Author Archive

10 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Tanzania

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Tanzania is regarded as an excellent safari destination, largely due to its many world-class opportunities for game spotting…

Tanzania is home to many of the best and biggest parks in Africa, and some of the most varied and unique landscapes that you’ll ever see. From grasslands to woodlands, rock formations, and mountain peaks, there’s no question that Tanzania features some amazing opportunities for sightseeing, and photo-hunting alike.

These varied ecosystems are also ideal conditions for one of the most quintessential aspects of any great safari: African animals.

No safari would be complete without a glimpse of a few of the “Big Five,” or the chance to see some lesser-known, but equally fascinating animals. Fortunately, Tanzania doesn’t disappoint.

Home to the Great Wildebeest Migration, each year, Tanzania sees millions of animals make their way across the land in search of water and fresh pasture. Wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle make the arduous journey, and brave the raging Mara River, filled with waiting crocodiles.

But the great migration isn’t the only aspect of Tanzania that’s worth seeing. Herds of grazing animals mean that predators won’t be far away. In Tanzania, you’ll have the opportunity to see lion, cheetah, leopards, and hunting dogs.

If you’re curious about what this beautiful country has to offer, here’s a look at ten reasons it’s regarded as one of the best safari destinations in Africa.

 

1. Nearly 30 Percent of Tanzania is National Parks

Video Thumbnail
Safari Drive – Ultimate Tanzania

Tanzania boasts some of the best national parks in the world. The Serengeti National Park is one of the most famous and best-loved parks, and is home to more than one million species of large mammals. It’s also a World Heritage Site, and has also had the honour of being named a 7th world wonder.

The Serengeti is the site of the Great Migration, where wildebeest and zebras make their way across the plains in search of fresh grasslands. It’s also home to great buffalo herds, elephants, giraffe, leopard, impala, and gazelle, as well as the endangered Eastern Black Rhinoceros.

Tanzania also features the largest population of elephants; which can be found in the Selous Game Reserve.

Another famous Tanzanian park is the Gombe Stream National Park, where Dr. Jane Goodall famously carried out her studies on chimps.

Take a look at our trademark itinerary: Tanzania’s 5 Parks which is the ultimate wildlife experience.
I’m Interested!

 

2. Mount Kilimanjaro is the Tallest Mountain in Africa

Video Thumbnail
A Starry Night of Mt.Kilimanjaro

Ernest Hemingway wrote about the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro, and this snow-capped, cone-shaped mountain is a site that will take your breath away as well.

Standing some 5,895 meters above sea level, this mountain is the tallest in Africa, and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It’s also home to almost every kind of ecological system there is, from cultivated land, to rainforest, alpine desert, and arctic summit.

While this dormant volcano provides a breathtaking hike for those who are interested, you’re more than welcome to admire this mountain’s grandeur from the ground.

 

3. The Great Migration Sees Over 2 Million Animals Travel Across the Plains

Video Thumbnail
Crossing the Mara River

The Great Wildebeest Migration sees over 1.5 million wildebeest, as well as zebra, and gazelle, make their way through the grasslands of Tanzania and Kenya in search of pasture.

Undoubtedly, the most exciting part of the journey is the Mara River crossing, where massive herds make their way to the Masai Mara, braving crocodiles, and danger at every turn.

 

4. Ngorongoro Crater is One of the Best Places to See the Big Five

Video Thumbnail
Ngorongoro Crater vignette

Another must-see destination in Tanzania is the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, located in northern Tanzania.

Thought to be the result of a volcanic explosion, this fertile valley is one the most beautiful natural wildlife safari destinations in the world, and has even been named one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders.

The enclosed nature of the crater has created an ecosystem all of its own, resulting in some of the best opportunities to spot game. It also has the densest known population of lions.

Buffalo, elephants, leopards, and rhino can also be seen here, in addition to a host of other well-loved African classics like the ostrich, zebra, cheetah, wildebeest, gazelle, and even hippos.

 

5. Lake Tanganyika is the Second Largest Lake in the World

Video Thumbnail
Trip to Tanzania, Africa and Gombe National Park on Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world by volume and depth; second only to Lake Baikal in Siberia. In fact, it is so large that it belongs to four different countries; Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, and Congo.

The lake is fed by at least 50 streams and rivers and is regarded as one of the world’s most biologically rich and scientifically valuable habitats.

Lake Tanganyika holds an astounding 8 percent of the world’s freshwater, and is home 500 fish species; most of which stay within 20 metres of the surface.

 

6. Tanzania is Home to Distinctive and Delicious Cuisine

Video Thumbnail
African Cooking - Tanzanian woman prepares traditional meals

If you are looking to expand your palate, then Tanzania is the place for you.

In Tanzania, you’ll have the chance to sample wild game like crocodile, warthog, antelope, or even ostrich. Other local favourites include tilapia fish, pilau rice, and samosas. It’s the spices that really make this food special and the use of coconut, cardamom, garlic, and turmeric feature prominently in a number of traditional recipes.

You’ll also have no problem finding fresh, locally grown produce such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, or coffee.

 

7. Baobab Trees Can Easily Live 1,000 Years

Video Thumbnail
"The tree is like a human being"

Baobabs are a beautiful and fascinating tree that can be seen in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park.

Some species of the Baobab can live 1,000 years, or longer, although the oldest one, found in South Africa, is believed to be an astounding 6,000 years old.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

8. Tarangire National Park is Home to Unique Tree-Climbing Lions

Video Thumbnail
Tree Climbing Lions of Uganda

Baobabs aren’t the only thing to see in Tarangire National Park; this park is also home to tree-climbing lions.

The reason that these lions have taken to climbing is unknown. Whether it’s to catch a cool breeze or escape the tsetse flies is a matter of debate. Of course, there’s also the chance that the lions simply enjoy the view from up high.

Whatever their reasons though, watching these lions gingerly move across the branches is a sight that’s worth seeing.

 

9. The Beaches of Zanzibar Are Stunning

Video Thumbnail
Vol.20 Zanzibar, TANZANIA “Ocean, women and Zanzibar”

While beaches may not be one of the first things that you think of when you imagine an African safari, a trip to the beautiful island of Zanzibar is the perfect way to round off a safari.

The beaches of Zanzibar are infamous for a reason. Featuring white sand, blue waters, and swaying palms, they’re regarded as some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

10. Scuba Diving Off the Coast Offers Experiences Unlike Any Other

Video Thumbnail
Scuba Diving on Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

While there’s plenty to see in the mainland, there’s a whole world underwater as well.

Diving or snorkeling off of one of Zanzibar’s islands will provide you with some rich up-close encounters with some of amazing and unique underwater sea creatures found among the coral reefs. You could spot lionfish, leaf fish, sea horse, green turtles, and even frog fish.

 

Are You Ready?

As you can see, Tanzania is a unique and beautiful safari destination, one that offers plenty to see and do in terms of game-spotting opportunities, as well as spectacular and unique landscape. Little wonder that it ranks amongst the top safari choices as an ideal destination for first-time, and experienced safari-goers alike.

To learn more about safari holidays in Africa, download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a useful 37-page book we wrote on the subject.

Image Credit: Feans via Flickr.

6 Reasons Why Argentina Should Be Your Next Adventure

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Argentina is a spectacular country that’s unlike any place on earth and the perfect destination for your next getaway.

The second largest country in South America, Argentina is full of surprises and adventures just waiting to be discovered.

An amazing study in contrasts, there’s much to see and experience in this exciting country including beaches, rainforests, snow-capped mountains, lush waterways, and desert.

Aside from the culture and natural beauty, there are also opportunities to ski, spot penguins, enjoy regional wine, visit glaciers, ride horses, eat delicious steak and experience the birthplace of the vibrant, lively dance, The Tango.

Argentina boasts some of the best opportunities for holidays and is an ideal stop for any adventurer. If you’re looking for a unique and special location that has a little bit of everything, Argentina should be high on your list.

Here are six reasons you’ll want to consider Argentina for your next Safari Drive holiday.

 

1. See the Cascading Waterfalls of Iguazu Falls

Video Thumbnail
Iguazu Falls - filmed by a drone

The biggest falls in South America and located at the northern end of the country between the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is a series of between 275-300 waterfalls along a mile-long stretch of land.

“Iguazu” means “Big Waters” in the Guarani language, and standing from the viewpoint watching the thundering falls it’s easy to see how they got their name.

Classified as Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, these falls are one of the new natural wonders of the world. There are plenty of different ways to enjoy these iconic falls, by land, helicopter, or a boat that ventures under the spray of the falls!

 

2. Experience Glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia

Patagonia

Los Glaciares National Park is located in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina. With towering mountains, glaciers, and lakes, this is one stop you won’t want to miss. Perito Moreno Glacier located on Lake Argentino is a breathtaking glacier that is about 3 miles wide, rises 74 metres out of the water and is one of only three glaciers in the world which is advancing rather than retreating.

Despite its imposing height, only about one-seventh of the glacier is showing, since most of it lies below the water. Watching chunks of ice fall into the frigid water (known as calving) is truly a breathtaking sight.

You can do a mini-trek on the glacier or take a boat really close to the face of the glacier. Horse-riding on an authentic Patagonian estancia (farm) is also not to be missed. Meat-eaters will love eating delicious Patagonian lamb.

 

3. Visit the Birthplace of Tango

You can’t help but be taken in by the dance in Argentina…

Video Thumbnail
Sony NEX Video Sample // Street Tango in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is the home of tango and there are plenty of opportunities for you to immerse yourself in this beautiful and expressive dance. You can watch the street dancers perform against the colourfully painted houses on Caminito Street, or spend an evening at one of the many dinner & tango shows in the city; another amazing experience.

You could even take a local class and learn how to do it yourself (well, if it’s good enough for a president…) to gain a true appreciation for this art form.

No matter which option you choose, there are plenty of ways for you to experience this dramatic dance.

 

4. Spot Penguins in Punta Tombo

Video Thumbnail
Punta Tombo, Patagonia, Argentina

If you enjoy nature then Argentina is sure to win you over in an instant. Argentina is home to a wealth of birds, not the least of which includes the penguin.

In mid-September, the south-east coast of Argentina turns into the breeding ground for these flightless birds, and sees the arrival of some 400,000 Magellanic penguins at the Punta Tombo Wildlife Reserve; the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world. The gathering ends when the penguins make their journey back to the sea.

 

5. Explore the Pristine Beauty of the Remote Lake District

Video Thumbnail
Patagonia Argentina

Along the western border that Argentina shares with Chile are the pristine mountain wilderness and lakes of the Argentine Lake District; one of the prettiest places in Argentina.

While much of Argentina is starved for rain, the Lake District is anything but. Lush and vibrant, this area is home to stunning landscapes, rivers and lakes.

Ideal for sightseeing, this area also offers some of the best fly fishing in the world. One of the most well-known towns in this region is Bariloche. Featuring beautiful views, and easy access to the lake, mountains and forest trails, it’s an ideal gateway for a Lake District stay.

 

6. Enjoy Argentinian Wine & Friendly People

Video Thumbnail
Promo: Vines of Mendoza

If you’re a wine connoisseur, then you know that Argentinian wine is considered to be some of the finest in the world.

You can opt for a wine tour that will introduce you to some of the best wines and vineyards in the country, or look for opportunities to sample some favourites like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Torrontes. The northwest of Argentina, Mendoza and Cafayate in particular boast some of the largest high altitude vineyards in the country and is great destination for a self-drive tour.

Finally, in addition to spectacular wildlife and breathtaking natural beauty, Argentina is also home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. No matter if you are shopping in the local markets or wandering along the busy side streets, locals are extremely helpful, friendly and patient. They’ll warm your heart and leave you wishing you could stay there forever.

 

Ready To Go?

While these are just a few of the amazing must-see experiences that you can have in Argentina, there’s so much more, just waiting to be discovered. Explore beaches, rainforest, desert, and the windswept steppe of Patagonia, or the towering red rocks of Talampaya National Park. No matter what you’re looking for in a holiday, Argentina won’t leave you disappointed. There’s truly something for everyone and plenty of adventures in store.

Are you ready to book your exciting adventure to Argentina? Why not get in touch with Safari Drive? We offer expert advice and first-hand information on Argentina, and will be more than happy to help you plan your dream trip.

Photos by Douglas Scortegagna and Andreas Kambanis and Douglas Scortegagna

What Equipment Do I Need to Take on Safari?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

When planning for a safari, packing is undoubtedly one of the most important steps…

You don’t want to be out on safari, lacking something and regretting that you didn’t bring it with you. But on the other hand you certainly don’t want to bring too much. Many internal flights in Africa have strict 12-15-kilogram luggage allowance guidelines and it’s important to keep this in mind when prepping for your journey.

The secret to successful packing is finding a happy middle ground. This means ensuring that you’ve packed everything that you’ll need, without bringing too much.

If it’s your first safari this can feel like a bit of a guessing game, but don’t worry. We’ve created this helpful guide that will show you exactly what you should bring with you.

 

Clothes

safari-clothes

The first thing that usually comes to mind when packing is clothing.

When prepping for your journey, you’ll want to take into account the countries that you plan to visit and what season it will be.

You should also prepare for the unexpected. A lightweight, waterproof jacket is a good idea. One that folds into a small bag is an ideal option. You’ll also want a long-sleeved shirt to protect your arms from the sun, ideally with a collar to protect your neck too.

You should choose clothes that are made of fast-drying materials. While on safari you won’t want to contend with wet clothes that didn’t have time to dry completely the night before. Lightweight cotton and man-made materials such as polyamide are ideal and fast-drying. Wool socks are another good choice.

While many people remember lightweight clothes, keep in mind that nights in Africa can be cold, so be sure to pack a fleece for layering after the sun goes down. It will also prove useful for early-morning game drives.

Make sure you choose clothing that’s neutral in colour and avoid dark blue, as this attracts tsetse flies. Bright, bold colours can spook game, and you’ll want to blend into your natural environment as much as possible.

Finally, there’s no need to overpack. Many camps provide laundry services with a 24-hour turnaround time, so you won’t have to take enough clothes for your entire journey. Three or four outfits are usually adequate. Bring along enough socks and undergarments, but keep in mind that you don’t have to pack everything. For more details about safari clothing, check out my previous article: 10 Clothing Tips for Your African Safari.

 

Accessories

Video Thumbnail
Pack like a pro

Sun Hat
The African sun can be hot, especially during the middle of the day. You’ll want to bring along a wide-rimmed sunhat to shade your neck and face. A hat with a drawstring is preferable; it will hold the hat on while you’re travelling down the roads. Lightweight scarves or shirts with collars can also help to keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses
You’ll also want to bring along some polarizing sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.

A Day Bag or Duffle
Forgo the wheelie bag and instead invest in a small duffle. Many light aircraft flights in Africa require your luggage to be in a soft bag rather than a hard case.

Shoes
Shoes are one of the most important items you can pack. Your choice of footwear will depend on the type of activities that you’re planning to do. In most cases a pair of light trail shoes is adequate, even if you’re going to be doing trail walks and planning to camp. Of course, if you intend to hike the dunes and falls of Namibia, you’ll want to bring along a good pair of hiking boots that have good ankle support, and some comfortable trainers for the rest of your journey. Finally, you’ll want to pack a pair of flip flops or slippers for relaxing at night.

Toiletries
Toiletries are important wherever you go, but especially on a safari where it may be a bit more difficult to rush out and buy things that you forget. Some things that you’ll want to consider include:

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

First Aid Kit


If you’re planning to do a self-drive safari, keep in mind that all of our Safari Drive 4×4 vehicles come equipped with first aid kits, but it’s a good idea to bring along a few basics just in case.

Ideal contents for a first aid kit include: plasters, antiseptic cream, antihistamine tablets, aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, anti-diarrheal medication, and rehydration sachets.

You’ll also want to take along extra prescription medication as well as any additional toiletries that you may need while you’re out there.

 

Gear and Gadgets

Video Thumbnail
A tour of the luggage area of the Safari Drive Land Rover

 

Mobile Phone
Your phone will be useful for communicating with family and friends back home. While some camps won’t have Wi-Fi, most will have phone reception. Ideally, you’ll want a local plan for reasonable rates.

Torch
You don’t need anything big or bulky but having a small light source will prove to be helpful after the sun goes down.

Binoculars
You will want to invest in a decent pair of binoculars. They don’t have to be the heaviest ones available but should be sturdy enough to withstand drops and bumps.

Camera
You’ll need a camera for capturing wildlife and all of the sights. Your phone camera or a compact will take up the least amount of space but if you’re serious about photography, you’ll probably want to bring a DSLR with a zoom lens and a tripod. Just keep weight restrictions in mind and plan accordingly. Remember to take extra memory cards and a small air blower to get rid of dust that finds its way into your camera.

Spare Batteries and Charger
When traveling in the bush, spare batteries are your best friend. This is especially true when it comes to your camera gear. There’s nothing more frustrating than discovering that you having a depleted battery just as you prepare to take the perfect shot. Bring extras, and don’t forget the charger.

Travel Adapter
Bring along a travel adapter to fit local sockets so that you can charge your batteries and electronics.

 

Are You Ready?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with packing, don’t be. In most cases less is more. Think practically and sensibly and only bring what you’re likely to use while you’re out there. By following the above tips you’ll be able to easily get everything together that you need for your journey.

Finally, remember to weigh your bag before you go and try to leave extra room for the treasures that you’ll want to bring back with you when you return home.

Ready for your own African safari? Whether you’re looking for a luxury lodge safari, a group trip, or an expedition we can help you to create a journey that’s perfect for you. Contact us today to create your safari.

Or, if you’d like to do some more research first, download your free African Safari Field Guide: your 37-page guide that will give you advice on everything from camping safely to spotting wildlife.


Photos by LGO’Brien and Make It Kenya.

How to Choose Where to Go on Safari: A Country by Country Guide

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

An African safari is an adventure that’s unlike anything on earth, an experience that’s guaranteed to leave you with excellent memories with plans to return again.

However for many people, the word “safari” means very little. Instead it’s a vague description that’s often used to encompass any number of journeys that could be taken in Africa.

This is unfortunate, because safaris are as vast and varied as you can imagine with each country offering its own special blend of experiences, features and opportunities, making every destination different and unique with unexpected surprises.

For example, did you know that a safari in Tanzania can include a trip to world-class beaches with scuba diving, snorkeling, or boating? Or what about the fact Botswana is one of the few places in the world that you can see the Kalahari lion, famous for its beautiful black mane?

The fact is that each region, and safari, offers its own signature experience. Tour the beautiful semi-desert regions of Namibia, or visit the wide open plains of the savannah that stretch across much of Africa. See the lush, waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta or the thundering waters of Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe in the south.

There’s so much to see and do that you’re certain to find a destination that you love. The hard part, though, is deciding where to go.

While experienced safari-goers often have a must-see destination on their travel list, for everyone else, it can be difficult to know where to start. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

To help make your decision a bit easier, we’ve created this handy guide that will show what some of the best safari destinations in Africa has to offer.

 

Tanzania

Video Thumbnail
Safari Drive – Ultimate Tanzania

 
Located in the south east of Africa, Tanzania is an ever-popular safari destination, and for good reason.

This country features excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, as well as a chance to view some of the continent’s most diverse and beautiful landscape. Home of the Great Wildebeest Migration, a cyclical migration which sees approximately 1.5 million wildebeest make their way across the Serengeti, Tanzania also offers a chance to see the world-famous wildebeest river crossing, where the vast herds brave the Mara River where hungry crocodiles await.

The great herds of grazing animals also means that predators like lion, cheetah, leopards, and hunting dogs will be nearby, and relatively easy to spot.

Tanzania is also known for its excellent national parks, with over 30 percent of the country dedicated to these reserves. These parks include the Serengeti National Park, one of the continent’s most famous, and best-loved reserves, as well as the Tarangire National Park, where you’ll see Baobab trees, and spot tree-climbing lions. It’s also home to the famous Ngorongoro Crater; one of the largest volcanic craters in the world, and an excellent place to spot the Big Five.

Finally, a superb way to wind down a Tanzanian safari is with a trip to the beautiful island of Zanzibar; famous for its white sand, blue waters and snorkeling opportunities.

 

Namibia

Video Thumbnail
NAMIBIA

 
Bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the south west of Africa, the country of Namibia is perhaps best known for its vast and wild landscape that includes the Namib dessert, as well as for its strange and fascinating rock formations.

Namibia is home to the beautiful semi-desert wilderness of Damaraland; a region that hosts the world’s largest black rhino population, as well as famous desert-adapted elephants that roam freely through the park.

Namibia is also the site of the world-famous dunes of Sossusvlei, found in the Namib Desert, a spectacular sight and a photographer’s dream (read about one photographer’s experience and see his fantastic photos of the Sossusvlei here). Namibia also features the striking and eerie coastline of the Skeleton Coast, known for its shipwrecks and dense fogs.

Check out my previous article for 10 Amazing Facts About Namibia and see what this vast and wonderful country has to offer.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

Botswana

Botswana
In contrast to the vast wilderness of Namibia, the Okavango Delta of Botswana is a lush waterway, teeming with life.

This reserve offers excellent game viewing, including opportunities to spot the elusive Big Five, as well as many other rare and fascinating African animals.

It’s also home to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is located in the southwest corner of Botswana; this park spans both Botswana and South Africa, and is operated as a cooperative effort by both countries. This reserve features exclusive game viewing opportunities and the opportunity to see many rare African animals.

Video Thumbnail
The Hunt. Scenes from a recent trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

 
And this is just the start, Botswana is also home to the awe-inspiring Makgadikgadi, the Savuti, Chobe National Park, the Moremi and much more (I dedicated a whole post to Botswana’s many attractions).

Botswana is considered to be some of the last untouched wilderness in Southern Africa, and the spectacular landscape, exclusive game-viewing, and many comfortable and beautiful lodges makes it a great destination for a luxury safari.

 

Zambia

Video Thumbnail
The South Luangwa Safari (HD Wildlife Footage)

 
The country of Zambia many be landlocked, but there’s no shortage of water here.

This country is known for the breathtaking Zambezi River that runs along the border of Zimbabwe, as well as its world-famous waterfall, Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Zambia also features many permanent rivers that are a continual draw to wildlife, as well as visitors who enjoy canoeing and game viewing.

Many visitors arrive between June and October, during the dry season, since it’s easier to spot animals that congregate around water sources. But visiting Zambia during the “emerald” season; or, during the rains is a great time to capture beautiful, photographs of animals against a lush, green backdrop.

In fact, if you’re unsure when to go to any of the destinations in this article, take a look at my Month-By-Month Safari Guide.

It’s also worth noting, that Zambia offers a number of opportunities for night safaris; a great chance to spot elusive nocturnal animals, like the leopard, that would otherwise be difficult to see.

 

Zimbabwe

Video Thumbnail
Zimbabwe part 5 Hwange Masuma dam, Kennedy Camp

 
Located just below Zambia, Zimbabwe has much to offer to the avid traveler, and particularly appeals to those who are after a more rugged style of safari, without all the bells and whistles of upscale lodges.

This isn’t to say that accommodation in Zimbabwe is lacking though, as there are some select gems scattered throughout the country. Zimbabwe also features beautiful scenery, including Victoria Falls, as well as plenty of opportunities for game spotting. The Hwange National Park offers the chance to see some of the many different species of wildlife Africa has to offer.

There are large groups of buffalo and elephant that can be found along the riverside, and of course, predators such as lions and leopards are often found here waiting for a meal. You can also expect to see crocodile and hippo in many places.

 

Malawi

Malawi
Bordering Zambia, Malawi is considered to be the heart of Africa, and with its laidback way of life, you will find your trip here to be truly relaxing.

While the country is landlocked, it is home to Lake Malawi, which is a picturesque and tranquil location that is ideal for relaxing and soaking up your surroundings.

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

South Africa

South Africa
South Africa is a wonderful country and has a little bit of everything; from spectacular landscapes, to amazing wildlife, and excellent accommodation. Of course, there’s also the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town; which also features picturesque beaches.

South Africa is a great family-friendly location for safaris, thanks to the fact that it’s a malaria-free destination. Many of the lodges and facilities also cater to families.

South Africa also boasts one of the best-maintained wildlife parks in Africa, the world-famous Kruger National Park. The Kruger is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the Big Five, as well as hippo, crocodile, giraffe, cheetah, and many species of beautiful, unique birds.

 

Are You Ready?

Regardless of when or where you chose to go, Africa is full of opportunities, and safari options that are as vast as the land itself. There really is something for everyone.

So whether you choose to follow the Great Migration through Tanzania, opt for a game spotting adventure in South Africa, or decide to photograph the beautiful sand dunes of Namibia, you will have the opportunity to experience some of the best that Africa has to offer; as long as you’re able to settle on a destination, that is!

For more information on safari destinations contact Safari Drive. We offer free consultations, and would be happy to help you discover the safari of your dreams.

Photos by David Siu, Brian Scott, Philip Milne, Susan Hunt, Christiaan Triebert, Frank Douwes, Monica Guy and Armin Rodler

What to Look For When Choosing Travel Insurance for a Safari

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

When it comes to an African safari, you’re going to want to get the most out of your experience.

This means getting up close with wildlife, being out in nature, and spending time exploring the African savannah. But when planning which country you’d like to visit and what animals should be on your must-see list, there’s another important step that you should take into consideration as well: travel insurance.

While travel insurance may be a bit less glamorous than the other aspects of your journey, it’s just as important. So, if you’re planning an African safari, here are a few things that you should ask yourself when looking into travel insurance, to ensure that you choose a policy that will give you the coverage that you need.

 

Why Should I Care About Insurance?

No matter how careful you plan to be, the fact is that any time you travel it’s important to take out a travel insurance policy. This is especially the case when you’re embarking on a journey to another continent.

While safari destinations are remarkably safe, things can happen abroad, just like they do at home. The main difference though, is that when you’re in a different country, it can be more difficult to arrange care, treatment, and solutions should something go awry.

Having a good travel insurance policy will not only provide you with the coverage that you need in case of the unexpected, but it will also give you peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Before you choose an insurance policy though, it’s important to recognise that not all travel insurance is created equal. African safaris vary drastically, and you’ll need a policy that will provide you with the type of insurance that you need for your journey; and the right amount of coverage as well.

Travel Insurance Importance

 

What Are The Risks?

Before you head off on your adventure, make sure you understand the risks that are involved. While it’s unlikely that anything will happen, in case something should go wrong, travel insurance can be a lifesaver.

For traveller and writer Nina Zara, this proved to be true. Shortly after arriving in Africa, she fell ill, and ended up needing to return home. Her cost of treatment and plane ticket home came in at €600.00, or about £474.00 at the time. Fortunately though, her travel insurance covered all of her expenses with the hospital and lab bills in Africa, and even her flight ticket home.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll have anything as tragic happen, it’s still important to understand the risks and mitigate them as much as possible by preparing ahead of time.

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

Coverage Options

When looking for insurance, you will want to make sure you choose a policy that offers enough coverage. Here are 7 important considerations to take in to account when looking at your options.

 

1. Medical

No one plans to get sick or injured, but when you are traveling to a foreign country, having medical coverage is always a good idea.

While basic insurance may cover minor injuries or illnesses, anything that could be considered extensive might not be covered. Medical expenses in another country can be costly, so make sure you have enough coverage in the event of an accident or injury.

Check out the NHS Fit For Travel website which has lots of advice on travelling abroad and how to prepare before you go.

 

2. Medical Repatriation

Repatriation includes things such as emergency medivacs and airlifts to your home country which, in some cases can cost thousands of pounds.

Most travel insurance polices will include emergency repatriation as standard but it is always worth checking as any form of air evacuation can incur huge costs.

Of course, more than likely you won’t have to use the coverage, but if your travel insurance policy doesn’t include emergency medical, we strongly advise paying a small fee upfront to add it, just in case.

 

3. Cancellation and Curtailment

Even the best travel plans can unravel. If you have travel insurance, you should be sure it offers trip-cancellation and curtailment in the event that you have to cancel your trip before you go or return home unexpectedly.

Safaris are not cheap, so check that the coverage covers the full cost of your holiday and under what terms the policy will refund you.

 

4. Activities

Video Thumbnail
Swakopmund Sandboarding

 
If you and your family are planning any specific types of adventures in Africa, you’ll want to make sure your insurance will cover these as well.

Medical coverage doesn’t always extend to cover certain activities such as white water rafting, or hot air balloon rides. If you’re planning to have these types of adventures while you’re away, you’ll want to ensure you tack on the appropriate add-ons to your policy.

 

5. Game Viewing

Most people who embark on an African safari hope to see the Big Five and other exciting wildlife while they’re out there.

It’s important to let your insurance provider know the nature of your trip, and make sure that your policy covers you for safari based activities such as game viewing or walking safaris.

 

6. Travel Destinations

Video Thumbnail
NAMIBIA

 
Certain locations are not covered in standard travel insurance.

Before you purchase a policy, speak with the agency to make sure you will be covered for each the countries you are visiting and check there are no areas within those countries that your policy does not cover.

 

7. Personal Belongings Coverage

Let’s face it; you will be travelling with valuable gear.

Camera equipment, and large sums of cash that you may have on you when travelling should be considered when purchasing your insurance. High-value items aren’t always included in standard travel insurance policies, in fact a Which? Investigation revealed that most standard policies leave holidaymakers out of pocket, so ask your provider if you need to take out additional coverage for your personal effects.

It’s also important to consider the possibility of lost or forgotten luggage. Carefully think about what your belongings are worth before you sign the agreement.

You can always use the Barclays Value My Suitcase calculator if you aren’t sure how to calculate the value of what you’re taking with you.

 

And Don’t Forget To…

 

Declare Your Age and Any Health Conditions

It is important that you give your insurers your correct age and advise them of any current or previous health conditions you may have/had. This can affect the policy they recommend to you and the overall cost.

Last week I looked at tips for the over-60s, which has some advice on how to prepare before you go on that trip of a lifetime.

 

Remember to Read the Small Print

It is always worth reading the policy in full.

Insurers have a habit of keeping important details hidden. Always have a read through the small print and check if there are any clauses or restrictions that you do not understand or agree with.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

What Next?

It’s a good idea to take out your insurance at the time you book your holiday so that you are covered even if you have to cancel your holiday months in advance. This way, should something happen that prevents you from going you’ll be able to open a claim for the flight and accommodation.

Of course, we all hope that we won’t have to use insurance, but the point of coverage is for peace of mind, as well as security in case of the unexpected.

I strongly recommend talking with your insurance provider for more information, and choosing an option that you feel will provide you with enough coverage.

At Safari Drive, we offer world-class safaris to Southern and Eastern Africa. If you’d like to learn more about a safari, or would like us to help you plan a safari of a lifetime, contact us today for a free consultation.

Photos by Ralf Κλενγελ and Diana Robinson

7 Tips for Safari Travel for the Over 60s

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

For many, an African safari holiday is the dream of a lifetime; something that’s been on the must-do list for years…

But often, that dream doesn’t come true until after retirement.

The good news though, is that African safaris are suitable for almost any age group, and more and more people are taking safaris later in life. Multigenerational safaris are also becoming increasingly popular, with grandparents, children, and grandkids travelling together on a family safari.

Of course, as you pack your bag for your adventure, you’ll just want to keep in mind that there are a few precautions that you can take to make your safari experience as smooth as possible.

To help you get the most out of your African safari, here are seven things to keep in mind before you head out.

GoodHealth

 

1. Make Sure You’re in Good Health

Booking a doctor’s appointment before you travel to another continent is always a good idea, no matter what your age.

Before you head out, inform your doctor of your plans, and schedule a checkup to make sure you’re healthy enough to travel. He or she will also be able to talk with you about any conditions that you may have, which may require special precautions while you’re away. For instance, if you have a heart condition, you may want to avoid strenuous exercise while on your journey, or avoid extreme altitudes. Jet lag and motion sickness are two additional conditions that some people encounter when travelling.

For specific health advice based on country or region, take a look at the following 3 websites:

Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor before you go; they may be able to prescribe medication, or offer information for your peace of mind when you travel.

 

2. Catch Up on Your Injections

When you book an appointment with your doctor, be sure to ask about recommended vaccinations.

You’ll want to make sure you’re up-to-date with important inoculations. While many may assume that these injections are for children, keep in mind that these diseases are more common in other countries. You should also ask your doctor about tetanus since many cases of tetanus occur in people over 65.

You may also consider additional vaccinations, which will vary depending on the country that you’re planning to visit. Hepatitis, typhoid, polio, and yellow fever are a few vaccines that your doctor may discuss with you, although sometimes these injections are not recommended for people who are over a certain age or who may have a chronic illness.

Can’t get an appointment with the GP? MASTA (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad) can assist you in finding your nearest private travel health clinic. There’s no real difference between doing this or going to the doctor, although if you’re heading somewhere particularly unusual they may be able to offer destination-specific precautions that your doctor won’t. This decision is really up to you.

 

3. Bring Enough Medication and Necessities

If you’re on any medication, you’ll want to bring enough to last you the entire journey.

Planning to obtain your medication while overseas is not recommended, since there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to refill your prescriptions while you’re on your trip. Still, you may also want to bring along a copy of your prescription, just in case your medication happens to get lost.

Finally, don’t forget to bring a fully stocked first aid kit, which should include some general, over the counter medication like Imodium, paracetamol, cold capsules, and allergy tablets. In addition to medication, other helpful supplies to bring along include eye drops, foot powder, lip balm, sunscreen, blister pads, first aid ointment, and spare glasses or contact lenses.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

4. Consider the Seasons and Temperatures

Video Thumbnail
Dry Dawn

Make sure you understand the season and average temperatures of the locations that you’re plan to travel to. Last month I looked at the Best Places to Go on Safari: A Month-By-Month Travel Guide, which is worth a look if you still aren’t sure where to go. There’s also a fantastic map of the average temperature and rainfall in Africa which you can consult before you travel.

This is important as often the temperatures can catch you off guard if you’re not prepared.

If you are travelling during the summer, you should be avoid staying out in the elements for too long, and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day. Always prepare for the weather, and bring along a wide brimmed hat and cool, breathable clothes.

Also keep in mind that temperatures can fluctuate considerably throughout a 24-hour period, and even if it will be hot, it’s wise to bring along a sweater, a windbreaker, and warm nightclothes since the temperature can drop once the sun goes down.

Remember to understand the implications of the season that you’re travelling in, so you will know what you can expect. For example, you may not want to travel during the wet season to some areas, since this can make it harder to spot game.

 

5. Plan Your Journey Wisely

Video Thumbnail
NAMIBIA

Even if you are fit physically, it’s important to choose your itinerary wisely.

Avoid rushing around, as this is exhausting and unrewarding. Regardless of age. This will give you a chance to enjoy yourself and take in the surroundings so that you get the full experience on offer.

Opting for a guided safari may well be the best type of holiday you’re after; there’s no need to navigate, you’ll get extra knowledge from your guide, and it will allow you to sit back and enjoy your amazing surroundings.

You could also choose a self-drive safari; design your own itinerary, set your own agenda and drive your own vehicle.

Recently I looked at which of these is better, Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours, depending on what you want to get out of your holiday. You can also take a look at the video above, filmed by our Safari Drive team when they went on a perfectly-planned safari in Namibia.

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

6.Carefully Consider Your Lodging and Accommodation

Video Thumbnail
Timelapse of a night camping at Okonjima in Namibia.

We are all for camping on safari, there’s nothing better than sleeping out in the bush, with the stars above you, unzipping your roof tent in the morning, and having African savannah on your doorstep.

However, like mentioned in point 5 above, we advise to strike a balance between camping and lodging, so you can be served upon, relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself while you’re there. Staying in lodges or luxury tented accommodation will also let you use the excellent activities on offer, including guided game drives.

I had a look at all the luxury accommodation options last month, so take a look at my guide if you’re unsure.

 

7.Take Injury Prevention Seriously

Finally, injury prevention should be taken seriously. Simple bumps and scrapes can turn into serious infections if they’re not treated properly.

Other safety measures include always wearing your seatbelt and avoiding driving at night. In addition, you should be sure to purchase additional travel health insurance. Many common health care plans, including Medicaid don’t cover services in other countries so be sure to talk with your insurance provider about additional coverage options that you may need.

Purchasing an adequate travel insurance policy for both ourselves and in the case of dependents, those we are travelling with, can be the most important purchase we make when travelling away from home, per this article on moneysupermarket.com. So don’t skip it!

 

Over To You

Remember, an African safari is the dream of a lifetime for many, and should be an incredible, and wonderful experience. Be sure to choose accommodation and an itinerary that will allow you to relax and truly enjoy your time in Africa.

Are you thinking about taking an African safari? Contact Safari Drive for a friendly chat about safari destinations and potential routes that you can take. Our safari experts love Africa, and many of our team members have been there multiple times. We’d love to put our experience to work in helping you to choose a safari that’s everything you’re hoping it will be.

Photos by William Warby and eGuide Travel

What Is the Best Safari Experience for Families?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

When it comes to amazing safari experiences, taking along the whole family can make for an incredible adventure…

While some people may assume that safari holidays are strictly for the grown ups, the fact is that safaris can be fun for every age group.

Bringing the children along can be an amazing adventure, and will enrich your experience even more. There’s nothing quite like seeing the world through their eyes, watching the excitement on their faces when they see a desert beetle trekking across the sand for the first time.

 

Why Should Kids Go On Safari?

Video Thumbnail
Meet Baraka the Black Rhino

As far as enriching experiences go, an African safari tops the list. There are few opportunities more exciting, more educational, and more beneficial for a child than taking them to see the world (as you can see in the video above).

What child doesn’t sit in front of the Lion King, or Madagascar, totally enraptured by the animals on the screen? This is their chance to see the characters come to life! There is no age barrier when it comes to education and adventure, as discussed in The Guardian: “The key to a successful safari is choosing the right location at the right time, balancing children’s health and safety with a sense of adventure, education and fun.”

Experiencing different cultures, and seeing new sights can open up their mind to the world around them, and will show them that there’s a huge world out there. It can foster an independent spirit, and help to instill a love of adventure in them, as S. Mitra Kalita found out when she took her young family on safari.

 

Where Can I Take My Family?

If you’re thinking about taking your family on an African safari, we would recommend Namibia as one of the top destinations for families. Namibia is an amazing family safari destination: in fact, National Geographic has rated it as one of the best places for a family trip.

 

Why Namibia?

Video Thumbnail
NAMIBIA

 
Other than the fact that Namibia offers a classic safari experience, there are 5 main reasons why Namibia is the best destination for your family safari:

  • 1. Namibia is safe – take a look at the Global Peace Index to see how it compares to other countries.
  • 2. There’s a low risk of malaria, according to the NHS Malaria Map.
  • 3. Many of the locals are fluent in English.
  • 4. The roads tend to be in good condition, which makes for a smoother and better experience if you’re planning to drive.
  • 5. Namibia offers plenty of superb accommodation for families, which takes me nicely to my next point…

 

What Accommodation Should We Choose?

If you’re looking for the most relaxing way to enjoy yourself, I would recommend a stay in one of Namibia’s luxury private lodges. I dedicated a whole post on choosing luxury safari accommodation recently, so make sure you take a look.

For those who like to be on the move, a self-drive safari through Namibia has plenty to offer in terms of adventure.

Of course, it’s important to remember that children aren’t always keen on long stretches of driving, so you’ll want to keep this in mind when planning your itinerary.

If you’re doing a self-drive safari you’ll want to plan for plenty of adventures along the way, and a few activities (there are loads of articles dedicated to ideas, like these Guardian tips on How To Entertain Your Kids On Long Drives) to help keep them entertained while driving past the long stretches of vast desert.

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

Whether you choose to spend your time in a luxury lodge or opt for a self-drive tour to explore different parts of this incredible country, there are plenty of adventures that you can choose from…

 

What Activities Can We Do As a Family?

Explore the desert and watch the way the light hits the dunes, or marvel at the lonely, isolated expanse of the eerily named Skeleton Coast: two opportunities that you’ll have while in Namibia. Here are 6 activities that you may want to schedule into your Namibian safari.

HotAirBalloonRide

 

1. Hot Air Balloon Ride


Arguably one of the best ways to fully appreciate the vast landscape, and see some of the largest dunes in the world, is by taking a hot air balloon ride over the dunes.

Located in the heart of the Namib Naukluft Park, Sossusvlei, this is your chance to get a bird’s eye view of the dramatic and breathtaking dunes. Be sure to bring your camera. Rocky mountains, gigantic orange dunes, and spectacular light and shadows that play off of the landscape makes this a photographer’s dream come true.

 

2. Sand Boarding on the Dunes


Video Thumbnail
Swakopmund Sandboarding

 
For the older children, sand boarding is an exciting chance for them to practice their boarding skills.

The Namib Desert is home to some of the largest sand dunes in the world. Located just outside of Swakopmund, Ultimate Sandboarding provides the perfect chance for the kids to sand board for a few hours. Training is included, and no experience is necessary – check out the video above for an idea of what to expect.

 

3. Marine Animal Excursions

Walvis Bay is teeming with amazing marine life, and the chance to go out in a boat will allow you to get up close to many of these beautiful animals.

Video Thumbnail
Mola-Mola Boat Trips, Walvis Bay, Namibia

 
Dolphins can almost always be seen out on the water, and whales are also a common sight if it’s the right season. The Mola Mola Sunfish is another creature that you’re likely to see while on an excursion, as are seals and pelicans. Walvis Bay Lagoon is also a resting stop for nearly 80 percent of Africa’s flamingos; another spectacular sight that’s worth seeing.

 

4. Exciting Game Viewing Opportunities

Etosha National Park is one of the largest game reserves in the world and ranks near the top in terms of game viewing opportunities. Home to some 114 mammal species, and 340 bird species, there’s much for the kids to see in this park.

In addition to opportunities to spot elephant, lion, and leopard, this park is also home to endangered black and white rhinos. Not to mention a wide variety of insects, amphibians, and reptiles.

 

5. Scenic Flights Over the Skeleton Coast


Video Thumbnail
2015 Namibia, Skeleton Coast Drone footage

 
A scenic flight is a great way to experience the Skeleton Coast. This coastline was named for the whale and seal bones that once littered the shores along the sea, remnants of the whaling industry.

Today however, you’re more likely to find the skeletal remains of shipwrecks that this wild coastline has claimed. Taking a scenic flight will give you an incredible perspective of this vast coastline, and will show you how it fits into the rest of the landscape.

 

6. A Stay in a Private Villa


When travelling with kids, it’s nice to have a place to return to at the end of a long day, somewhere you can relax, unwind, and just play in the pool. Namibia has a number of beautiful, luxury villas for you to choose from, including the Okonjima Grand Villa: an excellent lodge that overlooks a natural waterhole.

