Travel in Africa
At Cox & Kings we believe that a good holiday is not luck but judgment and we have compiled the following advice to outline the nature of travel in Africa, and to help you prepare for your holiday. Even with the most meticulous planning, however, minor problems can occur and, whilst our local representatives are on hand to rectify such occurrences, we do request that you have a patient and broadminded approach to travelling in Africa.
Cox & Kings uses a number of reputable airlines to Africa & the Indian Ocean, including British Airways, KLM, Kenya Airways, Virgin Atlantic, South African Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Air Namibia, Air Seychelles and Air Mauritius. Direct services are used where possible and are classified as direct when there is no plane change involved. All our itineraries are based on Economy Class; however, should you wish to upgrade to a premium class this is normally possible, subject to availability. Baggage allowances vary according to the destination, flight and class booked, although in the majority of cases, the allowance for Economy is 20kgs, Business is 30kgs and First is 40kgs. However, if taking internal flights on a light aircraft, it may be necessary to travel light - some charter flights into areas such as the Masai Mara and the Serengeti are limited to one soft bag weighing 12kgs or less, and it may not be possible to leave behind any excess baggage. Therefore, passengers are recommended not to bring any excess baggage on tours that feature light-aircraft flights. Please ask your tour consultant for further details regarding specific routes.
Some internal flights are on smaller aircraft. Air Botswana flights feature 70 seater ATR turbo-prop aircraft. Internal private flights in Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Tanzania are usually with five-passenger single prop Cessna aircraft (or similar). Occasionally, when travelling on internal flights with local carriers or on light aircraft, it may be necessary for operators to change schedules at short notice. If this should happen, everything possible will be done to minimise the inconvenience. Such a change may cause a delay to your onward travel arrangements and require an extra night’s accommodation at your board point, or alternative travel by another airline or another method of transport. Although these arrangements are at the discretion of the airline, Cox & Kings will endeavour to help in any way it can and
Flight Delays & Insurance:
Unfortunately, due to the increase in air traffic, government restrictions and changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more commonplace. Apart from delaying your arrival at your destination, these delays can cause problems with onward connections and / or hotel and holiday arrangements, which may need to be rescheduled. Although the airline will sometimes make alternative arrangements to get you to your next destination at no extra cost, additional costs may be involved for you after your arrival in the form of additional accommodation costs, transfers and onward tickets. Unfortunately, since most services are paid for in advance, any services missed due to delays are non-refundable. Please also bear in mind that many international flight tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable. Therefore, it is essential that you are insured against such eventualities. The insurance policy offered by Cox & Kings (see the facing page) is designed to mitigate the costs and effects of such delays in certain circumstances.
Cox & Kings will endeavour to request any specific meals or services, on the condition that we are told at the time of booking. Specific seat requests with most major airlines can now only be made if travelling in Business or First Class. With all special requests, please remember that they are ‘requests’ and as such are at the discretion of the airline and cannot be guaranteed.
Most flights booked by Cox & Kings have special airline
fares. These have certain conditions, which normally restrict changes of date, route and airline. Any such changes made after a ticket has been issued will normally necessitate the purchase of a new ticket at the passenger’s expense. Should you require flexibility with regard to your airline tickets, please advise us prior to booking your holiday and we will discuss the options with you.
Airport Departure Taxes:
International UK departure tax is included in your airline ticket unless otherwise stated. Many cities in Africa levy a departure tax for passengers departing on international flights and where this is not included in the ticket price it will need to be paid in local currency or the equivalent in US dollars. Other cities within a country may also levy a small charge for departures on domestic flights. Occasionally, taxes may be included in your ticket and we will advise you accordingly. Since there is no standard charge between countries, and taxes are subject to change, it is not possible to list the taxes in this brochure. We will advise you of the current charge with your final documents, and our local agents will confirm the amount payable on arrival. Please ensure you keep enough local currency or US dollars to cover these taxes.
Generally, road conditions in southern Africa are reasonably good; however, they vary greatly between the modern cities and the remote areas, where the dust, gravel roads necessitate 4-wheel drive travel. When travelling off the beaten track, roads are frequently narrow, bumpy, pot-holed and have stretches which are not sealed, or which are under reconstruction. In Ethiopia, Madagascar, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda particularly, conditions are very dusty and the off-road journeys tend to be quite strenuous. Road conditions change throughout the year and heavy tropical rains and extreme weather patterns can affect journey times enormously.
