First Time Safari: What to Expect
It is quite possibly something you have dreamed of doing from the day you realised animals roam in the wild. Whether an animal lover; a sucker for an action-packed holiday; or just curious of what a safari is all about, one thing for sure is this holiday will be like no other you have experienced before.
It is tempting as a first-time safari-goer to overdo it. The thought process maybe ‘so much to see and so little time’, and, whilst this may be true, it is important to try to immerse yourself in your surroundings and soak up the atmosphere and culture of your destination. Although you are here primarily to see animals, there is so much more to be aware of. An abundance of birds and wildlife will be all around you, not to mention amazing scenery. Regardless of the length of your trip, make the most of every minute. Never miss out by taking a lie-in, no two game drives will ever be the same.
Where to Go for Your First Safari
Two of the main areas for safari are East and South Africa, both with a tremendous choice of tours on offer. Kenya, headed by the Masai Mara, is known to most of us and has the perfect set-up for a brilliant experience. The roads and safety around the city of Nairobi leave something to be desired, so you may choose to fly between destinations. The Kruger National Park in South Africa is a great option with excellent infrastructure. The ‘big five’ can be spotted in both locations. Namibia is also a great choice for first-timers, and the Etosha National Park has a perfect set-up, again with excellent infrastructure.
What is the Best Time of Year to go on Safari?
This of course depends on which region of Africa you choose. It is a massive continent and the seasons will be different between the areas. In East Africa, July and August are perfect for spotting the wildebeest migrating but remember this is peak season. January to March is generally good and gets you away from our miserable weather.
Tips for First Time Safari Tips
- Wear the correct clothes: Blend into the background with comfortable Khaki clothing worn in layers, suitable headwear and a pair of sturdy waterproof boots
- Invest in a decent pair of binoculars; having spent the money to get here you don’t want to miss a sighting
- Make the most of every minute spent on safari. Keep your eyes peeled and look, look and look again. No distractions needed!
- No lie-in allowed. Be prepared for a very early start to catch the animals out to play – they will not be around in the heat of the day
- Enjoy your environment, even when not out searching for animals. At the end of the day, take in the sunset and anything else that may be around you
- You will be out in the elements most of the day and very exposed. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, wear sunglasses, and use that high factor sun cream
- Be curious, your guide is passionate and will be more than happy to answer your questions
- Keep safe: Check for necessary vaccinations and malaria medication, if the area you are visiting requires it. Carry a small selection of general medication for tummy upsets etc. Be careful what you eat and avoid the foods which could upset you
- Travel light and carry soft luggage for easy transportation between lodges
- Listen to safety briefings and always stay with your group. Take instruction from your ranger and be patient. He will know where to look and catch a sighting long before you!
- Choose a lodge or camp overlooking a watering hole and you will be amazed at the wildlife you encounter without even moving from the spot
- It may be worth investing in a mosquito ExOfficio BugsAway jacket, particularly useful in the evenings to protect you from bites
- If you want to return home with stunning evidence of your trip, a good camera with a telephoto lens is a must. But remember; enjoy the moment as it will be irreplaceable!
Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to safari. We are visiting massive national parks where wild animals are free to move around without restriction. They will not be found by sat nav! Happy hunting!