The Select Private Bush Suite welcomes children. It also provides comfortable accommodation, and additional features like large glass-panelled windows, a spacious lounge, and a pool.

 

Where Else Can We Go?

Of course, as incredible as Namibia is, it’s not the only destination for families. South Africa and Tanzania are two more excellent destinations for incredible family safaris.

When it comes down to it, the ideal safari is one that will best meet your preferences, and will provide you and your family with the experience that you’re looking for. Take a look at last week’s post “The Best Places to Go on Safari: A Month-By-Month Travel Guide” for some more ideas.

 

Are You Ready?

Are you & your family ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

If you’d like more information about family safaris contact Safari Drive today. We’d love to discuss some of the best safari options with you, allowing you to discover the most incredible opportunities that each country has to offer. This will help you to be sure you choose a destination that meets, and exceeds, your expectations.

Want to continue researching a safari holiday in Africa? Then your next step should be to download your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy Now!

Photos by Massmo Relsig and Jeremy T. Hetzel

The Best Places to Go on Safari: A Month-By-Month Travel Guide

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

If you’re looking for the adventure of a lifetime, Africa should be at the top of your list…

Home to exciting wildlife and with some of the most beautiful, spectacular scenery in the world, there’s plenty to see and do in the unique and varied countries that span across this continent.

It should come as no surprise then, that when it comes to planning a safari holiday, there’s not a one-size-fits-all option. Safaris can vary widely from one country to the next and even differ from region to region.

Of course, your experience can also differ drastically, depending on the time of year that you go. The key to having an amazing safari that’s everything you’d hoped it would be is careful planning and ensuring that you’ve booked a trip in the right month and location.

WhereToVisitAfricaSafari

 

When to Go?

When planning your safari, you’ll undoubtedly want to map out your journey around the best wildlife spotting opportunities. Fortunately, it’s possible to do this, no matter what time of year you’re hoping to travel.

The great thing about Africa is that it’s so big and varied, that you’ll be able to find an opportunity for an amazing safari, no matter what time of year you go.

If you’re hoping to plan your safari out around your schedule, or curious about what areas are best visited at different times of the year, here’s a guide that will help you to plan your journey.

WhenToVisitAfrica

 

January

January is a great time to safari to classic East Africa safari destinations like Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Since the weather is usually dry, it’ll be easier to spot animals since they’ll be congregating around the water sources.

This is also a great time of year to see migrating wildebeest in Tanzania’s northern parks.
Take a look at the video below, to see what a safari holiday in Tanzania could involve…

Video Thumbnail
Tanzania Self Drive 4x4 Landrover

 

February

February is, like January, still ideal for travel to East Africa. The land is green and beautiful, and it’s calving season for the wildebeest, where the Serengeti welcomes a few thousand wildebeest calves every day. This, of course, means there will be plenty of predators on the prowl as well and perfect opportunities for big cat spotting.

Check out the video below from National Geographic of photographer Vincent J. Musi’s fantastic images of big cats. I also wrote some Tips for Taking Photos on a Safari Holiday, a few weeks ago.

Video Thumbnail
National Geographic Live! - Vincent J. Musi: Big Cats Up Close | Nat Geo Live

 

March

March falls right between the summer and the start of autumn. This is a period known as the ‘shoulder season’ where conditions are reaching perfect – where you can also get some great rates at expensive lodges. Last week we dedicated a whole article to Luxury Safari Accommodation, so if you want to travel in March, we’ve got some ideas of where you can stay.

Also, there won’t be too many crowds. March is also an excellent time to visit Kruger National Park in South Africa and The Damaraland in Namibia. The temperatures will be just about perfect at this time of year.

The Kruger is one of the best-maintained parks in Africa and has the highest variety of wildlife on the continent, including the much sought after ‘Big Five’, which I looked at in my post on How to Spot the Best African Wildlife.

 

April

In April the summer season in Africa is winding down and the autumn season is picking up. Southern destinations like the Kruger, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe are ideal destinations for scenic safaris and birdwatching opportunities, although big game is more difficult to find.

Want to read more about our scenic safaris in Africa? Take a look at our fantastic choice of Namibian safari itineraries.
Tell Me More!

 

May

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the most beautiful places on earth and is home to over 122 species of animals and over 440 species of birds.

Situated in the Kalahari Basin of northern Bostswana, this basin floods annually just as Botswana’s rainy season ends in April and May. The water revitalises the land, and brings this diverse ecosystem back to life, making an ideal location to see some of Africa’s most amazing wildlife, as Richard and Geri Davies experienced on their own self drive safari.

Video Thumbnail
Safari Drive - Chobe / Savuti / Moremi

 

June

June sees Southern Africa heading into its best safari period and South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia enjoy their high season this time of year. June is also a good time to visit the grasslands of the Serengeti. It’s the start of the great wildebeest migration and ideal for lion spotting.

You can read about Brian Jackman’s fascinating account for the Telegraph of his experiences of wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.

 

July to September

July to September is the high season, so be sure to book early since these months fill up far in advance. Regardless of where you choose to go, the months July to September have something for everyone.

Here’s a list of 5 destinations to visit and why:

 

October

The Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya is one of the most popular wildlife park reserves. In this reserve, you can expect to see the migration of the wildebeest and zebra throughout October. The Chobe National Park in Botswana is also a good place to visit, and you’ll have a good chance of seeing zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, and more.

 

November

November is the start of the summer season, which makes it an ideal time to plan a beach vacation or safari along the coast. Most of the animals are on the move in the month of November, caught between the end of the dry season and the peak of the wet season, this is considered low season which means you will have fewer crowds.

From September to mid-November, Zambia is a great destination. At the end of the dry season, elephants, herds of buffalo, impala, and zebra can all be found congregating in the Lower Zambezi Valley, as documented by National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting in the video below.

Video Thumbnail
Zambia, A Season in the Wild, with Frans Lanting

 

December

Finally, East Africa once again comes out as one of the best safari destinations. In December, it’s the dry season in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda which means excellent game viewing opportunities. The migrating wildebeest will have also made their way to the Serengeti region in Tanzania, as I looked at in my post about Wildebeest Migration.

 

Ready To Go?

While this is just a sample of what you can do each month on an African safari, the fact is that your options extend beyond these stops. No matter what you’re hoping to do, or which animals you have on your must-see list, there’s something for everyone on an African safari.

The secret is to plan your trip around your preferences, while keeping the seasonal changes in mind. This will help you to create a safari of your dreams, one that you’ll be able to look back on for years to come.

If you’d like to do some more research on your own first, then get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide next. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes on all sorts of safari advice like how to camping safely, cross rivers, and spot wildlife.

Want to start planning your safari holiday, but still need some advice? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

Photos by Christopher Michel and David Berkowitz and Christopher Michel

Luxury Safari Holiday Accommodation: What You Should Look For

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Going on safari doesn’t mean roughing it…

When many people think of safaris, they imagine pitching tents in the wilderness and going without showers –but the truth is that a safari can be as luxurious as a stay in any other five-star resort or hotel.

A safari holiday can still include creature comforts, and it certainly doesn’t mean living in uncomfortable conditions. With a safari, you can choose your journey –and level of comfort, and can decide for yourself exactly how rugged you want the journey to be. If you prefer something a little more luxurious, don’t worry, there’s no shortage of options available for you to choose from.

To give you an idea about the type of accommodation that we at Safari Drive choose for our luxury safaris, here are a few things that we look for in lodges.

 

Stay In Spectacular Locations

Location is everything when choosing the best place to stay. Our lodges are in the most ideal locations, giving you the chance to enjoy beautiful scenery and incredible sights.

While many of our lodges are in secluded, pristine locations, that doesn’t mean that they’re short on amenities. In fact, the only indicator that you will have that you’re staying off the beaten path is the amazing scenery that extends on towards the horizon.

Take a look below at the fantastic scenery you could see in Botswana.

Video Thumbnail
Lodges of Botswana

 

Settle For Nothing Less Than The Best Guides

A stay in one of our lodges will ensure that you will have the opportunity to go wildlife viewing with a friendly and professional guide. The guides at the lodges that we choose are experienced, and know the land like the back of their hand.

They’ll be able to help you spot elusive animals, and more than happy to fill you in on fascinating facts and information about the area.

Have a quick read of what to expect from a guided safari of the Himba trail.

 

Experience The Incredible Views

Africa is known for its spectacular views. From the vast open plains of the Serengeti that seem to stretch on forever, to the beautiful to vibrant waterways of the Okavango Delta. It’s safe to say that this continent is unlike any place on earth.

Africa is full of national parks, wildlife refuges, and open plains that stretch on forever. The views are something that people come from all around the world to see.

Just because you finish exploring for the day does not mean you will be ready to close the windows.

We've Chosen Your Luxury Safari Accommodation for You

 

Eat Fresh & Delicious Meals

A safari doesn’t mean eating cold, tinned food. We believe that high-quality dining is essential while on safari, and excellent food is one quality that we look for when we specially choose our lodges.

Fresh and delicious food is a must, and nothing ends the day better than a tasty meal. The lodges that we choose serve expertly prepared food, much of which is made from locally sourced ingredients.

If course, if you are preparing any food yourself, you need to take precautions. Take a look at my post from last week about Why You Need Take Food Preparation Seriously, while on a safari holiday.

 

Spend Your Holiday In Luxury and Comfort

Who said you can’t have luxury amenities while on safari?

While an African safari may leave you thinking rough and rugged, there are a variety of different ways you can choose to experience Africa.

One of the main criteria that we use when choosing lodges is comfort. After a day of adventure and excitement, it’s wonderful to be able to come back to an amazing place to relax and unwind, and prepare for the following day.

You could also opt to stay in a tented camp, one of the options I explain in my post How to Camp in Africa These camps can hardly be referred to as camping in the traditional sense, because although you sleep under canvas, you have a lovely comfortable bed and many of the same amenities that you would have when staying in a lodge.

Some luxury tented camps even include elegant but rustic décor, private bathrooms, spacious decks, and on-site massages.

Want to start planning your luxury safari holiday, but don’t know where to start? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

Take Advantage Of Excellent Game Viewing Opportunities

Finally, we look for luxury lodges that offer superb game viewing opportunities. Most of the luxury lodges are situated in ideal locations to spot wildlife, and offer guided safaris. Many lodges also offer night safaris –a great way to experience some excitement.

While many people have the big five on their must-see list, there are other animals that emerge at night in Africa. Many elusive animals such as leopards and honey badgers show their faces as the sun sets in Africa.

If you’re a regular reader, you might remember my post about How To Spot The Best African Wildlife On Safari, which is full of tips for making the most of your adventure.

 

Ready To Start Planning Your Trip?

At Safari Drive, we believe that one of the best ways to experience Africa is with a luxury self-drive tour. This allows you to travel between the finest lodges, resting up and enjoying all of the comforts, while still being able to experience the adventure of self-driving.

Of course, you can also choose a traditional safari where you fly between lodges –the beauty of taking one of our luxury safaris is that it’s entirely up to you.

So why not choose to stay in comfort?

If you’ve always been put off at the idea of roughing it, don’t let this fear hold you back.

Would you like more information on a luxury safari or a self-drive African safari? Contact Safari Drive today for a free consultation. Our friendly and helpful team will be happy to answer any questions you have and help you plan your dream holiday.

 
Photos by South African Tourism and &Beyond

Why You Need to Take Food Safety Seriously on a Safari Holiday

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

As you know, food safety is important no matter where you are…

While you’re at home, it’s easier to practice food safety. This is because you’re familiar with the food that you eat, and you know how to prepare it safely. Chances are that safe food handling, for the most part, is second nature when you’re at home.

But if you’re on a safari holiday, it can be more difficult; especially when travelling to a new country. Being unfamiliar with the local foods, customs, and another culture’s standard of food safety can make it difficult to know which precautions you should take to keep yourself safe from food-borne illnesses.

 

Ensuring Food Safety On Safari

Fortunately, many safaris are havens of delicious and safe dining however different types of safari carry varying degrees of risk when it comes to food.

 

Lodges

When you’re staying at a lodge, for instance, or in a luxury tented camp, you will most likely have your own cook who will prepare your meals for you. Not only will they be able to ensure that your meals are safe and prepared according to high standards of quality; in most cases they’ll also be able to cater to any dietary needs or restrictions that you may have.

All of the lodges and luxury camps that we choose have chefs to provide you with excellent food. You won’t go hungry, or have to worry about food safety while you’re there.

Take a look at the video below, to see the story of Joyful Nghala, a lodge chef at Singita Kruger National Park.

Video Thumbnail
Singita School of Cooking Joyful's story of success

 

Camping

On some budget safaris though, or if you’re camping without a cook while on a self-drive safari, you will need to be more diligent with food safety. This is because often, in these situations, much of the food preparation will fall to you and your group. In these cases, you will be responsible for food safety, and ensuring that safe food preparation procedures are followed. It’s also wise to be vigilant if you plan to venture into the local village markets, or dine in restaurants.

If you’re planning an African safari, here are a few things that you should know about food safety.

African Safari Food

 

Ensuring Food Safety

Generally speaking, as this article explains, six harmful types of pathogens can be found in food items: Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. Parasites are also a significant cause of foodborne illnesses in Africa.

But before you let this put you off of travelling to Africa, it’s important to realise that there are measures that you can take to keep yourself safe.

Part of the reason that Africa has such a bad reputation for food safety is due to the fact that people often think of this continent as one, single entity, and forget that there are actually 53 very different countries within this continent.

In terms of food safety, many popular safari destinations are just as safe as anywhere in the UK.

The most important thing is to be prepared ahead of time.

Research the area that you’re going to, and talk with your safari provider about what you can expect while you’re there. Booking with a reputable safari company is your first port of call, and the best step that you can take towards ensuring that your journey will be pleasant and trouble-free.

Don’t know where to start? I’ve put together some tips to help begin your search.

 

Four Food Safety Tips

While you won’t have to worry about food safety if you’re staying in a lodge, you will want to keep the following tips in mind if you plan to go to the local markets and restaurants, or will be doing your own food prep while on safari.

 

Practice Good Hygiene

Good hygiene is important, especially when you travel.

Wash your hands as often as possible, and carry hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes with you to cleanse your hands during those times that you won’t have access to soap and water.

It’s especially important to wash your hands after using the toilet, touching an animal, or handling raw fruits or vegetables in a market.

Finally, of course, the importance of washing your hands before eating cannot be overstated.

 

Choose Your Water Carefully

Drinking water is important, especially in hot climates, however precautions must be taken when drinking water abroad. Use these 6 golden rules for staying safe and hydrated.

 

Store Food Properly

Food storage isn’t something that you’ll have to concern yourself with at all if you’re staying in a lodge, since all of the food will be prepared for you. But if you’re camping, or on a self-drive safari, it’s important to remember to store your food properly.

Food should always be kept on ice or in a refrigerator to prevent bacteria from growing.

One helpful detail to consider is that when you book a self-drive safari with Safari Drive your Land Rover or Land Cruiser will come with a refrigerator, allowing you to safely store your food.

As a side note, storing food properly will also help to keep wild animals away. For this reason, it’s recommended that you never bring food into your tent while camping.

Watch the amazing video below to see what a Safari Drive camp looks like being set up.

Video Thumbnail
Timelapse of a night camping at Okonjima in Namibia.

 

Precautions to Take

Sickness can occur at home or abroad, but it’s important to be prepared before you go.

It’s a good idea to bring a small first aid kit with you. While you most likely won’t have to use it, having it with you will give you peace of mind.

It’s also smart to bring oral rehydration salts sachets as these will help to restore electrolytes that can be lost during illness. You may also consider taking along some basic, over the counter Imodium.

While chances are, you won’t encounter any stomach troubles while you’re away, it’s important to go prepared, and exercise food safety while travelling.

Make sure you bring any recommended medications with you and take out travel insurance before you go.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

Are You Ready?

Planning your holiday can be an exciting and enjoyable time, so don’t forget to have fun while you prepare for your amazing trip.

An African journey is something that many dream of, and naturally, you’ll want to take steps ahead of time that will help you to make the most of your spectacular trip. If you have friends or family members who have been on an African safari or journey before, you could also ask them for tips and advice. After all, there is nothing quite like firsthand information.

Be prepared, choose your food wisely, and have safe travels.

Planning an African safari? Get a consultation with Safari Drive and speak to our team – we’d love to help you plan your adventure of a lifetime!

 
Photos by John Hickey-Fry and LGO’Brien

7 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Safari Company to Travel With

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

A safari. For most of us, the word itself conjures up images of adventure; of faraway lands, exploration, and excitement…

In Swahili, the word safari translates to ‘going on a journey.’ And what a journey it will be! Traveling Africa on a safari holiday is something many people dream of, and for good reason.

Imagine waking with the dawn to watch the sunrise across the Serengeti while having your breakfast and morning cup of tea or coffee brought to you on a tray. Or driving through the vast and unspoiled plains in search of those elusive lions, and the excitement that you’ll feel when your guide points to a lone tree and you spot one of the beautiful and majestic kings resting in the shade.

 

Where to Begin Planning Your Adventure

If all you know of wild Africa is David Attenborough or Big Cat Diary you are in for the surprise of your life, says Brian Jackman in The Telegraph.

If you’re extensively researching the wild animals and jaw-dropping natural wonders you might see, or the clothing you should wear on safari, then you’re already on the right track.

But there’s another aspect of your trip that you shouldn’t overlook: the safari provider that you’ll use.

 

Why Choosing Your Safari Company Is so Important

In addition to researching your must-see locations (such as the amazing Himba Trail in Namibia), it’s really worth spending some time vetting potential safari companies to ensure that you find one that is able to give you the dream holiday that you’re seeking.

The truth is that, just like no two holidays are the same, neither are any two safari companies. Each one provides a different level of service and has a different standard of quality. Choosing a safari company may seem straightforward, but it’s vitally important. The safari company that you choose will, in large part, make or break your experience.

Of course, writing this a member of the Safari Drive team, I strongly believe in the qualities of our organisation. But I also appreciate we’re just one of many options out there – some good, some not so good. To that end, my intention here is to educate you. Because if you’re planning your adventure of a lifetime, it’s important to choose a company that’s reputable, knowledgeable, and professional. One who will be able to meet your expectations, preferences, and needs.

To help you find a company that will be able to give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and more, here are seven questions that you should ask when choosing a safari company…

ChoosingSafariCompany

 

1. Do They Have Excellent Communication?

When on safari, the last thing you will want is to be disappointed. This is why it’s important to find a safari company that’s excellent at communicating, and more than happy to answer any questions that you have. At Safari Drive, we welcome our customers into our office in the UK.

We’d love to discuss all of the different safari options that you can choose from, and look over maps with you over a cup of tea. Our goal is to help you create a safari experience that’s sure to live up to your expectations, and we encourage you to join us for a chat.

 

2. Are They Passionate About Safaris?

Safari companies often employ staff who may have very little expedience within the country, but you’ll want to find a company with firsthand experience to help you plan your holiday.

At Safari Drive, many of our team has been to Africa multiple times, if not lived there. We love talking about safaris because it’s something that we’re familiar with and genuinely adore. We’d love to share our knowledge and experience with you!

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

3. Do They Provide Detailed Itineraries?

The best safari companies are very clear on what they offer, and provide detailed packages that include everything that you need to know to make an informed decision. If a company’s website contains vague descriptions, this should be a warning sign. It could mean that the company outsources to unverified ground operators, and are unable to be specific about various aspects of the safari, because they aren’t certain themselves!

You’ll want to see comprehensive itineraries that are packed full of details and helpful information. It’s a sign that the team is experienced, reputable, and knows exactly what you should be able to expect while you’re there.

 

4. What Types of Safaris Do They Offer?

Not all safaris are created equal. Safaris vary considerably and can range between simple camping excursions, to private, luxury lodges. Instead of choosing a company that sells a one-size-fits-all safari, you’ll want to find one that offers safari styles that are varied and flexible – allowing you to choose a safari that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

At Safari Drive, we offer a number of different safaris from group trips, to luxury lodges, to family holidays in private houses.

We also offer self-drive tailor-made safaris where you have absolute freedom in choosing what you want to do.

 

5. Do They Support Responsible Tourism?

Look for a safari company that engages in sustainable tourism. Safari operators have a responsibility to respect the local communities and environment, and should take care to minimise their carbon footprint while contributing to the local communities.

At Safari Drive, we are committed to supporting sustainable tourism practices. Our goal is to encourage our companies, suppliers, and customers to protect the natural environment, respect local cultures, benefit local communities, conserve natural resources, and minimise pollution.

 

6. Are They Bonded?

Look to see if the company is bonded. Check for bonding such as the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL), and the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT). These organisations are designed to provide financial protection for travelers who purchase package holidays, should their travel company cease trading.

Companies that are bonded through these organisations prove that they are putting their customers first; ensuring that their money will be safe, even in the event of their failure. At Safari Drive, we protect our customers by bonding through both organisations for your security and peace of mind.

 

7. How Long Have They Been Operating?

Finally, check to see how long the company has been operating. You’ll want to find a company that has a solid track record of providing excellent safaris, and the length of time that they’ve been in business is a good indicator of this.

Safari Drive, we’ve been in business since 1993. Our longstanding commitment to exceptional safaris has gone a long way towards helping us to continue to grow and thrive for over twenty years.

 

Ready to Get Started?

Choosing a safari company is one of the most important decisions that you will make when planning your African safari. The right company will be experienced, knowledgeable, and professional.

They’ll also be happy to work alongside you to create the safari of your dreams, and will do everything they can to ensure that you will have the best experience possible.

