Journeys of freedom & discovery. Travelling in purpose-built trucks or 4x4s you’ll see all the highlights but also get far off the beaten track. Led by a professional crew or driver, groups help with the cooking & setting up camp, enjoying a real hands on experience.
Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
Your kitty is the final part of your overall tour cost. It covers things along the way and is used for paying for such things as local site guides, site entrance fees, and some forms of transport and accommodation. There can be times when the things we do and places we stay are in remote areas so paying locally is the best option for everyone. The kitty allow's us to provide you with a cheaper trip and also gives you a little more time to save for your adventure.
You must pay the kitty of US $300 in cash to your leader on Day 1 of your trip. Please have the exact amount ready and ensure banknotes are not issued before the year 2003.
International flights, kitty, arrival and departure transfers, airport/departure taxes, visas, pre-tour or post tour accommodation, all other meals, drinks, sleeping bag, pillow, all optional tours during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips, laundry, items of a personal nature and flights (unless specified).
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Botswana. For other nationalities that do require a visa to enter into Botswana, this is no longer able to be purchased upon arrival. Visa will need to be pre-arranged - please contact your travel agent for assistance.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for South Africa. Upon arrival you will be given a free three-month multi-entry visa stamp. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. Please note that you require six blank pages and your passport needs to have a minimum of six months validity to enter South Africa. Also note that to enter South Africa you may be required to show proof of onward travel plans and a valid yellow fever certificate (especially if entering or re-entering from East African countries).
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders currently require a visa for Zimbabwe. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. For trips to Zimbabwe you may require either a single or double entry visa. Both single and double entry visas are obtainable on arrival currently costing between US$30 and US$60 (depending on nationality). If you choose to travel to the Zambian side of Victoria Falls your Zimbabwe visa will not expire as long as you do not spend the night out of Zimbabwe.
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
There will be 2 border crossings on this tour:
Day 2 - From South Africa to Botswana at the Martins Drift border post
Day 9 - From Botswana to Zimbabwe at the Kazungula border post
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up-to-date information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return.
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers) from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.
Malaria: There is no vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in many less-developed tropical areas in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. Where malaria is considered prevalent in mountainous regions we prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
You need to be in good health. You also need to be able to get in and out of the mokoros (canoes) and game vehicles without extra assistance.
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel or sausage bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option for trips without light aircraft charter sections, but preferably one without a frame.
When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new
climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
The unit of currency is the pula (BWP), which is divided into 100 thebe. The pula is a strong currency and any excess currency can easily be exchanged in Johannesburg. Banks, hotels and major curio shops in Botswana accept some major international credit cards, although camps and lodges in the region will only accept payment for bar bills, laundry, etc in local or foreign currency (cash). We recommend you travel with US dollars, British pounds or euros.
The South African rand (ZAR), divided into 100 cents, is the basic unit of currency of South Africa.
The currency of Zimbabwe was the Zimbabwe dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. In April 2009, the collapse of the economy led to the collapse of this currency. At the time of writing, only hard currencies (ie. US dollar, euro and South African rand) are in use for day-to-day transaction in Zimbabwe. It is likely this situation can change at short notice.
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
Botswana offers modern banking facilities in larger towns such as Maun and Kasane. The commercial banks in Maun are usually opened Monday to Friday from 0815 to 1245 and on Saturdays from 0815 to 1045. There are also a number of foreign exchange bureaus with longer operating hours. The best foreign currencies to take with you are US dollars, British pounds and increasingly euros. The South African rand is also widely accepted. Cash can easily be exchanged in banks and exchange bureaus. Traveller's cheques are not recommended as they are very hard and sometimes impossible to cash. ATM machines are not easy to find in Botswana on this tour and should not be relied upon. There are some available in Maun and Kasane that accept MasterCard or Visa connected to the Cirrus or Maestro network. Credit cards are widely accepted for payments, but there may be fees associated with their use. The pula (BWP) is the local currency and also a very strong one; any excess can easily be exchanged in South Africa. There will be very little need to spend money whilst on safari - and few chances to exchange any. If you want some local currency, please ask your safari guide immediately upon arrival and take his advice as to how much you require. You may export up to BWP500 on departure.
On arrival into South Africa it is suggested that you use your ATM card to access cash in South African rand (ZAR). Alternatively you may change any major currency into South African rand. All transactions in South Africa are conducted using rand. All major currencies in cash and traveller’s cheque form are easily exchanged at the airport. Major credit cards are widely accepted in most hotels and shops. ATMs are widely available throughout the country using MasterCard or Visa connected to the Cirrus or Maestro network. Foreign cash and travellers cheques can be changed in the banks of each town although this is usually a very time-consuming process. For this reason, we do not recommend that you rely on using traveller’s cheques for funds, as there are very few, if any, opportunities to change them when travelling. Please note that if using US dollar cash to change into rand, please do not carry bank notes that are issued before the year 2000, as these are generally not accepted because of rampant counterfeiting.
