The Safari in Africa is a complete adventure and a journey that is built on the foundation laid by the 13th Century wealthy traders who initially hunted in the African plains for trophies of wild game to hang on their walls. In the contemporary world, the travellers are hunting for remarkable photo opportunities other than the killing itself though they can’t avoid the very sceneries that were experienced by the ancient explorers such as myriad of migrating Zebras traversing extensive grasslands, the group of lions feasting on their precious kill, Million Flamingo flock fronting the lake creating a pink rim or hundreds of thousands of Wildebeest crossing the famous Mara River.
The African Big five still form a considerable percentage of safari to Africa with the intention of exploring these creatures namely; Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffaloes in their natural habitat – the wondrous zoo of Africa. However, other prime activities have emerged like the Mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda along with other primates like Chimpanzees, Golden Monkeys and Colobus monkeys.
Considering the fact that safaris are mostly to the Sub Saharan Africa which is still developing, adequate preparation is necessary to avoid surprises.
Where to Go for African Safari
It can be noted that every African country is varying and would feature a unique aspect that would make it a different destination of its own. A simple overview of the popular Africa Safari countries is provided below with most of them in South and East of the continent.
The abundant wildlife of Kenya is greatly explored in the Maasai Mara National Reserve which is a section of the greater Serengeti ecosystem famous for the Great Migration which involves enormous counts of Wildebeest, Zebras and Thompson Gazelle across the savannah plains forming one of the natural wonders of the world. The area is also an ancient home of the Maasai people one of the remarkable warrior nomadic tribes of Africa. However, Kenya has another great life beyond Maasai Mara. The Great Rift Valley floor with its numerous lakes including Nakuru where hundreds of thousands of Flamingos thrive also present a remarkable encounter.
Serengeti National Park presents the best moment to explore enormous wildlife herds on the continent of Africa. This is supplemented by the famous Ngorongoro crater – the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera with over 30,000 animals and the highest concentration of lions on the continent, Olduvai Gorge – the cradle of mankind. Over 30,000 animals live in the crater; it has the densest lion population in the world.
The country’s primate reserves make Uganda among the famous Africa safari destinations. The Mountain gorilla habitats of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks along with Chimpanzee habitats of Kibale, Budongo, Kalinzu and Ngamba Islands present a remarkable primate experience on the African continent. The world’s longest River Nile and the world’s most powerful Murchison Falls also make the destination popular.
The land of a thousand hills is also famous for gorilla trekking along with horrific genocide sites, remarkable culture and beautiful people not forgetting the adventurous canopy walk and Africa’s largest grouping of black and white colobus monkeys.
As a result of her positioning as a high end destination, Botswana stands as Africa’s most expensive destination. Because of the price issue, the destination Botswana features smaller crowds who are mostly high end travellers. The common sites include; Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta and Moremi Wildlife Reserve.
South Africa features the most developed tourist infrastructure compared to the above listed countries and as well – the largest count of travellers in the peak season. The South Africa’s best site is Kruger National Park and Cape of Good Hope in the Table Mountains National Park.
When to Undertake a Safari to Africa
Being the 2nd largest continent in the world, Africa is a gigantic landmass with nations several miles from one another thus making the decision of when to visit dependent in where the traveller will be interested in visiting.
However, on a general note, the dry season is the ideal period for Africa travel. The fact that the destinations lie in the southern hemisphere makes their seasons parallel to the north hemisphere seasons. For example, the winter can stretch from June to September and then summer occurs from December to March.
The specific activity of interest might also determine when to take on an African Safari such as the Great Migration in Serengeti – Maasai Mara Ecosystem.
Visas and Vaccinations
One would definitely require a passport to travel to any of the mentioned countries apart from the citizens of the partner states in the Integration communities like East African Community. The respective countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa have varying Visa requirements which can be reviewed during the trip preparation stages.
Regarding the Vaccination, it can be noted that individual states have varying vaccination requirements and recommendations which have to be explored in their respective travel information manuals. A visit to the travel clinic in one’s home country is recommended for an expert advice and respective vaccination.
The common diseases include Malaria which can be prevented by taking anti malarial tabs or sleeping in mosquito nets, Yellow Fever which can be vaccinated against along with Hepatitis A, typhoid and Hepatitis B.
One might think that the Africa safari major dangers are limited to hungry crocodiles, hunting lions or charged Buffaloes, but the reality is that wild animals hardly attack humans. The common threats include; illness, safari scams, dehydration and crime.
The Scams can be prevented by making a comprehensive research on the tour company that you intend to travel with and its record can be found on Trip Advisor, whether it’s a member of professional travel organisations like Association of Uganda Tour Operators. Take note of the cancellation policy as well.
As for the dehydration, sufficient drinking water and respective clothing recommended by safari experts on the destination of interest would help to settle the problem.
Regarding crime, it is very important to avoid walking at night or even in a broad day light in places that you are not familiar with alone. Get a local guide if interested in a walk. Also avoid moving with valuables like expensive gadgets, jewellery and money that may attract the thieves.
This can be travel and medial Insurance. It is advisable to take an Insurance cover to protect your travel finances not to lose out forexample if you fail to travel for the trip at the lastminute.
The medical insurance would include things like emergency evacuation which would faciltate Air ambulance incase one falls terribly sick or gets an accident during the trip.
Packing for an African Safari
- Clothing that can bear tropical heat and yet protecting the body from small insects like mosquitoes and tsetse flies
- Olive, Khaki and Green clothing colors are the best. Avoid very bright out fits
- Pack lightly as International planes and domestic flights have luggage restrictions
- The wheeled suitcase may not be of help due to terrain. Thus a soft sided bag which can be fixed on small compartments would be of great help along with a back pack.
- Carry sun glasses & hat to protect the upper body parts like eyes, neck and ears against African sun. The hat should have a cord to avoid flying off the head
- Sports bra can be of help to women since roads are at times bumpy
- Long pants & Wind breaker can be of help since the African mornings and evenings tend to be chilly
- The type shoes depend on the nature of the safari. For walking safaris, heavy hiking shoes are suitable while for a driving safari, sports sandals or light hikers are ideal
- Headlamp or a small flashlight is necessary at night as many lodges run on generators which are turned at a certain time of the night.
- A pair of midsized binoculars are nice on safari
- Pack extra batteries & digital camera card
- First Aid Kit though many tour vehicles have them
- Extra tooth brush as a contingency should you forget and use tap water
- Important medication and the safari medication like anti malarial tabs