101 Safari Tips

101 Safari Tips

what to know before going on an African safari

Before You Leave

Travelling around Africa

101

Small planes don't take big luggage

Your international airline might allow for 30kg of luggage, but if you are taking a small plane it probably wont. Always check with all of your transport as to what size suitcase you can bring.

101

Visa Requirements

101

Less is More

Unless you are staying at a luxury safari where all you bags are carried for you, the less you have to carry the better. 

101

Plan your fuel reserves

Petrol is not always available in safari parks and quite often they run out and have to wait a week for a refill. If you are driving your own car, make sure you don’t run out.

101

Ladies, bring a sports bra

The roads are not smooth.

101

Rough roads are exhausting

Especially if you travel on them for hours and hours. If its rough, try breaking up your journey and giving yourself lots of breaks

101

Bring cards to pass the time

Africa is huge. There will be times when you will be in long journeys. Bring something to entertain yourselves when nothing else is happening.

Dressing for Success on Safari

101

Dress for comfort

Africa is a place of extremes. Especially with weather and landscape. Comfort always trumps fashion.

101

You don't need Khaki

There is no dress code. I own one khaki safari shirt, I bought it for a party 🙂 You can wear whatever you are comfortable with on Safari.

101

Evening Attire is dependent on where you stay

High end luxury safaris will be smarter than camping sites but as a rule, Safari’s are very casual. Its not uncommon to see people in a pair of jeans at even the smartest camps.

101

Nylon Clothes dry faster

If you have decided to bring less clothes and plan to wash, Nylon clothes dry faster in humid climates. 

101

Bring a travel washing line

This is a huge tip if you are planning to cut down on your luggage.

Game Drives: How to prep

101

Book drives at different times

You will see different animals depending on what time of the day you go. Most drives are morning and afternoon, but dusk and evening drives open up a whole new world.

101

Don't skip any drives

Yesterday you saw nothing and your bed is so comfy…but don’t skip your game drive. To see spectacular things you need to be there, and this is your once in a lifetime opportunity. You can sleep in when you get home!

101

Have a bag for your game drives

Take a little fold up bag that you can carry all your essentials with you on your drives, there will be stuff you want.

101

Take something to eat

If you are on a guided tour this may not be necessary but being hours away from anywhere and starving is unpleasant. I always take a bag of snacks like biltong, nuts or trail mix.

101

Check your guided game drives

When do they leave? How long will they be? What do you need to bring with?

101

Bring a cap/Hat and Sunglasses

The hat will provide a bit of shade and the sunglasses a little relief. Not only that but your spotting will be better if you can give your eyes a break!

101

Do a night drive

Its a lot harder to spot because you will be using spotlights but there is whole new world of animals at night. The lethargic animals of the day all of a sudden come to life.

101

Ask your guide to stop

If you think you saw something ask your guide to stop! Animals are camouflaged and sometimes you only get a glimpse. Dont worry if it turns out to just be a rock, every game drive has number of stops where there was nothing and its much better to stop on the chance it was something.

101

Bring sunscreen

Ok, this is probably a no brainer but the number of times i’ve left it at the camp because it was cold, and then the sun comes out and fries us, i’ve lost count.

101

Some roads are 4X4

This matters if you have rented a car that isn’t a 4X4. Some roads will break your car. A broken car will ruin your holiday, take it from me! Hours of waiting for repair services that only arrive days later.

101

Bring a waterproof with you

Especially if you are in an open top vehicle. Storms arrive quickly with little warning. Its better being safe than sorry.

101

Cold water on a safari is a lifesaver

I actually bought a cooler bottle that keeps its ice for the whole day. There is nothing better than having cold water with you when it is boiling hot.

101

Morning drives will start cold and get hot

101

evening drives will start hot and get cold

101

Rent a vehicle that has some height

Most Safari vehicles are raised so that you can see above the grass. I once went through a game reserve in a very low sports car and we saw…..nothing!

101

Bring something to cover your arm or leg from the sun

Sometimes on a drive you will get sunburnt and there isnt a way of getting that arm or leg out of the sun. Having something like a towel to cover yourself works like a charm.

101

Mornings are early

Most times you will be in the park spotting by 6am. This means you will be up well before that.

101

Pick smaller cars on guided tours

Getting stuck in a middle seat is pretty frustrating, you want to be able to spot for yourself, not just be told where animals are. You are on Safari, not in a zoo.

101

Choose your guides carefully

Getting the right guide can make your holiday. The right guide can make even a sparse drive fascinating.

101

Safari Parks have speed restrictions

Kruger Park has speed traps in the reserve. If you are going too fast you will end up with a hefty fine or worse, end up in jail.

101

Park fees can be extra

You’ve paid for accommodation inside the safari park, only to find out that you will need to also pay the park additional money to be inside it.

101

Buy a map of the reserve

If you are self driving you will need a map of the reserve. You can get these at the reception of the reserve. They aren’t expensive. Although they aren’t the best quality it will allow you to plan your drives and in some reserves save you when you get lost!

Photography: Getting your best photos

101

Bring extra batteries

Just imagine it, you come round that corner to a wildlife vista that you only imagined in your dreams….and your batteries are dead. Bring at least one extra battery for your camera.

101

200mm camera lens plus

I have several photos where the animal is a little smudge in the picture. If you want decent pictures of the wildlife you will need a zoom lens. The minimum length will be 200mm. Almost every animal you see will be several meters off the road.

101

keep your camera available and ready all the time

Things happen all the time. I have had a herd of kudu wander past me while i was sitting inside my camp, I’ve also had a hyena sneak up to use while we were braaing, you never know when the perfect picture is going to present itself.

101

Have extra memory cards

You will take way more photos than you expect. Because the animals are moving you are constantly presented with new angles and interesting opportunities. Have extra memory cards so you can take advantage of this.

101

Have something to cover your camera from dust

The conditions can be harsh and your camera might take a beating. Your game drives will be dusty, take something to cover your camera when you aren’t using it.

101

Most reserves will not let you fly drones

I have always wanted to take a drone to a game reserve and use it for sweeping, amazing photography. Unfortunately most reserves wont let me do this. A the reason is because of endangered wildlife. Poachers would find it so easy to find rhinos if they could use drones.

Getting the most out of your game drives

101

Not seeing animals on drive can happen

Not every game drive will be successful. The animals might not be close to the road. Do not get disheartened, things will change fast. I once drove for four hours and saw nothing, but by the end of the day I had seen the whole big five.

101

you will get better at spotting

Locals will see animals way faster than you when you arrive. Spotting takes practice and by the time you leave, you will be spotting like a pro.

101

dont skip the small stuf

I get it, you want to see the big five and all the cats! And you will! but don’t skip all the small stuff, there is so much to see.

101

Each park has its own soul

Every park has it own nuances, its own differences. Each park feels a little different. Kruger is enormous and diverse, Etosha’s landscapes of animals are unique, Pilansberg is an old volcano…every park has own uniqueness to enjoy

101

you need binoculars

Don’t make this mistake. The animals don’t always sit on the side of the road. Get yourself a pair of binoculars. Read more about this here.

101

When you go determines a lot of what you will see

Parks change during the seasons. During the rainy season, there is water everywhere and animals spread out all over the park. During the dry season you can find them all around water.

101

Take a guided walk

You are in Africa for an adventure. If you want to take that adventure to the next level a guided walk may be for you. Its quite an experience when coming up to lions or elephants when you don’t have the safety of a car.

101

Your eyes 'hunt' by looking for difference is color

This is a quick tip on spotting. What makes your eyes special in the animal kingdom is their ability to ratchet differences in color. So relax your eyes and just notice when a color just doesn’t fit. Quite often there is an animal there.

101

slow down to see more

Most people drive to fast in the game reserve. The speed means they will only see animals that are completely in the open. Try slowing down a little, you will see so much more.

101

Look for vultures circling

vultures circling in the sky can indicate where a kill has happened. You can find scavengers and possibly cats at the site.

101

The big 5 is just the start

You will definitely see most, if not all of the big 5…and they are spectacular! But there are many animals that are equally fascinating…and take more work to find! Wild dogs are an example.

101

Dont skip the birds

Im not much of a birder but in the parks you will find birds of prey that are fascinating!

