Planning to take a safari in Africa? Here is a collection of all the information you need to know to get started with planning an African Safari.
Traveling to Africa requires great planning. One can minimize problems by planning well in advance and taking a few precautions before embarking on the journey. This will alleviate problems and ensure that you have a safe and hassle free trip. There are several things that you need to do to make your travel in Africa trouble free and interesting. Although this safari guide is written principally as a detailed ‘Safari Companion’ – an invaluable resource to accompany you on your trip – there is much to be thought about and considered before you even start to plan your trip in detail, in addition to such further matters as medical precautions, what to pack, and so on.
Important Safari Tips to Know
Which Safari – Choosing a Safari to Take in Africa
Most visitors combine wildlife with other things to do in Africa inclusing, photography, fishing, cultural tours or even a beach safari. For all-inclusive group packages booked in your home country, your tour operator is bound to influence the duration and places you will visit and the kind of accommodation facilities you will use. On the other hand, a package that you design together with your operator is more likely to carry your preferences. As in many other destinations, the duration of the vacation and the nature of transport and hotel facilities used largely determine the overall cost of your package.
Safaris in Africa go on throughout the year. However there are two peak seasons with the first one running between June and October and the second between December and February. There are similarly two low- tourist seasons. The first one lasts from March to June and the second from October to November. Discounts on accommodation and other services are common during the low seasons.
Booking Your Safari
You may book your Safari with your local agent or engage a tour operator many of whom run their own websites. You could alternatively do your booking upon arrival in Africa though this is very risky during the peak season – June – September and November – December. There are many tour operators operating within different countries in Africa. When booking online it’s advisable to engage an agent and negotiate forprices of the package. Also, it helps to have preferences on what you would love to enjoy most– Is it game (which kind of Game?) or beach or both? – rather than have the operator draw the whole safari for you.
Once you’ve made your arrangements, it’s time to start your preparations. What do you pack, what do you wear, and what can you expect out there in the wild?
Before you fly off to Africa, you need to do a bit of planning and research. For those coming from countries with colder or temperate climates, you might find the African sun a little unforgiving; as such, you may want to take some precautions and allot some time for acclimatization. You would also need to prepare sun protection equipment like hats, dry-fit shirts, and sunblock. As you are going to see wildlife in nature, it’s best to dress simply and comfortably.
Check with your doctor for medical and dietary concerns too, and relay them to your tour operator. You can also check out the accommodations you’d want for your trip. It’s highly recommended to mix in luxury accommodations with natural camping styles for a truly authentic experience.
Don’t forget your camera!
It’s best to have zoom lenses so you can get close up shots of the animals while in the safety of your 4×4 vehicle. Tourists’ safety is a primary concern, so listen to your tour guides and respect the natural space of the animals. Remember that you are in their natural habitat, and you are a lucky witness to the spectacle before you.
If you’re up for more adventure, you can choose to have walking safari tours, balloon and flying safaris, or visits to local villages to learn more about their way of life. Africa is not just about natural beauty and wildlife viewing; it also boasts a rich history and culture that has become renowned all over the world. Visit local tribes, natural parks and museums, or check out the night life.
In some parts of Africa, the days tend to be warm and sunny, so it would be wise to bring sunscreen or a hat along with you. Throw in some insect repellant, lip balm, wet towels, and a first-aid kit containing all your essential medicine along with you. Don’t forget water as well. Always bring your travel documents with you too, but keep extra copies in your bag at your lodging.
What to wear?
Avoid bright clothing and colors like black, blue and white. When in the wild, do like the ‘locals’ do and dress in safari-friendly khaki and green. Protect yourself from insect bites with lightweight, cotton long sleeve clothes. Wear good quality walking boots on your trip too.
To get the most out of your African safari experience, bring along a pair of binoculars so you can see the animals more clearly. If you’re a photographer, invest in a good-quality camera with zoom lenses and a tripod for those perfect wildlife shots.
Do remember that you’re in the animal kingdom’s natural habitat, so respect their space and do not make alarming sounds or noises. Let loose your inner explorer and be mindful of respecting the animals: keep quiet, be alert, and look around for clues on where the animals could be. Since they are free to roam around, they could be anywhere — maybe not even in a distance you’d consider safe. But keep calm and listen to the advice of your guides for the best safari experience you’ll ever have.
So how do you get the best African safari trip? Take the services of a trusted tour operator, follow safety and medical advice, respect the locals and the animals, and just enjoy the ride. Safari tours are generally safe for many tourists, as long as you observe the proper protocols to keep the entire trip safe and enjoyable. Just relax, soak in the new environments, and feel the rush of being among the greats of the African animal world.