First Trip to Africa


Prior to your departure from home

  • Make sure your passport is in order and that it is valid for at least six (6) months after your return date.
  • Arrange for your airline tickets – to get to southern Africa most flights will pass through Johannesburg in South Africa. Ask for quotes before you make any final decisions. In many instances it is possible to find cheaper tickets online but consider using a travel agent as when things go wrong away from home, travel agents can assist you to get home! If you are in the USA or UK we can assist you with your airline bookings.
  • Obtain travellers checks and some cash in advance.
  • Contact your credit card company and advise them you will be travelling to Africa. This notification may save you time since some transactions might otherwise prompt questions and cause delays. Plan to change some of your cash in local currency at a Bureau de Change or bank if needed.
  • Check with your local health department for the immunizations you need. Make sure your tetanus booster is current. A hepatitis vaccination is also often recommended.
  • Start taking malaria medication before you arrive at your destination (as directed by your doctor).
  • Luggage – Confirm luggage terms and conditions with your airline in advance of your departure. Typically, you are allowed 2 x 50 lbs (24Kg) of checked luggage per person. Pack ammunition separate from guns in a strong plastic container or else in your suitcase. You are allowed approximately eleven (11) pounds (5 Kg) of ammunition if it is separately packed. Make sure guns are unloaded. Do not remove the bolt and put it in your carry on. For departures from the UK, ensure that you contact your airline in advance of travelling to obtain the latest regulations for rifle and ammunition carriage.
  • The clothing checklist will give you a comprehensive list of what clothes you will need. Laundry is done daily in most hunting camps. Photographic safaris may need a few extra items because overnight stays, which are usual on these safaris, don’t allow time for laundry.
  • Complete SAPS 520 forms (if traveling through South Africa) before you leave home. This will facilitate the issuing of your temporary firearms permit at your point of entry. Make sure that you have made a copy of your passport information page and that you have your “Letter of Invitation” from your outfitter with you.
  • For American travelers, take your guns and cameras (i.e., everything with a serial number that will accompany you back to the USA) to your nearest U.S. Customs Office and complete Form 4457* before departure. This form will prove that you took these items out of the country with you so they will not be subject to customs duty on your return. (*Form 4457 is “CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION OF PERSONAL EFFECTS TAKEN ABROAD”)
  • Check-in for most international travelers is 2-3 hours before departure. Make sure the tags issued for your luggage are on YOUR luggage.

On arrival in South Africa

  • Go to Immigration first for passport control.
  • Continue on to the baggage claim area and obtain a baggage cart.
  • Rifles can be collected at the Security desk.  Any items labelled “fragile” will be at a different desk, which you will need to inquire about.
  • Proceed along the “Red” route. Declare guns (SAPS 520) at the South African Police desk and present them with your completed Form 4457 and you should have no difficulty.
  • Change some US$ into Rands at Bureau de Change.
  • Your outfitter should be waiting for you in the “Arrivals” hall.
  • If your final destination is not South Africa, there may be a requirement for an over-night stay before catching a connecting flight the next day. If in the USA or UK we can assist you with your B&B booking.
  • Be certain that you keep your outfitter’s telephone number with you in case you need to make contact.

If you are proceeding to Harare or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe:

On your arrival in Johannesburg everything should be the same as above unless you are “In Transit”.


  • Some travellers choose to check their luggage through to their final destination which could be Harare, Windhoek or Pemba. However, it might be better not to do so because if a problem arises, you will have an immediate opportunity to address it. Especially if you change airlines.
  • On arrival in Zimbabwe have thirty dollars ($30) US ready to pay for the visa at the Immigration desk. Submit your form (Immigration Declaration) and Passport. After paying for the visa, make sure that they stamp your Passport and that they issue a receipt to you.
  • Collect your luggage.
  • Proceed to the Customs desk, hand in your quadruplicate Temporary Import permit for the rifles and open your rifle case to show the official the serial numbers of your weapons. You keep one copy of the stamped permit with you at all times. Make sure the stamp, and date of stamp, is correct. If not, have the agent endorse your permit.
  • The small Customs Declaration form is meant for goods that will remain in Zimbabwe, not your personal goods. Your Form 4457 is once again your ‘insurance’.
  • There are shuttles to Hotels in Victoria Falls but if you arrive at Harare Airport, your outfitter will be waiting for you.
  • Tipping guideline:  In South Africa a tip of R10-R20 is adequate; in Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe a tip of about US$ 1-2 to the porter will suffice.

Now that you are in Africa enjoy the experience to the fullest!

Return to Top

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *