Going on that first safari is pretty exciting, though a bit of fear may lurk in the back of your mind as well. I think that is completely normal.
My first safari on the African continent was at Kruger National Park in South Africa. I planned it for over a year, researched costs, read forums about reputable companies and combed through a copious amount of blogs about different people’s experiences. I just love cross referencing information and seeing things from different angles.
We often anticipate seeing the big, ferocious and awe-inspiring animals but the other smaller ones are worth experiencing too. Prepare for that. If you are a bird lover, there are so many and so much to learn about them. Find yourself a knowledgeable guide. (That’s one of my key tips)
How do you find a knowledgeable guide for your first safari?
“Seek and he shall find…”, comb through forums on Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and read blog posts by different people – those who are single, partnered up, with kids, in different age groups and so on. If you have money to burn just go with any of the big name safari companies but still read reviews on them. We know a ‘big’ name doesn’t always mean awesome service.
On your first safari you want to make sure you have a guide who is a fount of knowledge. This person should also know when to turn it off and allow you to soak it all up without prattling on. Speaking of prattling on, decide if you want to join a group tour or a private tour. (This is the second key tip)
To Join a Group or to Go Private for your First Safari, that’s the Question
Corny eh? That’s the literature teacher in me…
If you are going to do your first safari as a solo traveller on a budget the former is the best option. If you are a family or a group of friends do the latter. I joined a group and it worked out well because the people were not fussy. Go with an open mind and prepare for anything if joining a group with people you don’t know. It is a great learning experience.
Check with the Safari Company what you need to carry/prepare
You may need to bring your own sleeping bag but usually you don’t have to (I say bring your own especially if you are squeamish, you can always donate it to the company after). The companies usually provide meals, tents, transport (around the parks of course). Take warm clothes especially in winter because the temps are frigid.
Read over the legal documents carefully before signing. These differ from company to company probably. There is an element of danger whenever we go impinging on the natural habitat of some of these fierce animals. Listen to your guide and remember he/she is the expert and there to ensure you enjoy your first safari but also live to do others.
At first glance, a safari might seem prohibitively expensive but remember the money you pay covers food and shelter for the duration of the safari. Budget some money to tip the cook/s, the driver and the guide. (say 10-20% or more if your heart and wallet are bursting with generosity).
Share how your first safari went if you have gone on one or more before. If you dream of doing a safari, where do you want to go?
It’s always a great time for a safari especially on the African continent.