To Do List: (before departing)
- As you may be visiting multiple countries within Africa, be sure to check the visa requirements for each a few weeks in advance
- Check this information online as this will give you the most up-to-date and accurate information; regulations change from time to time
- Be mindful that there are different requirements for different nationalities so be specific to your country of origin (or that of your passport you are using to travel)
- Some visas can be purchased on arrival but be sure to have the correct currency and amount (anything to speed up the process at border control!)
- The currencies used in Africa can and do vary between countries. We were unaware that Zimbabwe traded generally in America dollars and not African Rand as we had assumed
- We realised this before we left Johannesburg so bought American dollars at the airport but of course, didn’t get a very good exchange rate
- If using a travel card, you can have any necessary currencies pre-loaded onto your card and avoid any hassle
- Before you check with your doctor what shots you need, be sure about the destinations you will be visiting as this will impact the vaccines you may need
- We got advice from our GP and also received the shots from him too. The travel doctor was expensive, even charging quite a bit for the initial consultation before any medication was paid for. Although some vaccines can ONLY be dispensed by the travel doctor, we were lucky enough not to need any of these and could avoid this expense
- As we planned our trip through a travel agent (we don’t often do this but for our honeymoon we decided to), all transfers between airports and accommodation was booked in advance
- I would highly recommend this for a few reasons:
- As it is a long-haul flight, and we landed in Johannesburg at about 3am, the last thing we wanted to do was navigate an entirely new (and very different!) culture
- As with many countries, there is a good chance you will get ripped off and pay WAY too much for an airport transfer (they see us tourists coming!)
- And there is a safest aspect when travelling in African so having your wits about you and being prepared is the best advice I can give you
As each destination on our trip was quite different and had a unique purpose, I have outlined the main things we found beneficial for the most unusual stops on our trip.
Tip: Always ROLL your clothing into your suitcase, you can fit soooo much more!
Tip: I also like to pack my suitcase in sections if the destinations we are visiting are very different. I know which area of my suitcase has certain clothing eg active wear for sightseeing destinations, dressy clothes for city visits etc., so I don’t have to rummage through the whole bag at each stop (my husband doesn’t do this though so our rooms still look like a dressing room on Black Friday after a couple of hours!!).
- Zip lock bags for camera/phone if visiting Victoria Falls on foot
- Mosquito spray (with a high deet content)
- Light, long sleeved tops & long trousers (to prevent mosquito bites – the malaria medication you take is not a preventative, it is simple to help elevate the symptoms so you NEED to protect yourself from getting bitten!)
- Neutral coloured t-shirts (mild colours that won’t draw attention to the vehicle)
- A warmer jumper/jacket of neutral colour (early mornings and late evenings are cold on safari as the vehicles are open – but it warms up when the sun is out so you need to be able shed this layer too)
- Long trousers (this help protect you from mosquito bites and also keeps you warm as there are long periods of sitting on the safari jeeps)
- A cap/hat (preferably one that you can tighten on your head as you want free hands for photo taking and not hat holding!)
- Sun cream (the African sun can be very unforgiving and some safari vehicles are roof-less)
- Runners/closed toe shoes (useful when getting up and down on the vehicles and also helps protect your piggies during morning tea and evening sundowners when out on the plains)
Hand luggage: (Long-haul flight)
Snacks, snacks, snacks
- Although you get food on the flight, often it’s either not amazing or not what you are craving (steamed fish for brekkie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!) so an alternative is best to have on-hand
- I tend to stock up muesli bars, protein balls, chocolate coated rice cakes etc. (watch out for specials in your supermarket the week or so before your trip)
- Fresh fruit is also nice to have on hand for between meals (be mindful when entering countries with strict quarantine laws and leave any fruit you haven’t eaten on the plane)
- Also, if you have stop overs, you may not have the correct currency to buy food at the airport, may not have notified your bank of that particular stop and your card may be frozen, or you might not be able find any nice options at the time of day/night you land
- Hand sanitising wipes (although these are often supplied, I never travel without my own – who knows how many fingers have touched that TV screen since it was last cleaned…yuk!)
- Tissues – for a multitude of reasons
- Toothbrush and paste – a MUST on any long-haul flight (pop them in a zip lock bag to make things easier at bag check)
- Makeup bag (after having my checked luggage lost in the past, I now carry my main makeup items in hand luggage. It also means I can touch up my makeup before landing and feel fresh (or at least look it!) after a long trip)
- No one wants to spend extra time at border control, so use some of that boring flight time to fill out your incoming passenger card
- A comfy jumper or wrap
- Leggings or tracksuits pants
(This might seem excessive if you haven’t done many long-haul flights, but thrust me, you will thank me about 6 hours into your journey when the thought of a comfy bed is still a distant fantasy)
Movies: (to get you in the mood!)
- Gives some insight into how Nelson Mandela worked with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team to help unite the country after his release from prison
- An enjoyable way to get a glimpse into the country’s history during the 1995 Rugby World Cup
The Lion King
- The ultimate safari prerequisite
- The perfect playlist for your trip too!
I hope these lists can be of some help to you in preparing for your incredible trip to this beautiful and diverse part of the world.
Thank you for taking the time to read our post and we would love for you to check out our earlier posts on the stops we made during our African adventure.
We look forward to sharing more of our travels with you, from other remarkable destinations we have visited around the world. Check out our Instagram page to see where will feature in our next post. Our Instagram Page
We hope to see you again soon.
Richard and Michelle.