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Safari Planning Guide South Africa


The purpose of the Chacma Hunting Safari Planning Guide is to provide a body of information, appearing all in one place, that will guide the client through the safari planning process from initial conception to completion. The process is laid out on a declining time line basis assuming a six-month planning window from initial concept to departure from the client’s home base en-route to the safari destination.

To download the Chacma Hunting Safari Planning Guide, click here
(copy of info below)

A six-month planning window is provided simply for illustration purposes.  Clients are encouraged to allow as broad a planning window as possible, as much as a year in advance; and, clients are equally encouraged to complete as much of the planning process as possible as early as possible.


Decide on 4 things as soon as possible: (1) which animals you wish to hunt, (2) how many days you wish to be on safari, (3) which dates you wish to be on safari, and (4) establish a rough safari budget.  If you, or family members, wish to participate in any additional non-hunting activities, decide what those might be and work them into your budget as well.  Contact us about your interests and we will guide you through some possibilities.  If you can imagine it, we can most likely arrange it.

As far as determining the number of days your safari will require, noted safari expert Craig Boddington advises to allow 1.5 days for each animal to be taken.  Thus, if you desire 15 animals your safari is likely take 10 days (15/1.5 = 10).  Actually, the Boddington Rule of Thumb is applicable across a wide range of countries belonging to the African Sub-Continent.  Our record in RSA is a bit better than this, but this is still a good rule for planning purposes.

As far as establishing a budget, there are two methodologies for accomplishing this.  The first we will call the Las Vegas Approach.  The second we will call the Santa Claus Approach.  No matter which approach you use, you will end up at the same place, so relax and enjoy the process!

In the Las Vegas Approach you say to yourself, “I have $15,000 of discretionary savings set aside that I could gamble away in Las Vegas.  Instead, I am going to treat myself to a nice African safari.”  Then, after deciding which animals you want to harvest and the number of days on safari, start adding up the trophy fees and per diem costs as well as travel costs until you reach (or come close) to $15,000.  Then stop.  That’s your plan. 

In the Santa Claus Approach, recall the time when you were a kid and believed in Santa Claus.  You didn’t realize your parent’s income and spending habits were the real limiting factor to what Santa was going to deliver Christmas morning; you just asked for everything!  You can approach your initial safari planning the same way.  Simply choose every single animal that appeals to you from our Standard Price List ignoring price for the moment.  Then send us your list and ask for a price quote.  Our ability to provide prices cheaper than what appears on the price list depends heavily on how many hunters are in your party, how many days collectively all of you are on safari, and how many animals collectively your party wishes to harvest.  You might be surprised at the price quote you receive.  If it turns out that figure is more than you want to spend, we can make adjustments until we get to a price figure that satisfies you individually, or you and your group collectively.

If either of these approaches fail to appeal to you then check our website (or contact us directly) for special packages that might appeal to you.  If you find one you like, the planning is much simpler and the quoted price is what you pay for that experience.  It can’t be any more simple than that.  These packages, their availability and make-up, can change frequently, so check back often.

Do You Have a Passport?  If not, order one now.  If you do, then find it.  It’s amazing how many people say they have a passport, and then it takes them 3 months to find it.  Find it now.  Then check it.  Make sure of the following 3 things: (1) That your residence address listed inside is current.  Under existing regulations, you simply change the address with a pencil. (2) Make sure that the expiration date does not occur earlier than 6 months after your scheduled return date from Republic of South African (RSA).  By way of illustration, if you are returning home on 30 September 2022 then your passport must not expire before March 31, 2023.  (3) Make sure you have at least 10 blank pages remaining in your passport.  If your passport does not measure up to the last two requirements, you will need a new passport.  Order one now.  If you have to order a new passport, keep copies of everything you mail and send your request package via your favored package carrier, but be sure to obtain delivery confirmation at the time of shipment.

Birth Certificate.  Are you traveling with children who at the time of travel will not have attained the age of 18 years?  If so, then you will need either the original copy of their birth certificate, or a Certified Copy, in your possession when you check in for both your originating and return flights.  This is because of recent laws implemented to curtail illegal child trafficking.

