FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who can become a Students of Nature guest? Students of nature believe that anyone aged between 17– 65+ with a reasonable level of fitness, can become a students of nature guest. Why 17+? we believe that a certain level of maturity is needed to take part in our tours, which often involve being in close proximity to wild animals. Our guests are groups of families, friends, company teams on team building, photographers, artists, birders, divers, schools, colleges, universities, cadets and DofE explorer groups. All you need to take part is an adventurous soul.

How will my tours price be worked out? We can tailor-make our package tours to suit your specific requirements. To achieve this, we create a sample tour overview and price, based on initial conversations and can then add in or swap additional activities as requested. We can even schedule in school, college or university coursework time and cover specific environmental subjects. The final package tours price is worked out once we find out from you, which tour and activities you have chosen, the duration of your chosen tour and when you would like to travel. We then add flights to complete your package!

How does tour payment work? An initial deposit from each of your party will be asked for at the time of booking your tour. That initial deposit can be paid by credit or debit card, but we kindly ask that future scheduled payments towards paying off your tour, will be bank transfers. Payment schedules running up to your tours departure date, will be worked out on booking. Take a look at the Booking Conditions & Important Information found in the website footer for more details.

How many days will my tour be? We highly recommend that tours are no fewer than 14 days and have found 16 days is the perfect amount of time, with 14 days on itinerary in country. This ensures adequate time for our guests to take in the sights and sounds of South Africa. Longer educational tours of several months can also be created.

Where can I find my tours Booking Conditions & Important Information? These important documents can be found in the footer of our website and will also be issued to you, on receipt of booking your package tour, along with your ATOL Certificate for your package tour.

How long is my flight from the UK to South Africa? The flight duration when flying from the UK to South Africa is normally 12 hours.

Is my package tour ABTA & ATOL protected? Yes, Students of Nature Ltd is a Journeys Specialist under Aviate Management Ltd, who ensures the ABTA & ATOL cover for our package tours.

Who is ABTA? ABTA is the UK’s largest travel association representing travel agents and tour operators. It has been a trusted travel brand for more than 65 years offering advice and guidance to the travelling public. In the unlikely event that you experience an issue that you haven’t been able to resolve directly with Aviate, ABTA will help resolve it for you. If needed, you’ll get access to their fast, cost-effective and independent complaints resolution service which could save you time and money.
You will also be reassured to know that all package holidays sold by an ABTA Member are protected financially in the event of a company failure. This means that in the unlikely event that Aviate goes out of business, ABTA has a quick, clear and simple process for you to follow, so you’ll be able to continue your package holiday as planned or get your money back. https://www.abta.com/

Who is ATOL? ATOL is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority. By law, every UK travel company which sells air holidays and flights is required to hold an ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence.
Booking with a licensed travel company for a complete air holiday package gives you ATOL protection and protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad if your travel company goes out of business. You will be issued an ATOL certificate prior to your flight to South Africa, to ensure your holiday is fully covered, leaving you free to enjoy your tour. http://www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk/
What essential documents do I need to bring with? A current passport! your personal ATOL Certificate (issued on booking), valid travel insurance (a copy will be taken in country) and all Students of Nature issued tour documents.

Do I need travel insurance? Yes, it is an absolute necessity on booking your package tour and copies will be made in country by our South Africa team.

Is KwaZulu-Natal province a Malaria Area? KwaZulu-Natal is currently rated a ‘low risk’ malaria area. Always consult your local practice nurse or doctor for up to date travel advice and take adequate precautions against mosquitoes and other biting insects.

When is the best season to go to South Africa? Anytime of the year is a pleasant time to visit South Africa, but be aware that their seasons are opposite to the UK, with cooler winter months from May - September and their hotter summer months from October - April.

When is best for wildlife photography? Due to their southern hemisphere winters (opposite to UK), their dry season is October - April. This causes the wildlife to be more predictable in their movements and stick to areas around waterholes and hides offering better game viewing opportunities. The tropical vegetation which KwaZulu-Natal is known for, is less dense, making spotting wildlife easier. The disadvantage is that vegetation becomes sun parched and can look less attractive. Summer months are from May - September, which can mean more rainfall during the day and at night, with some impressive storms to watch at night. This rainfall means lusher and greener looking vegetation for photography.

When is best for birding? South Africa supports an array of 850 species so anytime of the year is a good time to spot many bird species. The prime birding months from September - February, are the best times to view a large diversity of birds, including many KwaZulu-Natal visitors and birding specials including many endemics.

When is best for whale watching? Peak whale watching season in KwaZulu-Natal happens from July - September, with excellent whale watching opportunities available in St Lucia Town, where you can scan the waters with binoculars from the beach or take a boat trip out to see them. From mid-May to mid-September, Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales migrate along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, from their feeding grounds to their breeding grounds off the coast of Mozambique.

When is best for turtle tours? South Africa offers some of the best turtle viewing opportunities in the world. The best time to book a tour to see these creatures is from November - March, with Loggerhead Turtles & Leatherback Turtles coming to shore in November to dig out their nests, lay their eggs and then make their way back to the sea. Once incubation (65 days) is complete, hatchlings emerge to take their long perilous journey to the sea. Hatchlings are best spotted in March.

When is the famous ‘Sardine Run’? During May, June and July one of natures finest events happens along the East Coast, also known as ‘the greatest shoal on earth’, where huge amounts of sardines migrate from their spawning grounds to end up in KwaZulu-Natal waters. These migrating fish are excitedly followed by people, birds, sharks and other sea life.

