Elephant Coast & Magical Zululand, South Africa

 “Rhinos & Turtles, Bush & Beach” 

June 6-14, 2024   New AFS small group

Trips out 90 days before departure.  Price listed below the daily itinerary



Rhinos, lions,whales and hippos, on my ! Come connect with nature on our new AFS bush and beach vacation into two different worlds- a wildlife safari in Africa’s oldest game reserve combined with a marine safari at a World Heritage Site on the Indian Ocean ! This is our ultimate luxury getaway at our best safari price ever. There’s so much included from Durban to St. Lucia, KZN ,iSimangaliso Wetlands, Hluhluwe to Maputaland. It’s the perfect safari for our animal lovers with wonderful village visits for our culture lovers.

Home of the Hippo – Tour Saint Lucia, Africa’s largest estuarine system with 800 hippos and 1200+ crocs. Then to UNESCO site iSimangaliso, a stunning region of eight ecosystems, 526 bird species to colossal sand dunes.

Home of the Rhino – we enter the heart of Zululand into Africa’s oldest reserve established in 1895. These world renowned parks are home to the Big 5 ( lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo ) and 86 mammal species. You’ll love our sophisticated Rhino Ridge Resort that lies secluded where earth meets sky. It’s the first luxury property here with a thriving population of elephants and named the ‘ home of the rhino ‘. Rhino Ridge is fiercely committed to conservation. See their support of the anti-poaching units on horses conducting patrols. Their efforts have helped bring back the white rhino population from the brink of extinction under “ Operation Rhino “. It’s all inclusive with game drives by expert rangers at sunrise and sunset in search of magnificent animals in the bush. Enjoy the spa, gourmet meals and campfire nights under a silver moon.

Home to Whales and Turtles – Follow the Elephant Coast to another UNESCO site of pristine wilderness to Maputaland Marine Reserve to search for marine life in the warm Indian Ocean. Our past group loved Thonga Beach Lodge, a bucket list oasis on a coastline of blue waters wrapped in a forest ! It’s ‘ barefoot luxury ‘ at this deluxe boutique resort of brand &Beyond. Walk the secluded beaches or try unique experiences like sea kayaks, diving or turtle tracking. This is the land of giant leatherbacks that return right here each year to lay their eggs. Enjoy an open sea safari in waters teeming with manta rays and spinner dolphins. And it’s whale season !… look for the humpbacks and southern right whales. Do a forest walk, a sunset cruise and visit the Tsonga people. Award winning cuisines are served alfresco under the milkwood trees. At night, we chill on being bags around the fire pit under the starry skies of the Southern Cross.

Join our small group to top lodges on our new AFS “ Africa made easy” tour of adventure. No visa, no shots, just come. Relax. Listen. Watch. By land and by sea, it’s the Greatest Show on Earth !

(Note – This is an AFS journey with purpose to give back ! Your booking will make a difference. Both our two lodges partner with the Isibindi Foundation supporting rural communities with health, nutrition, farming, employment and micro business training. Guests are philanthropic travelers as their contribution ensures a meaningful impact in the lives of disadvantaged people living in these regions as well as the endangered rhinos www.isibindifoundation.org)



Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

Click here for the Trip Tips

Highlights- Experience the best of bush and beach as you explore the beauty of the Zulu Kingdom and the incredible untouched Elephant Coast in South Africa. This is wild untamed Africa.  Umfolozi / Hluhluwe Game Reserve– Still wild, with 96000 Hectares of wilderness awaiting you. 4×4 open vehicle game drives, dusty roads, rolling hills of Incredible African sunsets, magnificent Big 5 sightings & photographs everywhere. Time for Safari in the bushveld of Zululand…the oldest game reserve in South Africa and known as the home of the rhino.  Zulu Culture– experience the traditions, culture and values of the Zulu Kingdom , known for their singing and dancing as well as their brightly coloured beads and baskets.   St Lucia wetlands park – famous for its hippos and crocodile cruise and incredible birdlife – listen to the haunting cry of the fish eagle and the grunting of the hippo pods as you cruise leisurely down the estuary.  Rhino Ridge – capturing the suspension between earth and sky, this glass wrapped lodge rests on a ridge overlooking Africa’s oldest game reserve. Down below a waterhole, frequented by a diversity of wildlife, pulls your eye away from the extraordinary views, as you slow down and connect with the earth.  Thonga Beach – barefoot luxury – this pristine untouched wilderness beach in the Isimangaliso World Heritage site offers freshwater lakes, raffia forests and blazing corals.


