- A pen is an essential to carry and have handy while traveling.
- Airline ticket(s) and itinerary.
- Valid passport with visa(s) if required. Copy of your passport and visa for trophy permit needs or in case you loose your passport.
- A driver's license or other acceptable piece of identification.
- Phone numbers for family, friends or work that you don't have memorized.
- 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
- It is a good idea to bring copies of correspondence that you have had with the hunting outfitter, guide or agent and price lists, contracts, agreements or other pertinent documents with you.
- Written confirmation of hotel and/or car rental reservations along with contact information and directions or map if needed.
- 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.
- If you will be hunting a species that requires a CITES permit, a copy of the CITES permit(s) should be brought with you and supplied to the shipping agent in the country where the animal is taken so he may obtain export permits. The original CITES permit should be sent to your trophy clearing agent in the country of import or your taxidermist if he is handling the clearing of the trophy directly. Otherwise the taxidermist should only receive a copy of the permit.
- 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.
- Application form(s) and/or permit(s) for in-transit and/or temporary import into country(ies) of Firearm(s) & Ammunition for personal use.
- If traveling to or through South Africa a "Letter of invitation" from your hunting outfitter(s) no matter what country you will be hunting in.
- If traveling through The Netherlands a " consent form" from the Dutch customs for each transit through the Netherlands that you will be making.
- Contact information for approved gun and luggage storage facility if you will be require this service. They are usually located at or near the airport, bring directions if needed. Some require that you have reservations, so bring confirmation with you and make an appointment if needed.
- Copies of prescriptions for medications that you are carrying
- International health certificate or medical recordswith immunization record if required. Aside from the inoculations possibly required to enter the country of destination(s), I think that it is a good idea for hunters to keep Hepatitis A vaccinations up to date as well as tetanus. A good resource for health and immunization requirements organized by country can be found at www.mdtravelhealth.com.
- Travel insurance card and telephone numbers, ask for contact numbers other than an 800 number as they do not work from foreign countries. It is always a good idea to have travel insurance, click here to read more about it. Contact your insurance company to find out, to what extent, if at all, your valuables such as firearm(s), binoculars and/or camera(s) are covered in your home owner's insurance policy in case of being stolen and/or lost while traveling. If you pay for your airline ticket(s) with your credit card you might also be insured to some extent with your credit card company.
- Medical insurance card and telephone numbers, ask for contact numbers other than an 800 number as they do not work from foreign countries.
I strongly recommend to all hunters traveling to Africa to consider purchasing medical travel insurance coverage as in most instances no liability is accepted by the outfitter, and they usually do not carry insurance for this. You may purchase an independent policy for this purpose or contact your current medical insurance company well before your trip to find out to what extent you are covered while overseas. Be sure to tell them that you will be engaging in a hunting safari as many insurance companies will not provide coverage if you are participating in a dangerous activity that they deem an extraordinary risk.
For some insurance companies you may need to inform them in writing of your trip in order to be covered. You need to ask how to notify them if you require medical services, you may have a limited amount of time to inform them.
- Medical evacuation card and telephone numbers
Ask for contact numbers other than an 800 number as they do not work from foreign countries. I strongly recommend getting medical evacuation membership especially if you are hunting in more remote area(s) that require air charter.
- Ask your outfitter if he has a safe or other secure place where you may store your valuables while in camp.
- It is a good idea to bring a combination of cash, traveler's cheques and Debit/Credit cards.
- Bring cash in US$ or Euro and a small amount of local currency. Small denominations of US$ and/or local currency is always useful for tipping, purchasing small items, etc. For larger denominations in US$ ask for new one hundred dollar bills from your bank as locals are sometimes reluctant to accept older bills due to the large number of counterfeit bills circulating in Africa. If required in the country of destination, it is better to have the exact change to pay for government entry/departure taxes, visitor's visas, firearm permit(s), etc, as some African countries will not accept anything other than the exact amount even if the amount you give them is more than the actual amount you are required to pay and you don't want change back (good old African bureaucracy at its finest).
Carrying a lot of cash on your person can be daunting, so bringing traveler's cheques to pay for your final invoice at the end of your safari might be preferable however check with your individual outfitter to make sure that they accept them as a method of payment.
- Credit/Debit Cards, most hunting outfitters/PHs are not equipped to accept credit/debit cards. Most shops and hotels accept credit/debit cards with a Visa logo or American Express cards. A credit card generally offers a higher degree of protection from fraud than a debit card, also a debit card charge is deducted automatically from your bank account whereas the credit card offers you the opportunity to review the charges on your statement prior to paying the bill.
While in cities you will be able to draw cash from most major bank's ATMs; however there is usually a limited amount that can be drawn out each day which varies from bank to bank. Although it may be time consuming I believe that you are better off going into a bank to get cash from a debit or credit card for a couple of reasons; firstly, if your card is not returned by the ATM it may cause more problems than it's worth (this has happen to me), secondly, I have seen in some cities local thugs hanging out around ATMs, for this reason some ATMs have armed guards posted near them. Of course it's up to you, but I prefer to error on the side of caution. As far as choice of credit card is concerned in Africa Visa and American Express are much more widely accepted than MasterCard; in some African countries they do not accept MasterCard anywhere. To find out if your country of destination accepts MasterCard, click here to go to their website ATM Locator or for Visa ATMs click here.
tip 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.
- Traveler's cheques are a common method of payment for the final invoice at the end of your hunt, check with your individual outfitter to make sure that they accept them. Keep in mind that many banks in Africa only accept American Express traveler's cheques. 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.
You can also get traveler's cheques in currencies other than US$, for example South Africa Rand, which can save you from having to exchange US$ traveler's cheques at the bank into local currency.
tip Make a list of your traveler's cheque numbers and carry it separately from the cheque's or leave the list at home with someone you can reach if needed.
- Personal checks, most outfitters once you have arrived in Africa will not accept personal checks even if they have accepted them for your previous deposit(s) as it takes along time for a foreign check to clear through most African banks. If you plan to use a personal check consult with the hunting outfitter prior to your hunt to get their approval.
- 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 a few weeks prior to your 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.
Recently, I have heard of some cases of departing passengers being randomly checked to see if they are carrying more than $10,000 in Cash (any currency) and/or Travelers Checks. Individuals carrying the combined equivalent of US $10,000 or more are required to file a FinCen Form 105 with US Customs at your departing airport. It is not difficult to do and could save you a huge and unnecessary hassle since it is a federal crime if you don't and are unfortunate enough to get checked. Click here to download the form FinCEN Form 105 - Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments.