Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
It is common when searching online for a Safari or Tour in South Africa to be cautious and have a few questions. This FAQ page is here to assist you in answering some of the most common questions clients have asked me in emails over the years and while on a Durban Safari or a Durban Tour. This page acts to cut out extensive email correspondence that is not only time consuming for my potential clients, but also covers questions which clients may be embarrassed to ask.
Are South Africa and Durban Safe?
South Africa and Durban are like any other country and big city in the world. There are areas you should not travel alone at night. London has pickpockets on its streets and Durban will be no different. The important thing is to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense: if a part of town makes you feel uncomfortable, then don’t walk there alone! It is always recommended that you travel with a guide who knows the area.
Is the water safe to drink?
South Africa has some of the best quality drinking water in the world. If there is not a sign saying “Don’t Drink” then the water is very safe to drink. Durban has overall some of the best quality water in the world. Read more….
Getting around Durban and South Africa?
It is recommended to hire a guide if you are looking to travel the country. If you are looking to get around the city, your hotel, B&B or guesthouse will have contact numbers of reputable taxi companies. Do not get into any random taxi!
What health precautions do I need to take?
It is recommended that you consult your doctor at home to find out more information. Durban and the game reserves we visit are malaria free. If you travel further north into Kruger Park and east into Mozambique, it is recommended you take prophylactics.
What is the weather like in Durban, South Africa?
Durban has the best weather in South Africa. The warm Indian Ocean on the coast has a moderating effect on our climate. The summer months in Durban can be humid and temperatures vary between 15 -38 degrees Celsius; this is due to cold fronts and storms which come from Cape Town, southwest of Durban. During the winter months it is drier and temperatures vary between 5-30 degrees Celsius. Winter is far more comfortable as there is no humidity.
Spring to summer months: beginning of September – end of February.
Autumn to winter months: beginning of March – end of August.
What is the best time to visit for a Durban Safari or Durban Tour?
Any time of the year is a good time. We have such a moderate climate that even summer is a great time of year, particularly in the game reserves as they are not coastal and therefore do not have the higher levels of humidity.
Game viewing is better in winter, as the grass is lower, but the majority of the babies are born in springtime and summer, particularly November and December. Another factor to consider: if the grass is long, the animals may use the roads more regularly as a pathway of least resistance. They are not stupid!
What should I pack when doing a Safari or Tour or just visiting South Africa?
Due to the changes in weather, it is advisable to be aware that the majority of South Africa, excluding Cape Town, experiences summer rainfall. This can fall in quick storms or in frontal rain, which can set in for a day or two. In winter, it is drier with a far less chance of rain. Temperatures are variable, so it is advisable when packing clothes to add in a jersey or jacket.
Safari and Tour packing: camera, camera charger with world adapter, binoculars, torch, closed shoes and open shoes, hat, sunscreen, medication you take, wash kit, sunglasses, general clothing, and an open mind!
Is internet and cell phone/mobile phone coverage available in the game reserves we visit?
Yes, if you need to be in touch with family and friends etc., there is internet access and cell phone reception. It is limited at times, but you will find the lodges and Durban hotels have Wifi. Remember, having your phone switched off for a few days never hurt anyone! Twenty-five years ago we didn’t even have cellphones and we could enjoy our holiday without family/friend/business interruptions.
Ethics on viewing animals while on Safari?
While viewing animals on your Durban Safari, out of respect for the other clients, please turn your phone off. Also, be aware that the animals have very sensitive hearing. Please do not shout or try to call the animals with clicks or tapping the window or meowing, etc., as the animals do not understand human noises and will not respond. We can just talk normally and enjoy the moments we will experience together.
There are basic regulations put in place by the National parks which include the below:
Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve Rules and Regulations
Can I take pictures with a flash?
Yes, the animals in the game reserves are used to having their pictures taken and are not bothered by the flash.
What are the accommodations like on our overnight Durban Safaris or overnight Durban Tours?
We offer our clients three star accommodations in all our national parks. As the tours can be tailored to suit your requirements, we can arrange luxury accommodations if requested, but at an increased price. Below are a few pictures from Hilltop Camp, our most visited lodge for Durban Safari and Bush Tours.
Durban Safari pictures of Hilltop Camp.
Safety around the lodge and game reserves: what about wild animals?
There is an electric fence around the lodge which prevents the larger, dangerous animals from getting into the camp. We do find monkeys, antelope and bird species in the camp grounds. The monkeys are not dangerous and not a problem as in some places. Monkeys only become a pest if people feed them, as then they begin to associate humans with giving them food.
At night, your guide will be there to walk you to and from your room if you feel uncomfortable in any way.
The animals on the game reserve are very used to vehicles, and we can actually get quite close if their body language allows – another reason to go with a guide to these reserves as he or she is experienced and trained in animal behavior.
Are there wild animals on the Drakensberg Mountain Tours and is it safe to hike/walk there?
There are wild animals on the Drakensberg Mountain Tours, however, they are smaller antelope to large antelope and non-confrontational. Hiking in the Drakensberg mountains is safe, but always safer with a guide who knows the routes well and the signs of bad weather. Leopard are known to still live in the mountains, but there is only about one sighting every few years, as they have been hunted for years. They have a secretive nature, so they stay well clear of humans.
Are snakes and spiders a problem on Durban Safaris?
No, snakes can feel the vibrations as we walk and move away long before we get near to them. They are non-confrontational and only rarely seen from the vehicle on our Durban Safaris and Tours. Spiders are also rare and either have webs which we can see or burrows in the ground. Humans are not on either a snake’s or spider’s menu!
What about walking Safaris? Are they safe?
Walking Safaris are safer than driving your car to work or catching the train. A guide will always accompany you on a walking Safari and will have good knowledge of the bush and animals. We only walk in safe areas where we know the chances of coming into contact with dangerous animals are slim. Walking Safaris focus on smaller things like the tracks of animals, birds, trees, dung and cultural uses for plants. If we spot animals, depending on the kind of animal, we either move away or approach to a safe distance without allowing them to know we were even there.
What languages are spoken in South Africa and Durban? Will I be understood?
South Africa has eleven official languages and the main business language is English. If you can speak English, most people will understand you. If you cannot speak English, a guide who speaks your language will be arranged.
The Black Africans around Durban speak Zulu as their first language, and English as their second language.
South African languages include:
- English – Countrywide
- Afrikaans – Mostly Cape Town, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and central interior, among White South Africans and Coloured communities.
- Zulu – KwaZulu-Natal, Durban area
- Ndebele – Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces
- Northern Sotho – Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces
- Sotho – Lesotho
- Swazi – Swaziland
- Tswana – mostly spoken in Gauteng but also Botswana and throughout South Africa
- Tsonga – Limpopo and Mpumalanga
- Venda – Limpopo province
- Xhosa – Eastern Cape and Western Cape
How are we transported and will you collect us at our hotel, B&B or guest house?
Durban Safaris and Durban Tours are conducted in a luxury eight-seater Ford Tourneo(mini van) or Ford Everest(7 seater) with air conditioning, depending on availability which is at Tim Brown Tours own discretion.
We will collect you from your hotel, B&B or guest house in the Durban/Umhlanga Area. If you are based outside this area their will be a slight extra charge. (Please check with us.)
How do we book and pay for a Durban Safari or Durban Tour with you?
Once you have sent a booking request and we have made sure of availability, an invoice will be sent out for a 50% deposit to be made via EFT (wire) or PayPal. If the date for the Safari or Tour is within a week of confirmation, we may request cash on the day to save any hassles of money not clearing.
How can we ensure we get a “Private Tour”?
Please note that for “private” tours there is an extra charge, please email to inquire.
Can we customize a Durban Safari or Durban Tour if we can’t find a tour option we like?
If there are not options which you like or you would prefer an extended Durban Safari or Tour, we would be happy to suggest a customized itinerary for you.
Is there an indemnity form we need to fill out?
No indemnity forms are needed; however, we accept no responsibility for death, Injury of any nature, or loss of personal items. At the end of a Durban Safari or Durban Tour, please check that all personal items are taken with you, i.e.: phones, wallets, passports, cameras, rubbish, etc.
Can we smoke and drink alcohol in public areas and the vehicle?
It is our policy that smoking and drinking alcohol are not allowed in our vehicles. Remember, there may be other clients on the Durban Safari or Durban Tour and they need to be respected as well.
Laws in South Africa state that smoking is not allowed in public areas. However, we are able to stop along the way to accommodate smokers, if necessary. You may be allowed to smoke on the balcony of your room, depending on the policy of the provider. Drinking of alcohol is allowed at the bar, dining area or in your room.
Is it wise to take out travel insurance?
It probably is wise to take out travel insurance, especially if you are not going with a guide on a Safari or Tour. Travel insurance will also cover you for missing a day out of your Durban Safari or Durban Tour due to illness.
Is the HIV and AIDS situation serious in South Africa? Should I cover up if I have sex with someone?
South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV in the world. If you are considering having sex with anyone from any race group you must protect yourself! It would be best to abstain if possible. You cannot catch HIV from sharing a drink, toilet, shower, shaking hands or kissing.
HIV and AIDS are incurable and you will not look sick if you have the disease, so you cannot pick out infected people.