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Embarking on your first safari can be thrilling and is likely to be one of the best vacations you’ll ever have. However it can be extremely overwhelming at the same time.
Before you begin your guided game drive or walking tour, always remember that you are a guest in the animals’ natural habitat and respecting them and their environment is imperative.
If you are in a park or reserve that allows walking safaris, preferably have a safari guide accompany you. They have a vast knowledge and understanding of both the area and the animals.
This may sound tricky, but no need to worry, we have put together some guidelines on what to do and not to do for you here.
1. Leave your surroundings as you found it.
Keep your trash with you in the vehicle. Recyclable and non-recyclable items tossed on the ground is not only unsightly, but can choke or poison animals and birds. The national parks in South Africa are to be kept as you found them.
2. Consider other people when on safari.
If you’ve been on safari before, don’t keep regaling others with your knowledge or supersede the guide when he is explaining animal behavior or what you’re looking at. It can get annoying very quickly.
Respect your fellow passengers wishes to stop and spend time looking at animals they want to see. Likewise, don’t make the driver stop for every single impala if your fellow passengers are not interested at all.
3. Remember to drink lots of water in the African heat.
There will be days where you will be in a vehicle for a long period of time, there will be days where you are doing activities, and then there will be days that you will be at the campsite. On all these days it is necessary to stay hydrated by drinking enough water. One will not feel dehydrated until it is too late.
4. Dress in layers.
You are on safari and out in the bush so make sure that you are comfortably dressed with comfortable shoes. Always have a mix of clothing including; summer clothes, light raincoat, warm top and a hat.
5. Pack a hat.
Avoid the floppy straw hat, as experience has shown you’ll spend more time clutching onto it than the shade is worth! Take a snug fitting peak or one of those typical safari hats that compliment khaki shorts and protect your neck too.
6. Pack sunscreen
Remember when you’re out in the bush to protect yourself from the sun. Pack a quality pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes—polarized sunglasses work best to reduce glare. A wide brimmed hat is also recommended to reduce your direct exposure to the sun. Finally, ensure you apply sunscreen before and during your safari game drive, we recommend a sunscreen that is scent-free.
7. Let the lodge or your safari guide know about your dietary requirements.
Vegetarians are catered for with advance notice, but on many nights the braai or barbecue buffet is composed of grilled meats, seafood, starches and a few obligatory leaves and corn on the cob. Those with specific restrictions should always inform the lodge/guide when you book – sometimes it takes days to get new ingredients to the more remote areas.
8. Pack your camera
There will be many amazing photos that you will want to capture along the way on your safari. But, you need to make sure you don’t take any photos of any people without their permission. Also, never take pictures of anyone/anything in the military, police force, armed forces, government, presidents or airports.
9. Pack binoculars.
Binoculars are an essential item for a safari holiday to Africa and many other destinations. On safari there are often tripods in camp which are great to use but out on a game drive or on a walking safari, your own binoculars are the best option – they are vital for bird watching and seeing the wildlife in detail.Make sure there is a strap or better still a body strap so that they do not hang from your neck.
10. Pack a positive attitude.
Don’t get too caught up in spotting the main animals that you forget to enjoy the time along the way. Listen to the quiet, admire the beauty of the waterhole, keep an eye out for the birds flying overhead, or marvel at the splendour of the African sky.Have fun! A safari is one of those, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, where you’ll be close to all kinds of animals. Enjoy the magic of it, and stop worrying about everything else.
11. Remember,it is not Discovery Channel, safaris are unpredictable.
Don’t expect to see the Big Five on your first game drive, you are not visiting a zoo. Your guides and drivers will do their utmost to find every animal you have on your wishlist, but there’s no guarantee you’ll see everything. Parks and reserves are vast, the animals are unpredictable, and they all wear camouflage. Make sure you communicate what you are interested in and what you may have seen on previous drives to better your chances.
12. Be prepared to go off the beaten track and enjoy the big and small in nature.
A planned itinerary for your safari is a given, but sometimes you have to be more carefree and flexible – prefering to think about doing a walk in the morning, a drive in the afternoon and the decisions for the following day’s safari, discussed around a camp fire with drinks. Most guides will allow this – and even if they don’t, it never hurts to ask.
13. Think twice before you bring your children of they are under the age of 12.
Safaris are great for children, but the drives are long and can get quite boring for most youngsters under the age of 10. Be especially cautious of young children while on safari and never leave them unattended.
So what are you waiting for? An African safari is a once in a lifetime experience.
Book a safari with PenQuin Tours for 2019 now!