Keeping your arms and legs inside the truck, not waving a fat steak around and staying inside your vehicle are perhaps the most obvious tips for surviving a safari. But as for how to get the ultimate safari experience, where better to hear about it than straight from the horse’s stripy cousin’s mouth!
Okay, so this isn’t actually a blog written by Marty the talking Zebra, but by Jad, Emi, Ellis and Emma – the lucky adventurers who are currently on the road after winning a free Round the World trip with BlueTicket – STA Travel’s exclusive student and under 31 airfares.
We know, jealousy is a terrible thing…
- Don’t forget your woollies
This is a life saver, trust us! Now, we know what you’re thinking, isn’t Africa meant to be hot? Well it is, during the day. But when the sun starts to set, temperatures can plummet and believe us, you don’t want to be in an open top jeep with only shorts and a t-shirt. Brrr.
Pack some jumpers, gloves, and even a beanie. And for the ultimate geography teacher chic, get a pair of those trousers that zip off into shorts – you might feel like the geek of the pack, but you’ll be the snug (and smug) one when your safari buddies are all left shivering.
- Get a pro guide
Speaking of open top jeeps, we had the pleasure of being booked onto a guided 4WD safari and we LOVED it. Some parks will allow you to hire a car and try to spot the animals solo, which is all well and good, until you either run into a bull elephant in the middle of the road or get lost at dusk and can’t find the exit.
Prices vary for tours depending on what country you’re in, the reserve you’re visiting and even the time of day – but it is well worth it. The guides and their knowledge are incredible. They know the park and the movements of the wildlife inside and out, and you’ll learn so much about each animal and their habitat. See that in the distance? Your guide will have spotted a pride of lions lying in the shade and instructed the driver to head over there, while you’re still convinced you’re looking at a bunch of rocks!
We also did an evening safari and can’t recommend enough getting out on as many game drives as you can – you see such different wildlife and behaviours at different times in the day.
- Pack some glass
Whether you’re a pro photographer with an insane telephoto lens or just on safari to capture memories, you’ll need some sort of glass. That is, either a camera with a good zoom or a decent pair of binoculars. You’ll be kicking yourself if you forget this one. Sometimes you can be super lucky and see animals literally metres away from your truck, other times, they’re hundreds of metres away across the waterhole. If you want to see inside that lion’s mouth when it yawns, you’re gonna want some sort of zoom!
- Respect nature
This is a big one. If you go on safari with the hope of seeing some amazing animals, just remember one thing, you’re there for the animals, they aren’t there for you. You’re visiting them in their home, and in the wild.
Don’t be that guy (or girl) that screams as you see a giraffe walk into sight and scare it off. Not only is it distressing for the wildlife, but guaranteed, you’ll quickly become the most unpopular person in the jeep. But more importantly, you want to see natural behaviours, so try to keep the noise down (internal screaming totally allowed) and respect appropriate viewing distances. You’ll also want to know what signs to look out for if you’re not welcome around an animal – this is when a guide definitely comes in handy!
- Take your safari home
Don’t let your amazing African safari end when you get out the jeep or when you leave the reserve. Tell your friends and family everything you learned and share your pictures and stories.
The sad reality is that many of the animals you may see on safari are close to extinction. There are an estimated 21,000 Southern white rhinos left in the world. And as for the Northern white rhino… two left, and they’re both female, so go figure that one out.
The more you learn about these species and the threats they face, the more of an impact you can have.