Tips for Your Safari

We are by no means Safari experts but given we just completed our first one, I wanted to share some tips to any first timers out there who are wondering what to do and where to start.  Hopefully some of this is pretty self explanatory. 

Walking out to our safari 

-Bring bug spray and sun screen: You are in Africa, the sun is hot and bugs can be a plenty.  Be prepared to bring your own bug spray and sun screen but the pro move would be to ask your lodge.  Ours had some and had we known, we wouldn't have packed six canisters of each...maybe just four. 

-Malaria Medication:  Malaria is frequent in Africa and there is a good chance if you consult a doctor they will tell you to take medicine.  In Kruger, risk for Malaria is mild so we ended up taking malarone.  You may often hear Malaria medication can give side effects but apparently malarone does not (and we didn't feel any).  When we arrived at our lodge, our ranger told us that we can stop taking it if we felt these side effects since the risk wasn't high and it's not worth ruining your holiday over it.  So to be safe, unless you get sick from the medicine and it will ruin your trip, I would take it. 

-Plan for naps after the morning safari:  From what I gathered, most safari lodges do a morning drive and an afternoon drive at 530AM and 430PM.  People may hear 530 in the morning and dread it but it’s really not that bad.   You get the adrenaline going, they give you some coffee and snacks and you're about to go out on a drive to see a ton of wildlife...not a Barry's Boot Camp class.  That said, plan to relax after the morning safari and take naps if you can so you feel fresh going into the afternoon….don’t try to over pack your days in between the safaris.  We had activities planned 2/3 days and ended up cancelling them both because we wanted to hang out and relax at the lodge.  If you are going to be on a safari for 4+ nights, you may want to skip a morning drive so you can do some mid-day activities or just suck it up for one day. 

There was a treehut overlooking a watering hole at our lodge where we would read and relax in between safaris. We
saw this elephant playing with another in the mud one afternoon. 

-Don’t go in expecting to see every animal:  You are out there in the wild, you aren’t in a zoo, thus don’t expect to see every animal.  We didn’t see any cheetah as they aren't common in Sabi Sands and we only saw rhinos once out of the seven game drives we had.   You may also go an hour without really seeing anything but that’s part of it, you are on a safari tracking down animals so don’t get frustrated if you aren’t seeing anything or go a period of time without any animals.  If you have enough drives planned, you will see your fair share of wild life.  Also note, we didn't get to see any kills on our drive - again you can't plan mother nature.

-Rent photo equipment: Having a good camera but more importantly a good lens will make all the difference if you are in to taking photos and want good ones from your safari.  The difference between my lens and the lens I rented was night and day and can provide you with some National Geographic type photos by the end of your trip.  I rented a canon 100m - 400m lens which provided great zoom but wasn't too heavy to hold by hand. 

Having a zoom lens allowed me to take some shots I never would previously, especially of birds 

-Know the Animals:  It makes it more entertaining when you know what you are looking at and can actually spot animals without your ranger telling you.   There are obviously the common ones everyone will know but you are going to see a bunch of animals you aren't familiar with.  Your guide will fill you in but they may also give you a book like they did at our lodge so get acquainted. 

Don't make the mistake of thinking leopards are jaguars

-Speak up but not too much: Don’t be the annoying person who is requesting to see every animal out there, again it’s not a zoo.  That said, different cars in your camps will see different animals than you so if you know one car saw a rhino and you didn’t, ask your ranger if you can try to track them down on your next drive.  Some animals are territorial so your ranger can at least go to a specific area to try and track them down.   Again, we did not see any cheetah and even if we had asked, it wouldn't have been possible.  That said, Samantha did want to see a rhino so on our second to last drive she told the ranger and we ended up seeing three males together (something that is really rare)!  

The three male rhinos we saw 

-Safari Clothes:  They say to wear light or tan clothes so you don’t stand out too much in the bush.  While I don’t think it’s end of the wold if you don’t follow this exactly, it definitely makes for better pictures if you look like you are meant to be out in the bush rather than wearing jeans and a tee. 

Samantha and I in one of our outfits 

Oh and watch out for the animals by your room, per my last post there was a somewhat poisonous snake guarding the stairs to our room. 

A lion cub playing with his aunt 


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