Everyone, at some point, has imagined himself on safari in Africa, and today many people are realizing the dream. But practically everything else that you have not done before, when you actually find yourself there, it turns out to be different from what you imagined. When traveling, nothing is ever quite like you imagined it to be. That is one of the best things about travel. It always surprises.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for your first African safari.
Bring warm clothes: This is so counterintuitive that at first glance it may look like a misprint. But indeed, if you do not have warm clothes for your safari you may find yourself unnecessarily uncomfortable.
You need layers that you can peel off one by one after the sun comes up and starts to heat up the atmosphere. Light and warm is what you need, fleeces, down jackets. A scarf and a stocking cap are priceless on a morning game drive.
Bring binoculars: This is something that may not occur to you. But when you have invested money in your first safari, you might as well invest a couple of hundred in a moderately priced pair of binoculars.
In fact, a pair of binoculars can greatly magnify your experience. It is a thrill to see a lion or zebra or elephant at a few meters' distance. But a pair of binoculars will bring you so close you will feel like you can touch them.
Do not buy hiking boots. Some people assume that if they are heading out on safari they should better get a new pair of heavy duty hiking boots. But unless you are specifically going hiking, a good pair of comfortable shoes will serve you fine.
If you are not specifically on a walking safari, there is not, really, much walking involved. Most of the time, you are riding around in a jeep looking for wildlife. A pair of hiking boots is an unnecessary expense and takes up precious space in your luggage. This brings us to the next point.
Pay attention to baggage requirements: Read, closely, the instructions about packing, from your safari operator. Often when you are traveling into the bush you will be riding to your camp in a small aircraft and the luggage requirements are quite strict because there is not a great deal of space for luggage. There will be a weight limitation, but that is not all. It is also important not to bring hard suitcases with frames because soft bags pack better in the undercarriage of the plane.
Enlist competent professional support: There is no such thing as independent travel in the bush, and when you are 10 feet from a lion, you will be very grateful you are not there on your own.
You need a good travel agent who will lead you to a reliable safari operator. The range of possibilities, for traveling in the bush is enormous, and you need competent, experienced and caring guidance.
If you do not have a travel agent, it is a good time to find one and develop a relationship. The travel agent can lead you to the right safari operator, the right lodge, in the right country and a suitable environment for the kind of experience that suits your personality.