At Cox & Kings, we believe that a good holiday is not luck, but judgement. We have compiled the following advice to outline the nature of travel in Africa and to help you prepare for your holiday. However, even with the most meticulous planning, minor problems can occur and, while 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 supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Aware campaign to help you stay safe and healthy overseas. Find out more at FCO Travel Aware. The FCO website provides travel information for many countries around the world which includes advice on safety and security, entry requirements and health, as well as general information. Cox & Kings strongly recommends that you, and everyone on your booking, visit the FCO website and read the advice about the country you are planning to visit prior to booking. You should also revisit the advice regularly prior to your departure as it may change frequently. It is also possible to sign-up to receive FCO e-mail updates for your destination so you are aware of any changes to advice they issue and we recommend you do this. There are different levels of advice, and sometimes this includes advice against travelling to certain areas or countries. To check the current travel advice, visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice and follow @FCOTravel on Twitter and Facebook.com/fcotravel.
International flights: Cox & Kings uses a number of reputable airlines to Africa and 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 change of aeroplane 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 20kg, Business is 30kg and First is 40kg. However, if you are going to take 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 12kg 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 travel consultant for further details regarding specific routes.
Internal flights: 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, 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 ensure that arrangements go as smoothly as possible.
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 is designed to mitigate the costs and effects of such delays in certain circumstances.
Flight amendments: 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.
Special requests: 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.
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 dusty gravel roads necessitate travel in a 4×4 vehicle. When travelling off the beaten track, roads are frequently narrow, bumpy and potholed, and have stretches that are not sealed or are under reconstruction. In Ethiopia, Madagascar, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda in particular, conditions are very dusty and 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 tailoring 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 larger European style coach; in destinations where conditions require it, off-road driving will be in 4×4 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 local trains, which cannot be confirmed as safe; however, the internationally acclaimed Rovos Rail and Blue Train offer a safe, relaxed and luxurious alternative to road travel.
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 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 (eg to a lake- or falls- view, de luxe or suite etc), please speak to your travel consultant, who will be able to advise you about the options and applicable supplements.
Early starts: 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, you may find it is necessary to leave your lodge very early in the morning (around dawn) in order to maximise the opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Check-in & check-out times: 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 as 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.
Safari 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 safari 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.
Single supplements: 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 while on holiday, please ensure that you query this with a Cox & Kings representative at the time.