Jun 5 or 6 – Fly USA round-trip to Durban. Air details coming in trip tips. Consider going in a day early to rest or explore.

Jun 7 – Welcome to South Africa!  Land officially begins!  One of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth, South Africa, fondly known by locals as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, boasts 11 official languages, and its inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of cultures.  Above all the culture, incredible wildlife, stunning scenery and friendly people make South Africa a must-see destination.  Land starts June 7 at Durban airport before 11 AM.   Upon arrival in Durban, you will be collected for a 2 ½ hrs transfer to the town of St Lucia.

St Lucia – Encircled by the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, St Lucia is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. St Lucia lies on the magnificent St Lucia Estuary which is one of the largest in Africa stretching over 85 kilometres. It features abundant wildlife, pristine natural beauty, and offers a wide range of wonderful activities. This haven of tranquillity offers excellent mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and deep-sea fishing. 

Did you know that St Lucia is home to one of the largest free-roaming Hippo populations in South Africa. It is estimated that there are more or a less 800 Hippos wandering freely in the area? Added to that 1200 Nile Crocodiles and an abundance of bird species.
This afternoon spend the afternoon enjoying a 2 hour boat cruise on the St Lucia estuary in search of hippo and crocs. As you cruise gently along you will hear the calls of the fisheagle and the melodic grunting of hippos. Watch the hippo pod interaction from up close as you see rival males squaring off vehemently to protect their territory. Have cameras in hand as we wait for the large yawn showing off their huge sabre teeth as well as the large crocs sunbathing on the banks.

Set above the Great St Lucia Lake, Lidiko Lodge is a 4-star lodge, centrally situated in the village of St Lucia, surrounded by the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (iSimangaliso Wetland Park), an UNESCO natural World Heritage Site.  Lidiko Lodge offers 18 well appointed air conditioned en-suite garden rooms decorated in a contemporary style. All rooms offer a private patio and lead onto the pool area or bird-filled gardens.  Lidiko is the ideal destination from which to explore the Wetlands with its five major eco systems, pristine beaches and Big 5 game parks, while enjoying village life.

Overnight Ladiko Lodge Bed and breakfast  https://www.lidikolodge.co.za

Jun 8-11     Safari Time!..  Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge, Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park. (3 nights)

This morning we depart St Lucia for the oldest game park in South Africa and home of the rhino.  Enroute we will stop to enjoy a cultural experience with a visit to the Khulu Zulu Village. Learn about the friendly Khulu people and get some great photos with them.

Check into our fabulous lodge followed by a briefing from the staff and lunch.   This afternoon depart on your first afternoon game drive in search of the ‘Big 5’ – elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo.

Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is the jewel in the crown of the KwaZulu Natal game reserves. Proclaimed in 1895, it is also the oldest game reserve in Africa. Initially, two separate reserves, they were joined to create a single 94 000 hectare reserve which is home to one-fifth of the world’s black and white rhino population. It was here that the internationally acclaimed Operation Rhino started in the 1960s, successfully capturing and relocating white rhino to havens within South Africa and abroad. The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park was the first reserve to introduce walking safaris and its Wilderness Trails are internationally renowned. Visitors can also look forward to visiting a traditional Zulu village, enjoying a horse riding safari, and spotting the world-renowned Big Five as well as a wide variety of bird species.

Overnight: Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge – Established to protect the previously endangered white rhino, , Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Reserve is a triumph of conservation efforts. Celebrate this legacy in exclusive luxury at Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge – the only private lodge in the reserve – offering exceptional safari experiences in the heart of Big 5 territory. 18 well appointed, air-conditioned rooms nestle on a ridge, each with their own private deck giving expansive and uninterrupted views of the reserve. Please read how this lodge supports wildlife and communities at www.isibindifoundation.org.

