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Planning your first African safari: insider tips and tricks

Embarking on a safari adventure is a bucket list experience for many, and for good reason. The opportunity to see some of the world’s most incredible animals in their natural habitat is truly unforgettable. 

However, for those who are new to the world of safari, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. From choosing the right destination to understanding what to pack, there is a lot to consider when planning a safari trip. But don’t worry, this beginner’s guide to going on safari will help you navigate the exciting world of wildlife travel and ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime.


Planning an

African safari

What are the top things I should consider when planning a safari?

Planning a safari in Africa is an exciting adventure, but it’s important to keep a few key factors in mind to ensure that your trip is both memorable and safe. First, consider the time of year you plan to travel. Different regions offer different experiences and wildlife sightings at different times of the year, so you’ll want to find the spot that matches with your timing and goals.

Next, consider the type of accommodation that you prefer. From luxury lodges to camping under the stars, there’s a wide range of options to choose from. It’s also important to think about what activities you’d like to participate in, such as game drives, walking safaris and cultural experiences. 

Finally, don’t forget to research the political and health situation in the areas you plan to visit. Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself and the money you paid for the trip.  By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your safari in Africa is a trip of a lifetime.

Where should I go on safari for the first time?

When it comes to choosing the perfect safari destination, there’s no shortage of incredible options in Africa. From the open savannas of the Serengeti to the rolling hills of the Maasai Mara, each region offers its own unique wildlife experiences. If you’re looking to see the famous “Big Five” (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalos), then the plains of East Africa, such as Kenya and Tanzania, are ideal. 

For a more intimate experience with Africa’s primates, consider a trek to the lush rainforests of Uganda to see gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat. For those interested in bird watching, the Okavango Delta in Botswana offers a pristine wilderness home to over 500 species of birds. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is also a popular destination for safari-goers, offering diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife opportunities. 

Regardless of where you choose to go, a safari in Africa promises to be an unforgettable experience filled with adventure and breathtaking encounters with some of the world’s most magnificent creatures.

What should I pack for my safari in Africa?

When it comes to what to bring on your safari, comfort and practicality are key. Pack light and opt for versatile, neutral-toned clothing that can be easily layered, such as cotton or quick-drying materials. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are essential for protection against the sun. 

Additionally, bring comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots, as well as a waterproof jacket for unexpected weather. For capturing the stunning landscapes and wildlife, don’t forget to bring a camera and binoculars. 

While it’s important to stay connected with family and friends, consider leaving behind any unnecessary electronics to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to bring a medical kit and insect repellent, and don’t forget to consider purchasing travel insurance to ensure you are covered in case of any unexpected events.

Top 10 safari destinations in Africa:

1. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

3. Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

4. Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa

5. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

6. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

7. Kruger National Park, South Africa

8. Chobe National Park, Botswana

9. Etosha National Park, Namibia

10. Amboseli National Park, Kenya

How important is a good safari guide?

Having an experienced and knowledgeable safari guide is key to making the most of your African adventure. The expertise of safari guides is essential in exploring the African wilderness, allowing for a remarkable and intimate experience with the animals and scenery of the area.

Your guide will teach you about the culture, history and problems of the places you visit, including how they affect wildlife. They are trained in spotting and tracking animals, and have extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna. 

An experienced safari guide is key if you’d like to learn about the African environment, culture, history and conservation work. By choosing a reputable and experienced guide, you can ensure that your safari is both safe and memorable, and that you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How long should my safari holiday be?

A typical safari itinerary lasts anywhere from 7-14 days, but this can vary depending on the distance between destinations, your travel style, and the activities you have planned. Keep in mind that travel within the country can take several hours, and it’s important to allow time to adjust to the local time zone and overcome any jet lag. 

We recommend arriving a day or two before your official safari start date to give yourself time to acclimate and rest after your flight. Additionally, it’s a good idea to plan a few days after your safari to relax and reflect on your experiences. By allowing ample time for travel and rest, you can fully immerse yourself in the adventure and make the most of your safari experience.

Is going on a safari dangerous?

Going on a safari in Africa can seem daunting for some, but with proper research and by working with a reputable tour provider, it can be a safe and unforgettable experience. It’s important to be aware of the wildlife and follow guidelines to minimise any potential risks. 

Always listen to the guidance provided by your safari guide, who will be extremely knowledgeable about any safety concerns. That being said, it is always wise to have adequate insurance coverage to protect you in case of any unexpected situations. Follow safe practices such as avoiding wandering off alone or hiking at night to further reduce the likelihood of any potential danger. 

10 things you should take with you on safari:

1. Comfortable and versatile clothing for different weather conditions

2. Good quality sunscreen and insect repellent

3. Hat and sunglasses for sun protection

4. Comfortable walking shoes or boots

5. Portable and reliable water bottle

6. Portable charger and adaptor for electronic devices

7. Binoculars and camera to capture memories

8. First-aid kit and personal medications

9. Cash in local currency or USD, and credit/debit cards

10. Travel documents such as passport, visa, and travel insurance.

Make the most of your safari experience

As you plan your safari adventure in Africa, remember to keep an open mind and embrace the thrill of the unknown. With the right research and preparation, you can make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

And if you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in the African wilderness,

consider doing something completely different by joining a safari guide training course with Bushwise Field Guides. Based in the Greater Kruger National Park or Greater Makalali Game Reserve, Bushwise offers a unique opportunity to delve into the world of safari guiding and gain hands-on experience in the field. 

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-time adventurer, the African bush has something for everyone. So pack your bags, get your cameras ready, and get ready for an unforgettable safari experience!

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