Know Before You Go: Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.
Passports and Visas: It is each travelers responsibility to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and a visa if required. Please check the information at http://www.righttravel.info/page/visa-5.html for the specific country/region you are visiting for more details.
IMPORTANT: Passengers who are not U.S. citizens must check with the respective consulate or a visa agency to determine what personal identification is required. Passengers who enter, leave and then re-enter the same country on their itinerary should check if they require a double-entry visa.
Passport applications are available at most U.S. Post Offices, as well as at regional Passport Agencies. Passengers requiring visas, whether obtained in advance or locally upon arrival, should ensure that their passport has unstamped visa pages.
Trip Preparation: A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, youll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage.
Cell Phones & Calling Cards: You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling overseas. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally.
When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel&rsquos reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.
Wireless Internet Access: Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Passengers requiring internet access can often locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.
Staying Healthy While Traveling: All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.
There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.
Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment - Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at: http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.
South Africa & Swaziland - While the majority of South Africa is malaria-free, visitors to Kruger National Park are encouraged to consult their health care providers regarding malaria prophylaxis. Visitors should use mosquito repellent and wear long pants, closed shoes, and a lightweight long sleeve shirt when in this area. Additionally, you may encounter mosquitoes in other areas, both rural and urban, especially during wet seasons. Please consult your physician before traveling to South Africa.
This tour visits areas of high elevations on the Panorama Route (5,870 feet) and in Swaziland (6,110 feet), and may cause temporary altitude discomfort for some travelers. Those affected should avoid over-exertion, drink extra water, and eat lightly.
Climate & Clothing: South Africa & Swaziland - Spring and Autumn: 55 to 70°F, Summer: 60 to 80°F, Winter: 45 to 65°F. Bring comfortable walking shoes, clothes you can layer, and an all-weather jacket. Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses are also recommended. On game reserves, visitors should wear neutral colors such as brown, khaki, and beige. Click here for South Africa Average Temperatures
Book & Film Recommendations: Many of our guests enjoy reading about their destination - either in advance of their trip or while traveling - as a way of adding context to their visit. Whether reading a traditional guide book, learning about the history and culture, or simply enjoying a fictional novel set in the destination, a good book can add greatly to your experience. Similarly, a good movie set in your destination helps set the mood before you travel. We asked our Tour Managers and staff to recommend books and films which past guests may have enjoyed. The following does not constitute an endorsement of any authors, books or films listed, it is merely a collection of guests&rsquo recommendations.
SOUTH AFRICA: Books:
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Zulu by Caryl Ferey
Mafeking Road by Herman Charles Bosman
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Playing the Enemy by John Carlin
Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog
Hotels: Right Travel has carefully ed each hotel based on overall quality, location, price, food, service, and cleanliness. All rooms are standard rooms with two single beds and private facilities, unless you have specifically requested and paid for an upgrade. Room ion is strictly at the discretion of the hotel management. We reserve the right to make hotel substitutions with those of equal standard.
Hotel Check-in/ Check-out: Check-in time is usually 4pm or later. Check-out time is 12 noon. If you will be arriving early in the day or departing in the evening, hotels will usually allow you to store your luggage in their luggage room. Ask at the front desk if the hotel can check you in earlier, or let you stay later.
Eco & Sustainable Tourism: We support global efforts to create a more eco-friendly world, intolerant of any forms of cruelty, abuse and intentional environmental destruction. To that end we ask that our clients maintain a watchful eye as they travel, and report any abuses they may encounter. One of the many benefits of tourism is the shared cultural knowledge and ultimate elimination of negative behavior through education. We rely on your good feedback to enable this element of symbiosis. As you travel to and learn about foreign cultures, we ask first and foremost that you practice tolerance and respect for local customs.
About Your Sightseeing: To ensure a pleasant and fair experience for passengers on our escorted tours, there is a mandatory seat rotation policy on our motor coaches which will be organized by your Tour Manager. When travel dates coincide with religious holidays and national celebrations, some monuments and sites may be closed, sometimes without prior notice. On these occasions, escorted touring itineraries may be amended to reflect these closures. Occasionally, during holidays and certain periods, and/or due to other unforeseen circumstances including weather conditions, there may be last-minute changes, sometimes after arrival, which may affect the sequence of the tour and locations visited. National monuments and tourist sites regularly undergo renovations, which can obscure the monuments view. No tour will be canceled due to renovations, however Right Travel will decide based on the conditions whether to amend an itinerary.
