Where do you even start? Holiday planning can be a drawn out process so when you mix in animals & safari it can seem even more daunting, but don’t worry – I’ve got you…
We managed to plan our first safari a mere day before we flew so I’m going to share everything we learnt to make your safari planning that little bit easier.
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Your stereotypical safari takes place in Africa, with Tanzania being the most thought of destination (think Lion King). However, you don’t have to book a holiday package to Simba’s pride rock and there are SO many other options to consider:
– Serengeti National Park (the location of Lion King).
– Ruaha National Park (a more remote park with both savannah and woodland).
– Katavi National Park (only a few hundred visitors each year makes this park the most remote!)
– Southern Selous Game Reserve (Tanzania’s largest game reserve with woodland, savannah and mountains).
– Kruger National Park (WE PICKED THIS ONE, read an in depth breakdown here!)
– Imfolozi Wilderness Trails (White rhino spotting here in exchange for low budget camping).
– Mana Pools (the location of Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties episode with the painted wolves, need I say anymore?!)
-South Luangwa National Park (the best park for leopard spotting).
– Chobe National Park (close to Victoria Falls with an abundance of river safaris).
– Okavango Private Reserves (expensive & fancy but white rhinos AND black rhinos roam here).
– Etosha National Park (a self-drive option to help you save pennies).
– Masai Mara (if you’ve ever watched an African Netflix documentary – it’s 100% shot here. Just north of Tanzania’s Serengeti).
– Laikipia Plateau (views of Kenya’s mountain with a huge conservation effort to keep wildlife populations happy).
– Queen Elizabeth National Park (often overlooked as most come to Uganda for gorilla trekking but there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen in this small park).
I am of course missing a load of others off, but this list should get you started.
WHEN TO GO?
Dry Season: We went to Kruger National Park in dry season which ensured we spotted plenty of wildlife. There was little greenery so it’s easy to spot animals through the branches and barren landscapes. It also means you should be able to sight a variety of animals at any water hole as they are a game magnet (game = the word used for animals on safari).
Typically, dry season is the most popular time to go although the landscape is definitely less appealing. This also means prices are highest and unless you’re happy booking a last minute deal (like me!) you will want to arrange this in advance.
Wet Season: Rainfall = lots of greenery = lots of happy animals. Unfortunately, this makes it harder to spot them as there could be a herd of elephants 20m from you but the big green bush blocks the sighting out! It also takes longer to sight wildlife as they will be spread out, instead of congregating around a lone water hole.
Prices are lower, so you could afford a fancy lodge that would be out of your budget come dry season!? And there will be less tourists which makes for a quieter experience.
WHERE TO STAY?
Once you’ve picked your park and the time of year you’re going, next up is accommodation. Booking my trip last minute meant I was very limited with availability (but also allowed us to get mega discount! Find out here).
Camping: the bare basics. This is exactly how I plan to experience my second safari and I can’t wait to wake up to a giraffe prodding my tent. Online these will be advertised as Bush Camps, Fly-In Camps or Mobile Tented Camps. You may find bucket showers and squatting toilets here, or can pay more for hot water and a bed stand.
Hotels and Guesthouses: If you want a true adventure experience it’s best to avoid these.
Game Lodges: These are located in a game reserve and can be up to 100-star honeymoon vibe. We somehow wangled a last minute deal on the ultimate luxury safari lodge (The Outpost Lodge) and have zero regrets. Picture king size bed, outdoor shower, swimming pool and incredible gourmet veggie food. (You can, of course, spend less for a more rustic lodge which isn’t as basic as camping but meets all your comfort needs!)
Once you’ve made these three big decisions the rest will fall into place. Upon deciding on your accommodation, your lodge or campsite will provide you with more information about the day to day running of your trip. They may include game drives in the price or advise you on how to book outings.
Next step: what to pack…!