Nov 15-25, 2021     “Elephant Dreams on the Zambezi Queen”

African Luxury Safari:  Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe  Small Group!

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“My experience on AFS Africa trip was absolutely life-changing! It was just a dream until I found the price and itinerary on your website. No bait and switch. The itinerary exceeded my expectations! I recommend AFS. Take a look. You won’t be disappointed!” –  Zayna A.

 

Even the most seasoned AFS Afriholics will be clamoring to be a part of this exclusive adventure. 3 of Africa’s most intriguing countries await and we experience them all through the prism of all-inclusive pampered luxury! Witness herds of ellies, prides of lion and countless other magnificent creatures while floating down the serene Chobe River aboard the incomparable Zambezi Queen riverboat or listening to “The Smoke that Thunders” Victoria Falls while staying on the shores of the Mighty Zambezi!

Singles trip Zabezi We worked hard to offer Africa in a way AFS has never done before with unparalleled indulgence.  Botswana, Namibia and  Zimbabwe await with more animals than you could comprehend. Imagine ballooning over the Okovango Delta or sitting in your safari jeep while a herd of a hundred elephants lumbers by with their babies scampering to catch up. Chobe Park is teaming with wildlife and home to 124,000 elephants – the largest elephant population in the world! From your private balcony watch zebras, giraffe, buffalo, antelope or even leopard, lion, hyena come to drink from the water hole our lodge overlooks.

Then spend 3 nights floating the Chobe on the Zambezi Queen – like a floating boutique hotel!  So popular, we had to charter it 18 months ahead.  The vessel is ours alone to enjoy. The gorgeous African riverscape unfolds before you and the wildlife makes its way to the water, unaware of our existence. Now imagine falling asleep to the sound of thunderous Vic Falls as we luxuriate in an encampment on the Masuwe River and the Zambezi gorges separating Zimbabwe and Zambia. This trip is a photo overload with activities from game drives, photo safaris, boat cruising, cultural village visits, boma dinners and nearly all are included in our adventure.  Think spas, cocktails in the bush and gourmet meals with fine wines.  You deserve it!

You’ll love our 5-star Elephant Camp voted in the top 10 African lodges 7 years running.  Each tented suite even has its own pool.  We’ll visit Wildlife Trust with veterinarians to see rescued wild animals.  Then “Meet the Elephants” up close at Wild Horizons Orphanage.

We start in South Africa, flying to Chobe and ending in Victoria Falls, with so much in between. AFSers are always begging for more Africa and this trip has it in a way you’ve never seen.  This is a safe solo vacation with an intimate small group in wide-open spaces. Whether you’re a first-timer or an AFS Afriholic, each day on this expedition will be exhilarating with your best photos and memories of a lifetime.  

Ultimate African luxury

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15 – Nov  Fly USA to Jo’burg.  Overnight Nov 16.

17 – Nov – Land portion begins.  Johannesburg / Chobe, Botswana    Fly USA to Jo’burg to Kasane   Group air details later in Trip Tips, but easy to book own air for more flexibility.  You can go in early to explore South Africa.   We do have group air available from Johannesburg to Botswana and out of Vic Falls if you want it.

 Welcome to Elephant Valley Lodge Botswana!                 D

 Elephant valley lodge
               Elephant Valley Lodge

Our official start to our adventure begins today in Kasani, the gateway to Okovango Delta and Chobe.   We all can fly from Johannesburg to Kasane in Botswana at about 11:45 Am on SA Airlink, arriving in Kasane, Botswana around 1:30 pm.

We’ll go directly to the spectacular Elephant Valley Lodge where we enjoy a welcome drink and settle into your luxurious safari tented suites before departing on an evening game drive into the Chobe National Park. Chobe is famous for its abundant wildlife and, in particular, it’s countless elephants.

Elephant Valley set in a private reserve is a tranquil haven in the Kasane Forest Reserve bordering Chobe.  It overlooks a very busy water hole which attracts a wide variety of game, particularly elephant, but also giraffe, buffalo, antelope such as waterbuck and kudu, warthogs, honey badgers, jackal, mongoose, predators including leopard, lion, hyena, wild dogs and many more species. This is the perfect place to just unwind and immerse yourself in Africa.

Overnight: Elephant Valley Lodge (2 nights)

18 Nov – Chobe National Park              B/L/D

Time for thrilling game drives in search of the Big 5 up close.  Today is all about Chobe. We’ll enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in the Chobe National Park on private open safari vehicles. A broad array of wildlife awaits. You name it, baboons, wild dogs, giraffes, hippos, lions, and so much more.

In between, we’ll return to the lodge to rest, gaze at the waterhole, enjoy the swimming pool or just relax. All meals are included, so all you have to worry about is just how you choose to chill out.

