Good advice for first timers to Africa

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Kalahari416, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. Kalahari416

    Kalahari416 AH Senior Member

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    Hi guys.

    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.

    Happy hunting!
     
    Pheroze likes this.
  2. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Some good questions for any safari planning process...
     
  3. Wolverine67

    Wolverine67 AH Fanatic

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    Useful post indeed! Thanks.
     
  4. timbear

    timbear AH Enthusiast

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    Thank you, Riaan, that is a really helpful list.:clap:
     
  5. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Some truly excellent advice! You have to read between the lines to find the exact trip you want sometimes or just go with the flow. There are people selling hunts that are very truthful and blunt on what kind of hunt you will get and then there are outfitters that you will get the rest of the story when you show up in Africa.

    How much land is available to hunt? Quantity of animals? Quality of animals? Size of each property? Accomodations available? How much drive time? All important questions!!!!
     
  6. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Very true Riaan and thanks for posting guy will find this very helpfully to say the least.... COOL POST!

    My best always
     
  7. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    Excellent advice. Just a couple thoughts from someone who just joined up:

    Be bluntly honest about your expectations and even moreso about your limitations. Don't assume the Outfitter "knows what you want".

    Get help booking flights until you know which carriers have restrictions and what those restrictions are (rifle, ammo - weight/oversize penalties, transport issues on through-countries, etc.)

    If you have medical conditions - make sure it's known. I'm tied to a CPAP - 110 (220v) outlets or a 12-volt source are not an option for me - it's a requirement. Hunting Sitka on Kodiak I flew a car battery in with me to power my CPAP. I had to make room in my luggage weight allowance for a 20# battery.

    PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE shooting from Sticks! Once you have a load, get off the bench and get on the sticks.
     
  8. Kalahari416

    Kalahari416 AH Senior Member

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    Very good advice! Be bluntly honest about what you want and what you dont want, then everyone is on the same page.
     
  9. The Big Game Hunter

    The Big Game Hunter AH Senior Member

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    All good advice. One other thing to mention to the PH is the rifle, caliber, and bullet combination you plan on using. The PH can steer you in the right direction if what you plan on using does not meet the legal or practical requirements of the particular game animal you plan on hunting. Also, the PH can also provide the likely shooting ranges and situations that you will encounter during the hunt; this will help you practice appropriately. If you have constraints on the ranges you feel comfortable shooting at, say you plan on using iron sights, make sure you let the PH know. The key point in all of this, as has been mentioned numerous times above, the PH needs to know what your limitations and expectations are so they can accommodate you and ensure you have a successful hunt.
     
  10. postoak

    postoak AH Senior Member

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    The size of the properties you will be hunting is really one that is hard to pin down with outfitters. On my first trip, I was told I would be hunting 98,000 acres, but this turned out to be true only for dangerous game -- which I wasn't hunting. The property was 5000 acres high-fenced on three sides and on the fourth low-fenced, and open to another 93,000 acres. You could hunt dangerous game on either side of the low fence but with plains game you were restricted to not crossing the fence.
     
  11. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great post and some good questions for the person planning their first safari or even their second. Thanks for posting.
     
  12. Ivan Carter

    Ivan Carter AH Senior Member

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    great post , all these questions so much better asked via email and then followed up with a meeting at one of the safari show , that will give you an excellent idea of the integrity of your outfitter and having his email response will mean you have the answers in writing ...
     
  13. Rob44

    Rob44 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I,m planning my first trip,,,Maybe I,m wrong but It seems that the planning may be the toughest part of the trip
     
  14. Buff-Buster

    Buff-Buster GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Rob44,
    It can seem to be overwhelming but don't let that discourage you. You can get a lot of great help here on AH from some great guys. I actually enjoy the planning part. I couldn't imagine letting someone else do it and miss out on that part of my adventure. Good luck....going on safari will change your life forever.
     
    bluey likes this.
  15. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Rob44 There are a lot of thing to think about and animals to put on your list but you can make the best of a good safari by planning now and saving yourself some trouble later by doing the reseach and planning ahead of time and as wes said enjoy the planning because you can change you mind right up to the moment you pull the trigger. And if you should have any questions feel free to ask someone here will jump at the chance to help you out.
     
  16. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Yes, the planning can be the toughest part, but the members on this forum can help you a lot with that. And that can make the planning a easy part of the trip :)
    You can also find a lot of good info here by using the search function.

