Guide to planning an African safari.

guide to planning an african safari

Basically, an African safari is a trip to Africa to see either the wildlife, or what nature has to provide. Most people go for the wildlife but others just want to relax and have the time of their lives with either their families, spouses or loved ones. An African safari requires prior planning, submission of quote proposals as well as timely reservations of hotels or accommodation. In order for you to plan the best possible safari, you need to know a couple of things, take a look; you need to know…

  1. What you need when planning for your safari.
  2. Types of African Safaris.
  3. Types of African Safari Holiday Activities that you can take part in.
  4. How you can get there.
  5. When is the best time to go on safari?
  6. How to plan your African Safari.
  7. How to budget for an African safari.
  8. What you can expect on an African Safari.
  9. How to pack for an African safari.
  10. Who can go for an African Safari?
  11. How to contact an Africa Safari Travel specialist.
  12. Africa Safari vs Beach Stay?
  13. Where are the best guides?

Here’s what you need when planning for your safari;

  1. African Travel Specialist.

An African travel specialist is simply someone who understands how to get around different places or destinations in Africa. This individual also understands the importance of your holiday to you as the traveller and does his or her best to facilitate the best possible holiday experience to make you come again for your next holiday.

Specialists can be found anywhere from locally to internationally. With the help of the internet, these specialists can be sourced easily from the comfort of your home.

  1. Quote Proposal.

A quote proposal is given to the traveller with plans on having the African safari. Most quote requests are initially provided or initiated by the traveller who gives the travel specialist just a little information on what they need to have during the safari. The travel specialist is then tasked to provide the traveller with a well done quote proposal. This quote proposal should always include;

  1. The dates of your safari trip.
  2. The detailed cost of your safari trip.
  3. Anything that is included or excluded in the cost of the safari trip.
  4. The duration of the safari.
  5. Details on booking of your safari.

Quote proposals may differ from one travel specialist to another but the above aligned aspects are the most important that you should look out for in order to have a properly planned safari.

  1. Your Specifications.

Most of the times, this will include your budget, your select destination and accommodation preferences. These can be shared with your travel specialist in order to facilitate the best possible safari for the traveller.

Types of African Safaris.

Now that you know what you need when planning for your African Safari, you need to understand what kind of safari you would like to have during your trip. This majorly depends on what kind of a traveller that you are. Here are a few that you could easily choose from;

  1. Tailor-made safari
  2. Solo Safari
  3. Couples Safari.
  4. Honeymoon Retreat.
  5. Family or Teens tour.
  6. Photographic Safari.
  7. Camping Safari.
  8. Sight Seeing Safari.
  9. Luxury Safari.
  10. Exclusive Luxury Safari.
  11. Bird Watching Safari.

Types of African Safari Holiday Activities.

Safari Activities in general can either be selected by the traveller before he or she books the trip or can be scheduled for the traveller once they arrive and have the mood to be involved in such safari activities. There are two types of activities while on a trip to Africa; Safari Activities and Beach Activities. These activities can be handled separately or in a joint safari; it all depends on your choice and liking!

Safari Activities.

These are those activities that are handled inside the national park or in the wild. Some people may call them bush activities because they involve you actively interacting with wildlife and nature directly or indirectly.

  1. Mountain Climbing.

This is indeed a fun activity that is more physical and adventurous than it is relaxing. Two famous places to do Mountain Climbing are Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya in East Africa. We all understand the awe we always get when we get to see Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, what about actually climbing it? Once planned, you will be accompanied by your guide who will be with you every step of the hike.

  1. Gorilla Trekking.

Mountain Gorillas located in Uganda and Rwanda are equally an outstanding activity to take part in. One of the famous National Parks associated with Gorilla trekking is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park located in Uganda, East Africa. Even though attaining a license for the activity could be a little bit expensive, the experience is thrilling!

  1. Hot Air Ballooning.

Hot air ballooning is most common in the National Parks of the Mara and Amboseli. Most travellers looking forward to hot air ballooning always seal the moment with a lot of pictures. Why? Because it is not every day that you get to float in the air over the Mara. Again, couples looking to tie the knot in an adventurous way could do so while on a hot air balloon! Everything could be arranged by your favourite African Travel specialist.

