For many people around the world, an African safari is at the very top of their travel bucket list. There is no shortage of awe-inspiring experiences across Africa’s best national parks, private reserves and glorious beaches. Whether your style is Out-of-Africa safari chic, roughing it with a mobile glamping trip or somewhere in the middle, an African safari will take you to the wonderfully wild corners of this vast continent.
The appeal of an African safari has never been greater, it is the perfect social distancing holiday! This Top 10 Reasons to go on an African Safari list would have been true before Covid-19 rocked our worlds, but now that it has, these reasons are even more applicable. Put that pent up desire to travel to good use, now is the perfect time to plan an epic safari adventure!
Much of your African safari will be in the open and the sunshine ensuring you get your daily dose of Vitamin D! Saftey has always come first on safari, and now this includes ensuring that health protocols are adhered to, on your transfers, on your light air flights, open safari vehicles, your rooms and the main common areas of your safari lodge or camp. Consider taking your African safari to just one country for now, until a vaccine passport comes into effect, to cut down on PCR testing and other travel restrictions. If you have become a digital nomad over the last year, proving you can work from home or anywhere effectively, come to Africa and take advantage of some outstanding long stay travel deals, which include excellent WIFI!
TOP 10 REASONS TO TRAVEL TO AFRICA
The sunrises and sunsets! They are simply incredible, no matter where you are in Africa. With backdrops of crystal clear Okavango Delta waterways, to the dusty dunes in Namibia, the colours are incredible. We could wax lyrical about sunrises and sunsets for hours.
Africa is home to numerous gorgeous countries, with spectacular scenery and views.
Rolling misty hills of Rwanda, the ice-capped Mount Kilimanjaro seen from Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, the rolling savanna of the Serengeti or the thundering Victoria Falls, there is no question that Africa will take your breath away at least once a day while on safari.
With little to no light pollution in the wilds, you can expect the night sky to be ablaze with stars and the milky way shining brightly. Stargazing is one of the best activities you can do on safari. Some lodges even go so far as to give you a star bed which gives you a unique sleep out under the night skies experience.
Hot air balloon rides as the sun rises is awe-inspiring, tranquil canoe trips through the Congo’s incredible ecosystem, adrenaline-filled white water rafting or gorilla trekking through primordial rain forests, the activities you can enjoy in Africa are endless.
© Little Kulala sunrise hot air balloon ride, Sossusvlei in Namibia
© Time+Tide offer sleep out under the stars in a dry river bed of South Luangwa National Park
Tranquil mokoro ride in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
Victoria Falls viewing point
The verdant green rolling hills of Rwanda
Home to the Big 5 and so much more, your African safari will show you it all and you will feel like you are watching Nat Geo live! The Big 5 are made up of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo and viewing them in their natural habitat is incredible. Immerse yourself in their world while you learn their behaviours and watch as they go about their day. Watch lions lazing in the afternoon sun, cheetahs surveying the savanna from a termite mound, follow our closest relatives on a chimpanzee trek or watch a family of elephants enjoying a bath in a waterhole or river. The options for wildlife viewing are endless.
And don’t forget the very photogenic zebra, the deceptively yawning hippo and the towering giraffe, always the most popular animals to see. And gaze in wonder when you come across some of the most endangered animals in the world, such as the pangolin, the wild dog or the rhino.
One of the most amazing natural spectacles is the Great Wildebeest Migration in East Africa. Every year hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra migrate from the grassy plains of southern Serengeti, where they calve in February, north and westwards through the Serengeti towards Kenya’s Masai Mara. Dramatic river crossings in the middle of the year over the Grumeti River and from July through to October the herds have to cross the Mara River, sometimes twice! A great wildebeest migration safari is not to be missed, at least once in your life!
An endangered Pangolin
Abundant cheetah found in Masai Mara, Kenya
Vast herds of Wildebeest in East Africa
Incredible lion sightings while on safari in a private reserve
A Rhino in the white dusty roads of Namibia
Africa turns everyone into a photographer! With cell phone camera’s as excellent as they are you are sure to have more than a few Instagramable moments on safari. We do suggest that it is worthwhile bringing a proper camera, with a lens that can zoom in on the animals as well. Even an entry DSLR kit will bring you endless wildlife photography fun. Look into hiring a camera or a telephoto lens for your trip! Your guides on the game drive are often photographers themselves and know how to position their vehicle to get you the best light for that perfect shot.
Many safari lodges have photographers in a residence that can teach you a trick or two. And for the more avid photographer, consider a photographic safari. You head out into the bush in kitted out vehicles with camera mounts, swing seats and a professional photographer guiding your every shot. After returning to your lodge you are then taught the finer points in editing your raw photo and even printing your favourites.