If we are tailor-making an itinerary for you, it is always a good idea to discuss your particular requirements with your travel consultant, who will endeavour to include as much or as little road travel as you require. The type of vehicle varies according to the country visited and the numbers on a group tour: in Namibia and South Africa, transport will usually be in the form of a 15 or 20-seater Sprinter or a larger European-style coach. In destinations where conditions require it, off road driving will be in 4-wheel drive Land Cruisers or Land Rovers.
Travelling by train in southern Africa can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. New luxury train routes are constantly being developed and there is now a variety of excellent routes available. Cox & Kings does not advise travellers to use the local trains, which cannot be confirmed as safe; however, the internationally acclaimed Blue Train and Rovos Rail offer a relaxed and luxurious alternative to road travel. Please see page 24 and 25 of the brochure for the available routes and facilities aboard these trains.
Many flights within and to / from Africa depart and arrive in the late evening or early in the morning. Although Cox & Kings will endeavour to book you on a flight that travels at a reasonable time, there is often little or no choice and, as a result, some very early check-in times may be necessary. When on safari, if game viewing you will find it is necessary to leave your lodge very early in the morning (around dawn) in order to maximise the opportunities for game viewing.
WEATHER FOR AFRICA
For information on weather in this region please see individual tour pages.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout Africa; however, hotels used on Cox & Kings holidays can normally be expected to be very comfortable. In more remote destinations, such as parts of Ethiopia, Madagascar and Rwanda, accommodation will be more basic. Cox & Kings endeavours to use the best available properties in remote destinations and, although these will be clean and offer en suite rooms, in general they cannot be compared to hotels in the West. In some locations many of the hotels we use are small, privately owned properties retaining much of their original ambience; however the size, shape and design of the rooms vary enormously (although rooms may well all carry the same price) because they were not purpose-built in most destinations, service and food will be of a high quality, but in some less-developed regions hotel service can be slow and we ask you to show patience in this regard. Hotels across the continent are continually trying to upgrade their services and many have building works going on throughout the year. Cox & Kings will endeavour to obtain rooms as far away from any construction work as possible but please bear in mind that many hotels run on full capacity during peak season and specific rooms can rarely be pre-booked. Please note, all rooms reserved on your tour are standard; however, if you wish to upgrade your room (e.g. to a lake or falls view, de luxe or suite etc.), please speak to your tour consultant, who will be able to advise you about the options and the applicable supplements.
Check-In / Check-Out:
In some situations, when a flight arrives very early in the morning, it may be that you will be taken for breakfast or sightseeing before being allocated your rooms since check-in / check-out time is normally 12 noon. Cox & Kings’ local representatives will ensure that you are able to access your room as early as possible.
Generally in Africa, single and double occupancy rooms have the same price, which means that single supplements for certain itineraries can seem high. In addition, single rooms cannot always be guaranteed at all hotels and lodges, especially in peak season. Occasionally, the location and standard of single rooms may not be as good as that of doubles, although often there is absolutely no difference. If you are in doubt, we suggest you ask us beforehand to book a double room at an additional supplement. If you are unhappy with your room whilst on holiday please ensure that you query this with a Cox & Kings representative at the time.
Game Parks & Remote Areas:
Within Africa we generally use the best accommodation available. However, even luxurious properties are a long way from other civilisation and can often only be reached down narrow and makeshift roads. Although accommodation will often be in tents, these can be more luxurious than some lodges and include private facilities. Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings, you can be sure that your accommodation in game lodges, smaller hotels and tented camps is on a par with the best available in that category. Sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases we feel that the inconvenience of such accommodation is outweighed by the experience of these more remote areas.
FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE TRAVEL ADVICE
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) produces a wide range of material about overseas countries that may be visited by British citizens, to ensure that travellers are properly informed about any overseas destination, particularly in relation to political unrest, crime and health issues. Where the FCO considers that British citizens would face unjustifiable risks to health, it actually advises either against travelling to the country in question or against non-essential travel to that country.
Full details of all FCO advice can be obtained on the FCO website – www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-livingoverseas. Alternatively, you can contact the FCO at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH, 0845 850 2829 (Mon - Fri 0900-1800) (BT - 4p per min. Other networks vary).
VISAS & HEALTH FOR AFRICA
We work with Visa Swift, a company that specialises in visa processing. Please visit its website to find out if you require a visa, download visa application forms, follow links to important embassy websites or make general inquiries about its visa service. Visa Swift also offers a full range of passport services including passport renewals, second passports and replacement passports. The Visa Swift service is easy to use: simply go to the website and follow the steps to apply for the visa that you need. Once submitted, you can track the progress of your visa application online. Please telephone 020 7025 4744 for more information or visit the Visa Swift website: http://www.visaswift.com/coxandkings.aspx
For information on inoculations you will require in this region please click here »