  1. Birding.

For those who love the different species of birds, there is always a special safari package for you. What makes birding great is that it is a quiet activity that involves strictly observation which most travellers enjoy. It is important to notice however that cameras or photographic equipment should be sourced well before having your birding activity in order to avoid setbacks.

  1. Photography.

Taking pictures while on safari is basic for every traveller. Who wouldn’t want to take a selfie with a lion? Proper guidance on how to take pictures on a safari is always provided by the right safari guide before each and every game drive. For those travellers who exclusively go on safari for photography projects or as a hobby, there are special tour packages that can be arranged for you by your travel specialist to explore the full potential of your safari activity and achieve even more than ones expectations.

  1. Camping.

Camping simply involves a visit to the National Parks for a full taste of the outdoor environment. Enjoying a taste of the real outdoors couldn’t be done better than a camping experience in the wild. Each and every traveller carries his or her own camping gear which includes and is not limited to;

  1. Sleeping gear.
  2. Tent.
  3. Fire starter.
  4. First aid kit.
  5. Pocket knife.
  6. Navigation tool.
  7. Rain jacket

Outdoor camping vs Tented Camps?

Now there is a strict difference between camping as an activity and sleeping in tented camps that are all inclusive of the best accommodation money can buy. Travellers may have their own specifications of what type of camping experience they would like to have but it is also good to know the difference.

Camping as an activity involves a traveller setting out with a responsible guide and the required security according to the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Services) and having the raw bush experience as it is. This involves setting up your tent, setting up your camp fire and enjoying the grand experience of living in the wild. Most campsites include a picnic table, a place to park your car and a spot to pitch your tent.

Tented Camps on the other hand are structures that are already set on exclusive campsites where travellers are able to have a memorable and fulfilling experience indoors. Accommodation for the traveller is well taken care of by the Tented Camp management. For this type of holiday activity, the number of travellers isn’t limited. Part of the joy of camping needs very little gear to exist outdoors.

Beach Activities.

Beach activities are those activities that can only be handled at sea or at the beach. Usually, proper licensing is required for one to take part in these activities. However, all the specifications on what you need and what you do not need will be handled once you schedule a date for your selected beach activity during your beach stay. Alternatively, one can still decide to partake of these activities without prior booking. That is still manageable and can be equally handled by your Africa safari travel specialist.

  1. Skiing.

There are those who like the feel of the wind in their hair on a hot sun. Skiing is the perfect holiday activity for you! All the gear required to facilitate your safety while skiing is available. All you need to do is to stay in touch with your able travel specialist and they will handle the rest. But what about those who would love to try it for the first time? Don’t worry; a guide can be assigned to you for a comprehensive lesson.

  1. Boat Riding.

A boat ride always takes your mind of things. Enjoying the sound of waves miles and miles away from land is a fun activity to most people. Boat riding can be handled by your safari specialist. All you need is proper guidance while on the boat and adequate attention to safety measures put in place by your guide.

  1. Dolphin Watching.

Dolphins in comparison to other sea creatures are beautiful to see. This activity can be handled by a well-trained guide, but off course at your will. There are instances where one can be allowed to swim with the dolphins. How great is that? An example of a place one could watch a dolphin is Wasini Island or Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park.

  1. Scuba Diving.

Diving as it is is a very exciting activity! Exploring the underwater marine life first hand can be done by anybody. All you need to know is how to swim. For the light hearted, a guide will always be available to accompany you while on the activity. Adequate diving gear is always provided at the marine park at an extra cost.

  1. Snorkelling.

This is an activity that parents can handle with their kids in shallow waters but the experience with scuba diving is kind of the same. What is important is that safety measures must and will always be taken to ensure a travellers safety and that of his or her belongings. Why not go for a snorkelling activity this season? It’s fun, its adventurous and its good for the family or your group!

How can you get there?

There are many ways of getting to a safari or having your way around. The two major ways are by road and air through exclusive flight safaris. Modes of transport may include;

  1. Safari SUV Van.
  2. 4X4 Jeep Vehicle.
  3. 4WD Safari Jeep.
  4. Safari SUV with pop up roof.

Transfers.

