For the sheer abundance and variety of birds, you can’t beat southern Africa. An old hand’s wingshooting primer for greenhorns
If you’ve never been to southern Africa, travelling kitty-corner across the Atlantic and coordinating with an outfitter can seem daunting. The good news is, you won’t be the first to make the trip, so the groundwork is largely a breeze.
SELECTING AN OUTFITTER
More and more outfitters are now specializing in wingshooting safaris. Search for them online, or attend a trade show such as the Safari Club International convention, which attracts a large number of African PHs. As with all outfitters, be clear about your expectations before booking, and be sure to check their references. While there are good and bad outfitters everywhere, it’s my experience the bad ones don’t last long in southern Africa.
Travel to southern Africa is straightforward, if arduous. Typically, it means a flight to Europe followed by a 12-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Take whatever you need to relax and sleep on the airplane, because it’s going to be nearly 36 hours from door to door. Expect to pay between $1,500 to $2,000 for a round trip. Thankfully, once you arrive, you’ll find nearly everything is cheaper than at home.
You’ll be met at the airport arrivals lounge by your PH or his representative, so don’t worry about having to find your way around a strange airport or country; again, the level of service provided by outfitters in southern Africa is second to none.
Check with your local travel health authority about any precautions you may need to take. You needn’t worry in most parts of South Africa or Namibia, but if you’re travelling to other countries in Africa you may require anti-malarial drugs or other medications. Finally, visas are not required for Canadians travelling to South Africa or Namibia.
ON THE GROUND
If you’re an avid wingshooter with an itch to travel, you owe it to yourself to consider southern Africa. You won’t find a similar abundance or diversity of birds anywhere else in the world. You can specialize in just a couple of species if you prefer, or experience the entire spectrum of bird options and hunting styles.
And since you’ll already be there, be sure to book yourself a few extra days before or after your hunt. Visit a game park or two, check out South Africa’s wine country, go see Victoria Falls, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of the backcountry or the modern cities; your outfitter can help with setting up side trips. Just be forewarned before you get too far along in planning your dream wingshooting safari—once you’ve been to Africa, you’ll always want to go back.