rangers, assistants, porters, drivers, ground staff, etc. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $12 to $18 per day should cover all for the trip. $85 been added to your invoice for ease of distribution. Please understand that this is only the suggested minimum. For ease of distribution, your GTL can help advise you as of the customary local tipping etiquette.
Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a stash of $US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. AFSers will roll bags to their own rooms. If you choose to use bell staff or a porter, please tip $2 USD. Restaurants – 10-15% unless you note that tip is already included. For group lunches or dinners, please leave $1-2 USD for the wait staff. Game Drivers – the same people will be in each Safari vehicle for every Safari drive. Your Safari driver will bond with you. it’s impossible for your GTL to tip each game driver in 7 jeeps. Please hand him $5 to $6 each at the end of your last Safari.
Communication–With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad. Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate. You can buy a SIM card or another option for affordable data in many countries abroad is Skyroam. All the data you want to use Bluetooth for to access your devices are for just $10 per day for 5 devices. See https://www.skyroam.com for details.
Be Smart – “Avoid Hackers on Vacation,” experts say! Thieves not only want your money, but also your hard-earned frequent flyer points. Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN. It’s worth the cost. In hotel rooms, hide iPads or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
- Grab a hotel business card before heading out in case you get lost.
- Pickpockets are everywhere – especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
- Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.
Retail Therapy – There is wonderful shopping in South Africa. Even non-shoppers will find themselves tempted by local goodies. Our past groups have come back with the coolest stuff. Sought out treasures are African tribal art, diamonds, tanzanite, masks, beaded anything, wines, painted ostrich eggs, safari wear, and endless crafts. For any items over $60, ask for a VAT receipt to receive a 15% tax refund to be collected at airport departure. AFSers buy all the best African curios on departure from JNB Airport at “Out of Africa”. They can’t even ship!
Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, please know it is always polite to first ask for permission. Your Private Facebook Group Page (see below) is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) on our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!
Websites of Interest – Google these sites for awesome in-depth info…
- Aquila Game Lodge
Cuisines – South Africa is known for its delicious African and Malay cuisine, seafood, wild game, exotic fruits, great desserts, local beers, and excellent wines. Popular South African dishes include amasi (fermented milk), chakalaka (vegetable dish), Mealie (a maize meal served on the cobb or made into a beer), biltong (a salty dried meat similar to beef jerky), potjekos (vegetable/meat stew), and many other meat-based meals cooked in various ways. Sip on a South African port wine or pinotage, or enjoy a beer made by South African Breweries or an African imported beer. In Cape Town, the dining buzz phrase to watch for is “Cape Cuisine.” It’s made up of the finest local ingredients and borrows from all points of the culinary compass. Local delicacies worth trying include crocodile, ostrich and a large selection of game fish (called line fish) – snoek and yellowtail are scrumptious. The selection of local shellfish includes crayfish (Cape rock lobster) and abalone (perlemoen). Samosas are spicy, curried vegetables or meat in a triangular deep-fried pastry. Koeksisters are syrup-soaked doughnuts. Other local delicacies: bobotie, a spicy ground meat with a savory custard topping; bredie; a stew of meat, often lamb, with vegetables; waterblommetjies a nutty-tasting flower that grows wild in ponds; and stuiwe pap, a firm cornmeal porridge similar to polenta. Tripe (upens) and dried caterpillars (mopane worms) are strictly for the daring palate. The most vibrant African restaurants offer live music to go with your meal.
Roomies – Single supplement rates have significantly increased – if available at all. Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but you can save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching. 99% of our clients are wonderful, and besides, you’re only in your room to sleep at night.
Optional AFS Winelands & Eagle Encounter – If you haven’t done this, I recommend you book this beautiful and special private AFS tour for just $65. Email us to book it will add it to your invoice.
Leisure Time – Please don’t pre-book any tours for your down time. You’ll have a full-time national license tour manager with you 24/7 to suggest many ideas in each region. AFS travelers revel in the element of surprise in new destinations and allow the wind to blow them where it will. It’s best to ask our local expert guides for suggestions upon arrival. Our trip is filled with awesome daily tours, but there will also be some free time. Google “Things to Do”. We also like Time Out, Trip Advisor, and Viator for some ½ day ideas.
Cape Town – Table MT, Township visit, Zipline, Robben Island Among Cape Town’s many attractions are Table Mountain (if visible), Robben Island, Township visit, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (a shopping and entertainment complex), its glorious sun-soaked, sandy beaches, and a variety of trendy restaurants and nightclubs. Even more important are the city’s history and culture, encapsulated in distinctive neighborhoods such as the Bo-Kaap or on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. In fact, it’s Cape Town’s mix of nationalities and identities – African, European, Asian – and the lifestyle they’ve created, that makes it one of the world’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities.