Think About Flight Schedules.  While considering the 4 things above, start thinking about flight schedules.  If you are solid on those 4 things and want to book your flights now, it is not too early to do so.  Understand that if you are booking a 10-day safari, depending on your point of departure, you will need to allocate 14 days altogether (this is typical for North America and South America).  This is because with actual travel time and changes in time zones on route it will require 2 days of time on your watch to arrive in RSA, and 2 days of time on your watch to return to your point of origination.

If your flight involves changing planes, at the very minimum, you should allow at least 2 hours between connecting flights!  Three hours is much better, and even 5 hours is not too much.  If your originating flight is delayed, you will appreciate having plenty of time to make your connection.  Also, many International Terminals are on the other side of the airport from Domestic Terminals, thus depending on arrival times, congestion, etc. it can take as much as 40 minutes just to get from one terminal to another after landing.

Firearms.  Give some thought to which firearm(s) you wish to take with you.  This will depend largely on your species list.  If you need to buy a firearm (maybe you are hunting dangerous game on this safari and haven’t needed a big bore rifle before), then give serious thought to this issue now.  If you feel confident in your buying decision make it now. For plains game hunting a single rifle should serve you well.  You do not need a “back-up” rifle.  Bringing two rifles increases your traveling burden and could result in over-weight fees.  If you are hunting both dangerous game and plains game, or if you have any concerns at all about firearms, then speak to us.

Health and Physical Conditioning.  Start to think about this and decide if you want to make any improvements.

Make a file.  Figure out a convenient place to store all the information you will be collecting during the planning process.

Review Chacma Safari Website.  Make at least a cursory review of the Chacma Hunting Safari website.  There is much information contained therein that will assist you.

Booking on Deferment.  If you are unable to be on safari in the next 12 months then consider our Delayed Booking Program.  You will find an explanation of this program elsewhere on our website.  This program has distinct advantages, not the least of which is saving you money.

Talk to your Chacma Hunting Safari Pro-Staff Team Member.  This early planning step will determine much of what follows, so talk to your Chacma Hunting Safari Pro-Staff Team Member to make sure you get started off on the right foot.  Many clients seem to have trouble getting started.  There is no need to be frustrated; we are here to help.  Ask any questions that come to mind no matter how inane you may believe them to be, because chances are someone else has already asked the same question ahead of you.  Remember, you are not going to just wake up one morning and find yourself in Africa.  You must plan and then execute that plan to make your safari a reality. If you are ready to book your safari have your Pro-Staff Team Member prepare your safari documents for your review at this time.


Request Your Safari Documents.  Try to solidify your safari plans this month if possible.  When you have conclusively decided the 4 things in Step One, request your safari documents from your Pro-Staff Team Member.  Review the documents thoroughly to make sure they lay out the safari you are expecting.  Reconcile any existing inconsistencies in your safari documents (we’d rather hunt than do paperwork, so sometimes we might make a mistake), and when everything is like it is supposed to be sign the documents and follow the processing instructions included therewith.

Mail Your Deposit Check.  A deposit in the amount of 10% of the total cost of your safari or $1000 (whichever figure is greater) is required.  This applies solely to hunting safaris.  Non-hunting safaris, and safaris requiring air travel within the African sub-continent after arrival in Johannesburg, may require larger advance deposits.  If not submitted earlier, your deposit check is required at the time that you submit your signed safari documents.  It is very important to note that some particular months are booked very quickly.  Thus, those clients that submit safari documents and deposit checks early get entered into the booking schedule first.  To be fair to everyone, no one has a particular set of dates booked until their safari documents are accepted and their deposit check has cleared our bank.

Employment Issues.  Put in your annual leave request with your employer.  Begin to make arrangements for someone to look after your house, pets, lawn care, mail, pay bills, etc. as needed.