101

get comfortable in a hide

This is one of my favorites. Find a hide with water, bring snack and your kit. Get comfortable and watch the animals wander through all day.

101

Add yourself to the Whatsapp group for the reserve

A lot of reserves have a whatapp group where they share what they have seen and where. This can help with planning your drives.

101

Look up for leopards

Leopards are often in trees. You can often find their prey being hung in the trees too.

101

Clues for predators

Stiff, tense, alert antelope who are all staring in the same direction may mean there is a predator close.

101

Be careful of elephants in Musth

Elephants in Musth are VERY aggressive and should be avoided. You can tell they are in musth usually by seeing thick wet secretions on either side of their head.

Accomodation: Staying comfortable

101

it will take three days to relax

Elephants in Musth are VERY aggressive and should be avoided. You can tell they are in musth usually by seeing thick wet secretions on either side of their head.

101

Where you stay matters

Elephants in Musth are VERY aggressive and should be avoided. You can tell they are in musth usually by seeing thick wet secretions on either side of their head.

101

mosquito nets to sleep can be wonderful

Elephants in Musth are VERY aggressive and should be avoided. You can tell they are in musth usually by seeing thick wet secretions on either side of their head.

101

you will often be out of wifi and cellphone signal

Elephants in Musth are VERY aggressive and should be avoided. You can tell they are in musth usually by seeing thick wet secretions on either side of their head.

101

shake your shoes out each morning

Elephants in Musth are VERY aggressive and should be avoided. You can tell they are in musth usually by seeing thick wet secretions on either side of their head.

101

Stay close to the animals

not a long drive each day to get into the reserve

101

Budget for tips and service

not a long drive each day to get into the reserve

101

you will want to stay longer

not a long drive each day to get into the reserve

101

Take your own pillow

not a long drive each day to get into the reserve

101

Buy a spare ice tray

not a long drive each day to get into the reserve

101

Don't move to often

Lodge hopping is exhausting and takes away from your experience. You didn’t come to Africa to spend all your time packing up and checking in.

101

Find out what's included

Find out exactly what is included and what isn’t. Game drives? Drinks with meals?

101

Need a warm shower while roughing it?

If you have decided to rough it with no hot water but you would love a hot shower, consider a buying a solar shower.

Experience

101

dont sweat the small stuff

Not everything will run according to plan. Things will go wrong. Don’t sweat it.

101

Include as much as you can

Apart from Safari’s there is so much to do. Fill your holiday with as many excursions as you can. You also will occasionally like a break from Safari’s!

101

decide on what kind of experience you want before you go

Apart from Safari’s there is so much to do. Fill your holiday with as many excursions as you can. You also will occasionally like a break from Safari’s!

101

African sunsets are essential

Apart from Safari’s there is so much to do. Fill your holiday with as many excursions as you can. You also will occasionally like a break from Safari’s!

101

Evening braais (barbeques) are tradition

Apart from Safari’s there is so much to do. Fill your holiday with as many excursions as you can. You also will occasionally like a break from Safari’s!

101

Talk to locals

Locals will help you, they will let you in on the secrets to places to see

101

See the stars

The reserves are far from any city lights, which means you can get spectacular views of stars each evening!

Health

101

Take electrolytes with

Dehydration isn’t just about water

101

BYO Medical pack

Sunburn lotion, shaped plasters (ie H plasters for blisters), upset stomach medicine, constipation medicine, eye drops, burn aid, tweezers, baby cream for chaffing, hemroid cream for insect bites (don’t ask…), allergex is you bump into a plant or bush you get a reaction from…

101

Are you going into a Malaria area?

Its not a problem, just make sure you take anti malaria medication before you go. Just note you need to start the medication before you arrive.

Other Stuff

101

Things Get Dusty

Its not a problem, just make sure you take anti malaria medication before you go. Just note you need to start the medication before you arrive.

101

Bring a torch or Headlamp

Its not a problem, just make sure you take anti malaria medication before you go. Just note you need to start the medication before you arrive.

101

Pick up an adapter

Its not a problem, just make sure you take anti malaria medication before you go. Just note you need to start the medication before you arrive.

101

Bring a multiplug

Its not a problem, just make sure you take anti malaria medication before you go. Just note you need to start the medication before you arrive.