The tables below show best times to visit, rainfall and maximum and minimum temperatures for a few locations across eastern and southern Africa. The reserves have been arranged roughly north to south, followed by the beach and island destinations.
More detail is provided in the "Best time to visit' tabs in the 'Destinations' section.
In winter, days warm up nicely across the region, but nights and early mornings can be cold. This is even worse on the back of an open game drive vehicle. We suggest that you pack accordingly. Warm clothing, including a winter jacket over a thin fleece (so that you can disassemble in layers as the day warms up), a beanie, scarf and gloves are recommended.
November to April is mid-summer, and can be hot. But the harshest time is early summer (late September and October), particularly over Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, when temperatures can be unpleasantly hot just before the onset of the summer rains. South Africa is less extreme, and so are the counties further north.
With a few exceptions, rainfall is relatively sparse across the region, and usually comes in brief, intense thunderstorms that are often followed by clear, sunny skies. Rain falls predominantly in summer, except for the Southern Cape (Cape Town and the Garden Route), which is the only winter rainfall region.
Summer days (October to April) are hot and generally sunny in the morning with possible afternoon thunderstorms. Day temperatures average 25°C – 35°C and night temperatures drop to 14°C – 20°C. Low-lying areas such as Lake Kariba, the Luangwa Valley, the Kafue and the Zambezi Valley can be considerably warmer all year round with temperatures of 35°C – 50°C. The rainy season is generally from November to March. In winter (May to September) days are dry, sunny and cool to warm 20°C – 25°C, while evening temperatures drop sharply to 5°C – 10°C.
Generally, the days are bright and sunny and the nights clear and cool. November to April are the summer months (which is also the rainy season) while winter is from May to August (which usually brings dry weather). September and October are very hot and very dry. The winter months from May to August can bring freezing temperatures in the early morning and evenings.
The climate is generally sub-tropical with sparse rainfall and frequent droughts. Summer can be very hot with warm evenings. Temperatures in winter can drop dramatically at night, but daytime temperatures are almost always pleasantly warm. Game viewing is good year round. However, there are some seasonal highlights such as the concentrations of elephants in the Linyanti over the dry winter months, or the zebra migration in Makgadikgadi or predator concentrations in the Central Kalahari in the summer months.
The climate is typically semi-desert with hot days and cool nights. The rainy season lasts from October to April, while the rest of the year is dry and cloudless. Namibia averages about 300 days of sunshine annually. The cold Benguela Current keeps the coast cool and free of rain most of the year. Winter days are warm, but dawn temperatures may drop to freezing. Spring starts in September, and days are much warmer with the occasional cool evening and morning. Mid-summer temperatures may rise to over 40°C. Rain is sporadic, and larger showers can be expected in December. Wildlife sightings can vary depending how early the rains have started.
The year is divided into one wet and one dry season. The wet season, from November to March, has a monthly average temperature of between 26°C and 29°C with cooler temperatures in the interior. The dry season lasts from April to October and has June and July temperatures averaging 18°C to 20°C. The average annual rainfall is greatest (1 400mm) over the western hills and the central areas, and lowest in the Zambezi lowlands averaging 600mm. The Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos seldom gets cold, but on some evenings in the winter a light jacket or pullover will be necessary.
Despite regional differences, South Africa’s climate is generally mild throughout the year. January to March is the peak of summer and the rainfall season in most of the country. Days are normally warm with afternoon cloud build up and showers, although these usually only last an hour or so. The early part of June is very cold in the mornings and evenings, occasionally dropping below zero, and winter lasts until August. Days are normally sunny and pleasant with occasional cold snaps, with windy spells towards the end of this period. Game viewing can be excellent in the dry winter months when game is concentrated around water holes and the vegetative cover is low.
Kindly bear in mind that there are luggage restrictions of between 15 kg and 20 kg on most light aircraft transfers. Please enquire about the feasibility and cost of taking excess luggage with you if you are going on a 'restricted luggage' safari.
Bright colours and whites are not advisable for safaris. Camouflage clothing is also not recommended for travel in African countries. Camouflage or military-inspired clothing is specifically prohibited in Zimbabwe.
Laundry is provided on a daily basis at most properties. However, bear in mind that location and access to a water may on occasion mean that a laundry service is not possible. Also note that the camps or lodges cannot be held responsible for damage or loss to laundry articles. At certain camps or lodges, staff will not wash underwear due to prevailing local traditions. In these instances, washing detergent is supplied for you to wash your own underwear.
For travel to Africa, there are a few basic health matters that require attention. The following points are recommended guidelines. Please consult your medical practitioner for more detail, or check with your travel clinic before you travel.