Exhilarate in taking in a city view by boarding a cableway to the top of Table Mountain, or shop at the Green Market and Jewel Africa. One of the best aspects of Cape Town is that it offers a wealth of outdoor recreational activities at a minimal cost. Beach culture thrives here, and there is no charge for access to many of its pristine beaches. If you get the chance, take a jaunt to Boulders Beach, Camps Bay, or Glen Beach – a gem popular with surfers. Most beaches are lively and full of beach volleyball games, competitive Frisbee matches, djembe drumming, and more. Conditions are also excellent for hiking and walking, with lots of convenient and scenic routes to choose from.
Restaurants in Cape Town are concentrated in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront – the top end of Long Street and its extension, Kloof Street (heading up the hill toward Table Mountain); on or near Dunkley Square in Gardens; Victoria Road on the Camps Bay Promenade (great views of the Atlantic Ocean, but pricey); Green Point (Somerset Road going into Main); Sea Point (an entire main street filled with delis, restaurants and bars); False Bay’s fishing villages; and, the lush and historic Winelands.
Hermanus: Whales, whales, and whales!…Be in awe of sightings of these magnificent creatures! Meet the world’s only Whale Crier as he alerts you to the whereabouts of whales by blowing his kelp horn. Tour a winery along the Hermanus Wine Route. Escape to nature along the many spectacular cliff paths. Cool tour “Wine Hopper.” From this vantage point, you have views over the ocean and of any marine life that’s in passing. Be sure to walk the cliff path to Walker Bay. Admire the diverse floral fynbos kingdom while hiking or biking in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve or laze on one of the pristine Blue Flag beaches. Stroll Hermanus markets and little shops. Take a bus to Fernkloof Nature Reserve or a cultural township. Also, check out Cape Canopy Tour! Caged Shark Dive – Some of our clients like to book this but note it’s cold water and dependent on sea conditions. Wait until arrival to decide. It’s best done from Hermanus either day 7 from Aquila or last day early morning.
Arranging Pre- or Post- Trip Plans – We often see AFSers on your Private Facebook Page urging others to join them in traveling to other countries before or after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this nor is responsible for side trips.
Where’s the Private Group Facebook Page? – The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour. Email email@example.com and ask for FB invite link.
Emergency Contact – Please call the AFS phone at: 770-432-8225, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.
Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again: https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/
Travel Insurance– If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.) or want to be covered for Covid caused delays, you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage. The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period. All provide trip cancellation (not from fear), trip interruption, added medical protection. Call them to understand coverage. We are not responsible for any additional cost to do to quarantine or illness
Travel Psychology 101 Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that whenever you travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit. If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?…The unexpected may prove to be a better experience. Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude. Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness. (This goes for your roommate, too. Most of us are used to living on our own; but, have fun while being accommodating and patient when sharing a room with another fellow traveler). Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.
The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy
“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make it’s own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman
- Book AFS with Confidence 2021– The health of our Travelers comes first. As the world slowly opens, we are dedicated to creating responsible adventures! All our trips are different, so specific plans in each region may be circumstantial. We work closely with our local suppliers to know the best practice in each country. That being said, we present a blanket procedure below to be followed on ALL AFS trips. Our local guides will brief you on arrival with the support of our Trip Leaders to ensure we follow local safety protocols. They are fully committed to aiding your well-being.
We will re-discover the world through more slow, easy and mindful travel. Our groups will be smaller. All clients must take the AFS pledge that they are Covid free and will follow all safety protocols. Booking travel now is complex because rules always change. Tour companies can’t become “health and safety experts” when policies are inconsistent. Even experts are in the dark at times with the changing patchwork of government laws, but we’ll do our best. This is a learning process for all of us and as we go, we will strive to make each step as safe and seamless as possible for you. Read all below on AFS detailed Terms & Conditions.
Thank you for booking! We are blown away by the support from all of you throughout this pandemic. It validates the trust and values AFS was built on over 30 years. As countries reopen, so will we. Travel is a shared experience. Together we press on and travel boldly. Below are new guidelines. We all must adapt and embrace any challenges with confidence for the freedom and privilege to travel.