Would you like to learn more about taking an African safari? Contact Safari Drive for a free consultation and our friendly and helpful team will contact you as soon as they can.

Want to continue researching a safari holiday in Africa? Then your next step should be to download your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy Now!

 
Photos by William Warby and William Warby

The Himba Trail, Namibia: What to Expect on a Guided Safari

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The Kunene region in North West Namibia is a vast and varied land…

The arid plains of North West Namibia are as beautiful as they are isolated. The Kunene region, also known as Kaokoland, is considered by many to be ‘one of the last true wildernesses of southern Africa’, per footprinttravelguides.com. The region is also home to the rare desert elephant and the endangered black rhino.

Namibia truly is a land of unspoiled wilderness and boasts the second-lowest population density in the world with only one person to every two square kilometres.

 

Meet the Himba People

The Himba are one of the indigenous groups of people that inhabit this vast region. This proud and ancient people are herders, relying on goat and cattle for their subsistence, and are known for their ochre-tinted mixture that they apply to their skin and hair in what could easily be considered the world’s most unique and fascinating beauty treatment.

For many, a trip to this region and the opportunity to interact with the Himba people in their villages is an experience of a lifetime, and a dream come true… and something that we offer at Safari Drive.

We’re committed to providing tours with the highest level of respect and sensitivity to the Himba culture, traditions, and lifestyle. Our goal is to open up the world’s eyes to how they live, while leaving a minimal footprint behind.

 

Getting on the Himba Trail

Once a year, we assemble a guided group trip that sets off to explore the remote and fascinating regions of Northern Namibia. This two-week guided tour is known as the Himba Trail, and is an excellent chance to experience a different culture firsthand while also having the opportunity to explore this vast and beautiful land and come face-to-face with some of Africa’s most well-loved safari animals.

The Himba Trail is a guided self-drive group safari. It’s fully catered, and takes you through the best of Northern Namibia, giving you a chance to explore this fascinating country and see for yourself what makes it high on every adventurer’s list.

Northern Namibia is home to some of the most spectacular sights on earth; from the beautiful, isolated plains where the Himba make their home, to the breathtaking sights of the Epupa Falls, and the amazing animals found at the Etosha Salt Pan.

Here’s a brief glimpse into what you can expect on a guided group safari trip in North West Namibia, along the Himba Trail…

 

Expect: A Knowledgeable Guide

Your journey along the Himba Trail will include one of Namibia’s greatest guides who will be traveling along in his own vehicle. You and your guide will be able to communicate the whole journey through walky talky radio, making the journey truly enjoyable and hassle-free.

Video Thumbnail
NAMIBIA

If you have any questions or concerns your guide will be available to help. It’s also helpful to have a guide traveling with you, as they will be able to guide you through the terrain and offer up helpful information and facts along the way.

 

Expect: Stories You Won’t Hear Elsewhere

When you travel the Himba Trail, you will have the chance to hear some fascinating stories, as well as garner a wealth of information and facts from your guide along the way.

Your guide will be knowledgeable and experienced, not only available to answer questions, but to provide you with fascinating facts and in-depth information on every aspect of your journey, providing you with a richer, more all-encompassing experience.

 

Expect: A Camp Cook

There’s no need to worry about preparing your own food on your journey, our guided tour includes a local camp cook who will provide all of the meals that are not provided by lodges, as well as lunches whilst you are en route.

The menu features breakfasts of coffee, tea, toast, jam, cereal, cold cuts/meat, cheese, yoghurt and fruit, and cooked breakfasts when camping in one location for more than one day. Lunches include salad, cold meat, sausage, bread, cheese, fruit and various antipasti; while dinner is a starter, main course, main course, fresh salad, and dessert.

 

Expect: The Chance to Share the Journey With Others

Arguably one of the best ways to experience an African safari is in a group setting. This will allow you to encounter new experiences, while still being surrounded by the company of others.

While each party in our small, three-vehicle group tours travels in their own vehicle, you will have the chance to interact with others around the campfire at night.

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

Expect: Amazement at Etosha National Park

Regarded by many as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries, Etosha National Park is home to one of the largest salt pans in the world.

Each year during the wet season this salt pan floods; which then sees the area teeming with wildlife, including flocks of the colorful flamingo, as well as well-known favourites including lion, elephant, giraffe, leopard, and zebra as well as the endangered cheetah and black rhino.

 

Expect: Feeling Impressed by Epupa Falls

You can hear it before you see the thundering rush of water crashing down over the edge: Epupa Falls.

The Kunene River is 0.5 kilometers wide and forms a series of waterfalls that spread over 1.5 kilometers. These spectacular falls are a treat for the eyes and a popular spot for photographers to gather and take photos.

 

Expect: Spectacular Scenes in Damaraland

Damaraland is another spectacular scenic area in Namibia. This region is an untamed, rugged highland desert wilderness, that’s home to unique animal species including the last black rhinos in the wild.

Damaraland is also flanked by the Skeleton Coast.

 

Expect: To Fall in Love With a Himba Village

Finally, the highlight for many: the chance to visit the Himba. While in Kaokoland, you will have the opportunity to go out and visit a Himba Village, where friendly and striking Himba people will be sure to extend their welcome to you.

Visit with the Himba as they take you on walks around the village, or observe them as they go about daily life. Many visitors to Namibia have a visit to a Himba village at the top of their list and look forward to the opportunity to discover the Himba’s ancient culture, and a chance to experience their unique way of life.

 

Are You Ready?

As you can see, North West Namibia is home to some spectacular sights, amazing animals, and fascinating culture. We believe that our Himba Trail guided tour is one of the best ways to experience all that this region has to offer.

Whether you are an experienced safari-goer, or if this is your first time to the continent of Africa, I’m certain that this tour will see you falling in love with Africa and returning home ready to plan your next trip.

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? If you’d like more information about our guided tour through Northern Namibia contact Safari Drive today. Our next Himba Trail guided tour will take place 6-20 November, 2016. Don’t forget to watch our award-winning Namibia video, featuring beautiful time lapse photography and spectacular views.

Want to continue researching a safari holiday in Africa? Then your next step should be to download your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy Now!

 
Photos by Vernon Swanepoel and David Siu

7 Critical Steps Travellers Often Overlook When Planning a Visit to Africa

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

When it comes to must-see destinations around the world, Africa often ranks near the top of the list…

And it’s no wonder why! Africa is an amazing continent, with so much to see and do. A journey to this beautiful land can be exceptionally rewarding.

To help you get the most out of your experience though, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. An African safari holiday isn’t like taking just another short holiday; it’s a completely unique experience.

Here are seven critical steps you should consider when planning your trip. Make sure you don’t forget about these important, but often-overlooked to-dos…

Safari

 

1. Seeing a Doctor

Before you hop on the plane and fly off to a new continent, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first. There are some important travel vaccinations that you should consider before traveling to certain places in Africa and your doctor can recommend various precautions and help you decide what immunizations you should have before heading out.

Some of the most common ones include a vaccination for yellow fever (when traveling to East Africa), or Hepatitis A, B or typhoid.

You should speak with your doctor in advance since some vaccinations take several weeks to provide complete protection. If you’re on any prescription medication, you’ll also want to make sure you bring along enough to last you for the duration of your trip.

Can’t get an appointment with the GP? MASTA (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad) can assist you in finding your nearest private travel health clinic. There’s no real difference between doing this or going to the doctor, although if you’re heading somewhere particularly unusual they may be able to offer destination-specific precautions that your doctor won’t. This decision is really up to you.

 

2. Getting Insurance

Travel insurance is often overlooked since many believe their insurance already offers coverage for them while they are away. However, this isn’t usually the case. In most cases, you’ll need a specific travel insurance policy to cover you in case of medical issues, cancelled flights, or other unexpected emergencies.

Purchasing an adequate travel insurance policy for both ourselves and in the case of dependents, those we are travelling with, can be the most important purchase we make when travelling away from home, per this article on moneysupermarket.com. So don’t skip it!

Since you’re spending a significant amount of money on this journey, you want to ensure that you are protected. The good news is that travel insurance is relatively inexpensive for those who are under 70 years old, and you can often obtain a policy through your standard home insurance provider, or online through a dedicated travel insurance company.

 

3. Planning Ahead

While there is some wonder to being spontaneous, this isn’t the case when the trip of a lifetime is at stake! It’s important to do your research, decide what you want to see, and determine what you hope to get out of your trip. This will help you to decide which location you should visit, the type of safari you should go on, and what time of year you should go.

It’s also vitally important to plan ahead since popular locations fill up early during certain times of the year. For example, the wildebeest migration and river crossing at the Mara River is a popular event and it’s important to book your accommodation and safaris early to ensure there will be space.

When planning your African safari, it’s also important to plan for the unexpected and remember that animals are unpredictable, and often operate according to their own schedule.

 

4. Creating a Realistic Itinerary

Travel can be tiring, and getting from country to country can be especially gruelling. You don’t want your entire trip to be a haze of exhaustion. Instead of trying to fit five countries into a 10-day holiday, it may be better to instead focus on one or two locations.

I recommend creating an itinerary that will allow you plenty of time to experience each region, allowing you time to fully appreciate everything that area has to offer. You will enjoy your trip much more if you have at least a few days to unwind after arriving instead of having to immediately repack and jet off to the next location.

Want to get the advice of our team of safari experts to help you build your itinerary and explore your options? You can get a free safari consultation in just a couple of clicks.
Start Planning My Safari Now

 

5. Doing Research

You will get so much more out of the journey if you do plenty of upfront research. Consider the different habits of the animals you wish to see, and study up on the local culture and food in the area that you’ll be going to. Immerse yourself in your research and then open your mind to the experience that is about to envelop you.

Remember, Africa is an amazing continent that’s full of varied countries. It is impossible to take Africa as a whole. Instead consider each country you are planning to visit and conduct your research accordingly.

 

6. Choosing a Reputable Safari Company

When selecting a holiday package, be sure to choose a reputable safari company.

Video Thumbnail
A self drive safari in Tanzania with Safari Drive

When you’re researching prospective safari providers do homework on them first. Ask them for references or conduct a quick online search and see what other customers are saying about them. Finally, beware of scams. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

 

7. Leaving Enough Time to Compile the Proper Paperwork

When it comes to traveling abroad, keep in mind that there are a number of different steps involved with getting permission to travel. While many countries in Africa only require a passport to enter, some, such as Kenya or Tanzania, also require a visa.

It is recommended that you are aware of what is required of you, and if necessary, apply for your visa before you travel. Before you go it is important that you have all of your paperwork in order and the required documents with you, as well as copies if your official documents. You should also make sure you have three clear pages in your passport, or else you may not be allowed in.

More useful information about visas and clearing customs and immigration in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

Are You Ready?

Planning your holiday can be an exciting and enjoyable time, so don’t forget to have fun while you prepare for your amazing trip.

An African journey is something that many dream of, and naturally, you’ll want to take steps ahead of time that will help you to make the most of your spectacular trip. If you have friends or family members who have been on an African safari or journey before, you could also ask them for tips and advice. After all, there is nothing quite like firsthand information.

Planning an African safari? Get a consultation with Safari Drive and speak to our team – we’d love to help you plan your adventure of a lifetime!

 
Photos by and David Berkowitz and William Warby

How to Camp in Africa: Three Essential Options You Should Consider

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Imagine falling asleep under the stars, and waking the next day to the cool morning air with the sunrise softly streaming into the tent. The birds are calling, and you listen to the sounds of the world as it slowly starts to awake…

Camping in Africa is a great chance to get up close and personal with nature in a safe, yet enjoyable setting. Whether you choose a guided or a self-drive safari, camping is an exciting experience and one that you’ll enjoy, no matter what your comfort level and preferences are.

From rooftop camping to luxury tents, when it comes to modern day camping, there’s something for everyone. Your options are as varied as the vast African landscape!

While some people prefer a lodge with its modern conveniences more than a tent, for many people there’s nothing quite like being out in the wild, staying in a tent whilst listening to jackals howling and lions growling in the distance.

 

There’s More Than One Way to Camp in Africa

Don’t feel as though you are limited to traditional camping, either. If you prefer luxury accommodation over roughing it, there are camping options that are able to accommodate your needs.

Camping in Africa ranges from self-catering to luxury accommodation so no matter how catered you prefer your trip to be, you’ll be able to find something that’s perfect for you.

Let’s explore three popular camping options that you can choose from when you book a safari holiday

Camping in a luxury tented camp

 

Camping in a Public Campsite Is a Solid Option

Camping in a public campsite is a popular option. At Safari Drive, we provide 4×4 vehicles with rooftop tents that are practical and easy to set up.

Rooftop tents are very comfortable and they also provide a great platform from which you can lie in bed and admire the view.

Some game reserves have camping sites, and you’ll be able to plan your safari so that you can spend the night at these locations. When camping in Namibia, for instance, rooftop camping is especially ideal. Namibia also has a number of excellent fenced campsites that you’ll be able to camp in, and many of them have good facilities including showers, loos, and a braai area or barbeque.

 

Camping in Special Campsites Lets You Experience Wildlife

With many safaris in Tanzania, for example, you’ll also have the option to camp in special campsites out in the wild, with no fences or boundaries. Instead, you’ll be an area in the middle of the park with wildlife all around.

When camping in these remote areas, you’ll want to ensure that you go prepared, and bring into camp everything that you’ll need.

Video Thumbnail
Timelapse of a night camping at Okonjima in Namibia.

When you book a self-drive tour through Safari Drive, we’ll give you your very own fully-equipped 4×4 vehicle, either a Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser that will contain everything you need to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.

In addition to the rooftop tents, our vehicles also contain a refrigerator. You’ll be able to store food and wash, as well as set up a fire for cooking. It’s a remarkable experience for those who are looking for adventure.

When camping in these areas, it’s important to disturb the environment as little as possible. Always camp in designated areas, and never camp near a waterhole. It’s also important to keep an eye out for animal trails and to avoid camping in the paths.

Want to learn more about camping and living in the bush? Then download your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide written by our expert team which includes on all sorts of safari advice on camping in the bush, lighting fires and spotting wildlife.
Get My Copy!

 

Tented Camps Are the Ultimate Luxury

Finally, those who are looking for something a bit more luxury can choose tented camps; luxury tents are the already set up in the bush. These camps can hardly be referred to as camping in the traditional sense, because although you sleep under canvas, you have a lovely comfortable bed and many of the same amenities that you would have when staying in a lodge.

This includes hot showers, and superb cuisine. Some luxury tented camps even include elegant but rustic décor, private bathrooms, spacious decks, and on-site massages.

One of the great things about planning a safari through a company like Safari Drive is the flexibility to choose accommodation that’s as basic or luxurious as you’d like, and luxury tented camps really are one of the best option if you’re looking to travel in style. Or you can choose a mixture of all three…!

 

What Camping Options Will Suit You?

The accommodation that you’re hoping for will help you to determine which route and itinerary you’ll want to take. While some areas are very catered and upscale, others are off the beaten path and require more of an adventurous spirit in order to appreciate them.

Many safari-goers choose a mix of the above options, to get the most out of their experience and to enjoy at least a few nights in luxury accommodation.

One of the best ways to see Africa is on a self-drive safari. With a self-drive itinerary, you’ll be able to drive from campsite to campsite, or even alternate between luxury tented camps or lodges if you prefer.

This allows you a chance to experience the best of both worlds, the freedom of a self-drive as well as the experience of a guided tour should you choose to go on a guided safari during your stay at a lodge.

 

Start Planning Your Trip

No matter which option you choose, you’ll find that camping on a safari in Africa is a truly remarkable experience. The beauty of sleeping outside close to nature and the simple enjoyment of being immersed in the great outdoors really is one of the best ways to enjoy this amazing continent.

Whilst you’re huddled around the campfire, enjoying the cool air that comes after a hot, dry day, don’t forget to look up at the stars. It’s said that you’ll be able to see more in Africa than you can see anywhere else on earth…

If you’re ready to take action towards organising a trip, get a free safari consultation with one of our team and start planning the trip to Africa with the camping options that suit you best. Good luck!

 
Photos by Rutger and Serengeti Safari Camp

7 Surprising Reasons Why Your Next Family Holiday Should Be an African Safari

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

An African safari holiday is a great way to introduce children to the exciting wonders of the world…

‘A little after dawn, our safari guide headed to the less-explored eastern part of Serengeti National Park,’ writes S. Mitra Kalita, detailing her experience on an African safari. ‘He slowed the Toyota Land Cruiser at a patch of green that interrupted the straw-colored Tanzanian landscape, so barren that it made our mouths feel dry.

“There’s a hyena under that tree,” he said.

My husband, Nitin, and I stood up in the vehicle and instinctively shushed our groggy children, Naya and Riya, then ages 8 and 1. Looking through binoculars at the tree, we saw only a blur.

“Hey!” the baby shouted. “Hello? Hello?”

“Shhhhhh!” we scolded.

And suddenly, there was the hyena—headed straight for us…’

 

Considering a Family Safari Trip

When it comes to an African safari, a lot of people never consider taking the kids. But the truth is that an African safari isn’t just for adults, it can be a wonderful adventure for the entire family.

An African safari is an experience unlike any other, and can help introduce the world to children in ways that can’t be taught. Travel is a rich experience for a person of any age, and a family safari is an experience you won’t want to miss out on.

To show you what I mean, here are seven surprising reasons that you should consider an African safari for your family.

Golden Jackals

 

1. To See New and Unexpected Wildlife

The classic reason to travel to Africa is for a chance to spot the big five. But while lions, elephants, and leopards are exciting, and you’ll want to see classic icons like giraffes, zebras, and hippos, there are other animals in Africa that you won’t want to miss out on.

Kids especially are particularly enthralled by animals of all sizes, and while big beasts are exciting, the creepy crawlies also rank highly on many of their lists. For many youngsters, dung beetles in particular are especially fascinating. And learning about termites can be just as fun as discovering a herd of elephants.

You’ll also want to keep an eye out for hidden animals, Nile Crocodiles can be found in just about every major river, and look out for meerkats, gazelle, hyenas, jackals, and vultures.

 

2. For a Better Alternative to the Zoo

While the zoo is a favourite place for families with young children, a trip to Africa offers an experience that’s about 100 times more exciting than that. A safari is a chance to view animals in their natural habitats and you and your family will be treated to a genuine, and spectacular viewing experience that’s unlike anything a zoo has to offer.

Nothing screams adventure quite like seeing, and hearing the wildebeests thunder past. During the months of July to September, these magnificent herds migrate north towards northern Serengeti and Masai Mara. Seeing hundreds or thousands of these animals is something you can’t fully understand until you have experienced it first-hand.

You’ll also learn about animals, and discover how they thrive in their natural habitats, and will become aware of the challenges that they face. This is the perfect way to introduce children to the importance of wildlife conservation efforts.

 

3. Because There’s Something for Everyone

In addition to amazing wildlife, there are plenty of other aspects of a safari that you’ll also enjoy. Regardless of what your interests are, an African safari has something that will appeal to just about everyone.

From the thundering Victoria Falls to the beautiful coastlines to canyons and desert, dunes, grasslands, and more, the landscape in Africa is unlike anything in the world and offers excellent opportunities for sightseeing, and photography.

 

4. For a New Cultural Experience

Getting kids out of their comfort zones and into a new culture that’s different from their own is an invaluable experience. It will open up their minds, and teach them that there’s more to the world than what’s found in their own neighbourhood.

Children are naturally curious, and will enjoy learning about new ways of living. Experiencing a different culture firsthand is a wonderful opportunity, and something that you and your family won’t soon forget. Many safari trips include a chance to experience a different culture, allowing kids to visit a village in Kenya, to walk with local warriors, or meet Bushmen in the deserts of Namibia.

 

5. Because It’s Exceptionally Educational

An African safari is an educational experience that’s better than anything you’d be able to learn from a nature program or a book. It’s hands-on and interactive learning that’s disguised as fun.

Children soak up new experiences, and new discoveries that are made and things that are learned can stay with them for a lifetime.

With many safaris there are often opportunities for nature walks; safe, guided tours that give children a hands-on chance to explore the area.

 

6. For a Chance to Relax and Unwind

With parents often working long hours, and kids spending a significant portion of their time in school, it can be difficult to carve out time to get away from it all to relax and unwind. Add to this the constant distractions of living in our modern society with smartphones, computers, and devices, and it’s no wonder that we’re constantly busy.

Sadly, modern living has a price: it can be easy to lose focus on priorities and forget about things that really matter. Family and relationships are important, and a safari is the perfect chance to unwind, and relax whilst spending time with your loved ones.

From driving down the dirt tracks in search of elephants, to sitting around the campfire to eat dinner at night, there are plenty of simple pleasures that will help you and your kids to unwind, giving you a chance to reconnect with each other.

 

7. Because It’s an Experience That You Couldn’t Get Anywhere Else

An African safari really is an invaluable adventure that you’ll remember for years to come. There is so much to take in and explore, and plenty of new exciting discoveries that you’ll make.

The breathtaking, raw beauty of nature that’s found in Africa is nothing short of spectacular and places like the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, or Chobe National Park are full of natural beauty that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else on earth.

 

Take The Next Step

Many places in Africa are family-friendly destinations. While most think that a safari means roughing it, this isn’t necessarily the case. Tourism in Africa is well-established and there are a range of family friendly activities and accommodations for you to choose from.

So what do you say? Are you ready to explore Africa and discover all that this amazing continent has to offer? If you still want to do more research around safari holidays in Africa, your next step should be to download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a 37-page guide written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, which includes on all sorts of safari advice on camping in the bush and spotting wildlife.

