Every year, my husband and I try to take a nice vacation. We’re both big proponents of going somewhere we’ve never been before. We’re traveled to the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and all over Italy and the Grecian islands. Last year, the original plan was to visit Australia – until he threw in the wild card: Africa. As a lover of animals, going on a safari had long been on his bucket list. This spring, we made it happen. I like a good adventure, but nothing could have prepared me for the amazing experience we would have.
If you’ve ever thought about going on a safari, I highly recommend it. It’s the only way you’ll ever be able to experience these wild animals, some of whom may become extinct in our lifetime, in their natural environment. Here are a few Do’s and Don’t’s to keep in mind when planning your trip:
1. Call The Shots
DO: Research the countries you’d like to visit and get the appropriate vaccinations. We were vaccinated for Yellow Fever, as well as took pills for Typhoid Fever in advance and Malaria while we were there.
DON’T: Freak out about ebola.They’ve contained the disease and countries are taking precautions to make sure it stays that way. The continent has already experienced a dip in tourism due to the epidemic. We visited Botswana, Zambia and South Africa, which were not affected.
2. You’re Not At The Zoo Anymore, Dorothy.
DO: Remember whose house you’re in – the animals’! You’re just their guest. Relax, take tons of pics and ask lots of questions. Your driver and tracker will be incredibly knowledgeable about the area and its wildlife. Take advantage of that!
DON’T: Stand up in the Jeep, get out of the Jeep or try to pet the animals, no matter how close you get (and you will get closer than you ever dreamed possible)!
DO: Expect to see Africa’s Big 5 (the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt): Cape buffalo, lions, leopard, white rhinos and elephants. You’re also likely to spot zebras, giraffes, warthogs, monkeys, baboons, vultures, nyalas, impalas, wildebeests and hippos – to name a few.
DON’T: Assume that you’ll see them all in one day. Plan to spend at least 3-4 nights at each camp. You’ll go on two game drives a day, which is plenty of time to see everything you want.
3. Khaki Is Cool.
DO: Pack lots of clothes in earth tones: khaki, brown, grey. You can sneak in some light shades of blue and green. Insect repellant and sunscreen are also musts. And I recommend bringing a pair of sneakers and hiking shoes.
DON’T: Wear bright colors. Camo prints and white are also discouraged. You want to blend in to your surroundings – not stand out!
4. Less Is More.
DO: Pack lightly. Invest in a durable duffel bag without wheels. It needs to be soft and malleable. Most camps include laundry in your amenities, so don’t worry about running out of clean clothes.
DON’T: Bring a giant square suitcase stuffed to the brim. The planes that travel from the airport to the camps are small (like puddle-jumpers). They can’t accommodate stiff, boxy luggage.
5. Rise And Shine!
DO: Be prepared to start your day with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call. We went to Africa at the end of March, which is considered fall. But by 11 a.m. it was hot, hot, hot! Breakfast is at 6 a.m.; the first game drive leaves at 6:30 a.m. Upon your return to camp around 11 a.m., you’ll be served brunch. Then you have the entire afternoon free to relax, nap, etc. High tea is served at 4 p.m., and the second game drive leaves at 4:30 p.m. You’ll return around 7:30 p.m. – just in time for dinner.
DON’T: Be afraid of the word ‘camp.’ In some ways, this was the most luxurious vacation we’ve ever taken. There are varying degrees of ‘roughing it’ depending on where you stay. Definitely use a travel agent to coordinate your transportation and lodging.
What do you think? Would you like to go on a safari?