As in life itself, travel comes with some inherent risk the minute we step out our door. Travel isn’t dangerous. Being irresponsible is. For your protection we want you to be proactive in following new health and safety protocols. They involve teamwork and personal responsibility, but they do not preclude you from having fun and enjoying your trip! Things constantly change and it’s a huge challenge for airlines, airports, hotels, cruises and tour companies. We will do our best to keep you up to date with any adjustments.
Please understand we reserve the right to amend any tour activities if needed. To present responsible travel, we at AFS do our part: Our vetted suppliers uphold the highest standards under CDC guidelines. At present, some international airlines may require a negative Covid test within 96 to 72 hours of departure. Details later as they come. This may change as rules are always being revised. If you are in a high-risk group, it is suggested you do not travel. It is your responsibility to check the resources below as well as your airline requirements for travel. You may need to show proof of wellness note. Click to see CDC , WHO You may not travel if you have any symptoms such as sore throat, shortness of breath, fever and verify you have not been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid in the last 14 days.
Safety measures on a trip; frequent handwashing, (bring personal sanitizer), exercise social distancing and wear a mask when applicable. All provide trip cancellation (not from fear), trip interruption, added medical protection. Call them to understand coverage. We are not responsible for any additional cost to do to quarantine or illness
Helpful CV Resources– Below are helpful links to facts and stats for you to reference as you gear up for all your travel domestically and abroad.
- Facts about coronavirus-symptoms/transmission/precaution/treatment
- CDC entire situation summary
- US State Department Travel Advisories (Often old news)
We at AFS assure you we will continue to offer you quality trips to countries where you will feel protected – countries that are going to extraordinary lengths now to provide a safe visit. Each destination is far less crowded than ever before and that means better personal attention. Planes are half full and we can trust our astute global suppliers when each country is clear to visit. We’re taking great precautions and encourage you to remain positive.
Our Pledge to You – Our global, vetted suppliers uphold the highest standards under new CDC guidelines.
- We ensure that heightened sanitation methods have been adopted in every place we visit and that all hotel properties and vehicles have passed cleanliness protocols.
- Our guides and drivers must test negative and pass stringent safety measures.
- Most of our groups will be limited to half the size of normal in the past.
- We are choosing destinations with wide-open spaces for physical distancing.
- Some private tours for groups of friends only can be arranged.
- We’ll monitor your trip closely and provide a 24/7 emergency number if your trip is disrupted.
- All clients must take the AFS pledge that they are COVID-free and will follow all the safety protocols.
- We relaxed booking conditions with most trip deposits at only $250 and final payment deadlines from 4 months out to 70 days before departure. This is a learning process for all of us as we go. We will strive to make each step as safe and seamless as possible for you!
Your Pledge to AFS – We ask you to assume personal responsibility to protect your health and the well-being of your fellow travelers, guides and locals.
- Read and print all updated Trip Tips on AFS website
- Get travel insurance with trip interruption
- Stay healthy with vitamin D and zinc
- Confirm within 14 days of departure but you have no symptoms of Covid nor being in close contact with anyone diagnosed with it.
- You agree to assume any risk of participating in trip activities, comply with applicable government, airline and health authorities.
- Exercise social distancing and local guides directions whenever possible.
- Sanitize your hands and phone throughout.
- Read more here – https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/
Rapid COVID-19 PCR Tests
Rules are changing daily! At this time, we must rely on each airlines policy. Read Covid rules at the top of airline website up to a week before departure. Every airline and country differs. 2 weeks prior, will send you final AFS departure letter with instructions specific to your trip. Please wait!
As of January 26, 2021, a rapid PCR test is needed to enter most countries and needed to return to USA. We hope this will be eliminated by the time your trip goes. RT-PCR (by nose swab) is only test excepted.
- RT – PCR Test – This is PCR test with Rapid Test Results within 24 hours. Most urgent care places offer these. Read Covid news below.
No mailing kits. All tests are free or covered by insurance, but these may have a line to wait. Now appointments are taken. To get fast with no wait, make appointment at private lab. They are now thousands of labs around US. Also, more testing sites opening daily with easy drive through. Just google “Covid PCR test near me”.