© Photographic safaris with Desert and Delta Safaris in Botswana
© Little Makalolo in Zimbabwe’s Hwange has hide next to an active waterhole
© Mashatu in Botswana has an incredible sunken hide, perfect for photography
Safaris are socially distant by design. Your time in Africa is spent outdoors, soaking up the glorious scenery and the cacophony of sounds from the African bush. There are no crowds on your African safari and the only queue you may encounter is your turn to watch a pride of lions in your private game reserve! Your accommodation is secluded, your meals al fresco and your activities are mostly outdoors. Game drives are the most popular activity on your African safari, with four to six people maximum to an open game drive vehicle. Bushwalks and walking safaris are also very popular.
Safari lodges and camps tend to be on the small side. Seldom if ever do you stay in a large hotel or resort with hundreds of rooms, which are generally connected. Your safari lodge tent or suite are spaced out from each other to ensure privacy and now adds to the safety of travelling.
The staff to guest ratio is high meaning that all safety protocols are strictly observed all the time and rooms are thoroughly cleaned. So often your room will have large doors and windows, or tent sides that open up, ensuring a good flow of air through the room. The main areas of lodges will always have multiple sitting areas, each group dines with each other and most of these areas are not closed in. While we do love a communal dinner table, especially in the smaller lodges, this style of dining will take a while to come back.
A safari will save you travel planning time. Why? Using a trusted and experienced tour operator like Explore & Travel Africa ensures that all the logistics of your trip are taken care of. All you need to do is choose a country to go on safari in, book your flight there and buy travel insurance!
We take care of the rest. This will include all internal transport from transfers, flights or even light aircraft transfers between remote airstrips. We make sure that all your park and conservation fees are prepaid where ever possible, that as much is included at the lodges as we can so you do not need to be reaching for your wallet much. We partner with amazing lodges, airlines and transfer services around the African safari areas to ensure that you can simply focus on enjoying your holiday.
If like many of us, you are yearning to travel again, to put the confines of the last year behind you and to get back into nature, an African safari should be your next vacation. As you arrive at your destination, your stresses begin to disappear and in no time they have become a distant memory. The African bush is seldom quiet, with the chatter of birds and insects going about their business, creating a sense of calm and peace. Almost immediately you begin to recharge.
While many lodges around Africa do have WiFi, it is often in a specific area or only your room, helping to keep you off your devices for long periods and giving you that much needed digital detox. Quiet sitting areas are dotted around the camps, some overlooking an active waterhole allowing you to simply be in a marvellous setting. Immersive game drives, indulgent spa’s, delectable cuisine and even yoga will ensure you leave Africa rejuvenated and reconnected.
© Londolozi Private Granite Suites have incredible bathrooms overlooking the Sabi Sand in the Kruger National Park.
© Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana has a sublime spa
There is often a lack of awareness by travellers who come in an African safari as how much of their travel spend is directly used to support conservation and communities in the areas they visit. Reserves around Africa have skilled armed rangers who patrol the area and protect the wildlife which are funded by your conservation fee.
Conservation programmes, upskilling rangers and educating communities about conservation and why it is important, all cost money. Much of your travel spend at your lodge goes directly to these initiatives. Many lodges lease land and work with the local communities, providing employment, clinics and schools. Often one person working in a safari lodge supports 10 or more people in the village.
Guests out on a game drive are a critical part of the conservation efforts, just by having vehicles in the reserve is a deterrent to poaching. While on your safari you can visit the local communities to learn more about their way of life. It is worthwhile to check if your lodge subscribes to Pack for a Purpose or needs anything for their school or clinic. Nothing beats the look on a child’s face when given a new soccer ball or toy.
You can be assured that as you embark on your African Safari that you are making a valuable and important contribution.
© Serra Cafema Camp, meeting the Himba Tribe of northern Namibia
Celebrate life with your partner, friend or family in Africa while you reconnect with each other and share in the delight of your trip. You will leave Africa richer for having been here. Birthdays, anniversaries and honeymoons are just some of the special occasions you can celebrate on an African safari. Romantic vacations in Africa are sublime with private dinners and little special touches making it even more special. Intimate family gatherings, birthday cakes and joyful songs from the local teams at the lodge make a safari a perfect idea to celebrate any special occasion.
© andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania is one of the most romantic places to celebrate a special occasion at
Family memories made on safari
© Lion Sands Kingston Treehouse offers the ultimate romantic sleep out in the Kruger Park, South Africa
An African safari is unlike other vacations. Aside from all the other Top 10 Reasons to go on an African Safari, this last one, All Included, is important! You should have prepaid as much of the costs before you even leave home.
Park and conservation Fees should be prepaid, only a handful of reserves in Africa want cash on arrival, most will allow the lodge to get the fee on their behalf before.
Exciting game drives and activities are included. Depending on where the lodge is located you can enjoy a drive, a walk, a boat cruise or a canoe trip. Expect 2 activities to be included at most lodges. Optional extra’s like hot air ballooning is extra but can be prepaid.
