So I’ve just got back from the trip of a lifetime – an African safari. It was an amazing experience, and part of my honeymoon which made it even more special. However, going on this type of holiday which is different from anything else is a bit daunting. I didn’t know anybody else who had ever been on safari, so we didn’t really know what to expect.
If you’re thinking of booking a trip to the African wilderness, here’s a bit of advice from yours truly.
Always be on the lookout
OK, so you’re obviously going to have your glasses on during your game drives – but that’s not the only time you’re going to bump into the wildlife. When checking into our luxury lodge, we were warned not to leave anything out on the balcony as the monkeys like to steal what they can! Even from your balcony or lodge you are likely to make quite a few impressive sightings. As soon as we arrived we saw impala and kudu wandering across our view. On our last day, I nearly missed a herd of elephants passing because I had my head in a book! Whenever you have a good view of the bushland, whether you’re eating breakfast or chilling on the balcony, be on the lookout.
|The view from Kuname Lodge|
Have your camera ready
We calculated we were going to go on six game drives in total – that’s 18 hours out on the safari truck. With this in mind, we thought we wanted to experience the first drive properly and take in the sights with our eyes rather than through a camera lens. I’m a true believer in this, especially as people are becoming obsessed with documenting their lives through their phones and social media. We decided not to take our cameras, phones or Go Pro. Our ranger couldn’t believe us when he asked where our cameras were.
It was a great idea and I’m glad we did it, however looking back we saw some of our best sightings on that first game drive – and don’t have any lasting memories to keep. We didn’t understand that each game drive is completely different, you never know what you might see. We could have spotted one of the big five on that first drive, and not seen it again during our stay. For example, we didn’t see a cheetah or a leopard until the last half hour of our very last game drive. Similarly, you could see an amazing sighting such as an animal making a kill, and then you’d regret not having your camera to hand. It’s about finding the right balance between living the experience and documenting it.
|Cheetah spotted just after making a kill|
Forget the typical safari gear
I was intrigued about safari fashion and really wasn’t sure what to wear on the game drives. It was summer so really humid from 7am – there were only a couple of times when we felt the need to wear a jacket. Most of the people we were staying with were dressed as if they were going on a trek, with hiking boots, long trousers and lots of layers. But it really wasn’t necessary! Unless you plan on going on a walking safari, you can wear suitable sandals or trainers the entire time, and I wore shorts when it was really hot.* The weather is changeable, but in our truck there was a poncho for every person so you didn’t even have to worry about taking a raincoat. You’ll only get out of the truck for a sundowner or a coffee break, and it’s not likely to be in jungle terrain, so if you’re worried about carrying around heavy walking boots then just leave them at home.
*Depending on your location you might want to cover up as much as possible to prevent mosquito bites.
|Here I am rocking comfy shorts, a denim jacket and Birkenstocks for sundowners|
My last piece of advice is just to savour every moment! There’s nothing like the genuine peace and quiet of the wilderness, or the starry night sky without a light for miles. Most safari lodge stays are quite short, between two and five days, so it really does fly by. But it’s long enough to see the majestic wildlife of Africa and experience true solitude. There's nothing else like it and it should be on every avid traveller's bucket list.
Let me know if you have any safari related questions! J x