Frequently Asked Questions about Africa Group Tours
Why should I book an adventure with ShapShap Travel?
- We have carefully selected some of the most popular Group Tours, 4×4 Safaris, Treks and climbs and offer them at by far the best prices - without compromising on high standards.
- We do our best to make sure we offer our clients the best prices. If you however find the same tour for less on a different website, we will gladly beat that tour price by 5% where possible. Have a look at our Discounts and Special Offers page for more information.
- We support and donate a percentage of our profits to organizations which are trying to make the world a better place… so indirectly you will also help some less fortunate people, the environment and your money will help with nature and wildlife conservation.
- We have done and lead most of the tours/ treks/ climbs ourselves and we know you will benefit from our personal experience and in depth knowledge.
Is it safe to book with ShapShap Travel?
Yes. Cheap Africa Tours is a trade name that falls under the ShapShap Travel Group, which is a registered member of the GGTO (affiliate number 1291) and the VvKR (affiliate number 13060). The ShapShap Travel Group was founded in January 2007. We team up with only the best, registered and insured operators in Africa to ensure your tour goes as planned.
- The GGTO (Guarantee fund for Specialist Tour Operators) provides a guarantee to clients who have booked a tour with one of its registered members. This means the client will receive a refund of the already paid installment should the tour operator become financially insolvent. Tour operators registered with the GGTO work independently via the direct selling method and are based in the Netherlands with their priority on the Dutch market. The link on the right will take you to the GGTO website for more information.
- The VvKR (Association of Small Travel Companies) supports the interests of small, often specialist travel companies. Through the VvKR we join forces and share our expertise to achieve the highest possible security and satisfaction for both the travel company and the client. The link on the right will take you to the website of the VvKR for more information.
How do the prices work?
- Group tours: Most rates are shown in South African Rand (ZAR). The currency converter provided on our website can be used as a guideline to show the currency you prefer. Once you book a tour, the South African Rand amount will be converted to EURO (or another major currency such as USA Dollar or British Pound if you prefer). We will use the average exchange rate of the last 7 days.
- Kilimanjaro and Tanzania Safaris: these rates are shown in American Dollar (U$). Once you book a Kilimanjaro climb or Tanzania 4×4 Safari, the American Dollar amount will be converted to EURO (or another major currency such as British Pound if you prefer). We will use the average exchange rate of the last 7 days.
- For more information about pricing, have a look at the "Payment and Invoice" section in our Terms and Conditions.
What is the activity package?
On some of our tours there is an optional additional payment called the Activity Package. The activity package covers what we consider to be the essential, not to be missed activities on our tours. Ideally we would include all of these, but not everyone can afford this. This payment is 100% transparent and is listed on our website with the departure dates of the tour and in the detailed tour dossier of each tour.
If you want to include the all the activities in the Activity Package to your tour, you can pay for the complete package when you book the tour, or you can pay it in cash on the morning of the tour departure.
If you don’t want to include the Activity Package in your tour, you can still change your mind later and pay for the activities on the spot during your tour- just keep in mind that it will be subject to availability.
What is the single supplement?
- Camping tours: If you prefer not to share a tent or room with someone on tour, you can request to pay the single supplement and we will do our best to arrange a private tent or room for you during your tour. (Almost everyone on tour shares a tent with someone from the same gender).
- Hotel/ Lodge tour: when you travel alone on one of our accommodated group tours, the single supplement will be compulsory. During your tour you will then have your own private room/ safari tent every night.
- Kilimanjaro: when you book a Kilimanjaro climb by yourself, the single supplement will be compulsory. You will then have your own private room before and after the climb.
- Please note: if you wish not to share a tent with someone from the same gender during the Kilimanjaro climb, you can request to pay an additional single tent fee and you will have your own tent during the climb.
How do I make a booking?
Step 1: Before you make a booking, please contact us first to check the availability on the tour of your choice. We will then reserve your seat(s) for at least 7 days to give you some time to see if everything works out for you… such as flights before and after the tour…
Step 2: If you are ready to move forward with your booking(s), the next step would be to complete our booking form and click “send”. When more than one person is going on the same tour, a booking form for each person has to be filled out. Make sure you fill out the form completely and that your information is exactly the same as written in your passport.
How do I make a payment?
Option 1: The best way to pay for any of our tours or climbs is by direct bank transfer. We use the ING bank… it’s safe and secure. You can of course also use a money transfer service such as "TransferWise".
Option 2: It is also possible to pay with your credit card, but please note that an extra 5% charge will be added to total amount. An invoice will be sent to you from our PayPal account. You don’t need a PayPal account to make the payment this way. There will just be a couple of simple steps to follow.
This is how the process works:
Step 1. Once we have received your booking form(s) as described above, we will send you an invoice with all the details needed to make the payment. The invoice will have to be paid within 7 days after it was sent. Once we have received your payment, your booking will be confirmed 100%.