Transfers simply mean the moving of travellers from one point of their safari or beach stay or excursion to the next. Transfers usually are handled by your Africa travel specialist and must always be included or excluded in the travellers safari cost depending on the arrangements made between the traveller and his or her travel specialist. Still, with or without prior booking or management, each and every transfer can be handled by your travel specialist.

When is the best time to go on an African Safari?

The best time to go on an African safari usually depends with the weather, the time of the year and the budget and time schedule of the traveller. A traveller can choose to travel during the low season or the high season.

  • Low Season.

This is the period in which most safari prices are low and very few travellers are making their way to Africa. Usually it is because of the change in climate in various destinations in Africa or the holiday season has just ended. Smart travellers who are on a low budget may decide to take advantage of this low season and have a safari of their own however; it may not be as great as it would be during the high season, majorly due to the climate and the availability of easily traceable wildlife in the wildlife parks.

  • High Season.

This is a time when everybody is looking forward to travel to Africa to enjoy the sun and sandy beaches. Safari activities may also be very common because a larger group of travellers would be frequently travelling to Africa. The High season is said to be in the months of June to September during the Famous Wildebeest Migration. Similarly, this season largely depends on the availability of wildlife animals at national parks and national reserves.

 

How to plan your African Safari.

Planning your African safari can be done by either yourself or by your travel specialist. It all depends on you. But up to this point, I am sure you understand the importance of having a travel specialist. Take a look at some of the key things to consider while planning for your African safari;

  1. Ensure your travel documents are in order.

Travel documents include anything from passports to identification cards to driving licenses or travel insurance that is required during your safari. All these documents may or may not be needed according to your booking credentials. However it’s better to be safe than sorry and carry all of them and any other additional document that your travel specialist may need from you or your family during your safari.

  1. Ensure your health documents are in order.

It is always advised that travellers have a proper medical check-up before having their safari in Africa. A traveller’s doctor may provide adequate medication and or antibiotics to assist the traveller in case of ailments which may affect the traveller in Africa. Some of them may include Malaria or Yellow Fever. For either case, doctors may also give proper documentation about the health of the traveller which may be used in case of emergencies during the travellers stay in Africa.

  1. Properly Budget for your safari.

Not everybody has the power to account for every last dime spent on a safari. Provisions for emergencies, entertainment and even insurance can be included in your budget. Different tour operators charge differently depending on your choice of accommodation, your type of trip, the activities involved and even the time of year. So it is best to choose wisely and book to enjoy!

  1. Get the right Tour Operator.

Who can be termed as the right tour operator? Do you need that tour operator at all? Well, tour operators handle more than what you actually expected them to. All you could do yourself, could be done by them in their sleep. Again, it’s their job, why not relax and let them handle the heavy lifting?

A good tour operator can be many things to different people. Some may say that a good tour operator is very experienced. Some may say a good tour operator is cheap, while others may say a good tour operator is one who handles the traveller’s needs first and works to ensure the best possible safari for the traveller. What is your definition of the right tour operator?

I think that the right tour operator is frankly transparent with every detail of your safari. From your pick up at the start of your safari to your drop off at the end of your safari. The right tour operator will handle every single detail of your accommodation, whether exclusive, budget or mid-range and also have a provision for emergencies. So you definitely need the right tour operator who would assist you plan for your safari.

  1. Pack light and right.

Packing for your safari should be very simple and to the point. Since most of travellers come to Africa to enjoy the sun, I think it would be best for the average traveller to pack light. Especially if ones safari includes a beach stay.

 

How to budget for an African safari.

Budgeting for your African safari should involve you coming up with an affordable African safari. When budgeting for your African safari, you should;

  1. Choose Your Destination Carefully
  2. Use a Local Operator
  3. Join a Group Safari
  4. Opt for a Self-Drive Safari
  5. Compromise on Accommodation
  6. Travel During the Low Season
  7. Focus on a Single Game Reserve

 

What you can expect on an African Safari.

