African Travel Tips When Visiting Mauritius

Mauritius is a typical tropical paradise, Mauritius’ reputation for beach bliss is indisputable. Sun worshippers and water sport enthusiasts can make the most of the golden palm-fringed beaches, turquoise sea and coral reef that nearly surrounds the entire island through a great variety of activities. These include catamaran cruising, windsurfing, water skiing, diving, para-sailing, deep sea fishing, golf and adventure sports. Away from the beachfront, mountains; forests with unique flora and bird life as well as cultural, historical and natural sights like craters and giant lilies, mesmerize visitors. With all this to do, Mauritius will let you discover a different rhythm of life, the Sega rhythm…

CAPITAL:

Port-Louis

CLIMATE:

Tropical. Every month is rainy, but Dec-May are the wettest months. Cyclones occur Nov-May. A well-structured system of phased warnings exist. During the cyclone, visitors are not allowed to leave their accommodation and car insurance policies often cease to be valid.

CURRENCY:

1 Mauritian Rupee = 100 cents. Travel with Rupees or EURO traveller’s cheques. There is no restriction on foreign or local currency brought into the country. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival. The airport bank will exchange Rupees into foreign currency on departure. Credit cards accepted are American Express, Diners Club, Visa and Mastercard. Main hotels will exchange traveller’s cheques and bank notes.

ELECTRICITY:

230 volts, 50Hz. Continental 2-pin plugs are most common, but 3-pin round and flat plugs have been noted. Take a travel plug.

HEALTH:

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (exists in certain rural areas, no risk on Rodrigues island), hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. Other health concerns include high constant humidity (may affect persons with arthritic conditions); sinusitis and hay fever (Jul-Aug); influenza (risk throughout the year); and diarrhoea.

LANGUAGE:

English is the official language and understood throughout the island. French is also a principal language and Creole is spoken by all locals. Oriental and Indian languages are also spoken.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Year’s Day (1 Jan); Day after New Year’s Day (2 Jan); Chinese New Year (22 Jan); Abolition of Slavery / Thaipoosam Cavadee (1 Feb); Maha Srivatri (18 Feb); Good Friday (9Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Assumption (15 Aug); Ganesh Chaturthi (18 Sep); All Saint’s Day (1 Nov); Arrival of Indentured Labourers (2 Nov); Deepavali (12 Nov); End of Ramadan (14 Nov); Christmas Day (25 Dec)

SHOPPING:

saris; silk shirts; Indian fabrics; basketwork; knitwear; hand-embroidered tablecloths; macrame work; wood carvings; pottery; model boats, diamonds, jewellery; casual wear. Low prices limit bargaining.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

More than half the population is Hindu, so respect their traditions and religion. Dress appropriately when visiting religious shrines (no shorts, mini-skirts, etc.) and remove shoes when entering mosques and temples. Clothing is beachwear by day and casual wear at night.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT +4

TIPPING:

A 10 percent Government Tax is added to all hotel and restaurant bills. Tipping is not compulsory and remains a gesture of appreciation left to the guest’s discretion. Tipping taxi drivers is not customary.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Port-Louis:

Capital and main port of Mauritius; French colonial buildings e.g. the 18th century Government House and Municipal Theatre; Natural History Museum; market; Edward VII Avenue; Fort Adelaide; The Worldwide Masks Museum; the Caudan and Port-Louis Waterfronts.

Pamplemousses

The gardens are known to naturalists throughout the world for their large collection of indigenous and exotic plants, incl. the giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies and many species of palm trees; of particular interest is the talipot palm, which is said to flower once every sixty years and then dies.

Grand Bassin:

One of the island’s two natural lakes, resting in a crater of an extinct volcano and is the place of pilgrimage for Hindus, especially on the occasion of Maha Shivaratree.

Chamarel:

A mound of undulating land stretching in contrasting layers of colour; the patches of blue, green, red and yellow earth are believed to be the result of weathering; the nearby waterfall emerges from the moors and primeval vegetation and is startlingly beautiful.

Trou Aux Cerfs:

An extinct crater 85m deep and more than 200m wide; enjoy an extensive view of the island from the rim.

Souillac and Gris-Gris:

Small seaside resort with beautiful cliff scenery and no bathing; in the south is the popular viewpoint of Gris-Gris, where you can see the waves crashing into the dark, hollowed-out rocks.

