Evolution of a Safari part 3........... The uncertainty


November 1, 2013, 12:09 AM
One of the logistical parts of the trip for the hunter is coordinating the air travel with the dates of the hunt. I cannot say enough about this being a mess every year.

Lets choose a baseline location for this. Since I travel from the west coast every year, I'll use that. There is a 9 hour time change between PDST and South Africa. When you travel that far, you arrive on a different day then you leave. You however arrive back home on the same day that you depart. So the potential for confusion on this exists. Add to that the hunt start time comes into play. Is it the day you arrive, or the next day? What is it considered then the day that you arrive? Is it a hunting day or not? If not is it included? How is that time accounted for?

On a 7 day hunt which you arrive at 3pm, then drive 4 hours to camp arriving well after dark in June, was that day 1? If not was this day an additional charge as a non hunting day? If you arrive on a flight at 8PM are you going to be picked up by the outfitter and then drive 4 hours? Or does he get you the next day? What do you do then? Hotel, with guns? Joburg is filled with plenty of people begging to help you. Many want to relieve you of the burden of your luggage too! This becomes a big part of the whole "package" that needs to be addressed at this stage. How about the day you leave? Is day 7 a travel day? is a 7 day hunt 7 full days of hunting? ........... Hmmm more questions!

Is the meet and greet and pre issued gun permit a necessary expense? Well for those who travel international frequently it's not. For those on their first trip with a gun, I would say it's a cheap price to pay for the professional help. You fill out all the permits from the comfort of your kitchen table at home, provide the copies asked for with notary stamp, and mail them in. When you arrive all that stress is gone. You don't have to sit at a desk in front of the police filling out forms and searching for numbers.

Rather you will have a lady take your paperwork out of her file for which the police have seen her do this 1000 times before. She hands it to the police, he does not even bother to look or read a single word. He compares the serial numbers of the gun(s) to the permit and stamps them. You're out of there in under 5 mintues. Compare this to the regular Que.. Where there are 30 bubbas in line that cannot find any of the information to fill out the forms, lost their luggage keys, searching 35 side pockets for their passport and return flight information, not to mention those who arrive without the 4457 and are crying to the police they did not know this was needed, or that they have a BAR and were never told it could not be used. ( with a gun service you could use the BAR, there are reasons to allow. However the hunter at the counter will never figure that out). So now you could be in that que for hours! The police do not care how long you stand there, or that you have traveled 20 hours to get there. When their shift is up they go home, They can help you on their next shift when you're still there,.... for all they care!

One of my good friends and a PH that has worked for me many times, his father was running that SAP operation at the airport for a few years. I know this process very well!

Another help with the Meet and Greet service is going through the " celebrity" line at the immigration entry. The 400 people getting off that jet file into the que that snakes around and around for what seems like miles. However with the meet and greet service you walk up with your escort to a window that has................. nobody ahead of you!

After you get the luggage off the carousel it's loaded onto the cart, ( pull up, squeeze the grip which is the hand brake) it's funny watching Americans pushing these carts not realizing they have brakes! I just laugh thinking how they must assume South Africans must have massive strength to push these carts around!
With an escort you have all the luggage on the cart and file into the " Nothing to declare" line and walk straight through without a single word. With the meet and greet lady you are simply whisked through like a celebrity. South African Customs just nod and smile at her as you strut through watching all those other poor saps still trying to figure out the handbrakes.

So this decision should be easy. Use the service!

If you are planning additional side trips, is it better before the hunting or after?

I'm a very selfish man. I want all your side trips done first. I don't care about your time change issues lost luggage, and flight delays that cut into your sight seeing and wine tasting. I want you fresh and ready for hunting! Please select all activities to be done first! Unless you plan to rent a car and tour Joburg and the cultural townships. Then hunt with me first.

There are countless fantastic places to stay near the airport. Many have a meet and greet service as part of the stay there too. Great outfitters and booking agents know all this. Which should be a clue to the skill set when asked. If they hesitate or seem unaware of such things, well just how long have they been doing this?

So how to coordinate the travel ? You have to get a window of dates from the outfitter, then book the flights that align. I would not book a flight first. Also many folks want to use miles for the tickets. This has to be done way early. Like the 365th day at midnight before the hoped for travel plans. I would have the details entered before midnight so I could press the enter key at the stroke of twelve! Kinda like winning an ebay auction, or gun broker auction!

There are only very limited "miles seats" on each flight. They are gone almost instantly so plan that with a deliberate strategy. How about flying through Europe? Pay attention to those huge differences in travel. Going through other countries with firearms adds to the complication of the trip. What happens with a layover, scheduled, or unintentional. Now you are in a foreign country with a gun and no permit or legal authority to possess a firearm in country! Not to mention the additional time spent in travel VS direct.

For this reason the direct flights from the USA to South Africa are always a much better option. I don't frequently use the words always and never as they seem to cause me trouble more often then not. However direct flights are an "ALWAYS" safe use of the word. SAA and Delta are the big dogs in this operation. I'll bet that Delta passes through 50 plus gun cases a day from Mid May through mid July. They have this process down, and I have not yet heard of anyone with a struggle in the Atlanta airport with a firearm as a checked bag. Departing from your home city is another story!

Outfitters will not usually be able to help you with all that involves firearms in America. They have never done it, and don't understand the complexities of American air travel with a gun. Oddly enough very few booking agents are really good at this either. As far as a travel agent goes, good luck with that. I can count on one hand the few that had any clue at all. Most just seem shocked you would even ask such a silly question!

It's somewhere around this point that hunters start to question their fortitude in going through with this. They want to bring rifles, but the headache to travel with a gun is becoming a struggle for them with all the "stuff" involved. It's a huge relief for them to just hunt with the outfitters guns. However there are a majority that will not hunt unless they have their own rifle with them.

The mental gymnastics that begin to take place over this are kinda pushing them to just hunt Alaska, then no stress! ................ Oh Wait............... still gotta fly to Anchorage or Juneau or Ketchikan or someplace with a gun on a flight! Hhhmmm Okay then Africa is back on! ( this is stated from actual conversations with my hunters)

So we have the flights, the dates of the hunt, the arrival situation, the meet and greet, and the gun permits with 100% confidence now that all that is set up. What is next? How the heck to I get all these dead things home?

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November 1, 2013, 12:10 AM
Double post

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