Chance to add incredible Ballooning Over the Okovango Delta – detail emailed later

Overnight Elephant Valley Lodge (2 nights)

19 & 20 Nov – Zambezi Queen –  Namibia              B/L/D 

Our morning starts early with a final Game Drive into the Chobe. We will return late morning to check out and head to our adventure on the Zambezi Queen. We’ll exit Botswana and take a tender boat over to Namibia to get our passport stamped and board our new home – The Zambezi Queen!

After lunch aboard the Queen, we set out on the water. (Total gourmet with fines wines.)  Each suite has its own balcony for private river viewing. Relax and enjoy and then we set out on a glorious sunset cruise by tender boats which help us go up the smaller channels getting closer to big game.

After sunset, we have a chance to freshen up before a welcome cocktail party on the upper deck followed by a delectable three-course dinner in the dining room along with an excellent choice of paired wines. Finish off with an espresso or nightcap at the bar before retiring to the night sounds of Africa in the distance.  (Our five-star luxury houseboat offers unparalleled sophistication in one of the most remote locations on the planet. Each of its 14 suites has a private balcony for unobstructed views of wildlife.)

Water-based game viewing – Onboard the Zambezi Queen is the ultimate safari experience.  but with a much higher comfort factor.  Situated in the heart of Chobe with access to river frontage of the Chobe National Park. Our game drives are by small tender boats allowing you to experience the enormous diversity and concentration of wildlife up even closer.  You’ll see a huge herd of elephant as they swim across the water, as well as Buffalo, lion, crocodile, puku, giraffe, zebra, sable, kudu and even the occasional leopards as they gather to quench their thirst. Besides animal life, you’ll also see a huge variety of birdlife and plant life as you listen to the sounds of hippos grunting and breathe in the sweet smell of African grass.

The Chobe is known as a photographer’s paradise. The soft morning light and the sunsets at dusk, combined with striking animal behavior, make for dramatic photo opportunities. Enjoy the ultimate in game viewing Safari decadence as you sip a drink and cruise along the river on one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. No trip to the Chobe is complete without trying your hand at a fishing Safari where you may even catch a tiger fish to give to your chef.  On a photo safari, you’ll have uninterrupted access to wild animals. Absolute silence in golden light. Our guides will help you capture that perfect moment on custom-designed photographic Safari boats.   See www.zqcollection.com

Overnight: Zambezi Queen (3 nights)

21 Nov – Cruising the Zambezi                  B/L/D

This entire day is spent enjoying all the opportunities afforded by being on the Zambezi Queen. It is like being on a permanent game viewing vehicle, witnessing the enormous diversity and concentration of wildlife that come to the river’s edge.  Photograph elephants swimming with hippos and look to the sky for fish eagles and amazing birdlife.

There are a host of activities you can choose from including a guided photo safari by special boat, a fishing safari, fly fishing lessons,  birding (there are over 450 species of birds in the Chobe) and a cultural trip to a local Namibian village called Ijambwe where you can meet villagers and learn of their lifestyle.

After your morning activities, enjoy lunch on board while enjoying the expansive views. In the later afternoon head out on your tender boat for an incredible game viewing experience.

Overnight: Zambezi Queen (3 nights)

22 Nov            Zambezi Queen to Victoria Falls- Namibia to Botswana to Zimbabwe                    B/L/D

Watch the sunrise with coffee.  We’ll end our cruise and pass immigration in Namibia before crossing the river back to Botswana to have our passports stamped again. From here, it’s on to Zimbabwe and the luxurious Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls. Our “rooms” are tented, secluded suites – each boasting a private viewing deck over the gorge.  We are situated on a private concession within and bounded by the Masuwe River and the Zambezi gorges. Our camp offers breathtaking views of the Victoria Falls’ spray and the spectacular gorges which separate Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Each tented suite has an ensuite bath, indoor/outdoor shower, mini bar, a/c, private viewing deck and plunge pools!  The evening is free, enjoy the camp or sign up for treatments at the spa.

Overnight: Elephant Camp (3 nights)

23 and 24 Nov            Elephant Camp – Victoria Falls Area Activities                  B/L/D

For the next two days, we will have an amazing time exploring all this region has to offer. The schedule and order will depend on weather and timing. We have so many options included from which to choose and we will attempt to do as many as possible.

