Written by a contributing writer
You’ve probably been saving for months or years for your first safari vacation. You’re most likely excited about your upcoming vacation to African reserves or national parks. With enough funds for your trip, you feel ready. However, an African safari is one of a kind. It’s not like visiting a zoo or theme park with tamed wild animals.
Wild animals in Africa live in their natural habitat and thus can be dangerous. Therefore, you’re not ready until you’re ready. There are things you need to know beforehand to ensure you have a great experience and get value for your money. Here are some tips to get you started on your preparations for a safari vacation:
Top 5 Tips for Going for a Safari in Africa
1. Pack Light and Only Carry the Essentials
Although you’re heading for a safari vacation in Africa, don’t go overboard in the things you pack for the trip. Africa isn’t the jungle they made you believe it is in the media, well, except for the wildlife habitats. Most importantly, don’t bring every piece of gear with you on a game drive. Pack a camera with telescopic lenses, backup batteries, and a tripod.
Also bring with you soft-sided travel bags, binoculars, electrical adapters, sunscreen and sunglasses, mosquito repellents, a flashlight, a water bottle, light snacks, a first aid kit, and a small backpack. Pack clothes for layering during the game drive; you can remove some if the weather gets hot.
2. Not All Safaris are the Same
Safaris are unique and unpredictable. Therefore, you need to be flexible and open-minded with your expectations. Game drives can be longer than you expected and tougher. If you’re lucky, you might see all the big five animals, including the lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard.
However, you might just get to see some of the big five. Prepare for rough rides, mosquitoes, cold or warm temperature, sunny or windy weather, flies, etc. Although most terrains are sand or gravel rough roads, you might cross bushes, rivers or even stone fields, especially if trailing after a herd of wild animals.
3. Stay Safe and Follow All Rules/Advice
Game drive rules are set to ensure you’re safe in the African wild. You might think the vicinity is clear enough for you to get out of your car. Most animals are often camouflaged and thus you might not see them, but they definitely saw you even before you reached their location. Stay in your car and don’t approach animals too closely, especially elephants.
Avoid making noise and always keep your camera and hands inside the car; you might not like what the cats might do, so it’s best to stay safe. Hippos are the most dangerous of the wild animals you’ll see, followed by mosquitoes. They are aggressive when upset and thus you must never do anything that upsets the wild animals.
4. Create a Budget
Even with enough savings to spend on your safari vacation, create a budget to ensure you only spend on necessary things. Opt for self-drive for the best value for your money, atop the freedom and independence that comes with it. You’ll also save on air charter and private guide fees.
Spend the money on other things after the safari. For instance, you could go for a hot-air ballooning excursion. Low seasons are the best time to travel as prices are often 30% to 40% cheaper than in high peak seasons. Lodges that charge in local currencies are cheaper than those charging in dollars; opt for the former if you’re vacationing on a budget.
5. Book Your Accommodation
Choose a lodge offering services in line with your needs, preferences, and budget. Are the wildlife activities on offer varied? Does your safari lodge have a conservation policy to look after both the locals and the environment? Opt for communal dining for an intimate experience as you socialize with guides and other tourists. If you need help booking and planning, consider booking through Leopard Tours. They offer safari vacations in Africa at the most competitive rates.
Whichever part of Africa you decide to go for a safari, you need to prepare well, pack the necessities and plan your trip. The need to create a budget goes without saying.