1
1

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

Pre-departure and guest information for your safari with Great Plains Conservation

Great Plains Conservation welcomes you and looks forward to hosting you on your African journey. In order to ensure that you have the best experience possible, please read the following information carefully.

SAFARI SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

The below packing list will help prepare you. Please remember the luggage restrictions of 20kg (44lbs) (in a soft bag with no wheels or frame) on your light aircraft transfers within Botswana and usually 20kg (44lbs) on most scheduled airline flights.

Southern Africa is generally pleasant throughout the year – warm to hot days and cool to warm nights. Summer (September to April) is the hottest time of year; while winter (May to August) can be far cooler than most people realise especially in evenings and early morning. Therefore, we suggest you pack accordingly and this list will help:

  1. Sun hat/bush hat.
  2. Headscarf/bandana – particularly for dusty dry regions.
  3. Golf-shirts and/or T-shirts – preferably with a sleeve to protect your shoulders from the sun.
  4. Long-sleeved cotton shirts.
  5. Shorts and/or skirts – short skirts are not practical for getting in and out of game drive vehicles though.
  6. Long trousers/slacks.
  7. Track suit.
  8. Pyjamas – lightweight for summer and warm/thermal for winter.
  9. Undergarments – some game drives can be bumpy so we recommend sports bras for women.
  10. Socks – thermal options are recommended for the winter months.
  11. Good closed walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine).
  12. Sandals – preferably low heeled or flat.
  13. Swimming costume.
  14. Lightweight jersey or fleece in summer.
  15. Light rain gear or jacket for summer months.
  16. Warm jersey or fleece plus anorak or parka in winter.
  17. Additionally, a scarf, gloves and beanies/woolen hats for winter.

OTHER:

  1. Good quality sunglasses, UV protected, preferably polarised. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in Africa’s strong light.
  2. If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust.
  3. A good quality torch.
  4. Southern African bird guide if you are a keen birder, e.g. Newman’s or Sasol.
  5. Personal toiletries (basic amenities are supplied by most establishments).
  6. Malaria tablets (if applicable).
  7. Antihistamine tablets if you suffer from any allergies.
  8. Anti nausea tablets if you suffer from motion sickness.
  9. Moisturising cream and suntan lotion – SPF 30 or higher recommended.
  10. Insect repellent for body application e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc.
  11. Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic cream & antihistamine cream etc)
  12. Tissues/Wet Wipes.
  13. Visas, tickets, passports, money, credit cards, insurance details etc.
  14. Camera equipment including spare batteries, chargers, film, flash cards, memory sticks etc.
  15. Waterproof/dustproof bag or cover for your camera.
  16. Binoculars – we highly recommended that you bring your own pair for viewing both wildlife and birds. 8×40 and 10×42 are the recommended general-purpose binocular specifications.

Please note:

Bright colours and white are not advised whilst on safari. Camouflage clothing is also not recommended for travel in southern African countries (camouflage or military-inspired clothing is prohibited when travelling in Zimbabwe).

Things to Note

BOOKING CONDITIONS

Your confirmed reservation is governed by our booking conditions and Terms and Conditions. If you do not have a copy, our reservations team would be willing to send you a copy. Taking this journey with us implies your acceptance of these conditions. Great Plains Conservation Ltd, its staff, agents and operators cannot be held liable for any cancellation fees and costs. Your reservation is confirmed with the payment of your deposit.

CANCELLATION POLICY

Cancellations are effective on receipt of written notification.  Cancellation charges may be calculated on the total safari package value.

The scale of cancellation charges is expressed as a percentage of the total safari package invoiced value as follows:

  • More than 16 full weeks notice prior to arrival: Deposit is refundable;
  • Between 16 weeks and 8 full weeks notice prior to travel: Deposit is forfeited;
  • Between 8 weeks and 4 full weeks notice prior to travel: 50% is forfeited; and
  • Less than 4 weeks notice prior to travel: 100% is forfeited.

Should a guest be a “No Show” or depart early for any reason whatsoever after they have commenced travel with Great Plains Conservation no portion of their itinerary will be refunded.

Non-Great Plains Conservation services such intercamp air transfers, private air charters, regional scheduled flights and hotel accommodation may be booked via the Great Plains Conservations reservations office and would be subject to alternative relevant cancellation policies which will be advised and confirmed at the time of cancellation.