Book Flights.  You should complete this before the month is out.  Use a competent travel agent familiar with Africa, or a reliable online booking service to finalize your flight itinerary.  Before you commit, however, make sure you are familiar with your selected airlines policy on traveling with firearms and ammunition, excess baggage, and over-weight baggage.  Policy is usually consistent from one airline to the next, but this is not assured.  At this time, if you are a US citizen also check with the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to determine their policies for departing and re-entering the country of origin.  (https://www.tsa.gov/) (www.cbp.gov/)

Complete Thorough Review of Chacma Hunting Safari Website.  Make sure you are familiar with all the content on the Chacma Hunting Safari website.  In particular, review the FAQs Section, the Articles Section, the Importation of Firearms Section, and the Suggested Reading & Viewing List.  If something on the Reading & Viewing List appeals to you be sure to place an order for those items early this month.  In particular consider “African Experience” by Craig Boddington (available in book form, or as a DVD) and “Flack Hunts South Africa” a two-DVD set.  You will refer to his material again and again, so both are well worth the price.  If you are hunting dangerous game with us, you are entitled to a free DVD from us on your particular dangerous game animal.  Speak to your Pro-Staff Team Member on obtaining your free DVD.  When your order arrives start reading/viewing the material as soon as convenient.

Start Thinking About Clothing and Equipment.  There is still plenty of time to get everything packed, but let’s face it, thinking about clothing and equipment is all part of the fun and heightens the anticipation.  Consider designating a specific room, or corner in your house, where you will begin to accumulate all the stuff you will consider bringing on safari.   Check our Gear List (or other sources) to begin to get a feel for what will work best for your needs. Most importantly, evaluate your boots at this time.  If you need new boots, buy them now and wear them consistently over the next few months to ensure they are adequately broken-in.

Firearms.  If you bought a new firearm, now is the time to begin to get familiar with it.  Mount any optical sights, or other required accessories, this month.  If you are taking a familiar firearm with you, now is the time to make sure everything is functional.  Check the mounts and rings to ensure everything is tight.  If you contemplate making any repairs or improvements (maybe you want to glass bed the action?) you must complete these actions this month, as soon you will need to start shooting.

Start doing some shooting this month if you can.  The more rounds you can fire under realistic field conditions the better prepared you will be.  With this thought in mind, use your .22LR bolt gun for your initial practice sessions if you like.  However, make this serious practice; not just an excuse to blow off some ammo and call it done.  See “Shooting Section” in Step 4 below and apply those same principles here.

Safari Club International.  If you are not a member of Safari Club International (SCI) consider joining now (www.safariclub.org/).  A one year membership is reasonable and over the next few months you may likely find information in their various publications that are useful to you in finalizing your safari plans.  For one thing, any time significant news events or travel alerts that are made public with the potential to impact the international hunter SCI sends its members an email advising of the details.  This could be very important information to have as your departure date for your safari approaches.



Firearms Importation.  Familiarize yourself with the requirements for getting your firearms imported into RSA.  Check our FAQs section and Importation of Firearms section elsewhere on our website for additional information.  The process is not overly complicated.  However, it is a bit involved.  You can complete the process completely on your own and file the forms with South African Police Service (SAPS) and save some expense, or you can hire a Clearing Agent to do it for you.  Doing it yourself, while saving you some money, also involves some risk.  You will be dealing with a foreign bureaucracy, so if you run into any difficulty you will not have an advocate to mitigate your troubles.  If you hire a Clearing Agent you will incur some expense ($125 – $175 at this writing), but you will have an advocate if any glitches develop, and you can then focus on a part of the planning process that is more enjoyable than filing government paperwork.  Even when hiring a Clearing Agent you will still have to complete the forms on your own, but filing them and monitoring the process will be handled by the Clearing Agent you have hired.  You can find Clearing Agents (they go by any number of different names) providing this service in publications of the Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club International, possibly through links on their respective websites, and through online searches.  Bring any questions you might have to your Pro-Staff Team Member. 

In any case, preparation of, and the actual filing of your importation paperwork is another step in the planning process that should not be delayed because Clearing Agents have deadlines by which they must be in receipt of your properly completed documents.  The number of days may vary from one Clearing Agent to the next, but a suggested minimum is at least 25 days in advance of your arrival date in RSA.  Currently, (for residents of the United States) there are 5 documents that are part of a properly completed firearms importation package: (1) SAPS 520, (2) CBP Form 4457, (3) Copy of your passport. (4) copy of your airline itinerary, and (5) an Invitation Letter from Chacma Hunting Safari.  As to the official forms, download these forms either through a link on our website, or from the respective agency’s website.  Download the Chacma Hunting Safari Invitation Letter from our website.  Be sure to scroll all the way down to see the instructions as to how to complete this letter.

