Selecting the Right Caliber
Hunting in South Africa is a thrilling adventure, and choosing the appropriate hunting caliber is a critical decision. With a vast range of game species, selecting a caliber that suits your familiarity and comfort is essential. Your instinct plays a vital role when the pressure is on.
Versatility in Caliber Selection
When it comes to big game hunting in Africa, the caliber debate is ongoing. Given the multitude of species, from the smallest to the most massive, it’s an understandably contentious topic. Bringing a rifle and caliber you are accustomed to is recommended, as it is essential to rely on your experience when making split-second decisions.
Firearms at Your Disposal
While you are permitted to bring two rifles for your safari, there’s no need to worry about the details. Mabula Pro Safaris has an African battery of rifles available for your use. We recommend two primary calibers, the .30-06 and the .375, which provide versatility and effectiveness, enabling you to pursue a broad spectrum of African game.
The Role of the .375 Caliber
The .375 caliber is essential for handling dangerous game. While it is designed to address threats from formidable animals, such scenarios are usually not part of the hunting experience. In situations where dangerous game isn’t involved, alternative calibers such as the .270 or 7mm, along with the .30-06, are highly effective and reliable choices.
Selecting the Ideal Rifle Caliber
Your choice of rifle caliber must be capable of handling the largest game you intend to hunt while maintaining accuracy for smaller species. Moreover, it should offer flat-shooting capabilities for longer-range shots. The .375 caliber, when equipped with premium ammunition and in the hands of a steady marksman, can effectively address a wide range of African game.
Premium ammunition is vital for your caliber to perform at its best. Achieving one-shot kills is the objective. Opt for bullets that are tough enough for the largest animal you plan to hunt. Notable choices include Nosler Partitions, Barnes X, Winchester Fail Safe, Trophy Bonded Bearclaw, and Swift A-Frame. For plains game, the new “tipped and bonded” Hornady Interbond, Nosler AccuBond, and Swift Scirocco are exceptional selections. Choose relatively heavy bullets for your caliber, and you’ll be well-prepared for a variety of game.
Preparation for the Hunt
Ensure your chosen caliber is paired with the most accurate premium ammunition. This combination is crucial for achieving one-shot kills and ensuring ethical hunting practices.
Considerations for Ammunition Quantity
The quantity of ammunition required is contingent upon the game you plan to hunt. Be mindful of airline regulations that impose weight restrictions on ammunition. On a prolonged modern safari, 60 rounds for the “lighter rifle” and 30 rounds for the “heavier rifle” are typically adequate. Always consult with Mabula Pro Safaris, as we maintain a supply of premium ammunition for our African battery.
Essential Optics: Binos & Scopes
When it comes to binoculars and scopes, eye relief is a critical factor. Your scope should provide ample eye relief to avoid discomfort and distraction during your African safari.
Quality Optics Matter
Invest in the best optics your budget allows. While long-range shooting is rare in Africa, it’s crucial to have reliable optics. For a flat-shooting rifle intended for a broad range of plains game, a scope with no more magnification than the popular 3-9X or 3.5-10X variables is sufficient. For more potent rifles used for dangerous game, a simple fixed 4X scope is suitable, particularly since such rifles are not typically used for long-range shooting.
Choosing Appropriate Hunting Colours
Selecting the right clothing for your safari is essential. Traditional khaki is often deemed too bright. Instead, we recommend opting for a nondescript olive green, which blends well with various environments and ensures you remain inconspicuous during your hunt.
Firearm Permit Information: Preparing for Your Hunt
If you’re considering importing firearms into South Africa for your hunting safari, you’ll be pleased to know that the process is more straightforward than you might expect. To facilitate the use of your own rifles during your South African hunt, we recommend using services provided by companies that offer pre-approved import permits.
The Application Process
To bring your firearms into South Africa, it’s essential to complete the temporary firearm import permit application (SAP520) in advance, if possible. This form must be filled out using a black pen and should remain unsigned until it’s finalized in the presence of the police official responsible for issuing the actual permit at the airport.
Requirements for the Temporary Firearm Import Permit
Several requirements must be met for the issuance of a temporary firearm import permit:
- A valid passport and a return airline ticket.
- A letter from your hunting outfitter(s) inviting you to hunt.
- The completed SAP 520 Form (unsigned, as it should be signed in front of the official).
- A notarized/certified copy of Proof of Ownership for your firearm(s).
- For visitors from the United States, the proof of ownership form is the Custom Form 4457 (available at your nearest airport).
- For visitors from the United Kingdom, a copy of your firearm license or certificate is required.
- European visitors must provide a Firearms Possession Licence or a European Firearms Pass.
- A letter from your local sheriff in the form of an affidavit confirming ownership or an invoice from a gun shop where you have purchased the firearm(s).
- Proof of export of specific firearms from your country of residence (CBP Form 4457 – Certificate of Registration for personal effects taken abroad).
- A personal letter of motivation written by you to clarify your reason for wanting to import firearms into South Africa.
Requirements and Restrictions
There are specific requirements and restrictions to keep in mind:
- Automatic or semi-automatic firearms are not permitted for import.