Of course, we will visit the rainforest surrounding the magnificent Victoria Falls from the Zambezi side of the gorge on our tour, but there is a smorgasbord of other activities from which to choose, including:

  • Elephant Conservation Experience – Up close and personal with ellies, this non-profit’s mission is to advance environmental conservation through hands-on wildlife research, the management of a veterinary laboratory and rehabilitation facility and the education of local peoples in the sustainable usage of natural resources.
  • Cocktails & Canapés at the Batoka Gorge – Indulge in a selection of cocktails and canapes while nestled on the edge of a steep rock face that is hugged by trees and shrubs and blanketed by an endlessly wide sky.  Also a boma dinner this evening.
  • Game drives, Walking Safari and Birding & Nature walks on the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Lunch at the Lookout Cafe – Including drinks – perched 120 meters above the turbulent rapids of the Zambezi River. This all-inclusive activity is set against the backdrop of the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge, which hangs over the spectacular chasm of the Batoka Gorge
  • Village Tour – visit a local rural village and interacting with the people who live there, you not only forge new friendships, you will also discover a different lifestyle, a new way of doing things, and a broader perspective of life without modern luxuries.
  • Victoria Falls Canopy Tour (excluding Park Fees – USD3 per person subject to change)- Embark on a two-hour eco-adventure lead by two professional guides across nine unique slides. The adventure unfolds from the Wild Horizons Lookout Café, perched above the cove that forms at the first bend of the river below the waterfall.
  • Visit to the fabulous rescue and rehab center Wildlife Trust.   www.vicfallswildlifetrust.org
  • Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi Royal

The lodge also offers optional spa treatments and will help you arrange other excursions such as scenic flights over the falls in helicopters or microlights, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, ziplining, white-water rafting (seasonal), and the Livingstone island tour.  Every day on this is exhilarating in every way.

Overnight: Elephant Camp (3 nights)

25 Nov            Victoria Falls / Johannesburg  B

After breakfast, we check out and make our way to the Victoria Falls airport for our flight back to Johannesburg. The estimated flight times will be departing at 1PM, arriving at 3PM back in Johannesburg able to catch all international flights back home.

 

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Land Price: $4495  pp twin share based on 36 participants

Deposit: $400

Includes:  As stated above

      • 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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Air:  TBA

ELEPHANT VALLEY LODGE

ELEPHANT VALLEY LODGEElephant Valley Lodge is located along the northwestern border of Botswana in the Kasane Forest Reserve. The Lodge is nestled in the forests of the Lesoma Valley, just 20 kilometers from Kasane and the entrance to the world-renowned Chobe National Park. Its location is also within close proximity to the Okavango Delta and the iconic Victoria Falls. Chobe National Park is home to the largest herds of elephant in the world and offers exclusive game viewing all year round.

The unique lodge location, overlooking a busy waterhole, provides guests with game viewing throughout the day and night.

The Elephant Valley Lodge is fenced and overlooks a waterhole that is frequently visited by wildlife. The lodge also offers complimentary transfers to the lodge from either Victoria Falls, Kasane or Livingstone Airports.

The Lodge boasts 20 tastefully decorated Meru-styled tents, each with two three-quarter beds that can be converted into a double bed, an en-suite bathroom with shower, tea and coffee making facilities, fan, electric blankets in winter, hair dryer, charging facilities, and a private veranda.

The 12 Forest Tents are positioned in the shade of the trees that surround the swimming pool. There is one tent that is ideal for families as it comprises of one en-suite bathroom, the main bedroom and a second room, both with twin beds.

The 8 Valley Tents offer views of the valley and waterhole that teems with wildlife.

The lodge facilities include an indoor dining area, lounge and bar area, swimming pool, waterhole and secluded hide that afford fantastic game viewing opportunities.

Activities at Elephant Valley Lodge focus on drives into the Chobe National Park and boating safaris along the Chobe River. Highly experienced guides accompany guests on day and night drives, and morning cruises down the Chobe River that teems with hippo and crocodiles. Guided bush walks provide an opportunity to learn about the bush and the smaller wondrous creatures of the Lesoma Valley.

Chobe is known for its huge herds of elephant but is also home to kudu, sable, puku, lechwe, buffalo, hyena, waterbuck, reedbuck, crocodiles, and hippo. The abundant game supports a healthy population of predators, including lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah.

The birding in this area is excellent, with over 450 species recorded in the park, including the African Fish Eagle, red and yellow-billed hornbills, Spotted Eagle Owls and Pel’s Fishing Owl.

Elephant Valley Lodge is ideal for solo explorers, couples and families looking for an exclusive safari experience.

As a guest on the Zambezi Queen, you’ll enjoy a truly unique and luxurious river safari holiday in complete comfort and elegance.

Elephant camp

Set within the Victoria Falls National Park, The Elephant Camp overlooks the Zambezi Gorges with a magnificent view of the Victoria Falls spray. The Elephant Camp has been rated one of the best tented lodges in Zimbabwe, and is within close proximity to the Victoria Falls and the bustling tourist town.