Your Clearing Agent (if you use one) will provide instructions on completing the SAPS 520.  Instructions on completing the CBP 4457 are attached to the form itself.  If at any time during this process you need to contact a Pro-Staff Team Member, please do so.  Make sure you sign and date all forms where necessary (the Invitation Letter does not require a signature).  All copies must be legible.

CPB Form

 COPY OF CBP FORM 4457  This is a copy of the CBP 4457 as downloaded from the CBP website.  There should be ample space to list all necessary personal items being taken abroad.  If not, feel free to reconfigure the format to make more space for the section titled “Description of Articles”.

Once you are satisfied with the completed package send a copy to RSA (via your hired Clearing Agent if you selected this option).  If you have not received an acknowledgment from them of their having received your documents within 10 days of the date you emailed the documents to them then send a follow-up email asking for confirmation.  At the same time make 3 copies for yourself of all documents and put them in separate file folders.  When you pack for your safari, put one folder in your checked baggage, one folder in your firearms case, and keep one folder in your carry-on luggage.  This is not a travel requirement, but you will be glad you have these extra copies if any part (or all) of your checked baggage gets delayed or turns up missing.

Unfortunately, governments have a penchant for changing their requirements over time, so make sure you have the latest information, another good reason to hire a Clearing Agent to assist in this process.  These folks do this for a living, and therefore must stay current on government requirements.

Schedule Your Appointment with Your CBP Agent.  Familiarize yourself with the CBP Form 4457.  You must complete this form and submit it in person to a CBP Agent for verification. The purpose of this form is simply to provide a means whereby you may list all the valuable items you are taking out of the US, so that when you return to the US some suspicious CBP Agent does not try to charge you excise tax on something you already owned and had in your possession when you left the country.  A good rule of thumb is, “If it has a serial number, then list it”.  This would include then, such items as firearms, rifle scopes, binoculars, cameras, laptop computers, i-pads, and similar such items.  CBP does not consider a rifle scope attached to a rifle as part of the rifle.  You must list it separately along with its serial number.  Serial numbers beneath the scope can sometimes be read with a small mirror.  Where the serial number is obscured by scope rings, list the scope separately like you are supposed to and annotate the 4457 that the serial number is obscured by the rings.  Point this out to the CBP Agent when you submit the form.

Some optics (and possibly other items of value) do not have serial numbers, the notable example being binoculars.  In such cases describe the item in as detailed a manner as possible and annotate the listing with these words: No Visible Serial Number.

In addition to items having a serial number, list ammunition by manufacturer, caliber, bullet weight & type, and the number of rounds of each.  List the lot numbers on factory boxes if the ammunition is packed in factory boxes.

Complete all the entries on the CBP Form 4457 in advance of arriving for your appointment.  Do not waste the agent’s time trying to complete the forms in the CBP office.

Lastly, after your appointment is completed, should you happen to purchase anything new that might ought to have been listed on the CBP Form 4457 you do not need another appointment to enter the newly purchased items so long as you keep the original purchase receipt with the newly purchased item and present it upon your return to the U.S.

Call your CBP Agent and arrange an appointment to have your 4457 form reviewed and your items inspected.  This is a duty of CBP Agents, but it is way down on their priority list.  So, be patient with them and show appreciation for their time.  You may not get the appointment you want on the first try.  If you call Agents at local, municipal, county or regional airports instead of large International Airports (e.g. Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, etc.) you will probably fare much better.  Once you have your appointment, be there on time.  Allow for bad weather, traffic, etc. however, do not go barging in ahead of schedule.  Instead, just wait in the parking lot until just a very few minutes before the time of your appointment.  If you have their phone number with you (which you should) you can call them now and let them know you are outside and on your way in.  Ask them the proper way to enter the premises as sometimes the entry point is obscure.