All this talk about how to plan for your African safari, you would wonder why one would go through all the trouble to have an African safari. What should you expect on an African safari? It is obvious to say that what you pay for is what you get. However some of the best safaris arranged by the most experienced African travel specialists have more to offer than your usual safari experience. A lot of travellers choose an African safari because of the thrill of watching a lion pass by or having breakfast with giraffes. But the most important part of an African safari is the experience that you gain after interacting with everyone involved in planning your safari from start to finish. Sometimes setting your expectations too high and too low may be disadvantageous to you as the traveller. So, if it may be your first time to plan for a safari to Africa, it would be best for you to keep an open mind. Why? Because everyone has different taste. What traveller X may expect in an African safari may not be what traveller Y wanted to experience in their own African safari. For those who have honestly had a chance to visit and explore Africa, the odds are you will love it, regardless of your taste. Moreover, there’s always something for everyone; family, couples, solo travellers, teens and even youth looking for a lifetime thrill.

However, since almost all travellers come to Africa to see wild animals, here’s a list of what you would expect to see;

  1. African Elephant

There is no animal more iconic or extraordinary than the elephant. It’s the planet’s largest land mammal and capable of incredible levels of intelligence, memory, and emotions.

Where to find Elephants in Africa?

  • Okavango Delta (Moremi, Chobe, Savuti, Khwai, and Linyanti), Botswana
  • Chobe National Park, Botswana
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Hwange National Park & Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  1. Mountain Gorilla

There are around 880 Mountain Gorillas left in the world and they are listed as critically endangered. It’s a frightening number; however, there is a silver lining as the conservation efforts in tourism have led to a stable and increasing population.

This is in part thanks to the strict regulations of 80 people a day visiting only a select number of families and remaining only an hour. To top it off the permit to see these animals fetches a hefty price tag at $600 in Uganda, $1,500 in Rwanda, and $300 to enter the lawless DRC.

By all means, you often find yourself cutting a path through the jungle and thick vegetation. With each step your anticipation builds and the reward of seeing the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world is spectacular.

Where to find Mountain Gorillas in Africa?

  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
  • Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
  • Virunga National Park, The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  1. Chimpanzee

It’s our closest living relative and an amazing animal to see in the wild. They are super intelligent and have readily displayed communication, problem-solving, complex social structures, and even the use of tools. Chimpanzees are extraordinary animals and will shock you at the similarities between us.

The experience of taking a chimp trek is nothing like that of gorilla trekking as their behaviour is very different. Chimps are far more active than their gorilla counterparts. Chimps do not live in elevations as high as the mountain gorillas and the treks to find them tend to be less strenuous.

Where to find chimpanzees in Africa?

  • Kibale National Forest, Uganda
  • Nyungwe National Forest, Rwanda
  • Gombe National Park, Tanzania
  • Mahale Mountain National park, Tanzania
  1. African Wild Dog

If you want to see Africa’s most extraordinary and fascinating predator then look no further than the wild dogs. They’re probably the least known predator in Africa. Much like the wolves of North America, their population numbers have suffered greatly from habitat loss and conflict between pastoralist.

Lions may get all the credit for being Africa’s top predator, but wild dogs are Africa’s most successful hunters – making a kill nearly every time they go on the hunt. To watch their social interactions is a wonderful safari experience and if you see them consider yourself lucky.

However, like all dogs, they sleep a lot! So, chances are if you’re lucky enough to see them they’ll be taking a nap. Wild dogs operate in packs and have a clear social structure with rankings among the pack with an alpha male and female.

They’re one of the toughest African safari animals to spot as they require large territory that they can cross at any moment. Even if you head to one of the parks they frequent, it’s very likely you won’t spot them.

Where to find African Wild Dogs in Africa?

  • Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
  • Ruaha National Park & Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
  • Hwange National Park & Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
  • Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  1. African Leopard

If we were to pick the most beautiful safari animal in Africa it would be the leopard. They are cunning hunters who stalk their prey and have the ability to take down animals many times their size. They’re the toughest of the Big Five to spot and when you do you’re in for a real treat. Leopards spend most of their days relaxing in a tree until it’s time to hunt at night – this is what makes them difficult to spot.

Where to find leopards in Africa?

These are some of Africa’s most successful big cats and can be found on just about any safari – if you’re lucky. There is even said to be some in Stellenbosch, the famed wine country just North of Cape Town.

  • Southern Africa
  • East Africa
  1. Rhinoceros

There are two types of African rhinos, the white rhino and black rhino. Due to their limited numbers, it’s one of the few safari animals we’ve had very little interaction with. The big lumbering giants are grazers and spend most of their time munching away on grass. Don’t be surprised if they’re not grey in person as they love to wallow in mud and dust making them brown.

