zebra
When is the best time to visit Africa
When to go to see the Wildebeest Migration
Flights to Africa
Visas, Entrance Fees & Insurance required for Africa
Health & Diet Considerations when Travelling to Africa
Money Matters
Technology
Packing lists

When is the best time to visit Africa?

Africa is the world’s second largest continent which means that weather conditions vary from one country to the next. Deciding on the perfect time to travel to Africa is often determined by your motivations for going there – where you want to visit, why you’re travelling and of course, your interests! Below is a list of the ideal times to travel to each region in Africa however, keep in mind that all areas can be visited year round.
Country When to Go
Botswana
  • Okavango Delta – Year round although, June to August is the best time to visit as it is the dry season and animals tend to gather around waterholes and rivers, making them easier to spot
  • Moremi – June to August is the best time to visit. It is peak season but the park feels uncrowded
  • Chobe – June to August during peak season however, the riverfront’s can get busy and crowded. If you go during the wet season you will see more newborn animals and migratory birds
Ethiopia
  • Highlands – October to March during the dry season. Heavy rainfalls during the wet season can often cause transport problems
  • Simien Mountains – trekking is best from September to November when it is dry, green and dust free. Wildflowers are in bloom in October
  • Omo Valley – dry season from August to October. This is also when some of the major harvest festivals take place
  • Danakil Depression – November to early January. Temperatures get very hot at other times
Kenya
  • Masai Mara – year round safari destination however, wildebeest migration is between July/early August and the end of November
  • Amboseli – January and February, June through to September. Avoid April and May as it is the rainy season and some roads become impassable
  • Lake Nakuru – year round
Madagascar
  • Year round but April to December are the best for wildlife viewing
Malawi
  • Year round but the best months to see birds are between November and April
Mozambique
  • Year round however, August and September are best for game viewing
Namibia
  • Etosha National Park – You will see most wildlife from June to October during the dry season
  • Southern right, humpback and Minke whales pass by the coast from July to November
Rwanda
  • Year round
  • June to mid-September and mid-December to early February are best for hiking as they are the dry seasons
  • Chimpanzee trekking – mid-February to early June and mid-September to mid-December during the rainy seasons are best for spotting apes
South Africa
  • Kruger, Madikw, Pilanesberg and KwaZulu-Natal – between May and October are best for game viewing and safaris
  • Cape Town – year round but November to March are best if you want a beach holiday
  • Whale Coast – you will have the best chances of seeing whales between June and November
Tanzania
  • June to October are best for visits to the national parks. If you want to see the Serengeti wildebeest migration and calving then visit around June/July and January/February
  • Zanzibar – June to October and December to February are the best months to visit for a beach escape. Diving is best in July and August, February and March
Uganda
  • June to August and December to February are best for safaris. March through to May are low season and can experience high rainfall in some areas which result in deterioration of forest trails
Zambia
  • Any time from June to October is best for wildlife viewing
  • December through to March is not best due to the rains which can make roads impassable. Most camps are also closed
  • February to May is the best time to visit Victoria Falls as it is after the regions summer rains
  • June to August is best if you want to combine Victoria Falls with a Chobe river safari in Botswana
Zimbabwe
  • Year round but the best game viewing can be done in the dry season between May and October
  • Victoria Falls – February to May is the best time to visit Victoria Falls as it is after the regions summer rains
  • June to August is best if you want to combine Victoria Falls with a Chobe river safari in Botswana

When to go to see the Wildebeest Migration

The annual Wildebeest Migration is one of the last natural wonders left on earth and a must see on any East Africa safari. Over two million Wildebeest migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and predicting the movements of the large herds is not an exact science, as it is governed by the rainfall in certain areas.   The map and information below provide a rough guide on their movements: Wildebeest-Migration December to March In the early part of the year (December – March), they spread out throughout the Southern Plains of the Serengeti. This is the time that the southern plains are lush and green, which gives the newborns the strength for the long journey ahead. Things however, are not all cute and cuddly as predators lurk in the shadows… May to August From May to August the long trek towards the Masai Mara in Kenya is in full swing, with some of the herds following the traditional Western Corridor routing, which is where the fabled river crossings occurs at the Grumeti River. The big question of survival comes up at this point… will they survive the river? Others split off to follow a more north easterly direction. August to November From August to November the herds are generally located in the northern reaches of the Serengeti and in the Masai Mara and beyond. The Wildebeest are met with some more opportunities for river crossings on the Mara River, before the long return journey.

