Our tour director made recommendations about what to wear, such as closed toe shoes, long sleeve t shirts or shirts and pants. When he made suggestions like this, it was usually for a valid reason like --- we will be walking through landscape with bushes that are close together and have thorns--- the sun is very strong---- there might be lots of insects--- and so on--- even though some people did not take heed--- and indeed did have injury. I think it is worth listening to an expert director who knows what they are talking about and maybe seen consequences in the past----At the Camp Kalahari, we are provided with Kikoy scarves. The director suggested that we use them in the traditional way. Soak them in cold water, squeeze out a little, then wrap them round head and neck or just neck, they work very well in keeping you cool in the heat. We followed this tip, it was great. Some people soaked them and lay on their beds and then covered themselves with the scarf, that was great too. Others did neither.
One of our personal favorite items of clothing for this kind of tour is a 'buff' we wear them around our necks and find they make wearing the cameras and binocular straps much more comfortable and aid in insect and sun protection. They look 'cool ' too! Buy them at any sports or outdoor stores, lots of colors and patterns to suit both sexes.
We were provided with stainless steel water bottles at Khwai River Lodge and at Camp Kalahari we were provided with bright orange drinking bottles of a different shape. You could use these for refilling with water, but there was always regular bottled water too. They were yours to keep.
Changing money---- we did not change money at all. Zambia and Botswana accepted dollars and in Cape Town, everywhere accepted credit cards. We were told where we could find an ATM as well as one in the hotel. Don't know if anyone took or got Rand.

Malaria meds---- everyone took the meds apart from one couple who did not realize they should be taking them, their Travel agent did not tell them and they did not research about it before the trip. There were lots of mosquitoes on our tour.

I really think it is worth doing a lot of research on weather in the parts of Africa we visit, first before you book the tour date and second because it helps to understand about the dry season and wet season rather than the four seasons that we have in the US. From this information you can decide the best time for the weather you know you can cope with or how different the landscape will be, will you enjoy the long grass and not seeing as easily to find animals, will you prefer seeing Victoria Falls with lots of water or very little and seeing the rocks underneath. The more you know, the less disappointed you might be if you picked a time that was not good for something you really wanted to see. Like the Falls at their peak.

I also think it is worth viewing lots of wildlife programs or understanding the habits of the animals you might see, or indeed what they look like because when out on Safari, passengers sometimes spot an animal that the safari guide misses, and sometimes that may be a rare animal that may not be seen again. In the past, for example, we have had a fellow passenger spot a Serval and on this tour some of our group spotted rare animals too.
There are lots of unpublished extras on this tour, that I cannot divulge because I do not want to spoil the surprises. All other activities were as we expected, well organized, on time and excellent. We hope to take this tour again at the end of the wet season. We have found that havimg taken four different safari tours with Tauck now, we have experienced the very different areas that they cover. Every area is different, the animals you see, the landscape, the type of safaris vehicle, the safari 'rules' The culture. The progress of development, especially the roads in Tanzania, far more paved ones than when we did the K and T tour. And the development in Cape Town since we were last there, in fact, the V and A waterfront had construction in progress this trip that made it lack the charm we remember from our last visit.

Cape Town sites......our previous tour, we went to Kirstenbosch Gardens and The Christian Barnard Transplant museum, in our own time. Still highly recommend these. This time, we had a few Hours on the last day and went to the Aquarium right by the One and Only, it is a very good aquarium, pristine exhibits and a very good teaching talk with divers in the big tank feeding the turtle and fish and explanations about how they do this and why from a special microphone they had in their mask. The Predator area was being refurbished, but I would say it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours ro walk around. Great to do before you have to make your way to the airport on the last day.
The One and Only check out time is 11am and if you want to keep the room longer, they wil charge you.

FLIGHTS TO AFRICA---- we flew from Philadelphia to Heathrow, London on British Airways, an 11 hour layover could not be avoided, then on to Johannesburg amd on to Livingstone Zambia. Return, was Cape Town to Heathrow and back to Philadelphia, layover time here was just a few hours. We booked the vacation a very long time before we were able to book flights. We intended to book them exactly one year before, but due to a family bereavement, it was 10 months before the tour. We wanted to book Business class, which we do not often do, but were told there were no seats left. We booked Economy and tried to see if we could get business class nearer to tour departure, no luck. When we got to Heathrow, we were able to upgrade to Business class for the flight to Johannesburg for a very reasonable "teaser" rate. It was comfortable but very slow dinner service over two hours when we could have been sleeping in the flat seats we had paid for. On our return journey we could not get upgraded and found we slept just as well as on business class, so glad we saved the money, it will go a long way to pay for our next Tauck tour.


  • edited October 2016
    Thanks, British.

    This morning I was looking at the weather in the Before You Go, and it seems like there really isn't a best time to go where you have everything- moderate temps up north and in Capetown, rain, water plunging over the falls vs too little vs too much water in the Delta vs foliage vs animal viewing etc., etc. Of course everyone is different too- some handle heat or cold better than others, some like to sleep when it is really cool. Also, just because it averaged 86 in XX for the last two years doesn't mean it won't be 95+ there in any given year. So it seems, like you said, people need to take their best shot, weigh what is most important to them, accept they will need to compromise on some aspects of this trip, and don't blame anyone if the weather is not what the Farmers Almanac said it should be.

    I assume you treated your clothes with Permethrin, but to keep the bugs off your skin, did you use a DEET product or did you or anyone else in your group try or use any products with Picaridin which is different stuff (one brand is Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent)?

    According to the manufacturer's claim it is more effective than products with DEET, is virtually odorless (has a mild citrus scent added to it which evaporates when dry), will not harm gear or equipment, and is effective for up to 14 hours.

    Ya know, if you want to sleep, most Business class crew will bring your meal all at once or not bring one at all, if you ask, especially if you tell them you have two long haul flights. I can usually sleep just about any place (I have even been known to fall asleep in the dentist chair) but sleeping sitting up in coach is not one of those places! But you are right about paying for another trip with what your save. But, hey, if we don't spend it, our kids will! :)
  • Very helpful comments - thank you!
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