Interesting enough they have terrible eye-sight incapable of seeing much further than 20 meters. This is why they depend upon their hearing to help navigate and detect a threat. Not that they have many animal threats with their ability to run 50 kph and two formidable horns. They’re a member of Big Five, but are very difficult to find given their numbers. Anytime we have seen them in the wild there is an anti-poaching unit nearby.

Sadly, Rhinos are the one animal on this list that is very likely to go extinct. The poaching epidemic created by morons in Vietnam and China has led to a war on the species. If you see one while on safari consider yourself fortunate and hold those memories forever.

Where to find Rhinos in Africa?

  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Nairobi National Park, Kenya
  • Kruger National Park and Gondwana Private Game Reserve, South Africa
  • Private Game Reserves, Africa
  • Etosha National Park, Namibia

 

  1. Lilac Breasted Roller

This bird is a favourite of many safari-goers due to its beautiful plumage. It’s the national bird of Kenya and Botswana and once you see it for the first time you’ll understand why. They’re widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa so you stand a chance to spot the bird just about anywhere on safari. Their most common habitats are savannah and woodland.

Lilac-breasted rollers hunt insects and they seek vantage points. Most commonly you’ll find them perched on top of poles or dead tree branches scanning the savannah in search of prey. Interesting enough unlike many colourful birds both males and females share the same brilliant plumage.

They love grassland areas where insects are in abundance so when approaching grassy areas keep an eye out on the highpoints to find the bird. Don’t worry if you miss them, as your guide will be better at spotting them.

Where to find lilac breasted rollers in Africa?

  • South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Hwange National Park & Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
  • Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa

 

  1. African Lion

Right behind the elephant, the Lion is unmistakable around the world. They are considered the “king of the jungle” and Africa’s top predator. This is despite the fact that lions do not live in the jungle, but prefer grassland environments where they can hunt. As members of the Big Five Animals man has long feared the legendary hunter.

They possess a ton of power and work in a pride as cunning hunters. To witness a hunt is one of the greatest thrills ones can have while on safari.

Your first experience of seeing a lion in the wild is a humbling experience. They are the fiercest predators on earth and the power on display by lions on the hunt is electrifying.

However, don’t get your hopes up too much because they share a lot in common with house cats. Lions spend almost 20 hours a day sleeping and that’s just how you’ll likely find them. Unlike many cat species, they’re very social and live in prides or a family.

Where to find African Lions in Africa?

  • You can find lions throughout Southern and East Africa. They need a lot of territory and distance from humans so they’re found in the major parks and game reserves.
  • Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  1. Cheetah

The cheetah is the fastest land mammal on earth. They’re the most active of the cats and the easiest to spot as they like to find high ground in grassland areas. This happens to be why they have famously hopped on top of safari vehicles, the highest point in a sea of grass.

At first glance it might be easy to mistake cheetahs for leopards; however, the size difference and spots between the two is great. Cheetahs are small cats and their primary prey is small hoofed animals. This diminutive stature also plays a role in why the animal is not a member of the Big Five, considered to be the most dangerous animals to man.

Like many of Africa’s greatest animals, cheetahs are under grave threat from humans and habitat loss. World Cheetah populations were around 100,000 in 1990 and 9,000 to 12,000 left. It’s just another safari animal that brings to light the fact we’re witnessing a global extinction across the globe.

Where to find cheetahs in Africa?

  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa

 

  1. Spotted Hyena

If you asked us the one animal that does not deserve its bad reputation, it’s the hyena. A spotted hyena, or laughing hyena, is an intrinsic part of safari and the African landscape. They actually do “laugh” in mating season or under periods of stress such as competing for territory or food. Although, you’re most likely to hear their familiar call or a whoop in the middle of the night as they communicate with one another.

Hyenas have one of the strongest jaws of all the animals. There is a common misconception that hyenas only scavenge for food, but they’re also skilled hunters and like to operate as a pack. They’re intelligent animals and active at night. Furthermore, there are more than one species of hyena, although the spotted hyena is the one you’ll likely see the most.

If you’re camping in Africa it’s best to keep food out of your tent as it will attract the animals.