Domaine Du Chasseur:

Near Mahebourg, a forest park with luxurious vegetation including wild orchids and animals e.g. stags, deers, wild boars and monkeys, covering 2000 acres.

Black River Gorges National Park:

Protects much of the remaining native forests and provides spectacular natural scenery and some of the unique endemic plants and birdlife; number of walking trails and viewpoints.

Beaches Grand:

Baie has many beaches and spots for safe bathing, sailing, windsurfing and water skiing; Blue Bay is one of the finest bathing spots of the islands, is close to Mahebourg and has a natural bathing pool; Le Morne & Tamarin are known for their surfing spots; Iles aux Cerfs is an island resort with 2 restaurants, a boat-house and beautiful beaches.

Rodrigues Island:

About 560 km east of Mauritius where you can be charmed by locals’ easy way of life; the nature lover will find several species of endemic tropical fauna and flora and can enjoy hiking, bird watching, angling and mountain biking; visits to the Caverne Patate and surrounding islets e.g. Ile aux Cocos (a haven to some rare species of sea birds) can be arranged.

African Travel Tips For Visiting Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the majestic Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But the country also has other natural and historical advantages to captivate travellers and beckon them to return. Wildlife, fish and birds abound including a number of unique, rare and endangered species making game viewing, bird watching, fishing and hunting popular activities.

Home to four World Heritage Sites, Zimbabwe has a rich history of ancient civilisations that makes its friendly people stand proud, despite hardship. From the refreshing spray of the Falls on your face, to a Lake Kariba sunset, a lush mountain escape to a river rafting adventure on the Zambezi, Zimbabwe is sure to leave you with memories as indelible as those of Livingstone and Rhodes when they witnessed the country’s riches.

CAPITAL: Harare

CLIMATE: Subtropical. The best time to visit is Apr-Oct when weather is mild with little rain. Winter (May-Aug) is dry and sunny. Rainy weather is Nov-Mar/Apr.

CURRENCY: 1 Zimbabwe Dollar = 100 cents. You may take 15000 Zimbabwean dollars out of the country. There are no restrictions on foreign currency brought in. If you don’t declare the foreign money you bring in, you’ll only be able to take out 500 US dollars. You may be asked to account for foreign currency exchanged/spent in country. Hotel bills must be paid for with credit cards or in foreign hard currencies e.g. US dollar.

Users of credit cards are subject to a surcharge of about 3 percent on the total value of goods purchased. US dollar traveller’s cheques are recommended. Avoid street money changers who promise “no commission, best rates”, but then cheat on delivery. There are strict penalties for illegal foreign currency trading. Several of the city’s large stores don’t accept American Express cards; travellers’ cheques are the most convenient means of payment.

HEALTH: Yellow fever immunisation is essential if you arrive from an infected country or area. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and malaria (depending on the area visited especially those outside of towns). Other health concerns include bilharzia (don’t swim in the rivers/dams or drink the water from them as it may be infected), sunburn, limited medical facilities and supplies outside of towns, AIDS and influenza (risk extends throughout the year).

LANGUAGE: English is the official language. Chishona and Sindebele are widely spoken.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

1 January New Year’s Day

12 April Easter Monday

18 April Independence Day

1 May Workers’ Day

25 May Africa Day

11 August Heroes’ Day

12 August Defence Forces Day

22 December Unity Day

25-26 December Christmas

SHOPPING: Shona soft-stone carvings; woodcarvings; T-shirts; safari clothing; pottery; leather goods; basket ware; sculptures; textiles. Nail polish and old clothes can sometimes be swopped for carvings.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS: Christianity is the main religion, but in rural areas people have traditional beliefs. Western/European courtesies are observed. Return invitations are appreciated. Handshaking is the common form of greeting. Dress is casual, but most hotels require more formal wear, e.g. tie and jacket; business meetings require suits.

TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT+2

TIPPING: Ten-fifteen percent is common.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Victoria Falls:

Called by locals “Mosi-oa-Tunya” – the smoke that thunders, Victoria Falls is a World Heritage Site and undoubtedly the most majestic waterfall in the world; popular activities include walking through the rainforest, white water rafting, bungi jumps, flights over the falls, river cruises, and much more.