You must have all the items listed on the form in your physical possession when you arrive for your appointment.  Present the items in the order they appear on the form.  You may wish to have a family member or friend with you to assist you in presenting each item depending on the volume just to speed things up, but it is not necessary.  It’s probably best to list the firearms first followed by the next most valuable items.  Make sure you have made the firearms inoperable before you leave your place of residence.  For bolt-action rifles, simply remove the bolt and leave it at home.  Point out to the CBP agent that you have removed the bolt.  Then present the firearm to them for verification.  It helps to indicate to them where they should be looking for the serial number.  Not all of them are firearms experts; they will appreciate this assistance, and it will put them at ease.  Finally, there is a movement afoot to change this process, so be alert by visiting the CBP website regarding any new policy postings.  This is another reason to belong to SCI as they typically notify members when policy changes are anticipated.

Assess Need for Inoculations.  Many clients first think of their family physician for this item.  Of course, as outfitters we are not qualified to give medical advice, however we have found that the best place to obtain accurate information is from your Public Health Agency.  Most municipalities have one, or sometimes they are created on a tri-county basis.  Call them and schedule an appointment.  Be sure to take a copy of your travel itinerary with you so the staff can assess your travel plans and thus advise on the proper medications required.  Finally, it is almost universally anticipated that international travelers should ensure that their hepatitis and tetanus inoculations are up-to-date, so be sure to ask about those.  Many medications take time to build strength and become effective, so do not put this off.

Physical Conditioning.  If you haven’t started any sort of individual physical conditioning program, this is the month to begin.  Start slow.  Consistency is the main ingredient.  See our website tab “Health & Safety”.  We are not exercise physiologists, so we are not qualified to recommend a specific exercise regimen.  However, the world is flooded with this material, so it should be easy to find a program that is right for your age and general health condition. Consult with your family physician to determine what is right for you.  If your doctor approves, it is suggested that you at least begin a walking program and mild exercises that will improve your core strength.  If you like, you can download our Physical Fitness Self-Assessment Form from our website.  You can look the form over this month, and if you want to complete it and send it to us two weeks before your safari begins we would be happy to see it and design the particular parameters of your safari accordingly, however your personal health is a private issue and there is no requirement that you return this form to us. 

Finally, it is suggested to avoid team sports as a form of conditioning (softball, basketball, volleyball, etc.) as these sports contain the highest risk for leg and ankle injuries.  You want to arrive in RSA without injuries, if at all possible.

While visiting your family physician have him review any medications that are prescribed for you.  Make sure the prescription is current (won’t expire while on safari).  Also, make sure you will be taking a supply large enough to last through the end of your safari.  Finally, have your doctor issue you a letter on letterhead stationary that authorizes you to be in possession of these drugs.  This is particularly important for any drug that may be narcotic-based.

IMG 4641


 Taxidermy.  Your thorough review of the website should have included the section on taxidermy.   Start thinking about your options and deciding on what will appeal to you the most.  Locate and interview several taxidermists.  Meet them at their shop to view their work and discuss your preferences.  Ask them about their views on the trophy importation process.   Check their references.  If possible, take a look at work they have done for existing clients.  Compare notes and begin to decide which taxidermist you feel would best meet your needs.

AT TAXIDERMY SHOP Meet with several taxidermists in advance of your safari.  Get them to point out the important aspects of their work.  Obtain a price quote from each.

 Customs Broker.   You will need the services of a customs broker to get your trophies imported back into your country of residence. You can find customs brokers online.  The reliable ones are licensed to operate through several port of entry and are not restricted simply to where their office is located.  Ask lots of questions.  You can make your final decision in the next few months.

Research.  Continue to read any books you have purchased; watch the DVDs you ordered.


Shooting.  How are your sessions at the rifle range coming along?  You should have had several good sessions with the .22LR bolt gun and now be ready to transition over to your African working rifle.  This is the month to get that rifle sighted in if you have not already done so.  Once you have achieved your rifles “zero” and are satisfied with it, you should move off the bench now.  No more shooting there.  Instead, move onto the shooting sticks as this will be the shooting methodology you will be applying on safari.  Expect your groups to open up, as you don’t have the luxury of the bench any longer.  If you have to go back to the bench momentarily to rebuild your confidence and be assured of maintaining your “zero” then do so.  But, don’t get stuck there.  Get back on those sticks.