Step 2. Once we have received your payment in full, you will receive your tour voucher and additional information about your tour.
Please note: If your tour is set to depart within 6 weeks of you making the booking, the full amount will have to be paid within 48 hours.
- For more information about pricing, have a look at the "Payment and Invoice" section in our Terms and Conditions.
What is the average age on an adventure tour?
The nature of an adventure tour tends to attract a certain age group, and experience has shown us that it is best suited, but not exclusive to travelers between 18 and 65. The majority of travelers on a camping tour are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The average age on the accommodated tours are normally higher. And yes, we often have 65+ clients on tour. Some operators may require a letter from your doctor just to confirm you are fit and healthy and ready to take on Africa.
What does the average group look like?
- Camping group tours: groups are of course always different, but the average group size on an African camping tour is around 18 clients. On some of our camping group tours the number of passengers will be limited to only 17 clients. On some of our tours we have set small group departure dates where the number of clients will be a maximum of only 12.
- Hotel/ lodge tour: there will never be more than 20 clients on an accommodated tour. On set small group departure dates the number will be limited to 12.
- Kilimanjaro: On the treks and climbs we limit the number in a group to only 10.
There are single guys and girls, couples and friends. On average half are men and half are woman. Most groups are a makeup of multiple nationalities.
What is the difference between a Camping and a Hotel/ Lodge tour?
These tours are basically the same with the only big difference being that you will sleep in a bed, in a lodge/ hotel/ permanent safari tent etc. during a Hotel/ Lodge tour and on a Camping tour, you will be camping in a tent. On some nights during the camping tour, you will have an upgrade to a twin room. We provide the tents and mattresses.
Please note: Most of our tours are run as a combination of the Camping and the Hotel/ Lodge tour. This means that there will be camping clients and hotel/ lodge clients on the same tour, with the only difference being that the campers camp at night and those who booked the Hotel/ Lodge tour will have a bed inside the lodge/ hotel etc. for the night. Everyone stays at the same place… the hotels/ lodges we use also have well kept camping areas. The truck will stay in the camping area and the meals will also be prepared in the camping area… always just a short walk from the rooms.
- Click on the link to see some examples of the tents we use and to get a better idea of the hotels/ lodges we use during our tours.
What is the mode of transportation?
On our group tours we mainly use customized Overland Trucks and on some excursions you will also use open 4×4 safari vehicles, boats, small planes etc. Click on the link for some examples of the vehicles we use.
When is the best time to travel to Africa?
The sooner, the better ;) The most popular period to do a tour in Africa is between June and October. Generally speaking these are the cooler months with the smallest chances of rain. During these months, most countries in the Northern hemisphere have their summer vacation period, which also makes it the perfect time to travel to Africa. This means that tours departing during these months fill up quickly. To avoid disappointment, try to book your tour well in advance.
Food and meals.
Included are 3 hearty meals a day (unless otherwise specified). Vegetarians are easily catered for and they are always impressed by our varied menu. You will be amazed by what our guides can prepare on a camp stove.
This will give you a better idea of what to expect:
- Breakfast: As breakfast is served very early in the morning (if there is driving or activities to be done) it is a simple but filling breakfast: Tea and coffee, breads and spreads, cereals, yoghurt, fruits and on occasion, when there is time for a later breakfast, guides will serve a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, porridge, bacon or beans.
- Lunch: Lunch is generally served at a picnic spot next to the road en route to a destination. As the guides only have approximately 45 minutes to get everyone off the truck, prepare lunch and then get everyone back on the truck again, lunches consist mostly of sandwiches and salads (rice salad/ pasta salad/ tuna salad/ green salad) which are quick and easy to prepare but which are quite filling. Our cooks have meal plans which they should stick to, to ensure that there is variety on a day to day basis.
- Dinner: This is when the guides get time to prepare a delicious meal and they focus on a substantial protein, vegetable and carbohydrate dinner. We serve traditional cuisine consisting of braais (BBQ)/ potjie (stew)/ bobotie (mince)/ spaghetti and fish and chicken dishes.
Please note: All meals (on both the hotel/ lodge and camping tours) which are included as per tour dossier are prepared at the full service overland/ adventure truck. This is a unique adventure in itself where you get to dine under the stars with your new found friends and experience the real sights and sounds of Africa!
Do I have to help with chores?
Of course not, but you won’t be making any friends;). On our tours the guides do most of the work. Your participation in camp chores is limited- taking turns to assist with the washing up duties, putting up and taking down your own tent (camping tour) and loading your bags. Our guides do the rest.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes, travel insurance is mandatory. Without travel insurance you won’t be allowed to join any tour, trek or climb. It is a condition of travel that guests must have travel insurance that covers cancellation/ curtailment, medical expenses and baggage loss. The ShapShap Travel Group and/ or its partners cannot be held responsible for any costs incurred by any airline delays.