Malaria is transmitted by a small percentage of female Anopheles mosquitoes. They are mainly active in the early evening and at night. Malaria transmission is at its highest during the warm, wet months of November through to April. From May through to October the risk of contracting malaria is reduced. There is also less prevalence in remote areas where many of the camps in our portfolio are situated. There is a 6 to 7 day minimum incubation period before symptoms present. If you become ill on your return, make sure you inform you medical professional of your travels to Africa.
Malaria is mainly encountered in:
Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylaxis. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite chemoprophylaxis, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported. Both chloroquine-resistant and normal strains of malaria are prevalent in Africa.
The best precaution is preventative:
It is inadvisable for pregnant women to visit malarial areas as infection during pregnancy can be detrimental to mother and child. Caution should be exercised with small children as they can be more susceptible and are unable to take some forms of medication.
Tsetse flies occur in parts of northern Botswana, Zambia and parts of the Zambezi Valley. They look similar to other large flies except that when perched, both wings are held folded directly above the abdomen, and they have a long proboscis extending forward from a large head. Tsetse flies are best known as carriers of trypanosomiases – causing sleeping sickness in humans. Not all tsetse flies transmit the disease, and in our areas of operation they are regarded more as an irritation (the bites are sharp) than a threat.
Enormous effort has been made to eradicate tsetse flies, and sleeping sickness has now largely disappeared from southern Africa. The condition is easily treated, and in the unlikely event that symptoms are recorded, a medical practitioner should be consulted. These symptoms can present from a few weeks to months after a visit and begin with fever, headaches and pains in the joints, followed by dramatic swelling of the lymph nodes. If left untreated these symptoms can evolve to cause anaemia, as well as cardiac and kidney disorders before the sleep cycle is disrupted by alternate bouts of fatigue, insomnia and sleep.
In the field, infected tsetse bites can be treated by applying an antihistamine cream to the bite area. This will ease the itch, which is commonly associated with insect bites of this nature. Allergic reactions are not common, but should they occur, can be treated with any of the antihistamine tablets available off the shelf and kept in our camps and vehicles.
Ticks occur the world over and are well known ecto-parasites. The most obvious species in the savannahs of Africa are the ‘hard ticks’. They attach themselves to their hosts to feed before they either fall off or are brushed off. Ticks are known as carriers of diseases that affect both animals and humans; in southern Africa this is referred to as tick bite fever.
Symptoms of this disease present after a 5 to 7 day incubation period and include fevers, headaches, malaise and even a skin rash. However, effects can vary dramatically from person to person. A dark black mark usually results at the site of the infected bite and is a helpful diagnostic. The disease is easily treated with antibiotics, although this is not always necessary.
After walking in the bush it is best to brush your clothes down and to examine your body for ticks, taking care to remove these entirely without leaving the biting mouthparts behind in your skin. Anti-tick sprays such as Bayticol can be very effective against ticks and wearing long trousers will prevent many bites.
Yellow Fever is transmitted by a daytime biting mosquito. It is a viral illness for which there is no cure. However, vaccination is very effective. It develops within six days of being bitten, and the onset is usually sudden: fever with headache, body pains, and most often nausea. This progresses to jaundice with a bleeding tendency, coma and death. The virus is found in certain areas of Africa, and Central and South America. Proof of vaccination is required when visiting countries like Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. When flying into Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa, proof of vaccination will be required upon entry when you are travelling to or from a Yellow Fever destination, unless you were only in transit in that country. 'In transit' is defined as a period less than twelve hours with the traveller remaining in the airport terminal.
International health regulations concerning Yellow Fever are unequivocal, and unvaccinated travellers may face denial of entry, quarantine in certain circumstances or even deportation. This strict control is maintained to ensure that both the individual traveller and the broader communities are protected against outbreaks of this disease.
Inoculations must be had at least 10 days before travel, as the vaccine is not effective for the first 10 days. The vaccine provides immunity against the disease for 10 years.
Pregnant women, HIV-positive people, or anyone undergoing chemotherapy or with a suppressed immune system do not require a yellow fever inoculation, but you need to be given an exemption certificate by a medical practitioner or clinic. Babies under the age of 9 months and people over the age of 60 years may also qualify for an exemption at the discretion of a medical practitioner.
Traveller’s diarrhoea or viral gastroenteritis
When travelling to a foreign country it is possible to contract viral infections of the intestines. It is not serious or dangerous, and usually clears up on its own when the patients’ immune system kills of the virus – similar to a common cold. Recommendations to provide relief from the symptoms include:
It is very important that you drink plenty of water, especially during the warmer months. Generally, water throughout southern Africa is safe to drink directly from the tap. However, bottled or filtered water is readily available, so please do not allow yourself to become dehydrated.
