Classic Africa with
African Clasicc the Leading African Tour specialists


Welcome to the most comprehensive site for answers to questions pertaining to travel to Southern Africa, East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar)  and the Indian Ocean Islands (Seychelles, North Island, Mauritius, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Mnemba Island and the Maldives)

Most of your questions regarding visas, health information, weather etc. will be answered here. 

For visitors coming to Africa for the first time, there are many unanswered questions — what to pack, what are the entry requirements and so on.

To make your visit a truly relaxing and well-prepared one, here are answers to some of those questions. All the information contained herein is given in good faith and has been carefully compiled, and it is the responsibility of the traveler to verify all issues pertaining to the needs of each person.

It must be accepted that details will change from time to time! Please read this information thoroughly, as there are certain things which must be checked and attended to in advance of departure. And of course, please feel free to call African Classic Encounters with any questions you may still have.






Table of Contents

What immunizations will I need?

How do I get a passport?

How do I get additional pages added to my passport?

Do I need a Visa to travel to that country? How do I get a Visa?

What is the weather like at that time of the year?

What is the time difference?

Which side of the road do they drive on?

What currency do they use?

What is the exchange rate?

How do I convert from Metric?

Electric Current


General Travel Information

How much luggage can I take?

How do I become a Valued Client of African Classic Encounters?

Terms and Conditions of travel with ACE

What immunizations will I need?

You will need to make an appointment with your personal physician or travel clinic at least one month prior to departure to review pertinent health precautions including necessary vaccinations and medications. Please discuss any other health-related questions with your health practitioner at this time.

  • Yellow Fever:
  • No vaccinations or health certificates are required unless you are arriving within 6 days after leaving a Yellow Fever infected area.
  • Note: A Yellow Fever Vaccination Card is required for entry into Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
  • Malaria:
  • A course of malaria prophylactics is advisable for all non-African visitors. Most brands need to be taken a few days/weeks before entering into a malaria area (depending on the brand), and for 4 weeks after you return home. Consult your doctor, nearest vaccination center or pharmacist for the most up-to-date requirements and brand recommended for the area to which you are traveling. Take your tablets regularly and ensure that you have a sufficient supply for the duration of your holiday and for the additional time once you return home. We recommend that you take your tablets in the evenings in order to avoid experiencing any potential side effects during the day. Mosquitoes usually bite between dusk and dawn. The best prevention is avoidance so we strongly advise that you cover up by wearing long sleeves and long pants and use mosquito repellent.
  • Bilharzia:
  • Bilharzia is a disease caused by tiny parasites (small snails) present in lakes, rivers and dams. There is no prophylactic available against Bilharzia, which is treated by drugs or an injection. The condition can be unpleasant so it's better not to swim in rivers or streams, particularly where the water is stagnant.
  • AIDS:
  • The HIV virus and AIDS are serious health issues in many African countries. However, the risk to travelers is negligible assuming proper precautions are taken. Transmission of HIV is by bodily fluids only. Use the same precautions while in Africa as in your home country to protect against contracting this virus.
  • General recommendations:
  • Always take precautions against the persistent overhead sun. Proximity to the equator makes the African sun particularly strong so ensure you use the proper level of protection. In the winter months, the big game areas can be dusty. Contact lens wearers may be advised to bring eye drops. Wrap-around sunglasses provide the best protection from dust and other eye irritants. Sun protective chapstick, sunscreens, moisturizing creams and insect repellents are recommended.
  • Personal Health History:
  • Please advise African Classic Encounters of any specific health restrictions that may affect your choice of accommodation or style of travel.

(Back to Top)

Do I need a passport?  How do I get a passport?

For the majority of foreign nationals who travel to South Africa for vacation, entry is straightforward and hassle-free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa.

It is essential that you check the applicable requirements with your travel agent, airline, the nearest tourist office, or diplomatic mission.

(Back to Top)

How do I get additional pages added to
my passport?

PASSPORT NOTE: At least two blank passport pages are required when traveling to South Africa.

If traveling to multiple countries throughout Africa, make sure that there is one blank passport page available for a stamp from each country. (PLEASE NOTE: Amendment pages are not considered valid passport pages.)

Some countries require that your U.S. passport be valid at least six months or longer beyond the dates of your trip. If your passport expires before the required validity, you will have to apply for a new one. Please check with the embassy or nearest consulate of the country that you plan to visit for their requirements.


(Back to Top)

Do I need a visa to travel to that  country?  How do I go about getting a visa?

Travelers from certain regions of the world (Scandinavia, Japan, the USA, and most Western European and Commonwealth countries) do not need to formally apply for a visa. Upon arrival in South Africa, countries falling into this category will automatically be given a free entry permit sticker that outlines how long they may remain in the country. This automatic entry permit is usually for a maximum of 90 days, though the immigration officer may tailor the time period according to the airline tickets held.

