know before you go
If you’ve set your sights on the African continent and your heart on a safari experience, there are a couple of things to consider before you throw your khakis into your bag and book a ticket. After all, with so many countries, an abundance of wildlife and a host of differing tour operators, the choices can be endless — and confusing. To narrow down your options and help you make an informed decision about your safari experience, we’re breaking down what you should know before you go on your first African safari.
Define Your Priorities
Sure, you want to see the majestic animals, engage in authentic experiences with local cultures and stay in lovely accommodations, but have you considered factors such as your budget, desired animal sightings, type of accommodation and eco-friendliness of the experience? These are all considerations that should play into your decision as defining them will help you narrow down the experiences at hand. And while this may lead to an easier decision if you’re well-versed in tourism companies and tour operators, it can be a bit confusing if you’re unfamiliar. This is where Journey Africa Safaris comes in — you can complete our Safari Travel Application that will help experts plan out an experience for you based on your style and budget. View our travel style guide
Do Your Research
Safaris can be an incredible vehicle to teach travelers about conservation, endangered species and regional humanitarian concerns — if you’re going with the right company. Often, it can be hard to know what you’re getting yourself into without clear lines of communication between yourself and the operating company. That’s not exactly what you want if you’re flying halfway across the country for the experience of a lifetime. So, research your safari operator’s communication policies, environmental and conservation concerns and guides. Fortunately, Journey Earth Travel offers up a team of Journey Advisors and In-Country Experts who will respond quickly to any questions or concerns via SMS text, email, live chat once you complete the Safari Travel Application. Our Safari travelers can also meet their guides and in-country experts beforehand via our exclusive Safari Pro Connect hub.
Consider the Big Five
Those who are trying to see animals should consider safaris that showcase the big five: African lions, leopards, Black rhinoceros, African elephants and Cape buffalo. For these animals, it’s a natural jump to experiences in Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the Republic of Congo and Malawi, not to mention South Africa.
Pack and Plan Accordingly
It’s no surprise that a trip to Africa will yield a bit of a different climate than you’re likely used to. With that in mind, pay attention to the climate in your specific location and purchase clothes that are loose, breathable and can be layered. It’s also suggested that you opt for neutrals like khaki or olive green and include a hat with a wide brim and a cord. Though you may not be the most stylish, you’ll be comfortable and cool under the hot African sun. Bonus points if you purchase clothes with built-in SPF (the rays do get extreme!) and a couple of bottles of sunscreen. For evenings, consider longer pants and even a light jacket. Your experience will also dictate your shoe packing — for foot-heavy trips, hiking boots are optimal, which sandals might be more appropriate for guided vehicle tours.
Visas, Vaccines and Insurance
Though you should receive a wealth of information — and hopefully support — from your tour operators, keep in mind that travelers to different African nations may need to obtain a visa beforehand. If your desired company does require a visa, it’s best to request one at least 60 days in advance to rule out any complications. You should also check with a travel health clinic about potential vaccinations needed when traveling overseas, and be aware that several inoculations require a few weeks to kick in, meaning you’ll need to schedule them well before you depart.
Regardless of whether or not your tour operator requires you to book travel insurance in with your experience, it’s critical to ensure that you’re covered during your trip. Remember that you’re venturing into some of the most incredible — and remote — lands on Earth, and the unexpected can happen. With that in mind, it’s best to have peace of mind and make sure your insurance is good to go before you step on your departure flight.