Frequently Asked Questions
Is South Africa safe?
South Africa is safe for US travellers.
How do I get there?
We recommend that our hunters fly South African Airways, directly from Dulles Washington or JFK in New York, to Johannesburg International Airport (Oliver Tambo International). This is the pick-up point for South African safaris. Early booking is recommended as flights are crowded during the hunting season, and costs do rise the longer you wait.
Do you offer pick up / drop off at the airport? And how far of a drive to hunting area?
Yes, you will be met by a DVS representative at the airport after you exit customs. You will then be transferred to the hunting area which is approx. 3 1/2 hours’ drive.
What type of accommodations are included at the camp, private? Electricity? Running water? etc.
Our luxurious camp consists of a thatched lodge, where the indoor bar and dining room are situated and en-suite chalets, single or double, amid huge indigenous Knob thorn trees. All modern amenities are provided, hot and cold running water, showers, flushing toilets and a daily laundry service.
Can I drink the water there without getting sick?
Our water supply in the hunting area is completely safe to drink from the tap. We also keep an abundant supply of bottled water on hand for our guests if preferred. Drinking tap water in the larger cities is not recommended, and we advise our visitors to only drink bottled water.
Do we need to bring anything for Mosquitoes and do you have Malaria?
No mosquitoes in winter months (May – Sept) and we are situated in a malaria free area.
What happens if I need to fill a prescription or see a doctor?
It would be best if you bring enough of your medication to last for the entire trip so we don’t take time out from important hunting activities. If you’re concerned about running out, have your doctor write a prescription for you and bring it along, it can be refilled. South Africa has excellent medical facilities and medical care.
What about special insurance coverage?
You may purchase several types of insurance for your safari. Baggage insurance, firearm or bow insurance, trip cancellation insurance, travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance are all areas to consider to make yourself more financially secure before you leave on your trip. Your travel agent can help you with trip cancellation, travel and medical evacuation.
What kind of personal items should I bring?
Still Camera, Video Camera, Battery Chargers, Tripod, Sunglasses, Binoculars, Flashlight and Batteries, 220 to 110 Voltage Converter and Adapter, Good Reading Material, Knife, Diary and Pen, Medical Prescriptions and Allergy Medication (if needed), Insect Repellent, Sunscreen Lotion, Lip Balm (with sunscreen), Personal Toiletries, Hat/Cap, Warm Jacket and Gloves, 4 Pairs of Clothing (daily laundry), Face Mask, Safety Belt, Rope, Camp Shoes, Walking Boots.
Is internet available?
Yes wireless internet is available
What currency is used in your country?
The South African Rand (ZAR) is used in South Africa for all purchases. You may exchange your currency for ZAR at the airport when you arrive. Travelers checks and all major currencies can be exchanged at banks and various exchange companies.Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept Visa and Master Card.
Do I need an electrical convertor or adaptor?
Yes, you will need both a convertor to plug your items into and an adaptor to plug into the outlet. The convertor will change the voltage from 230-240 Volts to 120 Volts. You can find convertors and adaptors at any electronics store such as Radio Shack or Circuit City or department stores like Kmart, Wal-Mart or Target. DVS do have a few convertors and adaptors in camp, but it’s best to bring your own to ensure you have one.
Do I need to do anything special for shipping my bow?
You will need a very sturdy bow case that is impact resistant. The stronger, the better. Best results will result from the higher end models of bow cases available.
Is it difficult to get my bow into Africa?
Not at all. Unlike rifle hunters, bows are currently not regulated coming into Africa. You would simply collect your bow at the oversized luggage area and proceed through the customs area.
Do you only accommodate for bow hunters (I am a rifle hunter)?
No, we cater for rifle hunters too. The bowhunters have just their own hunting areas apart from the rifle areas.
We have been accommodating rifle hunters since the beginning of Dries Visser Safaris, 1990, and still do. The rifle and bow hunters hunt on different concessions that are dedicated to each different sport, so as not to interfere with each other’s hunting. All hunters are accommodated in the same lodge and transported to the different concessions. Planning for the hunt the following day is done around the campfire in the evenings.
Rifle hunting is still a very big part of Dries Visser Safaris.
What is the size of your hunting concession where the hunt would occur?
We hunt several hunting areas around Thabazimbi region. An estimated of 150 000 acres of prime hunting land.
Do you allow rifle hunts on your archery areas?
