Getting ready for your African Hunting Safari is a crucial step that most hunters leave till the last moment. However, thoughtfully planning for your Safari is a massive part, maybe even one of the most important parts of your Safari.
Proper planning will ensure that you are safe & healthy, shoot accurately under African conditions, wear clothes suited for Africa and much more.
In this post we are not focusing on the research part of African Hunting Safaris. If that is what you are looking for, we have the Ultimate African Hunting Safari Guide covered in another post, giving hunters all the info you could ever need to understand Africa, African Hunting Safaris, and find the best hunt for you! You can find it by clicking here.
In this article, we focus on planning, packing, and getting ready for your Safari. If your Safari is already booked, use this post to get ready for the greatest adventure of your life.
Vaccinations & Medication
Visas & Travel Documentation
Brining Weapons into Africa
Travel & Health Insurance
Hunting Gear Needed for Africa
Clothing for Africa
Practising for Africa
Booking Flights to Africa
Things to let your Outfitter Know
Tipping in Africa
You won’t necessarily run the danger of getting malaria, or even being in an area where Malaria exists. Although those pesky mosquitos are found across Africa (as in the rest of the world) the areas where they carry Malaria is limited. To find out if you will be hunting in a malarial region, it is best to consult your outfitter. We are not medically trained professionals, and this does not constitute medical advice. Before visiting malaria areas, please seek medical advice from your doctor regarding medication. To put your mind at ease however, if you are visiting a Malaria region, your guides and outfitter will be well acquainted with the disease, with many of them having had it themselves multiple times.
South Africa does not require vaccinations against yellow fever. In countries where there have been outbreaks of yellow fever, vaccination records are required, and entry will likely be refused without them. According to the CDC, yellow fever vaccination recommendations vary by country. View the CDC’s recommendations here.
Sorry, we are all tired of it. As COVID regulations tend to change regularly, please check with your outfitter on what the latest requirements are for your destination country.
A quick guide to help US citizens determine if you need a Visa:
Botswana – NO visa required for up to 30 days
Cameroon – YES
Ethiopia – YES
Mozambique – YES
Namibia – NO visa required if under 90 days
South Africa – NO visa required if under 90 days
Tanzania – YES
Uganda – YES
Zambia – YES
Zimbabwe – YES
Other Travel Documentation
CBC Form 4457 is a Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad. It is required by most African countries to be able to import your firearm on an African Hunting Safari. It is also needed to bring your firearm back into the US with you. You can download this form at the following link: Form 4457 Download Link.
You will need to take this form to a US Customs and Border Patrol office and get the form signed by an officer. Be sure the Manufacturer, caliber and serial number are listed on the form and are correct.
SAPS 520 Form
On the South African side, you will need to complete a SAPS (South African Police Service) 520 form. You can download the SAPS Form 520 at the following link: SAPS Form 520 Download Link
Firearms Pre-Permitting Services
You will still need to obtain a CBC Form 4457 and fill out a SAPS Form 520, but by using a firearms pre-permitting service your inspection process will go much quicker and smoother at the airport and you will likely be walked to the head of the line by the pre-permitting company. Many hunters feel that this service is worth it, although you can decide to do it yourself if you want to save a little money and are patient.
Requirements for bringing a Rifle into South Africa
To temporarily import your personal firearm(s) into South Africa you will need some type of paperwork proving that you own the firearm. If you are a US citizen, it will be a CBC Form 4457. In addition to that form, you will need to fill out a SAPS Form 520, which is an application to the South Africa Police Force for a temporary firearm permit to be able to bring your firearm into the country.
Renting a Rifle in Africa
Whether you should rent a rifle or not when going on an African Hunting Safari depends on the length of time you will be hunting, the country you will be hunting in, the quality of the outfitter’s rental rifles and how attached you are to your own rifles. If you do not have the correct caliber for dangerous game, then by all means you should use the outfitter’s rifle.
Some countries have expensive import fees or onerous paperwork requirements. Many hunters hunting in or transiting through South Africa are choosing to use the outfitter’s rifles and avoid the paperwork hassles.
Other countries such as Namibia, make it relatively easy to bring your own firearms. In the end it boils down to how attached you are to your personal firearms.
Will my Medical Insurance cover me on a Hunting Safari
Most domestic medical insurance policies will not provide coverage when you are traveling outside your home country. It is recommended that you check with your health insurance provider to determine whether you will have coverage. If you need to obtain international travel health insurance we recommend Travel Guard, which in addition to offering medical expense reimbursement, also includes medical evacuation services, travel delay and lost baggage coverages.
Should I get Trip Cancelation Insurance for a Hunting Safari?
Whether you should purchase Trip Cancellation coverage depends on your age, general health, and the cost of your safari. The amount of money that is at risk if you cancel is a major factor. Most cancellations involve the loss of all deposit monies paid to date and possible loss of flight costs. Some tickets allow you to reschedule your flight within one year for a fee. So ultimately, if you have a large deposit down and have booked your flights well in advance, you may want to purchase trip cancellation insurance to cover possible unforeseen travel complications.
What Insurance should I purchase for my African Hunting Safari?
The type(s) of insurance that you should purchase for your African hunting safari depends on the type of safari you are going on. There are many types of insurance. Companies like Global Recue, Ripcord and Travel guard offer evacuation policies that provide coverage if you are injured or become ill. They will extract you from the bush and see that you get to a medical facility for treatment. They will also medically evacuate you back to your home if deemed necessary for treatment and offer repatriation of remains if you are killed while traveling.
Optional coverage is available to cover medical expenses incurred should you become ill and need treatment when traveling. Travel Guard includes medical coverage with its policy.