Or, if you’re ready to take action towards organising a trip, get a free safari consultation with one of our team and start planning the trip to Africa that will best fit your family’s needs. Good luck!

 
Photos by ninara and Paul Mannix

10 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Namibia

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

From its beautiful, vast landscapes to the amazing and rare animals that call the vast plains their home, Namibia is an ideal destination for adventure-seekers and game-spotting enthusiasts alike…

It’s also a strikingly beautiful country, full of surprises. Which makes it a photographer’s dream – whether you’re looking to snap some of the world’s unique and endangered animals, or spectacular images of vast and wild landscapes, Namibia won’t disappoint.

Oh, and be sure to read this article I wrote to help you take stunning photographs on a safari holiday before you do!

You’ll want to be there when the beautiful morning light casts the desert sand dunes a beautiful series of colours, drawing attention to the lovely ripples and textures in the sand.

 

Where Should You Start Your Trip to Namibia?

That’s the tricky part! Namibia has no shortage of beautiful and exciting places just waiting to be discovered, from the spectacular dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, to the eerie coastline of the Skeleton Coast.

Then there’s the astonishing array of wildlife that can be spotted in Namibia. This includes the world’s largest population of cheetahs and black rhinos… not to mention whale-watching opportunities, desert elephants and lions.

Video Thumbnail
NAMIBIA

 

Then of course, there are the people. Despite its small population, there are at least thirteen different ethnic groups in Namibia including the Himba; a remarkable semi-nomadic tribe.

If you’re looking for a spectacular destination, Namibia certainly ranks high on the list. Still not sure? Then perhaps the following ten facts – my favourite amazing facts about Namibia, no less – will convince you…

 

1. Etosha National Park is One of the Largest Game Reserves in the World

Namibia is home to one of the largest game reserves in the world: Etosha National Park that comes in at 22,270 square kilometers. This park ranks as one of the world’s great game viewing venues –and it’s easy to see why.

Etosha National Park is home to some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife – including 114 mammal species and 340 bird species. The endangered black rhino can also be seen at this park. The Etosha Salt Pan is also be found in the Etosha National Park, covering 23 percent of the park.

The name “Etosha” means “Great White Place,” which is extremely fitting considering the120 kilometers-long salt pan is so large that it can be seen from space.

Looking for an excellent resource for researching your next trip to Africa? You can get a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide right here.

 

2. Namibia Has Some of the World’s Most Pristine and Wild Coastline

Namibia is known for its wild coastline – which is referred to as the Skeleton Coast. It gets its name from the whale and seal skeletons that once littered the beach, remnants of the whaling industry.

Today, however, you’re more likely to find skeletal remains of shipwrecks. While the north of the shoreline is the most in-demand area for explorers, it’s also the most exclusive.

Access is given to only around 800 visitors per year, helping to preserve the pristine environment.

 

3. Namibia is Home to One of the World’s Largest Sand Dunes

Located in the south of the Namib Desert; Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan that’s surrounded by high red dunes, and one of Namibia’s most iconic landscapes. It’s also home to one of the largest sand dunes in the world –which makes sense, considering that 80 percent of the country is made up of desert.

One of the popular dunes, Dune 7, comes in at a whopping 1,256 feet and is considered to be the highest sand dune in the world according to the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

 

4. Namibia Has the World’s Largest Population of Wild Cheetahs

The cheetah population is quickly dwindling in many parts of Africa. Because of this, most cheetahs can only be seen in parks or reserves in many places.

However, Namibia still has a large population of free-roaming cheetahs. Namibia’s wild cheetah population is the highest in the world, coming in at approximately 2,000 cheetahs, followed by Botswana with an estimated 1,800.

 

5. Namibia Has One of the World’s Largest Black Rhino Populations in the World

Namibia also has one of the largest black rhino populations in the world, with a majority found in Etosha National Park.

Although their numbers are slowly increasing in Namibia, the black rhino still faces a serious threat –especially since its horn is in demand for traditional Chinese medicine.

desertelephant

 

6. Namibia is One of Only Two Countries That Have Desert Elephants

Desert elephants used to be a widespread desert-dwelling animal that could be found in much of Africa. However, these elephants are now isolated to the deserts of Mali and Namibia.

In Namibia, the elephants populate the Kunene Region in the northwest region of Namibia –an area that mostly consists of sandy deserts and rocky mountains. Although these elephants aren’t a separate species from the elephants of the savannah, they’re special nonetheless –and are a high conservation priority.

 

7. Walvis Bay is One of the Best Places to See Flamingos

Walvis Bay is one of the best places in the world to see flamingos. Walvis Bay Lagoon is a resting stop for nearly 80 percent of Africa’s flamingos – a sight that’s worth seeing.

Walvis Bay is also home to some spectacular opportunities for whale watching –these gentle giants have been known to swim right up to the boats.

himbapeople

 

8. Namibia Has the Second Lowest Population Density in the World

With just over 2 million people, Namibia has the second lowest population density in the world after Mongolia. Despite its low population, Namibia represents at least thirteen different ethnic groups – including one of southern Africa’s oldest tribes, the Himba people.

The Himba tribe has an estimated population of 50,000 people whose traditions and ways have changed very little over the years. The red orca cream that they apply to their skin serves as a natural sunscreen, insect repellant, cleanser, deodorant, and moisturizer all in one.

With their elaborately braided hair, skin and clothes covered in a mixture of ground red rock and butter, it is the women of Namibia’s Himba tribe that are the most a striking sight, per Ruth Styles in the Daily Mail.

Above all thought, the Himba tribe is very welcoming to outsiders, and many visitors to Namibia choose to visit a Himba village to experience a fascinating and ancient way of life.

 

9. Namibia is Home to the World’s Largest Underground Lake

There are more than one hundred known caves in Namibia, most of which can be found in the northeastern part of the country in the Otjozondjupa Region. While many of these caves are able to be visited and explored, there’s one treasure that’s hidden deep beneath the earth’s surface that’s not for the faint of heart.

Dragon’s Breath Cave, a cave that’s only for professional caving enthusiasts is home to the world’s largest underground lake, located approximately 100 meters below the surface.

While the depth of this lake remains unknown it is thought to be at least 100 meters deep. Another fascinating fact about this cave is that it is home to the Golden Cave catfish, and is the only place in the world where these mysterious creatures are found.

 

10. Namibia is a Great Place to Surf

Namibia is something of a surfer’s paradise – both on the waves and on the sand! The coast of Namibia provides a perfect place to hit up the waves, and both Walvis Bay and the Skeleton Coast provide ideal surfing locations.

The local geography also offers great dunes to go sandboarding. It’s exactly what it sounds like – surfing in the sand or on the dunes. Hard to believe? Here’s what it looks like in practice…

Video Thumbnail
Sandboarding Namibia Swakopmund

 

Ready to Discover Namibia for Yourself?

As you can see there are plenty of unique and fascinating reasons to go on a safari holiday in Namibia. This country is as spectacular as it is unique – and a trip to Namibia promises to be an adventure unlike any other.

If you still want to do more research around safari holidays in Namibia and the rest of Africa, your next step should be to download a copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a completely free 37-page book we wrote that includes chapters on camping in the bush and spotting wildlife.

Or, if you’re ready to take action towards organising a trip, get a free safari consultation with one of our team and start planning the trip to Namibia that will best fit your needs. Good luck!

 
Photos by Rui Ornelas and Vernon Swanepoel and Gustavo Jeronimo

Don’t Make These 7 Wildlife Watching Mistakes

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Imagine the scene…

The morning starts as the sun slowly rises, the golden light casting itself across the savannah. As the day awakens, the earth begins to warm up and you can see a faint mist rising up from the horizon.

In the distance, you hear birds greeting the morning, the sounds of their dawn chorus filling the air. The day has begun, and you are there to experience it firsthand.

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

When you think of an African safari holiday, you probably consider watching and seeing the wildlife one of the main attractions. After all, there isn’t much that compares to watching a herd of wildebeest thunder across the plains, leaving clouds of dust in their wake, or hearing the roar of a lion in the middle of the night.

But in order to make the most of your trip, and increase your chances of spotting some amazing wildlife, it’s important to go prepared.

Whilst on safari, there are a few things that you should be careful to avoid. Here are seven wildlife watching mistakes that you’ll want to watch out for…

Don't Make These 7 Wildlife Watching Mistakes2

 

1. Going Unprepared

Before you book a safari, it’s important to be clear on your expectations to avoid disappointment. The ideal location and time of year for your journey will depend largely upon what you hope to see and experience on your safari. During the wet season there’s an increase in vegetation and water, which means that wildlife will be scattered all over in search of food and it will be more difficult to spot them.

During the dry season though, there’s less water, and animals will be congregating at water holes, making them easier to spot. From July to September are the great river crossings, where herds of wildebeest and zebra gather at the Mara River to brave their way past ferocious crocodiles waiting in the shallows.

If there’s a particular animal that you want to see, you’ll want to plan your trip around the times and locations where they are most likely to be found.

 

2. Making Too Much Noise

Animals have a very keen sense of hearing, and are able to hear things approaching from afar. This helps keep them safe from predators. For this reason, it’s important to be as quiet as possible when you’re on walking safaris.

Talking loudly or making unusually loud noises can give your position away and cause the animals to move away before you get a chance to see them. If you are on a walking tour, do everyone in your group a favour and try to stay as quiet as possible.

 

3. Getting Too Close to the Wildlife

As gentle as some of the animals might appear to be, remember: these creatures are wild and getting too close can cause the animals to switch into defense mode. They are much stronger and quicker than you, and getting too close, even just for a moment for a better picture is irresponsible and should be avoided.

Instead of trying to get closer to the animals or encouraging them to come closer to you, consider investing in binoculars or a telephoto lens for your camera before you go so you can photograph wildlife from a distance. Keep in mind that the goal of a safari is to observe the animals interacting in their own natural environments, not to interact with them yourself.

 

4. Not Being Responsible

This may sound obvious, but it’s important to be responsible when you are out on the trails. This means no littering and taking everything out that you brought into the campsites. It also means no feeding the animals, being respectful to their habitat, and not destroying things unnecessarily.

Be responsible. It will help you, and everyone else to have a more enjoyable time, and will help to keep the environment pristine for future generations.

 

5. Lacking Patience

While viewing wildlife is a thrilling adventure, there will be periods where you won’t see any wildlife at all. To get the most out of your safari, try to bring your patience. Make sure you set realistic expectations about what you hope to see, and try to remember that there’s more to a safari then checking the big five off your list.

Enjoy the scenery and the smaller, unexpected animals as well. Meerkats, gazelle, hyenas, and jackals can be fascinating to watch, as can insects like termites and dung beetles. African birds are also often overlooked, yet fascinating. It’s important to remember that a safari isn’t a zoo where you can expect the same animals to be in the same locations.

These animals are wild, and often don’t hold to the same schedules as we do. So try to be patient and enjoy the journey!

 

6. Not Listening to the Guide

The guides are there for a reason. Not listening to them can be dangerous for you and the animals as well. The rules that your guides put into place aren’t there to spoil your trip, they’re meant to keep everyone safe, and often to protect the animals and their environment.

There are often rules and regulations that must be followed as well. At the very least, try to remember that your guides are there to help you have the most enjoyable experience possible whilst keeping everyone safe. No small task!

 

7. Going at the Wrong Time of Day

One of the benefits of booking a guided tour is that the guide should have extensive knowledge on local wildlife, and familiar with their usual schedules, behaviour, and habits. With a guided safari there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to spot more animals than you would had you gone on your own.

For instance, lions often like to sleep on the road at night to soak in the heat from earlier in the day. If you leave early enough in the morning, you might be able to catch a few of them still waking up. Familiarity with the wildlife and their patterns increases your chances of seeing them.

 

Are You Ready?

Finally, one of the most devastating mistakes that you could make is to not have a good time! An African safari for many is the trip of a lifetime, and watching the African wildlife is an exciting experience that you’ll remember for years to come. You’ll want to make the most of it by preparing before you go.

Before you leave, take some time to educate yourself on what you can expect, and make sure you go prepared and ready to have a good time. Avoiding common mistakes can help to elevate your experience and ensure that its every bit as spectacular is it could possibly be.

Armed with all this advice, are you ready to take your own exciting African safari? If you still want to do more research around safari holidays in Africa, your next step should be to download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a 37-page guide written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, which includes on all sorts of safari advice on camping in the bush and spotting wildlife.

Or, if you’re ready to take action towards organising a trip, get a free safari consultation with one of our team and start planning the trip to Africa that will best fit your needs. Good luck!

 
Photos by David Berkowitz and David Berkowitz

7 Savvy Ways to Travel Africa Like an Expert

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

The stripes on a zebra are like a human fingerprint. No two are the same. So too, are journeys to Africa…

There’s a reason why Africa is a place that people return to again and again. Africa’s jaw-dropping natural wonders and diverse range of wildlife make for an exciting and unforgettable experience for any adventure-seeker.

Whether it’s your first time, or you’re going back to catch something (like the Great Wildebeest Migration) you missed, a trip to this spectacular continent is guaranteed to be unique: each and every time.

An African safari is an exciting adventure unlike any other, allowing you to experience firsthand the best that this continent has to offer: fascinating wildlife, rich local culture, and breathtaking scenery.

But to get the most from your African safari holiday, it pays to be prepared. Here’s how you can travel Africa like an expert, and make the most of this adventure of a lifetime.

Big cat on safari in Africa

 

1. Do Your Research

Before you head off on your African adventure, take some time to do your research. Africa is a huge continent, and if you have a list of things on your must-see list, you’ll want to plan your trip out carefully so that you won’t miss anything. If it’s a safari holiday you’re after, How to Plan Your Perfect African Safari – a popular article I recently published on this blog – is a great place to start.

It’s also a good idea to research the scenery, the wildlife, and the local culture in the area that you’re going to. This will give you an idea on what you can expect and will give you a deeper appreciation for the local customs, the land, and the wildlife.

Set aside some time to consider the type of trip you’re hoping for: will you be staying in luxury accommodation, camping, or a mixture of both? You should also decide whether you want a private guided tour, an overland group tour, or a self-drive tour.

The benefits and downsides of self-drive and guided tours are explored further in this article, if you want to more.

Looking for an excellent resource for researching your next trip to Africa? You can get a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide right here.

 

2. Bring the Right Gear

Experts know that if they’re going on the adventure of a lifetime, it’s important to bring the right gear that will help them to experience these exciting moments. If you’re a photography enthusiast, be sure to pack a telephoto lens: it’ll help you to get some great close-ups of the animals that you see, allowing to you keep a safe distance while capturing some great photos.

If that’s of interest, there’s plenty more where that came from. Check out Seven Tips for Taking Stunning Photos on a Safari Holiday for starters.

Also, don’t forget to bring your binoculars. Other important items to bring along include high-protection sun block and lip balm, as well as bug spray and a few first aid basics.

 

3. Choose Practical Clothes

I get it; packing for a trip across African can be a challenge. On one hand you want to bring everything you’ll need, but on the other hand, you don’t want to bring too much. Pack like an expert with this advice.

Video Thumbnail
A tour of the luggage area of the Safari Drive Land Rover

 
Bring along neutral-colored clothes that can easily be layered for both warm days and cold nights. You’ll also want a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Many internal flights in Africa have a strict baggage limit, usually 12 to 15 kilograms, so bring enough, but not too much.

Most lodges in Africa have laundry facilities, so there’s no need to overpack.

 

4. Be Prepared

Experienced travelers know the importance of being well-prepared. Don’t forgo important details like travel insurance, copies of all of your documents, and of course passports, tickets, and money.

Of course, if you’re going on a self-drive safari trip, you’ll also want to bring your driving license. In some cases, you may need proof that you’ve been immunized against certain diseases, so bring proof of your injections as well.

 

5. Book Early

Make sure you have a plan for your time in Africa. You’ll want to book accommodation early, often months in advance, to ensure that there will be space in the lodges, especially if you’re planning to go during peak season.

For example, the wildebeest Mara River crossings tend to attract a lot of attention, with visitors who arrive from all over the world to witness this spectacular event.

When planning your trip, you’ll want to make sure you get tickets, book accommodation, and secure tours well in advance before spaces fill up. If you need help, I strongly recommend you get a safari consultation with one of our expert team, even if it’s just to survey your options. Don’t worry, there’s no commitment on your part – we’re here to share our expertise, first and foremost.

 

6. Respect the Wildlife

A safari is nothing like a trip to the zoo. During a safari, you’ll see wild animals that aren’t in cages (if you follow this wildlife spotting advice) with nothing but the vehicle’s windows separating you from them. So remember this, and respect the animals and their habitat.

No matter how gentle they may seem, wild animals are unpredictable and untamed and must be treated as such. If you have one, listen to your guide – their number one priority is to keep you safe, and to ensure the safety of the group, so don’t try to overrule their decisions.

When they advise keeping noise to a minimum or maintaining a safe distance from the animals, it’s to keep you safe, and to ensure that you have the best time possible without disturbing the animals.

 

7. Don’t Sweat It

Finally, while it’s great to be prepared, flexibility is also important. Things won’t always go according to plan, and it’s best to have reasonable expectations. You’ll see some magnificent wildlife, but wild animals aren’t on a schedule and aren’t always predictable.

Video Thumbnail
A self drive safari in Tanzania with Safari Drive - CLICK HD

It’s important to keep an open mind, and remember that there’s more to enjoying the journey than being able to tick the big five off your list. A number of lesser known, but equally amazing animals also call this continent home.

In fact, more than 800 species of animals can be found in Africa! Look for meerkats, hyenas, jackals, and of course, insects like termites and dung beetles. When looking for wildlife, try to be patient, and enjoy the journey.

 

Now You’re Ready to Take Action

An African safari is an amazing experience, one that will most certainly surpass all of your expectations. Remember to stay safe, and have fun. Make the most of your experience and try to soak it all in.

Relax, and enjoy every day and its unique adventures. It’s the best way to enjoy an African safari, and you’ll be glad that you did! If you still want to do more research around safari holidays in Africa, your next step should be to download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a 37-page book we wrote on the subject that includes chapters on camping in the bush and spotting wildlife.

Or, if you’re ready to take action towards organising a trip, get a free safari consultation with one of our team and start planning the trip to Africa that will best fit your needs. Good luck!

 
Photos by Diana Robinson and Kevin Pluck

A Guide to Wildebeest Migration From the Serengeti to Masai Mara

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

It’s one of the greatest wonders of the natural world…

The Great Wildebeest Migration is an exciting story that starts when 1.5 million wildebeest make their way from the Serengeti to the grasslands of the Masai Mara each year in search of pasture.

If you’re hoping to plan a safari holiday around this spectacular event, you’ll need to know what happens during the year, where you should travel to and when you’ll want to be in place to view this exciting event.

So read on and enjoy this guide to the Great Wildebeest Migration…

A wildebeest cautiously takes its first steps into the Mara River.

 

What Is The Migration?

The great migration is the result of the wildebeests following the rain, in search of pasture. But the migration is more than just the great search of water – it is the life of the wildebeest.

The most exciting part of this annual migration takes place during July to November, when herds of wildebeest as well as zebras, and gazelles follow instinct as well as water across Northern Tanzania and Kenya in what is considered to be one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.

As these massive herds make their way to the Masai Mara, they cross the river Mara, where ferocious crocodiles wait.

Nomadic creatures, the wildebeest continually make their way across the land in search of pasture, year after year. Their journey starts in the south of the Serengeti during the rainy season and continues into the north for the dry season as the herds make their clockwise migration around the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems.

 

Calves Are Born: January to March

At the start of the rainy season, the annual cycle begins as early as November or December, when the vast herds move into the Ndutu region and Ngorongoro Conservation area, in the south of the Serengeti.

The wildebeests are here for the grass. The plains are rich and green, and the wildebeest are here in time for the calving season, where half a million calves are born at a rate of about 8,000 a day. This is an especially dangerous time as predators close in, in search of easy targets.

Once the rains end, the land dries fast and the herds will head north for the green pastures of the Masai Mara.

With thousands upon thousands of thundering hooves, the great migration is underway!

 

The Journey North: April to June

The last of the rains behind them, by April the herds usually begin their northward journey. During this time, huge lines of wildebeest up to 40km in length can often be seen as the herds make their way through the central and western Serengeti. The wildebeest also use this time to breed.

The herd continues to move westward towards the river in search of pasture as the ground becomes increasingly dry. The forest along the way is full of danger as predators closely follow the herds waiting for an opportunity to strike.

While this journey usually happens in May and June, last year (2014) an exceptionally dry year drove the herds to make being this journey the end of March, which had them arriving at the Mara River as early as the end of May.

The herd usually makes its way through the Serengeti’s Western Corridor into Singita Grumeti Reserves, a private game-viewing stronghold by June or July.

 

Crossing the Mara River Into Kenya: July to October

River crossings are the highlight of the wildebeest migration, and is something that everyone should see at least once in their life. Monster crocodiles can be found at the river waiting, and the huge herds thundering into the water is always a breathtaking scene – so be sure to capture some good photos.

The wildebeests will gather at the river, often waiting there for as long as possible, holding out until they can no longer wait before they stampede across the infested waters. Not all of them will make it across.

By late September and into October, the wildebeest herd stumbles up into the northern Serengeti and crosses into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. The first zebra herds usually arrive in the northern Serengeti by early July, with the wildebeests following hot on their heels.

