In the jungle, the mighty jungle...
While planning your first safari trip is, for the most part, exhilarating, it’s completely normal to be a bit overwhelmed by what lies ahead. Naturally, you’d have a fair few questions – it is, after all, the wilderness, and for the first time, you’re playing in animal territory, not that of humans. So book a flight with our partner, South African Airways, and make sure you’re prepared with these tips.
First, let’s clarify some terminology…
When it comes to safari-speak, you’ll no doubt hear the term “Big 5” more than once. What is the Big 5? It’s a term used to collectively describe five of the most iconic African animals: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant. Back in colonial times, they were considered the most challenging animals to hunt. Today, they’re safari viewing #goals.
The best time of the year to go
While ideal times will ultimately depend on which African country you plan to visit, it’s best to plan for a safari during the dry season, which mainly falls between June to October. As water is more scarce and foliage less dense, animals will tend to congregate around the main water holes, allowing for better visibility.
Make sure you dress the part
Tempting as it may be to live out those fancy safari dreams, practicality and comfort take priority here. (Those khakis you see everyone donning on a safari? They’re for good reason.) Colour-wise, it’s best stick to neutral tones that will help you blend into the environment, in order to reduce chances of disturbing the wildlife. And although your first instinct may be to reach for shorts and a t-shirt, we recommend covering up a bit – opt for long sleeves and pieces that are lightweight and breathable.
We’re not just talking about your camera. Equally as important – and often not considered enough - are binoculars. Picture this: you’re scanning the savannah, and spot an elusive lion you may not be able to get any closer to. Don’t miss out on the action, or worse, have to resort to a single pair of binoculars that’s passed around. You never know when the moment could pass.
Take your time
Many first-time safari-goers tend to try and fit in as much as possible during their trip. But when it comes to Africa, slow down, and take the time to soak up each site you visit - immerse yourself in the local culture, explore the area and learn from your guides. In the same vein, be flexible and patient. Nature is unpredictable, and you may or may not see everything you’d hope to see, especially not at once. So, rather than seeing your safari as a list of sights to check off, you’ll find there’s a lot more to gain when you let go of expectations and live in the moment.