FAQs/Tour Tips for Creation Vacation Tours – Africa Family Safaris

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I’ve booked my Biblical safari with Living Passages! What do I do next?

Welcome! We are so happy to have you join us!

Once we’ve received your registration for our Christian Family Safari, you will be sent a link to a form along with your invoice—we ask each traveler in your party, including you, to please fill out this form in its entirety within 3 days of receipt. This allows us to make sure passport and medical information is up-to-date and enables us to take your travel preferences into account as we prepare for your tour. (Note that we also ask for your shirt size so we can send you a gift—please check out the sizing chart included in the form before selecting your size, to ensure you receive a good fit!)

If you require any special assistance or accommodation for a disability or have questions regarding the accessibility of the sites we will visit, please contact us at +1 (888) 771-8717. We look forward to answering any questions you may have!

I booked airfare through Living Passages—when will I get my plane tickets?

Airfare booked through Living Passages is done via group booking. Ticketing for groups is not done until several weeks prior to departure, so you can expect to receive your flight information and ticket numbers approximately 3 weeks before your travel date. All tickets are issued electronically, so you’ll receive your itinerary and ticket number via email, along with instructions on how to change/add seat assignments or purchase more legroom. Group bookings typically require travelers to check in at the airport, so make sure you arrive at least 2 hours prior to flight takeoff in order to check in and go through security.

What do I need to do to be able to travel to South Africa?

Travelers going to South Africa will need to have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond their scheduled return date. If you don’t have a passport yet, or if yours is expiring soon, you should apply for a new one as soon as possible. US Citizens can go to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html for information on how to apply for/renew passports. Please be aware that passport processing times are long, and it may take up to 13 weeks to get your passport. Wait times to get an appointment for a first-time application before the process of issuance can begin can be long depending on your location, so please do not wait to make one. Please schedule an appointment right away if you need to apply for a new passport before your trip.

To find a passport acceptance facility near you, search here: Where to Apply for a Passport Nationwide (state.gov)

If you are bringing a minor with you, who will only be accompanied by one parent or by a guardian other than a parent (such as grandparents, an aunt or uncle, etc.) you will need to bring a signed and notarized letter from the absent parent(s) verifying your custody and permission to bring the child to another country. Please check current governmental guidance and regulations before travel and be prepared to produce any legal documents necessary for your travel.

Do I need to get a visa before I travel to South Africa?

If you are a citizen of the United States, you do not need to get a visa in advance before traveling to South Africa if you are staying less than 90 days. When you arrive at the airport, you will be issued a tourist visa.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will be required to obtain any additional visas or approvals.

What kind of money can I use in South Africa?

The currency used in South Africa is the Rand. We recommend that you convert at least $70 USD into rand from a currency kiosk or via withdrawal from an ATM when you arrive at the airport, as you will not have another opportunity to do so. Remember to ask for it in small denominations!

Additionally, we recommend that you bring at least another $300 per person in case you need it for souvenirs, extra purchases, tips above and beyond the prepaid minimum gratuities, emergencies, etc. (do not bring bills in denominations over $50, please).

Can I use my credit card in South Africa?

Credit cards are not widely used where we’ll be traveling. Aside from the airport, the lodge will take credit cards if you purchase gifts or other activities.

If you plan to use your credit card to purchase souvenirs or withdraw rand from an ATM, it’s wise to check with your card issuer or bank about applicable foreign transaction fees before you travel so there are no surprises. It’s also wise to notify your bank of your upcoming travel dates and the countries you will be visiting for security reasons.

What kind of clothes should I pack for South Africa?

When you travel with Living Passages on a luxury family safari to South Africa, you’ll be visiting at a lovely time of year—the temperature during the day will be in the 60-70* Fahrenheit range. Wearing layers is the key to comfortable travel here. Informal, comfortable, conservative clothing is all you need to pack. We encourage you to bring “safari-style” clothes in neutral colors such as greens, olives, light browns and tans that are designed to be rinsed and hung to dry quickly for repeat wear the next day, such as hiking clothing you can find at any outdoor outfitter store.

On your luxury safari, you’ll have opportunity to enjoy a wide range of activities—the standard bush walks and safari excursions, a hot air balloon ride at dawn, visiting Vervet monkeys at an animal sanctuary, stargazing, and meeting elephants—these are just a few of the amazing experiences you’ll want to consider as you pack. Casual, functional clothing you can move in easily will be all you need to feel comfortable and prepared.

