Thinking of going on safari…let us give you some advice

Safari tips and advice

Going on safari or a holiday to Africa has to be one of the most rewarding and exhilarating experiences you can do in your life. There is something about being in the African bush on safari that makes you feel alive by bringing all your senses together. A safari holiday should be on everyone’s wish list. I have seen people that have never left a city like New York go on safari and be brought to tears by the overall experience – it literary changes your life!

Seeing Africa’s wild animals roaming free, the big open skies by day and star-filled nights, the friendless and hospitality of the people, the smells, sounds and sights all form part of the overall experience. A safari is something you often can’t explain to someone in pictures or words, it is one of those things that just has to be experienced firsthand to understand why people love it so much. They say once you go, be prepared to want to go back for more…..

Where to go…..

Africa is so vast and the choice of places to see wildlife varies considerably – the finest and most iconic places are for Botswana The Okavango Delta, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Chobe National Park; Tanzania Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, Kenya; Maasai Mara, Zimbabwe; Hwange National Park, Namibia; Etosha National Park, Zambia; Kafue National Park, Luangwa Valley and South Africa’s Kruger National Park. But there are so many other areas that also leave you with a truly amazing experience

Who to go with…..

When selecting your safari your first step must be to carefully select who to use to plan your trip for you. Whilst you can often find good deals through website driven companies most of which are reliable some do go in and out of business leaving you in the lurch. Ideally you want to be able to talk to someone to explain what you want from your safari and then they piece together your ‘’once in a lifetime’’ trip. You would also like to use someone that has ideally been to the properties themselves and has good experience of Africa, simply because it is such a unique destination.

Accommodation and mode travel……

Along with these great destinations you can get a wide range of options on accommodation and travel. From group tours in mini buses, privately guided trips, self-drive, fully independent travel in mobile camps, Lodges and large resorts.

Ask yourself do you mind being with other travellers in the same vehicle and camp all day every day? Do you want mobile camping, 3 -5 star permanent camps or lodges? Lodges in a remote areas that have small numbers in guests for a more remote and personal experience or you don’t mind the larger properties that are a lower premium. You ideally want to stay 2-3 nights at each camp and stay at 2-3 different camps to give you a range of areas and experiences.

When to go……

The winter months going into summer are often the best for most of the above mentioned areas (May – October). This is due to the bush being dryer and not as thick with foliage allowing for better opportunities to see game. However some areas offer exceptional game viewing in their summer months and often come at a lower rate as it is out of peak season. Don’t rule out the summer months and be scared of rain you can get some great deals and still have an incredible experience in the summer months – not to mention witnessing beautiful stormy skies and intense colours in landscape

Health and safety……

All of the above mentioned places are safe as they are remote areas and often removed from the places that bring bad publicity. Food in the majority of lodges is of top quality and often exceeds expectations if you go to the right place. If you have special medication carry this with you in your carry on luggage. Carry extra things like eye drops, sunscreen, wet wipes. Malaria is a concern when you stay in densely populated areas and often the lodges that are remote have a lower risk of malaria, however it is still recommended to take all the necessary precautions. Spray insect repellent at night (often provided for you), sleep under mosquito net and cover up at dusk.

Clothing and luggage……

Wear neutral coloured clothing that is light weight, comfortable and easy to travel with above style. Camouflage clothing is not recommended and in some countries illegal. Stay away from bright coloured clothes and whites. Dinner is often casual dress and what you are most comfortable in. The majority of lodges offer same day laundry service so only take clothes for few days’ supply. Take a pair of closed walking shoes (runners are fine), sandals for around camp and something warm. Soft duffle style bags are best for most modes of travel in Africa – rigid suitcases don’t work on safari.

Extra notes:

  • Take a journal – no two days are the same and there will be a lot of great memories, stories, names and notes you will want to keep.
  • Take a good camera with you and binoculars are essential.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance that covers evacuation as well as medical and cancellation cover
  • Most places charge in US$ and staff gratuities are often best paid in US$. The operators will give you their recommendation for tipping guides and camp staff. Most camps and lodges accept credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard, but expect a surcharge of up to five per cent in some places
  • Respect wildlife even if they seem comfortable with you they are still wild animals
  • Always listen to your guide, they do know what’s best for the environment and most importantly your safety.

A safari holiday may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are thinking of it and want to do something that is different and full of wonder, then why not a safari. There is something on offer for everyone wanting to safari. The best thing you can do is speak to someone in the know and get as much advice as you can before making your decision, you don’t want to arrive to Africa for a once in a lifetime trip and have it spoilt through poor or inaccurate advice.

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