The all-inclusive rate covers a wide range of activities, all meals and drinks, WiFi and transfers.

The main area boasts a beautiful sunken fire pit and swimming pool while the suites are equipped with a private viewing deck, plunge pool and outdoor shower. The Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls, promises an intimate safari experience within the wilderness.

  •  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!

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AFS Zambezi Trip Tips

Prepare to be thrilled on our unique land and water-based safaris in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.  Game drives in the bush combined with sailing the Zambezi are the ultimate experience for restoration and feeling fully liberated. Our chartered luxury houseboat and stunning camps are all yours. You’ll be surrounded by the best scenery Africa has to offer. Our local ground teams are excited to meet you. They have implemented the highest standards and safety protocols each day along the way. 

We have a wonderful small group 28 AFS Afriholics. Carol and I know most of you and we welcome our new travelers. After final payments are in from the group, will send you the contact and room list. For now, get to know each other on your private Facebook group page.  Email us for the FB link and then from the group page, ask to join.  

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!

IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES

  • 2ND DEPOSIT – None
  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE AUG 20.  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 when listed.  Make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080

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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.)

GTL CarolCarol Huntington has been on 20+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 92+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for the past 25 years in the banking industry. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve and keep clients happy. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.

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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.
  • 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.
  • Travel Meds – no shots needed.  Anti-malaria pills suggested, not required.  Call me if questions on this.  Read more below.
  • PCR TEST – 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.
  • 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.
  • PCR TEST – 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.

Visas – No visa is required for South Africa , Botswana or Namibia.  The visa for Zimbabwe is obtained at the border on arrival and currently costs USD30 for a single entry visa. Still too early to tell for November re Covid and what is happening and things change weekly so we will update when needed.

Fitness level – Easy

Air–At present, we are not offering group air due to small group size. Trip starts in Kasane Botswana (BBK) NOV 17.  Depart from Victoria Falls (VFA) airport on Nov 25.  It’s easy to book your own round-trip air from USA to Johannesburg with many airline choices. United now has new non stops Newark to JNB.

The two internal flights are a bit more challenging. Therefore our supplier Nicki can arrange these group tickets for you! NOV 15 JNB-Kasane   NOV 25  VFA – JNB.  Only Airlink flies there now with limited seats. Please book this with her when she emails you so you will have total peace of mind.

Sample air:

  • Nov 15 – USA to JNB
  • 16 – overnight at Sunrock B&B (our fave) or airport hotel with free shuttle.
  • 17 – group check in 9am for flight together to Kasane
  • 25 – group flight 11am from Vic Falls back to JNB in time for evening international flights home.

Doing Own Air– You can arrange all your own air from USA to Kasane Nov 17 and depart VFA back to USA Nov 25. No rush to get air. But keep an eye on search engines online like Google flights or momondo.com for ideas.  (In today’s air & hotel landscape, avoid booking tickets on third-party booking engine is like Expedia, Google Flights, hotels.com and more. You may not get a refund and it’s near impossible to change your ticket. Use sites only to view air prices. Then go directly to the airline or hotel website and book through them for your best protection and price.)

Transfers and Meeting Group – More on this later closer to departure.

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change boat and properties several times. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lbs – weigh on a bathroom scale.  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. 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 and waterproof for the spray of Vic Falls.  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

All 4 countries – South Africa , Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia use the round 3 prong plugs or round 2 prong plugs

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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.

All countries will accept USD so no need to get Namibian, Botswana and Zimbabwean currency – definitely not Zimbabwe dollar ( its worth nothing ). They can 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 notes in Zim dollars ( toilet paper)

A reminder that Visa and Mastercard accepted everywhere – Amex more difficult in Africa due to very high cc charges.

Gratuities – (Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $12 to $18 per day should cover all for the trip.  A $85 total will be 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.

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:  zcollection.com, botswanatourism.co.bv, namibiatourism.com, zimbabwetourism.net, lonelyplanet.com

Accommodations – Please see the itinerary Hotel tab for details.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare. You can Google these or see web – Elephant Valley Lodge, Zambezi Queen by Mantis, The Elephant Camp Vic Falls

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– 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.  Call to ask what Covid coverage they have.

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 – 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
  • https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
  • CDC entire situation summary
  • 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 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. 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”.

  • RT – PCR Test – This is PCR test with Rapid Test Results within 24 hours.  Most urgent care places offer these.  Read Covid news below.

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 eliminate 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.

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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.

africaTHE 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

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 into groups of 4-6 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 $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 bushbabies and spectacular birdlife.

ZanbeziQueen