Absolutely not! Our archery areas are strictly for bowhunters only, and you can trust us on that! You will not experience hunting with us and hear a truck with rifle hunters drive by your blind. This is the main reason why our archery areas are so bowhunting friendly and why our success rate is so high.
How is bowhunting conducted?
Bow hunting is conducted at strategic places from ground or pit blinds. We have, after many years of experience, converted most elevated-blinds to pit-blinds or ground-blinds. These blinds are much more successful and most scents and noises are eliminated. The blinds are spacious and dark on the inside. Your best success for bowhunting will always be from the permanent blinds. We also offer tree stand hunting from game trails or mineral licks in the bush away from waterholes. Spot and stalk is also an option, and our area offers great opportunities for this method of hunting even though it is less successful than blind hunting.
What type of bow set-up should I bring?
For plains game hunting, you should bring your normal big game set up you would use for whitetail or any other type deer. You don’t need to buy a special 80 lb bow set up just to shoot plains game. We have archers who use compound, recurve and longbows as well as crossbows. The most important aspect of your hunt will be that you are very familiar with and extremely proficient shooting the bow you bring along. Buying a brand new bow just before you start your safari is not recommended.
What Broadhead do you recommend?
Again, whatever you use on whitetail successfully should work just fine in Africa. For good blood trails you need the 3 or 4 bladed heads and for good penetration (low poundage shooters) the cut on impact2 bladed heads. Make sure the broadhead you pick are sharp and that the blades are strong! The less cutting diameter you have, the better penetration you will get! You are allowed to use mechanicals, but be sure you have had good success with the mechanical you bring to Africa, as we have had several mechanical broadheads that were junk and clients lost their trophies! The rage mechanical is highly recommended. Low pound shooters should not use mechanicals.
Do I need lighted pins?
Yes, especially for shooting early mornings or late afternoons from the pit blinds as they are quite dark on the inside.
What type of shooting practice should I do to get ready for my safari?
Shooting on level ground, from tree stands and from inside pop up blinds would all be very good practice. You need to be very proficient from 40 yards and closer. Most shots do take place under 20 yards from blinds, but you may get longer shots from tree stands, spot and stalk or even a second shot on a wounded animal further away from the blind, so practice and be very proficient.
Can I hunt dangerous game with my bow?
Absolutely! We offer bowhunts on Cape buffalo, lion and leopard. Special archery permits need to be applied for when hunting lion, and buffalo but we were fortunate enough to get all our applications approved so far. Leopard permits are difficult to get and we only have opportunity to apply once a year. No lion,buffalo or leopard will be hunted without the proper permits.
Do your guides understand bowhunting?
Our guides are experienced bowhunters themselves! They know the needs of a bowhunter and this is why our bowhunts are so successful!
Do I have to bring an extra bow in case something happens to my bow?
If you have a double bow case and an extra bow, then yes bring it along. If you do not have extra, then do not spend the extra money on purchasing one. Just make sure you bring an extra string. If something happens to your bow, then we do have extra bows among the guides and we also have a local bowshop in town where we can have it repaired, or even get a spare bow for your trip if needed.
How far can one expect shot opportunities from blinds?
Our permanent blinds are situated within 20 yards from the water or mineral licks. These blinds provide an average shot distance of 16 yards. It is very seldom that you will be shooting further than 20 yards from the blinds.
Do you offer spot and stalk opportunities for bowhunters?
Yes, we do. Our hunting areas actually provide great stalking opportunities! In South Africa we normally use this method of hunting in the early mornings and late afternoons when animals are active. Should you be interested to stalk while hunting with us, then practice shooting out to 50 yards.
What are procedures for firearm/rifle importation?
Firearm importation procedures
Visitors bringing firearms into South Africa for hunting purposes, will be asked to fill in a SAP 520 – Temporary Import Application which is available from your outfitter, or which can be downloaded off the SAPS Website at www.saps.gov.za, or which can be filled out on arrival. We would suggest filling in the form beforehand to save the processing time at the Police Office.
Instructions for Filling in SAP 520 Form
1. Black ink must be used to fill in the form.
2. The form must be left unsigned until the document is finalized in front of the police official issuing the actual permit.