Always check the weather forecast right before you pack—we realize that everyone has different levels of comfortability with various temperatures, and it’s best to be prepared for your personal needs based on current weather conditions. Many find that they require a coat or heavy fleece or sweatshirt and warm hat and gloves for the cool early morning and late evening safaris in the bush.

Don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat! If your skin is sensitive to the sun, you can even bring a collapsible umbrella to carry shade with you wherever you go.

What kind of shoes should I pack for South Africa?

Bring a comfortable pair of walking or hiking shoes that you will be able to walk around in on uneven ground, dirt, rock, and smooth paving stones. Any shoes you bring should already be broken in so you don’t get blisters. Sturdy walking sandals, hiking boots, and tennis shoes are all excellent options, especially when paired with warm, sweat-wicking socks. The days will be so packed with fun for the whole family, and comfortable feet will keep you up and running for all of it!

How do I do laundry when I’m traveling in South Africa?

If you need to do laundry on the trip, there are two options:

  1. Use the laundry service at the lodge - check with the hotel front desk for details when you check-in.
  2. If you prefer, you can easily do your laundry by hand. If you have delicate items or have packed clothing that dries quickly, it’s easy to do it in the sink in your room at the lodge and save some money. To make it even easier, bring a good cold-water soap (like this travel-size laundry detergent) as well as a couple of large Ziploc bags… just in case your laundry isn’t fully dry by check-out time and you need to pack it into your suitcase.
What can I expect each day to look like on your luxury African Safari?

Each day will be a little different, and full of thrilling family-friendly activities—you won’t want to miss a second of it! Some days will begin with an early-morning safari or bushwalk into the breathtaking beauty of Africa to catch the wildlife at its most active. Others will begin with breakfast and an excursion to a wildlife sanctuary, such as the Cheetah Research Center. Between scheduled excursions and free time with options for activities like fishing, hunting, golf, archery, swimming, massage, and spa treatments, you’ll find that your time is well-spent. Throughout it all, Biblical teaching on the creation story and the awe-inspiring design of the natural world around you will tie everything together into an experience that is sure to be a blessing.

Expect evenings full of fireside chats and fellowship, stargazing, and connection—or even a night safari for the adventurous!

What kind of physical activity does this safari require?

This Christian safari is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages – most activities require a moderate level of mobility, but due to the fantastic accommodations at our lodge, should anyone feel the scheduled group activity to be too taxing, there are many things they can enjoy as they stay back at the lodge. If you are uncertain about whether this tour is suitable for your ability needs or that of a family member, please advise the staff at Living Passages well in advance if you are concerned about activity levels and need more accessibility information.

If you need more information about this tour or require accommodations, please give us a call at (888) 771-8717 and we are happy to discuss the activity level and accessibility of specific sites as it pertains to your personal needs!

Please know that we want to do our utmost to assist you in seeing these marvelous locations, but if we do not know about needed accommodations in advance, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to arrange for them.

I’ve heard I’ll be getting a package from Living Passages before we leave on the trip. What will I get in my box?

About two weeks before departure on your tour, Living Passages will mail you a few little gifts: a button-down, pocketed safari shirt that is perfect for keeping the sun off, luggage tags to help you and the porters keep track of your bags, and a name badge to make it easy to identify who is part of the tour group.

We will also mail you hard copies of tour documents for you to bring with you on the trip. These will include any visas or insurance documents that we’ve arranged on your behalf as well as a day-to-day itinerary, a contact list complete with hotel and guide information, a list of your fellow travelers, and a final letter with any updates to help you navigate your travel.

We hope these things will be a blessing to you and help you on your journey! If you want to guarantee to be recognized by fellow travelers, we ask that you wear your complimentary Living Passages shirt and name badge upon your arrival.

My package has arrived, but my shirt doesn’t fit right - can I exchange it?

Each shirt is custom-ordered based on the size you requested in your traveler information form when you completed your registration, according to the size chart provided. Because shirts are customized for each tour and traveler, we unfortunately can’t exchange these gifts at this time. However, if your shirt does not fit you as desired, please still bring it on the tour and have it with you at dinner on the first night: you may find that other travelers are looking to swap for a different size as well and that you can exchange them amongst yourselves!

How do I meet up with my tour group?

If you are taking the group air, you will be on the same flight as most of your group—you’ll be traveling overseas together and will likely meet as you wait at your gate or board the plane, especially if you are wearing your complimentary Living Passages shirt!

If you have booked your own flights that arrive at the same time or earlier than the group air schedule, you will meet your tour group at the airport when you arrive, and then leave the airport together.