Land Only Passengers (Escorted Tours): Your tour manager will contact you after your arrival at your hotel. Passengers who have not purchased arrival transfers from Right Travel should proceed directly to the hotel for check-in. The details of the hotel can be found in your documents.
Purchasing Tours Locally: On escorted tours, the guides will generally sell optional tours to passengers who have not pre-purchased them. Payment can be made by cash or credit card, unless otherwise noted below. This does not apply to Independent packages. Please see Right Travel Terms & Conditions for more information. http://www.right-travel.com/terms.php
Independent Activities - Right Travel itineraries may contain suggestions for activities for your leisure time these suggestions do not constitute a recommendation nor an endorsement of any specific service provider and the decision to participate in any such activities should be made independently and with due consideration. Right Travel is not responsible for any activities not expressly included in its programs. Caution should be exercised when ing certain activities that may require physical strength, coordination or exertion. Particular care should be taken when considering animal rides, such as on camels, mules or horses
Currency: We suggest getting a small amount of currency for the first country youre visiting before you leave the U.S. It is a good idea to carry a chart with you to help you convert U.S. dollars to the local currency. Its also a good idea not to carry too much money. Many countries have ATM machines that accept most U.S. ATM cards, but be sure you know your ATM password in numbers-the keypads on foreign ATMs dont always have letters. ATM machines will only dispense cash in local currency. Check with respective consulates to learn current currency allowances and requirements. Use your credit card whenever possible. Should you decide to carry cash or travelers checks, exchange them at banks where the rate is more favorable than at hotels or exchange bureaus. Please note that many banks and most vendors will not accept or exchange $100 bills. We suggest to carry $20 bills or smaller.
South Africa & Swaziland - The Rand is the currency of South Africa. The Lilangeni is the currency of Swaziland.
Credit Cards: While credit cards are accepted in most destinations, it is advisable to carry local currency. Inform your credit card company that you are traveling to avoid your card being blocked for security reasons.
Most US-issued credit cards rely on magnetic-strip technology rather than embedded microprocessor chips which are increasingly common overseas. These &ldquochip-and-PIN&rdquo cards require users to punch in a personal identification number (PIN) instead of signing for a purchase. For example, many automated ticket kiosks, such as those commonly found at train stations, gas pumps and parking garages, don&rsquot accept cards without a chip and PIN. Most cash registers are equipped to handle American cards but if you encounter difficulties, offer an alternative credit card or politely insist that the cashier keep trying to swipe the credit card. ATMs typically recognize and accept US issued debit cards. For travel to Europe, should you anticipate using ticket kiosks or purchasing train tickets locally, you may consider buying tickets and other basic purchases prior to departure.
Shopping: Most people enjoy bringing home at least one souvenir from the countries they visit. However, some find any amount of shopping to be too much while others never find enough opportunities.
We have built into our Escorted itineraries a few shopping stops at recommended spots. These stops are designed to enhance your experience by providing an opportunity to see first-hand quality locally-crafted merchandise which you may not be able to find alone. Shops are checked to ensure the quality and authenticity of the products they offer, and we limit guides from visiting other locations. In some cases, we plan these stops to provide an opportunity to use clean bathrooms and to stretch your legs.
While shopping independently, we advise you to exercise care and common sense when making any purchase. Always get a formal receipt. And remember that, just like in this country, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is
About Tax-Free Shopping: Tax-Free Shopping (TFS) allows shoppers to reclaim the VAT (Value-Added Tax) or GST (Goods and Services Tax) they have paid on their shopping in some foreign countries. Currently, about 50 countries allow foreign visitors to have their taxes reimbursed. TFS is subject to national regulations such as minimum spend and restrictions on the types of products on which it can be claimed. TSF is currently available in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Eligible countries and their specific regulations are subject to change at any time including the of VAT which is reclaimable and the minimum purchase amount restriction. When planning to shop in a country with Tax-Free Shopping and to reclaim VAT/GST taxes, we recommend that you check the current regulations prior to completing your purchase. In many cases, stores will display signage such as &ldquoVAT Refunds for Tourists.&rdquo Normally, you will need to present your passport and receive a VAT Refund Application form(s) from the store along with an explanation of how to claim your refund. Sometimes this is completed at the airport upon departure or later via mail from your home. Service fees may apply. Alternatively, you may choose to work with a fee-based VAT Refund Service.