    And remember no question is stupid no matter how simple the question sounds. So don't be afraid to ask :)
     
  17. PHSC_Adriaan

    PHSC_Adriaan AH Senior Member

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    Great post and some good questions. Always make sure...
     
  18. billc

    billc SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Great post and I would add dont be afriad to ask anything.The only bad question is the one you dont ask and you should have.Problems that come up during the hunt can be because the client thought this and the ph had other ideas.Even the smallest question can affect a hunt and the clients dollars.
    I also think no matter what you hear about a place do your own homework and make the choice on what makes you happy not the last 10 hunters.
    I would rather see some pic's of animals alive and on the place as much of what has been taken.I cant hunt what the last guy took.
    Also when there is things that change dont always think the worst ask way and move on if it gets work out dont stress about things that change because things do happen.
    I still believe good clients make for great hunts as much as the place you pick.Bad clients will have bad hunts no matter what.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  19. ROCKET

    ROCKET AH Veteran

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    This a very good post.....it will help lots of hunters......thank you.....!!!!!
     
  20. RickP

    RickP AH Veteran

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    Yeah, buddy, it can indeed feel overwhelming but I agree, the big payoff is when you get to the hunt and all goes smoothly. I hated the planning part as I had no idea what I was doing but the controlling freak in me wouldn't let anyone else do it. Lots of internet time, plus good sites like this allows one to ask honest questions and trust the responses that you get back Plus there are many outfitters on the sites that will assist you even though you don't use their services which only adds to the feeling of the 'safari community' that you're about to join.

    The second time was much easier as you knew where you failed the first time.

    In regard to some postings above:

    1) The property size is important but don't let something like 5000 acres but a damper on the trip. If no vehicle is involved, try walking over that property during a warm afternoon. You'll know that you've covered some ground and if you manage to sneak up on your prey, successful or not, you'll have fun if your PH describes the stalk, animal behavior, etc. Yeah, you're just following what he says but you feel "involved".

    2) Something we failed to do but fortunately didn't come up in short in game numbers. Again, just because the property is relatively small, that doesn't mean small number of animals. They may not specialize in all plains game animals but some species may be emphasized on certain properties. We hit a couple of "farms" as ranches are called in RSA where blesbok were the predominate animal or springbok were everywhere. You may not get a blue wildebeest there but you will have your choice of a fine animal that is dominate.

    3) We never got double booked but indeed the photos on the internet or brochures may not be where you stay.

    4-8) Good advice above.

    9) Taking your own rifle is not much of a hassle if you use one of the services that get your paper pre-cleared before your arrival. Plus if you arrive in the middle of the busy season, you can proceed ahead of the others doing their own paperwork thus reducing your time in the airport and getting on the road sooner to your destination. Just pay attention to how much ammo per caliber that is allowed. We had no problem taking rifles and handguns into South Africa. On the two trips, I took one rifle and two handguns without issue but I did use a service to handle the paperwork before my arrival.

    10) Good advice.

    11) In general, it seemed that we took too much stuff with us to cover all contingencies. Yet, on our first trip, we asked what the weather would be like. We were told that it would be dry yet it rained some time during the day on probably 6 of the 9 days of our hunt. Also, it's easier to ditch clothing than it is to wish you had more to be comfortable. We were fortunate that laundry was done daily but we had plenty of clothes for several days in case something didn't go according to plan. Rain gear and comfortable boots are high on the list. I was too much of a wimp to wear shorts as everything seemed to have thorns.

    Terrain can be important if you have any concerns. On our last trip we hunted the Eastern Cape of South Africa. What a beautiful place! But there are some very large hills (small mountains) that will take their toll on your legs and knees.

    Finally, take pictures of everything even if it seems excessive. You don't want to look back and still say that you wished you'd taken a shot of this, that, and the other thing. Just be yourself. Have fun. Our guys took a couple of days to decided if we were trophy hunting jerks or whether we were out to enjoy the hunt, successful or not. Once we settled in, we had a blast teasing each other and enjoying our time together. Don't be afraid to ask questions while on the hunt. Most are proud to give you information about the country, animals, traditions, etc.

    I add all of this, not to proclaim to be an expert as I've only traveled to RSA twice. But lessons learned on your first trip will make subsequent trips easier...................and you will go again!
     

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