About Africa Safaris
We created this page for first time Safari travelers.
About Africa Safari details:
Questions about a safari in Africa
We design your Africa experience as you want it.
Safari Lodges vs Tented Safaris
Many travelers when they hear the words Tented Safari Package may think of a dome budget tent.
The traditional African Safari started with mobile tents and have now partly evolved into permanent tented Safari camps,as well as permanent lodge structures.
I say partly as there still is a multi day mainly about 7N or so mobile safari mainly in Botswana with tents that range from budget to large en suite tents.
The Tented Safari Camps:
A tented Safari experience usually depending on the level or class of the package which will mean a permanent usually semi screened very large tent with it own en suite bathroom and usually a outdoor Balinese type shower facilities.
An outdoor private deck usually will be part of this structure as well.
The permanent Safari tent usually will be built into the ground on a usually large wooden support usually a large A frame structure.
These tents are large spacious canvas tents with larger window areas,that roll up and down ie day or night use.
The images above is a camp in the Timbivati,part of the greater Kruger National Park.
You have all the necessities you want for the level of package you purchasing in a beautiful natural setting as most all(budget level is the exception) the tented camps have full electricity,heaters for winter,en suite bathrooms etc.
This image is of a Luxury tented Camp in Mana Pool Zimbabwe.
The furnishings that go into a safari tent are quite unique and you will be awed and impressed with the distinctive design features.
Mobile safari tented safaris are different:
Here the tents are set up every night as you enjoy a day Safari.
Generally 2 two nights in a location.
Everything is taken care of for you and many of these mobile Safaris are large walk in tents with bed,mattresses etc.
Luxury mobile tents have their own private en suite bathrooms.
Luxury mobile tent Safari Botswana-note the beds,mattress and linen.
Permanent Safari Lodges
A Tented Safari means a permanent tent built into the ground on a usually large wooden support usually a large A frame structure within a safari camp.
A lodge style unit that has the same large wooden support A frame structure.
The permanent lodge unit will have the same structure however they will be finished off generally with wood and they too are generally very spacious and large with both inside and sometimes outdoor Balinese type shower facilities.
Both types of lodging have private en suite bathrooms beds with mattresses some if not all of them have private decks.
This lodge the Outpost in Kruger Park is constructed with concrete, steel with teak wood walkways….definitely a permanent lodge.
What to wear and bring on a Safari game drive.
Generally the game drive vehicle will have water,pair of binoculars for the guest to share,some bird and game identification books,as well blankets for the early am and evening game drives.
Take a backpack with you as layer layer layer is the clothing mantra for game drives.
Layer up in the am when its colder,then layer down as its gets warmer.
For the afternoon game drive do the opposite -layer down when it begins and have warmer clothes in the backpack to layer up as the evening approaches.
A ski hat/beanie that covers the ears,for some lightweight warm gloves,a wind breaker and or lightweight rain gear if you are travelling in rainy season are all helpful
Shoes can be sandals if there is no walking involved,tennis shoes,lightweight hiking shoes what ever you prefer.
Other suggestions for you to bring for the Safari game drive:
Bird/animal identification books if you want to learn about the bush/wildlife.
Water bottle is helpful.
Camera gear with lens hoods,bean pillow for stability and a bag to protect the gear from dust.
Hat to protect from the sun as well as lip balm and or sun screen.
Insect repellent spray citronella based is helpful.
Land Safaris vs Land/Water Safaris
South Africa Safaris are generally land based Safaris.
Some of the game lodges like Phinda offer birding boating trips as part of the Safari package.At Phinda,the land safaris cover very many eco systems for example you can traverse from dense forest to open plains to scrub land all in the same Safari drive.
Botswana Safaris on the other hand offers both land and water activities.
Image above is of the Selinda explorer Camp in Botswana.
Due to the permanent waterways in the Okovango Delta, Botswana Safaris offer a variety of land Safaris as well as the opportunity for Delta boating trips.
This is a exciting way to see vast of this Wilderness area that would be otherwise unreachable.
As well Botswana safaris have the opportunity for Mokoro Safari.
The Mokoro being a traditional canoe which is a means of transportation is used as a Safari vehicle paddled by a trained guide.
Depending on the Safari lodge you are going to we will arrange scheduled air transfer or private air charters and depending on what area you are going to you may have to have 2 air transfers which is normal.
Bush planes range from very modern small planes to older plane..all quite safe no worries,or as they say in South Africa..moenie worrie nie local Afrikaans term for don’t worry everything is A OK, another local saying.
That’s your truly on a Botswana bush airstrip.The planes range from bigger
to smaller planes.
At your destination you will be met by your Safari Lodge representative, and road transferred to your lodge.
Safari lodges are generally small could be 4 lodge rooms up to about 10 or so.
Generally Safari lodges are quite far from the next lodge offering a real sense of remoteness.
They are beautifully decorated with private bathrooms and all the essentials of home in its elegant simplicity.
From Hand written welcome notes to early morning hot water flasks for tea or coffee, you will be treated like a special person as you truly are a guest and in the South African Culture a guest is to be treated well.
