As the organizer of a school trip what documentation is required?
During the planning stage of the trip you will be interacting with us via email to get the trip on the calendar. We will send you an e-mail with all sorts of suggestions about the documentation needed. Through organizing previous trips we have learned some valuable lessons.
How can I prepare for the best safari possible?
Become fit, read up on South Africa’s history, cultures and wildlife.
How do I book an Ecowise Safari?
Receipt of 50% of the total daily rate will formally book your safari (due to other bookings that need be done, i.e. Kruger National Park (KNP), this payment needs to be done 180 days in advance). The balance is payable 60 days prior to arrival. With KNP being so busy these days it is necessary for us to make provisional bookings up to 10 months in advance.
How is the accommodation at Thaba Lodge?
Ample, simple, and quite comfortable – as in any decent motel. If you would like to contact some of our previous clients to find out we will gladly send you their email addresses.
Should I get special trip insurance?
Yes, this is extremely important to protect yourself against trip cancellation, baggage loss/delay, and emergency medical issues. We attempt to keep you as safe as possible, but this is Africa and things can go wrong and the insurance would be of great help.
What about Gratuities?
We’ve an excellent staff to serve you, and gratuities are most appreciated. We can discuss suggested amounts once you’re here. Cash is easiest for this, payable at safaris end to Mark or Lisa, who will disburse to the individuals on your behalf to ensure that “backroom” staff also get their share. If you give it too them directly this can cause conflict between them.
What about my flight from O.R. Tambo (Joburg) to Polokwane Gateway International?
This is a 50 minute/320km (200 mile) trip by turboprop for about US$300 (£200). This extra flight can also be bought with your main ticket and will usually work out quite substantially cheaper this way.
The IATA code for Polokwane/Pietersburg is PTG.
SA Airlink provides a daily service
Please allow at least a three hour layover between your Jo’burg and connecting flights to give you sufficient time to collect your bags and change terminals, etc.
Before boarding your Polokwane flight on the tarmac, please confirm that your checked baggage is indeed on the manifest.
O.R. Tambo (Johannesburg) Airport tips:
You will be frequently accosted by willing porters. (The officially sanctioned ones wear orange jumpsuits.) If you know where you are going and do not require any portage, politely refuse their offer and keep walking. If you ask them any questions, they will naturally expect a tip. Keep a confident, but sternly polite, demeanor and they will move on to the next prospective customer.
In the domestic terminal, once you clear security there are no money exchange offices. If you need some pocket Rands for airport spending, remember to change money before the security check-in.
There is a very nice English pub-style eatery in the D terminal, which is above the E terminal where you will depart for your Polokwane flight.
What about vegetarian cuisine?
The preparation of venison we harvested from the game ranch is Lisa’s speciality. She will definitely prepare vegetarian cuisine if required but it is our opinion that a lot of the “Ecowise” experience will be lost to those not wanting to partake of the wonderful array of delicious proteins that nature offers us! These animals are all harvested on a sustainable basis and the meat contains none of the usual hormones and other substances that usually occur in commercial meat.
What clothing and gear should I bring?
Good, sturdy, cotton camo or darker earthy tone clothing is best. (Tan and khaki are really too bright.)
Bring sturdy, (light-weight) and well broken-in hiking boots. (If you’ve room, a spare pair might come in handy in case you lose a heel) as well as a pair of comfortable shoes or sandals to wear around camp. Medium weight wool socks work well. Also, don’t forget a brimmed hat.
Hydration is very important as Africa can be both dry and hot and hence a good water bottle of sorts is necessary.
A windproof jacket and a warm sweater (jumper) is essential as the nights can be cold. Rain, during the cooler months April to September is rare, but rather bring a rain suit just in case.
The summer’s (October to April) are hot and a bathing suit is always handy for the occasional swim.
We have a laundry service at our lodge, so two or three (at most) sets of safari clothes will be sufficient.
- 1 Jacket/coat
- 3 Pairs of cotton trousers
- 3 Shirts cotton, long or short sleeve
- 5 Undershirts (optional) and under shorts
- 5 Pairs of socks
- 1 Pair of sock savers (optional)
- 1 Hat or cap (remember it must not be a light or bright colour)
- 1 Warm beanie for those cooler evenings on the vehicles
- 1 Belt.
- 1 Pair of soft soled shoes/boots
- 1 Pair of comfortable shoes or sandals
- 1 Down or wool sweater (jumper)
- 1 Jogging suit or PJ’s for sleeping
- 1 Light pair of gloves. (Mornings and evenings can be cold)
- Medications and recommended shots (contact your doctor)
- Chapstick (Lip-balm)
- Suntan lotion, Insect repellent and skin moisturisers
- Sunglasses (optional)
- Extra pair of prescription glasses
- Personal toiletries kit – razor, comb etc
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Plastic bags – Zip lock type
- Folding knife (optional)
- Small binoculars
- Camera with extra batteries
- Extra cards for digital cameras or extra film
- Flash Drive – to collect pictures from others on the Safari with you. (at least 1 Gig)
- Video camera (optional) take extra batteries or charger
- Small international voltage converter if from the USA (can come in handy) OR make sure that your gadget has a multi-volt tolerance
- Candy/sweets (optional! But, advisable if you have a sweet tooth)
What health issues are there for travelers?
Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria, especially in the northern parts of the country, hepatitis A, polio and typhoid.
Our main lodge is in an extremely low risk area for malaria, but if we do any touring, i.e. to the Kruger National Park (KNP) we will be visiting higher risk areas.
What is of local interest in the Polokwane area and Limpopo Province?
If you’ve ever seen the film “Breaker Morant”, then you’ll be keen to learn that such Transvaal events took place nearby. A local eatery, Lalapanzi, has a small museum dedicated to the Bushveld Carbineers and the Boer counter-insurgents, showcasing many interesting artifacts (such as a stirrup of Cecil John Rhodes).
Limpopo Province has half of the Kruger National Park within its boundaries and we are 2 hours drive from this world-renowned conservation area.
The Soutpansberg mountains cross from West to East half way through the Limpopo Province. These mountains are a sight to see, as well as the abundance of Baobab trees mostly north of the range.
The Limpopo Bushveld is a sight to see, it is forever changing and transforming between the different seasons.
What weather can I expect?
The weather and temperatures can vary considerably in Southern Africa according to season from 0° Celsius (32° F) in winter up to or 38° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) in the summer months of November to February (on occasion the temperature can go over this). Temperatures very seldom dip below freezing, but this does occasionally occur. So if you are visiting in the winter months be sure not to forget your warm clothes.
Where are you located in South Africa?
Thaba Lodge is approximately 4 hours, by car, north of Johannesburg, just 45 minutes North East from Polowane.
Which airlines do you recommend to O.R. Tambo Airport (Jo’burg)?
From Europe: When flying from Europe there are many more options to choose from and if one flies with the country’s national carrier one would find all relevant information and regulations from that company.
- South African Airways is good and usually offer group rates.
- British Airways offers very good service.
- KLM from Amsterdam is also quite good.
- SwissAir from Zurich offers very good service.
- Air France has improved since joining with KLM.
- There are other airlines such as Emirates that are also very good, but it does mean a night stop over in Dubai. But this can also have its advantages.
From USA: South African Airways (very nice Airbus 340s) and Lufthansa (747-400s) from Frankfurt offer fine service in Star Alliance conjunction. There are many direct flights to Frankfurt from the USA, such as from Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, etc.
You mention ‘top class meals’. Really?
Just ask our previous clients! Lisa is a superb cook, and our game is deliciously prepared.
We will transform our venison into some of the best meals you’ve ever enjoyed! Let us know in advance your food preferences and biases, and we will seek to accommodate them.
Also, it would be a good idea to let us know of any food allergies.
South African beer and wines are good, and are usually included in your daily rate (please check your “included and not included” lists).