When planning a safari to Africa, a lot of emotions comes into play. One has to think of where to go, remember Africa has 54 internationally recognized countries and territories. Most safaris include sighting the African Wildlife, trekking/hiking, mountain climbing and enjoying the warm climate that is different from other continents. It can also include learning the different African cultures with some communities still practising their old traditions.
One of the main questions that come to mind at such times is how long should I be on safari, how many days should I take on my adventure. There are various aspects of responding to this particular question. Different people have different quests and things they intend to accomplish on a safari. We will look at various aspects that determine your period of stay in a safari.
What do you want to achieve on your safari?
Some people come to Africa to see the majestic wildlife especially the big 5 in their natural habitats, others just want to increase the list of animals they have seen in their lifetime. We do have the bird watchers who are always trying to discover new bird species to add to their collection.
There is a category of people who are more prone to historic sites especially the World Heritage Sites like the Pyramids in Egypt. Others just want to discover different African cultures and way of life. We do have those who just want a different kind of holiday and relaxation away from their normal lives.
As you plan your safari, try to narrow down to the specific things you want to accomplish. This will help you locate the best places to visit and also help in working out your budget as well as the number of days your safari will take.
How is your state of health?
Your health is a very important aspect of your travel. It is advisable to always have a health check with your doctor before travelling especially if you have some terminal illness or allergies. Body health will determine how intense you want your itinerary to be, e.g if you are going for a game drive say in the Serengeti or Mara Triangle which has rough terrain. You can either choose to go for a full game drive which takes 5-6 hours or morning and evening game drives which take 2-3 hours. This, in turn, affects the number of days you will stay.
If you intend to visit different countries, you need to consider the vaccines eligible for entering such countries while applying for your visa. You can learn more here.
How much are you willing to spend.
Your financial well-being plays a major role in determining how long your safari will take. In general, for a good safari, you should slot in 5-10 days while considering the airport transfer period. If travelling on a budget, you should try to narrow in on a country that can give you maximum exposure e.g countries like Kenya and Tanzania which have big game reserves likes The Mara Game Reserve and Serengeti Game Reserve respectively as well as beach resorts along the Indian Ocean with great Marine Safari opportunities.
When travelling with family, always account for every member of the family’s daily cost separately and consider taking safari offers with discounts especially for young children. The important expenses like transport, accommodation, food, park fees and travel insurance should be considered first and always have some extra cash for any other need that might arise on your trip.
How much time can you stay away from home?
If you are taking a safari as a vacation in between work, it is always advisable to consider adding some extra days in case of flight delays, overlays or other unforeseen circumstances so as you don’t lose your employment.
The amount of time you have can also be used to determine whether you will have an intense safari, utilizing most of your time out and about or you will take some time-off between excursions to relax and unwind in your place of residence.
The time of year you prefer to take your safari.
Most parts of Africa, especially around the equator, don’t have seasons like the rest of the world, however, they do experience different weather patterns at different times of the year. At times, it can be hot and sunny, cold and misty or heavy/short rains. These different weather patterns also affect most migratory wild animals especially the herbivores.
When planning a safari, there is a need to understand the weather pattern of the country you intend to visit. Example, in East Africa which is along the equator, we have long rains in March-May hence, most game reserves are inaccessible and at times closed. If you are interested in the wildebeest, then you can either catch the birthing season in January-February in the Serengeti or the great migration to the Mara in June-August.
On the other hand, there are normally safari peak seasons and off-peak season. In the peak season, most game reserves are always crowded and the cost of the safari is always high. During the off-peak season, the cost is low and there are chances of being in a hotel alone or with few people and game drives have less traffic and more time with the wildlife.
How many countries do you want to cover?
It is possible to visit different countries in Africa while on safari. What you need to put into consideration is what you intend to achieve in each country as there is always something that stands out. For example, you may want to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, the great migration in Kenya/Tanzania, climb the highest mountain in Africa i.e Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, visit the Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe, visit the Kalahari desert in the South among others.
Point to note is that you require working out all your visa for the various countries you intend to visit before you start your safari. Also, be keen on some vaccination certificates that you require producing in some countries.
If you are working with a travel agent for your safari, make sure you go through your itinerary very well in advance and have all costs well-articulated, all the necessary booking made and transport taken care in good time.
Check out more information on planning a safari on the articles below.