Where to find Hyenas in Africa?

  • You can find Spotted Hyenas throughout Africa’s national parks and reserves. All the way from South Africa to Ethiopia.
  1. Vultures

There are a large number of vultures in Africa and they play a crucial role in the ecosystem. They’re the clean-up crew so to speak, responsible for clearing carrion from the savannah. Eight different species call Africa home, but one of the most common you can spot is the white-backed vulture. No one will confuse the vulture with a beautiful animal, but they are fascinating and extraordinary African safari animals.

Animals have a lot of fantastic names for groups – for example, vultures are called a venue on the ground and a kettle when in flight. Viewed as a nuisance vultures are critically endangered due to farmers poisoning them and a low birth rate. Vultures only choose one mate a year and lay one egg. Most amazing is their eyesight capable of spotting prey or food from high above in the sky.

Where to find Vultures in Africa?

  • You can find vultures throughout Africa, but it’s the easiest to spot them on plains and grasslands.
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  1. Eland

The largest antelope in the world is one of my favourite safari animals in Africa. The Eland is a pretty majestic one to see in person as it’s about the size of a small horse with massive spiral antlers.

Your first time spotting an Eland in the wild is pretty unforgettable especially if you spot one in close proximity. Our first time happened to be at Gondwana Game Reserve when a habituated herd walked through the lodge. They’re the size of a horse but built like an antelope for an imposing stature.

Elands are tremendous animals as they’re able to handle a wide range of habitats that covers most of Southern and East Africa. However, they’re best suited for plains and grasslands so you’ll have a tough time spotting them on safari in marshy areas. You’d think since they’re the largest antelope in the world they would be slow and lumbering, but they can maintain a trot almost indefinitely.

Where to find Eland around Africa?

  • Etosha National Park, Kalahari, Namibia
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  1. Waterbuck

It would be tough to pick the most beautiful antelope, but the waterbuck would be in the running for us. If you couldn’t tell by the name you’ll most commonly find these guys around water. They’re most common along riverine woodlands, grasslands, and forests south of the Sahara. Apparently, they taste terrible, which is key in their survival.

For safari goers, you’ll find them Northeast of Botswana. They’re great subjects to photograph as you can often find them near water sources and woodlands for a great backdrop.

Where to find Waterbuck in Africa?

  • Chobe National Park & Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Zambezi National Park & Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
  • Lower Zambezi National Park & South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

 

  1. Bee-eater

You’ll find bee-eater birds throughout Africa, and there are many different species of them. Each one dazzling and beautiful.

Bee-eaters are skilled hunters and you can see them swooping through the air catching insects mid-air. They often follow behind large mammals like buffalos or elephants and catch insects as they’re disturbed from the ground.

Where to find Carmine Bee-eaters in Africa?

  • South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

 

  1. Giraffe

It’s pretty tough to not love the giraffe. They’re the worlds’ tallest living land animals and have some funny look faces. For some reason, the sight of a giraffe staring at me with those big eyelashes from behind a tree is engrained in my head. It’s those long necks that swivel around to stare dead at you as you approach.

Giraffes tend to stick together for safety. Females hang out with their young and males together in search of a mate.

Where to find Giraffe in Africa?

  • Etosha National Park, Namibia
  • Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Lake Manyara, & Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa

 

  1. Oryx

Like the giraffe, there are actually two species of this animal on safari. There is the gemsbok found throughout the deserts and arid environments of Southern Africa and the East African Oryx. Their coats are a light grey and colour and they feature distinct black markings around their face. As desert dwellers, they can go long stints without having to consume any water.

Oryx are great distance runners and even at birth, they can run with the herd that has been documented to grow up to 600 individuals large. They’ve been given the nickname the “sabre antelope,” not to be confused with sable, for their long sharp horns used in defence. Most incredibly they’ve been known to gore and kill lions attempting to the hunt the antelope.

They thrive in the country and it’s pretty much impossible to take a road trip through Namibia without seeing the animals frequently along the isolated roads.

Where to find Oryx in Africa?

  • Namib Desert, Etosha National Park, Kalahari, Namibia
  • Wolwedan Dune Lodge, Namibia

 

  1. Wildebeest

The actual name for this African safari animal is gnus in English. However, the more common name that everyone is familiar with is the Afrikaans/Dutch name of “wildebeest.” They’re a member of the ‘ugly five’ and for good reason, they’re pretty freaking ugly.

However, they put on the most amazing spectacle when it comes to safari the great migration. Year-round a monstrous herd of wildebeest roams between the Serengeti and Masai Mara in search of greener pasture. Visitors plan their safaris to watch the herds of animals up to a couple hundred thousand make river crossings and roam.

Most amazingly the average wildebeest will cover up 1,000 miles a year and they can run up to 40 mph to elude predators. You can find them in plains and savannahs throughout Southern and East Africa.

Where to find Wildebeest around Africa?

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

 

  1. Zebra

What’s great about zebras for safari goers is that they don’t see humans as much of a threat in parks. Vehicles can often approach the animal and you can find them frequently along road munching away on grass.

There are in fact three species of zebras that live in sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve seen all three and they are the plains zebra, grevy’s zebra, and mountain zebra. The plains zebra is the most common and you’ll find them throughout grasslands in Southern and East Africa.

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but they’re closely related to horses and come from the same family, Equidae. Scientists are not sure of why a zebra has stripes, but there are a couple of theories. One of them is the belief that it helps to distract or dazzle predators so it’s a form of defence. Furthermore, each zebra has a unique set of stripes just like our fingerprints so it could also be a social feature.

Zebras are also members of the great migration and have numbers that reach up to tens of thousands. They fall firmly into the category of internationally recognized safari animals.

Where to find Zebra around Africa?

  • Zebras can be found in great numbers across parks in Africa.
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

 

  1. African Cape Buffalo

It’s hard to pick which of the big five animals would be the most frightening animal to come across in the bush, but for me, the buffalo is the easy choice. They’re known for employing the strategy of charge first – ask questions later.

They can charge at almost 35mph and are one heck of a formidable force. You better pray you never come close to one on foot as they will pummel you between their horns until you are good and dead.  There are almost no predators to these guys other than some very brave (and hungry) lions or a massive crocodile.

Where to find Buffalo around Africa?

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
  • Chobe National Park & Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa

 

  1. Hippopotamus

You’ve probably heard the interesting fact that the Hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa. It’s responsible for the highest amount of deaths to humans. That’s not because they’re feared predators but because they’re actually herbivores.

However they are very territorial and despite looking like a walking water balloon with stubby legs, but they can easily outrun most humans reaching speeds up to 19mph.

They have poor eyesight, but often walk along trails at night to feed. Meaning the unsuspecting human could run right into one and instantly be impaired by a hippos razor teeth. It’s the most common reason that locals are killed by the animal in the bush – hence the most dangerous animal in Africa.

Hippos are semi-aquatic mammals and spend the majority of their time in fresh bodies of water, really anything deep enough for them to submerge themselves. This is to protect themselves during from the midday sun and then head out.

What’s crazy is right behind the Elephant and Rhino they are the third largest land mammal. They may live on land, but their closest living relatives are actually whales and dolphins.

Where to find Hippopotamus around Africa?

  • Almost everywhere you’ll find a body of water.
  • Zambezi River, Zambia & Zimbabwe
  • Chobe National Park, Botswana

 

  1. Nile Crocodile

This is the main reason you don’t stand on riverbanks or lakes in Africa. It may be called the Nile crocodile, but you can find the animal all over the continent and it is the second largest crocodile in the world behind the saltwater crocodile in Australia.  They still have the ability to deal with some salt water so you can even find them in marshlands and brackish water.

These monsters can grow to 5m or 16.4 ft. length and weigh 1650 lbs. Nile crocodiles are highly aggressive apex predators who stalk prey both in and out of the water. Animals or humans who come to close to the wrong bank of water are at extreme risk of being prey to a crocodile. Only adding to their eerie predatory dinosaur mystery crocodiles can wait for weeks to even more than a month waiting for the right prey.

It’s best to not mess with these guys and just stay out of the water. Unless you feel like being crazy and want to try out a canoe safari down the Zambezi River. If a crocodile ever does grab you between its powerhouse jaws we’ve heard you may have a chance by sticking your arm down their throat and pressing down, but I wouldn’t test it.

Where to find the Crocodile in Africa?