More specific information will be provided to you as the departure date draws closer, but in either scenario, expect to collect any luggage you may have checked and make your way to the Arrivals Hall of the airport—look for the representative holding a “Living Passages” sign who will be waiting to greet you! To make it easier to identify one another (and help the representative spot you in the busy airport!), please wear your Living Passages button-up shirt for your arrival, along with your name badge. It also helps to attach your Living Passages luggage tags to each bag you’re traveling with. (These items, along with your tour documents, will be mailed to all US residents approx. 2 weeks before departure. For participants residing in other countries, our representative will hand-deliver your items to you on the first day of the tour.)

Your tour group may use WhatsApp to stay in contact before and during your Christian tour. Download the app before you leave if you are able. After you have downloaded the app, please be sure to send Living Passages the cell phone number that you will be using during your travels so we can add the correct number to the group chat. If you have flight delays or encounter any problems while traveling, this app is a great place to mention them to keep the coordinator informed of any issues - or to help you find the group once you arrive!

If you have trouble with the app, don’t worry - you can connect with your tour representative by email, and they will be happy to help you get the app working on the first day of the tour so you don’t miss out on any communications or photos that other travelers share on the trip!

What kind of luggage should I travel with to South Africa? Are there any size restrictions?

Airlines change their luggage restrictions frequently, and no airline is the same. It’s always best to check directly with the airline you are booked on to see the latest luggage requirements, and what kind of items you are allowed to bring on the plane.

Living Passages strongly recommends traveling light and packing everything you will need for your trip into a carry-on bag and “personal item,” such as a small backpack. Checked luggage can sometimes be lost by airlines, resulting in travelers not receiving their baggage for days after their arrival. This can cause unnecessary issues, and your tour schedule to South Africa will not allow time or opportunity for purchasing replacement items if your luggage is lost.

Because of this, as well as ever-increasing fees for checked luggage, we suggest not checking a bag unless absolutely necessary, or limiting yourself to a single checked bag in these cases. Our buses have limited room for luggage transportation, and there will not be space to keep more than a small backpack with you on the bus. Space will be limited, so please be considerate of your fellow passengers. 

If you need to check a bag, be sure to pack a couple of changes of clothing, necessary toiletries, and all medications, cameras, etc. in your carry-on luggage just in case your checked luggage is delayed. This way, if your checked bag is delayed or lost, you’ll have what you need to enjoy the first days of your tour while the airline forwards it to you, without missing valuable days of your trip to shopping.

Special luggage tags will be sent to you approximately two weeks prior to departure - please attach these to each piece of luggage. They are very helpful to baggage handlers at hotels!

What do I need to pack for a luxury safari to South Africa?

Always bring all necessary medications with you in their original containers, along with copies of the prescriptions. It’s wise to bring enough for the entire trip, along with a little extra, as there will not always be a place to get refills. If you wear eyeglasses, bring an extra pair and the prescription just in case.

For daily items you may need to keep with you during activities, bring a fanny pack or bum bag to wear for holding gear such as cameras, water, small bills, a small pair of binoculars, sunscreen, glasses, etc. Passports and the majority of your cash should be carried in a more secure way, such as a money belt that fits under your waistband or shirt. While crime is low, we always recommend that you keep your passport, wallet, and cash in a secure location that is out of sight and not easily removed from your person.

For more packing tips and product recommendations, check out our blog for 8 Tips to Help You Pack Like a Pro.

See this site for details on items that are prohibited for air travel: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

 

What do I need to know about photography in South Africa?

Take twice as many memory cards as you think you will need—you’ll find so many amazing things to photograph and record while you’re on safari! On this Grandparent’s vacation, you’ll have so many opportunities to photograph your grandkids learning on this creation family safari.

As many of our excursions take place in the early mornings or evenings to take advantage of more active hours for wildlife, you may wish to familiarize yourself with your camera settings before the trip. A camera flash will not do the sights justice in your photos and may scare some wildlife.

Be polite with your photography, especially if you wish to take photos of local people. It’s best to establish some type of relationship with them first—even a smile—and then request permission. When in doubt, refrain from taking a shot.

What do I need to know about crime in South Africa?

While we will be fairly insulated from any crime or annoyances such as pickpockets due to our luxury accommodations and excursions into the African wild, travel days will bring us into some crowds. When in areas with a high volume of people, keep alert and aware of your surroundings. Pickpockets tend to target people who appear to be distracted and easy targets. Make sure that your money, credit cards, passport, and phone are difficult for others to access, such as inside a money belt worn under your shirt. Out of sight and carried in front of you is the way to go!

