Tips for Your First SafariSeptember 28, 2018
First-time safari goer? We answer all those questions you have (as well as those you haven’t yet thought of) about a safari in Africa.
Whether you plan to go bundu-bashing in the South African bushveld, cruising along Botswana’s mighty Chobe River in a mokoro (dugout canoe) or following the thousands of wildebeest along their migration across Kenya’s Maasai Mara, you might be feeling a little anxious about your first safari.
That’s okay. We’ve got you covered!
From booking to bush, these are some of the most essential tips you’ll need to know for that African safari experience you’ve been dreaming of.
Planning and booking
As Africa is such a vast continent with incredible diversity between the major safari destinations, you’ll need to start narrowing down your options of what you envision for your safari. Consider what activities you’d like to take part in, if there are any particular wildlife species you’d love to encounter as well as what your budget and time constraints are like.
The best safari excludes game drives packed with noisy crowds, lodgings that are all rustic without the charm or inexperienced bush guides that are not only poor at tracking wildlife but may even put you in dangerous situations. After much preparation and a long flight, the last thing you want is a horrible experience. That’s why we recommend a certain standard of safari accommodation.
Knowing when to visit your country or countries of choice is very much determined by what you want to do and see. Different game and birdlife are found in certain areas according to the local rainy or dry seasons. Some activities are also only available or preferable to experience in certain seasons. It’s important to find out from an experienced tour operator how to plan and pack for your perfect safari.
Health and medical
Malaria is not found in all African countries but where it does occur, it’s advised that travellers to those areas take prophylactic medication to ensure your safari is not ruined by a bout of malaria. You can take extra precaution whilst in the bush by wearing long pants and shirts, applying insect repellent regularly, and sleeping under special nets.
You need not be scared about eating the food provided by luxury camps or lodges. Venturing into town and eating local cuisine, however, may not be a good idea if you have a sensitive stomach or haven’t had the necessary hepatitis vaccinations. Visit an international travel clinic to find out what vaccinations are necessary for where you intend travelling.
Comprehensive travel insurance is a must when travelling to Africa. Don’t think ‘it won’t happen to me’ because it just might so you’d rather be prepared – better safe than sorry, as they say! Medical insurance should cover you for both in- and out-of-hospital needs as the nearest hospital may not be near at all, which would require appropriate transport.
Bush safety and etiquette
You might have already come across footage of tourists behaving badly on a game drive and it often doesn’t end well. The ‘wild’ in wildlife is the key to remember in order to be safe when on safari in Africa. The general rule is that if you respect them and their territory, they’ll respect you and your space. This is, of course, incredibly important when encountering the big predators, such as lions, cheetahs and leopards, and even large herbivores like elephants and buffalo.
For the sake of the wildlife you encounter as well as the other people you share a game vehicle with, you shouldn’t stand up or hang out of the vehicle at any point during the game drive. Of course it’s exciting to see the animals you’ve only seen online up until that point but others in the game vehicle don’t want to hear screeching or blow-by-blow commentary.
A wildlife safari in Africa is an amazing experience, and we recommend everyone do it at least once in their lifetime. Chat to us about getting your first safari right the first time.
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