The Zimbabwe dollar has been withdrawn from circulation for the foreseeable future. It has been replaced with the US dollar, South African rand, British pound and euro. Botswana pula is also accepted for payment of goods and services in the Victoria Falls area. All departure taxes and many entrance fees must also be paid for in US dollars cash. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are now accepted in Zimbabwe and in some areas you can withdrawl US Dollars from the ATM, however this is not always reliable. To get an up-to-date report of the situation, it is suggested that you stop in at our local office on arrival in Victoria Falls. They will be able to assist you with general advice as well as book extra activities and excursions.
You will need to take money with you to cover the kitty and any additional meals/drinks not included in your tour cost. You will also need to budget for bottled drinking water plus such things as tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional sightseeing, optional activities and excursions, and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies which can happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and reimbursement is made later by the insurance company. This is a situation where a credit card can be useful.
Park entrance fees are included as part of your overall tour cost.
This trip includes 1 day in Chobe National Park, 3 days in the Okavango Delta and 1 day at Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Please note that on this tour it is a good idea to bring US dollars in cash for your spending money. ATM machines are now easier to find in Botswana however they should not be relied upon in Victoria Falls (Zambia or Zimbabwe).
As a guide, we recommend you allow a figure of up to US$50 for your additional meals, snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic) not included. Use a higher figure particularly if you are travelling during the hot season, when you will require more fluids.
In addition you should carry sufficient funds for extra sightseeing and optional activities. If you decide to take optional excursions using the services of a local guide and a private vehicle, you will need to budget for more. Please be aware that activities at Victoria Falls are expensive and need to be budgeted for before you leave home. They are also best paid for in US dollar cash.
Shopping is a personal thing, so the amount of money you should allow for varies enormously. There are many interesting curios and souvenirs to buy along the way, so make sure to budget for them. On average, people spend anywhere between US$30 to US$150 on souvenirs.
On all our tours you will depart Botswana by land border and hence no taxes are applicable.
Airport taxes are generally included in all international and domestic tickets.
Although tipping is not compulsory, it is nonetheless a normal part of African life and is considered appropriate if you are happy with the service that you have received. Service industry wages in Africa are minimal and staff rely on tips to supplement their wages. Tipping of all service staff is customary and the only time tips are not given are when the service has been exceptionally poor. At restaurants, approximately 10% of the bill is standard (unless such amount is already included as a service charge). For taxi drivers and porters at airports, a tip of about US$1 is sufficient.
Tips are best given in local currencies and the US dollar amounts quoted are just given as a guide. While on tour or on safari, we suggest the following amounts as a guideline for tipping from each passenger: US$2-US$3 a day for the cook on tour (if applicable), US$1 a day for any additional guides, US$1 a day for general hotel or camp/lodge staff (normally there is a box centrally located for this in the foyer or reception) and US$1 for hotel/lodge porters per couple of bags.
Your tour leader works hard to ensure you have a great trip, so please don’t hold back if you feel they have earned a tip for their efforts. If you would like to reward your crew for their services, you can choose to do so individually or make a group presentation at the end of the tour. An appropriate tip from each participant is the local equivalent of about US$4-US$5 per person per day for each staff member. This amount is intended as a guideline only and tipping is always at the discretion of the individual.
Please refer to your itinerary for joining lodge's name and address. You need to make your own way to your joining lodge unless you have booked an arrival transfer. If you have pre-booked a transfer please look out for our representative holding a board with the Geckos logo and your name on it at the arrival terminal. Please do not go with anyone else.
If for some reason you do not make contact with the Geckos representative at the airport, please continue to the Tourism Information desk and contact the emergency number on +27 (0)82 822 9407. The driver will then meet you at the Information desk and will transfer you to the joining hotel.
A pre-departure meeting will take place at the joining lodge at 6.00pm on the evening of Day 1.
Generally, your room will be available from around 2.00 pm. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning, you may have to wait until a room becomes available. Alternatively, you can book one night's ‘pre-tour accommodation’ which will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Please refer to the ‘Additional Services’ panel on the pricing page of our brochure. Rooms must generally be vacated by 10.00 am unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel Reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge.
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
Botswana is not a dirt-cheap country. Beer is about BWP5 per small bottle and a litre of water is approximately the same.
In South Africa, as a general guide, a light meal (eg, sandwiches for lunch) will cost around US$3-4. A more substantial lunch will cost around US$8-10. For dinner, we recommend budgeting about US$8-15 for the meal only. A litre of water costs about US$1.50 and a bottle of beer will set you back about US$2.
Although foreigners are made to pay considerably more for goods and services than locals, Zimbabwe is still not expensive for overseas visitors carrying stronger currencies. A meal in a decent restaurant should set you back US$4. Many hotels offer great value buffet meals for around US$5-10. A beer will cost US1-2 and a litre of bottled water is around US$1.
