Safari trip is one of those bucket list things you dream about since you first watched The Lion King, right?
Couldn’t be only me.
If yes, well, I am glad we met.
If you are thinking How to Plan a Safari Trip you must already be aware it’s gonna be a once in a lifetime experience.
That being said, you must experience additional pressure when just thinking of it’s planning and organization.
We all want extraordinary things to happen as they are meant to happen – in an extraordinary and best possible way.
Nobody wants a bad safari experience.
Ruined weekend trip to Rome? Hmm, bearable.
Easter family gathering in your hometown that ended up in noisy discussions and rolling eyes? Totally expected.
But, bad safari trip… you just can’t let that happen!
So, let’s get to the planning of your best African safari trip!
BEST COUNTRY FOR SAFARI – DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO (Important part of How to Plan a Safari Trip)
You know that you want that dream safari trip but you are not sure where should you start from?
First things first – decide in which country you want to experience that perfect safari.
Keep in mind that not all the safari spots are the same, and even the same place offers different safari experience depending on the time of the year.
There are great differences in both flora and fauna and each place offers a different things. The differences are not only in the variations of animals and vegetation but also for many other factors such us health and safety standards, malaria (and/or other illnesses) risk, the climate etc.,
Also, don’t forget to check visa requirements for the country you want to visit.
There are many factors to take into consideration in order to get a shortlisted safari spot candidate.
Safari can be done in many African countries and, according to the internet, these are the best ones:
Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Uganda.
Botswana is currently ranked as one of the safest African countries. It`s most famous safari destination is Chobe National Park – home of Africa’s highest concentration of elephants.
Tanzania is also one of the safest African countries and offers some of the best safari spots such as incredible Serengeti National Park – a place to be if you want to see the Great Migration of the animals. Another safari star of Tanzania is Ngorongoro Crater – a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering spectacular views and abundant wildlife.
Namibia is another great spot for doing safari but less tourist oriented. Etosha National Park is one of the most visited there and it’s home to elephants, rhino, cheetah and many other animals. Even though Namibia is known by it’s Civil War, 2002 was long ago and, since then the country has come a long way in terms of safety.
Zambia is famous for its Zambezi National Park and Victoria Falls that both have to be beyond impressive. Safari in Zambia is usually described as wild and not so touristy. It is usually referred to as Zambia as quite a safe country.
Kenya is said to have some of the best (if not the best) safari spots in the world.
It’s famous Masai Mara Park is one of the most visited safari parks famous for its exceptional population of Masai lions, leopards and Tanzanian cheetahs. It is also a great place to see the Great Migration of the animals (zebra, gazelle, wildebeest coming from Serengeti Park in Tanzania.
Rwanda is a home to endangered mountain gorillas (that you cannot see in any other place) and it’s famous for its Volcanoes National Park where you can see abundant wildlife. Even though the country had some pretty rough moments back in 1994 (Rwandan Genocide), the country is recovering and it is said to be safe for traveling.
These are just some (according to the internet – the best ones) of the African countries that offer safari and, as you see, each one has some particularity.
Investigating more in detail about each of these countries, their national parks, climate, current political situation etc., can be a good start on your way to plan a safari trip.
In our case, we were between Kenya and Tanzania and our final choice fell to Tanzania thanks to the better combination of flights.
How to Plan a Safari Trip ; What is important when choosing the country for a safari trip?
- General safety in the country
- That there is a big variety of wildlife
- More less good combination of flights
- Open for tourism in terms of covid-19
- Non-complicated visa requirements
Rwanda was also a very tempting destination as we would both love to see gorillas buuuut, we wanted our first safari to be as abundant with different wildlife as much as possible. Additionally, Tanzania seemed a safer option for our first African trip ever.
Our suggestion when it comes to the election of the country – follow your own priorities!
– which animals would you like to see?
– are you interested in more touristic places or prefer off-the-beaten-path experiences?
– are you (and up to which level) concerned about general safety?
For us, the almost immediate decision was Tanzania.
We felt it fits best to what we were looking for. Besides, we fell in love with the stories of the enormous Serengeti Park that extends between both Tanzania and Kenya and we had such a desire to visit at least a small part of it.
Once you picked the right country for your safari trip to Africa, it’s time to get more specific.
