How to do what you have to do
We look forward to welcoming you to umSisi House! Our 5 star country house villa and gourmet getaway only caters for private groups (between 4 and 10 people) on either a fully inclusive or a dinner, bed and breakfast rate. umSisi House sleeps up to 6 people in three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms while umSisi Cottage sleeps an additional 4 people in two bedrooms sharing a bathroom with a double shower. Please note that the cottage is rented on a self-catering basis only when not used as additional accommodation for the house.
Our rates include exclusive use of the house, swimming pool, jacuzzi and hiking trails, swimming towels, daily maid services, laundry, WiFi internet access, activity booking service, complimentary fruit, fruit cordials, tea and coffee. Our rates exclude telephone calls, airport and other transfers, car hire, massage treatments (outsourced) and any activities or excursions booked on behalf of guests by umSisi House to visit the Kruger National Park or surrounding areas.
Our dinner, bed and breakfast (DBB) rate is suitable for guests who are here to explore the area and have a busy schedule. This rate includes breakfast and dinner only and drinks are for the guests own account. DBB guests are expected to be out between 11am and 3pm within reason as lunch it not available at umSisi House. However, picnic lunches can be organised with advance notice for your own account.
Our Fully Inclusive (FI) rate is suitable for guests looking for more of a relaxed villa experience where they base themselves at umSisi House and venture out only for specific activities! This rate includes all meals (and picnics) and local drinks.
Please complete the booking form after reading our Terms and Conditions.
Pertinent reminders for even the most seasoned traveller
In order to ensure that your stay at umSisi House is as hassle free as possible, we will happily arrange all of your activities and Kruger Park visits in advance of your arrival. However, to eliminate any travel stress on your part, we recommend that you arrange your international and domestic travel requirements including flights, visas and car hire prior to departure.
Here are our top eleven travel tips:
- Visitors should check whether they require a visa prior to travelling by visiting http://www.home-affairs.gov.za
- If you do require a visa, visit the South African Embassy or Mission in your country of residence. Prices can be checked by visiting 'price page' on web link above
- Passports must be valid for six months from date of arrival in South Africa, and please make sure you have at least two facing blank pages in your valid passports. It is also advisable to travel with certified copies of your passport and some spare passport photos
- As much as South Africa loves welcoming international visitors, they must have return or onward tickets
- Immigration rules require parents travelling with children (under 18) to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted. The South African Department of Home Affairs are not accepting copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents/guardians identification. There are additional requirements if the child is travelling with only the one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. See Entry requirements
- There are no international immunisations required when entering South Africa, although visitors arriving from yellow-fever areas will need to prove inoculation
- It is essential that you are in possession of a valid driving licence at all times when in South Africa, and an additional international licence is preferable
- It is advisable to have adequate travel insurance as well as medical insurance in place before your departure
- Visitors can have their Value-Added-Tax refunded at departure upon presentation of purchased items and tax receipts
- Always consult your medical practitioner or travel clinic prior to leaving on your overseas holiday. Please be advised that umSisi House is situated in a low-risk malarial area due to our high altitude (see below)
- If you have any concerns about travel safety in South Africa, or for any emergency or other information, phone 083 123 2345 (24 hours a day) within South Africa
What you need to know before you get here
As mentioned in 'Travel Tips', South Africa doesn't require you to arrive with a book full of immunisations. However, it is suggested that you consult your doctor with all of your health risk concerns as he or she may feel a few standard vaccinations or inoculations are in order. Some medical practitioners will suggest hepatitis A and tetanus inoculations if they feel it's in your best interest to do so.
With regard to any malaria concerns specifically, the Peebles Valley is not situated in a high-risk malaria area due to our relatively high altitude; it is set amidst rolling hills and is considered to be a very low-risk malarial destination. This essentially means that it is highly unlikely that you will contract malaria when staying with us. There are mosquitoes around though, but they are not malaria carrying mosquitoes. The local people don't take anti-malaria drugs known as malaria prophylactics unless they're staying over-night in the Kruger Park or surrounding private concessions. That said, umSisi House cannot take responsibility for anyone who contracts malaria, so please consult your doctor or travel clinic prior to departure and discuss the option of malaria prevention medication with them.
Here are some health tips for travelling in South Africa to help prevent malaria exposure:
- apply insect repellent to exposed skin as sunset approaches
- wear long-sleeved clothing, trousers and socks
- close windows at night
- turn off lights in bedrooms and turn on ceiling fans or sleep under a mosquito net
- burn mosquito coils in the bedroom areas
In high-risk areas the use of anti-malaria drugs is recommended from October to May. People at particular risk and requiring extra precautions are:
- children under 5
- adults over 65
- pregnant women
- people on long term steroids
- people receiving chemotherapy
- people with Aids / HIV, porphyria or epilepsy
- people who have had their spleens removed
- people suffering from terminal illnesses
Taking Malaria Prophylaxis
If you do decide to take malaria prophylaxis, it is essential to take the drugs according to the directions on the package insert. You must start and end when they tell you to as this reflects the incubation period of the disease. Otherwise you have wasted your time and money! It is always advisable to take the drugs with food to avoid any stomach upsets and you must make yourself aware of all of the side-effects the different drugs have
The essential packing list for your holiday of a lifetime in South Africa
umSisi House recommends the following list of what to pack for your South African holiday to ensure you have everything you need for a visit to South Africa:
- Mosquito repellents and malaria prophylactics as advised for your safaris
- Sandals or flip-flops as well as some sturdy walking shoes or boots for hiking
- Sunglasses, hats, sun cream, after-sun and lip balm
- Swim wear (and goggles if you're sensitive to chlorine)
- Your camera and video recording equipment as well as spare batteries, adaptors and memory cards
- Two pairs of binoculars as one is never enough to go around
- A strong torch in case the lights go out because power failures do happen in South Africa!
