Trekking South Africa, Bush to Beach

Sept 10-19, 2023   Trip closes out June 5

 Small group Tailored for AFS Fitbits 


Come explore the majesty of Africa on a fitness expedition like no other, with whales, wines and wildlife as you hike stunning vistas that will take your breath away. Our past AFS Afroholics loved our Amazing Race. But this one is off the charts as our coolest vacation creation ever to get your adventure on! Imagine hiking 3 different regions along the scenic wild coast of the Western Cape. Or walking with penguins on Boulders Beach and among baboons in Cape Point, most southern point on our planet.

 Craving more fun? The Western Cape is Africa’s adventure capital with some of the world’s most beautiful trails.  There’s ziplines, mountain bikes, bush barbecues, Glamping in luxury tents, catamaran marine safari, sea kayaks, Nat Geo-style game drives with the wildest animals and more. Add in a hike up Table Mountain, caged shark dives, snorkeling with seals and you have a thrilling getaway others only dream about! 

 South Africa is a “World in one country” with endless diversity to get your best photos. It’s vast, with nature in its purest form and the colorful culture of the Afrikaans there to welcome you. We begin in glorious Cape Town, just voted in “Top 5 world’s most beautiful cities”. Each day, our Team guides you on a marathon through iconic trails of stunning landscapes. There’s a sense of excitement along the way with checkpoints and hidden clues in your quest. Some days challenging, some days just delightful.

We follow the Indian Ocean cape to Hermanus, the “Whale capital of the world.”   (It’s migration time now for 20,000+ Humpbacks and Southern Right’s birthing and breaching before your eyes.)  We end at spectacular Gondwana Game Reserve for heart-pumping thrills in search of countless wild animals like giraffes, zebras, springbok, hippos, monkeys and more along with the Big 5 – Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopards and the fierce Cape Buffalo.

 You’ll be pampered throughout in the finest first-class hotels and lodges.  September is the best time to go for weather and springtime wildflowers in bloom. Air is easy round trip to Cape Town. SA is trending hot this year with our strong dollar and our price can’t be beat for all that’s included.  There’s no prep, no gear, no visa, no travel meds –  as we traverse malaria-free zones, we’ve got you covered in 10 incredible days!

 Our GTL Joey is ecstatic to lead you.  We will be presenting more fit trips years ahead, but this is a special once in a lifetime AFS escape that won’t be presented again. Winners or not, you’ll be a survivor getting lost together in the bush with extreme fun on our all new Amazing Race Africa.  Read all below on how this will make your heart leap with forever memories.

 “Magical Africa changes you forever like nowhere else on earth. Once you’ve been there, where everything is magnified, you’ll never be the same. It’s always in you, the drumbeat lingering in your head and heart.” –  Brian Jackman

 Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

“Incredible South Africa trip Suzy among the most scenic nature I ever witnessed. Love your creative challenges along the way with the personal touch. Our guides, lodges and meals were magnificent. Do it again and I’m in!” – Carl P.


Click for printable PDF itinerary (South Africa)

Sep 9 or 10          Depart USA to Johannesburg

Fly USA to CPT, South Africa. Departure dates depend on flight routes via Johannesburg or other cities or even direct. You can do air on own fly-in early or our group air later. Details to come in Trip Tips.

Sep 11    Welcome to Cape Town            (Land portion begins)

Cape Town – Resting at the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, situated between the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain and the glistening sapphire waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the exceptionally scenic city of Cape Town is in a class of its own. Some cities boast rich culture, vibrant nightlife, a cosmopolitan atmosphere and extraordinary architecture, while others boast breathtaking landscapes and extraordinary natural wonders. Cape Town is fortunate to be blessed with all of these attractions and so much more. With its bustling harbor, world-class beaches, top-notch vineyards, and mountainous surroundings brimming with diverse flora and fauna, Cape Town consistently captivates the hearts of all who visit. One could spend six months here and not cover all the things to do in this fabulous city.

Day Itinerary –  Transfer from the airport to the bustling V&A Waterfront, your home for the next three nights.