DECIDE WHICH PARKS YOU WANT TO VISIT
Once you have defined which spot on the map you will visit, you can say that your safari plan starts to have some shape.
However, picking a park or parks you want to visit within the country is also a difficult task.
Most of these countries have several parks and game reserves where you can do a safari.
For instance Tanzania has 21 and Kenya 23 national parks where you can go on safari.
Even though the common logic is that they all host wild animals you want to see, still, the parks are quite different.
Some animals are not present in all the parks, some parks are homes for a larger population of a certain animal than others, the vegetation and climate can differ, the distance from the main cities etc.
All these factors play a role when choosing the right itinerary for your safari trip.
If you are like us, at first sight you will want to visit all of them.
Unfortunately when you start to look at the map in more detail, plus when you start calculating the price, it starts to be less and less realistic that you can make it all (unless you are a billionaire with unlimited free time).
For this reason you need to investigate all the available parks, compare what there is to see in each of them, which is the best season, and, of course, prices.
Some National Parks can be visited as a one-day-trip but some others are located quite remotely so it is highly advisable to sleep over inside the park (at some lodge or camping site) and live the full experience.
With these considerations in mind you can start to have an idea of how many days you will want to stay and more or less in which parks within a country of your choice.
As for Tanzania, there are 2 main safari circuits – the northern one and the southern one.
The northern circuit include the following national parks:
Arusha National Park, Manyara Lake, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park.
For visiting all of the Northern circuit parks you will need a minimum 6 days (1 day per park).
However, if you have more time (and more money) your safari trip can last much longer. Since Serengeti National Park is enormous and offers the biggest variety of wildlife and spectacular scenarios, your safari trip only to Serengeti can last even a month.
Many people are interested especially in this park and seeing the Great Migration (that goes from Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya), so there are plenty of offers for a multiple-day safari tour only in Serengeti.
Southern Tanzania circuit is said to be less touristic which makes it more wild and more off-the-beaten-path.
It includes Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve which are both said to be spectacular and abundant in wildlife.
These are not only National Parks in Tanzania but let’s say they are the main and the most popular ones.
As for our election strategy, we chose to stay on a more touristy side and do the Northern Circuit since it was our first safari trip and our first Africa trip ever. Also, Serengeti and Ngorongoro are one of the most famous safari parks so we didn’t want to miss them at any cost.
Now that you defined the place of your safari trip, it’s time to think about time.
How many days do I need for a safari trip? The answer could be – as many as you can afford it.
DEFINE HOW MANY DAYS YOU WANT TO SPEND ON YOUR SAFARI TRIP
If you have already short-listed the parks that you want to visit, your plan is getting more and more concrete.
Now, check your vacation balance.
Not enough, I know.
Look at it from the slightly brighter side – you don’t have enough money for as many days of safari vacation as you would want anyway… so, just do your calculation: available vacation days – > available money and you will get your magical number. It is what it is.
Consider that this is once in a lifetime experience and you should take the most of it, hence, don’t be stingy with the days (and money) – stretch yourself as much as you can, it will be so worth it.
You will see things that you will remember forever so try to have enough time for your visit, enjoy and avoid having to run at all times.
Safari trips can be adapted to all needs so you can pick day-trips, 2 days experience up to as many days of safari as you want.
In our case, we had unlimited time available but not unlimited money, and as it seems that time is not money, we had to settle with 6 days of a private budget safari trip.
We wanted to see the main parks of the northern circuit in Tanzania so we chose to make a combination of day trips from our base hotel in Arusha and a few days of sleeping inside the national park or in their surroundings.
Our Tanzanian experience – we were happy with our choice. 6 days of safari was just enough for us.
Even though, at the beginning, we thought 6 days wouldn’t be enough, at the end, we came to the conclusion it was just the perfect measure.
Keep in mind that safari means sitting in a car all they long, traveling on the bumpy, dusty roads and seeing animals for 6 or more hours per day. At the end, even though it is incredibly fun, amazing and absolutely unbelievable experience, it will get you tired.
In order to get the best of your experience, there is another important factor to take into consideration when planning a safari trip.
WHICH TIME OF THE YEAR IS THE BEST FOR SAFARI?
Check which park is better in which season – it makes a difference.
This particular point can totally ruin your trip or make it be as you dreamt of it. Plan your trip with enough time and make an analysis of the weather conditions throughout the year in different zones of your destination country.
