To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told -- that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.
― Beryl Markham
Whether you are a hardcore wildlife enthusiast, an adventure freak, or just a spirited traveler, going on an African safari will surely occupy a prominent position on your travel wish list. And why not? There is probably no other place on earth where there is a concentration of so many different species of exotic animals. With numerous national parks distributed all across the continent, an African safari is truly a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that's worth cherishing. What makes these safaris even more unparalleled is the fact that in terms of experience and adventure, no two of them seem to be the same.
Planning an African Safari
If you love wildlife, enjoy visiting adventurous locations, and wish to embark on an African adventure in the near future, this Buzzle article will tell how you can plan your trip for a truly enchanting experience. Here are a few factors, which you will need to consider while planning your African safari vacation.
◾ Do research on what the African safari can offer you. For this, the Internet is the best source; however, you can also refer to certain magazines, such as National Geographic Traveler to get an idea of where you can go and what you can expect. In case you know people who have already been to an African safari, it would be a great idea to ask them about their trip and experiences.
◾ Decide on what you want to see and/or do. Africa has innumerable options to offer to tourists, and many tour operators design customized safaris depending on the preferences of their clients. So, think about what kind of activity you would most like to participate in and accordingly, make a list of things you would like to see and do during your vacation. This will help explain your point of view more clearly to your tour operator.
◾ Prepare a rough itinerary. As mentioned above, Africa has innumerable options for tourists, and every safari is different from the other. Every region in the continent offers you a unique set of things to do and hence, once you have decided what exactly you want out of your trip, it will become easier for you to list out places, which will offer you that kind of experience. You can then communicate regarding the same with your tour operator, and get a customized safari, or join a group with similar interests.
◾ Proper timing is important. Deciding on when to go on a safari is crucial in order to get the kind of experience you are looking for. For instance, if you are aiming to spot hundreds and thousands of animals migrating, you can head to Kenya between June and August, which is the season for wildebeest migration. Similarly, if you are interested in game drives, it is advisable to plan a safari in winter, when there is limited vegetation in the grasslands and it is much easier to spot the animals. Your tour operator may help you with this, but it is advised that you do a bit of research on your own as well.
◾ Choose the type of accommodation you want to stay in. This you need to do, especially in terms of luxury. Africa is renowned the world over for its 5-star luxury camping that has all the amenities required for a lavish holiday. However, if you are looking for a budget vacation (for which there are plenty of options as well), you will first need to do some research and then set a "flexible" budget for the same. Please note that while booking a cheaper accommodation, you will also need to inquire how safe a particular facility is. But if it is a tour operator that you're going through, your accommodation will be taken care of.
◾ Determine the duration of your stay. This is another major factor you need to consider while planning your safari. Some operators offer short, but focused adventures, which may last for about eight to ten days. However, there are also longer excursions that extend up to even three months, wherein you can get a more in-depth experience. So, if you have a good budget and a little flexibility with regards to your vacation days, it is advisable to take one of the longer safaris, as it won't be possible to travel to Africa again and again, especially owing to high airfares. So, see to it that you make the most of your vacation while you are there!
◾ Ascertain how you wish to commute from one point to another. Sometimes, two places mentioned in your itinerary may be miles and miles away from each other. More often than not, there are two ways to commute from one point to the other, viz., land transfers and air transfers, and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Although flying from one point to the other is expensive, you get to save on a lot of time. On the other hand, land transfers involve traveling for hours together in a car across many miles of uninhabited wild terrain, thus, adding a lot more transit time. However, land transfers are more cost-effective; in that you have numerous opportunities for game viewing. So, according to the time at your disposal, decide the way you want to travel and estimate your budget accordingly.
◾ Traveling with kids can be fun too. A large number of tour operators specialize in providing kid-friendly itineraries and accommodations. Some activities can be specially designed for kids to ensure their active participation in the safari. Hence, while you are planning your safari, it is important to take into consideration the likes and preferences of all those who will be accompanying you so that everyone enjoys the adventure to the fullest.
◾ Choose an appropriate tour operator. After you have researched well and listed down your preferences regarding the things mentioned above, it is now time to look for a suitable tour operator. The Internet is, by far, the best source for this, but you can also refer to travel books, magazines, and your friends and colleagues. Shortlist those who you think are best suited for your needs, and then speak to them personally. Ask them a lot of questions, and get all your doubts cleared. Most importantly, ask them about the overall price of the package―whether it is all-inclusive, if it includes flight tickets and internal transfers, whether it includes meals, etc. You can then pick the one that best suits your style of travel and budget.
Having done all this, you are finally all set to embark on your adventurous journey. Your tour operator will give a list of the items to carry during your trip. Make sure that you have packed each and every one of them. Your tour operator will also advise you on the various immunizations that you will need to take before you go to Africa. Take them at least a few weeks in advance. So, get going, enjoy the adventure, and stay safe!