1st safari in RSA - lessons learned

trperk1

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Hi- just returned from my first safari, thought I’d share a few lessons learned
- rifle permit through Henrys Rifle was worth it
- booked flights on my own without issues. If you have a connection in the US on your return , you have to get your bags, and rifle. Then go through customs and recheck your bags via TSA and the airlines. This takes at least 2 hours. Everyone with less connection time was automatically rebooked on another flight.
- pack your ammo separately from your rifle. There’s a lot of debate on this and though I had no connections in South Africa, I was asked upon arrival and departure
- I was stopped 6 times at police check traveling from Jo’burg to Limpopo. Bring some $5 and $10 for potential bribes. And be calm with police, corruption is part of the culture. (My PH handled the conversation, not me)
- make sure you have a copy of your SAP rifle permit at departure and anytime you’re traveling with your firearm
- no need for all the cotton clothes. It was 95-98 degrees and synthetics were king. Nobody’s stuff was ironed. I didn’t care if it got snagged up.
- my goretex hikers worked just fine. I opted for the boots with a thousand miles on them and was fine.
- practice off sticks beforehand, give yourself 5 seconds to execute shots. You’ll be glad you did
- check the weather before you go and don’t overpack
- I took 80 rounds of ammo, that’s twice what you need
- bring small bills for tips for trackers, skinners, cooks and camp staff. It’s easier for them to covert to Rands or send home
- bring a small gun kit. I brought a bore snake, CLP, patches and qtips. Was happy I did as it was dusty
- was advised to leave binoculars at home, I didn’t and was glad I had them
- after the first day I pulled my sling off as it kept getting hung up on brush. Had to do it again I’d leave my pretty leather sling at home and pack a light web sling
- brought some liquid IV powder packets for water bottles. Nice to have
- bring a RSA power converter
- you don’t need backpack in field. I packed a small kit in bino case- baby wipes (never needed them put nice insurance), chap stick, Tylenol, extra liquid IV, small tube of sunscreen.
- keep extra ammo on belt or rifle butt
- sunglasses were nice
- download WhatsApp and have your wife do the same. It’s easier than adjusting your cell plan
- Verizon had a data plan for $5 a day. I rarely had cell coverage but it was a nice backup
- use padlock on every hole on guncase
- everyone in S Africa smokes but nobody smokes cigars. Bring enough for the trip as I couldn’t find any there
- Lastly, visit Kruger if you can. I ended up spending 3 days there after tagging out early. It was amazing

Hope this helps!
 
You can Purchase a Simms card in Africa and get much better reception than you can with Verizon. It is relatively Cheap 50 Bucks and just buy minutes.
 
All sounds like good information, thanks for sharing. I hunted in Limpopo last August and had a great time. I decided before I went I'd probably not want my normal rifle sling because of the "walk and stalk" nature of the hunt and it made using my 4 stable sticks much easier. Thanks for sharing!!
 
Wow, great summary. Pretty much touched all bases from the recollection of my 1st safari. 2nd 2024.
 
Being stopped 6 times for shakedowns is incredible. Neither of my trips from Joberg to Limpopo had a single stop. Sad to see if it's that bad now. (My last to limpopo was 2018)
My PH said the same. Only two stops worked us for bribes. Unfortunately for them my PH’s uncle is a 20 year police veteran. Evidently these two crews had been targeted trucks with outfitter decals on them. They ran a sting a few days later and busted them
 
My PH said the same. Only two stops worked us for bribes. Unfortunately for them my PH’s uncle is a 20 year police veteran. Evidently these two crews had been targeted trucks with outfitter decals on them. They ran a sting a few days later and busted them
Nice to know they got busted!!
 
Great tips! I will say I'll always go in July or August so your clothing commendations don't apply then. Very pleasant during their winter, averages were mid 40s at night and mid 70s during the day. I can do without the heat!!
 
Amazing the differences in trips to roughly the same area.
Just returned 2 weeks ago. Never got stopped once in either direction. Temps were cooler. And even though I brought my binos I never used them due to the brush we were hunting in.
Glad you had a great trip and just shows the need to prepare for everything.
 