The V&A Waterfront is a working harbor but also an iconic 123-hectare neighborhood welcoming millions of people from all over the world to play each year. It offers an incredible cosmopolitan mix of cultures all coming together to have fun. The waterfront hosts over 80 restaurants, pubs, markets and attractions.

This evening enjoy our special Welcome Dinner with traditional African drumming at Gold as well as a taste sensation of African cuisine. Welcome to the flavors of Africa.

GOLD Restaurant is a vibrant pan-African experience offering a set 14 course tasting menu of Cape Malay and African cuisine, together with live entertainment and djembe drumming. Be seduced by live dancing and singing to the rhythmic beating of African djembe drums.

Overnight: The PortsWood Hotel (3 nights)   D   View Hotel

The PortsWood is part of Cape Town’s colonial history and right in the heart of all the action.  The restaurant and lobby are built over the original well and holding cells for prisoners en route to Robben Island some 300 years ago. Today the PortsWood is famous for its uniquely personal approach to service – catering to international travelers’ every need and anticipating their every desire. Rich in South Africa’s unique culture, the PortsWood is a must for any traveler.

Sep 12  Hike & Race Challenge, Cape Town

After breakfast, meet our mountain guides. 95% of visitors ride cable cars to the top of table Mountain but not us.   Today we hike the iconic Table Mountain towering tall at over a thousand meters above Cape Town. With a myriad of hiking trails to choose from, all offering incredible views over the Peninsula, city and beaches, Table Mountain National Park is a hiker’s paradise.

Afternoon – Return to the V&A Waterfront for a thrilling “Amazing Race” through the waterfront, following carefully laid clues to your next check point. We will test your ability to think quickly, remember things and work as a team. But mostly this is the best FUN you will have in a long time.

Dinner for own account. There are many restaurants within walking distance from your hotel to choose from.

Overnight: The PortsWood Hotel           B

Sep 13    Penguins, Seals and Cliff Walk

Cape Point Tour Full Day – Experience some of the most spectacular views in the we embark on a full day tour of the stunning Cape Peninsula. The tour begins with a scenic drive along the Atlantic coast passing through the fishing village of Hout Bay.  Then head along Chapman’s Peak Drive on to Cape Point and the famous Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, most favored spot for visitors.  Here you will set off on a spectacular hiking trail hugging cliff paths, winding past isolated beaches, herds of zebra, ostriches, impalas and the Old Lighthouse built in the 1800’s.  Picnic lunch in the reserve is provided.  (Mind the monkeys and baboons from stealing your lunch like our past groups.). From there we travel to False Bay and return to Cape Town by way of the Simon’s Town naval base where we visit the Penguin colony at Boulders Beach for fabulous photos.  Return to Cape Town in the late afternoon.

Overnight: The PortsWood Hotel            B, L

Sep 14   Zip lines, Beaches and Jeep Safari to Hermanus

Day Itinerary – Depart early this morning to the Helderberg Mountains, where we will go ziplining through the mountains with a 1km walk out of the gorge back to the start.

The famous Cape Canopy Tour is situated in a World Heritage Site within Cape Nature’s Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, located in the scenic Elgin Valley. Cape Canopy Tour is a fully guided nature experience with a strong emphasis on client comfort and safety. Two trained guides will accompany each group through the 13 mountainside platforms.  They will provide information about the endemic fynbos and geology of this unique World Heritage Site. Included in the tour is a 4×4 journey through the nature reserve, a snack stop along the way, and a fully guided zipline activity.

Thereafter transfer to the beautiful coastal village of Hermanus, known to be one of the best land-based whale viewing destinations in the world. It’s my favorite city in all South Africa with so much to do here! See This town is also famed for its natural scenic beauty, long stretches of pristine beaches and excellent variety of restaurants, cafes and bars.  Afternoon you are free to explore the scenic 10km of spectacular cliff paths, dropping down to beaches and tidal pools and with opportunities to see whales.