During your rifle range practice sessions you should be shooting at irregular targets.  Put the bullseye targets away.  Replace them with big sheets of white paper that you have criss-crossed with several stripings of black duct tape, making the white sections as small as you deem to be challenging.  Then shoot at each one of these trying to hit the remaining white sections. These patchwork targets are even better practice than life size animal target because they force you to try to avoid the black tape.  This is particularly valuable practice when having to shoot through openings in brush. During these sessions practice the mental discipline of not grandly standing erect while you admire the shot you just placed. Instead, make the firing, ejection of the spent cartridge, and getting back on target again all a part of your training.  Fire 2-3 rounds like this one after the other in a continuous sequence. Make moving onto the sticks part of the practice as well.   Stand back from the sticks 2-3 steps and practice moving forward onto the sticks while visually maintaining your attention on the target and not the sticks.  Make your movements steady and fluid trying to get into shooting position without entangling your sling or jarring the sticks.  Make the first shot count.  Eject the empty case quickly and chamber the next round.  Don’t rush the second or third shot but concentrate on ejecting the spent cartridge and getting the next one chambered and ready to be fired if necessary.  Remember the old adage from combat pistol craft, “Take all the time you need, but be quick about it.”  Remembering this once you get in the bush will serve you well.  Finally, it is a common affliction both at the range and in the bush to start with the sticks positioned too high.  Having them positioned too low is better than too high.

IMG 2316 This individual is checking the impact of his bullets on an irregular target he has just shot at from a set of shooting sticks.  There are about a dozen white sections to shoot at on this single target.

 You should also practice dry-firing your hunting rifle to supplement your range sessions.  You should dry-fire your rifle about 5X the number of live rounds you fire.  Cut some small African animal figures out of a magazine, tape them to a wall in your basement or garage and dry-fire on them just as if you were hunting these animals (MAKE SURE YOUR CHAMBER IS EMPTY).  Concentrate; make each pull of the trigger a “hit”.

While at the range engaging in live fire exercises, don’t make any one session overly long.  Many sessions over extended periods, shooting just a few rounds at a time (10-20) will produce better results than isolated sessions long in length where many rounds are fired.  If you have extra time in any one session, use that time for dry-firing instead of expending more live rounds.  Measure your progress not by the rounds that you fire, but by the results of those fired rounds on the targets.

 If the weather permits, complete your practice sessions wearing the same clothes and equipment (including head wear and sun glasses) you intend to wear while on safari.  Make adjustments as necessary, eliminating anything that encumbers your actual shooting.   Especially, avoid anything that hangs in front of you such as binoculars, range finders, cameras.  For the most part, you won’t even need any of these items while on safari, and they have ruined more shot opportunities than their value in the bush.  When the “moment of truth” arrives you will need to be listening to instructions from you PH and not concentrating on anything other than managing your trigger.   If you don’t purge yourself of unnecessary equipment, at best you may simply miss the shot.  In dangerous game hunting it could even cost you your life.

Finally, over the next few months, and before you embark on your safari, endeavor to have shot at least 100 rounds of live ammunition through your hunting rifle (plus 5X dry-firing).  You should have put the .22 rifle away once you shift to your hunting rifle because the focus now is to learn the trigger of the main rifle you will be hunting with.  It is perplexing that some hunters will spend $300 on new sun glasses before they go on safari but won’t spend $300 on practice ammunition.  That is ill-placed frugality.

Continue Your Research.  This month you should have finished watching any safari videos from your initial purchase and finish reading any books you first purchased.  Go back through our Suggested Reading and Viewing List and decide if you want to try any other suggested material.  Order it now.  Talk to others that have been on safari and get their opinions as to what worked for them.  Weigh your decisions against what they have to say.

Begin to Refine Your Clothing and Equipment List.  If you have begun to accumulate all the things you intend to pack in one place you may begin to see that you have accumulated a lot of stuff.  Start to consider what you really need and what you can do without.

Arrange for Roundtrip Ground Transportation to Point of Departure.  It is easy to put this off without consequences if you have a reliable family member to take you to the airport and you are confident they won’t absent-mindedly schedule a conflicting event.  However, if you have to rely on one of your hunting buddies to transport you, then you might want to give them as much advance notice as possible; and, be sure they log the commitment onto their phone calendar.

