While on Tour
The information below applies in general to Vantage escorted land tours. To learn
more about our full line of escorted land tours,
Culture & Points to Know
Travel in Africa
Keep an Open Mind
• This is not a typical tour, and the itinerary you follow is subject to change. This is Africa -
weather, the political situation, migration of game, fuel availability, road conditions, seasonal floods, and flight schedule changes may all impact your trip.
• In some cases, they may change the sequence of places visited, or we may not follow the trip
itinerary exactly as published.
• Poverty is prevalent in Africa, so be prepared to witness a lower standard of living during our visits to local villages and schools.
• Our hotels and lodges are of a luxury standard but still have an adventure feel.
• There can be occasional problems with electricity, hot water, and air-conditioning.
• The roads within and between the destinations and on game drives can be dusty and very bumpy.
• Near the cities and towns, some roads may be littered with trash.
• Water is scarce in the parks. We ask that you conserve water.
Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are among the very best places in Africa for game viewing. In Botswana, 17 percent of the country's area is either national parks or wildlife reserves, which makes for more exclusive game viewing. Neighboring Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa also offer
excellent parks and wildlife reserves. Unlike parts of eastern Africa where large game migrations attract
thousands of tourists year-round, the game viewing in southern Africa is more remote, and often done in
You can have some great "conversations" with local people who do not speak English, even if you don't
speak a word of the local language. Indeed, this non-verbal communication can be a highly rewarding part of travel. To break the ice, bring along some family photographs, or a few postcards of your hometown. If you want to meet kids, bring a puppet or other interactive toy. Your Adventure Leader can help get the ball rolling. Keep in mind, however, that it is always good form to know at least a few words in the local language.
Your attire is a key part of your non-verbal presentation. Your clothing should show a respect for local
tradition. In small towns or near villages, you should dress in a relatively modest style - avoid revealing
or tight-fitting outfits. The application of this guideline varies. You will see people in cities and towns
dressed in modem styles. And, of course, many foreign tourists are not sensitive to this at all. But you
should dress modestly if you want to earn the respect of the local people.
Game-viewing drives are done in specially outfitted four-wheel-drive vehicles, often over bumpy, muddy, or dusty paths. The open-sided vehicles hold a maximum of nine travelers and one guide each and have bucket or bench-style seating. You may sit three abreast in some rows, but viewing is good even from a middle position. Water is available onboard.
The etiquette of photographing most people in the countries on your itinerary is about the same as it
would be on the streets of your hometown. Some tribal people have particular concerns about
photography. They know that professional photographers have profited from selling their images, and
they will often ask for money in exchange for you taking their picture. Try to set a clear understanding
when photographing tribal people, even from a distance.
In general, you need permission to take a close-up, as you would at home, but not for a crowd scene. Be
especially polite if you want to photograph an older woman. If you want to shoot a great portrait, show
interest in your subject and try to have a bit of interaction first. Then use sign language to inquire if a
picture is OK. Your Adventure Leader can help.
Safety & Security
Common Sense and Awareness
As you travel, exercise the same caution and awareness that you would in a large American city. Don't be
overly nervous or suspicious, but keep your eyes open. If you are venturing out after dark, go with one or
two other people.
Carry a one-day supply of cash in your pocket. Carry most of your money, and your passport, in a travel
pouch or money belt under your shirt. Replenish your pocket supply when you are in a safe and quiet
place, or in our vehicle. Don't leave valuables unattended in your hotel room. Most hotels/lodges have
personal safes in the rooms.
Pickpockets may create a sudden distraction. In any sort of puzzling street situation, try to keep one hand
on your money belt. If an encounter with a local turns out to be long and complicated and involves
money or your valuables, be very careful. Con artists sometimes target travelers.
The African bush does not offer the communications systems and signal strength you may be used to at
home. Cell phone service or Wi-Fi might be available in most places, but not all. Cities will have adequate reception and mostly 3G / 4G connection.
If you want to use your cell phone on the trip, check with your phone provider to see if your phone and
service will work outside of the U.S. It may turn out to be cheaper to rent an international phone or buy a
SIM card onsite. If you want to use a local SIM, just make certain your phone is "unlocked", meaning it
can accept a local SIM card. If your cell is "unlocked" then you will be able to purchase a local SIM for it
and then buy minutes with "Pay as You Go" cards, so that you have a local contact number for your
friends and family.
Please understand that in Africa, good cell phone service is only available in large towns or cities.