Knowing How to Plan a Safari Trip will help you to to have that perfect experience you are dreaming of.
So, keep reading…
Depending on the country you choose for your safari trip and the specific region within the country that you want to visit, you may need to adjust the traveling dates. Obviously, you won’t enjoy your safari if there are heavy rains every day, so make sure to hit the right season.
For example if you want to see the Great Migration that happens in Serengeti, Tanzania towards Kenya, you should travel between late June to August.
Speaking of Tanzania, the best time to go to safari would be any time outside the period March – May (rain season) and November and December (when there is another, lighter, rain season).
To see the Great Migration in Serengeti, the best time would be late June to August.
As for the southern Tanzanian circuit, the best time would be June to October.
We did the northern circuit in Tanzania in early September and this is our experience:
- The driest period of the year, no rain, no mosquitoes, no tsetse flies (or insects in general) in any of the parks we visited. We were so happy about this!
- The weather was beautiful – warm but not too hot, even chilly at night
- We saw a lot of animals – still, they told us we would have seen much more if were doing it in July, August
- We haven’t seen the Great Migration – we arrived some weeks late for that but, still, we are happy with the amount and variety of animals we have seen
Another question that might cross your mind while planning your safari trip – accommodation.
This one is quite easy and does not require too much of a planning.
Where to stay during your safari?
When going on a safari, you will, most likely, not start your trip from the capital but from some of the towns close to the national parks you want to visit. Your safari trip will, most likely, start from there.
If you wish so, your safari trip can start even at the airport where the agency would pick you up, transfer you to the accommodation that they offer with the tour and your safari trip will start next morning.
In the case of Tanzania and in case you are visiting some of the Northern Circuit parks (like we did), recommended towns to start your trip are Moshi or Arusha.
You will see that there are 2 airports in the surrounding area – Kilimanjaro Airport and Arusha Airport.
Assuming that you will arrive at some of these 2 airports, you can search for accommodation in Arusha or Moshi which are 2 nearest towns to the safari area and northern national parks.
Once you have identified the city where you will be staying, you can pick a hotel/hostel or b&b through the traditional tools such as Booking.com and Airbnb.
Many agencies and safari tour operators already include accommodation from the day 1 into their tour packages. In that case, you won’t even need to do much.
Another question to answer on your safari planning list – self-organized trip or hiring a travel agency?
KEY DECISION on How to Plan a Safari Trip: HIRING A TRAVEL AGENCY OR DOING IT BY YOURSELF?
Safari trips are mostly done through the agencies and tour operators that organize everything for you – transport, food, accommodation, admission tickets etc.
In the majority of the parks, you cannot do safari on your own so going through the agency would be the only way.
There are some game reserves where you can do safari on your own, meaning rent a vehicle and drive by yourself. Even though we normally opt for the self-organization option when traveling, this time we decided to do it with the agency.
Since the nature of safari is quite different than any other trip, we didn’t want to leave any possibility to the failure and we decided to do a tour with an agency.
Now, that brings us to another, very important question.
HOW TO CHOSE THE RIGHT AGENCY FOR YOUR SAFARI TRIP?
If you start your search in Google you will see that there are plenty of western agencies (even agencies in your home country) offering safari trips.
In many cases, the websites will offer you to fill in the online form with your requirements (number of days you want to spend on a safari, which parks you want to visit, group or private tour etc). Also, there are different price ranges for budget, standard or luxury packs. In most cases, you will have the option to book and pay for your tour online.
In most of the cases, there is excellent client support and someone who will answer all your questions in a professional and timely manner. Websites will have many useful information, even clients reviews, feedbacks and very convincing photos.
Last but not least – the price.
You cannot say that you know How to Plan a Safari Trip if you don’t know how to get the best price.
Normally, this approach (western or agency in your home country) will have the highest cost.
Think of it like this – The agency in your home country has a role of a middle man – they create an attractive offer they sell online and then, basically, they connect you with the local provider (local tour agency or tour operator) who does all the safari work.
In that case, you are paying a double fee – to the tour operator who will actually provide safari services and to the western agency that is connecting you with the local one.
Since, we are speaking about quite big amounts of money (because safari is rather expensive), we decided to use a different approach when booking a safari. This way we cut our costs significantly.