Activities include – Game Drives. Twice daily game drives at sunrise and sunset are conducted to explore the magnificent hills and valleys of the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park.   Nothing is predictable in the bush; therefore, each safari offers a potentially new and unique experience. Our rangers will share their wealth of bush experience, which involves the identification of animals, trees, grasses, insects and birds. The medicinal uses of plants and local folk lore is also discussed as well as looking for the ever fascinating Big 5! Drives are in open high game viewers with professional guides with a wealth of knowledge on the ecosystems and all creatures here great and small. Sundowners include one glass of wine, cocktail or beer with snacks.

Fully Inclusive –  Rhino Ridge rates include park fees, accommodation, meals, game drives and Mpembeni Community Walk.  Walking Safari available at additional cost.  See their website for all activities at www.rhinoridge.co.za/experience/bushtrails

Jun 11-14 –  Marine Life and Beach Time… Thonga Beach Lodge, Maputaland Marine Protected Area

Today we depart Rhino Ridge for the beautiful Thonga Beach Lodge. Transfer time approximately 4 hours.
Maputaland Marine Protected Area
Set on South Africa’s northeastern coast, the UNESCO-listed Maputaland Marine Protected Area or Elephant Coast falls within the awe-inspiring iSimangaliso Wetland Park and comprises three protected areas: Lake Sibaya Nature Reserve, Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, and Rocktail Bay. Extending all the way from the northern Mozambican border to Sodwana Bay in the south, it encompasses forests, wetlands, lakes, marshes, and coral reefs near glorious, deserted golden-sand beaches. Local wildlife includes large numbers of leatherback turtles, numerous bird species, and many species of freshwater fish.

Overnight: Thonga Beach Lodge  (3 nights)       https://www.thongabeachlodge.co.za
Thonga Beach Lodge is set on the pristine shores of the Maputuland Coast, KwaZulu-Natal. This boutique luxury lodge by the prestigious &Beyond brand, is the ideal place to discover one of Africa’s last unspoiled wilderness beaches. It is a magical place of coastal forests, grasslands, bush, shimmering lakes and exquisite sandy beaches. Its crystal clear, warm waters offer South Africa’s best snorkeling and excellent off-shore SCUBA diving and birding opportunities. Delicious cuisine is enjoyed al fresco on the dining deck or beach deck overlooking the sea. It’s an ideal choice for divers or anyone who wants to relax…”A civilized distance from civilization.”  Our past AFS group didn’t want to leave this glorious place.

Activities include – Sundowners at Lake Sibaya – A leisurely drive along the lake shore looking for Hippo’s, Birds and Crocodiles, then surrounded by the magical sounds of dusk settle with a drink to watch the sunset over the lake.

Cultural Tours – Daily tours are on offer to visit the local rural Community of Mabibi.  This includes a visit to the clinic and the school, as well as a homestead visit.  Bring some goodies for the kids.  Optional is to include a visit to the local Sangoma (witch doctor), which may incur a $10 cost.

Forest Walk – Daily guided walks through the indigenous dune forest, where our local guides share their knowledge of the flora and fauna.

Thonga Beach Dining -Enjoy alfresco dining at the deck under the huge milkwood trees.

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling – Daily guided snorkeling is done a 5-minute walk away from the Lodge at low tide in our beautiful rock pools.  Guided snorkeling is included in the rate. Also, sea kayaking is included.

SCUBA diving at Mabibi is phenomenal.  Our professional lodge diving team can accommodate enthusiasts, from the beginner to the veteran.  For those who don’t dive, we have an Open Ocean Experience.  The warm Indian Ocean supports a myriad of fish and marine life.
Scuba Diving and ocean experience are at an extra cost.

Ocean Experience –  Open Ocean Experience.  An exciting boat launch through the surf in front of the lodge takes you beyond the breakers to a world of dolphins, whales and many other creatures.  The warm Indian Ocean supports a myriad of fish and marine life.  Guests can sometimes swim with dolphins or whale sharks or snorkel with Manta rays and giant turtles.
Ocean Experience is an extra charge. Details to come and headcount later. Don’t miss this fabulous whale watching experience

Spa – Relax with a soothing treatment in the Sea Spa

Thonga rates include accommodation, meals, guided snorkeling and use of snorkeling equipment, guided forest walks, kayaking, sundowners at Lake Sibaya, and cultural tours to Mabibi Community.