3. Please note that not all sections of the form apply. Visitors bringing their own firearms in for hunting purposes should concentrate on filling in the following:
Section D – (temporary import or export permit)
Section E – 1 – 25.4
Section I – (Must fill in all details requested)
Section J – (remember do not sign until in front of police officer at firearm office)
Additional Requirements along with the SAP 520 are the following:
1. Identity and Flight Details
b. Return Airline Ticket
2. Other Supporting Documentation
a. Proof of Ownership
Firearm licenses, documentary proof, etc. For USA Citizens, Customs Declaration Form 4457 (officially stamped) is acceptable
b. Proof of Export
Documentary proof of export from the country of origin
c. Motivation Letter from Client
This is a letter from the client stating that he is temporarily importing the referred to firearm/s for the purpose of hunting, to include that the firearm/s are required as he will be hunting
(list the species to be hunted), etc.
d. Invitation Letter from the Hunting Outfitter
This is supporting documentation from the Hunting
Outfitter/company with whom the client will be hunting, to include full name of company, full contact details and address, dates and location where the client will be hunting and confirming that the applicant will be using the specific firearms as applied for.
e. Any Other Supporting Documents
Firearms will be physically inspected to ensure the serial number(s) match those of the licenses (proof of ownership) and the application form. Ammunition will also be inspected.
For visitors clearing customs at the Johannesburg International Airport, please take note of the following procedure to be followed on arrival:
- Clear passport control in the Terminal where your flight arrives (generally SAA and its co-partners at Terminal 2 and all other airlines at Terminal 1).
- Proceed to baggage claim at the respective carousel. Pick up general baggage, then proceed to the respective Airline Help Desk to pick up firearm/s from the airline company and sign a receipt for the firearm/s. Ask the Airline Help Desk to direct you to the South African Police Firearm Office. Depending on the terminal where you arrive, they may need to escort you to the Office.
- Proceed to the South African Police Firearm Office (Do not at this point proceed to customs)
- On receipt of the temporary import permit at the SAPS Firearm Office, proceed to Customs, the Red Zone, where you declare the firearm/s and finish other custom clearance procedures.
For those visitors clearing customs at any of the other international points of entry, please take note of the relevant information made above which relates to documentation requirements, etc.
Please insure sufficient time is allowed to go through the temporary importation process and to clear customs. During the busy periods of the hunting season up to seventy clients may be needing permits at the same time. We would therefore recommend at least five (5) hours be set aside for this procedure and between connecting flight
What are the ammunition allowances?
1. No more than one firearm per caliber and 200 rounds per firearm will be permitted. No ammunition for other rifle calibers will be permitted.
An exception to this may apply for shotguns where more than one of the same caliber may be allowed for bird hunting purposes if the client produces on arrival at the SAPS Gun Office an acceptable written motivation as to why more than one is required.
2. Firearms must bear the manufacturer’s serial number or any other mark by which the firearm can be identified. The identification number must be stamped and the mark affixed in the prescribed manner on the barrel or the frame or the receiver of the firearm.
3. Handguns will be allowed into the country, but only for hunting purposes. Any visitor wanting to bring in a handgun in this regard needs to have a letter from an association in the country of origin, stating the handgun will be used for hunting purposes.
4. Prohibited firearms which may NOT be imported into South Africa include:
a. Any fully automatic weapon
b. Any semi-automatic weapon
c. Handgun/s for self-defense
d. Weapons which fall under military categories
5. A semi-automatic shotgun for hunting purposes may be allowed if an application is made at least 21 days before arrival through the Central Firearms Register with a motivation letter as to why this type of firearm is required.
Do you use tracking dogs on wounded game?
Yes, we do. We use Jack Russell Terriers. They are very well trained and we are very successful finding wounded game with them.
Can I bring the meat back?
No, it is against US Dept of Agriculture regulations to import wild game or meat of any kind without a proper license. The meat stays here at the ranch where it is served to our hunting guests as well as used by the staff and their families.
How do I pay for the balance of my safari?
We accept credit cards, cash or travellers checks to pay the balance of the safari before departing the DVS premises. Personal checks are not accepted, unless bank guaranteed.
How long does it take to get my skulls, hides and horns back?
Between three and six months depending on how fast the Park officials will issue an export permit after it is requested.
Who do I pay for the dipping, packing and shipping?
You will pay the companies doing these services directly. It will be three different payments as they are not the same company. Normally you will pay one company for dipping and packing, another for shipping and then another for receiving your trophies in the US.
How is rifle hunting conducted?
Most of our rifle hunting is undertaken using the ‘spot and stalk, ‘stand’ and ‘still’ methods and our hunts are all fair-chase hunts. Shots vary between 100 – 200 yards. We urge you to practice shooting from the long bipod shooting sticks that are commonly used here.