All your meals are included. All safari lodges will offer amazing meals three times a day. You will not go hungry on safari! Some meals in major cities where you stop over for the night, like Nairobi or Victoria Falls, will need to be paid for on-site, but these cities have credit card machines and ATM’s.
Laundry is often included, which is great as you will have stringent luggage restrictions if you are taking any light air flights.
Retox with a G&T at sunset! Your drinks are included on your African safari. At worst this means your tea and coffee and filtered water and at best, imported whiskey’s, French Champagne and a wine cellar complete with a sommelier. Most lodges sit in the middle, including bottled water, local beers and wines and a few spirits like gin for your all-important G&T!
All your transport on safari is included. Using a tour operator like Explore & Travel Africa ensures that all your taxis, transfers, light aircraft, boat transfers etc are all prepaid and arrive at the right time and place.
What is not included? You will need to tip along your trip. Ask us for our gratuity guide but generally, you will need to budget for about $20-$40 per person per day on safari, split between guides, trackers and back of house staff. Visas, travel insurance, curios and getting to your country of choice is not included.
Credit - Michelle Astbury
Take a walk on the wild side with walking safaris in Africa!
Nothing can compare to exploring the uncharted territory of pristine Africa on foot. Find yourself in the middle of nowhere, immersed in nature and tuning in to the bush as you soak up the sounds and smells around you. Walking safaris in Africa take place in game reserves across Southern and East Africa, where you can see not only the plains game but the big game as well.
Completely different from game drives, walking safaris are a wonderful way to understand your surroundings. Encountering the wild animals in their world is exhilarating and rewarding. Your safari guide(s) will point out tracks, interesting insects, flora, birds and much more.
There are a few types of walking safaris in Africa, all with their merits. Most safari lodges and camps offer a short walk for a few hours as a break from a game drive, but not replacing the drive. This will suit most people and you do not need to very fit. Classic walking safaris take guests from camp to camp in an area. Fly camping is where the camp is set up each night in a new place.
And finally, a safari camp that will only do walking safaris and you return each night to the same camp. Most of these are for walking aficionados who love to walk, or for the returning visitor who is looking for a more active safari.
You are generally accompanied by a guide and a tracker, and sometimes another guide. In most countries, your lead guide is armed with a rifle, however, this depends on the laws of that country. The duration of your walk depends on what style of walking safari you have chosen.
Bushwalks from luxury safari lodges last 2-3 hours, while the longer multi-day walking safaris can do 5-6 hours a day, with breaks! Early mornings are normal on safari, and this is important for walking safaris, to avoid the heat of the day and when many animals are active. Interpret the tracks made during the night and see where they lead!
Unfortunately, no children are allowed on walking safaris, with children aged from 12 to 15 years and older are allowed, country dependent. The luxury safari lodges who have children’s programs will often take them for a bush bumble in the area right at the lodge – there are plenty insects, droppings and dung, and more to keep the little ones enthralled.
The wildlife sightings you will see on your walking safari are often more intense, and more intimate than from the back of a vehicle. You can also go places a vehicle could not, truly off the beaten park. You generally get to see some of the plains game – impala, springbok, gazelle, kudu, wildebeest and perhaps the buffalo as well. Old male buffalo are grumpy and to be avoided!
Elephants can be seen regularly, perhaps a white rhino from a distance, hyenas trotting past to check you out and more. It is not unheard of to see lions, they are lazy cats especially when their bellies are full, so it is a treat to see them on foot – at a distance.
You will learn why the hyena scat is white, what a salt lick is, scent-marking methods of different animals and so many birds!
To see as many different animals on your safari as possible, it is advised you combine your walking safari with a traditional safari in a lodge or camp, where you can enjoy game drives that cover more ground.
Walking safaris are a daring form of exploration, but the thrills and rewards are incredible. Your guides take your safety very seriously. Not all guides are allowed to conduct walking safaris, there are rigorous exams, including rifle competency. Only when guides have spent hours as a backup guide will they be allowed to head off with their tracker. You must listen to the guides carefully, despite what your instincts tell you to do. Humans are generally seen as a danger and avoided by animals.
TIPS FOR WALKING SAFARIS
– Always listen to your professional and highly trained guides, in the briefing before the walk and throughout the day.
– Early morning starts are required, to avoid the heat of the day, plus a better chance of a predator is dozing off their nocturnal meal.
– Wear muted colours, ensure your clothing is comfortable and made of thin breathable fabrics, wear sturdy walking shoes – either hiking boots or trainers.
– Pack a lightweight backpack to put water, camera and warm tops in.
– Always walk in single file.
– Please whisper if you want to talk!
– Always listen to your guides.
– It is often very hot in Africa, even in the winter months during the day. You must adequately hydrate and always ask to stop if you are struggling with the heat.
– Remember your sun protection -sun hats, sunglasses and a high SPF cream must be used on a walking safari.
– On longer trails, pack snacks and hydration sachets to boost your mood.
– And lastly, listen to your guide!
Credit - Michelle Astbury