INSURANCE

It is a condition of booking, that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/travelling companions for the duration of their trip to southern Africa. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities:

Compulsory Insurance:

  • Emergency evacuation expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Repatriation expenses

Recommended Insurance:

  • Cancellation or curtailment of trip
  • Damage/theft/loss of personal luggage, money and goods

Great Plains Conservation, including its representatives, employees and agents will take no responsibility for any costs, losses incurred or suffered by the guest, or guest’s dependants or travelling companions, with regards to, but not limited to, any of the above mentioned eventualities. Guests will be charged directly by the relevant service providers for any emergency services they may require, and may find themselves in a position of being unable to access such services should they not be carrying the relevant insurance cover.

  1. Health Insurance
    It is compulsory to have full medical, emergency evacuation and repatriation cover for the full period of time that you are travelling.
  2. Cancellation and Curtailment
    If for any reason you cancel a trip close to departure date, you could lose the entire cost of your trip. Should you have to leave before your holiday is finished, we cannot refund you the cost of the portion of the package you do not complete. In the eventuality of this happening, insurance may cover you, depending on the reason for cancellation and curtailment.
  3. Luggage & Money Insurance
    It is advisable to take out luggage and money insurance especially if you are carrying a lot of cash or expensive camera equipment. You should always carry such equipment as “carry-on” luggage. Do not put anything of value including any vital medication in your checked-in baggage!
  4. Claims
    If you anticipate an insurance claim upon your return, be sure to document as accurately as possible any accident, injury or loss. Doctor’s notes and police reports will aid any claim.

SAFETY GUIDELINES

It’s sensible to take some basic precautions whilst travelling anywhere in the world. Below are recommendations that we feel hold true for travel in general and which we thus suggest are followed during a southern African itinerary – they apply mostly to travel in the major cities and towns but elements are also relevant for stays in camps in conservation areas. It is advisable to lock your luggage with a suitable lock or at least with cable ties when flying both locally (within South Africa or to neighbouring countries) and internationally. As an additional precaution we suggest that check-in luggage is shrink-wrapped. Please do not check-in any valuables. Valuables and any chronic medication should be kept in your carry-on luggage. Store valuables and additional cash in your camp’s safety deposit box or camp safe.

LOST LUGGAGE

Luggage that goes missing on scheduled flights is beyond the control of Great Plains Conservation and/or the airline concerned. The airport controls what happens to passengers’ luggage from when it is checked in/out until it is put on/taken off the aircraft. We suggest that you take the following precautionary action: pack a small bag with your essentials including any life sustaining medication, which can be carried with you as hand luggage. If your luggage goes missing, you will still have your essential items on hand to see you through the first couple of days while we try and recover your lost baggage.

LOSS OF ARTICLES

Please note that we cannot accept any responsibility for the misplacement of any articles whilst on your travels. Naturally, we will endeavour to reunite you with your misplaced items. However, logistics may not be favourable for the returning of articles unless you are prepared to pay for the cost to get your goods back to you. Any costs incurred in this process will be for your own account. This issue is possibly the single biggest form of stress for guests who have left their goods behind somewhere en route and who are not prepared to pay for the costs to be reunited with their possessions.
So please make sure that you keep all your goods with you.

LUGGAGE

We, along with our flying partners in Botswana who look after you with your inter camp air transfers, would like to remind you on the importance of traveling with the correct luggage sizes and weights on their safari through Botswana. This is irrespective of the class of travel you may have enjoyed coming to Southern Africa or on schedule airlines you travel with on your safari.

Due to the remoteness of the lodges in Botswana, light aircraft are used to transfer passengers to, from and in between the various lodges. Most lodges have their own small un-paved landing strips that are only accessible to light aircraft.

Passenger luggage is stored in pods secured to the underside (belly) of these aircraft. Each passenger is allowed up to 20 kilograms of luggage on safari, and this includes hand luggage and camera bags. Generally their main luggage (a soft sided duffel bag) would be up to 15 kilograms which would fit in the aircraft pod, and we allow another 5 kilograms of carry on luggage that would be stored at the rear of the cabin in the aircraft making up a total of 20 kilograms.

Safety is our number one priority. Oversized or overweight luggage causes a decrease in aircraft performance – lodge airstrips are generally 1000 meters or less so take off performance is critical.