Overnight: Windsor Hotel Hermanus                B,L

The independently owned boutique Windsor Hotel stands proudly on the edge of Hermanus’s breathtaking Walker Bay with a panoramic vista featuring the world’s best whale-watching available in most rooms.  Southern Right whales have been breeding and feeding here for centuries and our guests have been returning, generation after generation, to delight in this spectacle.  The 120-year-old Windsor, near the town center and its rich variety of restaurants, galleries and shops with home hospitality.


Sep 15   Hiking the Western Cape

Day Itinerary – Full day hike through the beautiful Fernkloof Nature Reserve!

This incredible Nature Reserve offers a variety of stunning hikes and is also a great place to see fynbos, a floral species endemic  to the Western Cape. While springtime is officially the best time to see the fynbos, different species bloom at different times of the year.  Apart from flowers, if you’re lucky, you’ll see many birds endemic here, such as sugarbirds and sunbirds. Small reptiles such as lizards and tortoises are common, with snakes also in the area. Of the larger mammals, you’re most likely to see baboons, klipspringers, and dassies.

The Hike – Discover this 15.3-km loop trail near Hermanus, Western Cape. Generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 6 hours to complete. This trail is great for hiking, trail running, and walking, and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many other people while exploring.

Length15.3 km Elevation gain790 m Route type Loop.  After three hours, break for lunch.  This classic circuit hike to Platberg Peak via Adders Ladder and Aasveolkop, has an altitude gain of 780m over the first 8km (with a 9 degree gradient).  Not recommended for unfit hikers. This is definitely one of Africa’s best hiking trails.

Overnight: Windsor Hotel Hermanus                B


Sep 16   Kyaks, Sharks, Whales & Race Challenge

Day Itinerary – This morning is at leisure to take part in any ONE of the following 3 optional activities:  Whale watching tour by boat into Walker Bay.  Shark cage diving trip to Shark Alley in Walker Bay.  Sea kayaking in Walker Bay.

The free time you’ll have us in the morning before our daily itinerary begins. You get to choose one of the three options.

MARINE SAFARI – SOUTHERN RIGHT CHARTERS is a leading boat-based whale-watching operator. The eco-sensitive company has been in operation since 1999 and is regarded as one of the best whale-watching areas in the world. This up, close and personal encounter with the gentle giants of the ocean promises to be an ‘experience to be treasured.’ Our past six groups loved this amazing catamaran cruise!

Encounter Southern Right, Humpback & Bryde’s whales.  Dolphins, Seals, and a large variety of marine birds including the African penguin. – $95

CAGED SHARK DIVE – There will be an early morning option for those who want to experience a Caged Shark Dive.  Marine Dynamics, operating in Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa, a world hot spot for the great white shark – you will experience an incredible cage diving adventure on board our custom designed boat, Slashfin, (named after one of our visiting sharks). An on board marine biologist will educate you as you get up close and personal with this amazing apex predator in the famous Shark Alley. We are certified by Fair Trade in Tourism, live by our motto of ‘Discover and Protect’ and work together with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. We are involved in shark research which includes shark fin identification and tagging and tracking the great white. You will leave with great memories and a deep appreciation of this majestic animal. It’s only 2 hours drive from Cape Town along a scenic route. The trip includes an educational briefing, breakfast or lunch; refreshments on board; warm soup and bread on return; towels, clean wetsuits, goggles. Professional video footage of the trip can be purchased as a downloadable link. – $210


This is an approximately 2-hour adventure. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the magic of the unique coastline of Hermanus. With its abundant marine life, tourists will have an up close and personal experience in a stable kayak and the company of an experienced guide. After a thorough briefing on kayaking techniques and safety, the adventure begins from the historical Old Harbour. The direction is dependant on winds, swells and paddling abilities. Tourist will enjoy sightings of cape fur seals, penguins, cormorants and other seabirds and marine mammals. – $55

Mid-afternoon we will all gather for our second suprise “Amazing Race” through the beautiful town of Hermanus as you make your way on foot to each of the checkpoints. It’s a great way of exploring and learning about the fascinating coastline, the prolific artworks around the town, the wide array of wines and foods as well as the crafters at the local market. As with all of our amazing races, we make this lively, slightly physical, creative and mind-blowing as we lead you on a mystery journey of solving puzzles, finding hidden venues, blind wine tastings and so much more.

Overnight: Windsor Hotel Hermanus                B,L,D

Sep 17  Safari time at Gondwana Game Reserve!

Gondwana Game Reserve – Situated at the heart of South Africa’s spectacular Garden Route, Gondwana Game Reserve holds the distinction of being the only Fynbos reserve in the world with free-roaming Big Five game (rhino, lion, cheater, buffalo, leopard) as well as endangered species like the Cape Mountain Zebra, Black Rhinoceros, and Giraffes among many others. The landscapes here are characterized by towering mountains, green rolling hills, and swathes of brightly-colored fynbos – creating ample opportunities for outdoor adventure and nature photography. You can look forward to top-notch game drives to superb fishing. An idyllic climate – the second most moderate in the world – adds further appeal. The reserve is situated outside the charming coastal town of Mossel Bay and a mere four hours drive from Cape Town.

Day Itinerary – Leaving Hermanus we drive the 3 hours to the beginning of the scenic Garden Route to explore Gondwana Game Reserve.  Check-in followed by lunch and an afternoon game drive.

Located on South Africa’s popular Garden Route, the 11 000-hectare (26 000 acre), private, malaria-free game reserve offers a distinctive and authentic free roaming, Big 5 safari.

Luxurious accommodation is provided in romantic bush villas all with awe-inspiring views of the mountainous landscape and passing wildlife.  Enjoy exhilarating game drives with expert field guides encountering lion, elephant, giraffe, Cape buffalo, hippo, and herds of antelope. Additional activities on offer include mountain biking, Africology spa treatments, guided bush walks and conservation activities.  All of Gondwana’s accommodation packages include game drives and meals at inclusive rates

Overnight: Gondwana Game Reserve     B,L,D       View Hotel

Sep 18    Race Challenge & Safari at  Gondwana

Day Itinerary –  Morning “Amazing Race” through the bush as we discover the intrigue of the African wildlife on this private reserve. As the clues unfold, your team will be directing the ranger to the next checkpoint in search of the answers.

Afternoon option to do a Walking Safari right along with the animals with our rangers or you can do an additional game drive in the evening when predators are most active.

Overnight: Gondwana Game Reserve     B,L,D

Sep 19   Game drive and farewell to South Africa

Day Itinerary – Early morning game drive before check out and transfer back to Cape Town airport. (All flights back to the USA are in the evening. Flight details later in Trip Tips.)


Land Cost:  $2395 pp twin share based on a min. of 18 people plus $85 pre-paid gratuities for rangers.


  • 3 nights Portswood hotel, B/B
  • 3 nights Windor Hotel, B/B
  • 2 nights Gondwana Game Lodge, Kwena Huts, including all meals and two game activities per day
  • Coach hire and transfers throughout with driver and guide
  • Mountain guides on the hikes with packed lunch pack on each hike
  • 3 x guided Amazing races
  • Welcome dinner and drumming at Gold
  • Dinner at La Pentola in Hermanus
  • Cape Canopy Tour


Click here for everything you need before you go to South Africa



Prepare to be thrilled on a trip like no other as you hike along the famous Western Cape in the adventure capital of the world. We packed in a wallop of large fun between Cape Town, Hermanas and Gondwana game reserve. Our last Africa amazing race group loved it all, but it was based on mental challenges whereas yours is more focused on fitness. There will be surprises for all along the way. You’ll get your best photos ever with penguins, whales, see lions, sharks, endless wildlife, along with the iconic Big Five, and the scenery is simply stunning! We have a wonderful group of 24 travel lovers currently with space for 2 more so tell your friends.   After final payments are in, we’ll send you the contact and room list. Please print out the itinerary and these trip tips now at

For now, connect with each other on your private group Facebook page ahead emailed to you when you booked and revel in the anticipation of joy ahead.

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.

  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE June 5    Wetravel is our data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.   If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but a liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly).

