FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Information for foreign students

Do I need to apply for a Visa?


Visa requirements are very different for each country and change frequently, so please be sure to enquire with the South African/Botswana embassy in your country WELL IN ADVANCE if you need a Visa, how to get it and how long the application process takes. We cannot assist in any Visa matters. In general, most travellers are issued a 90-day tourist Visa on arrival in South Africa/Botswana which will cover even the duration of the Apprentice Field Guide course. Please be advised that maybe you have to provide a valid return ticket at immigration. If you want to travel before/after, please make sure you do not overstay your Visa as that results in high fines and bans from re-entering the country. Again, we urge you to contact your local embassy to enquire about any Visa regulations! We will not be held liable for any information given in this regard. It is your sole responsibility to be able to enter South Africa/Botswana legally for a sufficient number of days to attend the booked course/training and travel to/from the venue.




Do I need to take precautions against Malaria?


Please visit you local doctor for advice on precautions you should take, medications or vaccinations - which may differ according to the venue. We are not permitted, by law, to give any advice regarding medical information.

The Bayala Private Game Reserve in South Africa is situated in an intermediate malaria risk area, the camp in Botswana in a high malaria risk area in the Okavango Delta.

Generally it is advisable to have a good mosquito repellant, have long sleeved shirts and long trousers for the evenings and make use of mosquito nets. But be aware that all this will still not prevent you from getting bitten by insects.




Do I need a travel health insurance?


As you will be in rather remote game reserve areas, medical insurance is highly recommended. Without signing an indemnity form prior to the course/training you will not be able to attend. You are therefore responsible for your own wellbeing.

There are insurance companies in every country that offer special packages for studying and travelling abroad.




What is the currency in South Africa / Botswana?


ZAR (South African Rand) is the currency in South Africa, and BWP (Botswana Pula) is the currency in Botswana. Please check the internet for up to date currency conversion.

You will be able to draw money with your home bank-card or your credit card at local ATMs, but please note that some banks/credit card companies need to be informed of your stay in South Africa/Botswana beforehand and the cards have to be released for the use in these countries. Please check for the card you want to use in advance!

There is no ATM close to the game reserve/camp, so please draw sufficient money at the airport or at any bigger shopping mall. Please bring enough pocket money to cover personal expenses (e.g. tips, drinks, additional reference books, merchandise, etc.).




What about electricity?


The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs take 3-prong 15 amp with round pins – please be sure bring your own adapters to the course venue!

You can purchase them easily once in South Africa/Botswana in every drugstore or supermarket.

Currently there are so called "load sheddings" (power cuts) on a daily basis all over South Africa, with normally 2-3 hours without electricity. Most stores/banks/hotels/tourist attractions are equipped with generators to cover for these power cuts. Make sure you know for your region when this load shedding is scheduled (exact times can be found on the internet on the Eskom website) and plan accordingly by charging all your devices before.

It is advisable to bring a good powerbank along.

At the camp in Botswana there will only be electricity for a couple of hours during the day from a generator, enough to charge your phone/laptop or camera – but you will not have electricity in your tent. Please still make sure you bring your own adapters to fit into European 2-pin sockets and South African 3-prong.

It is advisable to bring a good powerbank for charging in your tent.




Is it safe to travel in South Africa and Botswana?


We can unfortunately never guarantee a participant’s safety when travelling. Any traveller must know that anything can happen (and anywhere). We recommend you fly in the day before the course/training starts and can suggest places to stay close to our venues. As with travel to any foreign country, you have to stay alert and don’t bring attention to yourself by carrying large sums of cash, expensive juwelery or leave valuables/equipment unattended. Use your common sense, do not walk alone in questionable areas or after dark, do not give lifts to unknown persons, make sure there is nobody standing close when getting cash out of an ATM, etc.




Am I insured during the courses / trainings?


African Bush Company has a Liability policy. This provides cover for your legal liability for the accidental death or bodily injury or illness of any person on the course.