It is sensible to take basic precautions whilst travelling anywhere in the world. As a reminder:
South Africa recently announced new regulations that would require all passengers under 18 years of age to present an unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport when entering, departing or transiting through South Africa. This requirement is to apply to minors of all nationalities – whether travelling unaccompanied, with both parents, with one parent or with a guardian or another adult.
After an outcry from tourism and travel organisations, implementation of these new regulations have been postponed to allow for consultation. Things are in a state of flux at the moment, and travellers are best advised to consult with their booking agents or consulates for the latest developments.
An unabridged birth certificate should contains the following details:
Parents or guardians travelling alone with a minor child (aged 18 years or younger) to South Africa must be in possession of a certified letter of consent from the non-accompanying parent or guardian.
For single parents travelling alone with a child, one of the following must be provided:
Except for Zimbabwe, which uses US Dollars, all other countries in which we operate have their own currency. This local currency is used as standard tender when paying by either cash or credit card. However, cash payments for curios or gratuities to guides and staff is accepted US$, GBP Sterling, Euro and South African Rand. Travellers Cheques in any of the above currencies are accepted in most cases.
Please ensure that all US$ notes are from the 1996 series or later, with ‘large heads’. While some banks may accept ‘small heads’ notes issued before 1996, this is the exception.
Times may vary depending on the establishment. Generally speaking, for hotels check-in is after 14:00 and check-out is by 10:00. At most safari lodges, rooms need to be vacated by noon. Specific timing will be confirmed once you are in camp. If you wish to guarantee an early arrival or a longer stay in your room, we recommend you arrange and pay for this in advance.
Business is normally conducted in English across the countries that we operate in.
If you have specific dietary or religious meal requirements, please ensure that are notified prior to arrival. We can accommodate most reasonable requests, but need advance warning to do so.
You need to notify Cable and Grain Safaris of any medical condition you may have prior to arrival. This includes allergies like bee stings, nuts, shellfish, or intolerances such as lactose or gluten.
Due to newer, larger airports, increased volumes of passengers and heightened security measures, we recommend that you arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure for domestic and regional flights, and three hours prior to all international flights.
Please check with your airline or ticketing agent whether your onward flights need to be reconfirmed.
Commercial flights are used for transfers between countries and major cities within countries. As a rule, we book the lowest economy fare that allows routing changes, unless specified differently. If not available, we will book the next best fare, all the way up to standard economy class.
We are unfortunately unable to assist with booking of inter continental air travel, i.e. to Australia, Asia, Europe, the UK or the USA.
Scheduled flying curcuits refer to shuttle routes that have set departure and arrival times, and specific routings. In most cases there will be stops en-route, but seldom more than two. Depending on weather or other circumstances beyond our control, pick-ups and drop-offs times may vary slightly, and there may be additional stops, resulting in a slightly longer air transfer. In general, schedules allow guests to experience a morning activity before departure and an afternoon activity on arrival. This is an economical way of getting around in the bush.
Scheduled charter flights refer to transfers in light aircraft (Cessna Caravan, King Air, Beechcraft 1900 or similar) that have set departure and arrival times, and reasonalby set daily schedules. This is also an economical way of getting around in the bush.
Private charters are bespoke flights between lodges. It is a more expensive way to travel, but may be necessary:
Scheduled commercial airlines in Africa generally carry a weight restriction of 20kg per traveller in economy class, and 30kg in business class. Charter aircraft restrict travellers to 15-20kg each. When combining commercial flights and charter flights, the smaller restriction of the two applies, unless alternative arrangements have been made for the storage or separate transfer of excess luggage.
Only soft bags are accepted on charter aircraft due to the often-awkward shape of their luggage compartments. No rigid structures can be transported for the simple reason that they physically cannot fit into these compartments. Wheels on bags are only permissible if they are not part of a solid frame or rigid structure. A collapsible wheeled luggage trolley (separate to the bag) is allowed, as long as the basic dimensions are similar to that of the bag.
The maximum dimensions of soft bags are: 25 cm (10 inches) x 30 cm (12 inches) x 62 cm (24 inches) long.
Luggage that goes missing on scheduled flights is beyond the control of Cable and Grain Safaris, and/or the airline concerned. The relevant airport controls what happens to luggage from when it is checked in until it is put on/taken off the aircraft. We would like to suggest that you take precautionary action and pack a small bag with essentials, including life sustaining medication, which can be carried with you as hand luggage. Pack a second bag containing non-essentials that can be loaded in the aircraft hold from the ramp or air bridge. If the second bag does not arrive, you will still have your essential items on hand to see you through the first few days while we try and recover your baggage.