After breakfast, we depart resort around 11 AM. Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Durban. Transfer time around 4 to 5 hours. Please ensure that your flights home from Durban before 6:30 PM! Some may choose to extend this trip, adding a night to explore Durban or fly to Cape Town.


Land price $2975 per person twin share. This is a small group limited to 22 participants.  Price based on minimum 20 participants and rand to US dollar conversion.  Final payment due Feb 10 2024.

Includes-  All coach transfers, 1 night Lidiko Lodge in St Lucia including breakfast., Hippo and croc cruise, Visit to Khulu cultural village, 3 nights Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge including all meals and two game activities per day.  3 nights Thonga Beach Lodge including all meals, snorkeling, forest walks, kayaking, sundowner excursion, Tsonga cultural tour

Not Included – round-trip air USA to Durban, gratuities, items of a personal nature

Itineraries are prepared up to a year ahead and things can change.  Modifications may be made.  

Have you read the Trip Tips yet? Then Click Here


So Africa  Elephant Coast & Zululand Travel Trip Tips

Prepare to be awed by all the wildlife wonders on our new South African Safari. We love Bush and Beach vacations for the variety of experiences. From Umfolozi, the oldest game reserve filled with animals, St. Lucia wetlands, the Zulu culture to Thonga beach, world heritage site filled with marine life – you’ll get incredible photos. Our lodges are extraordinary. For reasons too numerous to mention, this is my favorite trip design of 2024. 

At present we only have 14 participants. Please tell all your friends and share the trip link on your social media.  All global suppliers price trips are based on group size. We need 22 to protect our land price and avoid a price increase.

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Some travelers have lost their entire trip for not reading what we send on visas, air details, inoculations, etc.  Check back from time to time. Our supplier Nicki will be reaching out to everyone at some point; look for her email.

  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE Feb 10, 2024    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 you can write a check to Adventures For Solo Travelers and text a photo to 770-432-8225 and we can pay it electronically for you. No need to use the US Postal Service.

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but a liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly). Carol Huntington has been on over 40 AFS trips since 2007 and has led many of our solo travel tours over the past 15 years. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 125+ countries on all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream on exploring the world, while currently being the primary caregiver for both her parents.   Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve, keep clients happy and help make the world a better place. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.

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 – these are Visa pages, not addendum 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.
  • Bring envelope of $95 dollars of FIVE, TENS & TWENTIES to hand to GTL Carol day on.  This will be distributed to guides, drivers and other support staff.
  • All airline rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! Always check your flight before departure.

Visa Requirements: None for US residents

Fitness level – 2   No trouble walking as not to unnecessarily slow up the group. There’s not a lot of walking, but you need to be able to get in and out safari vehicles.

General Air Info –  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 www.tpg.com for best cards.  Many say they want to fly business class but don’t realize fare range from 4K to 9K. We do have two good contacts that can get the sea seats at nearly half cost. Alen@skylux.com or britney@business–class.com. Tell them Suzy sent you.

Important Air Dates:  June 6-14 roundtrip USA – Durban.  Land begins June 7 at 11AM where all meet at Durban Airport,  so you need fly out of USA on 5 – 6th.  You’ll have far more options if you choose to arrive a day earlier. Only one or two airlines will get in before 11 AM June 7. Simply get a hotel near the airport.

Trip ends June 14 when we depart resort around 11 AM. Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Durban. Transfer time around 4 to 5 hours. Please ensure that your flights home from Durban before 6:30 PM!

Doing Own Air & Meeting Group– Plan your air USA to Durban, South Africa.  Our land officially begins at the Durban airport on June 7 at 11AM. You will be collected for a 2 ½ hrs. transfer to the town of St Lucia.

Group Air:  None. I know we will not meet the minimum required to make a group booking since this is a small group. See below on how to do your own air which gives you more flexibility.  Sometimes we offer group air but find few people book sometimes find better rates on own direct from hometown. Sometimes and AFS or find a great price and schedule. Please share it with all of us on your Facebook group page. See below.

We like Google Flights.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it easy to book, but it is nearly impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you. You can email our supplier nicki@africanspiral.com to help you.

No direct flights from USA to Durban. I like to add a stopover to break up any long journey. Options – South African Airways (add Cape Town), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul), Qatar (Doha), Ethiopian (Addis), Emirates via Dubai or Delta via Johannesburg with Airlink.