- Your preferred South African travel guide books and other reading material to supplement what we have in our library
- Your music collection to play while ‘at home’
- Something warm for the evenings when the air temperature drops; the weather in South Africa can vary somewhat from day to day
- Those specials toys that your children can't live without!
So you arrive before the sun sets
It is important to consider hiring a car when in South Africa as public transport is virtually non-existent and transfers are very expensive.
Modes of Transport
There are several transport options for getting from Oliver Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) to umSisi House:
- You can hire a car in Johannesburg and enjoy a 4 hour or so journey to umSisi House. This is a very easy and picturesque drive bypassing Johannesburg altogether, or
- You can take a short flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) from Johannesburg and either hire a car on arrival, as we are only 20 minutes drive away, or we will arrange your transfer to umSisi, or
- You can take an air-conditioned minibus from airport to airport and hire a car at the airport or we will arrange your transfer to umSisi
Please have a supply of South African rand with you to pay for road tolls on the N4 and fuel as some petrol stations still do not accept credit cards. Tolls will cost approximately R150 for each leg of the journey.
Directions from Oliver Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) to umSisi House:
Directions from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) to umSisi House:
To avoid any possible confusion the Afrikaans word for 'gate' is 'hek'. Sometimes the signposts may be written in Afrikaans as opposed to English
Our GPS co-ordinates to the bottom of our drive are S 25⁰13.506, E 031⁰04.321. Please be advised that our dirt road does not appear on all satellite navigation systems. PLEASE PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE DIRECTIONS THAT WE WILL PROVIDE YOU.
Other Useful Information
Where to buy fuel, get cash and everything else you may need to know
Availability of Fuel
White River has numerous petrol / gas stations, and we are only 15 kilometres away from the nearest one. Most of them operate 24-hours a day and have small shops and ATM machines on the premises. Please note that at some fuel stations fuel can still only be purchased with South African rands.
The main high street banks in South Africa are First National Bank and Standard Bank. If you need a bank which deals in Forex exchange, we recommend that you use the First National Bank in White River (on the high street) or the Standard Bank in the Riverside Mall.
Drinking Water and Water Supply
Our water is supplied from two natural springs in the mountains behind the house. A trickle system fills the storage tanks and our geysers. This water is incredibly rich in nutrients so there is absolutely no need to worry about the safety of the drinking water! All of the drinking water provided is run through a sand filter and decanted into glass bottles for your enjoyment. We expect the water supply to cater for a full house as long as deep baths are kept to a minimum and we are not in the middle of a drought cycle.
Telephone and Internet Connection
There is one line going into the house. The number is + 27 (0) 13 750 1520 and you are welcome to give this number to friends, family or the office should they need to contact you. We have free WiFi available for everyone, but this is farm 3G and is not suitable for live streaming! Any outgoing calls made through our landline will be charged at normal rates and added to your final account.
Mobile / Cell Phone Reception
We have pretty good mobile phone coverage at the property and it is generally excellent around the Nelspruit and White River areas. That said, it will totally disappear when you enter the depths of the Kruger National Park.
Snakes and Insects
There are many interesting and beautiful insects and snakes at umSisi House. The majority of them are harmless. However, if the insects bother you please ask us to remove them for you. There are reference books to help you identify what you have found. But under no circumstances should you try to deal with snakes on your own. If you find a snake, by all means try to identify it, but ask Paddy or Amanda to remove it with their special snake stick. Typically we find Mozambican Spitting Cobras, Puff Adders and Black Mamba in this area. They choose to avoid us and we try and leave them in relative peace. While it is important to always be aware of snake safety measures, please remember that they are much more scared of us than we are of them. The rule of thumb is never walk through the flower beds or long grass in bare feet!
If you're a keen birder, don't think your bird watching at umSisi House need be limited to day light hours! Once the sun sets you can listen out for the hooting of wood and spotted eagle owls and the trilling of nightjars. You can also expect to hear the cries of thick-tailed and thin-tailed bush babies, the sonar of fruit bats and a full symphony orchestra of various frog and toad species. Please don't worry about this as everything is absolutely harmless!
Some Useful Websites
|Garonga Safari Camp and Little Garonga are luxury safari camps situated in the greater Makalali Conservancy situated west of the Kruger National Park.||www.garonga.com|
|Daily flights from Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Livingstone to Nelspruit. As well as from Nelspruit to Vilanculos.||Flights between Nelspruit KMIA and Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Livingstone. Flights from Nelspruit KMIA to Vilanculos|
|Africa Odyssey offers tailor-made safaris to East and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. We design and work with our clients to build bespoke, dream-fulfilling itineraries to this spectacular continent.||www.africaodyssey.com|
|South African Tourism||www.southafrica.net
|Kruger National Park||www.sanparks.org
|Kruger Lowveld Tourism||www.krugerlowveld.com|
|Cape Town Travel||www.capetowntravel.com
|Africa Geographic Magazine||www.africageographic.com|
|Getaway Travel Magazine||www.getaway.co.za|
|Malaria and Immunisation Advice||www.masta.org|
|UK Foreign Office Updates for travel advisory alerts to South Africa||www.fco.gov.uk|
|Black Pot Safaris specialise in providing fully-supported and personally tailored, private self-drive safaris for those intrepid individuals who choose to visit Africa in search of beauty, adventure and unbeatable wildlife. We cater specifically for those who want to hire their own fully-customised 4x4 vehicle to experience the freedom and excitement of Africa's wildlife and wild places on their own personal safari, but would prefer to be accompanied and supported by their own personal safari leaders (who will drive a separate vehicle).||www.blackpotsafaris.co.za|