My PH said the same. Only two stops worked us for bribes. Unfortunately for them my PH’s uncle is a 20 year police veteran. Evidently these two crews had been targeted trucks with outfitter decals on them. They ran a sting a few days later and busted them
I think maybe that's why my PH kept removing the lodge's magnetic logo from the side of his truck as soon as we fueled up in the morning. Lodge owner gave him crap one evening when the rig returned and was not attired with logo. However, I noticed on the last trip no logos on vehicles parked at the lodge.
 
Amazing the differences in trips to roughly the same area.
Just returned 2 weeks ago. Never got stopped once in either direction. Temps were cooler. And even though I brought my binos I never used them due to the brush we were hunting in.
Glad you had a great trip and just shows the need to prepare for everything.
Yeah, it was unseasonably warm. I saw this when checking the forecast prior to departure and adjusted my clothing. I didn’t need binos for 2/3 of my hunting but did towards the end. They were a must have for Kruger
 
So how was your hunt?
I guess we were lucky...or just a different neighborhood...Between our two overnights in Jburg and our ten days in the Eastern Cape, we never encountered law enforcement. We were very glad to have spent the money for Travel Express though...Three days before departure home we received a text from United that all flights from Jburg were cancelled...immediately for an indeterminate period of time due to fuel shortages! Within hours (actually within an hour of the office opening back in the states) they got back to us with alternate arrangements including now needed overnight accommodations! Thousands were stranded, we weren't. Best money of the trip we spent.
 
So how was your hunt?
I guess we were lucky...or just a different neighborhood...Between our two overnights in Jburg and our ten days in the Eastern Cape, we never encountered law enforcement. We were very glad to have spent the money for Travel Express though...Three days before departure home we received a text from United that all flights from Jburg were cancelled...immediately for an indeterminate period of time due to fuel shortages! Within hours (actually within an hour of the office opening back in the states) they got back to us with alternate arrangements including now needed overnight accommodations! Thousands were stranded, we weren't. Best money of the trip we spent.
The hunt was wonderful, I posted a review in the “hunting reports “ section. One thing I should have mentioned is that I traveled internationally for work over 25 years. That’s what gave me confidence booking my own travel
 
I think maybe that's why my PH kept removing the lodge's magnetic logo from the side of his truck as soon as we fueled up in the morning. Lodge owner gave him crap one evening when the rig returned and was not attired with logo. However, I noticed on the last trip no logos on vehicles parked at the lodge.
At the time I assumed he was removing the logos so they didn't get knocked off by brush where we would be hunting.

He always wore a sidearm. At his best friend's remote property (130K acres) where we had exclusive hunting rights, I noticed the owner and ranch foreman who were at work lambing were also wearing sidearms. "Are the handguns for destroying sick sheep?" No. They wouldn't waste a bullet for that. "Then why?" He simply answered "Safety." His uncomfortable look got the message across. End of discussion.
 
Here's another "get rich quick" scheme to watch out for. At the airport when I went to pay my gun handling fee to the airline, their credit card machine wouldn't accept my card. Huh? I just used it over there for breakfast. Okay, let's try it again. No, I'm sorry. You'll have to pay cash. Then my PH stepped in. "Use my card." The agent's instant discomfort/irritation was noticeable. Magically his VISA was accepted. So here's how the scam works. You are stuck giving them cash, all you have is Yankee dollars, and they just don't seem to have any change in that currency. Instant tip/bribe and no record of it. I have been told if this happens and you're stuck giving someone a big greenback bill, insist on a receipt for full amount. Oops we seem to be out of receipts today. Then you get a pass or VISA machine suddenly accepts the card. Best cure is to have a hundred bucks worth Rand handy in your pocket. Give leftovers to the grandkids for play money when you get home.

Pick up your Rand before you leave. The money changers at airports operate with a blindfold and cutlass. It may take your bank several days to order up Rand so plan accordingly.
 
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I just got back from Limpopo as well. We drove all over the place and weren't stopped by police once. In fact, I maybe saw 3 or 4 other than at the SAPS office in the airport the entire time I was there.

The comment on the binos is spot on. I have absolutely no clue who thought not bringing them was a good idea. I took mine. I will say, you don't need a $1000 pair of Steiners or Swaros but just a decent pair of 10x42's are indispensable.
 
Got back 2 weeks ago and had no issues getting stopped by police. But the vehicles that we rode in did not have any logos on the side.
 

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