The vast majority of Safari packages are on a All Inclusive basis meaning:
Transfers from the airport to the lodge round trip if you are flying in.
Twice daily game drives of about 3 plus hours each gamed rive.
Possibly a morning bush walk after breakfast.
The days are full.
Game drives are conducted in a open usually about 10 seater Jeep..here is a hint about where to sit on the jeep…mmm actually I am not going to say.
I want to see if you have read this..ask me and i will tell you.
Early morning wake up call is usually between 430am and 530am depending on the season etc.
A cup of tea,coffee,light snack,and then a 3 to 4 hour game drive.
Return for breakfast.
Some camps offer a bush walk and or a afternoon lunch.
Free time until afternoon tea time.
Then its the afternoon evening game drive.
Back at about 730 to 830pm.
Drinks,a beautiful meal,possibly sit around the fire.
Then its time to sleep,to be repeated the next day.
On both game drives you will stop for tea/drinks,a sun downer in the bush…a wonderful time of day.
Remember to drink lots of fluids,the game lodge supplies water, and take your sunscreen if you are sensitive to the sun,and a hat.
A safari meal may be as big as the wildlife itself…. incredibly presented with taste,variety,Vegetarian or special meals no problem,just let me know.
Believe me,I enjoy to eat….the love and service that goes into a meal in a Safari lodge is a experience.
Soft drinks and alcohol are usually all included that is dependent on the Lodge you go to,and are included in varied degrees.
These are very professionally well trained and adequately licensed men and women.
One does not get to have the responsibility of peoples lives in an environment like a Wild African game park without earning it.
Many of the lodges in South Africa and Botswana utilize locally born guides who have a unique history of working in and understanding nature.
I have met some amazing guides and have my own list of guides/trackers that I will try and get my clients onto there jeeps for the game drives.However guides moves round as well.
Tipping is appreciated when you leave the lodge.
South Africa Summer is from aprox Nov to May – Winter from May to October.
Summer rain in South Africa is to be expected…usually afternoon thunderstorms ie Later December to March ish
Botswana…Rainy season November to March a great time to see the Zebra migration.Hot and dry the remainder of the time.
Safari Clothing List
What to Wear On Safari?
Above all, clothing on a safari should be practical and comfortable. Roads can be dusty and the temperature can fluctuate as much as 20 degrees during the course of the day. Safari clothes should be worn , and as such packed as well. Mornings are generally cooler – and in some areas cold. As the day progresses and the sun rises higher in the sky, the temperatures rise. The cooling process begins again in the late afternoon, as the sun sets.
Therefore we have some suggestions as to your Safari clothes and what to wear and pack for a safari.
Packing light layers will help you adjust to any climate condition, as you simply remove layers as the temperatures rise.
Safari clothing should be light in color – both for reflecting the suns rays, and for blending in with the natural environment.
Avoid dark colors such as brown, black and navy that absorb the heat.
Neutral colors such as beige, khaki and bush green are particularly suitable. Try to stick to cotton or other natural fibers. Cotton breathes and allows the cooler air to circulate, thus keeping you cool and comfortable.
Avoid Safari clothing that needs to be dry-cleaned, as these facilities are not generally available at lodges and camps. Remember that casual dress is acceptable everywhere.However some Safari camps and lodges do have laundrey facilities.
Often, Safari clothing double up as dinner clothes.
Recommended Safari Clothing List
T-shirts/polo shirts/long sleeved shirts
Warm winter sweater
Windbreaker or other light jacket
Good walking shoes
Sunglasses, Hat, and the most important aspect of a Safari, a pair of binoculars.
For Summer Safaris bring a light rain jacket(Summer for SA Nov to March/April, for Botswana Nov to March)
For some destinations ie upmarket Safari lodges, Luxury hotels, more formal clothing would be appropriate.
Packing for A Safari
Packing light is essential on safari. Luggage capacity on safari vehicles – as well as light aircraft – is limited. Hard suitcases cannot be taken on safari.
Whether you travel by road or by air – or a combination of both – please advise them to leave their hard-sided suitcases at home. Because Safari luggage capacity is so limited both on vehicles and in light aircraft, Safari luggage must be carried in soft-sided bags that can be molded and fit into small areas..
If you are on a longer safari and will be visiting several countries with different climate conditions, we recommend they pack in two bags – splitting their trip in half. One bag can be left in a major city airport luggage storage hotel while on safari, picking it up prior to departure for the next leg of their journey.I can help with that as my clients do that all the time
If you are traveling by road, and the vehicle is full, they may be charged for their excess luggage. OR, you may be asked to repack their bags, leaving larger bags behind. In the worst case scenario, if your are not returning to your originating point, they may be charged for the cost of an additional vehicle to carry your excess luggage.
If you are traveling by air, and the aircraft is full, the pilot may tell you that your excess Safari luggage will have to be left behind. Or, he may advise you that you need to travel on another flight, incurring extra charges for either chartering an aircraft or paying for additional seats to compensate for their excess luggage.