Please note that you will need insurance for your own property in case of loss or damage, also due to natural hazards like flood or storm. Our insurance also does not cover personal liability (i.e. one students hurts another student). We recommend to consult your travel insurance to include that into your package.




Should I buy a local SIM card?


There are various options to stay in touch with home if you are from abroad.

The easiest and most convenient would be to buy a local SIM card. There are a number of providers to choose from.

For South Africa we recommend MTN or Vodacom as the have good coverage in remote areas.

For Botswana we recommend btc mobile, but please be aware that there will be sparse to no phone coverage in camp.

Please keep in mind that you have to buy sufficient vouchers for airtime/data to load on your local SIM card BEFORE you come to the course. These are available in many outlets country-wide and even at supermarkets or drugstores

We recommend to purchase the local SIM card at the airport in Johannesburg/Durban when you arrive in South Africa – as this is a place where you do not need to show a proof of residence to be able to purchase it. Please also take care the SIM card is activated directly in the shop, this makes things a lot easier.




Do I need a International Driving license?


Please apply for an international driver’s license in your country of residence as it will make things much easier for you if you rent a car. Your local license – especially if not issued in English – might not be accepted by South African / Botswana authorities.

Please note that for the Apprentice Field Guide Course (Level 1) we require knowledge and practice to operate a manual driven vehicle. If you have only driven automatic cars so far, please make sure you practice sufficiently prior to the course. We also recommend to attend a 4x4 driving course prior to arrival.




Do I need to get any vaccinations for South Africa / Botswana?


Please visit you local doctor for advice on any medications or vaccinations - which may differ according to the venue. We are not permitted, by law, to give any advice regarding medical information.





Preparations before travel

What should I pack?


Be advised that the autumn/winter months (April – October) in Africa can be cold, and buildings / accommodation are not well equipped with insulation or heating devices. So bring clothes to keep you warm, including a warm jacket, gloves, scarf, beanie, warm socks, long pyjama etc. – rather plan as you would go on a winter/skiing trip.

Summers (November – March) are hot and sometimes very rainy, so again plan accordingly with flip flops, swimwear, light raincoat etc.

Tips for adequate clothing will also be included in the separate packing list you get after booking.




What are the Visa requirements for South Africa or Botswana?


Visa requirements are very different for each country and change frequently, so please be sure to enquire with the South African/Botswana embassy in your country WELL IN ADVANCE if you need a Visa, how to get it and how long the application process takes. We cannot assist in any Visa matters. In general, most travellers are issued a 90-day tourist Visa on arrival in South Africa/Botswana which will cover even the duration of the Apprentice Field Guide course. Please be advised that maybe you have to provide a valid return ticket at immigration. If you want to travel before/after, please make sure you do not overstay your Visa as that results in high fines and bans from re-entering the country. Again, we urge you to contact your local embassy to enquire about any Visa regulations! We will not be held liable for any information given in this regard. It is your sole responsibility to be able to enter South Africa/Botswana legally for a sufficient number of days to attend the booked course/training and travel to/from the venue.




Do I need to take precautions against Malaria?


Please visit you local doctor for advice on precautions you should take, medications or vaccinations - which may differ according to the venue. We are not permitted, by law, to give any advice regarding medical information.

The Bayala Private Game Reserve in South Africa is situated in an intermediate malaria risk area, the camp in Botswana in a high malaria risk area in the Okavango Delta.

Generally it is advisable to have a good mosquito repellant, have long sleeved shirts and long trousers for the evenings and make use of mosquito nets. But be aware that all this will still not prevent you from getting stung/bitten by insects.




Do I need to get any vaccinations for South Africa / Botswana?


Please visit you local doctor for advice on any medications or vaccinations - which may differ according to the venue. We are not permitted, by law, to give any advice regarding medical information.





Courses and trainings

Is there an age limit for participation?


We take students and participants from 18-99 years - you just have to enjoy a reasonable level of fittness, especially for the trails courses and trainings.