Click here to see a quick reference for all countries

Foreign nationals from some other countries are offered this service, but for a maximum of 30 days. If visitors want to stay for a longer period, they will have to apply formally for a visa, as opposed to relying on the automatic entry permit.

You must have a valid passport that does not expire for at least six months after your return home. Please ensure your passport has sufficient blank pages for any visas required and for entry/departure stamps.

You will also require a return air ticket, and sufficient traveler's checks or foreign currency to finance your travel in and exit from these African countries.

A valid passport is the only documentation required by Americans for entry into Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, and South Africa.

The following countries require a visa, which must be obtained from the consulate prior to travel: Egypt, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania.

Visas for the following countries can be obtained upon arrival and are payable in US dollars: Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Please note that if you will depart and then re-enter Zimbabwe or Zambia during the course of your holiday, you must obtain a double entry visa.   

It is important that you click on the link below to check for latest updates.

(Back to Top)

What is the weather like at that time of the year?

East and Central Africa

The long rains are from early April through early June, and the short rains from late November through December.

Dry seasons offer excellent visibility and more reliable road conditions, and game tends to congregate around the limited water sources, making the animals easier to find.

July and August are generally extremely busy in East Africa, offering comfortable temperatures in addition to being a popular time for travel world-wide.

Ensure that you are very familiar with the migration routes and the best times to view it.

Southern Africa

The rainy season runs mainly from late November through mid-April in the safari regions; however if you are traveling to South Africa, the southern Cape is experiencing summer at this time and is a wonderful place to visit.

The Cape area can be cold and rainy during the southern hemisphere winter months from June through August.

May and June can be delightful months for sight seeing and safaris.

Click here to see weather in South Africa


Indian Ocean Islands

Generally the weather is similar to that of southern Africa, with the summer rains lasting from November through April, with occasional cyclones during that time. The dry season from May to October is ideal.


Weather Tips

Although these are general guidelines regarding seasonal patterns, please be advised that the weather can vary dramatically throughout your trip.

A light warm jacket, hat, gloves, and raincoat/windbreaker are essential depending on when you travel and the nature of your trip.

We strongly recommend dressing in layers as this is an effective method of compensating for the wide variations in temperatures. The early morning game drives can be very chilly.


What is the time difference?

South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.

Southern Africa is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (6 hours during Daylight Savings Time). East and Central Africa is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (5 hours during Daylight Savings Time).

For the first few days on safari, your body will be adjusting not only to this time change, but also to the altitude.

Johannesburg is a mile high city just like Denver.  If you experience adverse health effects at higher than normal altitudes, please consult your doctor for further advice.

Which side of the road do they drive on?

What currency do they use?

The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are widely accepted.

What is the exchange rate?

How do I convert from Metric? (Scroll down after you click on this link.)

What is the electric current? 

South Africa's electricity supply: 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz
Exceptions: Pretoria (230 V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250 V)
Most plugs have three round pins but some plugs with two smaller pins are also found on appliances. Adaptors can be purchased but may be in short supply. US-made appliances may need a transformer.

If you are a client of African Classic Encounters, use your African Classic Encounters passport to log into the VIP lounge for a picture of the plug that is used and find additional valuable information to prepare for your journey.






When to go

This depends on your specific needs and requirements. Interests range from Africa’s spectacular wildlife to the wide variety of birds that occur in Africa at different times of the year.

Other interest are botany, culture and natural phenomena (such as the sardine run on the east coast of South Africa or the migration of wildebeest in Serengeti and Kenya). Many guests use their favorite activity as the foundation and build their holiday around these activities such as fly-fishing, diving, kayaking, photography or horse riding, beaching or whatever takes your fancy.

Is there a "best time" to go on safari?

It really depends on the type of animals you wish to see or the activity you would like to partake in.

Certain reserves have good game viewing all year round but others will have particularly good elephant sightings or other migratory animals at different times of the year.

It is generally felt that the African winter is the best time to go on safari, as the grass is dry and vegetation sparse making game viewing easier. It is also the time when animals are on the move looking for food and water.

In Kenya and Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the migration of over two million wildebeests and zebra.
Temperatures in winter are generally mild but can become considerably cooler in the evening, so pack multiple layers of clothing to ensure you stay comfortable on afternoon game drives and walks. It goes without saying that the standard safari gear must include a broad brim hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Summer is the best time to travel for birding, botany and great weather. In areas where malaria is prevalent, summer is generally a more risky time to travel. So, before you go on safari, consult your doctor.

See below is a quick reference on the seasons:


All year round. Best birding: Nov-March. Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July-October. Middle season: May-June.


 All year round. Best game viewing (in north): winter (May-August). Southern regions: summer destination (Sept-April).


