All New AFS Bush & Beach African Safari!

July 27 –  Aug 5, 2022 

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Small Group of 16 max

The world is talking about it – it’s hot and spectacular! Shalati Train on a Bridge over the Sabie Sands River in Kruger is voted “Africa’s most exciting new property” by Conde Nast. Imagine deluxe re-designed vintage carriages perched high on a century-old bridge overlooking a spectacle of wildlife on an endless horizon.  From waking to a glorious sunrise until you sleep under a star-studded sky, herds of elephants, rhinos, hippos, cape buffalo and more roam freely below you in tranquil silence. There’s no fences in famous Kruger. Animals drawn to the river are most dense in this part of the National Park. We are inside the park and on a private concession, so we’re out on our game drive before safari vehicles crowd the scene. You’ll love your luxury suite but mind the monkeys! Join the action of game drives day and night when predators are most active. Later enjoy the spa, high tea, the most creative cuisines in all South Africa and much more.

Shalati

 

We continue south to experience the cultural warmth of Mozambique. First, a visit to the bustling capital of Maputo with its Portuguese vibe-so exotic, so friendly and best handicraft markets anywhere. You’ll love our Southern Sun hotel, a haven for diplomats, but time to move on.  Private boats whisk us over the azure Indian Ocean to our own private island for 3 glorious days! It’s “barefoot chic” at Machangulo Lodge, a hidden gem set in a lush marine reserve. Your villa is perched high in forested dunes with incredible views of outer islands to explore. The entire lodge, reserved for AFS, sits on an endless white sand beach.

Moz748-1

In the Presence of Whales –  enjoy snorkeling, diving, boat trips and sea kayaking to Flamingo Bay.  We add a sunset Dhow Cruise, AFS picnic off Inhaca Island, a “surprise joy-bomb visit” to a village school and more for you.

So impressed after my personal site inspection here of these 3 amazing regions; I can’t wait to share this with you!  We secured for you the lowest rates with nearly all meals, game drives and activities included. Small group limited to only 18 fortunate travelers. Seek the unique? This departure from our conventional African trips is a Safari and Surf Vacation of a lifetime.

What is Shalati?  A perfect combination of inspired history, magnificent views, total luxury and all completed with exceptional food and the incredible wildlife of the world-famous Kruger National Park.  Just completed, this train stands permanently on the Selati Bridge hovering above the Sabie River, paying homage to the first visitors to the Kruger National Park over 100 years ago in the 1920s who would arrive at the Park by train at this point.  No money was spared, the glass-walled luxurious rooms give you the feeling of being suspended over the river with endless views to the horizon. Sit on your private balcony hovering over the river watching the elephant and buffalo come down to drink.

In-room facilities:  Air-conditioning, Butler Service, Coffee/Tea Station, Complimentary Wi-Fi, Fully Stocked Mini Bar, Hairdryer, Wardrobe, Lounge, Juliet Balcony (Train on the Bridge), In-room Amenities, In-room Dining (07h00 until 21h00), Laundry Service, Electronic Safe, Full Bathroom Inclusive of Shower, Luxurious Bath, Privately Enclosed Toilet & Double Wash Basins.

AFS Kenya Safari

Machangulo Beach Lodge, in the South of Mozambique, offers blissful barefoot luxury. This is a unique AFRICAN beach paradise, surrounded by 5 marine and nature reserves on the edge of a secluded peninsula across the bay from Maputo. It offers kilometers of untouched beaches, untamed nature and a range of exciting activities. It is a family-owned lodge with only 9 ocean view rooms

Boat Transfers  – Arrive at Machangulo Beach Lodge with a scheduled boat transfer (60 – 90 Minutes) from Maputo. Upon arrival at the lodge, the boat will stop in shallow water and you’ll be required to disembark into ankle-deep water, please be prepared to wade in this shallow water.