Passport.  If you had to order a new passport, do you have it now?  If not, use your delivery confirmation information to follow up with the State Department (US) to discover the reason for the delay.  Get the names, titles and follow-up phone numbers for any department representatives you speak to.  If you do not receive responsive treatment from these government employees contact your legislators, if necessary, and ask them to intervene on your behalf.

Inoculations.  Have you completed your recommended inoculations?  If not, you should do so this month.


Firearms Case:  Make sure that the case in which you intend to transport your firearms is fully airline approved. It should be noted that while many cases will bear the certification of being “airline approved” certainly not all cases are created equal.  We do not know what criteria (if any) are applied to deem a case to be “airline approved”.  A visual inspection of a variety of cases will confirm that some offer better protection for your firearms than others.  As in most things, you pretty much can expect quality to run parallel with price.  Be sure to  avoid any case where the top and bottom have any degree of flex.  Stick with a rigid hard case of either aluminum or composite where both the top and bottom are rigidly solid without any flexion whatsoever.

If you had to purchase a new case that requires separate locks, make sure you have locks that will fit the locking recesses on the case.  If the locks are combination locks, then write down the combinations and store them in several secure places about your person while you are traveling.  The same goes for keys if the locks are keyed locks. 

Understand that each firearm you ship should have the full set of firearms importation documents with it in the case, and the owner of that firearm must arrive in RSA when the firearm itself arrives.  Here is an example of a situation to be avoided: Bill and Steve decide to save space by putting their two rifles in one case owned by Bill.  They don’t bother to put their importation documents in the rifle case.  While in route Steve gets delayed for some reason.  Bill arrives in RSA with both his rifle and Steve’s rifle.  Now they are both in trouble.  Bill for allegedly attempting to import a rifle that is not his, and Steve because he attempted to import a rifle without being present to do so.  Irrespective of the possible legal consequences, if Steve doesn’t arrive soon to claim his rifle, it is likely to be destroyed.

Shooting.  Keep shooting.  Small frequent sessions are still the best methodology.  Don’t let up on the dry-firing either.  Three 10- minute sessions of serious dry-firing each week should be sufficient.  Try to really “feel” all the subtleties of your particular trigger.

Chose a Customs Broker.  Make your final decision as to which Customs Broker you are going to use.  Contact your Pro-Staff Team Member and obtain the contact information of the dip & ship facility in RSA (name, email address, name of contact person).  Give your Customs Broker the contact information of the dip & ship facility in RSA.

Make Contact with Dip & Ship Facility in RSA.  After you have the contact information for the dip & ship facility email them and advise them that you are coming on safari with Chacma Hunting Safari and wish to use their services.  Give them the contact information for your customs broker.



Clothing and Equipment.  Decide what is going to RSA and what is staying home.

Pack: Complete your final packing during the last two weeks if not before.  Remember this: you cannot get on the plane without (a) your passport and (b) your boarding pass.  You can forget everything else, including your firearm, and you can still have a memorable safari because everything else can be procured in RSA if necessary.  If you forget your firearm you can use one of our staff rifles.  However, make sure you are prepared to show up at airport security with both your passport and boarding pass.

Carry-On Luggage.  Pack this last.  Make sure you have everything you believe you will reasonably need to keep you comfortable the next 15-24 hours.  However, try to keep this bag as small as possible as you will be needing to go into it several times during your flight, very possibly at night while others are sleeping.  So, you will want to keep it light so you can access it with a minimum of fuss.  With this thought in mind, keep a small flashlight on your person (red bulb is a good choice, or a flashlight having both red and white bulbs).  Keep all toiletries in a small bag inside your carry-on in a location that is easily accessible.  A change of underclothing is also a good idea.  Keep medications, sleep-aids, eye-glasses, contact lenses cases, eye drops, tissues, etc. all in a handy location.  Remember, if you are crossing the equator from the Northern Hemisphere you are most likely leaving summer behind and entering into winter.  It is seldom ever frigid in RSA, but the evenings can be quite cool.  You will feel this if coming from a latitude where it is summer.  Accordingly, you may wish to have a packable jacket in your carry-on once you arrive at the airport in RSA.

Weather.  As a precursor to packing, you can make final clothing decisions by checking the 5-day or 10-day forecast for Johannesburg to make your final decision about clothing.  Any online weather service ought to be able to provide this information.