Joey McGlammory –  He led 2 AFS groups in Tanzania for the Mount Kilimanjaro, climbs and did a fabulous job!  “My guiding/leading adventures began in 2013 with helping or leading events in which athletes with disabilities were involved. Before that, I had already competed in many endurance events. Since that time I’ve taken part in many more adventures. I am a certified rehabilitation fitness therapist and personal trainer with over thirty years in the health and fitness industry.”

3-Worlds Toughest Mudder (24 hr nonstop endurance race), 5-Spartan World Championships, 7- Spartan Beast Races up Mt Killington, 6-100 mile trail and road races, 27- Full Marathons, 48- Half Marathons, 18- 10 mile road races, 64- 10k road races, 1-60 hour nonstop endurance event and more.


Trip Prep:

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.  Also good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Vaccines – Bring your vaccine card.  Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it.  You can take photo of both sides and store on phone.
  • All airline rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure!  Airlines are in the process of making routing and scheduling changes now. Always check your flight before departure.
  • No visa or shots!  (You will be in malaria, free zones throughout your tour.)

Fitness – Should be able to complete 5k in 40 minutes.

General Air Info – Air challenges today – Many route changes now on domestic flights to get to your international flights. Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.   Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number.  Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at for best cards.

Doing Own AirAir dates are Sept 9 or 10 to arrive Sept 11 – Sept 19 USA round-trip to Cape Town. At trips end on September 19, we drive from Gondwana to arrive Cape Town by 3 PM. All USA flight depart at night between 6:30 to 10 PM.  Most direct airlines are United and Delta. Other airlines are KLM, Air France, South African Airways, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Swiss, Lufthansa, Ethiopian. Consider adding a stopover in route to add another destination to your trip.

A good air hack nowadays is to do international flights only using major gateway.   You can fly USA round-trip to Johannesburg. Then fly on affordable domestic airlines round-trip to Cape Town. Airlink or, average around $80 each way.

We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.   We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed.  (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free.  Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.). If you need help email Give him your exact air times, passport details and credit card ready.

We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan.  For all classes of tickets, email your exact air dates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.

Airport Transfers-  all groups get one airport transfer in and out. Once we get all your air details into us, we will choose times based on most arrival and departures. A month out, you’ll get a detailed pre-trip departure letter with final details from me at AFS and from Nicki, our fabulous African supplier over 20 years who lives in Cape Town.   

For others get own Uber or taxi – With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-up or drop-offs without group air.  Unfortunately, now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each person’s air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. 2022 groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary, day one when trip begins.

Meet Up With Group- On Sept 11 a time will be set to meet the group at Portswood Hotel for a briefing. More on this later.

Click Here for More Tips like transfers, packing, money, shopping and more

Supplemental Trip Tips Info

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – less is better.  If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. Apple AirTags works great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.    The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.

Packing – Google whether a week before. Averages range 55 to 68°. September is a perfect time to visit with less crowds and not too hot. Safaris are totally casual. You just need pants, shorts and long and short sleeve tops to wear in layers.  For hiking/walking –  bring good sneakers, shoes, or boots, collapsible poles, day pack, water bottle, sunglasses, sunscreen. Safari – early morning game drives are always cold. Bring warm jacket, scarf, gloves. Hat with chin strap, insect repellent with Deet.  Bring swimsuit.   Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Electric– South Africa 3-prong plug.  Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.



Money Matters – Most activities and meals are included.  Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 cash should suffice.    Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams especially in Africa. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.  Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.  Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.  Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases

Currency  Exchange Rate  $1= 16.95 So African Rand (excellent exchange rate for us.)

Gratuities – (Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. As well Game Rangers as you’ll be divided into 4 or 5 jeeps.  Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip.  A $85 has been added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip.  For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!

Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
  • Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium.   Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc pre-departure.

Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Retail Therapy – Endless cool handicrafts, African art, masks, beaded jewelry, Tanzanite, and more.

Accommodations –Accommodations – Our itinerary has links to each hotel.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.   Arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip. For free time there is much to do. Your guide will assist you with ideas if there is free time such as tandem paragliding, helicopters, Robben island, shark dive, and more.