They break into smaller groups and graze on the Masai Mara Plains, keeping alert for large predators such as lions who have been eagerly awaiting their arrival. This year there were huge river crossings in September, one crossing had a herd of an estimated 100,000 wildebeests all crossing at the same time! By late September the herds were just starting to move south.

[flickr id=”5023938418″]

 

November and December

Late October is usually the beginning of the rains and the migration will make its way back into the rejuvenated Serengeti to graze on the short, rich grass. By December, the herds return past Seronera, and make their way on towards the calving grounds once again.

When planning your African safari, it’s important to keep in mind that the migration can vary significantly from year to year. The wildebeest don’t keep to a strict pattern year after year; their migration varies depending on the rain.

The herds are constantly in search of grass, when they choose to leave one location for the next depends largely upon their food supply.

Additionally, the wildebeest don’t have a natural leader and while most of them travel in one large group, there are many smaller herds as well. Often they take off in different directions.

 

See The Great Migration Yourself

With this in mind, it’s also important to remember that planning a safari around a spectacular event like a river crossing can be difficult. The exact dates that the wildebeest will cross is impossible to predict.

Of course, by consulting with safari planning specialists, you’ll be able to get a pretty good idea about where you should be, and what time of the year is best for different events.

This can mean the difference between a trip where wildlife sightings are few and far between, and being able to witness one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife events. Get a consultation with one of our team of experts right here, and we’ll help you map out a plan that’s centres around the breathtaking wildebeest migration.

Or if you’d prefer to do some more research on your own first, then get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide next. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes on all sorts of safari advice like how to camping safely, cross rivers, and spot wildlife.

 
Photos by Bonnie Cheung – 2014 Sony World Photography Awards, Brian Scott and Ray Morris

10 Essential Clothing Tips for Your African Safari

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Ask anyone what you should pack for your African safari and you’ll be met with an array of different opinions.

On the one hand, there are people who will recommend hitting the shops and buying everything labeled ‘safari holiday‘. On the other hand, there are those who will say that you don’t need anything new and whatever you wear at home is fine.

Then, of course, there will be those who dress up in their finest leopard-print outfits, and hope for the best!

With all that conflicting advice, what should you do?

To help you get started here are ten essential clothing tips you should bear in mind when preparing for your next African safari holiday…

 

Before We Get Started

Some general advice before we get more specific.

First, when putting together your clothes for the trip, take into account the season that you’re taking your safari during, the location that you’re traveling to, and the amount of time that you’re going to be gone for.

Second, a good rule of thumb is to be as comfortable as possible, and ready for anything that the trip has to offer.

Now, onto those ten clothing tips…

10 Essential Clothing Tips for Your African Safari

 

1. Choose Neutral Colours

When it comes to dressing for your African safari, choosing the right colours is important. If you plan to do a lot of traveling in a vehicle, then the colour of your clothes might not matter that much. However, if you want to get a little closer to wildlife, it’s important to wear clothes that will help you to blend in.

This means avoiding bright colours as well as black and white and opting for shades of khaki, olive, and stone. Animals will be spooked if they see a bright white figure heading in their direction, so avoid bright white and bold shades. You should also try to avoid dark tones as they tend to heat up faster in the sun.

In tsetse fly areas, such as parts of Tanzania and Zambia, you’ll also want to avoid blue or black clothing as it tends to attract these flies.

 

2. Bring Comfortable Clothes

Be sure to pack clothes that you are comfortable wearing. You don’t need to pack anything too dressy and should try to keep your apparel limited to comfortable clothes that you won’t mind wearing for long periods of time.

Linen trousers are ideal, and comfortable to wear in the evenings.

 

3. Fast-Drying Materials Are Your Friend

At camps there aren’t always dryers available, so bring along clothes that are made from fast-drying materials. Denim takes a long time to dry, so bringing denim could mean wearing damp jeans for a while if they get wet.

Lightweight cotton shirts, wool socks, and clothes made from manmade materials such as polyamide are much more ideal materials since they are lightweight. They also dry quicker which is helpful if you plan to wash along the way, or if you happen to get wet.

 

4. Layer Up

When packing for your safari, layers are the name of the game. Since temperatures can fluctuate significantly, it’s important to be prepared for just about anything…

Video Thumbnail
A self drive safari in Tanzania with Safari Drive

 
Long sleeves can keep the sun, and bugs off of your arms, and you’ll also want to bring lightweight shirts that can be covered by a pullover that can easily be taken off as the day heats up.

 

5. Foot-Friendly Footwear

Big old-fashioned safari boots are not necessary! Remember to think comfort when choosing your footwear. You want to bring something that’s practical and comfortable. You should probably stick with a pair of tried and true walking shoes or comfortable sandals that are good for walking.

You should never bring a new pair of shoes that you haven’t worn before since new shoes generally need to be broken in and you can end up with blisters from them.

If you really do want to get a pair of safari boots (to break in slowly, alternating with your comfortable shoes), then per this article in The Telegraph, wait until you get there. In the UK, a good pair of safari boots can cost upwards of £100 – over there, they’ll cost you £20-30.

 

6. Pack Practical

Don’t dress to impress when you are going on your safari. Bring clothes that will suit the area you are going to. Be practical and smart about your choices. Safaris involve walking and driving down dirt roads and tracks, and you’ll want to bring things that you don’t mind getting a bit dusty.

You’ll also want to leave the silk shirts behind. Laundry services are often available at camps, but you don’t want to bring anything that’s easily creased or easily damaged.

 

7. Pack for the Weather

Early mornings and evenings can be chilly, even in Africa. Once the sun goes down it can be quite cold, no matter what time of year it is. It’s important to be prepared for a range of varying temperatures and weather conditions.

Bring a lightweight jacket or a fleece pullover for sitting around the campfire at night, as well as t-shirts and lightweight trousers for the day. If you’re traveling in the spring you may want to bring a portable rain jacket for sudden showers.

 

8. Don’t Overpack

Believe it or not, you don’t need to bring every beige shirt you own. Many camps have laundry services, often with a 24-hour turn-around, so packing everything you own isn’t necessary. Bring along plenty of basics: socks, undergarments, and the like, but take care to avoid overpacking.

Video Thumbnail
A tour of the luggage area of the Safari Drive Land Rover

 
As you can see from the video above, when you’re on a self-drive safari across Africa, there are a lot of essential items you’ll be taking with you. So the last thing you need is the additional hassle of a couple of large suitcases packed with dozens of different outfit options.

Also keep in mind baggage allowances, when traveling to many places in Africa you’re often restricted by a 12 to 15-kilogram luggage allowance, so take care to avoid bringing too much.

 

9. Bring Helpful Accessories

When it comes to accessorising for your trip, practicality is the order of the day. Sun hats, sunglasses, lightweight scarfs or shirts that have collars to cover your neck from the hot sun can be great accessories to bring along. You’ll also want to bring socks, closed shoes, and insect repellent to keep away the bugs.

But keep things simple and forgo the expensive jewellery or high-heeled shoes. Likewise, you may not want to bring UV proof shirt that doesn’t offer much in the way of comfort or layering. High-tech is great, but it’s not absolutely necessary and if you travel with us then essential technology (right down to an satellite phone, below) is all taken care of.

Video Thumbnail
Introduction to the Inmarsat iSatPhone Pro Satellite Phone - Safari Drive

 

10. If You Don’t Wear It: Don’t Bring it

While it can be fun to go shopping just before a big trip, you can also bring along clothes you have worn before, clothes that you are comfortable in and things that you know will work. Bring things that you know layer up well, and leave behind things that have never been worn.

If you do purchase new clothes for the trip, it’s a good idea to wear them at least once, to break them in and make sure they’re going to work. When in doubt, leave it out. Remember, practicality is your friend!

 

Now It’s Time to Take Action

As you can see, practicality and comfort are key when packing for your trip. Choose items that you’re comfortable in and opt for muted, neutral shades. Layer up, and prepare for a wide range of different temperatures and you’ll be good to go.

Armed with all this advice, are you ready to take your own exciting African safari? Whether you’re looking for a luxury lodge safari, an adventure, a honeymoon, a group trip, a safari beach combo, or a family holiday, at Safari Drive we can help you to create an adventure that’s perfect for you. Get a consultation with one of our team of experts right here, and we’ll help you map out a plan that will ensure you get the most out of your trip.

Or if you’d prefer to do some more research on your own first, then get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide next. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes on all sorts of safari advice like how to camping safely, cross rivers, and spot wildlife.

 
Photos by LGO’Brien and Abir Anwar

Discover the 7 Attractions That Make Botswana a Great Safari Destination

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Imagine a land of unspoilt wilderness, where huge game herds roam freely across a spectacular landscape…

Sound like the safari holiday destination you’ve always dreamed of?

Then good news: this place exists.

Considered to be a top-class safari destination, Botswana is home to spectacular scenery, and breathtaking wildlife. .

Intrigued? Then let me tell you more…

 

What Makes Botswana a World-Class Safari Destination

Botswana is an exceptionally beautiful country, full of magnificent and unique landscapes, and the exciting wildlife that lives there. The land is breathtakingly beautiful and features everything from the scorching deserts of the Kalahari, to vibrant and lush waterways of the Okavango Delta. It’s safe to say that this country is unlike any place on earth.

It also boasts some of the most exciting opportunities for safaris that you’ll find, and rest assured, the country is safe, with no political unrest, and very little crime.

Botswana has developed a reputation as one of the top-level places for safari-seekers to visit. It has a long history of wildlife conservation and its diverse, unspoilt natural beauty, rich cultural history, friendly people, and exciting game-spotting opportunities make it a must-visit destination for any safari enthusiast.

If you’re interested in an African safari, Botswana is one country that you won’t want to miss. Let’s explore seven attractions that make it an excellent destination for your African safari.

 

1. The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

The Makgadikgadi salt pans are in the middle of the dry desert in North-Eastern Botswana.

The salt pans restrict anything from growing and during certain seasons appear to be completely devoid of anything living. Once the wet season arrives though, the lands become an entirely new place. The barren desert becomes lush and green, and a vast sheet of water appears.

This wet oasis becomes a destination for thousands of animals, which trample through in search of fresh water and food, making it an ideal location for game spotting.

Discover the 7 Attractions That Make Botswana a Great Safari Destination2

 

2. The Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta, recently named UNESCO’s 1000th world heritage site, is located in the north of Botswana, and is one of the few wetlands in the area.

This delta is fed by the Okavango River which flows in from the Angolan highlands. The Okavango is produced by seasonal flooding on the otherwise flat land. Due to the gentle slope of the delta, it takes around six months for the flood waters to make their way down from Angola. The Okavango Delta has many different islands, lagoons, and mainland areas. The water level reaches its maximum in July and August, just as the dry season hits Botswana, making it a popular gathering place for wildlife.

The Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of the Okavango Delta is one of the most diverse habitats in Botswana and is home to wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, elephants, buffalo, hippos, and the rare sitatunga. All of the classic African safari animals can be found at this reserve.

 

3. Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park, located in the north-east of Botswana, is home to one of the three largest parks in the country. The Chobe River, one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, is responsible for keeping the park well-watered.

The landscape at Chobe National Park is nothing short of spectacular. It is also one of the most populated areas for elephants, and is home to over fifty thousand of these beautiful creatures. If you are looking to get up close and personal with these gentle giants, the Chobe National Park is for you.

In the southern banks of the Linyanti River is the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, arguably one of the best game viewing areas in Botswana. Whether you are hoping for buffalo, zebras, or elephants, you’re sure to spot your favourites here. There is also a wide variety of predators that roam through the area, making for an exciting viewing experience. This location is especially popular during the winter months when water is scare. During this season, large groups of animals can be seen congregating at the river.

Discover the 7 Attractions That Make Botswana a Great Safari Destination1

 

4. Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert a large semi-arid savannah that’s both vast and beautiful. This desert covers much of Botswana, and stretches into Namibia and South Africa.

Contrasting with the Okavango River, the only river to run through this desert, the Kalahari Desert is a vast wilderness that stretches 360,000 square miles. The name of the desert, Kalahari, means “large thirst” in the Tswana language, and features a mixture of salt pans, riverbeds, and brush. It’s also home to big cats including cheetahs, leopards, and the Kalahari lion, famous for its beautiful black mane.

This desert is home to three parks and reserves, one of which happens to be a reserve for rare and endangered species such as lions, African wild dogs, and cheetahs.

Camping in the Kalahari Game Reserve, you will be overwhelmed by its vastness. Listening to nothing but the sounds of roaring lions, hyenas, and other wildlife is an experience that’s truly remarkable. (tweet this)

 

5. The Tsodilo Hills

Located in the north-west of Botswana near the Namibian Border, the Tsodilo Hills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of rock art and caves.

There are estimated to be over 4500 rock paintings at the site, and an estimated 500 individual sites which represent thousands of years of human habitation. It is believed that the San people, or bushmen created the rock art, as they at one time inhabited the caves and rock shelters. Exploring the three hills is a journey into antiquity, as this site is thought to be one of the world’s oldest historical sites.

 

6. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a reserve that allows for an exclusive wildlife viewing experience.

Located in the southwest corner of Botswana and adjacent to South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, this park is a transfrontier reserve that is run as a single ecological unit. Together, Botswana and South Africa have joined forces to protect the wildlife found in this reserve. To maintain the wilderness, there are strict limits on the number of tours allowed into the park. For this reason it’s important to book early to avoid disappointment.

Video Thumbnail
The Hunt. Scenes from a recent trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

 
Since the park receives few visitors, it’s ideal for those who are in search of an exclusive game viewing experience. Springbok and gemsbok antelope, hartebeest, brown hyena, as well as the black-maned Kalahari lion, jackal, and wild cats can all be seen here. This reserve also offers an excellent bird viewing experience. Over 170 species of birds have been recorded in this reserve, and there’s a good chance that you’ll easily see over 30 different species within a few kilometres outside of camp.

 

7. Moremi Wildlife Reserve

Moremi Wildlife Reserve is a true gem of a reserve, located in in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango. This reserve offers spectacular game viewing and bird watching opportunities, including opportunities to spot the “Big Five.”

This reserve stretches for approximately 3900 square kilometres, and features picturesque floodplains, waterways, lagoons, grasslands, and mophane forests. The vast and varied terrain makes this an especially desirable destination for self-drive tours, with many visitors opting to combine this reserve with Chobe National Park to the northeast. A tour through this park will feature terrain and wildlife so phenomenal that at times, it will be nothing short of awe inspiring.

 

Ready to Explore Botswana?

As you can see, this beautiful country has so much just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for breath-taking scenery, exotic animals, or spectacular photo opportunities you’re sure to find all of this and more on a Botswana safari.

While a Botswana safari can be expensive, it’s an experience that’s truly second to none. The reserves are exclusive and the accommodation luxurious. The wildlife viewing experience is also exceptional.

After the rains, massive herds of grazers migrate to the deserts of the Kalahari the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, allowing you the chance to experience one of the biggest migrations in the world. If you want to have a first-rate safari experience, a trip to Botswana certainly won’t disappoint.

 

Take the Next Step

If you’re ready to discover the excitement of a safari in Botswana, or if you just want to find out the best times of year to visit Botswana, get a free consultation with one of our team of experts right here. We’ll help you map out a plan that will ensure you get the most out of your trip.

Or if you’d prefer to do some more research on your own first, then get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide next. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes on all sorts of safari advice like how to camping safely, cross rivers, and spot wildlife.

 
Photos by Wendy, Joachim Huber and Aftab Uzzaman

Five Jaw-Dropping Natural Wonders You Can See on an African Safari

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

You’ll feel like you’ve travelled through time…

Our world is increasingly overrun with urban landscapes and dense populations. It seems that natural wonders are disappearing at a rapid rate.

But not in Africa.

This vast continent is one of the last and strongest bastions of natural beauty, from expansive lakes to alien dunes and vast mountains. On your African safari holiday, you’ll encounter some of the biggest, most beautiful and most fascinatingly paradoxical geological formations and natural features on the planet. You may in fact feel that you’ve left Earth entirely, or at least gone back in time.

While on safari, be sure to visit at least one of these spectacular sites…

 

1. Victoria Falls

Video Thumbnail
Victoria Falls Moonbow Time Lapse

As you approach Victoria Falls, you’ll see the mist rising out of the gorge and hear the roar of crashing water before you properly see the first wonder on our list. This spectacular self-announcement is what gives Victoria Falls its local name: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders.”

Located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is not just one of Africa’s top five wonders, but one of the seven natural wonders of the world. At 2 kilometers wide, it’s the world’s largest falling curtain of water. 300,000 gallons of water pour over the falls every second during the rainy season.

But it’s not for sheer size that we count Victoria Falls as a must-see on your safari. The Zambezi River’s heart-stopping plunge into the basalt gorges below exudes beauty. Iridescent mist catches the sun’s rays and transforms them into rainbows—and, when you’re lucky enough to catch the rare phenomenon, “moonbows” appear over the falls on cloudless nights, creating the perfect photo opportunity.

As you take your photos (expert advice on making them as good as they can be can be found in another article on this blog, here), don’t forget to close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported into meditative stillness by the sounds of water endlessly rushing over the edge.

 

2. Sossusvlei

Video Thumbnail
Sossusvlei

Walk through the salt and clay pan known as Deadvlei and you may feel that you’re dreaming. This landscape is one of stark contrasts—which is saying something for Namibia, a remotely populated country of flat desert and high dunes.

Sossusvlei is often described as bizarre or surreal, which has made it the ideal setting for fantasy or dream sequences in films like The Cell and The Fall. Red dunes rise over the flat pan, and the landscape beneath them is punctuated by leafless, contorted acacia trees that stab upward into a sharp blue sky.

Since this area can only be navigated by foot, the rugged landscape of Sossusvlei is relatively free of tourists. You’ll be free to wander through the dunes and take photographs without a single soul in sight. With all this solitude in such a barren land, prepare yourself for the possibility of being overwhelmed by intense spiritual feelings — you wouldn’t be the first.

Namibia holds other spectacular wonders, as well. The region of Damaraland, in the inner portion of the Namib, is famous for its volcanic rock formations. Namibia is also where you’ll find an ancient petrified forest and its fossilized trees, which predate human civilization by millions of years.

 

3. Kalahari Desert

Video Thumbnail
Kalahari - African Safari #2

The Kalahari Desert is spectacular. Although technically a savannah and not a true desert, the region more than earns its name for its hot and arid climate. The vast red plains of the Kalahari are covered in acacia trees and scrubby grasses, all beneath an expansive, seemingly endless sky.

But the real wonder here isn’t so much the landscape as its inhabitants. Despite conditions that most travelers would find trying after a few days, the Kalahari Desert is home to a diverse population of native wildlife.

Lions, leopard, hyenas, wildebeest and antelopes have all found a way to thrive in this harsh environment. To this day, researchers are still working out the mysterious ways that wildlife — both predator and prey — have managed to sustainably interlink themselves in this complex African ecosystem. This abundance of wildlife makes the Kalahari ideal for wildlife photography (just make you use the right tactics when looking for them), and also for marvelling at the contradictions of the continent.

The Kalahari covers much of Botswana. In this country, you’ll find another wonder on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Okavanga Delta, the largest delta in the world, is as green, lush and vibrant as the Kalahari is dry and stark. Only in Africa could two such polar extremes brim with the same rich diversity of flora and fauna.

 

4. The Great Migration

Video Thumbnail
The Great Migration FilmConvert

Each year, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra journey across Tanzania to Kenya in search of richer pastures. The Great Migration is the largest annual mass movement of mammals in the world. In a country already known for its spectacular game viewing, the Great Migration is the ne plus ultra of the Tanzanian wildlife experience.

During this incredible event, you can witness the dramatic sight of hundreds of animals crossing the Mara River, risking their lives to answer the call of a natural rhythm. Even if you miss a river crossing, the sight of the Tanzanian landscape swarming with animals makes for an unforgettable photo album.

The location and route of the migration changes from year to year, depending on the rains. Our team of experts at Safari Drive can advise you on the best time of year to see this incredible event on your self-drive safari – just ask us during your safari consultation.

 

5. Lake Malawi

Video Thumbnail
Malawi - Nkhata bay, on the lake Malawi

At 47 miles wide and 350 miles long, Lake Malawi is one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. It’s also one of the deepest lakes in Africa, with some of its bed resting over 2,000 feet beneath the water’s surface.

Lake Malawi is renowned for its crystalline waters, as well as the gently sloping mountains that surround it. Serenity characterizes this part of Africa: the lake is home to both quiet fishing communities and the famed schools of cichlids by which they make their living

As you travel through Malawi, come for the breathtaking view of the lake, but stay for the surrounding national park. This forest is home to a rich ecosystem of flora and fauna.

 

Over to You

Even if you can’t manage to see them all in a lifetime, you’d be remiss not to cross at least one of these natural wonders off your bucket list.

Let Safari Drive help you plan your route with self-drives itineraries tailored to every interest, we’ll help you to discover Africa exactly how you want to. To start designing your trip today, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

For a taste of what safari in Africa is like, get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes chapters on camping safely in the bush, crossing rivers, and even how to tell giraffes apart.

 
Photo by Tee La Rosa

Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours In Africa: Which Is Better?

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

There’s so much to see and experience, you won’t want to miss out…

Touring Africa can be a magnificent journey. But when it comes to travelling around this great continent, perhaps as part of a safari holiday, there are many different options and routes that you can explore.

Of those, self-drive and guided safari tours are among the most popular options. They both offer different ways to see and experience the land, and both have their benefits.

