One year or more - book your African hunting safari
Choose your hunting outfitter and book your African hunting safari. The better hunting outfitters typically book most, if not all, of their openings at least a year in advance, even several years in advance depending upon the species availability and rarity. Be aware that the more limited you are about the dates you desire the sooner you should be looking at booking your African hunting safari. For many countries, the months of May, June, July and August have a tendency to be the most popular for hunting safaris and tend to book up earlier so that should be taken into consideration as well.
At the same time you book your hunting safari - purchase insurance
When you book your hunting safari, I recommend that you consider purchasing various insurance specifically designed for hunters, click here to find out more.
One year to several months prior - airline tickets
Purchase your airline tickets. Tickets typically go on sale a year in advance, I recommend purchasing tickets sooner rather than later to ensure that you have a seat. Many African destinations have few airline options and have limited airline capacity. Many routes sell out months in advance during peak season which varies according to the destination. I highly recommend Travel Express, hunting travel specialists, they are the company that I personally use. Lori Ginn can help you, she is very knowledgeable and a hunter herself. She can assist you with all aspects of your hunting travel planning from airfare, lodging and car rentals to entry visa's, firearm permits, etc... Click here to visit Travel Express website www.travelexpressagency.com.
One year to several months prior - make reservations for accommodations pre/post hunt, touristic travel, excursions or car rental
If you will be needing reservations for accommodations pre/post hunt you may ask your travel agent or hunting outfitter to assist you with this. It is a good idea take care of this once you have your airline tickets and your hunting dates secured. If you plan to do any touristic travel, excursions or rent a car to drive on your own, these should be planned at this time as well. Some touristic destinations can be fully booked as much as a year in advance, especially for desirable dates so early planning is highly recommended. Click here to find Excursion & Tour Operators by country.
At least six months prior - passport
Get a passport if you do not have one already or check your existing passport. Make sure that your passport will be valid for at least six months after your intended date of departure from your safari destination, as most African countries require, otherwise you will need an extension or new passport. You can get a new passport through your local post office, which is more convenient than going to the nearest passport agency. You can download the form and instructions at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs' website http://travel.state.gov. For existing passports, you should have at least three fully blank pages left in your passport for your entry visa(s) and stamps, as they can take up several pages. If additional pages are needed you can easily have pages added to your passport at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs by downloading the online Application for Additional Visa Pages form# DS-4085 along with instructions at http://travel.state.gov/passport/for...4085_2662.html.
tip The agency in charge of passports has recently been experiencing a tremendous backlog due to recent changes in the law and therefore passport turn-around times have been running as long as six months.
tip If you will be needing a new passport AND an advanced entry visa (see section below), you will need to apply for your passport many months earlier because you may be required to send your passport to the embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting to get your visa and that can take a few months as well.
Six months prior - entry visa
Some countries require that you obtain an entry visa prior to your departure from your country of origin, while other countries will issue you with an entry visa at the airport upon your arrival. If you are required to get an entry visa prior to your departure you may need to send your passport to the appropriate embassy or consulate for issuance which can take a few months, so doing this early is imperative.
To find out if you need to apply for a Visa in advance, a great resource with free information is Travel Document System (TDS) at www.traveldocs.com. TDS is a nationally recognized leading authority in the field of international travel documents, they help international travelers easily understand what is specifically required of them in order to gain passage into another country and provides visa services for U.S. citizens to most countries for which an entry visa is required. It may be worth while to use a company such as TDS to handle your entry visa paperwork as the process for some countries is a bureaucratic nightmare best relegated to those who are familiar with the territory.
Six months prior - consult with your doctor
Some countries require certain inoculations and proof that they have been completed, you may need a document formerly known as an International Health Certificate or Yellow Card / Carte Jaune which has been renamed the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. For more information click here.