  • In almost all rivers and lakes around Africa.
  1. Ostrich

I’m still not sure whether I think ostriches are cute, or the ugliest birds in the world. The large flightless bird is native to Africa and can be found in almost every national park. Males and females are easily distinguished by their size and colour.

Males are black and larger, while female ostriches are mostly brown in colour. You’ll often find these birds in pairs, and if you can see them running you’re in for a treat.

Where to find an Ostrich in Africa?

  • Etosha National Park
  • Ruaha National Park

 

  1. Warthog

Another member of the ‘ugly five’ is the Warthog. The Warthog is a member of the pig family and is most often found in the savanna and grassland area of Africa. The warthog can be found in large numbers throughout Africa, although we see the most in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

There are four different subspecies of warthogs; the Nolan warthog, Eritrean warthog, Central African warthog, and the Southern warthog. With the Southern and Central African warthog being the most common to see.

Where to find the Warthog around Africa?

  • Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Masai Mara, Kenya
  • The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

 

  1. Kudu

The kudu is a beautiful African antelope that is always a treat to see. There are two species to check off your list; the greater kudu and the lesser kudu. The lesser kudus are mainly found in Eastern Africa while the greater is in both southern and eastern Africa.

The male kudus have beautiful antlers that spiral as they get older. If you see a kudu with three to four spirals you know that kudu has lived a long life. A nice treat for safari goers is watching two male kudus dual with their antlers, however sadly sometimes they get so entangled they can’t disengage and will eventually die.

 

  1. Flamingo

Flamingos can be found all over the world, including around Africa. It’s possible to see greater and lesser flamingos while on safari. They are most common around bodies of water.

Where to find flamingos in Africa?

  • Lake Natron in Tanzania
  • Walvis Bay in Namibia
  • Lake Bogoria National Park in Kenya

How to pack for an African safari.

Packing for a safari should be entirely light. Majorly due to the costs involved in maintaining your luggage and because it’s just a short trip. Most safaris take five days at the most. Accessories involved in ones safari must be safely kept by the traveller to avoid losses. Some of these accessories may include photographic equipment. That said and done it is important for you to know how to dress while on safari so that packing wouldn’t be so difficult.

How to dress while on safari?

Dressing on safari is entirely casual. Because it can be dusty, neutral colours are most practical for game viewing. Although you should dress for outdoor comfort in Kenya remember to include one or two smarter outfits while packing for dining in larger cities. To be prepared for temperature variations and to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe, we recommend packing lightweight clothing that can be layered. Casual clothing of “breathable” fabric (such as cotton) is the most comfortable. A lined jacket or warm sweater is recommended at any time of year.

Who can go for an African Safari?

An African safari is friendly to anyone, despite their age, nationality, race, religious background or political affiliation. Everybody can go for an African safari. There is always some special safari for every kind of group or person. Examples might be;

  1. Best safaris for solo travellers.
  2. Best safaris for seniors.
  3. Best safaris for first timer travellers.
  4. Best safaris for families.
  5. Special safaris for honeymooners.

These and many more are the examples of what an African safari has to provide in terms of diversity. For each and every tour package, some additional characteristics can be included by either you or your travel specialist to tailor make the safari to best fit the occasion or the group involved. Along with these modifications, special activities can also be included to the safari of your choice depending on your agreements with your travel specialist.

How to contact an Africa Safari Travel specialist.

Safari Travel specialists can be found anywhere on the internet. All you need to do is to pick the right location that you desire for your safari and the rest will be handled for you. Since you are already here, why not contact us for a free safari quote to a safari destination of your choice?

And if you are worried that you still haven’t chosen the best place fit for your occasion, there’s no need to worry! All can be sorted out for you with a view of our featured trips on our website. Feel free to contact me in case of any safari query that you may have or simply email me and we can have a lengthy chat about what you can do in Africa. Connect with us on social too!

About Debrazza Tours and Safaris 33 Articles
Debrazza Tours and Safaris is a leading travel and tour operator in Kenya specializing in Ala carte or tailor made safaris & excursions in East Africa. We love and appreciate a quality safari experience for both our clients and their loved ones. Having been in business for more than 10 years, we understand local travel routes and have onboard a team of experienced local tour guides at your service!