- Importing more than one firearm of the same caliber per person traveling is not allowed.
- The legal limit for ammunition is 200 rounds per person, per firearm.
- Handguns are not allowed for import unless their intended use is specified for hunting.
- A maximum of four (4) firearms or shotguns per person is allowed, with no more than one of the same caliber or gauge.
- Importing ammunition for firearms not accompanying you is not permitted.
- Firearms must bear the manufacturer’s serial number or any other identifying mark.
- The identification number must be stamped and affixed in the prescribed manner on the barrel, frame, or receiver of the firearm.
- Importers must be 21 years of age or older.
Preparing for your South African hunting safari involves adhering to these requirements and restrictions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Mabula Pro Safaris are happy to assist you contact companies who will, for a fee, organise pre- approved rifle permits.
The PHASA website also has information regarding the firearms regulations for Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Netherland Transit, South African Airways, Emirates Airlines, SA Express and SA Air Link, to help you select the best airline to take responsibility of your firearms for flight to South Africa. For more information you can visit the PHASA website..
Things to Bring
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- Suitable headwear for sun protection, preferably in natural colors.
- Comfortable shoes for bush wear. Serious hunters and hikers should consider ankle boots.
- Suitable clothing and underwear for summer and winter.
- For summer, light, comfortable clothing, preferably in natural colors.
- For winter, warmer clothing is advisable, as our weather can be really unpredictable.
- Remember to bring:
- Camera and video equipment to capture the beauty, you will witness
- In the evening, a flashlight could be handy, as well as a pocketknife and gloves.
- Sun protection creams
- Any eyewear you might need, plus an extra pair.
- Small magnifying glass (in case you lose or break your glasses).
- Various size 4 mil Zip Lock bags, rubber bands, safety pins, electrical tie straps, and a couple of 39-gallon trash bags (I put my luggage in a trash bag to keep out dust, etc.).
- Roll of nylon strapping tape (not silver duct tape) which will fix nearly anything.
- Lens cleaner fluid and tissues for various optical lenses.
- Screwdrivers and wrenches necessary for screws on your firearms and scopes.
- Bug spray with Deet.
- Leather gloves and a full-brim hat (not a baseball cap).
- 3 pairs of everything: long pants, long-sleeve shirts, long socks, underwear, etc. Laundry is done every day in camp. You can always cut off legs and sleeves.
- Two pairs of broken-in footwear and extra laces.
- Down jacket
- Rain poncho
- Take lots of photos – of everything! These will highlight and become some of your best memories in later years. I kept a diary, which I wrote up each night. Animals seen and shot, birds, camp life, names and addresses of people met, etc. The diaries and photos of my trips are as important as the trophies that now hang in my home.
- Make photocopies of your passport, shot record book, and prescriptions in case you lose them. Keep them separate from the rest of your luggage. Life will be much easier when you show up at our embassy to get new passports, etc. You will need a CITES permit to get your cats and elephant home. Take care of that before you go.
- Tipping: Base tips on 5% to 10% of the daily rate. Leave camp staff a good tip but after first consulting with the PH. Staff may want tips in local currency.
- Register with the U.S. State Department. Go to http://www.travel.state.gov and click ‘International Travel’. Then hit ‘registration with embassies’ from the menu on the left side of the tool bar. By providing contacts, your itinerary, passport number, and other information, you offer the embassy one simple means of tracking your whereabouts. If you give permission, they will also release information to relatives and friends that inquire about you. Simply another precaution to take in these sometimes turbulent travel times.
Proper healthcare is never far away, but care should be taken to have the necessary vaccinations.
- Ask your doctor for a strong antibiotic (Cephalexin) and the latest medication for Malaria.
- NEVER GIVE YOUR MALARIA MEDICINE AWAY! TAKE IT ALL.
- Start taking malaria medicine before you leave home.
- Should you fall ill with flu-like symptoms, make sure you are tested for malaria.
- Malaria medication should be started ahead of time. Please consult your physician or pharmacist.
- Carry it in your hand luggage.
- Note that Northern Province, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and Mpumalanga in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Uganda are susceptible to malaria. Insect repellants in these areas are advisable.
- If you use chronic medication, have sufficient medication dispensed to last the trip and carry it in your hand luggage.
Useful Medications to Check with Your Pharmacist:
- Benadryl tablets and cream
- Zinc Ointment
- Aleve (for bad necks, back pain, etc.)
- Q Vel (for muscle cramps)
- Surfak (stool softener)
- Imodium AD (anti-diarrhea)
- Your preferred heartburn and indigestion meds
- Wash & Dry Moist Towelettes
- Spenco Blister Gel Kit
- Foot powder
- Corn cushions (If you can’t walk, you can’t hunt)
- Ace bandage
- Kleenex tissue packs
- Bactine Hydrocortisone
- Band-Aids (all sizes and shapes)
- Eye patches
- Iodine and Iodine swabs
- Ambesol (for toothaches)
- Nasal spray
- Cough drops (no noise in the leopard blind)
- Unscented liquid soap for body, hair, and clothing if required