Websites of Interest –,,,, gondwana

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at    More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions   Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less 50% until 5 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date.   Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Best source for all is   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!

Suzy’s Africa Travel Tips

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa. For he has so much to look forward to.”
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere else. How can you describe its magic? How can you explain the fascination of the past and noble dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? How are experiences here in a way no other place can? Maybe it’s because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind. The happiest years of my life were spent here.” Paul Theroux

Africa and the Third World.

Travel can test the limits of one’s patients, particularly to poor countries. In these times, humor helps us realize that difficulties are part of the discovery.  There’s a difference between a tourist, one who wants a fun easy vacation and a traveler. The latter is one who seeks to be educated and enlightened, who welcomes the problem-solving for unexpected challenges along the way of their journey. They understand it may not always be simple, but it will certainly provide gratitude and everlasting memories.  And AFS trips, we are a little bit of both.  In Africa, we use first class properties yet I’ve had some clients complain that their lodge didn’t have a spa, while surrounding villagers were living on a cup of rice a day.

Some travelers who’ve never been to Africa think a safari is non-stop action. Behold the stunning boredom! The fact is there’s a lot of glorious downtime between early morning and evening game drives. Time in the bush is like entering a remnant of an earlier era. Everything slows down. Shade seeking lions flop over like house cats, zebras stand still as statues, leopards drape over branches to sleep. All game rests. With them, we engage in a communion of laziness. We relax. We observe.

On Safaris – Your ranger guides number one concern is your safety. He has completed intense high level certification in nature guiding, tracking and rifle handling.  Respect your Rangers expert judgment and proximity to animals. Ask him questions. But keep as silent as possible to not frighten animals.

Wildlife Encounters – All animals are wild and you are prey. Respect proximity. Wild animals are totally unpredictable. If you ever encounter a predator in the bush-never run! You will always be the slowest. Animals may roam into lodge camp. Never deviate off path or walk alone at night. Guards will escort you. Never walk near a riverbank or swim in lakes. Hippos hide well.

Game Drives – You will be divided into groups of 5-7 per safari vehicle. Do not interfere with or direct your expert rangers – guide who live there. He’s far more than a driver.  They can spot everything from ground to sky. Suggested tip is $3 to 5 per game drive per person. If several days of drives, wait until the end to tip.

Animal sightings are not guaranteed. AFS past groups have been extremely successful on all. Over 3 decades, we never had a bad safari. Big cats are usually present, but leopards and cheetahs tend to hide. Don’t just search out the big mammals. You’ll miss the marvels of small creatures like badgers to bushbabies and spectacular birdlife.

Photography- Rather than hauling big lenses, small digital cameras get incredible shots nowadays. Edit/delete each night. On drives, keep camera in the bag to protect it from dust and sun. Don’t forget extra batteries! Best light on safaris is 6 to 10 AM and 4 to 6 PM. Rangers will assist with the best vantage points. There is usually a pair of binoculars to share in jeep. Always get consent before photographing local people.  On return home, share your pics on AFS private Facebook page or use (I have over 8000 photos of elephants and lions. Please take human photos as well as wildlife. Better yet, take photos AFS humans with the wildlife.)

Bags: Bring only soft-sided luggage. No hard cases can fit in Safari vehicles. If we use small charter aircraft deep into bush like Botswana, I’ll advise of strict weight restrictions for both bag and carry-on. Pack light and wear the same clothes more than once. Laundry is always available.

Packing – Neutral colored clothing (no bright colors or fragrances to alarm animals.) light cotton shorts and T-shirts by day. Jeans/pants with a long sleeve top at night. Early-morning drives always cold-bring warm jacket, fleece or sweater. Always wear long sleeves and long pants at dawn and at dusk.  Hat with a brim for sun protection and chinstrap for drives. Bring a simple light day pack on drives. Sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent with DEET, swimsuit, adapter plugs, mini flashlight, toiletries.

