When you mention Africa and it’s adventures, the response always has to do with how one wants to come for a safari in Africa. This is a good response and is always good to hear of many people’s desire to visit Africa. The problem arises when trying to narrow down where in Africa one wants to visit, as a continent with 54 countries it is not easy to cover all the 54 countries with some being inaccessible due to various reasons.
It is a necessity for one who wants to go on safari in Africa to have a plan, it is not enough to just think about it then one day wake up and take a flight. Planning for an African Safari takes time and research especially if it is your first time in the continent. A lot of things need to be put into consideration before you even start looking for that flight or tour and reservations.
I will point out some important things to note to help you turn your idea of a safari into an actual plan and eventually see you take that flight for an adventure of a lifetime. For the adventurous people, this comes as easy as just picking up a bag with essentials, booking a flight and heading out to the unknown but for one who is sceptical, good research, referral and even budget planning is important. If you fall under the latter, then this article is for you.
What activities do you want to undertake on safari?
There are many things to do while on safari, it all depends on your preference. There are people who prefer hiking, mountain climbing or excursions. For them, a safari would make sense if done in places where there are hills, mountain or rocky areas to explore. Such people are also likely to book a safari like the Gorilla Trekking experience in Uganda and Rwanda or for mountain climbing at Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya in East Africa. The Table Mountains in South Africa is also a good bet.
There are those who plan safaris for a wildlife experience, hence planning game drives to see especially The Big Five and other larger mammals. One of the most popular safaris is during the wildebeest migration which is a spectacle to watch between July-August in The Serengeti or Mara Game Reserves. There are other popular wildlife sanctuaries to choose from especially in East Africa and the Southern part of Africa from Kenya down to South Africa.
Another popular activity is site seeing; historic sites especially those under the UNESCO heritage sites. From the Pyramids of Egypt, The Victoria Falls, Stone Town in Zanzibar among others. Each country has it’s own unique sites.
If your safari is not complete without a beach tour, then the beaches along the Indian Ocean from Lamu in Kenya, Zanzibar to Mozambique would be a good choice.
The other activities would be discovering the different tribes and cultures of the African people. Visiting places like the Omo Valley in Ethiopia to the Maasai in Kenya/Tanzania all the way down south to Swaziland, there is a lot to learn.
Which are your preferred destinations in Africa?
There are 54 countries to choose from each providing a unique experience. There are countries that are popular with most like in Northern Africa, we have countries like Morocco whose city, Marrakesh is known as the city of fashion in Africa. Egypt is popular for its ancient history and historic sites. In East Africa, we have so a good deal of wildlife sanctuaries that are common with safaris enthusiasts coupled with the good equatorial weather makes it a favourite for many.
While East Africa may have a good deal of wildlife sanctuaries, Southern Africa is known to have some of the largest wildlife sanctuaries like the Kruger National Park which support so a good deal of wildlife species.
Warm beaches along the coastal trips of East Africa all year long makes it fit to plan a random holiday any time of the year if time allows.
How much are you willing to spend on such a trip?
There are luxury safaris as well as budget safari packages all leading to the same destinations. It all depends on how much you have in your pocket or how much you are willing to spend on your trip.
Just the same way we have different flight prices to the same destinations, we have different hotels and safari lodges to different safari destinations. If you are all about luxury, then booking a 5-star lodge in any remote area in Africa is possible. The same case applies if you are interested in a budget-stay lodge or hotel. There are even hostels that you can share with other safari enthusiasts which are common with adventure backpackers who don’t let their pocket limit their adventure.
It is a good thing to first plan on how much you want to spend in your safari before you start making your bookings to ensure you remain within your budget but still have a good adventure. If on a budget, you may need to consider taking up group safaris to share the cost of e.g transport and accommodation or backpacking rather than booking luxury hotels.
How much time do you have at hand to explore?
Unlike other continents, exploring Africa is quite different as most areas that would take a few hours to cover might take half a day or even more due to the rough terrain, rough roads and even the means of transport used. Hence, I would not recommend using google maps calculated time to determine how long a certain trip would take, it is better to use an expert or guide who has experience in the area you want to explore.
We have people who plan safaris trip from North Africa and move all the way to the South, this is possible and the route has been used so many times before. However, this kind of safari can take you months to cover. You need to make sure you have enough time or else you will spend most of your time on the road with very few hours to explore between stops.
In cases where you are moving from one country to another, you need to give yourself a full day to travel with additional days for exploring.
Are you travelling as a group or solo?
African people are very social and friendly and always welcome guests ready to show them their continent and even teach their culture. Hence, it is possible to travel as an individual or as a group.
As an individual, you need to have an actual plan with well-articulated costs since some activities like game drives might be expensive doing it solo. There is the option of joining a group of other travellers to minimize costs.
Group safaris are always pocket-friendly since you will be sharing some costs like transport. Some hotels and lodges also have very friendly packages for those sharing a room since you will be sharing the accommodation cost.
If you intend to travel from one country to another, you can choose an overland travel package using overland trucks that come fully equipped with camping and cooking gear. This will save you flight money and also money spent on booking hotels and paying for meals.
An African safari is a great adventure when well planned and done with the right budget. Although as a first-time experience you may have some disappointments or some few needs not met, it is overall a great adventure that will leave you with great memories to keep.
Kindly share your African safari experience on the comment section below or if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.