Good advice for first timers to Africa
I see that many people are looking for advice on their first trip to Africa. I thought I would put some relevant questions to ask down here, because even though most Outfitters will bend over backwards to make sure that you get what they promised/advertised, there will always be the odd bad apple in the bowl.
In general, most first timers have a prefference in terms of country. Most wil also have some sort of idea as to what they would like to hunt (normally a very short list the first trip). So when you start talking to Outfitters, questions I think is very relavant are:
1. How big is the hunting area? This is important because a website may say "25,000 acres" but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is all in one place. A lot of time may be spent driving between farms/areas instead of hunting. Driving around and seeing different areas might be your thing, so the answer might be positive or negative, depending on your expectation.
2. Ask about the game numbers available on the area. It can certainly happen that you are on a small patch of land looking for one specific animal, which is not what you had in mind when you imagined your first trip to the dark continent.
3.Make sure that you will actually be staying in the lodge/camp that is advertised on the Outfitters' website. It will happen from time to time that people take double bookings and then end up shipping you out to a different place than the one you imagined.
4.Ask questions about the kind of food you will be getting, and how many meals a day. This may sound silly, but there are posts on this forum that will tell you some horror stories about clients being fed a slice of dry bread for lunch. If that is what is advertised, then great, but I doubt it.
5.Make sure who will be collecting you at the airport you will arrive at. Make sure you have their cellphone numbers before you leave home.
6. Costs - This has ruined many a good safari. And unfortunately you pay on the last day. You may have a great time for 10 days, but it could all be spoiled on day 10! Make sure about daily rates for hunters, obsevers, cameramen. Are alcoholic drinks included. If you do any kind of trip outside of the hunting, what is the cost? Are airport transfers included in daily rates? The list is long. Also make sure of the method of payment. Must you pay in cash before you leave or can you do a wire transfer later.
7. Ask for photos of previous clients with the game you are looking for. Ask for refferences. Any good outfitter will have a long list of refferences you can call.
8. Make decisions on your taxidermy before you head over the big pond. Normally, taxidermy in Africa is cheaper than in the US or most other countries, but you have to keep in mind that you will have a larger shipping bill than if you were to just dip and pack.
9. Decide on whether or not you want to use your own rifle/s. A good outfitter will have someone that will be able to assist you with the clearing of firearms at the local airport. If you don't feel like the hassle, enquire about what firearms the outfitter has available for you.
10. You may be physically incabable of walking great distances. Can the Outfitter accommodate you if you are in a wheelchair?
11. Enquire about what you need to take along. Is it winter or summer? How cold does it get. Will it rain? How often does laundry get done? What does the terrain look like? What shoes to take. Will you be walking in sand or on rocky soil?
This list can get very long, but these are just some helpful questions a first time African hunter can ask his potensial outfitter.
Hope this helps.