Frequently asked questions
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Q: When should I start planning?
A: Put simply, the sooner the better because Africa is really popular these days and with more notice there is a wider choice of safari accommodation. Ideally 9 – 12 months in advance. If you are a larger group of family and friends, best to allow at least 12 months.
Having said that, we are rather good at putting together last minute safari holidays in a matter of days and our record is 7 hours!
Q: When is a good time to go to Africa?
A: A great holiday can be had in Africa any time of the year. It all comes down to where you want to go and what you want to experience. We’ve delved into it more for you. Read the blog.
How many countries should I aim to visit?
A: We believe in quality over quantity and like to find out the time you have available to travel, the pace you prefer and then we can suggest combining a number of different destinations. To give you an idea, Africa is generally viewed as Southern and East Africa. Time and money are best spent focusing on one or the other. Namibia combines easily with Botswana whilst gorilla tracking in the Congo, Rwanda or Uganda combines wonderfully with a classic safari holiday in Tanzania or Kenya.
Q: How much time should I allow for my safari holiday?
A: Africa is a significant sized continent and depending on the countries and regions you wish to explore, we recommend a minimum of seven to ten nights if you are flying all the way from somewhere like Australia, Singapore or New Zealand. On average, our guests are travelling for two weeks including flight time. We do our best to maximise your time on holidays by carefully considering flights that avoid ‘dead nights’ in airport hotels. Light aircraft flights are incorporated often to get you between regions rather than road transfers – nothing beats an aerial perspective of Africa. This means even your transfers form part of the adventure safari.
Q: How does the planning process begin and how do you do it?
A: We like to start with a conversation where we like to get to know you. We ask some logical questions and then some out of the box questions to create a picture of your dream holiday and understand your parameters like timing, duration, budget and so forth. From here we create an itinerary for inspiration, drawing upon our expertise and present it to you in digital form. We can also provide it as a pdf or print out if you prefer. We have delved into our process more in a blog if you’re interested. Read the blog.
Q: What types of accommodation do you offer?
A: We have access to a vast range of accommodation, everything from adventure mobile camping, glamour mobile camping, chic safari camps, safari lodges, boutique hotels, owner run B&Bs, private houses and exclusive use safari properties to island resorts and more. Read the blog.
Can I make changes to the proposal holiday you send me?
A: We encourage all of our guests to be open about what they really like in the proposal and things that they are less satisfied with. The beauty in our service is we tweak it until you’re happy (within reason of course because this is a small business!) and only then finalise everything.
Q: Can I come in and meet with you rather than a phone call or email?
A: We have our head office in Brisbane and love hosting guests so please do come in. We then bring our maps and beautiful imagery to get you inspired by what’s possible and together map out the concept for your holiday. We also have a team member in Sydney who can meet with you somewhere central and offer the same great planning service.
Q: How much does a safari holiday cost?
A: A safari cost can vary greatly because there are so many variables like where you want to go, for how long, the types of properties you choose and inclusions you seek. This is the reason our specialists always ask up front what you are comfortable spending. We’ve delved more into the cost of an African holiday in a separate blog. Read the blog.
Q: What do I need in terms of visas?
A: Every country in Africa is different and it depends on the type of passport you are holding. We’ve written a page on this that may help. Read the blog.
Q: Can you help with travel insurance?
A: We can book travel insurance for you through Allianz or Covermore. Simply liaise with your specialist. We also have more information on travel insurance if you’re interested. Read the blog.
THE BOOKING PROCESS
Q: When will by booking be confirmed?
A: Once we receive your written confirmation of the trip or tour, we send out paperwork including a deposit invoice and booking form. It is only once we receive your deposit and completed booking form that we can then confirm all arrangements on the ground.
Q: Can you book flights and how far in advance?
A: We have a fantastic flight desk here in the office so we can help with all of your flight needs. The majority of airlines release their flight schedules 299 days in advance. Yet a holiday to Africa really is best booked well in advance which means your flights will not yet be available. We mark the date flights come into the system in our files and make contact immediately to offer you quotes on the best options. We have a blog all about flying in Africa if you’re interested. Read the blog.
Q: Can special requests be arranged on my behalf?
A: We always try our best to look after any special requests and are known for great surprises for those special occasions. Our specialists like to ask if you’re celebrating whilst travelling and without you even asking, a few little moments of magic will be made.
Q: What so I need to do to prepare for my safari holiday departure?
A: Planning your holiday is really exciting and fun. Equally, once you have confirmed your safari booking the pre-departure preparation can be fantastic. With an online safari concierge, we provide extensive information that contains everything you need to know prior to departure. The team is also available to answer any questions you may have and there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Encompass Africa’s service goes into overdrive when you depart because our Guests in Africa service monitors every move. Our team meet you at airports, camps and hotels give us updates and we manage a 24/7 emergency phone line should an issue arise.