Not only is weight a problem, but the physical size of the luggage can make loading and offloading difficult, and due to the shape of the aircraft pods, can result in us only being able to fit only one or two bags per pod. Soft-sided duffel bags are preferred, but hard-cases or bags with wheels pose a real problem. We would also recommend that you bring along waterproof or water-resistant duffelbags, especially in summer, as the game vehicles in which the luggage is transferred from the airstrip to the camp and vice versa don’t always have any rain protection and the loading and unloading of bags can occur on wet or damp remote airtrips and runways.

2016-gpc-pretour-gallery-1

Should you wish to travel with additional or oversized luggage we do allow this as long as an extra seat/s are booked well in advance in order for us to plan ahead on which aircraft type etc to use.

Should a you arrive at Maun – or Kasane – Airport with oversized luggage that they have not pre booked as excess luggage, or if you are traveling with oversized luggage that we were not made aware of, then we are able to offer the following solutions:

  1. You would be offered a chance to repack your luggage into smaller bags at the airport before departure or to consolidate your luggage into a smaller bag. You would be responsible for the supply of these bags.
  2. If, at the airport, you are adamant you do not want to re-pack or leave any luggage, you would be given the option of chartering your own aircraft for your sole use in order for the flying company to take all of their luggage. This could cause a delay to your flight whilst a a special, new aircraft and crew is sourced at short notice to carry out such a flight. Bear in mind that your itinerary may include numerous flying legs and a private charter would have to be booked then for all sectors of your safari.

You would then need to pay our flying partner directly for this extra service before the aircraft leaves Maun or Kasane. Charter flights would then be needed for each and every sector that they fly between the lodges with their excess luggage.

We have included images of the various aircraft belly pods we use to give you an idea of the size and shape, and to show just how difficult it is to try and squeeze several hard-cases into each pod.

We trust this will help in passing on the importance of you traveling with the correct luggage in order to avoid any embarrassing or frustrating arrivals into Maun or Kasane airports with you may or may not be aware of in terms of the relevant luggage restrictions we need to adhere to.

EXCESS LUGGAGE

If you need to bring luggage in excess of your allowance, you may have the option of buying an extra seat. This “seat in plane” allows for a maximum of 70kg (154 lbs) excess weight, on the proviso that the bag(s) conforms to the dimensions 25cm (10 inches) wide x 30cm (12 inches) high and 65cm (25 inches) long; soft bag i.e. no wheels/frame/rigid structures.

The additional cost of this varies depending on your flight schedule so please contact us, or your agent, for further details.

On arrival in either Maun or Kasane, you also have the option of sending your excess luggage ahead at an additional cost. If the safari begins in Maun, the excess luggage will be forwarded to Kasane and stored. If starting in Kasane, the excess luggage will be forwarded to Maun for storage. You can then collect this excess baggage at the end of your Botswana trip. We need to know in advance if this service is needed so that arrangements can be made and the transfer can be handled smoothly.

Please note that the same dimensions as above apply to this unaccompanied baggage.

FLIGHT CHECK-IN TIMES

Please check in early at all airports (at least one hour prior for domestic flights, three hours for all international flights) due to additional security which now affects international travel around the world. Please be aware that during peak season, delays may be encountered on scheduled flights.

LAUNDRY

This service is complimentary at our camps. At certain camps the camp staff will not wash underwear, due to prevailing local traditions in the country (in these cases washing powder is supplied for guests to rinse their own underwear).

ELECTRICITY

All our camps are situated in remote areas and we have to generate our own electricity. We do so in a number of ways. In most camps, we have solar farms which charge a bank of batteries known as an inverter system which then provides 220V power in each tented room for lightings, ceiling fans and plug points. The only exceptions are Selinda Canoe Trail and Selinda Explorers Camp. Selinda Explorers Camp has a central charging port for shared guest use. Selinda Canoe Trail does not offer charging facilities.

We recommend guests bring two batteries so while one is charging, the other can be used. While some camps can supply adaptors (3 prong round, 3 prong square, 2 prong round and 2 prong flat) it is advisable that guests carry their own adaptors with them to ensure the ability to charge their equipment.

Electric shavers and hairdryers are not usable in most camps because their high-wattage will trip the camp’s power supply.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE

While inclusions vary, all our rates include all meals, house spirits, wine and non-alcoholic beverages (excluding imported beverages and champagne). Beverage policies in other camps, lodges or hotels outside of the Great Plains Conservation portfolio may differ. Please refer to your itinerary for specific details.