But which is right for you? What you need is a fair assessment of both guided and self-drive safaris (more on exactly what a self-drive safari is here) to help you make an informed decision, and this is it.

So if you’re considering an African safari holiday, and are curious about which option will best fit your needs, read on…

 

But First: Why Africa?

Africa has a lot to offer. From spotting the best African wildlife including lions, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, and zebras to breathtaking scenery including beaches, great lakes, and wide-open grasslands.

“There is a good reason why African Safari is on many people’s bucket lists,” writes Matthew Karsten, detailing his experience in Phinda – a private game reserve in South Africa. “The wildlife you see on these trips is nothing short of astounding.”

Of course, safety is a common concern for first-time travellers.

But contrary to what some people think, thousands of visitors come to Africa every year and enjoy trouble-free, safe journeys. It’s important to remember that planning a safari through Africa should be done with great care to help ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable.

Africa in and of itself sounds like a dreamer’s paradise, with such a wide variety of wildlife and scenery that there truly is something for everyone. Or, to borrow the words of Ernest Hemingway:

“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.”

Still unconvinced? Surely not. Now, back the matter at hand…

 

Benefits of a Guided Safari

The idea of an African safari sounds both thrilling and exciting and is high on the list for many travel enthusiasts. Going on a guided safari tour can be a great option for those who are looking for an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

A guided safari is often completed as part of a safari group trip, which economises the cost of a guide vehicle. Let’s explore some of the additional benefits of taking a guided safari.

Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours In Africa 2

 

There’s no need to navigate

A guided safari allows you to experience the sites without having to find them yourself. You will be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about what turn you should take next or following a map.

 

The knowledge of a guide is handy

Taking a guided safari tour comes with the advantage of having an experienced guide. A guide will know the area, and will be able to provide unique insight into the wildlife and information on the local culture, giving you a true insider’s perspective.

Since a local guide will also have extensive knowledge on the local animals, they’ll know the areas that the animals normally are, and will be able to help you to spot game.

 

Benefits of a Self-Drive Safari

A self-drive safari allows you to drive yourself and your travel companions on a safari – giving you the opportunity to experience all that Africa has to offer independently and at your own pace. There is no pressure and no waiting for others, just you and the open road or the African plains.

If you’re adventurous and eager to experience counties like South Africa or Zimbabwe on your own terms, then you’ll appreciate the flexibility and freedom that comes from choosing a self-drive safari.

Here are some of the benefits of a self-drive African safari….

Video Thumbnail
Safari Drive – Ultimate Tanzania

 

You’ll operate your own fully-equipped vehicle

When you book a self-drive safari with Safari Drive you will get your own fully-equipped 4×4 vehicle – like the Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser.

“Surprisingly most of the animals are not afraid of the Land Rover at all. They just see it as another creature,” writes Matthew Karsten. “This lets you get incredibly close to the wildlife.”

Your vehicle comes with everything you need to survive in the wild, as well as luxuries to make your trip absolutely enjoyable and comfortable, including a fridge and a vehicle roof-top tent.

You can store food and keep it cold, and you can wash. You can even set up a fire for cooking. You can choose when you want to camp, and when you want to stop at a safari lodge, allowing you to create the experience that you’re looking for.

 

You’ll enjoy an independent experience

On a self-drive safari, you’ll be able to have a truly independent experience. You won’t be tied down to a large group and won’t have to worry about what everyone else wants.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll be roughing it, so to speak – self-drive is a popular option for honeymooners and can be designed to include overnight stays in luxury safari lodges.

You can stay longer if something catches your attention or if you want to spend more time watching the animals. If you have the flexibility to stay in certain locations longer you might also be able to see things that others who couldn’t stay as long would miss.

 

So Which Option Is Best?

The short answer is: it depends.

The two options pose two very different ways of experiencing Africa, and choosing either a self-drive or a guided safari depends on what you hope to gain from your time in Africa. Determining whether you want the experience of a guide or the independence of a self-drive safari can help you determine which option is best for you.

Africa is a truly amazing continent, one that’s full of breathtaking beauty. Be sure to choose a tour that will help you to get the most from your trip, one that will allow you to truly savour every moment that you’re there.

To learn more about safari holidays in Africa, including useful how-tos on camping in the bush and spotting wildlife, you can download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a 37-page book we wrote on the subject.

Or to get an expert opinion on the kind of safari that will best fit your needs, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

 
Photos by Massmo Relsig and Diana Robinson

Seven Tips for Taking Stunning Photos on a Safari Holiday

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

The most amazing experience of your life deserves to be remembered…

A safari holiday will take you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on Earth. Places like Zambia, or Tanzania. Along the way, you’ll be closer than ever before to wildlife in its most pristine state.

You already know that you’d be remiss not to capture your safari on camera.

But how do you take photos that are beyond the ordinary? Photos that do justice to your remarkable journey? Tactics are everything. So today I’ve compiled seven of the most essential guidelines for creating an unforgettable safari photo album.

 

1. Composition is Key

We’ll get into the specifics of your equipment in a moment, but your overarching concern should be the composition of your photos. You could have the best gear in the world, but if your photos are poorly composed, not even the most advanced technology can help you. In fact, per Jeff Meyer on digitalcameraworld.com:

“Poor photo composition can make a fantastic subject dull, but a well-set scene can create a wonderful image from the most ordinary of situations.”

The beauty of a photo always comes primarily from how you use your camera, not your camera itself.

Keep in mind a few basic elements of good composition as you shoot. The rule of thirds, covered in the video below, is a simple and classic paradigm to work with; instead of placing subjects dead-center, position them in the outer thirds of your frame. The offset image is much more interesting, and encourages the eye to wander throughout the rest of the photo.

Video Thumbnail
9 Photo Composition Tips (feat. Steve McCurry)

There are a few things to avoid. Foremost, the insidious “telephone pole” effect, in which background elements like trees or poles appear to be projecting out of your subjects’ heads. Take care to frame your subjects with a clear background. Also be mindful of light blowing out the corners of your frame and of shadows obscuring the best parts of your image.

Finally, shoot as much as you can during the “golden hours” just after sunrise and just before sunset. This kind of light makes colours vivid and saturated, instilling everything with a magical warmth.

 

2. Set Up Your Camera Before You Leave

When you’re shooting, you want to be in the moment so that you can catch that incredible gazelle’s leap or a tender moment between a lioness and cub. You certainly don’t want to be fumbling with your camera settings, trying to figure out why every shot is blurry.

David Bristow of Bushtracks recommends that you explore your camera settings well before going on safari. That way, you’ll waste no time on your trip. He also recommends that you pre-set your white balance to daylight, colours to vivid and ISO to auto for the best results.

 

3. Bring Backup (Lots of It)

Stock your camera bag with several memory cards, says Peter West Carey of Gadventures.com, and bring more than you think you’ll need. With plenty of memory, you won’t have to fret over whether your photos are wasting valuable space. A backup storage method like a hard drive provides extra security for your images in the event that you lose or damage your camera.

As long as you properly protect your gear, it’s unlikely that it will malfunction. But just in case, bring along an auxiliary digital camera. Even if it’s an inexpensive point-and-shoot, the resulting photos will be better than none at all.

 

4. Do Your Research

Being conscious of your surroundings is key to taking amazing photos on safari. As you plan your route prior to your holiday, also mark down interesting landmarks or sites that you want to photograph.

While we’re on the subject of mindfulness, be respectful of local cultures. In some parts of Africa, it’s considered offensive to take photos of other people (not to mention, it’s ill-mannered to photograph anyone without their permission). If you’re taking photographs in a populated area, tread with caution and deference.

Finally, expect the unexpected – that’s the fun part. However, the capricious nature of the wild can also make for risky situations, so be alert. You’re among wildlife. Don’t sacrifice safety for a great photograph. Trust us, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get an incredible shot along your trip.

 

5. Bring Some Extra Support

While you don’t want to overload your camera bag with accessories, a telescopic lens and tripod (or monopod) are essential.

A 55-300mm telephoto zoom lens is one of three lenses every photographer should own, says Chris Folsom of digital-photography-school.com. It will give you a greater range of vision and capture details that an ordinary camera zoom won’t pick up.

Extreme zoom will also exaggerate the normal shakiness of your hands, so a tripod is absolutely necessary to stabilize your camera. A sturdy tripod (or bean bag rested on the car window frame) will also help you to capture fast-moving animals with minimal blur.

 

6. Don’t Stop After Sunset

The absence of light pollution in the African heartland makes for stunning nighttime skies rarely seen in more densely populated areas of the world. When the sun goes down, keep shooting.

This is where understanding your camera’s various settings will come in handy. If you’re a nighttime photography novice, spend some time in your backyard practicing. Find the right settings for capturing details in low light. This is also where you’ll most need your tripod, since low-light photography requires longer exposure times.

Nothing comes close to the splendour of nighttime photos shot on safari. At night, you’ll have the opportunity to capture nocturnal wildlife in action and create breathtaking panoramas of a savannah under a star-studded sky. Set your camera on a tripod with a long exposure for a whirling shot of stars as they trace the heavens.

 

7. Tell a Story

Video Thumbnail
Holiday Snap Torture! -Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie - BBC comedy

There’s an old Fry and Laurie sketch (see video, above) in which one man shares his vacation photos with another, in great detail — as a form of punishment. We’re all familiar with politely stifling yawns as someone drones through countless shots of the same scene. However, not all vacation photo albums have to be tedious.

On an African safari, in particular, you have the opportunity to craft an intriguing narrative. To do so requires some thoughtful time away from the viewfinder.

If you’re a more advanced photographer, experiment with different lenses or filters to capture a unique view of what has been photographed many times.

 

Ready to Get Started?

Not only do amazing photos give you something to share once you return from safari, but they shape your memory of your African safari for a lifetime. To learn more about safari holidays in Africa, including spotting and photographing all manner of amazing wildlife, download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a useful 37-page book we wrote on the subject.

Or to discuss your safari ideas and get the benefit of our expertise in helping you design your safari, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

 
Photo by James Hale

Beyond the Big Five: How to Spot the Best African Wildlife on Safari

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

It’s the single biggest attraction for safari lovers…

That’s right – today we’re talking about seeing wildlife in its natural habitat.

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you’ve probably begun to notice by now that safari is a varied and eclectic type of holiday. And whilst spotting elephants, lions, buffalo, rhinos and leopards is a truly fantastic experience, a great safari holiday is about so much more.

Sticking strictly to the animals, the same rules apply. The Big Five (more on them in a moment) may get all the plaudits, but the wildlife of the African Savanna has plenty more to offer.

Which is why I spent a couple of days picking the brains of our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, collating what we believe to be the essential guide to the animals of Africa.

 

A Recap of the Big Five

First of all, let’s get clear on exactly what the Big Five are and how can you see them. The Big Five is a term used to refer to the five most sought-after animals by game hunters. These days, we go on safari to observe and enjoy these animals, but the hunting term ‘Big Five’ has stuck.

Seeing any of the Big Five is still a thrill for anyone who goes on safari, even if it isn’t their first time. And so it’s really no surprise that, per thetravellingchilli.com, it’s widely considered to be ‘the one thing most people want to see on a safari in Africa’.

Of course, there’s never any guarantee that you’ll see all of the Big Five. But if you plan where you go well and understand a little of the individual habits and habitats of each one, this will vastly increase your chance of success.

Video Thumbnail
A self drive safari in Tanzania with Safari Drive - CLICK HD

 

1. Lion

Seeing lion in their natural habitat is one of the big thrills of any safari in Africa. In truth, as Susan Hack writes in Conde Nast Traveler, you’re more likely to see lions when they are sleeping than when they are actively pursuing prey as they tend to rest for as many as 20 hours a day.

Although lion populations are dwindling, they are still easier to spot than cheetahs or leopards because, unlike other cats, they live in prides.

 

2. Elephant

The African elephant is awe-inspiring purely on account of its size as it’s by far the largest land mammal on earth. Elephants abound in Africa and they live in a wide variety to habitats from woodlands and forests to deserts and savannas. They cover a wide area too and they can be found in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The best place to see elephants is near water as they drink 30-50 gallons of water every day so always need access to lakes, rivers and other sources of water.

 

3. Buffalo

Video Thumbnail
"Buffalo Warrior" - DOCUMENTARY FOR NAT GEO / ANIMAL PLANET

Buffalo are large animals that reach weights of around 1500 lbs in adulthood. Although there is only one species of buffalo in Africa, there are two subspecies: the large savanna buffalo and the smaller forest buffalo. The larger savanna Buffalo can be seen in many parts of Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Zambezi.

Buffalo generally live in herds of a few hundred but they do sometimes gather in much larger herds. They are herbivores and need fresh, green grass in order to thrive. Both species of buffalo live close to water. Buffalo suffer from poor sight and hearing although their sense of smell is well-developed. They also struggle to regulate their body temperature, which is why they mostly feed at night.

 

4. Black & White Rhino

You are far more likely to see a white rhino than a black rhino on safari because there are only about 4,000 black rhino left in the wild compared with the 17,000 white rhino, which are mostly found in Southern Africa. Rhinos are well-known for being short-sighted and a bit bad tempered, but they are amazing animals so it is fantastic when you see one.

You can tell the difference not by their colour – as you might expect – but by their jaw. Black rhino have hook-shaped lips for plucking foliage from trees whereas white rhino have a broader, wider mouth for grazing on grasses.

Rhinos tend to live where they have easy access to their food supply. As a browser as opposed to a grazer, the black rhino’s food sources include leaves, buds and the shoots of plants, bushes and trees. It is often found in habitats that are dense in woody vegetation. On the other hand, the white rhino is a grazer, living in savannahs where they have access to the grasses they graze on, water holes, mud wallows and shade from trees.

 

5. Leopard

Video Thumbnail
Leopard Meets GoPro! - Latest Wildlife Sightings

Although there are far more African leopards than African rhinos this unfortunately doesn’t make them any easier to spot. You need to remember to look up if you want to have any chance of seeing this solitary and beautiful cat, as leopards use trees for protection as well as positions from which they can observe the terrain around them.

As well as being shy, leopards are also nocturnal, which is another reason why they can be difficult to spot on safari. As animals they have many talents, including climbing, swimming and the ability to live in a far wider range of habitats than most other wild cats.

 

Seeing Beyond the Big Five

There is so much to see when on safari that it would be a shame to spend all your time looking for five animals. If you’ve seen the Big Five before, you might also get more out of a self-drive safari where you can experience the freedom to explore – as explained in my recent article Self-Drive Safari: Freedom, Independence and Safety for the African Explorer.

You’ll certainly discover more wildlife, landscapes, people and places than on a more traditional safari. But what other wildlife is worth looking out for?

 

Giraffe

The giraffe is a wonderful animal to spot on safari. Apart from their amazing blue tongues, they have intriguing small 5-inch knobs on their heads and, of course, outrageously long necks. The giraffe is the tallest mammal on earth so they are quite easy to spot – as long as you look up above the treetops.

Giraffes are one of the quietest, most common and most majestic animals you’re likely to see on an African safari. They’re not endangered and they don’t have a lot of predators so you often see them browsing in herds of up to 40 during the day. You can easily see them all year round, though the best time to see baby giraffe is between September and December, which is early summer in Africa.

 
Interesting facts about giraffes
• There are at least seven common sub-species of giraffes in Africa and can be each identified by its distinct skin pattern. You may well see the Rothschild Giraffe and the more common Masai Giraffe but you might struggle to spot the rare Reticulated Giraffe.

• The giraffe is one of the fastest animals on the plains and it is capable of reaching 50 kilometres per hour in speed.

• The favourite food of the giraffe is the thorny Acacia. This flat-topped, hardy tree is most often found in semi-arid or sub-tropical woodland so that is also the best place to see giraffe.

• The average giraffe gets through around 30 kg of leaves every day.

 

Cheetah

Video Thumbnail
Cheetah

Cheetahs are well known for their incredible speed and are deserving of their reputation for being the fastest animals on earth. They prefer to roam in wide open spaces but this brings them into contact with competition from other predators and with man his cattle.

Sadly, cheetahs are not very easy to spot as only around 12,000 exist in the wild. They mostly live in eastern and south-western Africa so your best chance of seeing them is in Tanzania’s Serengeti or in various reserves in Namibia.

 

Hippopotamus

Hippos are amazing creatures and can be found in lakes and rivers throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Fortunately, they are easy to spot when you’re on safari. One of the best places to see them is in Zambia in the Luangwa River. An adult hippopotamus can weigh up to 3.5 tonnes so it is a hefty creature. They live in pods, many of which number over 100 individuals during the dry season.

Not many people realise this but an adult male hippo is quite fast on land and can run at speeds of up to 20mph, one of the facts that make hippos one of Africa’s most dangerous animals and why it is responsible for so many human fatalities in Africa.

 
Little-known hippo Facts
• Hippos secrete a natural sunscreen.
• The hippo’s closest living relative is the whale.
• An adult hippo can consume over 100 pounds of vegetation per day.

 

Nile crocodile

The Nile crocodile is an easy animal to see in Africa as it can be found in almost every major river as well as many of the continent’s lakes. Usually, they can be seen with their mouths wide open as they sun themselves on river banks.

Crocodiles reach lengths of up to 18 feet and are one of the oldest species on the planet and have been around for over 200 million years, which explains why they look like pre-historic animals. The crocodile is one of Africa’s most dangerous animal as it is responsible for a number of human fatalities every year.

 

Zebra

Zebra are closely related to horses and donkeys and is notable for its black and white striped body, which are unique to each individual animal. Their stripes are believed to help camouflage them in the grass. A zebra’s stripe pattern is as unique as our finger prints. Zebra are herbivores and eat a range of grasses as well as shrubs, herbs, twigs, leaves and even bark.

There are two species of zebra, although Grevy’s Zebras are endangered and mostly confined to northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Plains zebras are far more prevalent and can be found on the savannas from Sudan to northern Zimbabwe in eastern Africa. Zebras are very social animals and live in large groups called harems. Sometimes herds amalgamate into temporary groups of up to 30 individuals.

 

Even More Wildlife to Look Out For

There is plenty of wildlife to be seen in Africa, though many species are endangered, it doesn’t mean that seeing them is impossible. Here’s selection to whet your appetite and get you thinking.

 

Gazelle

Video Thumbnail
Gazelle Ballet

Gazelles are medium-sized grazing antelope that live in herds of as few as ten or as many as several hundred animals. During the rainy season, you can sometimes see thousands gathered in large groups.

Gazelles like wide-open spaces and plains where they can graze on grasses, shoots, and leaves. The open areas may make them more visible to predators but they are fast runners and can reach speeds of up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour so can usually outrun their predators main predators, lion and prairie dogs.

 

Meerkats

Meerkats live in Southern and South West Africa and can mostly be found in the great open savannas. Meerkats are part of the mongoose family and are also know by the names Suricata and Suricatta.

The name ‘meerkat’ comes from an Afrikaans word meaning ‘lake cat’. If you want to see a meerkat, head for the Kalahari Desert and the Horn of Africa.

 

Vultures

Vultures spend most of their time in the air where they’re able to keep a close eye on any activity of interest to them on the ground. For this reason, unsurprisingly, they have amazingly good eyesight. When they do spot a kill, they quickly descend onto the nearby trees and wait patiently for their share of the pickings – sometimes up to 36 hours.

The best place to find vultures is obviously at a kill but alternatively, look out for them where they encounter their main food source: in the vicinity of grazing animals and their predators.

 

Wildebeest

Video Thumbnail
Migration

Wildebeest (or gnu) is a member of the antelope family and can be found in the plains and acacia savannas of Eastern Africa, notably in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kilimanjaro, East Africa, Southern Africa.

Wildebeest are driven by their need to find large amounts of grass and water and as a result they are continually on the move. The famous western white-bearded wildebeest of the Serengeti is a particularly large nomadic group. They famously make a migratory circle of 500 to 1000 miles each year. This migration is relentless leading to many individuals being injured, lost or killed and the grazing lands of the Serengeti being exhausted.

 

It Doesn’t End There…

Wildlife is all around you in the African bush; it’s not all about big animals either. Look out for the smaller ones such as snakes, spiders, ants, butterflies, and smaller birds.

It’s worth investing some time learning about the wildlife you are most likely to see in the area you are going on safari so you can identify what you are seeing and enjoy it even more. For more information about the Big Five and how you can see them with your own unique self-drive safari, you can also download a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide – a useful 37-page book we wrote on the subject.

If you think you might be ready to see all these amazing animals in their natural habitat, get yourself a free safari consultation and let’s talk about your safari plans and answer any questions you may have.

Self-Drive Safari: Freedom, Independence and Safety for the African Explorer

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

If you long to get away from it all and have the adventure of a lifetime, a self-drive safari could be perfect for you. When you go on a self-drive safari, you design your own itinerary, set your own agenda and have the chance to get away from everything and discover peace, wilderness and beauty.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

Although perhaps it also sounds a little risky or challenging. If that’s what you’re thinking, or you just to want to learn more about this unusual format of safari holiday, you’re in the right place. Today I’m going to explain exactly what a self-drive safari entails, and why should you consider going on one…

 

What Is a Self-Drive Safari?

A self-drive safari is simply a safari where you set your own itinerary, plan your own routes and drive your own vehicle. With safety advice and a fully-serviced, robust 4×4 you can go off on your own, camp in the bush and experience amazing locations – places like Argentina, Oman or Tanzania – in all their glory.