First we did a search on Google where, obviously, western agencies with the best SEO optimized websites came first and the prices on these sites were quite higher than what we expected.
We contacted several of them asking for the same itinerary and we gathered their offers. They were, more less, similar to each other, with minor differences in prices.
Secondly, we started to think about how to reach those local agencies that haven’t invested so much in the website interface and customer experience or even those who do not even have websites.
We posted in several Travelers Facebook groups and on Twitter asking for recommendations for safari tour operators in Tanzania. Shortly after, we got contacted by several local tour agencies ‘owners.
We gathered their offers and all of them were better than the ones we got by contacting western agencies (or agencies in our country) that we found on internet.
Keep in mind, they will anyways, almost always try to rip you off with prices. Act like Homer Simpson – reject the first offer.
Since, in this case, communication was happening through Facebook messenger or WhatsApp/Twitter and mostly directly with the agency owners and not middle men, there was much more space for negotiation.
Since we were looking for a budget option, we didn’t care too much about fancy things – we wanted to see animals and that was important to us.
We didn’t care if the agency is one-man-show or has many employees, we didn’t care about the interface of the website or the professional approach.
Our priorities when choosing the tour agency were:
The prove that agency actually exists and
At least few positive reviews somewhere on the internet
Following those points, we got our best offer when it comes to price and flexibility in dates.
To seal the deal, we searched the agency on the internet and social media. It was a small agency with not much of a presence on the internet but, few positive reviews that we found on Trip Advisor and their Instagram account, were enough for us.
All in all, we got what we asked for and we were satisfied with our choice. We got much better price than we would get if booking a tour through some Spanish tour agency for example.
It’s maybe useful to mention that you can even travel to Tanzania (probably to any other place as well) without a safari tour booked. There are plenty of agencies around Arusha and Moshi and just walking on the street people will start to offer you tours.
Of course, you can never be sure of the outcome but with a basic search on the internet to make sure the agency exists, searching for the reviews and feedback on social media, TripAdvisor and similar, visiting a physical office, you can, more less, reduce any risk of scams and also, this way, you can get a much better price.
We highly advise all travelers to not send money or do any prepayment outside of the known platforms for booking trips and excursions.
You can always pay on the spot, it is just not true that payments have to be done days or even weeks in advance (at least no need for this out of the peak season). You can arrange your trip in advance but agree with the agency that, once you are in Tanzania, you will stop by the office to do the payment. They also, normally, prefer cash to bank transfers.
Speaking of which brings us to another important question to answer – do you want to do a group safari tour or a private one?
GROUP OR PRIVATE SAFARI
If you are traveling alone it might be a good idea to do a group tour. That way you can socialize, meet new people and just have that sense of not being alone in a place that is as remote and exotic as a safari park.
In case you are traveling in a couple or group of a few persons you can have this option too. Traveling in a larger group can bring more fun and meeting new people is almost always exciting.
On the other side, joining a group tour can limit you to the already established itinerary, already assigned seat in the safari jeep and almost no space for any customization of your trip.
Here are some pros and cons of a private vs. group safari tour:
Private vs. Group Safari Tour:
- Private Tours are more expensive. Group tours are cheaper.
- Private tour can be customized as per your wishes (you can even make your own itinerary choosing parks you want to visit, how much time you want to spend in each one, you can choose accommodation, even you can choose the food you want to eat during your trip). Group tours follow an already established itinerary and they are less flexible for any customization.
- In a private tour you are not sharing the safari jeep with other than your travel buddies which means you can switch seats and move around to get the best shots of the wildlife. In the case of a group tour, everyone has their own seat in a jeep and it can be difficult to change your position if you want to have a different view or capture photos from another angle.
- Private tour also offers you more space for your luggage while in a group tour, every extra piece of luggage you want to bring is a matter of free space in a jeep.
How much money do you need for a safari trip and How to know if you are being overcharged?
Well, I won’t lie to you – even the best possible budget price you can get, will still hurt.
Safari trips are expensive and you can get better or worse prices but there is no way you can make it cheap.
If you are looking for the cheapest possible options – take a group rather than private tour, opt for the cheapest accommodation and search for a small, local agency where you will have more possibilities to negotiate the price.
Normally, the agencies offer 3 price ranges – luxury, standard and budget safari trips.
