Frequently Asked Questions


“Westerners arriving in Africa for the first time are always struck by its beauty and size--even the sky seems higher. And they often find themselves suddenly cracked open. They lose inhibitions, feel more alive, more themselves, and they begin to understand why, until then, they have only half lived. Visitors suddenly realize what life is for.”

Richard Dowden, Author



Will we have an authentic safari experience?

Kruger National Park, South Africa’s oldest national park, is one of the world’s greatest wildlife-watching destinations, covering an area of 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 square miles), roughly the size of Israel.  It is home to a stunning array of animals, including the so-called “Big Five”:  lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhino, as well as cheetah, giraffe, hippo, and zebra, and 137 other mammals and over 500 varieties of birds.  Just west of Kruger is a private game park, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, home to a string of luxury private reserves that provide their guests with some of Africa’s most compelling safari viewing – the best of Kruger without the crowds.


Although there is no fence or physical boundary separating these private reserves from Kruger itself, different rules apply for each area.  In Kruger, the rules forbid vehicles to drive off the roads, which means that you sometimes have to spot game from very far away and there might be a line of cars all scrambling to see an animal.  However, in the private parks, such as the one in which we’re staying, the 4x4 drive vehicles are allowed to drive in the bush, allowing us to see unpredictable sights.  Our incredibly talented, trained and experienced wildlife guides, all certified trackers and rangers, have a sixth sense when it comes to wildlife and are always seeking ways to get their guests into the heart of the action.  They will take us on four and possibly five game drives during our stay, promising an outstanding wildlife experience.


In Victoria Falls, our luxury hotel is located on the outskirts of town and is uniquely situated overlooking a waterhole, offering guests the opportunity to view a variety of wildlife including elephant, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck and impala, as well as a large number of bird species. Game may be seen at the waterhole from the lodge’s viewing deck, pool deck, fitness room or restaurant.


We have specifically chosen these locations and accommodations to provide you with an authentic safari experience, the main reason you want to visit Africa.  


“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne – bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.” Karen Blixen, Danish author



What’s the weather like in South Africa in January? 

January is the middle of the summer season in Southern Africa and is perfect touring weather for the places we will be visiting. The days will be warm and pleasant and the nights will be cool. There is no rain in Cape Town in January.  Even if it does rain in the other places on our itinerary, the rainfall will be short and the weather will clear up soon afterwards, leaving the air fresh and sweet-smelling.   


What about religious observance?

Our trips are designed to accommodate a wide-range of religious observance from secular to more traditional, Jews and non-Jews.   We aim to create an atmosphere in which each participant feels welcome, comfortable, and curious about exploring his or her own religious and spiritual background and what it means to share that with others who are similar and/or different from his/herself. 


The itinerary is built in such a way to enable us not to travel on Shabbat, both out of respect for those who do not travel on Shabbat as well as to allow all of us, regardless of our usual personal practices, to immerse ourselves in the unique opportunity the Sabbath provides to retreat from the hustle of daily life and to connect more deeply to ourselves, our inner wisdom, and the experience of inner peace.


On Shabbat, we will explore meaningful and mindfulness-based ways of honoring the day. Those wishing to engage in more traditional forms of Shabbat observance will be able to do so as well. In Cape Town we have the option of participating in a Friday night synagogue service with the local community.


“…The mini seminars on Shabbat morning were very special – gave us (uninterrupted) time to get in touch with ourselves. The experience was very powerful.” Linda, Mindful India


“I particularly loved Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat....It was very spiritual and lovely, even for people who do not consider themselves religious.” Bella, Mindful India



Can I keep kosher?

Tremendous attention is being paid to kashrut so that those who keep kosher can eat with joy and confidence throughout the trip.  Those who don’t keep kosher can, of course, enjoy the full range of options available at each hotel and restaurant. 


Our beautiful game lodge is familiar with the requirements of kashrut and is fully prepared to handle those needs.  They will prepare our food in separate pots and will serve us with kosher dairy crockery and cutlery, all supplied by our tour company. 

Breakfast and lunch will be vegetarian, while dinner will include kosher fish prepared in silver foil.  At each meal, you will be able to choose between that menu or, if you wish, you will be welcome to enjoy the lodge’s menu/buffet which is served with their own crockery and cutlery. 


For days when we are out touring all day or en route, you will be able to prepare a packed lunch for yourself from the items available at breakfast. We have especially arranged for this at each hotel. At times we will all do this in order to save time along the way.  At other times, this will be optional, and if we stop somewhere for lunch, those who choose to can enjoy their packed meals while others will be free to order from the establishment’s menu.   


Where possible, we will enjoy delicious meals at kosher restaurants such as Cape Town’s famous Avron’s. 


Is the water safe? 

South African tap water is clean and safe and is considered some of the cleanest water in the world. The water in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, is clean and safe to drink. It is safe to drink ice in any of the cities we will be visiting.


How comfortable are the accommodations?

We will be staying in lovely, comfortable 4 and 5 star hotels, all with private bathrooms and showers.  Some of these hotels, including our safari lodge, have wellness centers where you can pamper yourself with a variety of massages and treatments with features unique to Africa (these are not included in the cost of the trip).


Do I have to share? Is it possible to get my own room?

If you are not coming with a roommate (spouse or friend), we will make arrangements for sharing rooms that are acceptable to the group, e.g. rotating roommates. If you would like your own room, you may pay the single room supplement.


What does the “mindful” in Mindful Tours/Mindful Africa mean? And what’s special about this?   

You may have noticed that the concept of “Mindfulness” is everywhere these days.  That’s because this powerful practice of being more aware and “present” in your life is being shown by modern science to enhance your quality of life on many fronts.  Being more mindful – i.e. being more aware of whatever you are doing and experiencing – can improve your health, concentration, sleep, and creativity, while reducing tension, depression and burnout. Overall, it helps you get more out of life by sharpening your senses and honing your ability to be as open and receptive as possible to everything you encounter. 