Room facilities:  Rooms are connected by walkways and staircases to the main buildings and the beach. All rooms have the following features:  Spectacular views, Private en-suite bathrooms, Air-conditioning (24/7), Mosquito nets, Telephone to connect with reception, Private decks/verandas, Tea & coffee making facilities, Mini-bar, Ceiling fan, Hairdryer,  Room safe, outdoor shower.  Lodge facilities:  The deck and pool provide that perfect gathering setting for the traditional African “Sundowners”, celebrating another beautiful day on the Machungulo beach!  Central lounge area with satellite TV.  Central dining area,  Dining: Freshly caught seafood, local Portuguese bread topped off by the local Mozambican beer.

Southern Sun Maputo

Southern Sun Maputo

The bustling city of Maputo with all its vibrant colors and flavors provides a great one-night stop en route to Machangulo.  Southern Sun is the only on-the-beach hotel in the city, with grand surroundings of mosaic floors and vaulted wooden ceilings inspired by Maputo’s architectural past complemented by familiar and welcoming homely comforts like free uncapped WiFi and big beds with ocean views. Beach and Indian Ocean views are framed by tall palms and green lawns, best enjoyed from the outside sundeck and infinity pool. The hotel’s location on the Avenida da Marginal means airport arrivals take as little as 20-minutes

Southern Sun Maputo
Southern Sun Maputo

Our wonderful hotel has large lawns bordering the beach, a pretty pool and sun-deck, 24-hour fitness center as well as a small salon and shop, bar area, 2 restaurants on-site (Deco’s Bar & Terrace encourages lounge-relaxing and sundowner appreciating while Evolve restaurant changes with the mood to suit the menu)   Room amenities: Comfy beds, climate control, free uncapped WiFi, 24-hour room service and concierge attention, a stocked mini-bar, flat-screen TV with local and international channel choices, comfy chairs for relaxing, and en suite bathroom.

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Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

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July 27 or 28-  Depart USA to South Africa.

Depending on different air schedules depart 27 or 28. Go in a day early to rest in Jo’burg. Detailed trip tips will come on all.

July 29 to Aug 1 (3 nights) –  Kruger Shalati, Southern Kruger

Our land tour officially begins July 29 when we meet at Johannesburg OR Tambo International airport at 8AMfor flight 4Z861 departing at 10h05 to Skukuza , arriving at 11AM. This quaint little airport welcomes you directly to Skukuza in the World renowned Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park   Where nearly 2 million hectares of unrivaled diversity of life forms fuses with historical and archaeological sights – this is real Africa. The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa.  The southern area of South Africa’s most famous game reserve, the Kruger National Park, is known as the ‘Southern Circle’ and is renowned for its rhinos and lions, with different prides boasting an array of different hunting techniques and behaviors to observe. Near the Hippo Pool, visitors can view ancient San rock paintings. The Southern Kruger offers incredible game-viewing opportunities and magnificent landscapes covered in African bushveld and savannah.

Permanently stationed on the historically rich Selati Bridge above the Sabie River in the iconic Kruger National Park, Kruger Shalati offers the most unique luxury accommodation in a re-envisioned train.  The train accommodation offers 31 rooms, consisting of 16

carriage rooms, each of which is designed to ensure breathtaking views and comfort. Each room is designed with local art and crafts to celebrate Africa’s beautiful designs. Aligned with the floor level of the train lies a deck with a pool, offering guests the unique experience of taking a dip while watching crocodiles, hippos and elephants just meters below.

Click here to view iBrochure of Shalati 

Each room has a king-sized bed (which can be converted to twin beds) and en suite bathroom (with shower and bath) with magnificent views through ceiling-to-floor glass walls. There’s a small lounge area with a Juliet balcony, as well as all the modern convenience to ensure a fuss-free stay. These include a fully-stocked mini-bar, air-con, WiFi and butler service. Access to these rooms are via a walkway on the bridge.  All meals included.

Two complimentary daily game drives (morning and evening) are offered when predators are most active.  Spa, High Tea, Bushwalk and more.

Aug 1 – 2   Welcome to Mozambique-  Southern Sun Maputo    B

We depart Kruger Shalati after breakfast and transfer 5 hours to the Mozambique border post and on to Maputo. The bustling city of Maputo with all its vibrant colors and flavors provides a great one-night stop en route to Machangulo.   Brief orientation tour of Maputo before heading to the hotel.

Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, is known for its well-preserved Portuguese colonial architecture. Previously called Lourenco Marques, Maputo is Mozambique’s largest city and home to the country’s most prominent harbor. It is well-equipped with a wide selection of hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, a vibrant cultural scene and open-air sidewalk cafes lining the streets. Visitors can stroll down the jacaranda-lined streets of the Baixa neighborhood in the Old Town, explore the Praca da Independencia square, discover the neoclassical City Hall and view the unique bronze-domed Maputo Railway Station.

Overnight Southern Sun Maputo

The rich Portuguese heritage of Maputo flows through the décor, detail and hospitality of Southern Sun Maputo. Southern Sun is the only on-the-beach hotel in the city, with grand surroundings of mosaic floors and vaulted wooden ceilings inspired by Maputo’s architectural past complemented by familiar and welcoming homely comforts like free uncapped WiFi and big beds with ocean views.

Aug 2 to 5  –  Machangulo Beach Lodge, Santa Maria   F/B

Transfer to the harbor for your 1-hour boat transfer across the Bay to Machangulo Lodge.  I spent 4 incredible days here and didn’t want to leave. The food, the fun, the serenity and the kindest staff on the planet!   Machangulo Beach Lodge offers blissful “barefoot luxury.”  This is a unique AFRICAN beach paradise, surrounded by 5 marine and nature reserves on the edge of a secluded peninsula across the bay from Maputo. It offers kilometers of untouched beaches, untamed nature and a range of exciting activities. It is a family-owned lodge with only 9 ocean view rooms.

The Santa Maria Peninsula, also known as the Machangulo Peninsula, is home to the little village of Santa Maria, which overlooks the beautiful Maputo Bay. Set amidst the mangroves, this little village oozes authentic Mozambican charm with its local restaurant and traditional market stalls.  Upon arrival, we set sail on a dhow cruise in an authentic vessel at sunset for a perfect welcome.

Activities on offer include :

Today we enjoy an AFS beach picnic and snorkeling at pristine Portuguese Island.

  • Miles and miles of pristine beach walking
  • Picnic walks and drinks on deserted beaches.
  • Spa with incredible views and authentic treatments.
  • Snorkeling with incredible house reefs
  • Boat-based whale watching trips can be arranged
  • A boat trip to Inhaca Island for lunch can also be organized
  • A visit to the closest village market, always packed with a joyous atmosphere
  • Full PADI SCUBA dive center with complete dive equipment and boats available.
  • World-class deep-sea fishing from extreme big game action, to first-timers.
  • Fishing from the shoreline
  • Kayaking and stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding.
  • Dhow (local sailing boat) sailing adventures
  • Guided cultural tours of Santa Maria Village.
  • Pansy Island and sandbank tours.

Machangulo Beach Lodge

The lodge features 9 ocean-front rooms, a fully equipped activity center and plenty of amazing spots to enjoy the unique views of the Indian Ocean and Inhaca Island. Surrounded by 5 marine and nature reserves making this  a unique African beach paradise.   Includes all meals and non-motorized activities from the lodge such as sea-kayaking on Flamingo Bay, AFS picnic in Inhaca Island, sunset dhow cruise, village visits and more!

Aug 5 – We say goodbye to paradise.  After breakfast, boat transfer to the mainland Maputo airport for your out   You can either fly on Qatar directly out of Maputo or fly back to Johannesburg for your flight home. ( Remember we took the flight MPM/ JNB out so they could fly directly out on Qatar.) Flight departs at 3:30PM from Maputo , arriving 4:30PM in Johannesburg airport perfect time to catch all international flights home.

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Land Price $3998 pp twin share plus $90 pre-paid gratuities for guides and lodge staff.  Final payment due April 29, 2022

Deposit $600

Limited to 16 participants

Includes: AFS GTL,  all meals and tours listed, entrance fees, safari vehicles, lodges, ranger guides

Not included:   visa

Group Air:  Small group no group air   Details in Trip Tips

      • 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. 

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AFS TRIP TIPS Kruger Shalati and Mozambique

Please check back for updates.   

