[Photograph of the Masai Mara by Holy Dog]
It isn’t fair to describe going on a safari as being a once-in-a-lifetime experience – people who go on one usually love it so much that they do it again.
Here are eight tips for making sure your first safari is as exciting and enjoyable as subsequent ones.
1. Choose the right type of safari
There are many different types of safari available to intrepid travellers. Group tours offer the chance to meet like-minded travellers and share experiences with friends. ‘Safari and beach’ holidays can offer the perfect combination of exploration and relaxation for honeymoon couples. And then there are family safaris – ones which offer activities that are fun for people of all ages. There are many other different types of safari available – research all the options and choose one which is suited to your interests.
2. Don’t forget the ‘Big 5 Game’
The Big Five Game (elephant, black rhino, Cape buffalo, lion and leopard) are obviously the biggest attractions for wildlife lovers who go on safari. Canny travellers should pick an African national park which offers the chance to see all the big game. The Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is one such place and there is plenty of other great wildlife to see there.
3. Get expert guidance
A good quality wildlife guide should be able to share their local knowledge with you and enhance your safari experience. However, it’s best to bear in mind that the qualifications to be a guide vary from country to country. For instance, guides in Zimbabwe and South Africa are subject to rigorous tests – a practice which results in safari tourist receiving a very high standard of guidance. In contrast, the quality of guides in Kenya, Botswana and Tanzania is more variable.
4. When to go
It’s no use going to an exotic destination only to find that you have visited it in a season with inclement weather and poor wildlife-viewing opportunities.
In general, there are far more chances to see wildlife during the dry season. This is the time when animal and birds are forced to congregate around specific water sources.
African safari specialists Safari Consultants have a very useful wildlife calendar on their website to help you plan your journey.
5. Choose your comfort level
Are you the kind of person who likes to get close to nature by staying in a tent? Or perhaps you like your home comforts so much that only a luxury lodge will do? These are questions you will need to ponder before you set off on your safari adventure.
6. Don’t limit yourself to one country
There is nothing to say that your safari has to be limited to staying in one country. For instance if you go to the safari region near Victoria Falls then don’t pass up the chance to visit both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
7. Don’t forget to pack your camera
The fantastic landscapes and wildlife that you can view on safari will stay etched on your mind for ages but it’s nice to have some photographs to back up the precious memories you collect. If you love wildlife and photography then why not check out guided safaris which are conducted by professional photographers – Safari Consultants have lots of details of such tours on the ‘Group Tours’ page of their website.
8. Enjoy your trip
And finally… don’t forget to enjoy your safari. Just think that 50 years ago there were far less opportunities for tourists to go on safari – we’re lucky to live in such a golden age of exotic travel!