Other insurance coverage that may be desired includes Trip Cancellation Insurance, Delayed Flight coverage and lost baggage coverage.
If you are hunting in a remote area of Africa, Pioneer Safaris recommend Global Rescue for their outstanding record of accomplishment of quick evacuation in emergency situations from even the most remote parts of the world.
When Hunting in Africa a good outfitter will have all the gear you need, leaving you with much less to pack. Pack light for Africa.
You are by all means allowed to bring all the gear in the world. In fact, African outfitters and PH’s love seeing the latest and greatest hunting toys and would love to explore them with you. That said, African guides have nailed down the most successful hunting techniques to near perfection. A good outfitter will have all the equipment needed for a successful hunt, and you would be wise to follow their advice.
That said, let’s have a look at the gear you will need to bring yourself:
We cover clothing in depth in the next section of this post.
Rifle & Scope
If you wish to bring your own Rifle, like many hunters do, you are more than welcome to do so. Most outfitters, however, do have an abundance of available rifles which makes your life a little easier with less paperwork.
Binoculars & Pouches
A binocular is not required as both your hunting guide and tracker will have them and oversee scouting. That said, an extra pair of eyes are always helpful and being as engaged in the hunt as possible is a fantastic way to get the most out of your experience.
Many Europeans and North Americans make use of fancy bino pouches. While these are great, they tend to be bulky and warm. Not the best combo for Africa. At Pioneer we recommend you keep it simple and use bungee cord as a bino strap. Bungee cord is great as it is soft and comfortable, and being elastic means you can wrap it around your bino for a nice and snug fit around your chest when you don’t want them swinging around.
your guide will have a rangefinder handy or would be able to accurately estimate the distance based of experience. There is no need for you to bring your rangefinder unless you want a second opinion, or especially if you are a bowhunter.
You do not need a backpack for Africa. Your hunting guide will have all the equipment handy and have a way of carrying it. As the hunter, you need to be as cool, free and unrestricted as possible.
Pack as light as possible clothing with one hot jacket, all of which should be dark, khaki, or dark sand colours. Camo is also perfect if it is breathable and cool.
In Africa it is very common for hunting lodges to do laundry every day. Thus, you do not need to pack plenty of clothing. Enquire from your outfitter to make sure.
Most American and European nations have extremely nice, layered, advanced technology clothing. Although really nice, they are not designed for Africa. During winter months, Africa regularly see days of up to 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit). In the summer, it is common to see 40C (104F) during mid-day. Temperatures then tend to plumet to sub-zero in winters and often to 8C (46F) in the summer at nighttime. Africa is a massive continent, so the above only serves as an example of the expected maximums & minimums but should give you a good idea of how to pack.
Shirts: Pack light breathable camo shirts, or buttoned shirts of a dark or khaki colour with either short sleeves or roll-up sleeves. Many hunters also opt for a regular breathable t-shirt of a dark or khaki colour. Avoid bright colours at all cost, which includes large bright print or logo’s. DO NOT bring your orange North American gear.
Second Layers: Many hunters, this writer included, find a jacket to hot and especially in the mornings a simple shirt to cold for comfort. Feel free to pack a second layer top. You only need one. I prefer a light second skin-like material which heats you just that little bit but is also breathable.
Jackets: It is extremely unlikely that you will ever be hunting in a jacket. One warm jacket is more than enough to serve you around the campfire, and in a hunting blind at night.
Most non-Africans aren’t particularly fond of the Safari style shorts. We prefer and recommend them. Other than dark or khaki-coloured shorts, you may also opt for long trousers. Make sure that whichever option you choose, they are breathable, and silent.
If you do opt for long trousers, we recommend regular old jeans. They do not make the infamous “swoosh-swoosh” sound that so many expensive hunting pants fall victim to, and they are the perfect combination of strength, flexibility & comfort.
Keep in mind that if you hunt in a semi-tropical or tropical area an outfitter might recommend long trousers due to the flora and terrain of the area.
Boots: African hunting guides prefer “vellies”, or if you want to be fancy, Courteney Boots. Both of which you are not likely to find outside of Africa. We prefer them because of their strength and dead silent soles. Any hunting boot from your home country will do the job, however. Please make sure that they do not have hard soles as this will make a noise on the dry African twigs. Also make sure that your boot of choice is breathable as you will have very hot days.
Socks: Any comfortable hiking socks will be perfect for your Safari. Modern day hiking socks are great because they offer padding, comfort, and breathability.
Gators: If you opt for long trousers, you do not need gators. If you opt for shorts, gators will help keep the sand & thorns out of your socks. Africa has some fantastic genuine leather gators with side-zips, and your outfitter will be able to get them for you with prior notice.
The most important practising you can do for your African Hunting Safari is to shoot from shooting sticks, standing up, at targets up to 200m’s.
Practising for African conditions will help you in your quest to be a successful African hunter. Here are some things you can do to be prepared for your hunting Safari.
Trust your Guide
Your hunting guide is not only a qualified professional but are (at least in the case of Pioneer) extremely experienced hunters. In the heat of the moment many hunters fall into the trap of wanting to follow their own guidance. By all means, work with your hunting guide when things are calm and you can discuss strategy, but when push comes to shove, trust the instincts of your guide.
In Africa shooting sticks are used extensively. Tall gras, varying terrain and the requirement to sometimes shoot quickly makes shooting sticks an invaluable item in the Professional Hunter’s toolkit. In preparation for your hunt, visit the range with shooting sticks and practise shooting from them at 50, 100 & 200 metres. Your hunting guide will limit shots at 200m as much as possible, but in the case of wounded animals these are not at all unheard off. Most of your shots (depending on the area where you hunt) will be between 50-120 metres.
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