The differences are in the type of accommodation you get during your safari, quality and diversity of food, better or more comfortable jeep…
To know if someone is overcharging you for some tour – check and compare prices in advance.
Honestly, this saved us so many times as many agencies try to overcharge their services at first. Once they realize you are well informed about the price ranges and how much can cost each thing, they will reduce the price.
Prices vary and the best way to know if you are being overcharged or not, is to compare prices with other agencies.
However, count that you will spend not less than 1000 eur per person for only few days of safari (3-5 days) – speaking from our own experience in Tanzania, 2021.
Next important point on your planning list – health topics.
Which Vaccines and medicines Do I need to take?
Even though we speak about general health & safety, this topic can be quite personal and depends on each one’s view on what’s considered dangerous and until which extent.
Our first suggestion would be; check with your doctor and your government advice for travelling to your chosen destination (even though I find those government advices to be mostly overreacted).
However, we will also list some basic guidelines based on our experience and investigation:
Most countries will ask you for Yellow Fever vaccine certificate if you are coming from a country considered as of high risk (which you are probably not, so in most cases, no need to do anything in regards to Yellow Fever).
The other big hot topic is taking or not anti-malaria pills.
First of all, be aware that even if taking anti-malaria pills, you can still get malaria – the pills don’t make you immune. Another thing to bear in mind, if taking anti malaria pills, you should start taking them some days before your trip starts, and during your trip.
Of course, this should be clarified by a doctor.
In any case, it’s wise to investigate if the area you are going to is considered a high risk place. Also, take into consideration the time of the year and specific areas you are going to visit.
In our case, we found that Tanzania (to be more precise – the areas we were going to visit in Tanzania) was not a high risk area when it comes to malaria (especially during the dry season – September – when we visited), so we decided to not take anti-malaria pills.
We made sure to bring enough mosquito repellent products (containing DEET). To our surprise, during our trip (September 2021), there were no mosquitos AT ALL during the whole safari trip. There was no need to use even repellent.
According to what we found out researching the medical risks in Tanzania, tsetse flies are the biggest worry on safari trips.
Unfortunately, there is no prevention medicine and most of the mosquito and insect repellents are quite useless against tsetse flies.
Apparently the bite can be totally harmless (but somewhat painful) but there are also infectious tsetse flies that can transmit some nasty illness which, untreated, can lead to serious complications and even death.
However, the illness is treatable and curable. Also, as not all tsetse flies are infectious (but rather a low proportion of them), you will, most likely, not win that bingo.
Even though there is no repellent or preventive medicine against tsetse flies, you can do certain things to protect yourself.
– If traveling during the dry season, most likely there will be no tsetse flies (in our case, Tanzania, northern parks circuit, September 2021 – no tsetse flies at all),
– Chose earth colors for your clothing (beige, brown, dark green and similar) – apparently tsetse flies will be confused thinking that you are nature (stone, rock, leaves…) and haven’t got any blood for them so they won’t bother you.
– Don’t dress anything in blue or black colors – apparently, they love landing or anything blue or black
– As a general rule – don’t wear anything in bright colors (such as bright red, yellow …)
– Wear long sleeves and long pants – the less skin exposed, less space they have to attack
As for other medical advice , make sure to not get bitten by a monkey (or any other animal), drink bottled water and wash your hands frequently (as you normally would), and you will be just fine.
We always bring with us some medicine for diarrhea & vomiting as this is something that can be expected to happen on any exotic (even non-exotic) trip.
Traveler’s diarrhea is usually not a big deal and can be self-fixed in a few days with some active carbon pills or similar.
As for Covid-19, you should, obviously, check the current situation in a country you want to visit and evaluate potential risks.
As for Tanzania (September 2021), there are almost no restrictions in regards to covid-19. Wearing face masks is not obligatory and they don’t even require it in taxis or inside the shops. PCR was required for the entry to the country for both vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors.
Last but not least when speaking about possible health issues on a safari trip, don’t forget to get your medical travel insurance before starting your trip.
Even though, in most cases, you won’t need professional medical help, there may be a situation when you do need a doctor or urgent treatment so you should definitely get an insurance.
HOW TO MANAGE MONEY DURING YOUR SAFARI TRIP?