Q: When do I get travel documentation?
A: We make your itinerary and any international and regional flight tickets available immediately to you in your online Safari Concierge system and via email. Then, three weeks prior to your departure, we send you the full travel pack. This includes your day by day itinerary, contact list, flight tickets, any vouchers, driving instructions if you’re self driving and biographies of our guides on the ground if you have a private guided tour.
Q: Are there any health precautions or vaccinations I need?
A: We recommend you visit your doctor or a specialist travel doctor at least two months prior to departure. This allows time for any necessary vaccinations and medication. Please remember to take your itinerary with you.
TRAVELLING IN AFRICA
Q: Is it safe to take children?
A: Africa is a fantastic destination for children because their eyes are opened to such beauty, culture, wilderness and wildlife than anywhere else in the world. We recommend that families travelling with children of any age work closely with our specialists to tailor a private holiday to give you the ultimate flexibility. Group tours in Africa may suit teenagers who can listen and take direction for safety reasons.
Q: Do I need to be fit?
A: To have the best possible experience in Africa, you should be in reasonable good health and be able to walk short distances without assistance. Many activities in Africa are highly strenuous and some regions have difficult conditions which can make it physically challenging. Our specialists will ask early on about your level of fitness and interests to ensure you don’t experience unwanted exhaustion or overexertion.
Q: I am a solo traveller do I have to pay single supplements?
A: At Encompass Africa, we understand the frustration of single supplements and do our best to assist. Many of our group tours allow solo travellers to share (if they are willing) with others unknown to them and some do not charge single supplement. We also have a list of the times and properties throughout Africa and the year that do not charge single supplement or very minimal fees. Simply chat with one of our specialists to ascertain how we can create the ultimate holiday for you.
Q. Will I have a guide?
A: Group tours absolutely have a dedicated guide who accompanies you every step of the way. On tailor-made holidays to Africa, we work with partners on the ground so someone will always meet you on arrival, assist you to transfer vehicles and then in camp you have guides and camp management to look after you. It really is effortless travel so you spend more time enjoying every moment than stressing over logistics.
Q: Is there a dress code on safari?
A: Safari dress code is about comfort, blending in whilst in the bush with wild animals and making sure you cover arms, legs and feet to protect from thorns and mosquitos. You don’t have to race out and buy a wardrobe of camouflage gear, just choose comfortable clothing and neutral colours. We suggest smart casual attire for the evenings because it’s nice to dress up a little for dinner especially in cities like Cape Town and Victoria Falls. This is not necessary though unless you are travelling on luxury trains where a dinner suit and dinner attire is compulsory. Having said that, you can hire dinner jackets on the train with advanced notice.
Q: Are there ever closures to attractions and sites?
A: Certain attractions may close without warning due to emergency repairs required and others close annually for maintenance. We always bring these possibilities to your attention because we are mindlful such closures may impact the ability to visit these attractions.
Q: Are meals included?
A: This all depends on the type of holiday you want to arrange with us, anything is possible. We have everything from exclusive use self catering luxury homes, villas and camps through to fully inclusive tours and tailor-made holidays. Usually breakfast is included daily and all meals whilst on safari along with local drinks (not premium wines or spirits). We love to recommend the very best places to dine in cities so just ask one of our specialists. Please check your day by day tour itinerary for details of which meals are included.
Q: Does Africa cater for special dietary requirements?
A: Generally yes, properties and restaurants throughout Africa is able to cater for dietary needs. We gather your dietary requirements in the booking form and share this with every property and partner on the ground to ensure you are well catered for.
Q: Are there luggage restrictions?
A: All travellers are limited to two items of luggage usually, a main bag and hand luggage. Please note if your itinerary involves light aircraft flights, you will be strictly limited to a maximum weight of 15 kilograms or 20 kilograms depending on the airlines and countries. Our specialists talk you through this in the early stages so there are no surprises. We also provide indepth information on packing and airline restrictions in our online Safari Concierge for guests.
Q: Do we have guaranteed departure tours?
A: We have a number of handpicked group tours that have guaranteed departures. Note availability is often slim so we encourage you to book well in advance.
Q: Who will be in my group?
A: Our group tours are made up of other travellers excited by the notion of exploring Africa with fellow guests. We have some tours that suit younger people and others for older people. Either way you are sharing travels with like minded people eager to explore all that Africa has to offer.
Q: Do we ever have contact again after the holiday?
A: We have worked closely with you, designed your dream safari holiday and so for us, the story isn’t complete until we’ve heard all about your African travel experience. We love to see photos, hear the stories and feedback so we can share it with our team and other potential travellers so decisions are made on seeing real stories from our travellers.
We also have a fantastic loyalty program and EATribe.