Casual attire is appropriate on all safaris. Fancy clothing is not necessary, and laundry facilities are generally available at all camps and lodges. With proper planning, you can limit your luggage to one soft-sided bag and avoid any inconvenience along the way.
Recommended Miscellaneous Safari Check List
Plenty of Film!!!
Extra batteries for all equipment (camera, flash, shavers)
Extra pair of glasses.
Eyeglasses for contact wearers: windy, dusty conditions can irate contact wearer’s eyes
Plastic zip lock bags,great for soiled clothes,protecting camera equipment from dust, etc.
Sufficient underwear (in some countries, underwear cannot be laundered due to local culture and customs)
Scarf and gloves for colder months
Light rain coat/umbrella for rainy months – and visits to Victoria Falls!
Personal hygiene items (expensive and not always available in lodges)
Hard candy (great for thirst quenching on dusty rides)
Leopard in the Kruger National Park that walked out of the bush next to our vehicle June 2013
Questions & Answers
The following questions and answers include a variety of topics from Visa, Clothing, Destinations, Vaccinations, Tipping, Choosing a Destination, and more.
Hope it helps.
Is this a first time tour to Africa?
Is this your first visit to Africa? Have you chosen a destination? If Not..
How do you choose a destination?
Is your goal to game view exclusively?
Do you want to incorporate cultural events and big cities in their holiday?
How much time do you have?
What is your budget?
We find that most people who visit Africa for the first time are “bitten by the bug” and want to return again and again.
Generally speaking, Botswana and Zambia will provide game in more concentrated numbers.
If you are more a avid bird-watcher and prefer game viewing by water activities, Zimbabwe and Botswana would be a good choice.
South Africa private reserves provide the unique opportunity for night game viewing as well as non-safari experiences such as touring the Garden Route and enjoying the beautiful waterfront area of Cape Town.
Because of the distances involved in Africa, time is probably the biggest factor in planning a safari. It’s impossible to combine two countries in 10 days and do them any justice.
If you have only a short period of time, concentrate on one country and see it fully it gives your client the opportunity to return and see more of this diverse continent.
When is the best time to visit Africa?
Because of generally temperate climates, both East and Southern Africa are truly year-round destinations.
In East Africa, you will find the rains during the months of April, May and November. Rains in East Africa can be short, starting in the early morning or afternoon, and lasting for perhaps an hour or so. Longer rains (generally in November) can last most of the day.
Game viewing in the “rainy” season can be excellent, although a little more challenging, as the grass can get longer and more green.
In Southern Africa, with their reverse seasons, April through August will be the cool, wetter months. Again, rain can be sporadic and last only a short time.
Is a safari strenuous?
No. In fact, a safari is one of the most relaxing types of holidays you can take.
Many facilities now offer walking safaris, generally 3-4 hours in duration. Most of the walks are on level ground, or on gently sloping hills.
Your Ranger can tell you the type of terrain you will cover before you decide to take a walking safari.
With the exception of South Africa, you will not spend too much time in the larger cities.
Cape Town is a main exception, and you will find the city easy to navigate on foot. The Waterfront offers a wide array of attractions plenty of shops, restaurants and the Aquarium are all within easy walking distance of most waterfront hotels.
What about tipping?
We believe tipping is a very personal matter. Tipping to porters will vary, but you should plan on between $.50c and $1.00 per bag each time the bag is moved.
In East Africa, you will have a Driver/Guide, who will be with you throughout your safari. On some trips, particularly where you combine Kenya and Tanzania, you may switch driver/guides in each country. We recommend the tip to your Driver/Guide be commensurate with the level of service provided and how you would like to show your appreciation. In general, we suggest $5.00 per person, per day.
In Southern Africa, you may have a Ranger and a Tracker while in the bush. Again, tipping is discretionary, but we recommend $5.00 per person, per day for your Ranger and $3.00 to $4.00 per person per day for your Tracker.
In Southern Africa (particularly in Zimbabwe and Botswana), you may stay at small, intimate camps. A husband and wife team, who are the Camp Directors, generally run these camps. In addition, you may have a Camp Hostess, who is available to help with shopping tips and generally answer any questions you may have.
To make gratuities easier to handle, these camps have a “gratuity box”, generally located in the front of the camp. We recommend $5.00 per person, per day be deposited into this box, which will be distributed to the entire camp staff.
Visa requirements vary for each country. Please remember it is ultimately you the traveler’s responsibility to ensure they you have the correct visas upon arrival into each country.
Since visa regulations can change without notice, it is best to contact a visa service or the individual consulates. If you ask we can help with this matter. While it is not obligatory to use a visa service, we do recommend using a visa service, as these services specialize in processing visas efficiently and quickly.
Inoculation requirements vary by country of origin and country of entry. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains an excellent web site.
Check the site for up to date inoculation information.
Remember that malaria is endemic to most regions of Africa, and anti-malaria medication is strongly recommended.
This is a individual choice, some traveler’s take nothing, others get every shot and tablet there is.