It is important to go to your doctor several months prior to your trip as some vaccinations take a few months for the series to be completed or several weeks before immunity is developed. It is important to know that a typical doctor's office will not have some travel vaccinations in stock, your doctor may need to order them or he may send you to a county health department where you can receive them. To find out what vaccinations are required as well as those that are recommended, it is best to refer to either the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is a good idea to make a copy of the vaccination recommendations from the WHO and/or CDC and bring it along with you to your doctor's visit, or you may even wish to let them know what vaccination(s) you will require prior to your appointment so that they may order it and have it available for you at the time of your visit.
If you will be visiting an area where malaria is present you should discuss this with your doctor as well as any other health concerns that you or your doctor may have. It is important to know that most anti malaria medication needs to be commenced a few weeks prior to entering a malaria area for full protection, your doctor will let you know the requirements of the drug you should take, as the various antimalarial drugs work differently. To read more click here.
For an online resource with credible and up to date health information where there is a section dedicated to Traveler's Health and you can find information for specific destinations, vaccinations, diseases, prevention, tips and much more... www.cdc.gov. Another good resource for traveler's health issues which is quite easy to navigate www.mdtravelhealth.com.
tip You may also want to consider having your doctor give you a prescription for antibiotics that you can take with you in case you get sick during your safari.
tip You may wish to talk to your doctor about the possible benefits of a gamma globulin booster, especially if you are a bit older or prone to getting sick easily. It's an injection that can temporarily boost you immune system and help to your body better fight off possible disease including viruses such as hepatitis.
At least four months prior - complete paperwork
Complete and return or get paperwork from your hunting outfitter (all of these may not be required for all countries)
- Hunting license
- Hunting permit (list of game desired)
- Weapon permit
- Ammunition permit
- CITES permit (see section below)
- Get "Letter of Invitation" from your hunting outfitter(s) if traveling to or through South Africa.
- Personal requirements and requests (medical conditions, physical limitations, food and drink preferences)
- Supply emergency contact information (medical or evacuation insurance coverage, allergies, blood type, family info, etc.)
- Copy of itinerary
- Find out if required and get airport transit permits for weapons from countries you will be traveling through
- Trophy shipment details
Be sure to get confirmation in writing from your hunting outfitter that he has received all of the paperwork from you that is necessary for your hunting safari.
A contact sheet, here called Hunter Information Sheet which lists all of the information for the hunting outfitters, PH's and agents, including company names, contact person, country, phone numbers, email addresses and cell phone numbers if they have one. Cell phones are now more common than land lines in Africa, so find out if your outfitter and/or PH has one since they are very often not listed in their marketing material.
I suggest that you make a copy of this contact sheet for each piece of your luggage along with a copy of your flight itinerary in addition to carrying this list on your person while traveling.
You may also wish to give a copy to family members and/or a friend along with your itinerary so they can reach you if they need to. To make it easier for everyone, include the international dialing code (011 for the U.S.) and the country codes of the countries you will be visiting to the phone numbers on your list.
Hunter information Sheet
tip Ask your medical and evacuation insurance companies for contact phone numbers other than an 800 number as they do not work from foreign countries.
Four months prior - apply for CITIES Permit(s)
The importation of particular sport hunted trophies requires a CITES permit (i.e. African Elephant, White Rhinoceros, Leopard, etc.), you will need to submit an application to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. You can download the CITIES permit application forms, click here. CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, visit their web site at www.cites.org.
Allow for at least 60 days for your CITES permit application to be processed, some CITES permit applications may take longer than 90 days to process.
CAUTION: Applying for your CITES permit too early can backfire on you as they are issued with an expiration date. I know of people who have had their CITES permits expire before their trophies were even exported from Africa, extensions can be applied for however it is best just to avoid this situation.
At least several months prior get into shape
Get yourself into shape, you will benefit and enjoy your African hunting safari all the more for it. There is a vast range of how demanding a hunting safari can be, that is why it is essential that you make the effort to fully understand what the physical requirements of your hunt will be and prepare yourself accordingly. I have heard of too many hunts that have been unnecessarily unpleasant due to lack of awareness of the physical demands or lack of physical preparation for the hunt itself.
