This week I have featured an African safari for the destination and itinerary on my website. This has been on my bucket list for a long, long time and I’ve recently been scoping it out since my husband is retiring and we will have the time to go. Here’s some information and answers I’ve found while doing my research about Africa and safaris.
Is it safe to travel in Africa?
So, to answer this question in short – yes, it is safe to travel in Eastern and Southern Africa to do a safari as long as you go with a very well organized and reputable vendor. The lodges and camps are exceptionally safe, however, where there are wild animals, precaution is always advised! As long as you listen to your guide/staff and do exactly as they say, you are safe.
So now for a question that clients always ask….where is the best place to see the big 5?
Depending on what you really want to see, some parks are better than others for certain animals and wildlife viewing. However, generally considered the best parks to view the big 5 (lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhino) are the following:
The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Masai Mara, Kenya
The Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Kruger, South Africa
So when is the best time to go on an African safari?
The safari possibilities in Africa are endless, and since it is such a huge continent, just like the US, the climate really varies from one area to the next. Generally, if you are looking at maximizing your wildlife viewing experience, you should consider going during the “dry season”. East Africa’s dry season is generally from July – November, but there is also a dry spell from January – March which can be a fantastic time to go. An East Africa safari is usually spent in Kenya and Tanzania, but you can also go gorilla trekking in this region.
Southern Africa’s dry season is slightly more dramatic, with the rainy season beginning in December and lasting until May. The best months for safaris here are from June – November. Keep in mind that if you go in October, the wildlife is phenomenal but it is also extremely hot!
Which countries require vaccinations?
Africa is mostly a malarial continent. It is recommended to get malaria prevention tablets for your safari and it is also a good idea to check to see what other shots you may need before traveling. I had to get malaria pills and additional shots when I went to China, Vietnam and Cambodia. It does add an additional expense but it is so worth it to be able to experience what these places have to offer! Some parts of Africa require a Yellow Fever certificate such as Kenya and Rwanda – also be aware that if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever risk region, you will be required to show your certificate on entry into a country which is not at risk, such as Tanzania). Before any trip abroad, it is always a good idea to make an appointment with your general doctor to see what medical shots or prescriptions are recommended.
What else is there to do in Africa besides safari?
There is lots! Though it would be terrible to travel all the way from the US to Africa and not go on a safari, Africa does offer lots of other types of adventure. Here are some examples:
Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is one of the greatest attractions in Africa and one of the largest, most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The noise of Victoria Falls can be heard from almost 25 miles aways, while the spray and mist from the falling water can rise to a height of over 131 feet.
Cape Town, South Africa - Cape Town really should not to be missed if you are considering a Southern Africa itinerary. It is a coastal city which is the capital and primary city of the Western Cape province. It is also a city known for it’s culinary delights and great regional wines.
Go to the beach! South Africa is known for it’s beaches or you could hop over to the Seychelles for the ultimate Indian Ocean experience.
Cultural experiences in Namibia – this seems to be a favorite place for cultural experiences in Africa. Despite having one of the world's lowest population densities, some of the best experiences are found here. You can meet people from different tribes and cultural backgrounds. You can talk with local people and hear about their backgrounds and way of life. There are day trips that offer insights in to the interesting lifestyles of these semi-nomadic, desert-dwelling people. The visits are not only a great opportunity to witness a new and highly contrasting culture to your own, they also are beneficial for the communities you are visiting.
Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda or Uganda - Seeing the gorillas in their natural environments is a privilege that hardly any people get to experience in their lifetime.
Lastly, keep in mind that a safari doesn’t have to be all about riding around in a 4X4 vehicle. There are so many other ways to see the wildlife in the bush such as kayaking, fishing, canoeing, do a walking safari and even night drives. I don’t have first hand experience with safaris in Africa but give me time….. I’m going to get there!