TRAVELLING COMPANIONS

While travelling to camps and lodges on our safaris you will meet up with other guests who are from different parts of the world and who are of various ages. To get the most out of your safari experience, co-operation and harmony between you and your fellow guests is essential. Should any guest behave in such a way that it affects either the enjoyment or safety of other guests, that guest will be warned and if need be, eventually taken off safari. Our safaris are conducted in English and for safety reasons, it is important that all guests are able to communicate in basic English – this also enables compatibility with fellow travellers.

VEHICLES

Our safari vehicles are open 4X4 vehicles and are designed for all guests to enjoy all round visibility of the surrounding wilderness and wildlife.

PRIVATE VEHICLES

If you would like a private vehicle and guide, we can arrange this for you at an additional nominal cost and subject to availability. If you elect not to take up this option you will be travelling with other guests on activities. We would appreciate acceptable behaviour on the vehicle that will ensure that all our guests have enjoyable wildlife experiences.

DRIVING CONDITIONS

While visiting remote areas or national parks and reserves, the roads could be rough and bumpy and occasionally we will travel “off road”. It is possible that injuries may occur – if for example a hidden pothole is struck and the Great Plains Conservation group of companies, their staff members, associates and agent cannot be held liable for any accidents or any damages.

RESPECTING WILDLIFE & SAFETY WHILE ON SAFARI

Safety is of utmost concern to us and we request you take note of the following guidelines:

  • The wild animals are not like those found in theme parks – they aren’t tame.
  • Most of the safari camps are unfenced and dangerous animals can (and do!) wander through the camps. Many of the animals and reptiles you will see are potentially dangerous. Attacks by wild animals are rare. However, there are no guarantees that such incidents will not occur. None of the Great Plains group of companies, their staff members, associates, agents, or their suppliers can be held liable for any injuries caused during an incident involving the behaviour of wild animals.
  • Please listen to the camp staff and guides. The safety precautions need to be taken seriously, and strictly adhered to.
  • Never walk on your own without a guide – even to your rooms. After retiring to your rooms at night, don’t leave them.
  • Observe animals silently and with a minimum of disturbance to their natural activities. Loud talking on game drives can frighten the animals away.
  • Never attempt to attract an animal’s attention. Don’t imitate animal sounds, clap your hands, pound the vehicle or throw objects.
  • Please respect your driver-guide’s judgment about proximity to lions, cheetahs and leopards. Don’t insist that he take the vehicle closer so you can get a better photograph. A vehicle driven too close can hinder a hunt or cause animals to abandon a hard-earned meal.
  • Litter tossed on the ground can choke or poison animals and birds and is unsightly.
  • Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal on foot. This is especially important near lodges or in campsites where animals may have become accustomed to human visitors.
  • Refrain from smoking on game drives. The dry African bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire can kill animals.

COMMUNICATION IN GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION CAMPS

It has been our conscious decision to avoid internet access at our safari camps for guests. We believe that the beauty of being away in the wilderness is the very fact that you are not in contact with your office or the outside world! A Digital Detox.

Of course, if there were a problem we would get messages to and from guests via radio – we have been doing that for years very successfully. An increasing number of guests are bringing satellite and iridium phones with them on safari. As most people come on safari to “get away from it all”, we feel that we must set guidelines on the use of any phones when on safari as follows:

  1. Please ensure the ring tone is kept at a low volume to avoid disturbing other guests.
  2. Please use your phone in the privacy of your room and not any of the common areas: dining room, bar/ lounge area, or on any of the vehicles or on game drives.

GRATUITIES

Gratuities are not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, then please do. Gratuities are distributed evenly amongst the general camp staff (many of whom work behind-the-scenes) and can be placed in the staff “tip” box in the main lounge on departure. A general guideline is about $20 per guest per day for the general staff, depending on how much you enjoyed the service. Gratuities to guides are done separately, and directly. We advise following a similar guideline of about $20 per guest per day for excellent service.

QUALITY & FEEDBACK

We pride ourselves in running quality itineraries and offering the best experience possible for such remote locations. If there is anything you feel that we can do to enhance your experience, please do not hesitate to contact the camp or your Great Plains representative. If you have a problem, please bring it to our attention at the time, giving us a chance to try and rectify it immediately. If you do not communicate to the camp or your Great Plains representative at the time as it will be more difficult to resolve later on.