Do I need a visa?
Probably. Most clients need a visa for each country they travel to in Africa. The best advice would be to contact the embassy or consulate of each country you plan on travelling to and ask them for their latest visa information.
- For most clients a visa to enter South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho will be free of charge and you will receive a stamp in your passport once you arrive there or when you cross the border. This information is subject to change at any time, so please contact the embassy or consulate of each country for their latest visa information.
- Most clients will have to apply for a visa to travel to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda and Mozambique BEFORE they travel to Africa.
- Kenya: you HAVE TO apply ONLINE for a visa to travel to Kenya.
- Botswana and Zimbabwe: you can pay for the visa AT THE BORDER. This costs U$ 30 – U$ 50 per person.
This information should be seen as a rough guideline only.
- You are responsible for your own visas. Visa requirements can change without any prior notice, so please contact the local embassy of the country or countries you intend to visit.
Please note that on some tours you will enter some countries more than once, so make sure you have multiple entry visas in these cases.
To help you along, check out the link on the right, but please note that it should be used as a guideline only since the information provided can change without notice.
How much pocket money do I need?
It is difficult to say how much pocket money you should take along for each tour. It differs from person to person and of course it also depends on your spending habits. On average we will say that € 150 per week should be enough. You could take more or you could take less. This is not an exact number! You will need pocket money for the meals that are not included in the tour itinerary, drinks, tips, curios, airport taxes and of course if you want to take part in some of the optional activities on each tour. You can use your ATM card or credit card in most places, but you shouldn’t rely on being able to use a credit card or an ATM card everywhere in Africa.
What about cash, currency, ATM’s and credit cards?
In Southern and East Africa, local currencies and U$ Dollars are widely accepted. The conversion rates for local currencies do however fluctuate quite regularly so if you plan on using local currencies in the countries you visit, please check the exchange rate before you depart on tour.
Please note: The information below is subject to change, but we do update it as frequently as possible so please feel free to send us feedback if you feel that the information is not as accurate as it could be.
- Cash: If you are carrying U$ dollars, always make sure that they have been printed after the year 2008 and if possible, request that your bank provides you with notes that are not torn or severely creased as you may find that the bills may not be accepted if they are not in a good condition.
Request that your bank provides you with a range of bills so that you can use the smaller ones for tipping and the larger ones for settling bills if required.
Carry your cash in a flat money belt on your body, and it will be a good idea to always keep a small amount in a more easily accessible place so that you can access it easily if required.
- Credit cards: Most of the major Southern and East African cities do have credit card facilities available, but they may charge you a surcharge to use the facility. Visa and MasterCard are the two most widely accepted credit cards in Africa, while Diners and American Express may not always be accepted. Cards should have a chip and pin if you plan to use them to withdraw money from ATMs. Please be sure to advise your bank before you travel that you will be using your card in a different country as they may block access to your card if they do not know that you are travelling.
- ATM/ Debit Cards: ATM cards are a good way to withdraw local currency on arrival in a new country. This may not always be possible but it is an option in most cases. Cards should have a chip and pin. The amount that you withdraw depends on how long you will be in the country for and what you plan to spend your money on while you’re there.
Warning: Street Vendors: You may encounter black market traders on arrival in countries who will offer to exchange your U$’s for a more favourable rate than the banks. Please don’t be tempted to do this, it is not worth the risk or the hassle and it is not good practice to display your foreign currency.
What is our child policy? Should be seen as a guideline only.
- 13 – 15 Years: Most of our partners will accept a maximum of two children between the ages of 13 to 15 years on any tour without requesting permission from other agents or clients. If more children want to join a tour once the maximum has been reached, this will be allowed on a *request basis only.
- 8 – 12 Years: Children between the ages of 8 – 12 years will be accepted to travel with most of our partners on a *request basis.
- 3 – 8 Years: On most scheduled tours, no children under 8 years of age may travel.
- 8 - 16 Years: All children between the ages of 8 – 16 must be accompanied by a parent, unless specific authorization had been obtained from our partners.
- 17 – 18 Years: Guests of this age may travel with us (in most cases) with a letter of permission from their guardian if they are travelling alone.
- Please note: A child must be 15 years or older to partake in the Gorilla Trekking Activity and 14 years or older to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
* On a Request Basis means that our partners will receive the child request and once our partners have confirmed receipt of the child request in writing, all other agents who have guests booked on the specific departure will be contacted to request permission for the child/ children to join the tour. The agents then have 48 hours to respond to the request. If no response is received from any agent, the child/ children will be accepted onto the tour. If the response is negative, we will have a look at an alternative date or tour for the family.
Where can I find reviews?
We know it’s quite difficult to find reviews of travel agencies, so hopefully our guestbook will help. Click on the link to see what some of our previous clients had to say about their experiences.