South Africa travel advice - Operation Wallacea

Expedition Information

South Africa travel advice

Please read each of the sections below carefully. They provide important information relevant to your Operation Wallacea expedition in South Africa, including travel recommendations prior to your expedition commencing. Of course, should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Operation Wallacea office.

School groups that have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package do not need to book their own flights or in-country travel as these will be provided by Operation Wallacea.

Updated: November 2016

Start and Finish Information

The South Africa research assistant expeditions have a variety of start and finish locations and dates, depending on which expedition you join. All expeditions start on the Saturday and finish on the Friday (see expedition descriptions for the start and finish points of each option). Dissertation students need to start on 24th June.

University students
All dissertation project individuals will need to book international flights to arrive in Johannesburg before 08:00hrs on the Friday before your expedition starts and to depart from Johannesburg after 20:00hrs on the Friday your expedition ends. If it is possible, we would recommend flying in on the Thursday and staying an additional night in Johannesburg. If Friday morning flights are delayed and you miss the 9am transfer, you’ll need to arrange a new one and this can get very expensive.

For Expeditions 1, 3 and 4, individuals will need to book international flights to arrive in Johannesburg before 12:00hrs on the Friday before your expedition starts and to depart from Johannesburg after 20:00hrs on the Friday your expedition ends. If it is possible, we would recommend flying in on the Thursday and staying an additional night in Johannesburg.

For Expeditions 2 and 5 individuals will need to book international flights to arrive in Cape Town before 12:00hrs on the Friday before your expedition starts and to depart from Cape Town after 18:00hrs on the Friday your expedition ends. If it is possible, we would recommend flying in on the Thursday and staying an additional night in Cape Town. If Friday morning flights are delayed and you miss the 9am transfer, you’ll need to arrange a new one and this can get very expensive.

School groups
All groups will need to arrive in Johannesburg before 08:00hrs on the Friday before your expedition starts and to depart from Johannesburg after 20:00hrs on the Friday your expedition ends. If it is possible, we would recommend flying in on the Thursday and staying an additional night in Johannesburg. If Friday morning flights are delayed and you miss the 9am transfer, you’ll need to arrange a new one and this can get very expensive.

Transfers to the expedition sites will leave Johannesburg at 09.00hrs on the Friday morning before the expedition start date and return to the airport on the afternoon of the finish date.

Booking International Flights

Packaged School Groups

Operation Wallacea will be in contact with the group leader directly and will provide you with a fully inclusive quote for your international flights, internal travel and expedition costs.

Non-Packaged School Groups (Booking Your Own International Flights)

UK Departures

If you are booking your own international flights departing from the UK, then we recommend that you contact the following air suppliers who are all familiar with the Operation Wallacea expedition programme and will be able to provide you with a competitive quote.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 964 034
E-mail: Markb@travelnation.co.uk

STA Travel
Tel: 0161 667 0083
E-mail: amber.watson@statravel.com

US Departures

For those booking flights from the US you can contact the following preferred travel partner:

APF Travel

Tel: (800) 888-9168

Website: apftravel.com

All Other Departures

If your flights will depart from a country other than the UK or US, please contact your local office manager, who can give you advice and recommendations of local travel agents.

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to flights@opwall.com.

Volunteers

Once you have booked your expedition with us you will be contacted by our preferred travel partner Travel Nation who will provide you with competitive quotes for your international flights.

Travel Nation
Tel:         01273 947 313
E-mail:   opwallvolunteers@travelnation.co.uk
International Contact: +44 (0) 1273 947 313

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to flights@opwall.com.

 

Booking In-Country Travel

Your in-country travel between Johannesburg or Cape Town airports and the expedition start and end points will be arranged by our in-house travel team and is not included in your expedition cost.

When you have confirmed the details of your international flights you will receive a quote for your internal travel package, which will include airport meet and greet, any required travel and accommodation, as well as full representation. We also offer optional nights accommodation either side of your expedition date.

South Africa internal travel packages start at £110 depending on your expedition and requirements.