What is the appropriate wetsuit thickness for KwaZulu-Natal diving? Unlike the much cooler waters of the Cape, the waters along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline are extremely warm, on average about 20 degrees. But be aware that the deeper you dive the cooler it will start to feel. For KwaZulu-Natal diving, a 3 - 3.5 mm wetsuit is adequate. Wetsuits are provided (included in your tour) if you don’t have your own.

What binoculars magnification would you recommend? The main rule to keep in mind with purchasing binoculars is that the higher the magnification, the more shake you will experience when actually using your binoculars on a subject. You will find your image moves around a lot more and it becomes harder to keep still on your subject for longer periods of time. We recommend an 8 x 45 magnification or at the very maximum a 10 x 45 magnification. We can help you set up your new binoculars at the beginning of your tour.

How can I keep in touch with home? A few of our camps have WIFI facilities, but you will struggle to get a signal at Ebandla Wilderness Camp, which as the name suggests, doesn’t have WIFI services. At this camp reception can often be found at certain high points in the reserve, especially on hills or mountainous areas. Your tour will almost certainly start at Kuleni Bhejane Base Camp, which has WIFI, so you can let your loved ones know you arrived safely in South Africa and if you are due to depart for Ebandla Wilderness Camp, that you will be out of signal for a few days. Although we appreciate you will need to make contact with home, emphasis on our tours is on getting away from technology to truly get the most out of your tour.

Will my mobile work in South Africa? Before you travel chat to your phone provider about global roaming and we would strongly advise that you ask about the possibility of getting your phone ‘unlocked’, so that it can house an overseas South African sim for your tour. You can cheaply pick up a local sim in South Africa at the Airport. WIFI is an option in some camps and there is an internet café in St Lucia Town.

Will I be able to charge my electrical appliances? Yes, most camps have charge points, it is only whilst at the Ebandla Wilderness Camp that no plug sockets will in found in your accommodation, as they are army style tents. Before your tour you must ensure that you purchase several South African adaptors, that will fit and convert your home country appliances for use in South Africa. We would also suggest you bring spare batteries for your electrical items just in case.

Will my valuables be safe on tour? As with any travel where we take our precious belongings along, we must always ensure that we keep our belongings safe and insured. Safely storing your passport, camera, binoculars, own dive gear and money is your own responsibility. We would suggest locking them away in your luggage when not in use. For town visits ensure that you don’t unnecessarily flash your camera or money around. Although KwaZulu-Natal is generally a safe tourist reliant area, it may just prove too tempting. For our Photographic Safari Tours, extra provisions can be made for the storage and overnight charging of cameras.

What footwear should I take on tour? We strongly suggest that you invest in a pair of walking / hiking boots, with thick soles and excellent grip for hikes in the wilderness. If you are buying these new, please allow plenty of vital wearing in time to fully break them in before your tour. Your feet will thank you! there is nothing worse than trying to enjoy a nice nature walk, with painful feet! a pair of either light trainers and/or flip-flops for relaxing around camp in, is also a great option.

Sleeping bag or no sleeping bag? That is the question. Sleeping bags (with liners inside) are a must on any tour with a sleep out under the stars, where no tent (weather permitting) is scheduled. This will become your bed for the night, so ensure that it’s a warm one! In some camps you will be sleeping in tents on a wooden bed with a mattress and blanket, but if your tour is in the colder months, or you feel the cold, bring your sleeping bag along for extra warmth. If in doubt bring it.

I have special dietary requirements, can you cater for them? When we book your flights, we will take your special dietary requirements for the airline. You must make us aware of any special requirements or allergies prior to your tour, so that the in-country team can cater for your meals. The earlier you let us know, the earlier they can plan for you. Please remember that South Africa may not have certain preferred foods available or they might take a while to specially order in.

How can I do Laundry? Laundry is completed by good old-fashioned handwashing! soaps can be purchased and shared in camp. Laundry is then hung on a line to dry out under the African sun.

What if I have an accident on tour? Our South African in-country teams all have first aid training, not just for work premises, but for wilderness situations. The nearest hospital NetCare The Bay Hospital in Richards Bay, is never far away from any of our camps. For small sicknesses there are excellent local pharmacies near our camps, that provide on the spot consultations and advice.

Can I opt out of certain activities if I want to? Absolutely. If there are activities that you don’t wish to participate in, it becomes your own free time. The exception to this is when we are trekking or travelling from one destination to the next. Please note that if you choose to opt out of an included activity, no reimbursement will be made.

I have a disability, can I come on tour? We are committed to making travel accessible, regardless of ability or disability. We do ask that you carefully consider whether you are physically and mentally able to complete the itinerary your group has chosen, recognising that on many tours you will be required to carry your own bags, use various modes of transport and take part in a wide variety of practical activities. Where we can, we will make reasonable adjustments to the operation of our tours to facilitate the requirements of disabled travellers. For some, just having a known and trusted travelling companion or staff member who can assist with specific needs, makes a big difference. Please contact us with details of your concerns and we will discuss your options.

Is it safe to visit South Africa? As with other parts of the world, there is always the potential for unrest. But rest assured, our clients are picked up from the Airport by our South African Team Bhejane Nature Training, then transferred on main roads to Kuleni Bhejane Base Camp where they will start their tour. Our tour itinerary is carried out inside secure game reserves and dive centres and all accommodations have been given the best green status for safety and security. All transport on your tour is taken care of by Bhejane Nature Training and once your tour is over, you will be transferred back to the Airport to catch your flight home. We monitor events around the world very carefully and are signed up to gov.uk alerts for South Africa. If you are concerned please visit the gov.uk website. https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

If your question is not listed, please check the rest of our website for further specific tour information or alternatively make contact with us!