Flights to Africa

Eclipse Travel can assist you with all of your flight arrangements including international flights, round-the-world flights as well as internal Africa flights.

Which airlines fly to Africa from Australia?
If you are departing from the east coast of Australia you have the option of flying direct from Sydney to Johannesburg with Qantas. If you are departing from anywhere else in Australia, you must first fly to Perth then on to Johannesburg with South African Airways. Alternatively, you can fly into Africa by first flying into Asia or the Middle East with airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines. You can fly from most major cities in Asia and the Middle East to most major cities within Africa.

Can Africa be incorporated into round-the-world flights?
Yes, there are many options, some of which can be good value or if you are simply looking to combine Africa with Asia or the Middle East on the one ticket, there are other good alternatives our team would be more than happy to discuss with you.

What is the baggage allowance for flights?
Baggage allowance often depends on the airline and where you are flying to and from. Generally speaking, international flight allowance is between 20-23kgs, 7-8kgs for hand luggage and 15-23kgs for domestic flights. Some popular airline baggage allowances can be found here:
Qantas | South African Airways | Emirates | Singapore Airlines | Kenya Airways | Air Madagascar
**Please note, if you are taking a charter flight or if you are going on a ‘Fly-in Safari’, different baggage allowances may apply and you may be required to carry only a small bag with you. Please check with your consultant if this applies to you.

Visas, Entrance Fees & Insurance required for Africa

To check the latest visa requirements and assistance with your application CLICK BELOW to use our handy Visa Machine:
get-visa-arrow-tvm

What visas are required?
Australians need a visa to enter most countries in Africa. The application process varies from country to country and it is often the case that you can apply for them upon arrival into that country. Please see the table below which outlines the visa application process for African countries. Alternatively, the South African High Commission in Canberra can be contacted on 02 6272 7300 or please refer to TIMATIC in the GDS. Please note that this is only a guide and visa requirements are often changing therefore, it is suggested that you double check the requirements with the corresponding consulate prior to departure. In addition to this, you should also consider the following:

  • You will need at least six months validity in your passport from your return date to re-enter Australia
  • Passengers of all nationalities under 18 years of age entering, departing or transiting South Africa or Botswana will need to present an unabridged birth certificate which shows the full name, gender, date of birth and place of birth of the child & full name, date of birth, place of birth and the citizenship at time of birth of both parents. The birth certificate must be the original version, copies will not be accepted. A sworn translation (certified) in English should accompany all documentation  that is in a language other than English
  • Be sure that you have plenty of empty pages in your passport as Africa border guards love to stamp passports
Country Visa Application Process Cost
Botswana Not required if your stay is under 90 days N/A
Ethiopia Can be issued with a visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport only. If arriving through another port, you will need to organise your visa prior to arrival. AU$52
Kenya Travel to Kenya requires an e-visa to be arranged prior to travel. Please note that Kenya e-visas are valid for 3 months after the day of approval. Clients are advised to apply for the e-visa closer to their departure to ensure validity of the travel period.
Complete online application form through E-Visa portal http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html
Single entry: AU$55 Transit: AU$30
Madagascar As of 1 May 2018, the tourist visa fee for Madagascar has increased. This is payable on arrival at the airport. The charge for the tourist visa will be EUR$35 per person for arrivals of up to 30 days.
Malawi A tourist permit is required and can be issued upon arrival in Malawi at the port of entry Single entry: US$75 Transit: US$50
Mozambique Can be issued upon arrival in Mozambique US$25
Namibia Not required if your stay is under 90 days N/A
Rwanda Visa application can be filled online prior to entrance or can be obtained upon arrival at any Rwanda entry point. http://rwandacg.org.au/visa-info/ Single entry: US$50 Upon arrival: US$50 Single entry transit: US$30
South Africa Not required if your stay is under 90 days for Australian passport – NZ passports MUST get a visa (See more below) N/A
Tanzania Complete form and post to the consulate (Perth). Can also be obtained upon arrival but it is best to have it before arrival.http://www.tanzaniaconsul.com/index.html AU$95
Uganda Uganda e visa https://visas.immigration.go.ug/ USD$50 per person. The payment MUST be done online, and the application will not be processed until the payment is done. AU$150 if obtaining prior to arrival
Zambia Can be obtained upon arrival at the port of entry US$50
Zimbabwe Can be obtained upon arrival at the port of entry Single entry: US$30 Double entry: US$45

