The Wildest Facts

What to wear on a safari in South Africa and everything else you should know before your safari

Pricing and booking

Clothing
Here’s what to wear on a safari in South Africa:

Dress codes are generally very relaxed in South Africa. Safari clothing should preferably be informal in natural colors. Avoid strong contrasts in colors that will attract attention and scare the animals. It is recommended to wear long pants on the bush walk.

You should bring a pair of good walking shoes (sneakers can also work) as well as a pair of light shoes or sandals for excursions by car. A warm windbreaker is necessary on safari in open cars as the nights can be chilly. During summer, it is also necessary to bring a hat and cover your arms and shoulders, as the sun is very hot even early in the day. During winter, warm clothes should be packed, espesialy for the game drives.

Mpala Safari Lodge has its own modern laundry. Here you can have your clothes washed for a small fee.

Climate
South Africa has several climate zones. Mpala Safari Lodge and Kruger Park are located in the north-eastern part of South Africa, where winters are mild and summers are hot.

The period from November to March is summertime, with daily temperatures between 28-350 Celsius or higher and evening temperatures between 20-250 C or higher. The hottest months are December to February. During the summer period, short and powerful thunderstorms occasionally occur. Shortly after a rain shower, the air quickly dries out, so the high summer temperatures are never unpleasantly humid, but mostly dry.

From April to October the weather is fairly dry and mostly sunny. Even during the coldest month in June it is often up to 280 C. The temperature rarely drops below 18-200 C in the daytime and 8-100 C at night.

The Southern half of South Africa has a cooler climate than the northern part where Mpala is located. South Africa’s wine districts are located in the Western Cape province and well worth a visit should you have the time.

Click here to see the local weather report

(Mpala Safari Lodge is located near Phalaborwa)

Currency
The currency of South Africa is the Rand = R (or ZAR). We recommend exchanging your currency upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where the Exchange rate is mostly better than at home.

Credit cards such as Visa, Eurocard, Mastercard, American Express etc. are accepted almost everywhere. At Mpala Safari Lodge you can pay with Visa, Visa/DK and MasterCard.

ATMs are found in airports, banks and shopping centers.

Electricity
220/240 Volt. Adapter is necessary. At Mpala Safari Lodge adapters are available in all rooms for Scandinavian plugs. We advice you to bring your own adapter plug.

Flight connection
There are two local airports, Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa. Both are about an hour’s drive from Mpala Safari Lodge.  The lodge has a shuttle from these airports on Mondays (for arrivals and departures) and Saturdays (for departures only) between 11:00 and 14:00. Please ensure that you book a flight which arrival time and departure time is within the above mentioned hours.

You must inform us of your travel plans in advance. If your flight is delayed and this will affect your final arrival time, we would appreciate hearing from you, so that we can arrange to pick you up. Direct phone to our office is +27 (0)83 654 0883

There is a later flight out of Phalaborwa, but it has often happened that our guests have missed their onwards flight from Johannesburg due to delays of this flight. We therefore do not recommend you to book the late flight from Phalaborwa and we do also not have a free shuttle for this late flight.

Transfer to other airports or at other times than the above mentioned may be arranged on request at a fee.

Luggage
Please check the luggage allowance with your airline company since this varies between the airline companies.

Always check the latest updated information of the airlines before departure.

We offer overnight laundry service at Mpala, so you do not need to pack clean clothes for each day.

Golfers: Special rules apply to golf bags – contact your airline company for their information. Instead of bringing your own golf bag, you can rent golf equipment at the Hans Merensky Golf club.

Remember that NO pointy or sharp objects may be carried on board, including small items like nail scissors and nail files.

Knives and scissors may be packed in your checked luggage.

Insurance
Travel insurance should always be in order when you travel. Contact your travel agency or your insurance provider to inquire about the possibilities for travel and cancellation insurance.

Hunting
Hunters must check the applicable rules for transporting weapons with the authorities. As transport can be both complicated and expensive, we recommend that hunters hire weapons for hunting at Mpala – it is cheaper and less troublesome.

Language
South Africa is multilingual. English is the official language and easily understood by most South Africans. At Mpala Safari Lodge the lodge guides, management and staff speaks English.

 

Telephone and e-mail
There is telephone as well as internet access at Mpala Safari Lodge.