This way of going on safari offers unparalleled freedom and independence. Imagine camping in the wild under canvas with no one else around you, being able to set your own itinerary and go at your own pace. Per this article on huffingtonpost.com, all the above advantages all underscore one thing: freedom. This is what true adventure is all about.

 

What it means to have your very own 4×4

Your vehicle comes equipped with everything you need to survive in the wild, from a fridge to a vehicle roof-top tent. You can store food and keep it cold, you can wash and you can set up a fire for cooking.

Having your own 4×4 is the key to all that freedom I mentioned. As well as customising your itinerary, you’re also able to select what type of accommodation you have each night. You choose how many nights to spend under canvas and how many nights to spend at safari lodges. That means you can select the campsites and lodges which offer you the facilities and experience you’re looking for.

 

You can still stop over for some luxury

If you like a little luxury as well, a few nights spent in a safari lodge can be great. Stopping at a lodge for the night means a proper bed, a restaurant, a bathroom and all the facilities a lodge can supply. Admittedly, these vary from place to place – but they can include swimming pools, spas and tennis courts.

One of my favourites is Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia, and you only have to see the video below to understand why. Local elephant herds regularly visit the lodge to eat the ripe mangoes which grow in the area, and so they designed the place with that in mind.

Here’s a clip of a few of them walking carefully through the lodge reception…

Video Thumbnail
Elephants of Mfuwe Lodge

 

Is a Self-Drive Safari Really Safe?

Safety is paramount on a self-drive safari trip – it’s a holiday, not an exercise in mortal peril! At Safari Drive, for example, we provide all out clients range of facilities to keep them safe, including:

• A fully-serviced, robust 4×4 vehicle.

• Up-to-date maps of every country you visit.

• SatNav – loaded with the latest Tracks 4 Africa data.

• A satellite phone and a 24/7 emergency number.

• Contact details with all our local and regional offices for the area you are travelling in.

• A comprehensive guidebook detailing everything you need to know, from national park rules to how to light a fire and from changing a tyre to driving through water. There is also detailed information on what to do in an emergency and how to use your satellite phone.

Be sure to get a free copy of our African Safari Field Guide here for an insight into the kind of expert support you’ll have behind you.

 

The Top 10 Self-Drive Safari Safety Tips

Staying safe while in the bush is often a matter of following a few simple rules and common sense. Below is a summary of ten key ways to keep yourself safe when out on the road and enjoying the wildlife, landscape and experience of safari.

 
Staying safe when camping in the bush

1. Don’t leave food out for any longer than necessary and always pack food away overnight.

2. When camping, choose a flat, open area.

3. Set up camp early so you put up your tent, light your fire and cook while it is still light.
 
Staying safe around wildlife
4. Give wildlife space – keep your distance from them – and time to pass you, especially if they cross the road in front of you. Remember that you are in their environment so respect that at all times.

5. Do not make loud noises, wear bright clothing or invade an animal’s space at any time, but especially if they have their young with them.

6. Take time to learn about the animals you are watching. Understand a little about their behaviour and what might alert them. Make sure you behave appropriately around them.
 
Staying safe when driving
7. Make sure you understand how your satellite phone works. Buy food along your route rather than overstocking at the beginning.

8. Do not overload your vehicle as this increases the risk that your vehicle might turn over on rutted roads.

9. Drive slowly and do not assume the rules of the road as you know them will be observed on African roads. Make sure you keep lights on at all times when driving on gravel.

10. Be aware of road conditions and take the weather into account.

If you plan well, learn about the country you are going to, pack the right clothes, and learn about the animals you are going to likely to encounter, there is no reason at all why you should not have a safe and very enjoyable self-drive safari. Driving on some African roads can be very challenging and if you want to feel confident about driving a 4×4 on rough terrain, it is worth considering taking an off-road driving course, such as those offered by borda.org.uk.

Of course, if you travel with Safari Drive we give you careful guidance when you pick up your vehicle, like the Land Rover Defender in the video below (yours truly behind the camera). But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t hone your skills before you begin your trip.

Video Thumbnail
Tour of the inside of a Safari Drive Land Rover Defender

 

Is Self-Drive Safari for You?

With so many safety concerns, why would you want to consider a self-drive safari? Well, it’s true that it isn’t the right kind of holiday for everyone, and if you hate camping and don’t like being alone in the wild, a different kind of safari may work better for you.

But if you are looking for adventure, independence and freedom, this could be the perfect choice for you.

A self-drive safari is all about independence and adventure. It’s about experiencing your destination of choice in a unique and memorable way that will be different to any other holiday you have ever had.

In fact, it’s so much more than a holiday because it’s about discovering a place where the only light comes from the stars and the only sounds from the wind in the trees, the insects buzzing around you and the birds in the trees.

In the words of Lisa Grainer on telegraph.co.uk: ‘This isn’t a place for lovers of iPods and spas; it is the earth as it has been for millennia, untouched and unspoilt.’

 

What it means to travel at your own pace

A self-drive safari means you can decide whether to make a journey from one point to another long or short, fast or slow. You can decide whether to bed down in camp for the night early or late in the day and when to get up in the morning.

So if you want to get out viewing wildlife early, you can do that. You don’t have to wait for a guide or for breakfast to be served. It’s your choice what to do and when.

However, you do have the security of having a pre-designed itinerary; one that is created in collaboration with a team of people who have travelled the path before you and who know what is achievable and what you mustn’t miss on your way.

The most significant point is that you are not tied to anyone else’s agenda or nailed down by anyone else’s needs or desires but your own. Freedom is very much the watchword of a self-drive safari.

 

Are You Ready?

If the idea of being out on the road with your own vehicle, following your own specially-designed itinerary sounds good, then a self-drive safari is for you.

To discuss your safari ideas and get the benefit of our expertise in helping you design it, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

How to Plan Your Perfect African Safari

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Each of us probably has a different idea of what makes the perfect safari. For some, it will be about having days combing the bush with a guide to see as many animals as possible whereas for others it will be about staying in luxury safari lodges. Some may want the backup of a guided safari while others are keen to drive their own vehicle so they can get out and explore.

So where do you begin planning? I know from personal experience how daunting it can be to think about making all those arrangements and decisions – that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Believe me, my wife and I debated every last village we would visit before our recent trip to Tanzania

It needn’t be a huge undertaking. Of course, you want to make sure it’s the trip of a lifetime, but planning your safari trip is quite simple when you break it down correctly. Here’s the way I approach it – absorb, reflect, and things will suddenly seem very clear.

 

Choosing What You Want from Your Safari

For many of us, though, a great safari is about more than seeing wildlife, it’s about variety. We want to experience solitude in the bush and the fantastic service in a safari lodge. We want to see elephants at a watering hole and birds littering tree branches. When it comes down to it, what we want from our safari is a memorable and exhilarating experience.

We want the smells, sounds and sights of the lands we visit to live with us and form memories that outlive any other traditional holiday. We want to meet the local people, find out how they live and get the chance to talk to them about their country. The safari that is perfect for delivering all of this is a self-drive safari where you drive your own vehicle, to your own itinerary and camp in the bush.

On the other hand, if you want a bit less freedom and bit more luxury, you can combine bush camping with stays in safari lodges or simply travel from lodge to lodge and avoid camping out at night altogether.

If you want to design a safari experience for yourself that includes a wide range of sights and experiences and that offers you the opportunity for adventure and relaxation in equal measure, you need to know more about the options available to you.

There are three key elements to creating the perfect safari:

• The type of safari you want to go on.
• Your safari accommodation.
• What you do when you get on safari.

Once you have those elements worked out, you can begin to work out when to go and how long to go for. Below, we give an overview of the critical elements that you need to consider so you can begin to get a sense of what your perfect safari will include.

 

What Type of Safari Is For You?

Lodge to lodge migration safari

The luxury safari option involves you in moving from one lodge to another and going out on guided safaris. You can enjoy guided safaris based around staying in a variety of safari lodges. A guided safari will give you all the benefits of having an experienced and knowledgeable guide to take you where you are most likely to see wildlife.

If you decide to have a more independent safari – say as a group camping in the bush – you can also enjoy the benefits of a guide. Those on self-drive safaris can hire a guide when they stay at a lodge. This may be a good idea if you are new to safari and want some experience and tips before you go off on your self-drive holiday.

 

Self-drive safari

A self-drive safari gives you maximum freedom and independence but with that comes responsibility and greater risk. The risks can be minimized by good preparation, knowledge and by observing some simple rules. What you get from opting for greater independence is the opportunity to truly experience the wild and explore Africa on your own terms and in your own way. If you truly want to get away from it all, have an adventure and enjoy a memorable experience, self-drive is for you.

 

Group self-drive safari

If you want the security of being in a group and the expertise of a guide, why not consider the option of a group safari drive?

Video Thumbnail
Tanzanian Safari (Part I)

 
With a group drive, you still drive yourself in your own vehicle but you get to enjoy the company of those in up to three other vehicles. At the same time, you have your own experienced guide who will take you to places other travellers never get to. Added to this, you get the benefit of added safety as you can take advantage of your guide’s knowledge of the terrain, weather and wildlife.

 

Choosing You Safari Accommodation Type

The safari lodge

Where you stay and how you live when on safari can significantly affect your experience of safari. If camping in the bush is definitely not for you, that’s fine because there are luxury camp sites, houses for rent and safari lodges on offer.

A safari lodge gives you all the advantages of luxury but in unparalleled surroundings where you can see wildlife, experience the atmosphere of the bush but still enjoy a comfortable bed and running water. Safari lodges vary but almost all of them offer great food, beautiful locations, well-appointed rooms and great service. Many also offer facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, spas, gift shops and beautiful gardens, all designed to make your stay truly relaxing and enjoyable.

 

The bush camp

This is where you get down and dirty and experience Africa in the raw. Camping in the bush has its risks but by observing a few simple rules and being prepared, those risks are more than manageable. The experience of bush camping will far outweigh any trepidation you may feel at being out in the wild.

Camping in the bush allows you to enjoy the scent of plants and the smell of the earth as well as the sounds of insects, animals and the wind so you truly feel close to the land you are in. Added to that, you can enjoy beautiful sunsets as well as stunning bird and plant life.

 

What You Want to Do: Experiences and Activities

The excitement of spotting wildlife

Of course, when you go on safari you want to see as much wildlife as you can. But remember that wildlife comes in many forms and the birds, insects and invertebrates are often as fascinating as the larger animals. Seeing lions may be a thrill, like in the video below, but a brightly coloured butterfly or the call of a bird may be just as memorable.

Video Thumbnail
Lion

 

The joy of stunning scenery

On the surface, safari seems to be all about seeing wildlife, but there is more to it than that. The scenery, panoramic views, scents and sounds of a country are as much part of the whole adventure as the wild animals.

 

The delight in meeting the people

It is the people and where they live that enhance and add colour to an experience and Africa is no different. Plan to take time out to visit some small towns and villages on your route so you can visit the local shops and see how people live.

 

The Fine Details: Weather, Duration and More

Work out the best time to go

Before planning your safari in detail, you need to think about when is the best time to travel. Of course, each country you visit in Africa (and even different areas within each country) has a slightly different climate, terrain and wildlife to the next.

These climactic differences need to be taken into consideration before you start to plan your safari so you can choose the best possible time to travel.

 

How long should I go on safari for?

How long you decide to spend on safari depends to a large extent on your budget, your schedule and what you want to do when you’re there. Inevitably, the longer your safari, the more you will see and the further you can travel. However, if being on the road is not what you want, you might want to book some time in a lodge or rented house by the coast so you can relax and have a complete rest.

There is no particular need to take an extended break unless you want to as you can see a lot and do a lot during a typical two week break. Take a look at some of our itineraries to get an idea of what you can fit in during a typical 14-night self-drive safari.

 

What’s the weather like where you want to go?

The weather Namibia is fairly good all year round while Botswana is at its best from June to October while Malawi and Zambia are at their best from July to October.

Check out the weather for each country you want to visit so you know when is the best time to go, and also so you know what to pack!

 

How to put your perfect safari together

When you know what the possibilities are for your safari, you can begin to design an itinerary that works for you. Our expert staff can help you choose countries to visit, decide when to travel and select the accommodation you want so call us to get help designing the perfect safari for you.

To get started designing your trip, take a look at some of our popular itineraries to get an idea of what you might want to include.

 

What a good itinerary looks like

When planning your own safari, it is sometimes useful to see an itinerary created by experts before getting started. The itineraries below, give a sense of the variety your safari can encompass, from nights spent camping in the bush to nights spent in luxurious lodges. These itineraries show you how to put it all together to create your own perfect safari.

 
Namibia, Dunes and Falls. Three countries in one trip, this unique itinerary allows you visit Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. You start your journey at the Victoria Falls in Zambia then go through Chobe National Park in Botswana before through some of the best parts of Namibia. This is a unique journey for any self-drive adventurer.

 
Malawi, Southern Loop. If you want to enjoy the best of Southern Malawi, this self-drive route is perfect. It balances stays at fantastic safari lodges with camping in the bush and takes in the Big Five destination of Majete Wildlife Reserve. Here you stay at Robin Pope Safaris’ property Mkulumadzi before enjoying two days and nights exploring the park and camping out.

You then have two nights at Satemwa Tea Estates before heading off to Liwonde via Zomba Plateau. Your trip is completed with two battery-recharging nights on the exclusive and private Mumbo Island in Lake Malawi.

 
Botswana, Classic Botswana. This is a 15-day safari that takes in the very best of Botswana. The trip starts with the vast Salt Flats of Nxai Pan, before heading north to Moremi Game Reserve on the edge of the Okavango Delta. You then visit Savuti, the game filled Chobe National Park and finish with 2 nights on the mighty Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.

The best time to do this journey is between June and October. To give you a balance of accommodation, this itinerary includes 6 nights in Lodges and 8 nights in campsites.

 

Over to You

Have you been on safari before? What aspects did you find particularly important when planning? Let me know in the comments below.

To discuss your safari ideas and get the benefit of our expertise in helping you design it, get a free safari consultation with one of our team.

What to Pack When You Go on a Safari Holiday

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

If you’ve never been on a safari before, you’ll definitely need to think about what you need to pack. Fortunately, the type of clothing you need to go on safari is casual, practical and above all, cool and comfortable.

Choose what to take carefully as many safaris require you to use small planes or vehicles that have strict luggage restrictions. As most lodges have laundry facilities you can get clothing washed easily so there is no need to over-pack. When it comes to packing, less is definitely more.

Too much luggage will be a definite encumbrance on a self-drive safari or indeed any kind of safari where you are camping or moving from place to place – and that’s almost every kind of safari you can go on.

Of course, what you pack goes way beyond what clothes you need: there is a whole slew of other things to think about from binoculars and cameras to first aid supplies and documentation. So, what should you pack for your safari. Here, we give you a complete run-down of everything you need to think about – and do – even before you start thinking about packing.

 

What is the right luggage for a safari?

The luggage you take on safari is different to the luggage you might use for a standard holiday or long trip. Now is not the time to dig out your hard-shell, wheeled suitcase. This will only be a hindrance at lodges, on campsites, in light aircraft and in the vehicle where the size, shape and rigidity of the suitcase will not work.

Instead, opt for a duffel bag or soft-sided bag, preferably one that can be stowed into small compartments. Make sure the fabric is hardy and waterproof and that the bag is lockable. Put anything that is of any value in a separate day pack such as a backpack. Anything of real sentimental or monetary value should ideally be left at home.

On a self-drive safari, your 4×4 will be fully equipped with everything you need to camp in the bush, so don’t waste your luggage space with anything that is on the list of what is going to be provided for you.

 

Pack for hot days and cool nights

Africa may be hot and dusty by day but it is often cool and crisp by night so you need to pack for both times of the day.

 

Layers are ideal for safari days

Pack clothing that is able to keep you cool but protect you from the sun and biting insects. Choose mid-tone colours and avoid white or bright colours that may distract the animals and dark colours like black and blue as these attract tsetse flies. The best colours are the safari classics: olive, green and khaki. For evenings at lodges you can stay in your casual gear as even the luxury lodges do not expect smart wear out in the bush.

 

Prepare for chilly safari nights

The African bush can be chilly during the mornings and evenings even during the summer so be sure to bring a windbreaker and long trousers. If your trip is in the spring or winter you will need warmer clothes the night-time temperature dips down quite low during the African winter. This is especially important if you are camping out under canvas. Check the temperature before you travel to make sure you have clothing that is warm enough for the season. You will need to take a waterproof mac with you too, as rainfall is often unpredictable and can be heavy. Check out this short video of a night safari in Zambia.

Video Thumbnail
A night safari in Africa

 

What to put on your feet

As you want to be careful not to over pack, you need to think carefully about what shoes to take. As long as you are not going on a safari that requires a lot of walking, you will be fine with some light hiking boots and some sports sandals (sandals are also great for walking around the camp at night). You may also like to take flip flops for the showers.

 

What you need to take so you can take care of yourself

As well as packing the right clothing, you also need to prepare for a range of other eventualities, the sun is strong as you are close to the equator and rain can happen along at almost any time, so you need to make sure you have the right protection for all types of weather. You need to prepare for insect bites and stings, and a scratch from a thorn so pack some basic first aid items as well.

 

How to handle the sun

The African sun can be brutal so be sure to buy a pair of polarizing sunglasses so you can protect your eyes. You’ll also need a hat that shades your face and covers your ears and neck so you have maximum sun protection. Ideally, get one that you can tie on in case you end up in an open-top Jeep. Of course, take plenty of high-protection sun cream and lip salve. Choose what you take carefully as your luggage is likely to be restricted. Small bottles and long-lasting products will take up less space (and weight) in your luggage.

 

First aid and other safety supplies

A small first-aid kit with a range of bandages, antiseptic creams and plasters are a must. You may also want an antihistamine to handle bites, pain killers and a product that can help you handle diarrhoea and other stomach upsets. It’s worth taking some kind of fast rehydration medication as dehydration is a real possibility in the bush. You might want to consider taking your own water bottle so you can easily carry water when out on safari. The below video is a basic guide to building a custom first-aid kit for travel to Africa:

Video Thumbnail
How to Survive in African Wilderness : Making a First Aid Kit for the African Wilderness

Also take a bottle of hand sanitizer and an extra travel toothbrush in case you accidentally use tap water at any time. The other essential in your kit is, of course, insect repellent and malaria medication. You shouldn’t need to take a mosquito net as all self-drive safari camping equipment, tents and lodges supply them but check first to be sure.

 

It’s the little extras that make the biggest difference

Here is a list of little extras you would do well to take with you:

• A small flashlight, headlamp or torch is great for when the sun goes down and you still have things to do around camp. Many lodges and camps run on generators so having your own lighting is a great backup to have.
• Batteries are a priceless commodity so take plenty to be sure you don’t run out of them in the bush.
• Take an extra digital camera card so you don’t risk running out of space for that one amazing photo you want to take.

 

Binoculars and cameras

Last but not least, make sure you take a good pair of mid-sized binoculars. Look for ones that are sturdy enough to survive getting dropped or knocked about a bit. These will be essential when you are out spotting wildlife. You will also want to take a decent camera, too. Make sure you have a case so you can carry spare batteries and a camera card easily, and make it easy to sling around your neck whenever you are out in the bush.

 

Before you go: How to prepare for your safari

The other items that go in your bag probably seem fairly obvious: passport, visas, money and insurance documents. You may also need to take evidence that you have been immunized against certain diseases, too so make sure you pack these, too. On a self-drive safari trip, you will also need your driving licence, of course.

 

Sort out your visas and passports

Make sure you passport is not going to expire within six months of your trip (i.e. if your trip is in September make sure your passport is valid until at least March of the following year) and that is has at least 3 clear pages.

Check whether you need visas to travel to the countries you are visiting. For example, Kenya and Tanzania require you to have a visa to enter the country as well as your passport. Check with your own country’s government travel website to find out how to get your visa. Most visas can be bought on arrival into the country.

 

Get your jabs

Getting vaccinated is very important when you are travelling to Africa. See your doctor well in advance of your trip and be specific about where you are going so you can get the right jabs.

Some vaccines can only be administered by special departments so allow plenty of time to organise these if that is the case. Bear in mind that many vaccinations can take several weeks before they provide full protection, so get them done in good time otherwise you may not be fully protected when you travel.

Some of the vaccinations you will need include hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid but there may be others, so be sure to check what you will need for the places you are going. For example, you will need a yellow fever vaccination for travel to East Africa.

 

Malaria

Malaria is prevalent in Africa so you must protect yourself by taking anti-malarial treatments. Use a mosquito-repellent spray, mosquito nets and cover up – especially at dawn and dusk. You can’t be too careful or have too much protection from mosquitos and malaria.

 

Money

Although cash machines are quite common now it is unlikely you will find one out in the bush, so you need to make sure you take cash as much as possible. If you are travelling to a number of different countries, be sure to take the relevant currencies with you.

 

Insurance

Travel insurance is a necessity on an African safari. Make sure you get sufficient emergency medical cover, good financial protection and – importantly – repatriation back to your country when buying your policy.

Going on safari requires lots of planning and preparation, but if you take your time, get organised and get it right, you can spend your time enjoying your holiday not worrying about what’s in your travel bag. Take advice from your safari company and think about what you need for the kind of safari you are going on. Plan well and pack well so you can enjoy your trip of a lifetime.

 

Don’t Grab Your Suitcase Just Yet

Before you start thinking about what to pack in your bag, start thinking about the type of safari you want to go on.

If you already have an idea, request a free safari consultation with our expert team so we can talk about your safari plans and answer any questions you may have.