Are there requirements I have to meet in order to join?


The requirements differ, depending on the course or training. Apprentice Field Guide: - be over 18 years - valid driving license - competent in the English language (oral and written) - experience in manual transmission driving - valid medical aid - reasonable level of fitness Apprentice Trails Guide: - Apprentice Field Guide certificate - valid First Aid - paid up FGASA member (for logging hours/encounters and being assessed) - if possible, we recommend that you get some rifle shooting practice before starting the course - please contact us for assistance Mentorship Trails training: - Apprentice Field Guide certificate - Apprentice Trails Guide certificate (recommended, not a must) - valid ARH - valid First Aid - paid up FGASA member (for logging hours/encounters and beeing assessed)




What age and nationality are the other participants?


We have a broad mixture of ages and nationalities from all over the world on our courses. Usually the average age is between 25 and 55 years.




Where do the courses / trainings take place?


At the moment our courses and trainings take place at two different venues. - Bayala Private Lodge in the Munyawana Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa - Moremi Trails Camp in the southern reaches of the Okavango Delta, Botswana Please find more information about the venues in the "About" section of this website.




Can I bring my partner as a guest?


Yes! You are welcome to bring your partner as a paying guest just to enjoy the experience with you. Please enquire before booking if there is still space for a guest in camp on your desired date/venue.




I don't have a car - how do it get to camp?


South Africa, Bayala Lodge: There are different possibilities to get to Bayala, depending on where you are travelling from. a) If there are a couple of people travelling from the same area we will get you in touch to maybe share transportation. b) We can assist with booking a transport from the airport, please contact us. c) You can rent a car at the airport - but please remember that you will not use it during the duration of the course. Botswana: There are different possibilities to get to our camp in the Okavango Delta, depending on where you are travelling from. a) If there are a couple of people travelling by car from South Africa we will get you in touch to maybe share transportation. b) We can arrange transport from Maun airport to camp and back at extra cost, please contact us. c) You can rent a car at Maun airport - please be advised that you need a 4x4 for the last stretch to camp.




I have my own car - can I bring it to camp?


Yes, you can. For Botswana please be advised that you need a 4x4 for the last stretch to camp in the Okanavongo Delta as it is deep sand. If you do plan to bring your own car to one of the courses / trainings, please inform us so we can maybe arrange that other participants can share the ride.




Is there phone / Wifi connection at camp?


South Africa, Bayala Lodge: Yes, there is good phone signal in the Lodge, and WiFi available in the communal areas. Okavango Delta, Botswana: Not really... there sometimes is patchy phone signal, but nothing you can rely on. There will be Wifi available during certain hours in the evening for communal use - it will be enough to use WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook, but not enough for downloads or movies. Please download any reference apps you might want (birds, mamals, etc.) upfront and make sure that you update all your software/apps BEFORE you arrive in camp




Can I join even if I don't want to be a professional guide?


Yes! You are welcome to join and also get the different qualifications/certificates just for your personal development and interest in nature and wildlife.




What reference books do you recommend?


We definitely recommend to have good reference books for mamals, birds and trees - you might also want to check out books on repitles, frogs, wildflowers, grasses, snakes or butterflies. There will be a small library available on the Apprentice Field Guide and Apprentice Trails Guide courses. A great add-on to everyones guiding library is "Pathfinder" by Janesta Pulella. You can find more info about it on Facebook under "Your Pathfinder" and can order your copy by sending a mail to info@yourpathfinder.co.za. After booking, you will a receive a list of recommended books and apps you should maybe invest in before starting the courses.




Do I need a first aid certificate?


You need a valid First Aid certificate to join the Apprentice Trails Guide Course and the Trails Mentorship trainings - as a guide. As a participating guest you do not need First Aid.




What is a PrPD and do I need one?