Calling Cards and 1-800 Numbers
When calling the US. from a foreign country, a prepaid calling card can be useful because it circumvents
unexpected charges from the hotel. Calling cards purchased locally are typically the best (less expensive,
more likely to work with the local phones, etc.).
One reminder: Do not call US. 1-800 numbers outside the continental U.S. This can result in
costly long-distance fees, since 1-800 numbers do not work outside the country.
Wi-Fi is available at all hotels and lodges, except for the Tented bush Camp in Hwange.
• Observe the animals silently and with a minimum of disturbance to their natural activities. Loud
talking on a game drive can frighten the animals away.
• Never attempt to attract an animal's attention. Don't imitate animal sounds, clap your hands, pound
on the vehicle, or throw objects. Failure to obey this rule could result in your removal from a national park by one of the park rangers on patrol.
• Please respect your driver-guides' judgment about your proximity to lions, cheetahs, and leopards.
Don't insist that he take the vehicle closer so you can get a better photograph. A vehicle driven too
close can hinder a hunt or cause animals to abandon a hard-earned meal.
• Litter tossed on the ground can choke or poison animals and birds.
• Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal on foot. This is especially important near lodges
or in camps where animals may have become accustomed to human visitors. Failure to adhere to
this could cause you to be bitten and need immediate rabies shots, which are unpleasant and costly.
• Smoking is not allowed on game drives. The dry African bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire can
harm hundreds of animals.
Conserving the Natural Environment
• Minimize the disposable items you bring on the trip and dispose of your trash properly.
• Ask whether plastic drinking water bottles can be recycled. Most days, it's better to keep your empty
bottles with you until you reach your hotel.
• Stay on established trails to avoid damaging plants.
• Don't pick any vegetation, or remove any items of biological interest.
• Where other foreign visitors have littered, consider picking it up. Local park rangers will appreciate
At the beginning of your tour, a Vantage Tour Director will conduct an informative
briefing concerning the daily schedule, local customs, and the included features
of your tour. It is strongly advised that you attend this briefing.
Extending Your Trip
Vantage offers specially arranged pre- and post-extensions on many of our escorted
land tours. See specific tours for details. In some cases, your Tour Director
that will be on your base trip will be there also on the extension, but not always.
On some pre- and post-extensions, there will be a Vantage representative to assist
Additionally, if you would like to do some exploring on your own, either before
or after your tour, Vantage can help you arrange the details. In most cases, your
flights can be adjusted for either an earlier arrival date or a later return date.
A non-refundable administrative fee will be assessed, plus any additional
costs that may apply to the air ticket and hotel. Transfers to and from your hotel
are not included when traveling independent of a Vantage group. Please ask a Vantage
Sales Representative for additional details. Note also that some airline contracts
may exclude changes to routing.
NOTE: Should you wish to make any changes to your plans to extend your trip, please
do so no later than 60 days prior to your scheduled date of departure. Change or
cancellation penalties may apply to tickets once they have been issued.
Your Health & Comfort
Vantage wants you to have a safe, healthy, and happy journey. Our tours are planned
to combine just the right amount of activity and leisure. For personal medical attention
while on tour, your Vantage Tour Director can refer you to reliable physicians
in the cities on your tour.
Please note that Medicare and U.S health insurance are generally not accepted in
foreign destinations. If you have an insurance claim, it should be made upon your
return to the USA and filed through your health insurance provider or through the
Vantage Travel Protection Plan if you have purchased it. Keep relevant receipts
and doctors' reports for processing your claim.
Jet Lag Precautions
When you cross several time zones to reach your destination, you often lose many
hours of regular sleep. Upon arrival your body must quickly adjust to new sleeping
and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms may include fatigue, irritability,
and vague disorientation. You cannot completely avoid jet lag but you can minimize
it. Here's how:
- Try to sleep on overnight flights
- Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before - and
during - your flight
- Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juice while flying
- Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner
Pace of the Tour
Vantage Tours are planned to provide a well-balanced mix of activities and free
time. Certain tours, however, may prove to be more challenging than others, particularly
for passengers with physical limitations.
Passengers with physical difficulties or concerns about the pace of the tour should
contact their Vantage Customer Relations Representative for tips on which tours
best suit their individual needs and abilities. See also Medical Issues, below.
Your Personal Safety
Please keep in mind that in any tourist destination, you need to be aware of your
surroundings. We recommend that you use a money protector that can be worn around
your neck. Flashy jewelry should be left at home. Never place your camera or purse
down, or hang it on the back of your chair. Although incidents of theft and pickpocketing
while on tour are rare, it is important to be cautious and aware.