How to Manage Money? Are ATMs available? Should you bring cash or is it possible to pay with card?
It’s probably true that, wherever you go in Africa, you won’t find as many ATMs as in Europe for example. It’s wise to investigate the place you are traveling to and ATMs available.
At the beginning we were overwhelmed because we have read in many blogs that there were only 2 or 3 ATM’s in Arusha Town (Tanzania) and the same for Zanzibar.
General idea was that there are very few ATMs anywhere in Tanzania and that paying with a card is not acceptable in almost any place.
With that idea in our minds, we decided to bring quite large amounts of money in cash. That was kind of a real bother because we were concerned about the money all the time, making sure to keep it at a safe place etc.
Then, we discovered the product called – MONEY BELT.
This was our first time using it and I can say that it was really useful.
It’s small and discrete, you can keep your money and your passport there and it won’t be visible under the clothes.
It was great for those situations where we were not sure if our accommodation (motel or camping) was safe enough to leave large amounts of cash and also bringing it in a backpack or a pocket didn’t seem to be the best idea neither. We bought this one in Decathlon for around 9 euros. Similar models can be found on Amazon as well.
The thing is, at least in the case of places we visited in Tanzania, that there were plenty of ATMs all around. There was absolutely no need to bring all that cash. However, paying by card was not possible in most of the places.
Another thing is the commission fee that was quite high but, that’s just something we had to accept.
Regarding the currency used in Tanzania – it is TSH (Tanzanian Shillings). In many places they accept USD as well.
We suggest always carrying local money.
Learn about Safety Measures & Stay Away from Scams
This could apply to any country you visit, not only when you go to some African country for a safari.
Try to always be informed in advance about the areas that you should not go to by any means (conflict or dangerous areas for example). Investigate if it’s safe to walk alone at night, especially if you are a girl.
Overall, follow your gut, in most of the cases it won’t be wrong. And, of course, apply some basic precautions – even if the place is safe, it’s an unknown place far from your home.
Speaking about Tanzania, we were advised by the hotel staff and by our safari tour guide to not walk around by night.
Using common sense and some basic precautions (as we didn’t feel the place was dangerous in any way), we did not face any problem walking around neither by day, nor by night (until midnight let’s say).
As our base hotel was in Arusha, we spent there few days before and after our safari trip. We were normally walking around, visiting a night food market where we would have a dinner and some drinks.
We were not staying out past midnight, we were mostly circulating around the center and we were feeling safe during the whole stay.
During our walks around we got to meet many friendly locals who were eager to have a small chat with us.
Regarding local scams, I think each country has their own strategies for scamming confused tourists and those almost always go beyond creativity.
Speaking of Tanzania – we didn’t identify many of them, or maybe they were too good that till now we could not realize we were scammed.
Some of the scams (or, let’s say “creative ways for getting profit from a tourist”) we identified OR heard about during our trip to Tanzania:
- Overpricing – almost anything almost anywhere – Be sure to always ask for the price first (for example before buying street food, clothes, souvenirs, booking a tour, taxi ride… anything in general, ask in advance how much it costs. Make a quick rate conversion in your head and decide if you are ok with the price or not). In many cases they will try to rush you already bringing or packing you the stuff you showed interest in. Make sure to have few moments to think and if it seems wrong, just check and compare the price at some other place
- Help from a random person – Another thing we notice a lot is that many random people will approach you on the street asking where you are heading and then wanting to explain and even bring you to the place. In case you accept the help, they will, eventually, ask you for money or want to sell you something. If you politely say you are ok and don’t need help beforehand, well, the situation is solved.
- Fake Taxis – We have read on the internet about kidnapping cases where the fake taxi driver would kidnap you and bring you to an ATM asking you to withdraw as much money as you can. Again, this is just something we read on the internet and we haven’t experienced anything similar.
When you think of safaris the first thing that comes to your mind is probably a burning hot summer day.
Well, that may or may not be the case… depending on which country and area are you going to and, more importantly, in which time of the year. So, check the temperatures and pick your clothes wisely.
Luckily for us, we were there in the dry season so the weather was perfect – warm and sunny but not too hot. Nights were fresh and even chilly which made a perfect temperature for sleeping.
Safari Dress Code
Regarding the safari clothing, at first I thought that all the fuss about dressing in that green-khaki colors was just for posing and Instagram fame or something similar.
