Newbie’s Guide for a First Safari

June 3, 2019

If you’re feeling a little nervous about your first safari, we’ve got your back! Our newbie’s guide will help to answer some of the questions you already have, and maybe even those you hadn’t yet thought of.

It is our belief that you haven’t really lived until you’ve been to Africa. And while every safari is an unforgettable experience, there is something extra special about going on your first safari. We love planning safaris because Africa has so much to offer that there is undoubtedly something for everyone. With that being said, this can make planning seem a little daunting for a newbie.

That’s why we’ve gone ahead and put together some of the most important and frequently asked questions in our newbie’s guide below:

Where should I go, east or south?

South Africa or Tanzania? Botswana or Kenya? When choosing between a safari in Southern or East Africa, be guided by what your interests are. Think about what wildlife you want to encounter, the landscapes you want to experience and the kind of safari activities you wish to do.

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A family of elephants in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © Patrick Shah

If ticking off as many of the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino) on your list is what draws you to Africa, then a private concession in Botswana or national park in South Africa are both ideal choices for your first safari.

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Wildebeest graze in the Masai Mara, Kenya © Patrick Shah

If you are wanting to combine a bush safari with a beach getaway, then Tanzania followed by Pemba or Zanzibar is definitely a good idea for your first trip to Africa. Tanzania also co-hosts the spectacular great wildebeest migration with its East African counterpart, Kenya.

Which is better, a wet or dry season safari?

Neither season is better nor worse, and like with choosing your safari destination, the season in which you travel should be guided by those same factors. Along with your interests, consider your budget as rates are seasonally dependent.

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Carmine bee-eaters in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © Patrick Shah

What a wet season safari looks like will vary with your chosen destination. In general, this is the time for birders keen on seeing migratory birds flock south to breed and nest. Nature lovers will fall head over heels for the lush greenery, which also makes it a perfect time for calving so you can expect some cute encounters on game drives.

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A leopard lies alert in Botswana © Patrick Shah

Most wildlife enthusiasts choose a dry season safari in Africa because game-viewing is at its prime. Vegetation thins out and water becomes scarce, pushing animals out into the open and gathering around reliable waterholes. This sparks the interest of predators, who can take down prey more easily whilst they are drinking and most vulnerable.

What are some of the important things to pack?

This is such an essential part of going on safari, that we have a blog post dedicated to just this topic.

Read: Packing tips for an African safari

What is proper game drive etiquette?

The first rule of game drive etiquette is don’t be noisy. Neither the wildlife nor your fellow passengers will appreciate screeches, continuous talking or shouting out that you’ve spotted something.

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A young topi antelope in the Masai Mara, Kenya © Patrick Shah

The second rule is don’t hang out the side of or step down from the vehicle, unless the guide asks you to. That antelope (or any other animal for that matter) next to the game vehicle will not find it amusing having its backside patted!

What are the types of safari accommodation available?

From luxury lodges to rustic tented camps, your first safari can be an experience tailored completely to meet your travel style and budget. While some safari accommodation might seem pricey at first, they generally include most activities, park conservation fees and all meals in the rate.

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The Honeymoon Suite at Elephant Pepper Camp in the Masai Mara, Kenya © Elewana Collection

An exclusive camp like Elephant Pepper by the Elewana Collection in Kenya’s world-famous Masai Mara emphasises laid-back luxury in vintage-style canvas tents. If your dream honeymoon is to spend it in wildest Africa, many safari tents combine simple furnishings with romantic touches.

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The Bird House at Tongabezi Lodge upstream from Victoria Falls, Zambia © Tongabezi

It’s at lodges like Tongabezi on the Zambezi River in Zambia where you choose to stay if you feel more secure and private behind solid walls. There are many accommodation types around Victoria Falls and Tongabezi is a truly indulgent option.

If you are still left with some questions, we do have a more comprehensive list of FAQ’s and their answers. To plan your first safari to Africa, contact us and we will walk you through the process step-by-step, tailoring an experience that meets your expectations.


Posted by tfhadmin


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