Clean and Pack Your Firearm(s).  Try not to overload your firearms case.  The best, most durable cases are already heavy (that’s why they are so reliable), many of them weighing 20-25 pounds.  If you place just one 10 pound rifle in the case you are already at 35 pounds.  Another 10 pound rifle and you are at 45 pounds, just 5 pounds away from the typical 50 pound limit where you must start paying over-weight charges.  Also, remember, you cannot place ammunition in the same case with firearms.  Try to keep other incidentals (knives, cleaning items, etc.) out of your firearm case.  They just add more weight, and you run the risk of these items shifting around and damaging your firearm.  You can minimize this by having your firearm slipped inside a gun sock first, or you can (with some level of pre-planning) have recesses cut out of the interior foam for each item you intend to carry. 

Show up at the airport with your firearms case locked but be prepared to open it without unnecessary delay.  You cannot do “self-check-in” when traveling with a firearm.  Therefore, you will have to see a ticket agent.  As soon as you have produced your passport and travel itinerary to the agent clearly state that you are traveling with a firearm.  Don’t unlock or open the case until instructed.  Answer the agent’s questions, follow their instructions, and sign the necessary forms as requested.  It’s not a requirement, but having the bolt removed from bolt-action rifles is a good idea.  Point this out to anyone inspecting the interior of your case.  They will be grateful that you are so safety-minded.

When the ticket agent is satisfied that your firearm(s) is/are unloaded they will ask you to close and lock your case.  At this time they will summon a TSA  Agent (US travelers) who will load your case onto a cart for the walk over to the TSA portal where additional checks are conducted.  You will follow the TSA Agent and unlock the case when requested.  TSA will then X-ray the case and conduct some additional tests on the case itself.  When they are finished they will re-lock the case, return your keys to you (if not a combination lock) and take possession of the case for shipment.  At this time you are free to proceed to your boarding gate.  However, do not leave the TSA  Agent until you have visually satisfied yourself that your firearms case is indeed locked.  If your case contains combination locks, make sure the TSA  Agent rotated the combination and did not leave it on the set of numbers that unlocks the case (good argument for a case that uses keyed padlocks). 

Customs officer

Finally, once your case has gone through this TSA inspection and has been released for shipment there should be absolutely no need for TSA to re-enter your case.  Therefore, you should not place TSA-accessible locks on your firearms case.

You must sign an affidavit affirming your firearm is unloaded.  The best way to demonstrate this is to have the bolt removed so the chamber is clearly visible.

Check Government Sources.  If you are an American traveler, during the final  five days check with TSA, CBP, CDC, and State Department to determine any last minute alerts that might contain useful information.  Anything that is new or different should be visibly posted on their respective website as soon as the website is opened, so this should not require a long search.  If you joined SCI they usually send out alerts to all active members regarding anything that might impact the international hunter.

TSA =  www.tsa.gov/

CBP =  www.cbp.gov/

CDC = www.cdc.gov/

STATE DEPARTMENT = www.state.gov/

Arrive at the Airport.  Be sure to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight departure time.  Allow for the vagaries of traffic and weather.  Remember, you have to check your firearms with TSA.  This is an added element that is not a part of unarmed air travel, so understand that this takes additional time.  How long it takes to clear all the necessary steps before boarding your initial flight is highly dependent on the number of people flying, the number of people checking firearms, the sense of urgency (or not) of airline personnel, etc. none of whom are going to care too much about your personal circumstances.  Therefore, allow plenty of time to handle these details.

If you can begin your travel, and your safari, in a relaxed state of mind you will be more likely to maintain that relaxed state.  Of course, the converse is equally true.

Copyright ©2023 Chacma Hunting Safaris hereby known as the Company and W. Hunter Roop hereby known as Agent for the Company; all rights reserved. By downloading or receiving a copy of this Planning Guide, the recipient agrees not to reproduce it in whole or in part, not to use it for any other purpose than reading, and not to disclose any of its contents to third parties without written permission of the Company and Willem van der Merwe. The Planning Guide is furnished for informational purposes only. No representation or warranty is made by the Company or any other entity as to the accuracy or completeness of the information, and nothing contained in the Planning Guide is, or shall be, relied on as a promise or representation of the future.