New Zealand

Disclaimer – Please note:  For official visa advice please visit the South African High Commission or VFS Global visa advisory service.

New Zealand passport holders require a visa to enter South Africa. There are South Africa Visa Application Centres in Wellington and Auckland, and applications must be made in person for an interview. Parents can apply on behalf of children under 18. For information on the South Africa Visa application process for NZers please click here

What additional entrance fees or taxes can I expect?
If you are planning on entering any national parks of reserves during your time in Africa you can expect to pay an entrance fee. The amount can vary from park to park and the method of payment can also vary. We recommend carrying some USD with you as this is a commonly accepted form of payment. We have been advised that international travellers visiting Botswana will be required to pay a USD$30 tourism levy on arrival at international borders in the short term future, most likely from June 01 2017

Travel Insurance
We highly recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to Africa. Please check the terms of your policy carefully, particularly with regard to limits of cover and ensure you are familiar with the procedure for making claims. Once you have paid your deposit or full payment, certain fees will apply if you have to cancel your holiday and for this reason you should take out insurance at the time of paying your deposit or full payment, which should then protect you in such a situation.

Health & Diet Considerations when Travelling to Africa

What vaccinations are required? A range of factors need to be considered by both yourself and your health care professional when assessing the need for vaccines and/or medical when planning your trip to Africa. The following information should be used as a guide only and not a replacement for professional health advice. It is recommended that you visit a travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before you travel to ensure that you are fit and well to travel. The following is a list of our general recommendations:
  • Hepatitis A – recommended for all travellers
  • Typhoid – recommended for all travellers
  • Yellow Fever – highly recommended for all travellers. Some countries will not allow entry without a Yellow Fever Certificate
  • Malaria – recommended for all travellers
  • Hepatitis B – recommended for all travellers
  • Rabies – for travellers spending a lot of time outdoors, or doing activities where you are at a high risk of getting bitten by an animal, or if you will be doing an activity that brings you into direct contact with bats
  • Tetanus, Pertussis & Diphtheria – a booster is recommended if you have already received these vaccinations
  • Meningitis – recommended for all travellers
Dietary Requirements Whilst we understand that no two people are the same therefore, no dietary requirements are the same and these can often be vital to your health. Sometimes due to cultural and language differences, these are not always easy to communicate when you are travelling. Eclipse Travel aims to alleviate these concerns and will assist with communicating any dietary requirements that you may have with our local suppliers in Africa. Please ensure that you inform your sales consultant of your dietary requirements well in advance to ensure the best chance of you getting the foods that you need.

