Best way to pay for a Safari?

CoElkHunter

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Never having been on a Safari to Africa, what is the best/common practice to pay for it? I’m not privy on how to “wire” funds internationally although I’ve sent funds domestically through Western Union. And once you’re there, cash, Travelers Checks, for expenses, hotels, food, tips, etc.? Exchange rates for using local currencies or use U.S. currency? I’ve been to Mexico, Canada and other countries in the Caribbean and U.S. currency is standard. I’m sure this has been asked here and answered before, so if there is a link somewhere here I’d appreciate it. Just trying to get ahead of the planning chaos.
Thanks!
 

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My PH/Outfitter has a US bank account. Makes wiring funds or sending an electronic check easy.
 

375Fox

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I have paid through booking agent, with cash, credit card, and wire transfer just depends on how you booked and outfitter. International wire transfer you just go to your US bank and tell them you want to do an international transfer, they will set it up for you, and put your signature in a few papers pretty easy. Travelers checks are absolutely useless in Africa. Bring US dollars for tips and some local currency from your US bank before you leave for things on side of road. Hotels, restaurants, etc get a good travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
 

JimP

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My outfitter just wanted the funds transferred electronically through the banks from mine to his.

Any bank has the capabilities to transfer funds and they will take it right out of your account and like just about anything that a bank does there is a fee charged.
 

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No issues doing a wire, its very common. Some outfitters even have US accounts where you can even write a check.
 

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International wire transfers are easily done by any bank or credit union where you have an account. It is the simplest, quickest, surest, and cheapest way to pay your deposit and final payment for the hunt.

A very few African operations also maintain US representation and bank account where you can send a mailed check within North America.

On some of my earlier international hunts, I used a US consultant (really a good idea for first timers) and all funds were worked through him.

Travelers checks are worthless just about anywhere on the planet. Do not think of using them. Bring USD in cash (the new hundred dollar bills) for tips. Bring a credit card (not a debit card) for purchases at stores, restaurants, duty free, etc. As suggested above, before departure or upon arrival, pick up some local currency for roadside purchases. I prefer to use a CC with a cash feature in international ATMs rather than a debit card for obvious reasons.
 

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If your outfitter does not have a USA account you will need his bank SWIFT code and account number to transfer the money. If your outfitter, like my RSA one did maintain a EU account, you will need a SWIFT and IBAN codes.

My outfitter wanted the PH and Cook tipped in USD and the rest of the staff in local currency. I took some Dollars with me and ATM for the local currency with my Debit card. I did run short of Dollars and had to go by the AMEX office in Cape Town to get some more USD. The ATM in Zimbabwe disbursed USD when I was there.
 

CoElkHunter

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I really appreciate all of your replies and information, because if you don't know, you don't know? I'm sure the African outfitter/PH I eventually will book with has most of this information covered as they do it all of the time, but it never hurts to ask those that have been there. In my limited international travel, there has often been the "I didn't know that?" moment, but then again I haven't been half way around the world either and a "what now?" moment comes to mind?
Thanks to all!
CEH
 

chashardy

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Depends on your outfitter. I wrote a check for the deposit on my hunts with my outfitter when I booked at the DSC convention in Dallas, then wrote a check for the balance at the end of the hunt in SA. I used a combination of SA currency and U.S. cash for gratuities.
 

fourfive8

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Usually bank to bank wire transfer to the outfitter as has been posted. I've also gone through a US based consultant/broker who uses a kind of trust account where I put money into that trust account and the broker settles with the outfitter. I try to have enough in that account to cover some extras. If I over spend on the safari by a trophy fee or two, the broker provides a grace period after the safari for me to balance the account. If I under spend, the broker refunds the overpay. I deal with some outfitters directly and the ones I've dealt with have a similar policy. I send them enough to cover best estimate cost of trip then I either get a refund or need to send a balance after the safari.

I try to estimate tip amount and take that in cash to distribute at end of trip with the method of distribution and amounts based on recommendation of PH or outfitter. Sometimes it may be in local currency if suggested and I'm able to get it before the trip but most times they are perfectly happy with US currency. Usually they prefer older, soiled and worn $20s because I think that is the easiest for them to convert for their purposes. An unwrinkled roll of clean, new style, crisp $100s may not be the best for them. Just ask the outfitter before you go, what is best. Once in a while, if I underestimate the tip money and am a little short, I'll send that to the PH/outfitter promptly after returning from the trip. Sometimes I even send the PH's portion of the tip after the trip as part of the final wire transfer. Just depends on what prior arrangements have been made and the relationship between the PH and outfitter.

