Planning your trip
Visas and Documentation
Travelers from the USA and most European and British Commonwealth countries are not required to have a visa to enter South Africa. Find out the visa requirements for your country here: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries.
Special requirements apply for children under the age of eighteen who are traveling to South Africa. Minors are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry. When a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent.
Most of South Africa is malaria-free, but malaria is present in a few areas, including northeastern KwaZulu-Natal Province as far south as the Tugela River, Limpopo (Northern) Province, and Mpumalanga Province. It is also present in Kruger National Park. If you will be hunting in or traveling to those areas, malaria prophylaxis is recommended.
South Africa has strict rules for hunters bringing firearms into the country. Visitors who are hunting or participating in a shooting event must acquire a Temporary Import Permit. These can be obtained on arrival at the airport at the SA Police Firearm Office situated after immigration. There are also a number of commercial services that can secure your permit in advance for a fee.
To be issued a permit, you will need to show proof of ownership of your firearm(s) (for American hunters, a U.S. Customs Form 4457 is sufficient), as well as an invitation letter signed by your outfitter proving that you have booked a hunt in South Africa.
Each hunter is allowed to bring up to four firearms, but no two may be of the same caliber. Ammunition is limited to 200 rounds per firearm. It is advisable to pack your ammunition in a hard-sided, lockable case, as sometimes airlines will require you to check your ammunition separately.
Most hunters arriving from outside of South Africa arrive in Johannesburg. Here, all declared or identified firearms may be collected directly from the firearm office just after immigration. Any firearms either not declared upon departure, or not identified by an appropriate label will be delivered to the normal baggage carousel for collection. Once you have collected your baggage, proceed to the SA Police Firearm Office, where all necessary import permits and other documentation will be finalized. This process can be quite time-consuming, especially if many other hunters have arrived on the flight with you, so if you have a connecting flight it is advisable to allow at least three hours in between.
If you have a domestic connecting flight, you must clear firearms and ammunition at the SA Police Firearm Office in your arrival airport before proceeding through customs. You will need to present your Temporary Import Permit to board your domestic flight. It’s important to note that firearms are accepted on domestic flights only to certain airports within South Africa; check with your outfitter to ensure you will be able to check your firearm to your destination.
Most hunts in South Africa are spot-and-stalk or safari style, with the hunters covering ground either on foot or by vehicle and, once an animal is spotted, completing a stalk on foot. Terrain varies dramatically from relatively flat savanna to rugged mountains, depending on the region of the country you’re hunting. Some safaris can require extensive walking; others require very little, so it’s a good idea to ask the professional hunter.
Clothing and Gear
Dark green or brown clothing is best, as are comfortable, well-broken-in boots with soft soles for quiet stalking. You’ll only need a couple of changes of clothing as laundry is done daily at most camps. Bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunblock, good optics, and a jacket for cool mornings and evenings. In some areas pepper ticks are a problem, so tick repellent is a good idea.
Most professional hunters recommend rifles in the .300-caliber family for plains game and .375 for dangerous game, but the most important thing is to bring a rifle you are familiar with and can shoot well.
After the hunt
Tips are appreciated at most safari camps in South Africa; in addition to the professional hunter, tracker(s), driver, and skinner(s), there are usually staff members at camp who handle cooking and cleaning and other chores and help to make a hunter’s stay pleasant. The professional hunter or outfitter can advise the hunter how much is appropriate to tip each staff member.
Typically, animals are skinned at the safari headquarters and all skins are cleaned and salted; skulls and horns are cleaned and buried in salt. After a couple of days, the skins are hung to dry, cleaned once more, and folded and stored in a skinning shed. Skulls will be cleaned and placed on a rack. Before leaving camp, it’s a good idea to ensure the skulls and skins are properly tagged with the hunter’s name and contact information.
Once the hunter departs, or sometimes at the end of the season, trophies will be taken to a taxidermist for professional cleaning and dipping, which is required for export. The taxidermist then contacts the hunter for instructions regarding preparation and shipment, and to arrange payment for these services. The taxidermist then contacts a shipping agent, who will handle the permits and shipping to the hunter’s home country, again after contacting the hunter. Hunters should check the latest regulations in order to make arrangements in advance if they are hunting species that require CITES permits or special export or import permits from the hunter’s home country. Many export and import requirements for these species have undergone dramatic changes in the past couple of years.