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15 Things You’ll See on Your First Safari

Whether it’s next week or just an idea for future travel, if you’ve been considering a Safari adventure there’s no doubt you’ve been dreaming about what you’ll see on your experience non-stop. There are countless ways to go about a Safari vacation in Africa, from tent safaris (ranging from rustic to luxurious) to resort-style lodges throughout Eastern Africa & South Africa.

Did you know that Safari is Arabic for ‘Journey’? Everyone’s journey on this unique experience is vastly different. The best thing to do is to know a little about some practical advice regarding what to expect while also being open to the surprises of the wild.

First, let’s start with some age-old tips that veteran Safari-goers swear by. Then we’ll delve into the 15 things you could see on your adventure!

SafariTravelBag8 Backpack

Veteran Safari-goers will be the first to tell you: Don’t over-pack! Many of the smaller planes taking you to your accommodations won’t be able to travel with hard-case suitcases &/or will have a weight limit. Time & time again, travelers reiterate how over-packing is a constant regret. See our list of 15 things below for some more tricks to keep your baggage light & durable!

Don’t miss a trek! Across the board there are countless tales of travelers who decided not to go on a particular trek, only to have their companions returning with stories of the most incredible sight of the trip! Babies being born? Getting caught up in the Great Migration of thousands of Zebras or Wildebeests or maybe even a hunt? This always seems to happen when someone decided to hang back at the lodge!

Because these animals are wildly independent, each trek is unique & of course there are no Guarantees of seeing everything, but you will always find yourself surprised & in awe of the adventure of a lifetime!

So, with that in mind, here are 15 things you could see on your Safari Vacation:

Rugged Terrain

You’ll be riding in active 4X4 vehicles over bumpy terrain! So bring Dramamine if you get car-sick! Expert drivers & game spotters will quick moving to get to wildlife they spot quickly to ensure the best trip possible.

Up Close & Personal

All of the animals you’ll see on Safari are completely wild! Many Safari-goers are impressed with how close some of the animals will get!

TONS Cameras & Batteries

One thing you’ll hear over & over again: Remember to look up from your camera!!! This is the experience of a lifetime & there are only so many photos you can take of the Animals. The magic is in experiencing them with your own eyes!

It’s also important to remember to take photos of yourself! Sounds like a no-brainer in the selfie age, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this! You’ll be distracted by so many incredible sights you may be tempted to forget to take a picture of yourself!  While your photos of the animals may be similar to everyone else’s, there’s no better way to commemorate your trip then by seeing yourself immersed in the incredible landscape. So, ask a fellow traveler, or become a master of the selfie!

Bring Backup Cameras! While it is important to remember not to be GLUED to your camera, you are going to want to ensure you properly commemorate your journey. Having a camera fritz out on you in the middle of the wilderness is NOT idea & does happen. So always best to keep backup batteries & a backup camera in case of emergences.

safari jeep

Water!

The 4X4s you’ll be in are typically equipped with engine snorkels making them practically waterproof & your drivers will take advantage to give you the best experience possible! That being said, you may find yourself in a car that’s driving through a river! Bring waterproof bags for valuables & quick-drying Nylon clothing (added bonus, Nylon clothing is also easier to wash & dries quickly to keep you from over-packing your suitcase)!

Expert Drivers & Spotters

These champions of the Journey are there to keep you safe, maintain a safe distance from the dangers of the wild & give you a great experience, spotting the best places to find wildlife & photo ops! Part of that experience includes answering any questions you may have! Your guides are typically a wealth of knowledge & their expertise can aid in giving you the best possible experience possible! They love to share helpful tips, fun facts & explanations of the wild you’re experiencing together!

safari collage

The Big 5

You can’t go on a Safari in East Africa without hearing about ‘The Big 5”. That is: the list of the 5 most sought after animals to witness on your safari. While it’s likely you’ll see several of any combination, they are wild so there’s no guarantee. The Big 5 Are:  Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Cape Buffalo & Rhinos. While you’re most likely to see a pride of Lions & herd of Elephants, the Rhino is the most elusive member of The Big 5, as they are currently endangered.