The telephone number for Mpala Safari Lodge is: +27 (0)83 654 0883

The mobile phone network works well in most areas, but far out in the bush there may be no connection. The phone at Mpala Safari Lodge may be used, and calls paid for according to the meter.

The email address of Mpala Safari Lodge is Mpala@worldonline.co.za

The internet signal at Mpala is sometimes weak and slow. We suggest that you take a rest from your busy days at home and make it a relaxing Holiday. By spending time with checking emails or surfing  on the internet you may loose the most exciting moment that could take place right outside your window. 

If you would like to share photos from your trip, we recommend sharing them on our Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/mpalasafarilodge

 

 

Passport and visa
Foreign citizens should inquire from their country’s embassy about the requirements for visiting South Africa. Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the time of departure from South Africa. At least one page must be available for stamps.

IMPORTANT: For one parent travelling alone with their children, a special form and written permit from the other parent is needed. Failing to meet the requirements will result in entry ban at the passport control ! Please contact the South African embassy in your homeland for further instructions.

Photography
Remember extra batteries and a charger for your camera. It is a shame to be in the middle of an exciting situation and have no charged batteries. Also remember extra film or extra memory cards for your digital camera. Good photos are often one out of many, and it is better to keep shooting without the fear of running out of space.

Lots of the animals you will see quite close and you are well off with your pocket camera. But if you are a bit nerdy with photography one of our guests have written a guidance here: Mpala Photo guide

 

Shopping
Handicrafts, jewelry, diamonds and clothing are available at good prices.

At Mpala Safari Lodge we have a shop with African handicrafts and goods, handbags, jewelry, postcards, practical safari clothing such as short sleeved khaki shirts, fleece jackets, sun hats and caps.

During some of the excursions it is possible to shop with the locals in the many small souvenir stalls along the road.

Sun
The sun is very strong in South Africa, especially during summer time. It is recommended to use sun protection with a high factor (at least 20 or higher). Some products are available which dry on the skin without leaving a greasy film. These are particularly suitable for safari.

Time difference

South Africa has +2 hours to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). For England this is 2 hours ahead of their normal time. For most other European countries this is 1 hour ahead of their normal time. During summer time in Europe the time difference is one hour less than the before mentioned.

With an insignificant time difference like this, there is almost no jet lag for Europeans.

 

Time of the year for visiting
The best time of the year to visit Mpala depends entirely on what you wish to experience and how you feel about the varying degrees in temperature.

Year round we offer great possibilities for observing fantastic wildlife, as the different species of animals do not migrate.

The best time to observe many  a huge variety of animals is from May to October. This is the dry season when the trees drop their leaves because it hardly ever rains. During this season the animals cannot easily hide and are often found near the river or at waterholes.

This period is also the coolest, though it is not cold. Daytime temperatures are mostly around 20-250 C. Some days are warmer and some may be slightly cooler. This suits all those people who may not enjoy the hot African summer temperatures.

 

 

Tips/ Gratuities

We are often asked for advice regarding gratuities. First and foremost gratituities are entirely up to yoursef to deside, as nothing is required. If you wish to tip for the services these guidelines may be useful:

At restaurants etc. it is recommend to tip 10-15% of the total amount. Airport and hotel porters normally get about 20 Rand pr. bag. For the driver/guide on a roundtrip the average is 50-75 Rand per person per day.

If you wish to tip the staff at Mpala Safari Lodge, it is recommended that you put the tips in an envelope and hand it to our hostess, Estel or Stacey. She will make sure to distribute the tips among the staff so that everyone gets their share. From our experience, guests contribute on average per week 500 Rand per room to their ranger and the same amount for distribution among the other lodge staff, gartners, cleaners, waiter and chefs. This is however entirely to your discretion.

Vaccinations
None are mandatory unless you have visited an area with yellow fever within the last 6 days before arriving in South Africa. Hepatitis and tetanus vaccinations are recommended.

Malaria prophylactics are recommended for travel to the area in and around Kruger Park. It is highly recommended to get information and professional advice from your own Medical practitioner.

Remember that even when taking malaria medication, the best protection is always to avoid getting bitten. Use mosquito repellant and cover bare skin in the evening. Mosquitoes are attracted by the smell of unwashed feet, so it is a good idea to wash your feet with soap and put on clean socks before the dinner.