Medical and Travel Insurance

Opwall has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1 million for all participants on the expedition.  We do this through Cover-More who are a global insurance company covering in excess of a million travellers every year. Detailed medical and evacuation plans are sent to Cover-More’s medical emergency team in advance of the expeditions.  If there are any medical issues on the expeditions all plans have been agreed in advance so there are no delays in providing any medical support that might be needed.  The medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall also covers travel to and from the site.

In addition to this medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall, it is strongly recommended that you have top-up insurance (which can also be provided by Cover-More) to cover the following items:

  • If you have an existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by the expedition and require additional medical treatment in hospital other than that provided by the Opwall medical staff in the field at each site, or may even require repatriation in severe cases, then the Opwall medical and evacuation cover will not cover the costs of this additional medical treatment and evacuation. For pre-existing medical conditions then specialist insurance cover can be obtained from Cover-More.
  • Need to cancel the expedition and flights because of illness to you or a close family member, call for jury duty or other insured conditions making it impossible to reach the departure point for the trip.
  • Costs of re-booking connecting flights, boat or overland transfers to the start and from the finish points of the expedition in the event of delays caused in connecting flights or overland transfers due to delayed flights, ferries or buses because of mechanical breakdown of transport or adverse weather conditions, strikes, industrial action, riot or civil commotion, bomb scares, criminal or terrorist acts, etc.
  • Loss of personal baggage, clothing or items such as cameras or electronic items or the costs of having to buy replacement items if baggage is delayed.

For UK residents, a special policy which dovetails into the medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall can be obtained from Cover-More. If you wish to purchase a ‘Top-Up’ travel insurance policy to cover additional benefits such as cancellation and baggage please contact the Customer Service team at Cover-More Insurance Services on 01245 272408 quoting reference CMU0009.

Note for Canadian volunteers joining the expeditions all the travel insurance elements described above are included in the package provided by Victor Travel.

Visas

Passport
Please be aware that your passport must have at least 6 months validity (period before expiry) at the time of your arrival into South Africa. Failure to have at least 6 months validity on your passport will ensure denial of entry into South Africa.

Visas
Entry permits for South Africa valid up to 90 days are issued free of charge on arrival to the holders of passports from over 40 countries, including the UK, the US and Canada. For a full list of entry requirements please visit the South African Embassy website (www.southafricahouseuk.com). You will need to ensure there are at least two clear pages left in your passport, and you may well be asked to show your onward or return air tickets upon arrival at the airport It is also possible you will be asked if you are in the country for tourist or business purposes, and you should state that your visit is for tourist purposes.

For dissertation students based in Swaziland, 30 day entry permits are issued at the land border to the holders of passports from over 100 countries, including the UK, the US and Canada. This can then be extended at the Swaziland Immigration Department in Mbabane. For a full list of entry requirement visit the Swaziland Ministry of Home Affairs website here.

If you are unsure about specific visa requirements or have any further questions, please contact the Opwall office in the UK on +44 (0) 1790 763194.

Under 18’s
South Africa has very strict legislation in place regarding under-18s travelling through it’s borders that was implemented in an effort to reduce child trafficking in the region. The policy requires that all under-18’s carry a number of documents in order to prove that they have full permission of their parents or guardians to be there, especially when being accompanied by adults that are not their parents. Please contact us for more details.

 

Cultural Advice

As a rule you will find nothing but a very warm welcome from the local people. However areas such as the international airports in Johannesburg and Cape Town can be prime spots for pickpockets. Keep your wallet hidden at all times, and make sure that you don’t leave your bags unattended. Pack all valuables in your carry-on hand luggage. Operation Wallacea staff with first hand experience of the South African surveys or WEI (Wildlife and Ecological Investments) staff would be more than happy to speak with you directly to talk through any safety concerns you may have.

South Africa has 11 official languages, but nearly all people in South Africa speak English. The “first” language of many of the staff you will encounter is Afrikaans, but all speak excellent English, as it is often English that is used up and down the country to converse across the tremendous spectrum of cultures.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provide comprehensive travel advice, and we must stress that this is just ‘advice’. The FCO states that ‘the terrorism threat is low, but you should be aware of indiscriminate attacks from terrorists in public places ….. throughout the world’. We are continually monitoring the situation in South Africa and will update our advice according to the latest information available. See our “general travel and health advice page” for more information.