Supplier note –  Airlines I would suggest looking at either Qatar or Emirates.  Land starts on June 7.


  • 05 June JFK  Doha 10h45  06h25
  • 06 June Doha  Johannesburg 08h00  15h25
  • 06 June Johannesburg  Durban  17h35  18h40
  • 14 June Durban  Doha 18h45  06h45
  •  Doha  JFK  08h05  15h20 (return on 15 June)


  • 05 Jun  JFK  Dubai 11h20  07h50
  • 06 June Dubai  Durban 10h15  16h35
  • 14 June  Durban  Dubai 18h40  05h00
  • Dubai  JFK  08h30  14h25 (return on re15 June)

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 – weigh on a bathroom scale.  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 work great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.   Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID inside and out of carry-on and checked bag.

Packing-  Google weather in Durban  a week prior departure – June temps avg. 78° high & 59° low.

This trip is so easy. Simply pack spring/fall clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights.  All hotels/lodges have hair dryers. Neutral color clothing (no bright colors or fragrances to alarm animals), footwear- no boots – comfy sneakers, sandals, wet shoes.  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.  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.

Cool travel hacks from our AFSers! Pack overnight outfit in your carry-on, liquid IV packets to hydrate, use packing cubes, downy wrinkle spray, Apple AirTags, extra nylon bag to check laundry home, tons of US dollars for extra tips, fully charged travel banks, less is more, get global entry.

Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Electric– 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.  See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

South Africa uses a unique 3-prong plug Type M.  You can get them cheap on Amazon.

Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 cash should suffice.    Change currency on arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams, especially in South Africa. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering.  Bring newer bills 2016 on as some countries won’t take old or slightly damaged bills.

Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.   Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees. (Some countries in Africa and Asia require new bills dated after 2016. Older bills not accepted when changing money.) The US dollar is stronger than ever before now in Sri Lanka for your exchange to the Sri Lankan rupees!

Gratuities –  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally. A $90 total will be 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.

(Generally people tip their game ranger around eight dollars per day for game drives and leave five dollars per day and staff tipping box at lodges.)

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: Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN. Since 1989, your safety is our primary concern. Our local teams are experts, constantly monitoring any issues with your destinations. They can access real-time safety issues and will keep us informed if necessary.

  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.  Stay hydrated.
  • Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium or anti-diarrhea medicine.  Bring sunscreen.  Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc.

Health –  All our meals are pure and water is filtered. Bottled water provided throughout. Don’t use ice outside hotels.  Malaria – please consult your doctor about malaria pills. Very low risk as this is dry season in KwaZulu Natal.  No shots are needed.

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!

Accommodations – See itinerary

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   The best option is to invite a friend.  Note, kindness begets kindness.  Many of our seasoned travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.  (please understand if the AFS room list ends up with unbalanced gender and forces a single room, we will offer it to all in group or share the added cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book, we may have to remove you from the trip.)

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

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.  If you add another country, we often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them what do you consider the cost of tours, transport, hotels, etc.  Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

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 https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/    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  and here for Cancellation refund policy   In part it states “a written request for cancellation through email or text with your name and cancellation specifics to 770-432-8225. Please be aware that when a refund is due, a $155 administrative fee will be charged for each cancellation. Any cancellation after November 28, 2023 there are no there are no refunds for any cancellation after November 28, 2023 refunds.

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 www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers cancellation due to 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.

You May Also Like…

Suzy’s Africa in General 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

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.

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 4-6 per safari vehicle. Do not interfere with or direct your expert rangers – guide who lived there. He’s far more than a driver with years of experience and intense certifications. Your safety is their number one concern. They can spot everything from ground to sky. Suggested tip is $5 per game drive. If several days of drives, wait until the end.

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 Shutterfly.com. (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.)

Expert Africa Packing: 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.

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. Smart outfit for evening functions.

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 is generous to give and will be shared with all staff.

Ask reception for charging station to plug-in phones, cameras and tablets.

About Anti-malaria drugs
This is 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.

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.  Malaria prophylactics are a must and can be purchased from your local pharmacy.  Please consult your pharmacist/doctor.

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 of 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 Packwithapurpose.com to see who needs what in each country.