It is easy to get lost in the fantasy of how amazing a safari will be, especially if it’s your first one, and forget about the important things. Things like what exactly am I going to see as part of this trip? What am I sleeping on? and most importantly is there hot water/wifi?
Nowadays there are more and more travel companies offering safari holidays. But how do you know which are bad/good and more importantly which is right for you?
Here are a few tips on what to consider for your ultimate safari trip:
Tip 1 : Do your research
Africa is massive and the safaris are spread out across many various countries. The infamous ones tend to be in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa. Even on our trip in Tanzania alone it was hard to choose where to go in only 1 week! For instance you’ll find lost of elephants in Tarangire National Park. 🐘
Research where you can see what. For instance whats the best park to spot the elusive rhinos? Or if you want to see leopards than Lake Manyara won’t be place for you. From there you can form a more informed decision about where it is best to see the leopards (aka the Serengeti) and an idea of price ranges. Or if you want to see the migration then it’s probably best not to go in December or January. Knowing things like this can really make or break your safari experience.
Tip 2 : Decide what your Must Do’s/ Haves are
You need to decide what you will not compromise on. For instance maybe hot showers are a must then you may not want to go camping. Or maybe you have a budgetary constraint which will dictate where/ when and what you can do on a safari.
Deciding things like this will help narrow down which companies can offer the right tours and help you choose the perfect trip for you.
Tip 3 : Read Reviews
Especially hone in and critique the negative reviews. That way you know exactly what you are getting. Its also important to give credit to positive reviews and reading them is a great way to get excited for your trip!
Tip 4 : Avoid Large Groups
In our opinion it’s best to avoid large tour groups. Sure the price may be appealing but you may miss out on some great sightings because someone had to go to the toilet or your truck couldn’t fit through the off beat paths where the best action is.
We saw a few massive safari trucks with at least 20 people on each one. The issue with large groups and large vehicles is you may not get to see and do as much as you have hoped and everything may take longer than anticipated. Ideally you would want to travel in a jeep which usually fit about 6 people.
Tip 5 : Allow for some “Me” Time
Going on a safari with long game drives and scouring can take it’s toll. Many days spent confined in a jeep and the heat can be a bit repetitive and your body will feel the impact of sitting down in a jeep for most of the day. In Tanzania for instance many end their safari with a few days on the beach in Zanzibar. Or if travelling via South Africa you may want to allow for an overnight vineyard tour to wine down. Even allowing for a free afternoon for some “you’ time can be enough.
Tip 6 : Get your cameras ready 📸
Capturing that jaw dropping moment of a leopard or a lion charging its prey will require some good camera equipment. Taking photos is a good way to pass the time on a safari and collect memories to look back on. But sorry guys, your smart phone won’t really cut it. Don’t worry if you don’t have any pro camera equipment. Nowadays it’s easy and fairly affordable to rent a camera for your trip. Lenses in particular should be considered. We chose to rent a 100-400 m lens which made a major difference to our pictures like the one below.
If you are bringing a pro camera then I really suggest bringing a monopod to capture stable sharp photos. Also cameras are heavy and it would really suck to loose your grip from the weight and miss that hippo’s yawn. (Trust me we had to wait ages to catch one int he perfect position.) Monopods are also fairly cheap to rent too.
Tip 7 : Know your travel time
It sounds great when you see that a travel itinerary can cover so many places in a short period of time. Then you realise that you actually spend a minimal amount of time in each location and lots of time on the road getting from point to point. It’s advisable to read between the lines and check exactly how much time is spent travelling to and from each place to avoid nasty surprises. Linked to tip 3, it would be wise to read reviews about how much others got to see and whether they thought anything was rushed or they wish they had seen more or less of.
It’s important to know how much time will be spent on the road travelling from one spot to another and how much will be spent actually doing interesting activities. Trust me. Anything over 3 hrs in a jeep is a but too much to travel during the day in the heat.
Tip 8 : Check for Hidden Costs
No one wants to be surprised by hidden costs during their travels. Especially if you have a strict budget. Carefully read the fine print of what is and isn’t included. Typically all meals and board, transport and licenses to get in and out of the parks should be included in the trip and usually ancillary activities like hot air ballooning or Masai village excursions cost extra.
Safari’s can be an unforgettable experience and hopefully these tips help you with your own safari adventure. 😊