Prepare to be thrilled by incredible sites and amazing wildlife our new bush and beach safari of a lifetime! You are so wise to choose this AFS trip that is special to my heart. I did it all and I can assure you that each day is remarkable. It’s so diverse you’ll be pampered throughout Kruger, Maputo and Machangulo.  We have a wonderful group of 18 travel lovers. I know nearly all of you and can guarantee they’ll be plenty of laughter along the way. For now, get to know each other on your private Facebook group page. Emails to ask for the link to join.   https://bit.ly/3vyKMGA

It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes here.  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!  Bookmark this page to conveniently find your way back.

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.

Covid Travel Rules are ever-changing depending on country and time of year.  Therefore, I created a single Covid rule page so everything can be up-to-date for participants on our trips.   Covid Rules Click Here

IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES

  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE APR 28, 2022    Pay by check directly online digitally for no fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.

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Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)Salanda Williams

GTL SalandaSalanda 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.)   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 return date with 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. Scan your important documents – Covid tests, trip tips, passport etc. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email folder on your phone to re-issue new one quickly.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Vaccines – I got mine feeling it will eventually be necessary for travel. Many countries now are eliminating Covid test and quarantine for vaccinated visitors.  Bring your vaccine card.  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.  Login to your trip file booking form and answer question about Vaccine Yes (or will) or No.  Suppliers want this info.
  • 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.   It’s your responsibility to know the airline rules that can change right up to departure. They won’t speak to us with reservation in your name. All websites post their Covid rules at top of landing page. All airlines in the process of making significant routing and scheduling changes now as they scramble ramping up hiring for the travel surge to come. How to reach them?  Call direct or request a callback time. Check to see if your questions can be resolved on the airlines mobile app or via Twitter or turn to their social media for assistance. Travelers get best results via Facebook message to the airline.
  • The local supplier and AFS may require you sign a Travel Pledge before departure.  If so, we’ll email a form to you  prior.

Visas – No visa for South Africa. $50 for visa to enter Mozambique and easy to get on arrival. Understand visa rules can always change. We’ll keep you informed if any changes.

Fitness level – Easy

Air–   July 27-Aug 5.      (land dates July 29-Aug 5)

We don’t offer group air on international flights says this is a small group. It’s easy to book your own air from USA using Google Flides, momondo.com or direct with airlines. It’s wise to buy a changeable or refundable ticket now days. The best schedules are on United, Delta/KLM, Kenya Airways or Qatar.

Land starts at 8 AM on July 29! It’s wise to fly in a day early to rest and play in Johannesburg (JNB). All our groups love the Sunrock B and B – around $75 including airport transfers and breakfast. The owners are like family to AFS. I told them to block 15 rooms. To reserve, just email info@Sunrock.co.za for 1 night Jul 28.  The next morning, they will transfer you to the airport at 8 AM for your group flight to Kruger.

Note the trip ends in Maputo (MPT) on August 5.  You have two air options:

  1.  Just book international USA round-trip to Johannesburg July 27 to August 5. Nicki has blocked seats for the one leg on return from Maputo to Johannesburg.  3:20 to 4:35PM.  All flights back to USA leave late at night, so you’ll be fine for connections. Email our supplier Nicki today if you want this Maputo leg –>  n.delmulle@africanspiral.com. (She will bill your for the air directly.)
  2. Do all your own air from USA to JNB. Return back from MPT to JNB to USA.

Those adding Uganda at trip’s end –  Fly Aug 5-13 roundtrip JNB-EBB.  Best option from JNB to EBB is Airlink Flight 4Z190 at 9:15PM to 2AM next day.  You must be in Entebbe the afternoon of August 6. We will arrange new airport hotel for ease of transfers on arrival.  Email Nicki (email above) and she can help you with your tickets.

Meeting Group – July 29 all meet at JNB by 8AM.

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lbs – weigh on a bathroom scale – are ideal. This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans.  If you overpack by adding side pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. So many cool new luggage trackers with GPS available now to prevent lost baggage!  We like LugLoc, DynoTag, Samsung or Apple Trackers.   The new hard cases are difficult to fit in coach storage. Be sure to attach ID to both bags. Leave space for great souvenirs.

Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. November is summer in this part of the world and the perfect time to visit.  Temps should be in the 90’s.  Read Suzy’s Africa below and Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS https://www.afstravelers.com/heading-abroad/

Pack your hygiene kit and munchies in clear plastic bags.  Airport and inflight food service may be limited.  Safaris are totally casual. Mornings are always cool so pack a jacket that is warm.  Dress in layers! Shorts and T-shirts fine by day. Long pants and sleeves after dusk. Bring a day pack, DEET insect repellent, wide rim hat with chin strap, sunglasses, sunscreen, swimsuit, sandals and comfy sneakers or walking shoes.

Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers. All countries use the same round 3 pin plug (WA-10) , so only one adaptor needed.Check Amazon for adapters.  See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

                                South Africa                            Mozambique

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Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 in cash should suffice. Always bring some cash!  Wise to have new crisp bills.   Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.  Currency  Exchange Rates…

Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.  A reminder that Visa and Mastercard accepted everywhere – Amex more difficult in Africa due to very high cc charges.  Use CC to pay for most things except craft markets. Here they will accept USD and possibly give change in local currency which can then be used for tipping. ALWAYS rather carry small denominations of USD so you don’t land up with loads of local notes.

Gratuities – (Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally.  A $90 total has been added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.  She will tell you how to tip game drivers on own per vehicle. (Tipping on safaris can be complex as you will have your allotted ranger throughout your stay in Kruger whom you will get to know and love. Rangers average $10 a day.  Please bring envelope of $25-30.)   Salanda will advise you there.

If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a personal stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Bell staff/porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip $2. Restaurants – 10%. For group lunches or dinners, please leave a dollar or two for waitstaff!

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Communication–  Internet is available. With cell phones/smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Roaming rates (used by Facebook and other apps) are expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, What’sApp and Facebook messaging when using WIFI are best!  I don’t know anyone who makes calls home nowadays.

Be Smart: “Avoiding 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 iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.  Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.  Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.

Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page 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.) for 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!

Retail Therapy – There is wonderful shopping in this part of Africa. Even non-shoppers will find themselves tempted by local goodies. Our past groups have come back with the coolest stuff.  Wise tip – Do ALL shopping at end in JNB airport store “Out Of Africa”!  They have everything and can even ship.

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.  Crafts and artwork are favorites for souvenirs and gifts, as they represent the ancient cultures and beliefs of the region. Traditional handicrafts include wood carvings and vibrantly colored masks (Makonde masks and figurines are popular due to their individuality and tribal significance). Also traditional tribal jewelry, garnet, soapstone and malachite carvings, printed textiles and batiks, mats and baskets woven from reeds, pottery, decorative homewares, leather items, and salts and spices.

Cuisines–  Meals are listed on itinerary  B= Breakfast, L = Lunch , D = Dinner  Meals not included are very affordable.  Nearly all meals included.  All food and water at properties are purified. Fresh meals are so delicious you’ll put on pounds.

 Websites of Interest:  www.krugershalati.com , machangulobeachlodge.com , Mozambiquetourism.com,  southafricatourism.com

Roomies – We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   Note, kindness begets kindness.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.  Visas and shots can become complex.

Private Facebook Group 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.  Where can I find the FB link? Ask us for an invite.

Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/  and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle all home for true Emergency.  Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.  3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.

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– Nowadays we highly encourage all to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Call to ask what Covid coverage they have.   Some companies cover Covid related issues. Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), 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. like 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.  We like TravelSafe, World Nomads and Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with 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.  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 its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Covid News

Book AFS with Confidence 2021– 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 34 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.

We’ve faced many challenges over decades and the health of our travelers always 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 partners 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 are committed to doing our best.  This is a learning process for all of us and as we go, we will strive to make each step and seamless as possible for you.

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 guidelines. 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 will do all possible to help your trip run smoothly.

Safety measures on a trip; frequent hand washing, (bring personal sanitizer), exercise social distancing and wear a mask when applicable. Insurance provides trip cancellation, (but not from fear), trip interruption, added medical protection and more. Call them to understand coverage. We are not responsible for any additional cost to you due to quarantine or illness on your trip, so insurance in important now.

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.