Money Matters

Currency We recommend using the local currency for each country throughout Africa as you will get the most value for your money. You will be able to access ATMs in most of the large cities and high end hotels but as soon as you leave the city, ATMs become scarce. As a backup we recommend carrying a supply of US dollar notes and/or the European Euro as these are widely accepted, in fact, many countries charge airport entry fees in US dollars and some national parks will only accept US dollars for their entry fees. If you are on a high end safari, it is quite common to tip using US dollars as well. Travel money cards are also an option for your African holiday as they work the same as a bank card. If you are planning to travel with a credit card then we highly suggest having a Visa card as it is the most widely accepted. Mastercard is accepted in most major cities however, you may have difficulty using it in smaller towns. Diners Club cards and American Express are not widely accepted therefore, we do not suggest relying on these cards. Local currencies are as follows:  
Country Currency
Botswana Pula (BWP)
Ethiopia Ethiopian birr (ETB)
Kenya Kenyan shilling (KES)
Madagascar Malagasy ariary (MGA)
Malawi Malawian kwacha (MWK)
Mozambique New Mozambican metical (MZN)
Namibia Namibian dollar (NAD)
Rwanda Rwandan franc (RWF)
Tanzania Tanzanian shilling (TZS)
Uganda Ugandan shilling (UGX)
Zambia Zambian kwacha (ZMK)
Zimbabwe American dollar (USD)
  Tipping Guidelines Tipping in Africa isn’t a standard like it is in the United States but it is encouraged as for most people that you will come across, porters, safari guides and drivers, tips make up a significant percentage of their salary. It is handy to keep a few small bills on you at all times for tips and we recommend that they be either US dollar bills or the local currency. Expected amounts differ in each country and often depend on who it is that you are tipping. As a broad guideline, we recommend tipping the following:
  • 10-15% of the total bill for good food and service at a restaurant or bar. If you are in a party of 6 or more, the tip is usually included in your bill
  • $1 per bag for porters
  • $1-$2 per day for hotel staff
  • $3-$5 per day for personal butlers, trackers and drivers
  • $10 per day for professional guides and/or drivers who will be with you throughout your trip
  • $5-$10 per person for one day or half day guides including city tours, safari walks, rafting guides etc.
  • $1-$2 for transfer drivers – to/from airports and hotels

Technology

Internet Access You are likely to find internet cafes throughout all major centres in Africa and can be cheaper than accessing the internet in your hotel. Not all hotels will offer Wi-Fi, and if they do it can often be quite expensive and it is not always guaranteed to work. If Wi-Fi is included in your hotel, it will be mentioned in your itinerary. When on safari, you may have internet access included in your stay but please note, it is not always reliable.

Telephone Calls When travelling, it is always best to turn your global roaming off as this can result in a large surprise when you get your next phone bill. We recommend downloading programs such as Skype and Viber before departing to make free calls to your family and friends using the Wi-Fi in your hotel. Alternatively, you can use telephone booths or paid accounts with Skype in internet cafes as a very inexpensive way of making calls and keeping contact.

Electrical Outlets in Africa Electrical outlets throughout Africa vary from country to country but will generally be 240 volts. Please visit this link for more information on each country.

Packing Lists

SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: GENERAL
  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Itinerary and tickets
  • Cash
  • Credit card / travel card
  • Photocopies of important documents – keep in your suitcase and an electronic copy on your email
  • Health documentation / vaccination cards
  • Suitcase or backpack – most of our tours don’t require a backpack but ask if you are unsure.
  • Day pack
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Insect repellent
  • Medications (if required)
  • First aid kit
  • Clothes – jacket for colder destinations, jumper, dress, shirts, t-shirts, long pants, socks, underwear, rain jacket, swimmers, hat, smart casual clothes if you are planning on eating at some nice restaurants
  • Comfortable shows with good grip and sandals or flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Telephone
  • Camera and charger
  • Laptop/tablet and charger
  • Converter / adapter
  SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: SAFARI
  • Sturdy shoes or boots for hiking
  • Lightweight, moisture wicking, easy care clothing in neutral colours. Avoid brightly coloured and white clothing
  • Comfortable short and long sleeved shirts
  • Comfortable shorts and long trousers
  • Rain jacket
  • Enough pairs of underwear for the duration of your safari
  • Pyjamas
  • Swimming costume
  • Flip flops or sport sandals
  • Enough pairs of socks for the duration of your safari
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Quick dry travel towel
  • Malaria tablets
  • Personal toiletries
  • Sunglasses
  • Wet wipes/hand sanitiser
  • Lip balm
  • Any prescribed medicines
  • Day pack
  • Soft sided bags may be needed for chartered flights instead of suitcases. Please ask your consultant if you are unsure
  • Safari binoculars
  • Flashlight or head torch
  • First aid kit
  • Thermals, beanie, gloves – during winter temperatures can drop dramatically especially in the early morning and late evening.
Make an Enquiry