One thing that as come to light in the last few years that I would really be cautious about. That is if your PH/outfitter wants you to bring a bunch of cash for paying for trophy fees or for a major part of the trip. It may be OK and be legit, but it also may be a signal about on-site "let's make a deal" type bidding for trophy fees from third party entities or trespass fees for private land or maybe even dealing with locals for some kind unofficial "under the table" trespass rights. It may be OK but it certainly has potential for problems written all over it. I've never run into it, but have heard of it happening more and more the last few years. IMO- something to avoid
 
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Rick Cox

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I have paid through booking agent, with cash, credit card, and wire transfer just depends on how you booked and outfitter. International wire transfer you just go to your US bank and tell them you want to do an international transfer, they will set it up for you, and put your signature in a few papers pretty easy. Travelers checks are absolutely useless in Africa. Bring US dollars for tips and some local currency from your US bank before you leave for things on side of road. Hotels, restaurants, etc get a good travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
What he said...
 

Hunter101

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Cash best way
 

autofire

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I take some cash, but a bank issued preloaded debit card works great. You can load cash on debit card, transfer funds from other bank accounts to debit card. Can reload it in Africa via internet, just make sure you use a secured VPN to access you bank. Can get cash from ATM or in bank withdrawls. I once carried large amount of US cash, then PH asked me to go with him to bank in Windhoek Namibia to convert to local currency. Done in fishbowl with many locals in line behind me walking back to vehicle was a Seal Team 6 security drill-wont do that again.
 

375Fox

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I take some cash, but a bank issued preloaded debit card works great. You can load cash on debit card, transfer funds from other bank accounts to debit card. Can reload it in Africa via internet, just make sure you use a secured VPN to access you bank. Can get cash from ATM or in bank withdrawls. I once carried large amount of US cash, then PH asked me to go with him to bank in Windhoek Namibia to convert to local currency. Done in fishbowl with many locals in line behind me walking back to vehicle was a Seal Team 6 security drill-wont do that again.
What was the reason the PH wanted the money converted to local currency while you were there? I haven’t heard this before. Usually they want the US dollars.
 

375Fox

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Traveling internationally for work almost 30 years my no 1 tip is : bring 2 credit cards, issued by different banks/institutions.
Really good advice. Also always set travel notice and have the credit card app downloaded on your phone so you can resolve any issues.
 

John Telford

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The banking sector in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia is very well developed so Wiring funds is usually as easy as getting the swift code. If you have a banking app on your phone you could get it set up to do it without having to go to your branch. Some cash is always good but tips on local currency is usually the easiest! Some outfitters may also do a swap if required or pay your tips and add it to the bill. My experience has been staff like to get tips from the client as it’s more personal .
 

Ridge Runner

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Last time I went (2018) I contacted my outfitter to arrange an electronic funds transfer. As previously mentioned you will need your outfitter's bank numbers.

What I haven't seen mentioned is the fore warning: Which your bank can/should help you navigate around: whether sending one lump sum or multiple payments (never the same amount twice): you will need your outfitter's business name and owner/operator name, address, and local (overseas) outfitter's phone number, and reason for the transfer of funds to an overseas account.

You will send off alarms and wave red flags to the alphabet government agencies, who will first assume you could be supporting foreign terrorists. Then these agencies will run checks on the information you provided, check to see if your outfitter is legitimate and that you are legitimately going on safaris or vacationing abroad.

Be mindful that you can not legally leave the US with more than $10,000.00USD or excess amount of foreign currency without declaring the amount(s) and intended purpose.

It is also note worthy that you also have CBP 4457's for high dollar electronic equipment [ie. phone(s), laptop(s), etc], jewelry, etc. to avoid paying import taxes upon return to the US. Any shopping done in the Duty Free shops; retain and have handy your sales receipts.

Be mindful on what items you can and can not import/export into/from the US or export from foreign countries.

Since this is your first trip, If you are traveling with your own weapons, I and others here on AH would recommend you use a preapproval firearms permit agency such as Henry Rifle Permits to assist in completing SAPS 520 and getting your firearms through SAPS, providing you are hunting in or transiting through South Africa.

Check out the posts in Before and After the Hunt for more helpful information.
 

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Cash has always gotten me a better deal with outfitters, all others credit card that doesn't charge a foreign exchange fee. Some of them charge an exorbitant fee for an overseas two dollar transaction. Check with your CC company first.
 
 

 

 

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