Expect The Unexpected
One thing is for certain … you will be blown away.
No two game-drives are ever the same and almost everyone has some unexpected drama.
The African bush is full of surprises.
The video on the right was shot by Bruce Brodie, my room mate who said he was “tired of seeing so many Leopards” – it’s a nice little cross section of what we experienced.
Transport, Accommodation and Food
Airfares and Flight Bookings
Each individual is responsible for his/her own travel to and from South Africa.
For the rest of the trip your transport, accommodation and food is taken care of and all costs are included in the pricing.
If travelling on a New Zealand passport you will need to apply for a visa to visit the republic.
VSF Global are the organisation that handle the applications in New Zealand and you can fine out more by visiting their website.
If you are not travelling on a Kiwi passport please check with the South African Department of Home Affairs – here is the link to their website.
There are no vaccinations requirements.
Transport is included from Oliver Tambo International Airport (OTI – formerly Johannesburg International) to the safari lodge is provided.
The daily safaris are all undertaken on fully equipped vehicle specifically set-up for photography.
Transport back to OTI is provided at the end of the safari.
The bungalows at Djuma Lodge are top-class and are set-up to accommodate singles or two persons sharing.
The fully serviced bungalows are very privately located a short distance from the main lodge which comprises the lounge, dining room and reception area. Each bungalow is luxuriously fitted out with its own viewing deck, indoor and outdoor shower. You will want for nothing by way of accommodation.
Food and Beverages
Breakfast, lunch and dinner while at the lodge are included in the cost while drinks are for your own account.
There will be a lunch stop en route from the airport to the lodge and on the return trip – this too is for your own account.
As food has to be brought in from the nearest town, Hoedspruit, (or sometimes even further afield) we do ask you to let us know of any dietary requirements such as vegan, gluten free etc.
All can be catered to if you let us know your specific requirements.
Alcohol is very cheap compared to New Zealand but despite this we found that with the early morning starts an early and minimum alcohol evening was the preferred choice.
The afternoon safari does include a “sundowner” stop for drinks and snacks (usually at a waterhole or similar) which was very popular. Alcohol of your choice, tea, coffee, rusks, biltone, dry wors and other snacks on hand. The sundowners and the morning coffee stop were very popular and welcome.
Hidden Costs (Tipping)
“Tipping” is a bit foreign to New Zealanders but is an integral part of South African culture. Because of this you will receive top class service while in the Republic.
We ask that “when in Rome please do as the Romans do” – tip to show your appreciation for service and goods that are very inexpensive by comparison. At the time of writing one NZ dollar buys you just under 10 (ten) South African Rand.
The going rate is between 5% and 10% of the total cost of the tour and while it is not compulsory it is certainly most appreciated.
The staff compliment is quite large (in excess of 20 ) with guides, drivers, trackers, kitchen and cleaning staff and more.
The easiest way to facilitate thanking all of them for their magnificent service is for each of us to place our contribution in a sealed envelope (provided). This we then hand over to management to disburse amongst the staff as they deem fit.
This is covered in more detail in “A typical day on safari” which is based around our days at Djuma however ….
The tour starts off with two nights at Ulundi River Lodge where the fantastic bird hides are located.
The idea behind this 2 night stopover en route to Djuma was to facilitate any jet-lag issues. But none of us seemed to suffer from jet-lag flying from East to West (but oh boy coming back is a different story!)
The bird hides proved so popular that it was decided to incorporate them into all future safaris.
You’re in for a real treat at the bird hides – they truly are a unique and totally unexpected experience.
The amount of time we get to them will very much depend on how early we can get there on day 1 as it is about an 8 hour drive from Johannesburg. Failing any opportunity on the first day we will have the next day and the following morning for some truly amazing photographic opportunities or, for the non-photographers just a remarkable experience.
On arrival at Djuma we barely have any time to check out the accommodation before being bundled into the vehicles and heading out on our first afternoon game drive at about 3.30 pm.
We will return to camp at about 7.30 – 8.00 pm (depending on activity out in the bush) for a well earned, but quick, shower before dinner.
Bedtime is entirely up to you but you will need to be up early as the morning drive departs around 5.30 am! Pretty early for some but the excitement levels are so high you won’t want to miss a minute of it. Pre drive tea and coffee with traditional South African rusks are served before we all hop on the vehicle and head off into the rising sun.
A coffee stop takes place at about 7.30 am before we continue until about 9.30 am when we return (ravenous) to camp for a big breakfast.
With a late breakfast a light lunch is served at about 2.30 pm before departing for the next afternoon safari where the cycle is repeated.
Between breakfast and lunch your guides are available to talk photography, give one-on-one lessons in LightRoom or you can chill out in camp, around the pool or just hang out.
This is a good time to post your awesome photos and talk about your experience on social media – friends love to hear about the trip.
Summing Up The Daily Activities
- Early morning coffee prior to the dawn game drive
- Return to camp at about 9.30 for breakfast and a morning at leisure or catching up with the guides
- A light lunch at about 2.30 pm before heading out for the afternoon drive which takes us through until about 7.30 pm
- Return to camp where dinner will be waiting
- After dinner adjourn to your bungalow for an early night or sit around the campfire with a drink or coffee and reminisce on the days happenings.
- Head to bed to repeat it all again the next day.
The Weather and Clothing
Days are mild to warm (can be very warm at this time of year) but the early morning and evenings are brisk.
Nothing fancy is needed and blankets for your legs are provided on the vehicles but bring a jacket, a beanie and gloves! You will need them.