You need to ask yourself or your hunting outfitter specific questions like:
- How many miles will you be walking everyday on average?
- What is the terrain like?
- For those with back problems, how many miles will be traveled everyday by car and what are the road conditions?
- Are the weather and altitude factors that will physically affect you?
- Do you have any physical limitations or chronic conditions that should be considered in your decision making process?
- Do you have any health concerns that the PH should be made aware of?
- Also it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor prior to embarking on a physically demanding hunt.
tip I recommend that you spend some time walking while wearing your hunting boots with the socks, or layers of socks, that you intend to wear during your hunting safari to make sure that this highly important component of your hunting gear is comfortable and that there are no obvious problems. To read more tips about hunting boots or Choosing the Right Hunting Boots & Socks, click here.
Several months prior - practice shooting
Practice shooting your weapon from a variety of distances and various positions, such as with a shooting stick, resting against a tree, kneeling. Also try to make your practice similar to the situation that you will be in by practicing quick follow-up shots, off hand shots and reloading quickly to make additional follow-up shots. Although it may be expensive, you should use the same hunting rifle and ammunition that you plan on using during your hunting safari for at least some of your practice. You can also benefit tremendously by doing more volume shooting practice with a smaller caliber and cheaper bullet.
tip Sometime hunters bring different grain bullets for different species, though I recommend for plains game hunting using only one type of ammunition during the hunt. You never know what species may cross your path at any given moment. If you have to fuss with your ammunition it may cause you to miss an opportunity for a great trophy.
Several months prior - create or revise your will
This is a subject that few people like to think about, however this may be a great time to consider having a will created if you have not done so already or to updated or revised an existing will.
A few months prior - apply for proof of ownership for each weapon that you will be taking on safari
Some countries require, whether you are staying or in transit, proof of ownership for each weapon you are traveling with. For these countries you will need a Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad (CBP form # 4457) from the Department of Homeland Security U. S. Customs and Border Protection. You may download this form along with instructions at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/toolbox/forms/. You can fill out additional forms, one for each of your weapons and others for valuable personal items like binoculars or cameras (which can easily cost thousands of dollars) to prove that you brought them along on your trip in case they are lost or stolen and also as proof of export when re-entering the country. Bring along the original as well as a copy for custom officials. Even though some countries do not require proof of ownership for weapons, we highly recommend that you travel with them anyway.
A few months prior - register your trip with U.S. Department of State
You may wish to consider registering your trip online through the travel registration website of the U.S. Department of State at https://travelregistration.state.gov especially if you will be traveling to politically unstable countries.
A few months prior - contact your bank for a PIN
Overseas many financial institutions are on the CIRRUS system which means to be able to use your credit/debit cards, not just at an ATM but for ALL purchases, in many cases you will be required to have a pin number. Call your bank or credit card company to get a PIN number issued for your card(s) before you leave. Make sure your PIN number is only four digits in length as some international credit card machines and ATMs can only handle four digit PIN numbers, also some do not recognize the "0" as a number. You should inform your bank or credit card company in advance of your safari about your destination(s) and the dates that you will be traveling so that they can remove any automatic locks that may be put into place for your protection during your trip.
Several weeks prior - purchase a Medical Evacuation and Field Rescue Membership
No matter if it's your first or fifth time hunting in Africa, unavoidable accidents do happen. Whether a medical or security emergency, an evacuation from a remote part of Africa could cost well over $100,000. I strongly recommend that anyone traveling to hunt purchase a membership with Global Rescue, the only crisis response company that provides hunters with medical and security evacuation and consultation services anywhere in the world, even the most remote areas. Their deployable teams of paramedics and special operations veterans, backed by on-staff physicians and the specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine, will get to you wherever you are, by any means necessary, and evacuate you all the way to your home country hospital of choice.
Member benefits include:
- 24hr medical advisory services from critical care paramedics and in-house physicians
- Specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine available in real-time
- Field Rescue from the point of illness or injury
- Evacuation back to the member's home hospital of choice
- Global network of medical Centers Of Excellence
- Deployable medical and security teams
- Evacuation services provided up to $500,000
Memberships start at $119
If you would like to purchase a membership or have additional questions, Global Rescue can be reached anytime at +1 (617) 459-4200, or via www.globalrescue.com, click here.
Several weeks prior - order foreign currencies, traveler's cheques and cash
Decide what forms of payment you will be using for your final invoice to the hunting outfitter and approximate how much you will need to bring for your entire trip including tips, and if applicable, entry visa fees, airport taxes and/or gun/ammo taxes. Contact your bank well in advance to order traveler's cheques and foreign currencies. Keep in mind that many banks in Africa only accept American Express traveler's cheques.
tip If you do choose to use traveler's cheques, it is essential that both of your signatures match on the traveler's cheques and a special effort should be made while signing numerous cheques at one time to keep your signature consistent, whether it is when you sign them at the bank or when you sign them to make payment. Many outfitters have encountered problems cashing traveler's cheques because of inconsistencies with signatures on them mainly due to the fact that after signing your name a multitude of times handwriting tends to get sloppy.
Several weeks prior - send wire transfer
Bank wire transfer, if you do not want to carry so much in cash or traveler's cheques and ONLY if you are confident in your outfitter/PH/agent, you may consider making arrangements to send a bank wire transfer of an agreed upon amount several weeks prior to your hunting safari to cover a good portion of your estimated trophy fees. It is a common practice, so you should check with your outfitter/PH/agent as it may save you the hassle of carrying so much money. Before instructing your bank to wire the funds, make sure there is ample time for the funds to get to your outfitter/PH/agent before you arrive for your hunting safari.
Several weeks prior - make copies of important documents
Make copies of your most important documents to bring with you and to leave with a reliable person back at home who can be reached easily so you can have access to the information at any time. For instance a copy of your passport and visa(s), identification card, airline ticket(s), itinerary, credit and/or debit card(s), numbers from your traveler's cheques, travel insurance contacts, medical insurance contacts, medical evacuation insurance contacts, prescriptions, proof of firearm(s) and/or bow ownership and customs forms and permits.
tip A great idea is to scan all of these documents and send them to your email address that can be accessed remotely so you would have the ability to retrieve these documents as long as you have access to a computer and internet connection.
One to two months prior - get trophy tags from the taxidermist you plan to use
Get laminated trophy tags labeled with all relevant delivery information including your name, specific wildlife port of entry in the US, and final shipping destination with full contact information (usually the taxidermist or you). Your taxidermist should be the one to provide these ready made tags to you well prior to your trip, and they should also give you a couple of copies of this information to you on paper to give to your outfitter.
One to two months prior - start taking probiotics
Recommended by the World Health Organization, taking probiotics is one of the simplest and most beneficial preventatives for one of the most common complaints of people traveling to developing countries; traveler's diarrhea and other digestive and stomach complaints. Probiotics, naturally found in foods such as yogurt, help to build up friendly bacteria in the gut which aids digestion, can provide some protection from food poisoning and even enhance immunity. Probiotics can be found at any health food store, however it is important to look for one with a broad spectrum of strains, at least 7 to 9 strains is best, and one that does not require refrigeration. It should also have at least 10 to 50 billion cells to be strong enough to give the level of protection needed for third world travelers. To read more on this topic click here.
Two weeks prior - stop mail delivery
If no one will be home, stop delivery of your mail and newspaper while you are away. You can easily request the United States Postal Services to hold mail for you through their website at www.usps.com.
72 hours prior - confirm plane reservations
Make sure to confirm, regardless of what the ticket says, your international and domestic plane reservations 72 hours prior to your departure.
tip Ask your hunting outfitter to confirm your return flights 72 hours prior to your departure, it is especially important for flights originating in Africa to be confirmed.