We’ll be glad of those heightened senses on this unique trip, as we navigate Africa’s remarkable natural and human landscape.  Practicing mindfulness will also give us the tools to explore our inner nature, the miraculous “landscape” within each of us, for a truly transformative once-in-a-lifetime experience.     


In order to do that, Dina will interweave a thorough and gentle introduction to mindfulness throughout the trip.  You’ll learn how it works both theoretically and practically, with many chances for direct hands-on experience built into our itinerary.  This will both enrich your trip as well as increase the chances that, by trip’s end, you’ll have learned a powerful approach that can continue to support you and enhance your life long after you’ve returned home.       


“…more than an amazing sightseeing adventure. It was a deep learning experience about culture, mindfulness, meditation and yoga. I especially acquired necessary life skills regarding handling stress. In short, it was an experience of a lifetime.” Peninah, Mindful India


“[The mindfulness was] very meaningful and important. It gave depth and enriched the trip enormously.” Joop, Mindful India


“Mindfulness separates this trip from others that are offered on the market.” Lea, Mindful India  


               

I’m not sure about traveling with a group. Can you address this, please?

We know that many people are apprehensive about traveling with people they’ve never met before. So, prior to the trip and to the best of our ability, we make sure participants have a chance to meet and begin to get comfortable with one another. We hold one or two pre-trip orientation meetings at which we provide comprehensive information about the trip, and answer all questions you may have. We discuss rooming arrangements.  Dina gives a brief introduction to mindfulness. We nosh together and begin to get acquainted so that by the time we board the plane, we are well on our way to being comfortable with one another and are off to a flying start. Those joining us from abroad will receive all the materials plus summaries of any such Israeli-based meetings.  And once we all arrive in Africa, we’ll be integrated together quickly as we share this unique experience. 


Our itinerary is designed to allow us to have a comprehensive experience of Africa’s natural beauty as well as its human history, while building in sufficient time for you to rest and relax on your own, commune with nature, and engage in self-exploration.


“[The Mindfulness aspect of the trip] contributed tremendously on a personal level and on a group level in which it helped to connect and bond people and unify the group.” Anon., Mindful India


“Thanks!!!! The organization was superb and the participants were great travelling companions. It was less a “vacation/trip” than a major life experience.” Janis, Mindful India                                


                                           

Tipping: 

All tipping, including drivers, guides, and hotel porterage, is included in the cost of the trip.  


Immunizations: 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the following vaccinations may be recommended for travel in Southern African countries:

•Hepatitis A and B

•Boosters for diphtheria and measles

•Current Polio and Tetanus vaccinations.  

•Typhoid Fever


We recommend that you meet with your family doctor or a doctor who specializes in travel to discuss the above in light of your own medical history.


Throughout Israel, your local Health Ministry (Misrad HaBriyut) has a travel department that will advise you as to what immunizations are recommended.


In Jerusalem, the travel doctor we consult with is:

Dr. Eli Schwartz, specializing in travel and immunizations.

Clalit (but anyone can consult with him from any Kupah)

Ben Yehuda 26 (near King George Street)

Call *3171 to make an appointment  


Some of the immunizations you’ll need are actually a series of shots, spaced several weeks apart, so contact the Health Ministry early enough to get the process started. 


What about malaria? 

Malaria is a risk in Southern Africa and should be taken seriously. Our private safari lodge near Kruger is in a low risk malaria area. However, Victoria Falls is a high risk malaria area and you must take malaria prophylaxis.


Prophylactic medication:

There are several types of malaria prophylactics available.

The most commonly used malaria prophylactic is Malarone, as it can be used short-term and has the least side-effects.

We have received queries in the past about some malaria prophylactics causing psychotic reactions. This side effect has been associated with Larium (Mefloquine) which is why we do not recommend it. 

However, please consult your doctor for the drug best suited to your medical history.


Here are some additional protective measures we will take in Africa:

1)Anti-mosquito spray or roll-on:   You must bring along and use anti-mosquito spray or roll-on containing DEET, not homeopathic or natural substances which are not strong enough to repel mosquitos.  Buy the strongest strength you can find.  (In Israel, the local brand is SANO-DIE, available at most pharmacies.  In England, for example, there is a brand called REPEL which is 50% DEET.)  


2)Each of our accommodations (in malaria areas) provides mosquito netting over our beds. Besides looking quite romantic, this will keep the bugs away.


3)Clothing:  In the early morning and evening in malaria-prone areas it is important to cover up with light-colored long trousers and long sleeves. 


Passports, Visas, and Visa fees: 

All passports should be valid for at least six (6) months from the date of your entry to South Africa or Zimbabwe.  Please check yours now to make sure about this.


South Africa:

There is no fee to enter South Africa for Israel, Australia, Canada, UK & USA passport holders. If you are a passport holder of any other country, please check if you need a visa and, if so, it is your responsibility to obtain it.


You will need to have at least two completely blank facing pages in your passport, excluding the last two pages.


Zimbabwe:  

All travelers to Zimbabwe require a visa, regardless of nationality or passport. For passport-holders of different countries and visa fees, please refer to this site: https://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/zimbabwe-visa.html


Visas to Zimbabwe are issued at the arrival port, in our case, Victoria Falls. Visa fees must be paid in US dollars, using the exact amount. You will need a single entry visa.


“You cannot leave Africa, Africa said. It is always with you, there inside your head. Our rivers run in currents in the swirl of your thumbprints; our drumbeats counting out your pulse; our coastline the silhouette of your soul.” Bridget Dore, South African poet


 

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