Click here to
read important information about travelers with a physical, emotional, or mental
condition that may require professional attention or the use of special equipment.
"Medical Issues" information also appears in the "Tour Participation Agreement -
Terms and Conditions" bound into Vantage catalogs and printed on the back of your
Vantage makes every effort to reserve only hotels that offer well-appointed rooms
and a central location. We remind you that quality of accommodations may vary from
destination to destination. Vantage strives to provide the best hotels available
that meet our standards of quality. You can check descriptions of the hotels for
your chosen trip under Accommodations on the website for that trip.
How We Rate Our Hotels
While some tour companies devise their own ratings systems (based on their particular
standards), Vantage ranks hotels based on the industry-accepted classifications
published by the Hotel & Travel Index
- the travel industry standard.
Deluxe/Moderate Deluxe ***** Outstanding accommodations in every way, offering superior
service, facilities, and location.
Superior First-Class ****+ Above average accommodations, with many special amenities,
including more restaurants, shops, and usually a fitness center.
First-Class/Moderate First-Class **** Comfortable, well-equipped standard rooms
with private bath, attractive public areas, and amenities.
Please Note: In some areas where the hotels aren't rated, it's often due to the
fact that the hotel may be too new, too remote, or too small. However, the hotel
where you stay has been inspected and approved by Vantage personnel.
At Vantage, we count individuals from all walks of life and all religious denominations
among our customers. Although we do not offer religious services on our travel programs,
services may be available in the cities and towns you visit while on tour. Your
Vantage Tour Director can advise you when religious services are available. Please
keep in mind that not all religious denominations have a presence in every travel
destination. We cannot guarantee the availability of religious services.
Shopping for local merchandise is always a part of the travel experience. We are
aware that local guides do recommend shops on their tours. Always keep in mind that
a purchase is between the buyer and the seller. Always keep receipts and credit
card copies. Shipping should always include insurance in the event of breakage.
Iit is best to check with your credit card issuer for any insurance that may be
included when you use your card.
Sightseeing & Cultural Connections
Vantage offers a variety of included sightseeing tours and special cultural events
to enrich your travel experience and bring you "closer to the world." Our tours
are specially designed for Vantage travelers. They let you feel the atmosphere,
gain a cultural understanding, and become a part of the area you are visiting. They
include all transportation and the services of expert local guides.
Vantage makes every effort to provide the right balance of both included activities
and time for exploring on your own. We've found, however, that many of our passengers
prefer an additional guided activity in lieu of free time. For that reason, some
of our tours may include a limited number of optional tours and activities, which
you may choose to take at a moderate fee. In no case do we replace an included sightseeing
tour with an optional tour. Optional tours are strictly voluntary, providing you
with the opportunity to visit an attraction that you may not see otherwise.
All hotel taxes and hotel service charges are included in the tour price. If airport
arrival and departure taxes apply, they are payable in cash at the airports and
are not included.
All transfers between airport and hotel/pier are included in conjunction with Vantage
air and tour packages and will be via private transportation. Travelers purchasing
their own airline tickets will be responsible for their own transfers to and from
the airport/hotel/pier based on the itinerary.
Each Vantage Escorted Land Tour is planned with two criteria in mind: It must be
to an interesting destination and the tour must offer good quality at an exceptional
Although everything is planned well in advance of your departure, our ultimate goal
is to ensure that each departure is enjoyable, interesting, and safe. Therefore,
the day-by-day itinerary provided for each travel destination is subject to change
depending upon local conditions. If any significant changes occur in advance of
your departure, Vantage will notify you by phone or by mail. If changes occur while
on tour, your Vantage Tour Director or local representative will notify you.
Your Vantage Tour Director/Local Representative
During your tour you'll be accompanied on tour by an experienced Vantage Program
Manager. You will also benefit from the insights of expert Local Representatives
and tour guides. Both your Tour Director and Local Representative can provide
suggestions on the best restaurants, shops, and local sights; will help coordinate
optional tours and excursions; and assist in any manner possible.
Vantage Hospitality Desk
For your convenience, a Vantage Hospitality Desk will be available daily during
scheduled hours at many of the hotels on your itinerary (staffed by an experienced
team of local travel professionals or by your Vantage Tour Director). The desk
hours vary, depending on your daily scheduling. Tour members will be advised of
the desk hours during the briefing held upon arrival at most hotels.
We include tipping for all meals that are included in your package and all porterage. Tips are not included for your Vantage Program Manager, local guides and drivers, or any maids or other personnel in hotels, ships or trains.