- Please understand we reserve the right to amend any tour activities, if needed. To present responsible travel, we at AFS do our part: Our vetted suppliers uphold the highest standards under CDC guidelines. At present, some international airlines may require a negative Covid test within 96 to 72 hours of departure. Details later as they come. This may change as rules are always being revised.At present, you need RT-PCR test 72 to 94 hours prior to airline departure. By then, this rule may be eliminated. Don’t stress, just refer to this if you need it. I’ve done 4 free PCR test runs with no problems. Millions of passengers have gotten their PCR test to fly. You can too!Call your healthcare provider or Urgent Care near you. Or Google “free no cost Covid testing near me”. Most state and federal programs provide this. Or Google airport to see if Test is available there (JFK $75). Rural areas are more challenging. You may need to drive to an appointment in a nearby city. At present it’s free at Walgreens and CVS. They will bill your insurance company of $119. (Best trick – if you say you may have been “exposed to a Covid person” or if you feel “symptoms” like fatigue or say CDC recommended, it must be free.Call or email to get appointment. Most are drive up. Schedule test within your 72 hours departure window, usually 3 days prior for email result needed in 24 hours. This way you still have a backup day in case you get a false positive. Bringf printed copy.New mail in-home kits – CDC announced today you can bring to do there for return into USA. (We will have tests at our resort if you want.) Note, however, outbound airlines won’t accept this for departure.Don’t forget to bring your vaccine card if you have one.
Outbound – Most airlines require negative PCR test within 96 to 72 hours prior to departure. This new rule makes travel more challenging, but we must follow to protect ourselves and those on the flight. Read specific airline rules on website, also any rules on connections in transit. Those vaccinated still need to show a test.
Get RT-PCR test with guaranteed results within 24 to 48 hours. They email result to you. Print out to bring at check in. Also screenshot copy on cell phone. Test must read “PCR”. (We’ve had nobody test positive yet, if so, call us 770-432-8225. Many tests are inaccurate and a re-test shows negative.)
Homebound – Airline may require negative PCR test to board departure flight. Each carrier differs. We hope this is eliminated by your trip date. If test is necessary within 72 hours of departure, we can help arrange test for group in each country. Details later by email.
Suzy’s Africa Travel Tips
“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa. For he has so much to look forward to.”
“Africa changes you-forever, like nowhere else. How can you describe its magic? How can you explain the fascination of the past and noble dusty continent, who’s oldest roads are elephant paths? How are experiences here in a way no other place can? Maybe it’s because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind. The happiest years of my life were spent here.” Paul Theroux
Some travelers who’ve never been to Africa think a safari is non-stop action. Behold the stunning boredom! The fact is there’s a lot of glorious down time between early morning and evening game drives. Time in the bush is like entering a remnant of an earlier era. Everything slows down. Shade seeking lions flop over like house cats, zebras stand still as statues, leopards drape over branches to sleep. All game rests. With them, we engage in communion of laziness. We relax. We observe.
Wildlife Encounters – All animals are wild and you are prey. Respect proximity. Wild animals are totally unpredictable. If you ever encounter a predator in the bush-never run! You will always be the slowest. Animals may roam into lodge camp. Never deviate off path or walk alone at night. Guards will escort you. Never walk near a river bank or swim in lakes. Hippos hide well.
Game Drives – You will be devided in 6-7 per safari vehicle. Do not interfere with or direct your expert rangers – guide who lived there. He’s far more than a driver with years of experience and intense certifications. Your safety is their number one concern. They can spot everything from ground to sky. Suggested tip is $3 to 5 per game drive. If several days of drives, wait until the end.
Animal sightings are not guaranteed. AFS past groups have been extremely successful on all. Over 3 decades, we never had a bad safari. Big cats are usually present, but leopards and cheetahs tend to hide. Don’t just search out the big mammals. You’ll miss the marvels of small creatures like badgers to bush babies and spectacular bird life.
Photography- Rather than hauling big lenses, small digital cameras get incredible shots nowadays. Bring large memory card. Then edit/delete each night. On drives, keep camera in the bag to protect it from dust and sun. Don’t forget extra batteries! Best light on safaris is 6 to 10 AM and 4 to 6 PM. Rangers will assist for best vantage points. There is usually a pair of binoculars to share in jeep. Always get consent before photographing local people.
On return home, share your pics on AFS private Facebook page or use Shutterfly.com. (I have over 8000 photos of elephants and lions. Please take human photos as well as wildlife. Better yet, take photos AFS humans with the wildlife.)
Expert Africa Packing: Bring only soft sided luggage. No hard cases can fit in Safari vehicles. If we use small charter aircraft deep into bush like Botswana, I’ll advise of strict weight restrictions for both bag and carry-on. Pack light and wear the same clothes more than once. Laundry is always available.
Neutral colored clothing (no bright colors or fragrances to alarm animals.) light cotton shorts and T-shirts by day. Jeans/pants with a long sleeve tops at night. Early-morning drives always cold-bring warm jacket, fleece or sweater. Smart outfit for evening functions.
