When we hear the words “African Safari”, all kinds of visions of wonderful African animals and the thrill of an adventure usually come to mind. Safari is Swahili word meaning journey or travel and any journey. In Africa every journey has an element of adventure but seeing African animals in the wild is a privilege and a thrill.
You can do all sorts of safaris in many parts of Africa. In the north in Morocco and Egypt you can take camel safaris but if you want the best chances see many wild animals then you need to head east and south. Some of the most renowned African countries to enjoy safaris are in southern Africa – South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. International flights directly to these countries is usually the easiest way by flying into Johannesburg or Capetown in South Africa, Windhoek in Namibia and Sir Seretse Khama in Botswana. For further links you might find a cheap flight to Capetown and other places here.
Safaris can be anything from one day to many weeks. How long you choose to safari depends on your time constraints and how much money you wish to spend. You can choose whether you make your safari the whole focus or just a small part of your visit.
What is your Favourite African Animal?
You should consider which animals you want to see but because as the animals are wild and free, there is usually no guarantee that you see any particular species. However, many safaris take place in very large fenced areas as private game farms or national parks where the chances are higher. Game animals are becoming increasingly rare so the fences are to keep the animals in and hopefully poachers and trespassers out. Some farms do allow restricted and controlled hunting.
Most people know the “Big Five” animal species that are the focus of some safaris – lion, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo and rhinoceros. Their dangerous reputations ensure these animals are held in awe at any time but especially so when seen in the wild. There are also many more fascinating animals to see, sometimes in herds of hundreds. It is magical to see so many animals surrounding you on safari through wilderness areas. African nature has its own enigmatic power.
If the animals you want to see are extremely rare you will have to pre book your tours well in advance. This is the case for species like wild Mountain Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. There may be certain times of the year when you can take a safari for special events, like the migration of animal herds across the Masai Mara or other parts of Kenya. Those migrations are famous for life and death struggles as herbivores cross crocodile infested rivers.
“Leg it”, “Hoof it”, or 4WD
You can take a safari on foot, by vehicle or perhaps on horseback. The animals become accustomed to vehicles moving around and don’t react by running away. However humans on foot often provoke more fear. It is imperative to travel quietly as, if they detect you, they may bolt for the bush. The hours pass quickly even just sitting quietly by a waterhole or a salt lick area watching so many different animals pass by.
You can consider a self drive safari or a guided tour. Places like Etosha National Park in Namibia are well set up for self drive adventure safari while Botswana has some fantastic horse riding safaris. South Africa has the large expanse of Kruger National Park. Choosing an organised guided safari ensures you will be able to make the most of limited time. The guides know where the wild animals are likely to be at certain times of the day, how to approach them, and how to keep you safe.
Be prepared for early starts. Often the best time to see animals is earlier in the morning or evening when the air is cooler. Wild animals often take a sensible siesta under shady trees during the day.
Accommodation can be anything from basic tents to “glamping” (glamourous camping) to well set up luxury lodges. Prices change accordingly so give some thought as to what suits you best. Organised safari tours will take care the food and offer great vistas for “sundowner” drinks. In the southern parts of Africa, eating outdoors around a Braai is de rigueur.
You will be back…
Wherever you decide to do an African safari you are sure to have an amazing adventure. It is type of thing you think will be a once in a lifetime experience but as soon as it is over, you will start planning the next one. Plan your first safari now and let wonderful Africa get into your blood.