An experienced driver, guide and camp cook accompany us on this safari. Local site guides join us in the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. It is recommended that you pre-book an arrival transfer, as our lodge is in a remote area between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
We travel in a custom-built safari vehicle that can take a maximum of 22 clients. There are large opening windows, providing unrestricted game viewing and photographic opportunities, and on-board we have useful reference books about the flora and fauna that you may encounter during your safari.
The dome tents are spacious and quick to erect with the sides covered in mosquito netting and foam mattresses provided to enable you to sleep in comfort. A comfortable folding chair is also supplied for each passenger. In addition, all communal camping equipment is carried on board together with on-board cool boxes. You need to bring your own sleeping bag and it is also recommended that you bring a pillow or purchase one locally for added comfort.
Please note there are no laundry services available whilst camping, but sometimes when we stay at a campsite for at least two consecutive nights, there may be the opportunity to do some hand-washing.
A special feature of the safari is that in addition to our safari guide and professional driver we have a camp cook who plans, budgets and prepares all included meals.
Gecko’s strongly advises you to carry sufficient USD cash with you to cover your time in Zimbabwe. All USD notes should be year 2003 or over. You will not be able to withdraw USD cash in any form once you have entered Zimbabwe (including use of ATMs, credit cards and travellers cheques) so please ensure you have sufficient money prior to your arrival for all your expenses including tourist visa, spending money and any optional activities you may choose to do in Victoria Falls.
Road Conditions and Infrastructure in Africa
Roads in Africa are often in very poor condition, which makes it hard on vehicles. Our vehicles are serviced regularly and are generally in good condition, but breakdowns can and do happen. The infrastructure in Africa is not always what we are used to and travelling on their roads can sometimes be very bumpy experiences. The travelling times indicated in our Trip Notes is just a rough guide and is dependent on various factors that may be outside our control, such as road conditions, weather and time spent at borders.
Occasionally it may be necessary to amend this itinerary for reasons beyond our control such as weather and road conditions.
This is an adventure holiday where you will be exposed to different cultures. The infrastructure may also differ significantly from what you are accustomed to in your homeland. Please be open-minded.
Some of the campsites we will be using will have limited facilities, and the availability of water is not always assured. We will always be able to obtain enough for cooking and washing food items.
On this safari you may be joined by passengers who are travelling on other Gecko’s Africa trips. They may be taking another Gecko’s tour before or after this tour or may only be joining part of this tour.
Our vehicles that we use on this trip are all equipped with a water tank that carries drinkable water, which is drawn from reliable water sources. Bottled water can be purchased at additional cost at numerous points along the journey should any clients wish to drink bottled water instead of the vehicle water supplies. Water purification tablets are used for the water tank or you can choose to bring your own.
Please note that whilst on safari, you may be in close proximity to wild animals. Whilst all precautions are taken to ensure your safety, you must be aware that these animals are unpredictable in their natural environment and no responsibility can be taken for their behaviour.
Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Meals included: 1 dinner
Head out to the Burma flea market for any last minute safari must-haves (t-shirts, hats, books) and grab a bite to eat while you're there. You'll find everything from Indian and Chinese to Turkish and South African food.
Please note: If you would like to exchange any South African rand, it is advisable to do this today as there will be no time to visit banks tomorrow. The airport is an ideal place to do this with its abundance of ATMs and forex bureaus in the arrival hall.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
(Approximate driving time: 7 hours excluding time spent at border; game drive times variable)
About 30 rhinos roam around this 400ha community-based reserve. Don't forget your binoculars, or you'll be getting them confused with big rocks.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
(Approximate driving time: 7 hours)
Up early for our really long drive to Maun (pronounced ma-ooon) so pee before you get in the truck. We also offer a free massage service (it's really bumpy).
Meals included: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
There's nothing more relaxing than feeling the African sun on your face as you lie back in a mokoro, eyes closed while your expert poler propels you through the calm waters... until a hippo grunts.
Please Note: For the two nights in the Okavango Delta you will need to pack clothing and other personal items into a smaller overnight bag, as space is limited. There will be no access to showers and you will be away from the safari vehicle.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
(Approximate driving time: 2 hours)
Traffic on the road to Kasane can be pretty intense. Giraffe, ostrich, zebra, and elephant, however, are all pretty courteous road users. Zip around Chobe in 4WDs, spotting heaps of wildlife and brushing up on your photography skills.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
(Approximate driving time: 2 hours excluding time spent at border)
Make the most of white-water rafting, bungee jumping, elephant safaris and some more game drives. They'll try and make you wear a yellow poncho at Vic Falls. Don't. This place is far too pretty to have you looking like an idiot in all your photographs.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact us, we are here to help you!
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1 May 2013
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