Lodges or Camps – All first-class properties or “glamping” style tents. All food and water is purified. If water is not, guide will advise. Cover bathroom sink with a washcloth as a reminder not to use. Bottled water in the rooms and always available daily. Hydrate! African air is dry and sun is strong.  Lodges have a staff tip box. $5 to $10 pp is generous to give and will be shared with all staff.  Ask reception for charging station to plug-in phones, cameras and tablets.

Be mindful of everything around you, not just the Big 5. I’m a primate girl myself. In times gone by European hunters used to search out for the most difficult to hunt animals in Africa which led Safari club supreme a list of five key animals that were challenged to shoot. These were considered difficult for a number of reasons, including ferocity, visibility, and elusiveness.

Lions really are the kings of the savanna and are at the top of the food chain. As such, they need no introduction. Lions are widespread throughout southern and eastern Africa and you’ll have a good chance of seeing them in most safari locations.

Black Rhino now critically endangered, the black rhino is not actually black, but more off-white. Despite its huge bulk and dangerous reputation, rhinos are herbivores who would rather graze on some grass than attack a person. There are a few rhinos left in a wild due to large increase in poachers hunting them for their horns.

Leopards are nocturnal and secretive, making them the most difficult number of the Big 5 to actually spot. When you do see one, chances are it will be lounging in a tree at sunset having just eaten dinner.

African Elephants as most people know are large thick-skinned herbivores. Elephants are numerous in Africa but nevertheless can be hard to spot in some areas due to their ability to hide in the bush and long grasses. Despite being widespread, elephants face a growing threat from poachers who hunt them for their ivory.

Cape Buffalo considered by many to be the most dangerous of the big five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.

About Anti-malaria drugs

A common question from our travelers to parts of Africa and So. America. It is a serious disease that can happen when being bitten by an infected female mosquito. However, it’s extremely rare. While locals, tourism staff and guides there do not take pills, many travelers prefer to play it safe with either weekly or daily pills which starts a week before your arrival.  Meds: Anti-malaria pills may be recommended. Ask your health care provider. Sometimes a Yellow Fever shot is recommended.   Contact your local county health clinic and it’s good for a lifetime. Our groups never had any problems with mosquitoes in two decades of trips to Africa. Phone me direct if you have specific questions 770-432-8225.  In the US, we are limited to only 3 choices; Malarone, Doxycycline or Atovaquone (Larium). Malarone can be costly, but now there’s a generic. Wal-Mart or Kroger have best prices. See your doctor for a prescription. Sometimes one only needs a strong DEET repellent (roll-on best) and wearing pants and long sleeves at dusk.

Some clients go to CDC website which prepares all for the worst and creates unnecessary fear. We only stay in fine properties with clean food and water. We do not use needles, swim in rivers, work with the sick or have sex with locals.  I don’t want you to over immunize yourself sick, spending hundreds for unnecessary dollars. Over 2 decades selling Africa and South America, no AFS client has ever contracted any disease. Ultimately, it’s your decision on what’s best for you.

Travelers’ diarrhea can happen anywhere outside USA. It can be caused from the stress of travel, different diets and water that is contaminated. However, all lodge meals are hygienic clean meals. (Cause of infection may be a virus, parasitic or bacterial, so don’t think Cipro is a cure-all.) You all know not to drink untreated tap water, use ice cubes. It is contagious so be scrupulous with washing your hands and using a clean towel to dry. And not to brush teeth with it.  If you get sick, rehydrate with oral rehydration salts, take Imodium or Lomatil. If it doesn’t pass in a week, see doctor. Don’t reach for ‘’stoppers’’ right away. Allow toxins to pass. Fluids are essential.

Things for Children – Bring anything as all we be used. Think Dollar Store or Target. Some stores will even donate. (Get creative. I bring hair scrunchies and mirrors for girls and balloons for kids.). In poor places, school supplies can be useless with no paper to draw on. They need shoes, socks, clothes. The love caps, toys and inflatable balls. You can always donate cash to the headmaster or visit to see who needs what in each country.

African Jewelry – Many AFS women long for a piece to treasure their safaris like a Big 5 ring, bracelet or pendant. The best beyond any store is Kim in Capetown. See her website and say Suzy sent you.

Fitness hike south africa
Fitness hike south africa