Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s a list of frequently asked questions for your quick reference. Your Pulse Africa Travel Specialist, however, will be guiding you through all these details when you book a trip with us. Holding your hand every step of the way is just another example of our personalised service…
How We Work
Are you different from a travel agency?
Definitely! We design personalised tailor-made trips for our clients and don’t sell packaged holidays nor scheduled departures.
We plan and book a trip that is unique to you by tapping into our years of experience in the business, our first-hand knowledge of various places, and our relationships with all the suppliers in the travel business. We arrange the hotels, lodges, tours, guides, regional flights, transfers and all the details from when you arrive until you depart. While you could do this yourself, Africa is a tricky beast and piecing together all the components of travel in this continent can be challenging and more time-consuming than it may appear. Why not leave it to the experts?
How does the cost of the trip work?
In the customised itinerary that we will send you, there is one inclusive price encompassing all the components for your trip including hotels, transfers, guides, regional flights, car rentals, etc. The list of exclusions will also be shown and comprises visas, tips, some meals, luxury beverages, etc. We will also send you a tipping guideline before you travel.
How do I pay for my trip and what are the terms?
Payments can be made via an online secure payment link, by credit card or by bank transfer. We require a 25% non-refundable engagement fee upon acceptance of the proposed itinerary. This fee is used as a deposit to secure your space at the various hotels/lodges we are booking for you. It also serves as partial payment for Pulse Africa’s professional services in the briefing, planning and finalising of your holiday. Final payment is due 8 weeks before travel. All the details for payment methods, including our cancellation policy are outlined in our Terms and Conditions.
What do I need to bring with me?
We have a suggested packing list that we will send to you before you travel. Clothing should be kept to a minimum as laundry service is available almost everywhere. You may also wish to be a “social impact traveller” in which case you could bring additional items to contribute to the local economies. One such program which we support is “Pack with a Purpose.” Click here for more details on what they recommend you bring. The pace in Africa is a little slower than the rest of the world, so patience and a sense of humour will help with the overall enjoyment of your holiday.
Can I drink the water?
Bottled water (usually in an environmentally friendly format) is provided at most hotels and lodges and you should use this option rather than drinking out of the taps as a precaution. However, it is safe to clean your teeth with tap water at the accommodation we book for you. To avoid dehydration, especially in the warmer summer months, it is important to keep your water intake high.
Will I need any vaccinations?
Please discuss this with your doctor or visit a travel clinic. There are some vaccinations recommended and they will have the most up to date information.
Will I need a yellow fever certificate?
Yellow fever is required for entry into certain countries (such as South Africa) if you are travelling from a yellow fever infected country, such as certain East African countries. You may also need it to get back into your own country. Your doctor will give you advice on this.
Will I need to take malaria medication?
We highly recommend taking malaria prophylaxis if you are travelling to a malarial area. Please discuss with your doctor / travel clinic as they will give you the most up to date advice. You can also lessen the risk of being bitten by wearing long sleeves, trousers and socks, and spraying any exposed skin with a good mosquito repellent.
Money & Finances
Where and how do I change money? Can I use a credit card?
You will generally get the best rates at banks or forex bureaus that are available in most cities/towns. However, the most easily accessible places to change money are airports so we recommend you change monies as you arrive. You won’t need a lot of cash- it’s just for tips, roadside shops and markets. Apart from at the more remote camps, credit cards are generally accepted (Visa and Mastercard only)
Is Credit Card usage safe?
Credit card fraud is in on the increase internationally and sadly this occurs across the African continent too. Imprinting and/or skimming takes only a few seconds! Never let your credit card out of your sight at any time. When making any payments, please ensure that you are present when your card is swiped.
What about VAT and VAT Refunds?
Value Added Tax is included in most items in African countries. It is 15% in South Africa. You are permitted to claim that money back on all goods that you take with you- eg) curios, clothing, bags, perfumes etc. These claims can be made when leaving the country at all the international points of departure. In order to claim the VAT back, you need to present the original invoice and the item. Make sure you get a tax invoice from any merchants and it must include your name and address. You must apply for the refund before checking in or having your bags wrapped, in case you have to show the items. Please allow at least one additional hour before check-in to complete your VAT claims.
Will I need a visa?
For certain countries you will need a visa, and it can often be obtained upon arrival for a fee, depending on what passport you hold. If you get your visa in advance, it will be valid for three months from the date of issue (not from the date of entry).
What are my passport requirements?
Your passport will need to be valid for six months after travel and you will need to have at least three blank pages in your passport for stamps/visas.
What type of insurance do I need? Is medivac and health insurance sufficient?
You should have insurance covering you for any kind of medical eventuality. We can give you a quote for insurance or you can organise it yourself. You should ensure that you have medical evacuation cover, although we generally provide information for you in destinations where it is required. In addition, you should have cancellation cover. Cover for theft and baggage loss is also available, though it is up to you whether or not you take this.
Safety & Security
Can I self-drive?