Lake Kariba Unique scenery of dead trees rising from the depths of this huge man-made lake is especially beautiful during sunset; a popular way to enjoy the lake is on a houseboat with friends viewing the large numbers of crocodile and hippo, going game viewing at the Matusadona National Park or Tiger fishing – the largest Tiger fish ever was caught here and weighed 15.5kg.

Harare:

The capital city offers sightseeing at the National Gallery; National Archives; Queen Victoria Museum; Queen Victoria National Library; National Botanic Garden; Mbare Market; Chapungu village; tobacco auction floors; Mukuvisi Woodlands; Museum of Human Sciences; Harare Gardens; Cecil House; National Handicraft Centre; Africa Unity Square and The Residency.

Kame Ruins:

22 km west of Bulawayo is Kame Ruins, one of southern Africa’s magnificent Late Iron Age ruins, now a World Heritage Site showing the area was the seat of government of earlier civilisations.

Great Zimbabwe National Monument:

Ruins of an ancient African city, believed to have flourished between the 13th and 15th centuries AD, is the only one in existence south of the Sahara and a World Heritage Site; the country has taken its name from it and the famous Zimbabwe birds found at the site has become the national bird and been incorporated in the flag; visit the museum on the site, the Kyle recreational park and do game viewing by car or horseback nearby.

Hwange National Park:

The country’s largest national park, both in size and variety of wild game and bird life; also one of the few remaining elephant sanctuaries in Africa, with herds of up to 100 strong seen; the only area in the country where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers and where the population of wild dog is thought to be the largest surviving in Africa today.

Mana Pools National Park:

Part of the Middle Zambezi Valley, Mana Pools is host to some of the biggest concentrations of large mammals to be seen in Zimbabwe; it is also renowned for its varied and colourful birdlife and forms one of the last remaining strongholds of the black rhino; game viewing, hunting and canoe safaris are popular.

Bulawayo & Matobo:

Zimbabwe’s second largest city which stands on the site of the royal kraal of Lobengula, last of the Ndebele Kings; view the Natural History Museum, Railway Museum, Mzilikazi art and craft centre, Centenary park, central parks and National Art Gallery; 30 km from the city is Matobo National Park, a unique area of some 2000 square kilometres of gigantic wind-sculpted rock formations. Cecil John Rhodes’ burial site and thousands of ancient rock paintings can also be found here.

Eastern highlands:

Luxuriant natural surroundings characterise this region with mountains, grassy plains, streams, waterfalls, mountain flowers, rare birds, etc. contributing to panoramic views of exquisite beauty attracting nature lovers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts; visit the Nyanga National Park, Mutare, Mutarazi Falls, Bunga Botanical Reserve, Bvumba Botanical Gardens and the wilderness of the Chimanimani National Park.

Gona-re-Zhou park:

This park adjoins the Kruger National Park in South Africa and is home to some of the rarest bird and animal life in Africa. The bat-eared fox, suni, Liechtenstein’s hartebeest, nyala and roan antelope are to be found along the famous African elephants of this park, which are unlike any others in the world.

African Travel Tips When Visiting Mozambique

Mozambique in famous mainly for its beaches and prawns, Mozambique also offers the visitor World Heritage sites, colonial architecture and a colourful local culture. Bustling markets sell exquisite carvings and basketware with the wood and ivory sculptures of the Makonde recognized as one of Africa’s most sophisticated art forms.

Mozambique has also produced talented painters such as Malangatana and the country’s murals adorn many a wall, especially in Maputo. Traditional music is in the form of Marrabenta music as well as Marimba and calabash orchestras. Keeping with the rhythm of Africa, the ritualistic Nhau and mapico initiation dances can be a frightening sight. Popular activities for travellers include diving, snorkelling, bird watching and fishing for marlin, sailfish or kingfish.

CAPITAL:

Maputo

CLIMATE:

Subtropical although droughts and low rainfall is common. Rainy season is Oct-Apr and dry season Apr-Sep.

CURRENCY:

1 Mozambican Metical = 100 centavos. USD or Pounds Sterling traveller’s cheques are recommended. Change money at authorized institutions. Credit cards are not widely accepted. A large number of merchants prefer USD. Import and export of local currency is prohibited.

ELECTRICITY:

220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 2- and 3-pin round.

HEALTH:

A yellow fever vaccination is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists throughout the year in the whole country), hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and meningitis depending on the area visited and time of year. Other health concerns are rudimentary medical facilities, unavailable medicines, cholera (maintain strict food and water hygiene) and influenza (risk extends throughout year).

LANGUAGE:

The official language is Portuguese, but Makua and Tsonga are also spoken. English is not widely spoken but can be understood.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Years’ Day (1 Jan); Heroes’ Day (3 Feb); Women’s Day (7 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Independance Day (25 Jun); Victory Day (7 Sep); Armed Forces Day (25 Sep); Defunct’s Day (2 Nov); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)

SHOPPING:

basketwork; reed mats; woodcarvings; masks; printed cloth; leather articles; prawns; wine.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

Religion is mainly Roman Catholic, but other faiths include Muslim, Hindu and traditional beliefs. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Portuguese customs e.g. modes of address (Senhor/Senhora) apply. Dress is casual and formal wear is seldom required. For business safari suits are acceptable in hot weather, while lightweight suits are advised for the rest of the year.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT +2

TIPPING:

Ten percent is customary, but it’s discouraged in hotels. Taxi drivers expect 10 percent.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Maputo:

The capital city has wide avenues lined with red acacia and lilac jacaranda flowering trees; it offers many historical, cultural and scenic spots e.g. the Cathedral; City Council Chambers; Tunduro Gardens; Railway Station; the Fortress and Natural History Museum; beaches include Praia da Macaneta; Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane.

Xai-Xai:

224km from Maputo; the nearby beach is a popular tourist destination with its massive reef protecting the shores from strong waves at high tide; at low tide locals gather shellfish to sell to tourists; in the area also visit Praia do Chongoene, Bilene and the Banhine National Park, with its rich variety of wildlife.

Mozambique Island:

About two-thirds of the island was declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO due to the buildings being constructed from coral; places of interest include St Paul’s Palace, the Museum of Sacred Art and the Fortress of St Sebastian; nearby beaches are Praia de Fernão Veloso and Praia das Chocas; on the mainland, in Nampula city, see the Cathedral and Museum.

Beira:

The country’s second city, Beira is spread along the coast; see the Largo do Municipio, Casa Portugal, Casa Infante de Sagres, Casa dos Bicos and the Cathedral; the best beaches are found between the Clube Nautico and the lighthouse; nearby ‘Six Miles’ is an inland resort with an artificial lagoon with islands where you may swim or hire pedal boats; game viewing in the province is at the famous Gorongosa National Park and Marromeu Buffalo Reserve.

Bazaruto:

Archipelago Very popular tourist area consisting of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque and Santa Carolina islands off the mainland with high quality hotels; On Inhambane on the mainland, see the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Conception; conservation areas include the Zinave National Park and the Bazaruto National Park.

Pemba:

The city has an unspoilt natural beauty; visit the Old Town, where you can visit several traditional markets, the beaches of Praia do Wimbe and Praia do Farol; nearby Ibo Island is part of the idyllic Quirimbas archipelago.

Lake Niassa & Niassa Reserve:

Niassa province offers breathtaking views and scenery; unspoilt Lake Niassa is accessible by 4×4 only and gives you a ‘real Africa’ experience, with fishing villages where you can buy fresh fish and coconut milk; Niassa Reserve is famous for its large quantity of elephants.

Inhaca Island:

34 km from Maputo in the bay, accessible by boat or plane; tours of Ponta de Santa Maria and Portuguese Island are possible.

Maputo Elephant Reserve:

79 km south of Maputo, the reserve is famous for its elephant herds; flamingos can also be seen on the large inland lakes near the sea.

Face of the Old Man:

In the city of Chimoio, ‘Cabeça do Velho’ is a spectacular natural stone formation resembling the face of an old man.

African Travel Tips When Visiting Zambia

In Zambia a third of the country devoted to conservation, Zambia offers the visitor some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas in Africa. A wide range of action adventures, from the legendary walking safari to river rafting on the mighty Zambezi, allows the enjoyment of nature at its wildest and most exhilirating.

A birder and angler’s paradise, Zambia has recorded more than 740 bird species in areas of great scenic beauty and has some of the best fresh water fishing available including excellent Tiger fishing. Best of all though, Zambia is one of the most stable countries in Africa, with 73 tribes living in harmony.

People are very friendly and display a rich cultural heritage during their vivid traditional ceremonies, which is open to Westerners to witness their ancient and timeless mystique.

CAPITAL:

Lusaka

CLIMATE:

There are three distinct seasons: Aug-Oct is warm to hot and dry offering the best time for game viewing as water is scarce; Nov-Mar is hot with thundershowers, but excellent bird watching season as migrants come from the north; and Apr-Jul when days are dry and warm and evenings and early mornings are cold – also good for game viewing.

CURRENCY:

1 Kwacha = 100 Ngwee. Foreign exchange is at authorized banks and bureaux de change. American Express is widely used, with more limited use of Access/MasterCard, Diners Club and Visa. US dollar traveller’s cheques are recommended.

ELECTRICITY:

220volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.

HEALTH:

You are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against hepatitis A, polio, typhoid, malaria (risk throughout the year in the whole country) and yellow fever. Other health concerns are dysentery, diarrhoeal diseases, cholera (avoid street vendors; filter and boil water), influenza (risk extends throughout year), limited medical facilities and AIDS. The climate aggravates chronic sinusitis. Dust in the dry season, molds in the rainy season and pollens much of the year can affect allergies.

LANGUAGE:

English is the official language and all media and business is conducted in it. There are over 73 tribal dialects of which the main languages are Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Luvale, Lozi, Mambwe and Tumbuka.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Years’ Day (1 Jan); Youth Day (12 Mar); Good Friday (9Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Africa Day (25 May); Heroes Day (5 Jul); Unity Day (6 Jul); Farmers’ Day (2 Aug); Defence Day (12 Aug); Independence Day (24 Oct); All Saint’s Day (1 Nov); Christmas Day (25 Dec)

SHOPPING:

ebony carvings; woven baskets; copper, brass and malachite objets d’art; printed cloth; masks; drums; thumb pianos; xylophones; conical fishtraps; clay pots. Souvenirs may be exported without restriction, but game trophies e.g. tooth, bone, skin, feather, etc. are subject to export permits.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

The majority follow traditional animist beliefs and this is reflected in their social culture and customs. Hand shaking is the common form of greeting.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT+2

TIPPING:

Tipping in hotels has been abolished by law, but a 10 percent tip may be expected or included in bills elsewhere.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

South Luangwa:

Zambia’s premier game park noted for its dense concentrations of game, with over 50 mammal and 400 bird species; the Luangwa river boasts more hippos and crocodiles than any other river in Africa.

Liuwa Plains:

Scene of dramatic blue wildebeest migrations with the attendant predators lion, leopard, cheetah and the endangered wild dog.

Kafue:

One of Africa’s biggest parks, with huge herds of antelope and superb lion sightings in the northern Busanga Plains; high concentrations of water birds occur on the flats.

Bangweulu Swamps:

The floodplains are renowned for high concentrations of water birds, of which millions feed in the nutrient rich shallows; it also attracts the endemic acquatic black lechwe antelope by the thousands.

Lochinvar National Park:

Regarded as holding the world record for the highest diversity of bird species (428 in only 410 square kilometres); over 30,000 Kafue lechwe antelope, found nowhere else in the world, roam here.

Lusaka:

In the capital, don’t miss the colourful markets, Munda Wanga Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Kalimba Reptile Park, Kabwata Cultural Village, Lusaka Museum, Zintu Community Museum of Arts and Crafts and the Copper Art Centre.

Livingstone:

In town, see the Mosi-oa-Tunya Zoo, the Livingstone Museum, the Railway Museum, Maramba Cultural Village, Mukuni tribal village, traditional ceremonies and markets. Nearby canoe or cruise on a boat along the upper Zambezi, go white water rafting, bungi jump off Vic Falls bridge, micro-light over the Falls and Batoka Gorge or go on horse riding, hiking or birding trails.

Lake Kariba:

Offers prime fishing, water sports, houseboating and lake camping.

Lake Tanganyika:

Africa’s deepest and longest lake offers great scuba diving and hiking to the top of Kalambo falls, the second highest in Africa at 220 m; other water sports, fishing and game viewing can be enjoyed at Sumbu park on the shore.

Lower Zambezi:

Excellent game viewing by boat or canoe; home to one of the largest remaining elephant herds in the world; also see buffalo and hippo at close range and birds in abundance.