U.S. Customs & Shipping Charges: You may carry items with a fair retail value totaling $800 into the U.S. Taxes may be applied to the next $1,000 worth of merchandise. U.S. Customs determines the value of your items, often honoring a genuine sales receipt. Items which are shipped home are always subject to duty when received in the U.S. (in addition to shipping charges). Some shops may offer to include shipping and duties in the price but this typically means shipping only to the customs facility closest to you and payment only of the export duties you would still need to collect the item and pay U.S. import duties. Please be aware that it is illegal to import products made from endangered animal species. U.S. Customs & Border Protection will seize these items, as well as most furs, coral, tortoise shell, reptile skins, feathers, plants, and items made from animal skins.
South Africa & Swaziland - Local specialties include handcrafts such as basketware, beadwork, embroidery and sculptures, as well as exceptional gold, platinum, and diamond jewelry. Boutiques, malls, markets, and roadside stands abound.
Your Safety is Very Important: Every effort has been taken by Right Travel to ensure your safety. However, it is important that you do not allow your common sense to take a vacation while on your trip. Here are several tips which, if followed, will save much potential hardship:
If youve purchased an escorted tour program, your travel documents will include telephone numbers of local Right Travel representatives who will do their utmost to assist you in the event of an emergency. The numbers are printed on your Right Travel vouchers. Please copy the numbers. Once you relinquish the voucher, you will not have this information. Passengers traveling independently should employ the services of hotel concierges and local authorities.
On Safari -While on safari, it is very important that you follow all directions provided by your guide in order to ensure the safety of the group. Wildlife listed in the itinerary are based upon optimal conditions and therefore subject to change. While on tour you will be reminded by your guide of local safety and ecologic procedures, to ensure your safety and the protection of the wildlife. Please keep in mind that parks are filled with wild animals, so please remain inside your vehicle and keep noise to a minimum so as not to attract extra attention. Refrain from feeding any animals or leaving food waste behind in the parks as this can upset their natural diets and lead to a dependence upon people. A great area of these countries is comprised of national parks, so please be mindful of ecological significance and do not litter. In addition, please do not purchase collect, or remove any animal products, rocks, seeds, plants, or nests from the wild.
Tourist Street Scams: Pickpockets and thieves can destroy an otherwise wonderful holiday. Be mindful of these precautions to help avoid being scammed or robbed:
Local Emergency Phone Numbers at South Africa
Languages South Africa - Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English are among the local languages.
Electricity: Please note: The U.S. uses 120 volts and you can purchase a converter and transformer at most hardware stores for your 120V appliances.
South Africa - The voltage used is 220 volts.
Code of Conduct: South Africa & Swaziland - Shaking hands is the standard greeting. Common courtesies should be observed. Conservative casual dress is appropriate. Rural areas tend to be more conservative than urban areas. In conversation, avoid discussing racial tensions. South Africa is one of the worlds great examples of biodiversity. Please be mindful of this ecological significance and do not litter.
Gratuities: Tipping is always a matter of personal discretion. For your convenience, please use the summary below as a guideline for recommended gratuity amounts. Gratuities may be paid in U.S. Dollars or local currency equivalent. Please be aware that tipping is considered by many locals to be a part of their normal remuneration and some may approach you for additional compensation. There is no need to be intimidated by the request, nor should you feel pressured to pay more than recommended. If you become uncomfortable by any behavior you encounter, please advise your tour manager or phone our local office. Numbers are provided in your documents for your convenience.
South Africa & Swaziland - Gratuities are appreciated and expected for good service in restaurants and other places that cater to tourists, as well as on safaris.
Food and Meals: As specified in each itinerary. Meals are based on the hotels or restaurants buffet or set menu. In general, beverages are not included, unless specifically stated. Although Right Travel cannot make guarantees, every effort will be made to honor special dietary requests submitted in writing at least 72 hours prior to departure to firstname.lastname@example.org
Holidays - South Africa