Are the animal encounters, bushwalks, and safaris safe?

All activities involving animals do carry some inherent risks. However, by following the instructions of your guides, and animal handlers, and exercising common sense in your interactions with these beautiful but undomesticated animals, you will be able to enjoy your experiences with confidence. Please listen to and abide by the rules and instructions of your guides and animal handlers – they are there to keep you safe!

When on game drives, bushwalks, and safaris, you will be accompanied by armed trackers as an escort for safety purposes.

Do I need to take any health precautions in South Africa?
  • No inoculations, vaccinations, PCR tests, or shots of any kind are currently required for U.S. residents entering South Africa on this tour.
  • The area to which we are traveling is not known for diseases, especially in June when we will be visiting. If you will be visiting a location in Africa or Asia on your way to our tour that has a history of Yellow Fever, you will be required to carry a certificate, as South Africa does screen visitors so as not to import infectious diseases. Please check the travel requirements of any areas you are visiting before or after the safari tour.
  • Tap water is safe to drink, but if in doubt, bottled water is plentiful.
  • If you have personal health concerns, please talk to your primary care practitioner or a doctor who specializes in travel-related medicine.
  • Special travel insurance is available through Living Passages, both to protect the investment in your travel costs and to cover your health while you are away. To learn more about what is available, including our insurance that includes cancel for any reason coverage (CFAR), please reach out to a Living Passages representative the week of your booking.
Should we expect to tip in South Africa?

Living Passages has prepaid the minimum expected tips for your guides and drivers, as these are included in your tour. Though they’ve been given the minimum standard gratuity, if you enjoyed the help of your guide, driver, waitstaff, or other service personnel, an additional tip can be a great blessing. We recommend that you go directly to any service provider (maids, massage or spa staff, etc.) and thank them with a small financial gift in cash.

While we have prepaid your tips to your regular waitstaff, guides, and drivers, we are not able to prepay the other staff you may come in contact with (spa staff, specialty room services, etc.). Please take this into account when booking extra services at the lodge.

Remember that those we meet will hear our discussions about the Lord, see our Bibles, and observe our conduct: and what a great testimony generosity can be! Any blessing you offer in the way of cash or rand is a sure sign of kindness to these hard workers.

Can I use my cell phone in South Africa?

To make sure you can use your phone while traveling, contact your cell phone service provider before you leave to ask about plans that cover you abroad. If you need to stay connected and able to email, call, and contact others at all times while traveling, we recommend purchasing an international plan with unlimited data. Most cell carriers have reasonable international plans for travelers.  If they have an international plan, you can add it to your phone then. If you need to add unlimited data, please do, but if using the wifi at the lodge will be enough for your needs, do not feel that it’s necessary.

How do I charge my phone or electronics in South Africa?

If you will be bringing any electrical appliances beyond a cell phone or laptop, such as a C-Pap machine, hair dryer, or a camera that must be charged, please check the item’s voltage requirements and be sure to purchase a voltage converter as well as a plug adaptor. South Africa operates on a 230V voltage, so you will need to convert the voltage so it does not ruin your appliances. If you are taking a camera that requires charging, check your owner’s manual for any specialized conversion you may need to make and purchase a voltage converter accordingly.

Additionally, if you live in the United States, power outlets in South Africa require a different type of plug than you are used to: you will find they primarily use “type N,” “type C” and “type M” plugs and outlets. We suggest a voltage converter and an adapter with multiple outlets and USB ports, like this one, to keep things simple!

Sometimes the wall sockets are recessed, which can make it difficult to plug your voltage transformer directly into the wall. To make sure you can always charge your device, bring a simple plug adapter as pictured in the diagram below.

adapter image

How can I spiritually prepare for my Christian safari?

As you travel, it can be hard to absorb all the wonderful sights, sounds, and teachings all at once! It can help to prepare by familiarizing yourself with some of the material beforehand, so you can dig deeper while you travel and find even more significance in God's marvelous Creation while you are in South Africa!

For our upcoming safari with Gary Bates, we recommend his DVD, Creation, Not Confusion.

Most of all, begin to pray now for your travel companions, your driver, guides, and hosts, your housekeepers, and all those you may meet on this trip that God brings to your mind. Pray for God's blessing on your trip, that He will use your investment to His glory, and for a Christ-centered response to each day and every situation. He will provide plenty of opportunities as you ravel to be His hands and feet - what a blessing and a privilege!