An African Safari should be the holiday of a lifetime, yet sometimes it turns into a nightmare rather than a dream vacation, simply because the travellers failed to properly prepare for their trip. Basic preparations are extremely important regardless if you are exploring the Great Plains with the red-robed Masai, one of Africa’s fabled tribes, or want to observe the antelopes at the rim of the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania. Without the necessary planning you are challenging Lady Luck, and may end up with a few hard-to-tackle problems.
If you want to enjoy your African safari holiday to the fullest, the following guidelines will help you achieve your goal:
Travel Itinerary and Flights:
• Your passport and visa documents have to be valid, up to date and in order.
• Make travel insurance mandatory.
• When booking your trip, leave yourself ample time between connecting flights. Flight delays happen everywhere, even in Africa.
• Check out which time of year is best to travel within Africa.
• Keep a pocket dictionary at hand in case you encounter locals who do not speak English.
• Keep the different time zone in mind!
• Carry a change of clothing in your carry-on luggage in case your bags are lost during air travel.
• It is recommended to wear comfortable, casual cotton clothing when travelling through tropical Africa. Organic material allows your skin to freely breathe in the hot, humid climate. Stick to neutral shades, such as khaki, beige, brown or dark green. Bright colours can frighten the animals.
• Pack a few warmer clothing pieces for the early mornings and cooler evening. Depending on the season, also bring rain gear.
• Depending on your destination, pack appropriate hiking boots and other shoe wear. Stilettos won’t cut it in the bush unless you are hosting a comedy show for the locals!
• Hats, caps and other head coverings will protect you against the persistent overhead sun.
• While in Africa always remember that you are a guest, so respect the local cultures and religious beliefs by wearing appropriate clothing.
• Limit your jewellery. The lions and elephants do not care if you wear diamonds!
Although there are many sophisticated medical facilities throughout metropolitan areas, medical care may be limited while visiting remote tourist attractions, or during extended game drives. To protect yourself:
• Make sure your immunisations are up to date.
• Always pack a first aid kit. It should include band-aids, aspirin, anti diarrheal pills/laxatives, antiseptic and insect bite cream, headache medication, anti malaria tablets, rehydration powder, as well as your usual prescription medication. Your travel agency can advise you on which care products are absolutely necessary.
• Carry lots of sunscreen and insect repellent. Wear quality sunglasses for eye protection.
• Drink bottled or purified water whenever possible.
Other Things to Think About:
• Copy passports, credit cards, airline tickets, reservation confirmations, and other pertinent identification and documents. Keep one copy with you, and leave one copy with your contact at home. You can also scan them and save them on a secure internet site. Many hotels have internet access, which will allow you to access the file and print out additional copies should you need to.
• Never carry large sums of money with you.
• Lock up valuables in the hotel safe; if you are spending a few days at a camp, keep tempting items out of sight. Never leave valuables unattended in a car or bus! What is not there cannot be stolen!
Most of all, have a good trip!