An African safari is a very popular idea for a vacation. Although quite exotic and often dangerous, Africa remains a destination that offers an unforgettable experience for everyone who loves nature. According to statistics, Africa’s international tourism arrivals exceed 60 million, accounting for 5,1% of worldwide arrivals. Although Egypt and South Africa remain the most popular destinations, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Madagascar show steady growth in arrivals.
People who want to go on safari always have many questions. Not only will you see many unique creatures in their natural environment, but you will also have to deal with another climate and be exposed to different risks. If you’re looking for a pleasurable experience, you should plan your journey in advance, be prepared for everything, and have realistic expectations.
Things You Need to Know About Your First Safari
The first thing you need to do is choose a safari. Many tourists get surprised by how many types of vacations are present in the market, which may turn choosing into an overwhelming task. However, everyone can make such a choice easier by defining a budget and thinking of what types of accommodation and transportation they prefer. It’s also important to clearly define your objectives: For example, you may want to see the migration of animals or search for certain species.
Africa is a big continent so you should also understand where to go. There are many popular countries for tourism, and each one of them can offer something unique and unforgettable. Before you choose a destination country, we suggest that you determine what species you’re looking for. Most tourists want to see the “Big Five” — this term was coined by hunters and now is also used by many people who don’t plan to kill animals. The Big Five includes rhinos, lions, elephants, leopards, and cape buffalos. If you want to see these animals, we suggest that you visit Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Malawi, or Zimbabwe. On the other hand, if you want to see gorillas, Rwanda, the DRC, and Uganda are the best options.
Another important thing to consider before visiting Africa is the seasons of the year. During the rainy season, many roads may be flooded, making your trip considerably more difficult. In addition, the dry season means a higher probability of meeting animals. However, given that the dry season is extremely popular among tourists, it also implies higher prices.
Tips on Safari in Africa You Should Know
1. Obey the Rules
The rules are there for a reason, and the main reason is your own safety. Lions and other predators are well-camouflaged, and sometimes it’s hard to see them until it’s too late. Although they look peaceful, elephants are also dangerous so don’t try to approach them — they are much faster than you expect and as heavy as they look. Another bad idea is to stand between a hippo and a river. The truth is, the hippo is one of the most aggressive animals in Africa and the second most dangerous African creature after mosquitoes.
2. Don’t Make Noise
Some tourists call animals, trying to get their attention. There are two reasons why it’s a bad idea. First, loud noises can spook away wild animals, undermining the very purpose of a safari. Secondly, some animals may react to noises aggressively, so don’t put the lives of other travelers and your guide in danger. Some tourists like to travel with their kids, which can be a problem for others because kids make a lot of noise. If your kids get bored, let them play on a tablet, keep the windows closed, and do what you can to keep them quiet.
3. Be Aware of Malaria
According to the latest World Health Organization’s report, malaria caused 435,000 deaths in 2017. If you don’t know much about this disease, do your research so that you know how to reduce the risk. Some parts of the African continent are more associated with malaria, while others are safe. Ask your doctor about anti-malaria pills and address this issue with your insurance company. However, malaria is not the only deadly disease common in Africa, so make sure to buy vaccines and to get the necessary shots before you get on a plane.
4. Be Patient
If it’s your first safari, you should have realistic expectations. Wild animals won’t gather around the jeep so that you can look at them. Quite often, you may spend a few hours driving through a savanna before you can see a leopard or an elephant. Every safari is unique, and nobody can predict the location of a certain animal. Be patient, and you’ll certainly get an incredible experience that is worth waiting for.
5. Tipping is Crucial
Don’t forget to tip the local staff. Tips from tourists are the source of basic income for many people, so make sure you have enough cash (you won’t be able to count on ATMs, anyway). If you don’t know how much to tip, ask your camp manager or tour operator, as rates may vary depending on your location.
An African safari is a special kind of journey, which requires certain preparation. If you follow our simple tips, your safari will turn into an unforgettable experience. All you should do is follow the rules, mind the dangers of your destination, and manage your expectations. Finally, don’t forget to take a good camera and prepare to discover African wildlife!
Berta Melder is an experienced brand manager, content strategist and co-founder of the Masterra Writers, regular contributor to publications on a broad range of digital topics. Being passionate about her job, Berta constantly tries to bring Scandinavian wellbeing philosophy into the workplace. Enjoys aerial yoga and hiking/backpacking tours. Follow her on Twitter.