A PrPD (or PDP) is a professional drivers license, in most overseas countries equivalent with a cab/taxi license. In order to legally work as Field Guide in South Africa and conducting game drives with guest you must have a valid South African PrDP. (Some NDT offices accept foreign PrDPs to license you, but there is no guarantee). You do not need a PrDP to join any of our courese or trainings.




What do I need to do to secure a spot?


After you have booked, you will get an invoice from us. Your spot is secured as soon as we have received the 30% deposit of you total fee. Generally spots are given away on a first-come first-serve basis, so as soon a you have decided which course at what date you want to join be certain to book! Remember there are only 8 spots on each course/training and they usually fill up fast.





Safaris

Can children go on Safari?


Yes, generally they can. Please keep in mind that you will be in rather remote wilderness areas in often unfenced camps with no medical facilities near by and sometimes even no phone coverage. In general most camps to not cater for the needs of infants, toddlers or small children. Game Drive Safari As you will travel as a private group in your private vehicle, children can come along. Please take into consideration that you sometimes will be in the car for hours at a time in the sun and ask yourself if your child will enjoy this. Please be advised that maybe the need to leave a sensitive sighting can arise with small children in the car, as some animals might react in a negative way. Walking Safari Children under the age of 12 can not come on bush walks in dangerous game areas. If your walking Safari has a base-camp, and one of your group stays behind with the child during walks, you can still bring younger children. Please be advised that even if your child is 12 years or older, it is at the discretion of the Trails Guide to make the final decision. African Bush Adventure Kids under the age of 16 need to be accompanied by responsible adult, and the comments above for Game Drives and Bush Walks apply. Teenagers between 16 and 18 need the written permission of a legal guardian. If you would like to bring children onto your Safari, please contact us directly to check what we can arrange to accomodate your group.




Do I need a travel health insurance for my Safari?


As you will be in rather remote game reserve areas, medical insurance is highly recommended. Without signing an indemnity form prior to the start of your Safari you will not be able to attend. You are therefore responsible for your own wellbeing.

There are insurance companies in every country that offer special packages for travelling abroad. A lot of times your local health insurance can offer you a add-on for travels to Africa.




What should I wear on Safari?


Generally you should wear clothes that you are comfortable in. For any activity in the bush it is benefical to keep to natural, subdued colours such as green, olive, beige, khaki, brown, dark blue or grey. Please try to avoid any bright colours or white. While at camp/lodge you are welcome to wear whatever colour you like :-) Advisable are: - collard shirts (to avoid sunburn around the neck) - hat/cap - Flip flops - at least 1 pair of closed, comfortable walking shoes - a scarf (if it gets windy and as a cover against sun) - fleece jacket (for cold days or evenings) - swimsuit - shorts as well as a pair of long trousers - for winter months (April - October) also gloves, beanie, warm jacket We are happy to assist you with a more comprehensive list after booking, when we exactly know to which area and in what season you will be travelling with us.




Can the Safari itinerary be tailored to our wishes?


Yes! We are happy to help you choose the best area for your Safari expectations and will taylor the itinerary and the choice of activities to your group's interest. Your private African Bush Company Guide will be by your side the whole time, being able to adapt the schedule even while on Safari already, should the need arise.




Do I need to get any vaccinations before I go on Safari?


Please visit you local doctor for advice on any medications or vaccinations - which may differ according to the destination where your private Safari will take place. We are not permitted, by law, to give any advice regarding medical information.




Do I need to take precautions against Malaria before I go on Safari?


Please visit you local doctor for advice on precautions you should take, medications or vaccinations - which may differ according to the venue. We are not permitted, by law, to give any advice regarding medical information.

Various regions have different evaluations regarding their malaria risk, please make sure you tell your doctor exactly into which areas you will be travelling.

Generally it is advisable to have a good mosquito repellant, have long sleeved shirts and long trousers for the evenings and make use of mosquito nets. But be aware that all this will still not prevent you from getting stung/bitten by insects.





© 2020 AFRICAN BUSH COMPANY