Are you looking at going on an African Safari?
Have you booked your Safari?
The next step is to get prepared for what is (guaranteed) to be one of the most amazing adventures of your lifetime.
Read on to find out what is worth investing in and what is not so important.
Wildlife is just that, wild and while you might be as close as the elephant farts with many of your encounters, I will guarantee you that plenty of other great sightings will be further away.
A good pair of binoculars are an essential piece of kit (I forgot to pack a pair once and I kicked myself for the whole safari).
Tip: If you are travelling with someone, make sure you have a pair each. Otherwise by the time your travel buddy passes over theirs the moment might be gone.
Remember, I said that not every sighting is up close and personal?
Investing in a decent camera with a good zoom (min 300mm) will ensure you can capture that leopard lounging in a tree or the hippo yawning on the far side of that pool in the Okavango Delta.
Some ‘bridge cameras’ – they are the ones that look like a DSLR but don’t have the removable lenses – have really decent zoom capabilities so they are worth looking at.
Tip: Spend some time actually handling some camera options before you buy. You will be holding a camera a lot on safari and it needs to feel comfortable in your hands.
Tip: If travelling as a couple you probably don’t have his and her’s (or his & his and her’s & her’s) DSLR cameras. From experience the best way to handle this is that one takes charge of the camera with the big zoom lens and the other, the camera with the smaller zoom to capture the up-close shots.
- The animals are mostly colour blind but they do notice sharp contrasts. Avoid white for just this reason. You’ll stand out.
- Dark colours attract flies and should be avoided.
- Camo gear attracts the ire of local military/police. Definitely do not wear.
- Earthy colours (khaki’s etc) are the best, mostly because they don’t show up the dust and dirt.
But nobody is going to think any less of you (including the animals) if you turn up wearing coloured T-Shirts like myself and hubby are in the pic outside Moremi’s South Gate. I also missed the memo on dark colours and I’m wearing my (very well travelled) old painted splattered cap.
People just about always over pack.
Not only do you not need all that stuff but if you are on an overland safari, remember they need to fit everyone’s gear in plus all the supplies. So be considerate of this.
The type of bag you use for your luggage is also important. It must be a soft bag – no suitcases as these cannot be packed into safari vehicles and planes. Carefully check the luggage instructions for your safari. If bag dimensions are given (as often is the case on fly-in safaris), it is important that your luggage meets these requirements. See below.
But I’m planning on flying between camps…
If you are flying in to camps, then the planes are small (Cessna 206 or 210, and Cessna 208 Caravans) and they have strict weight limits.
Depending on the destination these are 12 – 20kg. People who travel with stacks of camera gear or weigh over 100kg pay a surcharge and less seats will be available on the plane.
The pilot has the final say in terms of taking the luggage and you will be responsible for costs should your luggage need to be forwarded for you, or an extra aircraft should it be required.
My safari essentials…
Essentials in my safari wardrobe are my two pairs of zip off pants.
They may make my bum look like…um on second thoughts I’m not going to be mean about my derrière…but they are super functional. Cold early morning game drive – pants on, suns up now and it’s getting warm – shorts on. Simple.
I recommend giving the ‘10 things to look Stylish on Safari lists’ a wide berth and opt for quick drying, practical comfort.
Trust me the wildlife won’t care and at 5.30am when you pull on your clothes for that early morning game drive – neither will you. And that applies even if you have splurged on top end fly in safari experience.
A little knowledge can go a long way. Do a bit of reading before you hit African soil. It is worth it.
The African continent has a rich and complex history that is worth knowing a little bit about before you travel. You will have a greater understanding of the events and cultures that have shaped the countries that you are visiting and why they face the challenges that do today. Not only in terms of its people and infrastructure but also its conservation efforts.
It does depend on the type of safari that you are booking on but on all Sunway Safaris there will be some walking involved.
This ranges from walks with our local guides in the Okavango Delta to learn more about their big backyard and see some of the Delta’s game on foot, walks up sand dunes and through canyons in Namibia to climbing the stairs of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe.
You need to get walking fit so you can amble along for a couple of hours at a moderate pace. Even better walk on some uneven ground/tracks not just the pavements. If you are concerned about walking on uneven ground, pack a tramping pole just in case.
Visit Your Doctor
Make a visit to your doctor at least a couple of months before your trip. He/she can prescribe the best malaria prevention option and discuss vaccinations.
At a minimum, we do recommend that you protect yourself against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and your Tetanus jab is up to date.
Don’t Get Too Caught Up In Your ‘Wish List’
It is great that you have a wishlist of what you want to see but don’t focus on it too much.
Instead look at the whole picture and just enjoy the wildness of Africa.
The amount of times that I hear people say things like “we want to see lions,” well even if you are in an area known for its lions, sightings are not guaranteed. Your guides will do their best to make that happen but the big kitty’s don’t plan their days around the tourists.
I’ve also sat around the campfire that first night and heard wish lists of cats, elephants, giraffes and even a honeybadger come up as a must see, but few people mention the birds. They probably don’t notice the birds at home or they perhaps they think other people might think they are one of those “bird-watching people” – I’m really not sure.
It is then with delight that I see guests over the coming days start to marvel at the beauty and variety of Africa’s birdlife from the showy lilac-breasted roller and stately fish eagles to the very unfortunate looking marabou storks.
A wildlife safari in Africa is not just about the big things…
The smaller things bring just as much delight. A dung beetle merrily rolling his balls of poo, a malachite kingfisher zipping over the head of a monitor lizard sunning itself on the banks of the Chobe River…. you get my drift.
As I sit here at my computer writing this, I am feeling a bit jealous of someone, somewhere in the African bush.
And you will soon find out why.
Enjoy your safari!