Some lodges in remote areas close Nov-May. Victoria Falls spectacular after rains: April-May


All year round. Best white water rafting: Aug-Dec. Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July-Oct. Middle season: May-June.



All year round. Great migration: June-September.




All year round. Best climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Aug-Oct and Jan-March. Great migration: April-June and Oct-Dec.




All year round depending on choosing southern or northern hemisphere - the perfect end to an African safari.




Best time: winter (April-Sept). Best fishing months: summer (Oct-March).




Best time: Winter (August). Rainy season: January - March).




All year round. Best birding: summer (Nov-April). Best botanical months: Dec-May. Peak season: July-October. Middle season: May-June.


What to pack

The most important thing is to dress comfortably on your safari. Lightweight clothing in neutral colors is suitable for the bush (including a long-sleeved shirt for protection from the sun and long pants for protection from mosquitoes in the evenings).

The occasional city restaurant may require smart-casual dress and even a tie.

If you are joining an organized safari of any kind, the amount of luggage you are permitted to take with you is restricted, particularly in a small aircraft or canoe.

Limit yourself to a soft, preferably waterproof, duffel bag of 12kg (26 pounds). Since laundry is done daily in almost every camp, lodge or hotel you will visit, it is not necessary to bring more than 3 sets of clothing.

Please avoid clothing resembling army uniforms e.g., army jackets, caps, trousers.



African Classic Encounters's general recommendation is to tip moderately - in accordance with the level and quality of service provided.

Click here for detailed tipping suggestions.

 Beware of unscrupulous people who try to exhort extra payment from unwary passengers just for shuffling their bags around.


Luggage Free

Should you wish to ship luggage please contact ACE for more details.  Door to door service for excess luggage is easy to arrange.



Film is sometimes available at safari camps and game lodges even in remote areas, but stocks are usually small and of a common type only. We suggest you buy plenty of film and bring spare batteries with you before leaving home.

Film is expensive and, in addition, may not be very fresh; batteries are expensive and difficult to obtain.

For game and bird photography, a telephoto lens of between 200 and 300 mm is strongly recommended. Larger lenses, which require a tripod, are generally impractical for photography from vehicles, as are double lens reflex cameras. Binoculars are invaluable for game and bird viewing, and each traveler should have their own pair.

Out of respect for the local cultures, seek the advice of your driver before photographing people.

Note that certain Government, military and police buildings may not be photographed.

Video cameras can be recharged at many safari camps via the camp generator at the discretion of the camp management.

The following guidelines on quantities to bring may be helpful:

The following guidelines on quantities to bring may be helpful:

  • Minimum of 12 to 15 rolls of film
  • 40% Fast (400 ASA), 60% Normal (200 ASA), 1 x 1000 ASA
  • 2 Lenses (50 mm and zoom 200 mm minimum)
  • Lens tissue, dust cover, fresh batteries, filters
  • Spare batteries

For digital cameras ensure that you bring batteries and chargers and memory sticks/cards.



African Classic Encounters strongly recommends Trip Insurance.

Minimum travel insurance is mandatory.

Should you wish to obtain Trip Insurance, African Classic Encounters offers GSA Travel Protection plan is designed to offer comprehensive coverage for worldwide vacations, trip cancellation, medical and baggage insurance coverage is available.

More info>>


Safari Advice

Not taking binoculars - or taking the wrong ones

Binoculars are essential to safaris - the wildlife seldom comes as close as you would like.

Under 8 power is too weak. Over 10 power is too strong (unless you are skilled in holding the binoculars steadily when the vehicle is moving, idling or starting).

Use quality binoculars - they will be your extended eyes. What you see is what you experience.

Don't rely on using the ranger's binoculars. Bring your own. More often than not you might  have to share the binoculars with other safari adventurers.


Safari Essentials

Sunglasses, sunscreen, eye drops and mosquito repellant

 You will be out on game drives for hours at a time - and the bare safari earth intensely reflects the sun's rays. Protect your eyes (by wearing sunglasses that effectively block ultraviolet rays) and sunscreen (with a SPF rating of 15 or higher).

Pack eye drops, particularly if you wear contact lenses. The safari air carries fine particle dust. 

Mosquitoes are the chief source of malaria (and dengue fever), so use a good mosquito repellant, one containing the ingredient DEET. (For further protection,  wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts from about 3 p.m. to 10 a.m.)


Gay Africa

South Africa is a "World in one Country" and offers one of the most progressive non-discrimination policies in the world.


South Africa expressly protects the rights of Gays and Lesbians in its constitution. 


Cape Town has emerged as one of the top gay destinations which are attributed to its beautiful beaches, natural landscapes, and a vibrant gay nightlife.


Cape Town was recently featured in both Genre Magazine and Out Traveler as one of the top gay and lesbian destinations to visit!

Read more......