POSTED ON 9th December 2015 BY Ollie Blackwell
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most lodges in Africa have laundry facilities, so there’s no need to overpack.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!