Fortunately, Ana was specifically concerned about the mosquito and tsetse flies topics, so that brought her to some interesting findings regarding the safari dress code.
Yes, apparently there is one and it is not related to fashion.
Here is a short list of DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to clothing on your safari trip:
- You should wear earth colors (beige, khaki, dark green, brown colors…). This way you will blend with the environment so by doing so you will, apparently achieve 2 things: not disturb the animals by being shiny and striking + won’t attract insects (because you will, according to the internet, trick them into thinking that you are a rock, grass or mud so they won’t bother you).
- Animal and camouflage prints are a big “No-No”. Some parks may even deny you access if they see you wearing clothes with these prints. As for the animal print prohibition – it has to do with the idea that the animals could get confused and treat you as one of them (no matter if in a good or bad way – you don’t want to be object of either love or hate or any wild animal). As for the camouflage prints, I guess it has to do with the idea of poaching, terrorists or similar.
- Colors to avoid – black and blue. Apparently, these are tsetse fly’s favorite colors and you will get more chances to get bitten if wearing blue or black clothes. Better not to risk.
- Avoid any bright and striking colors, patterns and designs – for example bright red, sequined clothes and similar.
- Bring a scarf or anything that could protect your mouth and nose from the dust (also sunglasses). In some areas it’s extremely windy so there will be a lot of dust all around.
- Long sleeves and long trousers are preferred, again, to protect you from the insect bites. The less skin you expose, less chances to get bitten.
- As for the shoes – wear anything light and comfortable. Note that you won’t be walking much (almost nothing) so no need for the heavy trekking shoes or boots. You will spend the whole day in the safari jeep, just sitting or standing up occasionally but there will be minimal walking involved so light and comfy sneakers are the best option.
Sandals, flip flops or anything open is not really a good idea because of the mosquitoes and tsetse flies.
Our experience – we followed the dress code “rules” meaning – we were fully dressed in beige-brown-green tones.
We were not bitten by any single insect.
However, this is more likely, due to traveling in the driest part of the year so there were no mosquitos, tsetse flies or any other insect around.
We thought our non-bright colors won’t attract any animal. Still, a moment of carelessness and we had a quite big baboon stealing our lunch boxes from the back seat. It was scary and funny at the same time.
Maybe another important tip to add – no matter how blended with the environment you look, if there is food exposed and unattended there will be a monkey or a baboon trying to steal it from you.
Last but not least is the “ethical” dress code. Obviously this part is, for some strange reason, imposed itself in the world as we know it, mostly to female travelers.
Always do your research about cultural background and the current tendencies when it comes to freedom of exposing your body parts.
In conservative and/or religious areas it might be considered inappropriate to have your shoulders uncovered for example.
For your own safety and comfort, it is a good idea to try to follow the local logic when it comes to what they consider ethical dress code. This being said, you don’t necessarily need to cover yourself from head to toes. To find a balance, you can, for example, wear a t-shirt instead of a crop top, or wear a below the knees skirt instead of a short one.
Another funny thing that happened to us – our suitcase didn’t make it till Tanzania on the same flight so we needed to buy some clothes. We searched the whole town of Arusha looking for a simple female tank top and it was impossible to find one. Moreover, it was even impossible to get a female t-shirt, blouse or anything with short sleeves.
Man’s clothes, surprise, surprise, can be easily found – both traditional and modern, in all the possible shapes, cuts and colors. So, if you are a female tourist desperately looking for a short-sleeved t-shirt in Arusha, Tanzania, don’t lose your time, just get yourself a nice male’s t-shirt.
When we travel for our families is easy to be worried.
To be able to text frequently, the best idea is to get a local SIM card.
It is, normally, possible to buy a local SIM card at the airport or anywhere in the city center.
Good idea is to investigate beforehand which operator gives the best coverage in the safari parks.
In the case of Tanzania, we were suggested to get an Airtel SIM (we took the one with 20GB of internet for around 7 USD) card and it worked just fine.
Don’t expect to have full coverage when on safari but, at least you will have signal in same areas so you can send a few texts per day and maybe check your email or something.
How to plan a SAFARI: What GEAR to Bring –
Obviously, you need to bring the best camera you have. If you are a photography enthusiast, your phone won’t be enough.
Safari sceneries are surreal and, if you want to capture them in all their glory, bring a camera. If don’t own one, consider buying, borrowing or renting it for the purpose of the trip.
Also, a good zoom lens is essential for capturing long-distance wildlife photos.
Besides this, we were bringing a GoPro as well.
If you will be taking photos and videos with your phone, consider buying some of the gimbal stabilizers. They are great for filming while in movement so you can’t go wrong with that decision since safari is all about movement.
We used hohem iSteady X2-3-Axis and we were very satisficed with the results. Bumpy ride went unnoticed on our videos and we couldn’t be happier about that.
We also brought a drone with the idea that we could maybe fly it somewhere. Our tour guide explained that flying inside the national parks is not allowed and also, since you don’t really leave the car during the safari (except for lunch break) it would be kind of impossible anyway.
He explained that, flying the drone would only be possible if you obtain a permit in advance. So, if you want to bring a drone to your safari trip, maybe check with your tour operator or on the internet, where and how to get the drone permit.
We also suggest bringing few extra memory SD cards, just to be sure you will have enough storage to take as many photos as you want.
We had a huge fail with this. As we haven’t brought with us additional memory cards, we just decided to buy some on the spot (assuming that nothing can go wrong, even though the brand was unfamiliar to us).
We bought a random SD card in a small tech shop in Arusha and after using it for the very first time we had a sad surprise. All the files on the card are broken for no apparent reason. Basically, we are still struggling to recover those photos.
Moral of the story – relay only on trusted brands when it comes to things you care about.
Another important thing – check which electrical plug is used in a country you are traveling to. Most likely the ones used in Africa are not the same as the ones you use at home. Therefore, you may need to buy one.
We recommend some of the universal adapter like this one -> Universal adapter by TESSAN that you can use in almost any country in the world. It’s great because it is adjustable according to the plug type used in different parts of the world and it comes with 4 USB ports so you can charge more devices at the same time.
Choosing our Safari Gear is probably my favorite part about How to Plan a Safari
Besides this and keeping in mind that you will be spending a lot of time outside + taking photos almost constantly, a good idea is to bring a power bank charger.
We relied so much on our power bank chargers as we were not spending much time in the accommodation. There were even power cuts few times in the hotels we were staying or our batteries were just dying quickly due to the long sequences of recording.
A good, fast charging power bank is literally a life saver on a safari trip.
We’ve got Jiga Power Banks which we are using for some time already and they are performing much better than any other models we used before. You can charge your phone (even more than 1 phone at the time) several times and, for us and for this trip especially, that was the most useful feature of this power bank.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD BRING TO YOUR SAFARI TRIP – If you want to know How to Plan a Safari like a PRO Don’t Miss This!
To enjoy your safari trip to the maximum, make sure not to forget important things.
Think about things that would make your safari trip better and also about things you might not be able to find in Africa (or have difficulties finding them).
- Your medication therapy (don’t expect that you will find the brands you are using at home)
- Toiletries (tampons for example are not so common in some areas)
- Flashlight – not necessary but it can come handy if you will be sleeping in a camping or in case of the power cuts
- Binoculars – this is, sometimes provided by your tour agency
- Diarrhea pills (active carbon or similar)
- Hand sanitizer
Well, that would be it. Even though it may sound like a lot to plan and a lot to do, after all, planning a safari trip doesn’t have to be such a big deal.
We think that now you have all the information that you need on How to Plan a Safari.
Make your own checklist and start planning that perfect safari trip!
It’s good to plan it in advance, more than anything because of the climate differences throughout the year. The rest of the things is just a matter of gathering information from different sources (and saving money for it).
We planned our safari in less than 10 days – from the idea to the realization and it turned out better than we expected.
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2 thoughts on “How To Plan A Safari Trip To Africa (+Our Tanzanian Experience)”
What an incredibly comprehensive post, guys. Very useful for anyone planning an African safari.
Ellie & I didn’t do that much research but from our Tanzanian safari experience earlier this month I can definitely agree with everything you advise.
A safari is truly an experience of a lifetime, yes.
Hey Stefan! Happy to hear from you and Ellie. How it was your trip? There are some photos to share? We have been a little out of networks but looking forward to be back. Irfan also have some amazing text about Safari but he went to Kenya instead. His photos are amazing as always.