Naturally, we will endeavour to reunite you with your misplaced items, but please note that we cannot accept any responsibility for the misplacement of articles whilst on your travels.
It is very important that you do not put anything of value or vital medication in your checked-in baggage, as luggage can be tampered with and valuables removed. Please lock your luggage with a suitable lock to deter opportunistic theft.
Most game lodges include all local drinks in the fare, but premium brands are excluded, and you will be required to settle your drinks bill prior to departure.
When travelling to camps and lodges, you will meet with other guests. To get the most out of your safari experience, cooperation and harmony between you and your fellow guests is essential. Should any guest behave in such a manner that it affects either the enjoyment or safety of other guests, that guest will be warned and if need be, taken off the safari.
Safari vehicles are usually open 4x4 vehicles and are designed for guests to have all round visibility. There are some exceptions to this in order to accommodate certain environmental conditions such as excessive dust and/or heat.
The number of guests per vehicle or activity can vary. The norm is six guests per vehicle at premier camps, with up to 9 guests at value camps, although the latter is seldom the case.
Subject to availability and camp dependent, private activities and/or private guides can be arranged at an additional cost.
The wild animals you see on safari are just what: wild! They are very different to animals found in theme parks. Please listen to camp staff and guides at all times. Their safety precautions need to be taken seriously, and strictly adhered to.
Most of the safari camps are unfenced and dangerous animals wander through the camps on a regular basis. Attacks by wild animals are rare, but there are no guarantees that such incidents will not occur. Cable and Grain Safaris, their staff, associates, agents and/or their suppliers cannot be held liable for any injuries caused during an incident involving the behaviour of wild animals.
Do not walk about on your own without a guide – even to your room. After retiring to your room at night, do not leave it.
Never attempt to attract an animal's attention. Do not imitate animal sounds, clap your hands, pound the vehicle or throw objects.
Never attempt to feed or approach wild animasl on foot. This is especially important near lodges or in campsites where animals may have become habituated to human visitors.
Refrain from smoking on game drives.
Cell phone connections are precarious or non existent in many lodges, but you can usually make urgent phone calls from reception.
Should you bring a satellite phone with you on safari, or find that a mobile phone signal can be received, please adhere to the following guidelines:
Please note that it is not always possible to rent satellite phones in the various regions, although this can be arranged at O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airport. Should you require this service, we highly recommend that you pre-book this in advance.
Expenditure of a personal nature, private guiding and vehicles, meals in major cities, premium beverages, gratuities, insurance, visa fees, airport/departure taxes, park fees, conservation levies, entrance fees, new government taxes, fuel increases, and flights to and from the starting and end points of the safari.
Please consult your itinerary or check with your agent for the specific details of what is included and excluded from your arrangements.
Tipping is not compulsory and should only be undertaken by choice. Guidelines range from US$ 12 per guest per day for guides, to US$ 2 to US$ 3 per guest for porters. Your lodge will be able to give you more detail. Generally speaking, gratuities can be paid in cash (local or foreign currency) or sometimes by credit card or Travellers Cheque.
Meals in restaurants & hotels are customarily tipped at 10% to 15% if you are satisfied with the service.
It is a condition of booking with Cable and Grain Safaris that you have the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself, as well as your dependents or travelling companions, for the duration of your trip to Africa. This is the sole responsibility of the traveller. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following:
Cable and Grain Safaris, and any person or agent acting for, through or on behalf of Cable and Grain Safaris, will not take responsibility for any costs, losses incurred or suffered by the guest, or guests’ dependents or travelling companions. This is with regards to, but not limited to, any of the above mentioned eventualities.
Cable and Grain Safaris shall particularly not be responsible for loss or damage arising from any errors or omissions contained in its literature, loss or damage caused by delays, sickness, theft, injury or death.
Cable and Grain Safaris shall have the right at any time at its discretion to cancel any safari or the remainder thereof or make any alterations in routes, accommodation, price or other details and, in the event of any safari being rendered impossible, illegal or inadvisable by weather, strike, war, government or interference or any other cause whatsoever, the extra expenses incurred as a result thereof shall be the responsibility of the passenger.
The Company may at its discretion and without liability or cost to itself at any time cancel or terminate a traveller’s booking and in particular without limiting the generality of the aforegoing it shall be entitled to do so in the event of the illness or the illegal or incompatible behaviour of the guest, who shall in such circumstances not be entitled to any refund.
The person making any booking, by the making of such booking, warrants that he or she has authority to enter into a contract on behalf of the other persons included in such a booking, and in the event of the failure of any or all the other persons so included to make payment, the person making the booking shall by his/her signature thereof assume personal liability for the total price of all bookings made by him/her.