  • https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html\
  • US State Department Travel Advisories (Often old news)
  • https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html

We assure you we’ll continue to offer you quality trips to 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 to advise when each country is clear to visit. We ask you to remain positive with us.

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 be vaccinated 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.  Know the COVID rules of the airlines you’ll fly.  Get vaccinated (if you choose not, it’s your responsibility to follow PCR tests.)

  • Read and print all updated Trip Tips on your trip’s AFS webpage.
  • 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.  Some suppliers may request signature on waiver of liability.
  • 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/

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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 differ. Just prior we will send you final AFS departure letter with instructions specific to your trip.  Airlines may require online form to complete. Store this on your phone and bring a paper copy. Again, always bring paper Covid vaccine card with you.

Non-vaccinated people – Under a new Biden dictate travelers must arrange on own CV test at destination within 24 hours before departure home.  You must show negative test to enter back to USA.

As of January 26, 2021, a rapid PCR test is needed to board airlines and or enter most countries.  We hope this will be eliminated by the time your trip goes. RT-PCR (by nose swab) is only test excepted.

  • PCR Test – This is PCR test with Rapid Test Results within 24 hours.  Most urgent care places offer these.  Read Covid news below.  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, but can be pricey. There are now thousands of labs around US. Also, more testing sites opening daily with easy drive through. Just google “Covid PCR test near me”.
  • At present, some international airlines may require a negative Covid test within 96 to 72 hours of departure!  Read your airline website.  This may change as rules are always being revised or eliminated by departure. 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.  Rural areas are more challenging. You may need to drive to an appointment in a nearby city.  All our clients prefer Urgent Care Centers over Walgreens and CVS because they are fast an accurate. They will bill your insurance company.  (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. Schedule test within your 72 – 96 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. Bring printed copy.  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.)

Outbound –  Read specific airline rules on website, also any rules on connections in transit. Those vaccinated may still need to show a test.

Homebound – Airline and US Customs now require negative Antigen test to board departure flight to USA.  Antigen tests are easy and affordable.  (We hope this is eliminated by your trip date.) A few airlines instead require a PCR test to fly home and US Customs will accept this.  Be sure to check with your airline.

If an Antigen test is necessary within 72 hours of departure, we can help arrange test for our group in each country. Details later by email.  New mail in-home kits approved by CDC is an option.  You can buy kit to bring and do there for return into USA. The CDC only certifies some kits (ask airline).   Our travelers have returned to USA and said they loved NAVICA app from emed.com,   They range for $19-$70, but you should be tech savvy.

Other ways to get an antigen test for your departure home include getting information from your airline, your hotel, local pharmacies, US Embassesy page, Google Maps Covid testing sites and many airports now have test sites.

kits (ask airline).   Our travelers have returned to USA and said they loved NAVICA app from emed.com,   They range for $19-$70, but you should be tech savvy.

Other ways to get an antigen test for your departure home include getting information from your airline, your hotel, local pharmacies, US Embassesy page, Google Maps Covid testing sites and many airports now have test sites.

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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, whose 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 downtime 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 a 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 riverbank or swim in lakes. Hippos hide well.

Game Drives – You will be divided 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.   The suggested tip is $5 to 10 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 bushbabies and spectacular birdlife.

Photography-   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 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 a 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.

THE BIG FIVE ANIMALS TO SEE ON SAFARI

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.

Meds:  Anti-malaria pills may be recommended. Ask your health care provider. Sometimes a Yellow Fever shot is recommended. You get it county health clinic and it’s good for a lifetime.  Our groups never had any problems with mosquitoes in two decades of trips to Africa.  Phone me direct if you have specific questions at 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 start a 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 has 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 of 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 we be used.  Think Dollar Store of Target.  Some store will even donate.  (Get creative.  I bring hair scrunchies and mirrors for girls and balloons for kids.). I poor places school supplies can be useless with no paper to draw on.  They need shoes, socks, clothes. They 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

Covid travel rules seem to mutate faster than the virus itself.  To keep all groups up to date with the lasted information, we’ve created a page that’s updated as needed.  Set a reminder for yourself to check the Covid page 7 days before departure.  

Please open and read about traveling and Covid Rules

Shalati
dubai expo