What you need to know before your African safari


Nothing compares to your first African safari. Use these helpful tips to make your experience as magical and breathtaking as possible.

Dress for success

When it comes to dressing appropriately for a safari, layers are your best friend. While it is best to pack light, you'll want to be strategic about which layers you bring with you as temperatures can range from very cold in the morning and after sunset to extreme heat in the afternoon. Don't forget to bring a hat and wear comfortable shoes or boots. You'll want to wear earth-tone colors and avoid anything white, because the latter is easy for animals to spot. Most of all, don't wear anything you don't want getting dirty. Its pretty common to come back from safari covered in dust from head to toe.

Protect your eyes

Safari dust can cause unfortunate irritation, especially if you wear contact lenses. It's a good idea to bring glasses and eye drops to prevent discomfort.

Follow the leader

Whether you are back at camp or out in the bush, remember that your guide knows best. You will maximize your chances of getting a good look at the animals if you listen to their directions. With years of experience leading tours, they probably have some amazing stories to share, too.

Respect the wildlife

For your safety and theirs, remember that a safari is not a petting zoo. The animals you are lucky enough to see are wild. Be sure to respect their space and don't disturb their environment.

Work around the animals' schedule

When it comes to planning your African safari, you have to take the animals' schedules into account, too. The good news is as long as you are flexible about what part of Africa you want to visit, you can plan an amazing safari for just about any time of year. Before booking your tickets, make sure your dates and destination are optimal for viewing wildlife.

Get up early

Not only does it matter what time of year you go on safari, but the time of day you set off for the bush is also especially important if you hope to see the wildlife while they are out and about. Most animals will retreat to the shade or become less active to conserve energy as temperatures peak around midday. To get the best view of the wildlife, most safaris will set off at or just before sunrise. It may be tough to shake off the sleepiness but keep your finger off the snooze button. You do not want to miss the chance to watch what just might be the most incredible sunrise you'll see in your life.

Your guide will likely bring you back to camp to escape the heat while the animals sleep and head back out to the bush when they are beginning to stir again in the late afternoon or evening.

Practice sun safety

The African sun is intense. It won't take long to get a serious sunburn when you're out in the wild if you don't protect your skin. Apply the SPF so you can enjoy your vacation without any painful burning, blistering or peeling.

Pack your bag

It's a good idea to bring a small pack with you when you set out on your safari. Be sure to bring your binoculars to get a good look at the wildlife and other essentials like a pocket-size animal guidebook, a flashlight or head lamp, cortisone cream for bites and itches, and an eye mask for afternoon naps.

It's important to be patient. Every safari experience is different as your guide doesn't have control over the weather or which animals will be visible on any given day. Sit back, keep an open mind and enjoy the scenery.

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