So you’ve decided. This year is safari year. No more lazing on beaches, you’re going to tick off that one item on your bucket list that’s been tantalising you for the past year but you don’t know how to start, or where to go.
Africa is one of the most popular destinations for safari holidays. From the hidden depths of central Africa to the more popular attractions of Kenya, the allure of seeing animals in their natural habitat is extremely hard to ignore.
If it’s your first time or if you’re an experienced safari traveller, make sure you follow the checklist below before you go.
Get Immunised/Get Insured
If you’re travelling from Europe or America some African countries may not require any vaccinations by law but be sensible and get inoculated against all recommended diseases. Your GP will provide an up-to-date list.
In some parts of Africa, such as Kenya, malaria is prevalent so malaria tablets are a must. An easy way to avoid mosquito bites is to keep your legs and arms covered. Always sleep under a mosquito net and use appropriate insect repellents. They may not always smell great but it beats a nip from a mosquito.
If you wear contact lenses, it’s also worth taking your glasses along as back-up. Eyes can get irritated by the dust flying around.
Perhaps the single most important tip for your safari holiday is to make sure you have comprehensive medical insurance to cover you in the event of an emergency. It’s more than likely that you won’t need it but if you do you won’t regret it.
What to Take
Even in Africa you still need warm clothing for early morning starts. The best time to see some of the big cats is often around 5.30 am (yes there is more than one 5.30 in the day!) and in the winter you’ll need to throw in a fleece, scarf and maybe even some gloves. In the summer, a waterproof is a must-have, plus a cap, safari hat and sunglasses.
And don’t forget the essential long sleeves and trousers as you’ll need them not only for warmth but to protect yourself from mosquitoes – they’re at their hungriest at dawn and dusk. If you’re undertaking a walking safari remember the same rules apply, no matter how hot it gets.
Other Useful Information
If bugs really bug you (sorry) then opt to travel in July or August. There’ll also be less in the way of scorpions, snakes and frogs – which may be an added bonus depending on your own personal phobias – but never fear, the big game will still be out there in large numbers.
Sunblock, sunhats and your binoculars. Believe me, you’ll need them. And if you’re bringing a digital camera, get some extra memory as you’ll be surprised at how many photographs you’ll want to take.
You’re not watching some David Attenborough documentary whilst slouching on your settee wine or beer in hand. This is real life, first hand. You may see real life kills and maybe you’ll see some cubs. One thing’s for sure, no two days are the same, no safari is the same.
With all preparations covered you can relax and enjoy your longed for holiday.
And Relax ….
Anyway, enough of the serious stuff – before we leave you to start planning your safari, here are some actual questions that safari rangers have been asked by well meaning tourists. It’s OK, it’s hot out in the wild, we understand:
- Do giraffes hunt in packs?
- Do rhinos nest in trees?
- Do rhinos eat meat?
- How many eggs do hippos lay?
- Is that mother a female?
- Do you find animals on the left hand side of the road?
- Why are elephants so big?
- Why does the buffalo have a light grey colour around its rectum?
- Will we see a tiger today?
- What is that? (It was an elephant’s you-know-what.)
If some of those questions seem quite sensible to you, then copy the list and be sure to ask your safari holidays ranger while you’re out there. Don’t worry, he’ll be very understanding.