Incredible Landscapes & Vegetation

Some guides even stop off at places to give you a taste of the indigenous snacks! Hopefully you’ll be going on at least one trek during a prime photo op: Sunset & Night Safaris are always a great adventure! However, if you can handle the wake-up call, Sunrise safaris are some of the most glorious. Sunrises over the incredible landscapes are breathtaking & many animals are more active in the morning before the heat of the day!

safari rock art

UNESCO World Heritage Sights

There are currently 4 in Zimbabwe as well as South Africa & depending on where you’re vacationing, UNESCO world heritage locations are an incredible opportunity to witness endangered animals as well as vibrant local culture.

New Friends

The 4×4 off terrain vehicles you’ll be traveling in typically have 3 long seats & several full Safari Vacation package trips are a great option to take some of planning off you! So, you’ll likely be seeing the same faces at each trek, which gives you a great opportunity to swap stories, tricks, experiences & help each other with the expert photography (don’t forget you need photos of yourself too)!

Bugs

It’s the wild. Bugs are a part of it! But, pack enough Bug spray (with at least 50% deet) in your suitcase & on the safari itself to ensure pests don’t hinder your experience. It’s also a good idea to bring a small first aid kit w/ tweezers for emergencies!

Brand New USD/Local Currency

You’ll likely see a lot of crisp new US dollar bills on your trip. In some cases, older US bills have been known to be problematic depending on where you travel. However, many places accept US currency. It’s always nice, however, to have local currency as well. So be prepared with both! While your lodge or accommodations may be able to exchange money for you, it’s best to take care of this before your trip & keep your cash in a secure & safe place when you travel.

Tonic Water/Gin & Tonics

While is may seem like your hosts have a propensity towards Gin & Tonics; tonic water actually contains quinine, which is known to aid in the prevention of Malaria. So whether you like it with Gin or not, stock up on Tonic water as an added protection against Malaria!

safari elephant

Animal Behavior

The Great Migration: You can see the “greatest wildlife show on earth” any time of year depending on where you are. Every year, millions of animals travel from the Serengetti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Over a million wildebeest, 200,000 Zebra, thousands of Gazelles & others slowly graze their way through this incredible journey! To see river crossings of the Wildebeests almost guaranteed it’s recommended that you travel late July to mid-August.

A Kill or a Post-Kill Feed: While these can be gruesome to witness (& are fairly rare) a hunt & kill is an exciting development on a Safari that your spotters will be keeping their eye out for. If you begin to witness a hunt or kill, make sure to follow your driver’s instructions implicitly, & stay still while they keep you a safe distance to experience this incredible event in the Circle of Life.

Calving: January & Feburary are said to be prime Calving months for the Serengetti Wildebeests. While Calving is typically rare of Safaris, they have been witnessed. It’s equally as important to listen to the instruction of your guides if you begin to witness any young wildlife, as mothers (and packs, depending on the animal) are very protective of their young. However, it doesn’t get more awe-inspiring than witnessing the miracle of life in the wild.

Mating: It has to be said that if you’re traveling in May-July prime vacationing time as well as Mating Season. Mating Season is typically right after the Rainy Season. So you may interrupt a romantic moment within any of the animal communities you’re visiting!

Hope you found these tips & things to look out for helpful as you build anticipation to your life-changing Safari adventure!

Tanzania Travel Guide 8

Lastly, we want to remind you that while there are MANY incredible things that you WILL see on your Safari, it is likely there are a couple things you won’t see, & it’s important to remind yourself ahead of time:

NO Camouflage (except on military, should you see them): Camo is typically not allowed for civilians, so it’s best to leave it at home. However, you will see tons of Khaki.

You can’t always get what you want: These are wild animals, so there is very little Safari staff can do to influence the likeliness of viewing a particular animal.  However, you will almost always be pleasantly surprised on your Safari! So it’s best not to keep a running tally, but go with an open & excited mind to witness whatever wildlife magic is on offer that day.

The most important thing to remember for your Safari is to have FUN! It’s surely a unique and once in a lifetime experience! Don’t forget to document & share your experiences when you get home!