Hat with a brim for sun protection and chinstrap for drives. Bring simple light day pack on drives. Sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent with DEET, swimsuit, adapter plugs, mini flashlight, toiletries.
Lodges or Camps – All first-class properties or “glamping” style tents. All food and water is purified. If water is not, guide will advise. Cover bathroom sink with washcloth as a reminder not to use. Bottled water in the rooms and always available daily. Hydrate! African air is dry and sun is strong.
Lodges have a staff tip box. $5 to $10 is generous to give and will be shared with all staff.
Ask reception for charging station to plug-in phones, cameras and tablets.
Be mindful of everything around you, not just the Big 5. I’m a primate girl myself. In times gone by European hunters used to search out for the most difficult to hunt animals in Africa which led Safari club supreme a list of five key animals that were challenged to shoot. These were considered difficult for a number of reasons, including ferocity, visibility, and elusiveness.
Lions really are the kings of the savanna and are at the top of the food chain. As such, they need no introduction. Lions are widespread throughout southern and eastern Africa and you’ll have a good chance of seeing them in most safari locations.
Black Rhino now critically endangered, the black rhino is not actually black, but more off-white. Despite its huge bulk and dangerous reputation, rhinos are herbivores who would rather graze on some grass than attack a person. There are a few rhinos left in a wild due to large increase in poachers hunting them for their horns.
Leopards are nocturnal and secretive, making them the most difficult number of the Big 5 to actually spot. When you do see one, chances are it will be lounging in a tree at sunset having just eaten dinner.
African Elephants as most people know are large thick-skinned herbivores. Elephants are numerous in Africa but nevertheless can be hard to spot in some areas due to their ability to hide in the bush and long grasses. Despite being widespread, elephants face a growing threat from poachers who hunt them for their ivory.
Cape Buffalo considered by many to be the most dangerous of the big five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.
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Meds: Anti-malaria pills may be recomme. Ask your health care provider. Sometimes a Yellow Fever shot is recommended. You get it county health clinic and it’s good for lifetime. Our groups never had any problems with mosquitoes in two decades of trips to Africa. Phone me direct if you have specific questions 770-432-8225
About Anti-malaria drugs
This is a common question from our travelers to parts of Africa and So. America. It is a serious disease that can happen when being bitten by an infected female mosquito. However, it’s extremely rare. While locals, tourism staff and guides there do not take pills, many travelers prefer to play it safe with either weekly or daily pills which starts week before your arrival.
In the US, we are limited to only 3 choices; Malarone, Doxycycline or Atovaquone (Larium). Malarone can be costly, but now there’s a generic. Wal-Mart or Kroger have the best prices. See your doctor for a prescription. Sometimes one only needs a strong DEET repellent (roll-on best) and wearing pants and long sleeves at dusk.
Some clients go to CDC website which prepares all for the worst and creates unnecessary fear. We only stay in fine properties with clean food and water. We do not use needles, swim in rivers, work with the sick or have sex with locals.
I don’t want you to over immunize yourself sick, spending hundreds for unnecessary dollars. Over 2 decades selling Africa and South America, no AFS client has ever contracted any disease. Ultimately, it’s your decision on what’s best for you.
Travelers diarrhea can happen anywhere outside USA. It can be caused from the stress of travel, different diets and water that is contaminated. However, all lodge meals are hygienic clean meals. (Cause of infection may be virus, parasitic or bacterial, so don’t think Cipro is a cure all.) You all know not to drink untreated tap water, use ice cubes. It is contagious so be scrupulous with washing your hands and using clean towel to dry. And not to brush teeth with it.
If you get sick, rehydrate with oral rehydration salts, take Imodium or Lomatil. If it doesn’t pass in a week, see doctor. Don’t reach for ‘’stoppers’’ right away. Allow toxins to pass. Fluids are essential.
Things for Children – Bring anything as all can be useful. Think Dollar Store or Target. Some stores will even donate. (Get creative. I bring hair scrunchies and mirrors for girls and balloons for kids.). In poor places school supplies can be useless with no paper to draw on. They need shoes, socks, clothes. The love caps, toys and inflatable balls. You can always donate cash to the headmaster or visit Packwithapurpose.com to see who needs what in each country.
African Jewelry – Many AFS women long for a piece to treasure their safaris like a Big 5 ring, bracelet or pendant. The best beyond any store is Kim in Capetown. See her website and say Suzy sent you. KimCloeteDesign.co.za. She can design any African piece cheap or upscale.