An African safari is an undeniable adventure. A chance to encounter scenes that have fascinated explorers, travelers and thrill seekers alike. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to get close to wildlife in their natural habitats – hordes of herbivores grazing across emerald grasslands, carnivores feasting on a hard-earned kill, undulating vistas stretching as far as the eye can see and so much more.
Are you planning an African Safari? Here we have outlined a few handy tips and essential planning, for that successful safari adventure.
On an African safari, you will most likely only require casual clothing, so we recommend you limit your luggage to the basics. A couple of pairs of t-shirts, long sleeved cotton shirts and pants plus a light sweater and wind-proof jacket for chilly mornings will do.
Do not over pack. There is a tendency to over pack thinking you’re going to be changing your clothes more than you are. Often on safari you will be in the bush most times, getting back late from the afternoon drive, you are not necessarily required to change for dinner. Laundry is also done on a daily basis, most of the camps wash, dry, and press your clothes daily for free. You will get your laundry done even if you are staying for only 2 nights.
Safari guides normally encourage you not to wear bright colors. Studies have shown the animals notice bright colors and can frighten animals. (It is said that lions fear red because it is the color worn by the Maasai, who hunt lions as a part of their coming of age rituals). So looking the part can make the experience of a Safari much more exciting. Think neutral colored clothes – colored beige, khaki, green, or brown ‘safari’ gear. Not only do they increase your chances of good game viewing (particularly on a walking safari), but offer the added advantage of concealing dirt and dust.
Boots/ field shoes
Your safari will probably include bush walks where you will walk with your ranger on foot looking for animals and learning about the smaller things on Safari like the plants and insects. Essential footwear specifically boots are a must for this, as the terrain is rugged and uneven. You certainly do not want to stumble upon a snake or step on some crawling insect on your bush walk wearing inappropriate foot ware. A pair of sandals will however be perfect for walking around the camp.
Sunscreen and bug repellent
Bugs are part of the African bush, and appear in the evenings when the sun goes down. Also depending on the season you go on safari they could be worse or not so bad so always be prepared. To keep them at bay, take an insect repellant particularly in the morning and nights.
Depending on the season, the African sun can get unbearable, causing you a bad burn and ruin your trip. Choose sunscreen with a high SPF (15 or higher) and a cap/sunhat that will hopefully not blow off whilst on a safari vehicle.
Africa is a photographer’s dream, full of beauty and grandeur – boundless wildlife that comes in all shapes and sizes, stunning landscapes of huge open spaces and endless horizons, captivating people and cultures and so much more. Even if you are not a professional photographer, a camera is indispensable for those breathtaking wildlife photos to remember your trip.
Also if you can’t afford buying a zoom lens for your DSLR just for the trip, there are camera rental companies that you could rent a lens from for the entire length of your trip. Always take twice as many memory cards as you think you will need, and as a rule of thumb, you will probably end up using them!
Don’t forget a pair of binoculars. Binoculars are essential for optimum wildlife viewing especially for a birding safari.
Sunglasses are a must — make sure the lenses have enough protection to stop UV rays from damaging your eyes. Boots have a guide to choosing the best pair of sunglasses for you.
Whether or not you’ll need malaria tablets depends on which country and region of Africa you’re visiting. The NHS Fit For Travel website has all the information you need about vaccinations, medication, and other health precautions.
And don’t skip out on travel insurance! Research by 1Cover found 1 in 6 travellers had to make a claim in 2016, so it’s not worth taking the risk.
Always pack a copy of your flight confirmation(s), etickets, itinerary, important phone numbers, and of course your passport should always be close at hand!