In South Africa yes, as the roads are good and the traffic volumes will generally be less than you are used to. We also have clients who are happy self-driving in countries such as Namibia, northern Tanzania, Réunion and Mauritius. In other African countries, we generally do not recommend clients drive themselves. Our Travel Specialists are up to date on the self-drive options at any given time, so give them a call!
How safe are my belongings?
Every camp/lodge/hotel either has a lock up facility in your room/tent or the manager has a safekeeping facility. It is generally not a good idea to take valuables such as passports on game drives and we recommend you leave any non-essential jewellery at home.
Is it safe? What about the wild animals?
When you are in camp you will be briefed on safety. Many of the camps are not fenced and for this reason in the evening and morning you will be escorted to and from your tent. You will also be provided with flashlights in camp and either a whistle or radio for emergencies (not room service!). There are staff who keep an eye on camp in the evening and track animals that pass through or near camp. In East Africa they are known as askari. When on game viewing activities such game drives or walks, you will be given a safety briefing. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your guides, as they are professionals and trained to deal with all situations.
Will I be safe in the city? eg Nairobi/ Dar es Salaam/Johannesburg
African cities are like most cities in the world in so far as there are certain areas that should be avoided. Common sense should prevail when walking around towns- don’t flash your cash, jewellery etc. You will be transferred to and from your hotel and escorted sightseeing tours can be arranged, so there is no need to be overly concerned.
Will I get lost?
When you book a holiday with Pulse Africa, we like to make it as easy as we can for you. When you arrive (usually in a strange country for the first time), you will be met and taken to your hotel. Similarly, when you go on a tour or move to different areas of the country by whatever means, someone will be there to guide and/or drive or fly you. We want your biggest concern each day to be along the lines of: what to have to drink/what time to get up/do I have time for a swim before the next activity…
What to Expect
How do I tip the guides and camp staff?
The guides and camp staff will be most appreciative of anything that you wish to give them. The guides are usually given their tips at the end of the trip, although if you have a guide at each camp you can give the tip to him at the end of your stay. There is usually a tip box in the main area for the camp staff and this is divided equally among all members of staff. If a camp has a different policy you will be advised of this on arrival. Sometimes the managers prefer that all tips be given to them to be passed on to the staff. Your Travel Specialist will give you a tipping guideline prior to travel.
Should I use a porter?
There are designated porters at all airports. They have some sort of uniform the word “PORTER” on their chests. Please ONLY use official porters. For your own safety, please do not use the services of any individuals who are not wearing some form of valid identification in any African airports. Better yet, use the wheels on your suitcase and be your own porter!
Why are guides so important?
A good guide is essential to the enjoyment of your safari. The guides at the camps and those we use are extremely knowledgeable and eager to share their passion and knowledge of the areas and wildlife.
What can I expect to see on my safari?
Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of seeing wildlife, encouraged perhaps by documentaries on television with fantastic close up animal shots. These have generally taken months to film. That is not to say that you won’t have brilliant game viewing, but the animals you have come to see are wild and unpredictable. That is what makes safari exciting, as no day is the same and you never know what you might see.
What is a typical day on safari like?
A typical day on safari is a little different in each area that you visit but will include a morning and afternoon activity and sometimes a night drive. Your days start quite early as this is when the animals are most active. You’ll return to camp for lunch, when it is hottest and the animals don’t move about much. Depending on the camp and area that you are visiting, a range of other activities can also be enjoyed such as walking, village visits, canoeing, boat trips, hot air ballooning and often much more!
Are there power points for charging phones and camera batteries?
Some of the larger lodges have main power supply (220 volt) in the rooms while smaller places may rely on solar power or generators. Some game vehicles have charging options. You may well need an adaptor depending on which country you are travelling to. We recommend bringing back up batteries to use while charging.
How do my friends and family stay in touch while I am travelling?
There is mobile phone reception almost everywhere so your relatives can contact you directly. We will also give you a full contact list of local ground handlers, the lodges and our own phone numbers prior to travel. Apart from the more remote camps, most bush lodges/camps do have direct dial facilities. Wi-Fi is available at almost every camp.
Is there a luggage limit?
If you are flying in light aircraft at any stage during your trip, the luggage restrictions are quite strict as the planes are limited with regard to the weight that they can safely carry. It is therefore vital that all passengers adhere to the limits. These vary from country to country but are between 10kgs (22 lbs) and 15 kgs (33 lbs) per person maximum. This excludes a small amount of 2 kgs (5 lbs) of hand luggage. Please also let us know well in advance if you are over 1.82 metres (6’2”) tall or weigh over 100kgs (220 lbs). Most small airplanes also insist on the use of soft luggage so it can be stowed easily in the hold of the plane.
What can I take home?
Most curios, carvings and souvenirs are perfectly safe to take back home and you may well make some excellent value purchases (eg) diamonds in South Africa). Please familiarise yourself with your home country’s importation laws as certain items may be forbidden. If you want to purchase an animal skin for example, you will need an export licence and these are only obtainable from authorised dealers. If you are buying items of value, you may be entitled to claim back the VAT on departure. A number of shops can arrange to ship your purchases directly home for you, to save you carrying them around on your holiday.
Are your questions still unanswered? Ask us, we’ll get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.