Being Told I Can’t Go to Africa This Year

 

Terry Blauwkamp is a seasoned hunter, gun-expert and reloader. He has been to Africa more than 20 times. Terry has been a consistent part of DSC Publications through his reloading column.

 

Author’s note: I’m not sure how to start this article, but I will give it a shot. I have been busy traveling the last couple months, so I have a lot to update you on. I will start with my recent travel experience dealing with all the new protocols. Not sure how it will relate to “Reloading,” except I’ll include ammo travel information and how well mine worked. We will return to “typical” reloading articles soon.

 

I was told by many folks last fall that we just couldn’t travel to Africa then, or in 2021, on account of too many regulations.

They were right to some extent, as there are plenty of regulations and procedures to deal with, and some even tend to change daily; but I went to South Africa and Namibia twice in the last six months.

I’ve lost count of how many COVID tests I’ve had, both here in the U.S. and abroad. Seems every airline and border crossing wants one.

 

AIRLINE CHOICE

Delta Airlines has been the predominant carrier from the U.S. to Johannesburg since South African Airways went belly up last year, but Delta has not flown there in a long time. Twice lately they have taken bookings and then backed out at the last minute.

That leaves Qatar and Ethiopian Airlines as about the only alternative, as going through Europe is even a bigger hassle.

I took Ethiopian last November, and Qatar in April-May of 2021, and both did a fine job. They both are a lot longer flying time, as you must go to their home base in Addis Ababa or Doha, and then another 5-8 hours to Jo-burg, rather than non-stop Atlanta to Jo-burg, but it beats not going at all.

 

COVID AIR TRAVEL

I highly suggest you use a travel agent that is familiar with African travel and all the quirks and forms that need to be filled out. Then, still be mentally prepared for surprises, like half of them never even look at your forms and just toss them on a pile. But I had a sharp worker in Jo-burg who said to me, “But sir, your COVID test is too old.”

To which we had to explain to him that yes, it is over 72 hours, but it is now Tuesday morning, and I took the test on Friday at 6 p.m., and left GRR on Sunday night at 8 p.m., 50 hours after the test was taken, and the rule is departure on the originating flight within 72 hours.

“But sir, you just came from Doha, Qatar.” Yes, I agree, but I left home over two days ago and have been in the air for over 24 hours. Finally, he said okay as I really doubt he wanted to count to 72 anyway.

There were lots of little annoyances or particular guys like that, be it with the COVID test or the firearm and ammunition box.

After all was said and done, it really is worth it once I get to camp, put my feet up by the fire, and sort of forget about it for a week or two.

The best news (at the moment) is that United Airlines has now started to fly from Newark, New Jersey, non-stop for 15 hours to Johannesburg, so that should ease up a lot of frustration of folks getting there without the extra 5-8 hours using the alternatives.

I said forget about it for a while but going back home is all the paperwork in reverse, as South Africa has more forms to fill out to depart, and of course, you will need a COVID test to get on the plane. Again, your travel agent and folks you are hunting with will certainly be helpful with details.

This past trip on Qatar was the first time I have ever used Chicago as my return point for any international trip, and I must say, that the Immigration and U.S. Customs folks were much nicer to deal with than the ones in Washington Dulles.

 

AMMO TRAVEL

Oh, your ammunition is the next item to deal with. Seems one airline wants it in your luggage, while the next one (which could be your transfer flight) wants it out and separate and dealt with like any other baggage.

The author recommends traveling with ammo in a box like this with two padlocks.

Another thing to remember is to make sure your ammo is in a sturdy lockable box, like a camera case or pistol box with two padlocks (see picture).

The agent at Qatar told me as I was checking in that the week before, they denied some fellow’s ammo boxes, as they were the cheap plastic boxes with a padlock on one corner so that a person could reach over and pull the other side open. So, the firearms were put on the plane, and they lost their ammo to the trash bin, I’d guess.

This is another great reason to use rifles of a common caliber, so if you lose your ammo for any reason, you can usually find a box or two at your destination of simple .30-06, .270 Win, .300 Win Mag, etc.

 

BULLET CHOICE

Finally, we can talk about my favorite subjects like reloading and bullet choice and performance. As always, remember nothing beats bullet placement, followed by bullet construction.

The author’s bullet choice

I did not take a rifle in November, so I just used my outfitter’s guns instead. This is not a bad idea, but I really prefer my own guns and ammo. This past trip I took my old M-70 Winchester .300 Winchester Magnum with my reloaded ammo using 165-gr. Barnes TTSX bullets. They performed incredibly well, taking everything from impala and springbok to eland, all with one-shot efficiency.

Barnes also now loads their TTSX bullets in their own VOR-TX brand ammo. I’ve tried it in the .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .338 Winchester Magnum, and it is some of the finest I’ve ever used.

Will I continue to travel to Africa in the future amidst all the tests and paperwork? Heck yes! It’s a matter of compliance and getting it done. I just won’t let the system beat me.

 

Feel free to write me any time at TBlauwkamp@superior-sales.com