Have you been dreaming of booking your first Safari? Can’t wait to get up close with Africa’s extraordinary wildlife? Worried about what to expect once you’ve booked? Last year my sister and I took the plunge and experienced our first, and hopefully not last, Safari with a 7 night itinerary in Kenya.
I am a huge animal lover and was super excited about the prospect of coming face to face with lions, elephants, zebras etc. Seeing as this was my first foray into Safari holidays I really should have dedicated some real time to reading up on what to expect but in all the excitement I forgot all about doing some sensible research and I admit, wasn’t really prepared!
In this post I want to give you some top tips in order to make sure that if you choose to go on a Safari adventure you will know what to expect and be better prepared than I was!
We booked ourselves onto the Cheetah Safari from Somak Holidays. We chose this itinerary based on the accommodation ratings, value for money and of course, the areas for the best wildlife spotting opportunities. The Cheetah Safari was made up of 7 nights exploring across Kenya, starting at Nairobi airport and travelling across the country exploring some world famous reserves.
We stayed in several places: the Aberdare Country Club, the Ashnil Samburu Camp, the Serena Mountain Lodge, the Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge and finally Ashnil Mara Camp in the Masai Mara.
Although we were on our first Safari experience we were lucky to have been put in a group of 6 with 2 other first timers and a pair of ladies who had been on so many Safaris they were into double digits. These experienced ladies made all the difference, giving us some great tips along the way.
Our first mistake was to pack our normal travelling suitcases, the ones we would take on jaunts to Europe for city breaks. However, when it comes to a Safari just because you are allowed 30 odd kg on your flight doesn’t mean you have to take that much with you. We quickly realised that having a big case was going to be a bit of a trial, especially because we had to fix 6 visitors and a driver’s worth of luggage into our cars along with us. We were really lucky that the 2 experienced ladies had brought small cases and we were able to jenga the luggage into the back of the vehicle. Take a smaller case. Don’t overpack. You won’t need anything other than comfortable, practical clothes. You can leave your ball gowns at home. The camps all offer cheap laundry services and as most of your time will be spent in your car either in the reserves or travelling between them so you won’t need serious outdoor footwear which is heavy and space hungry. We make the mistake of packing hiking boots. No no!
As I mentioned, most of your time will be spent in your vehicle, especially when driving between reserves which can be 8 hours apart! I recommend packing some sort of entertainment to keep you from getting bored. I downloaded a few audiobooks which kept me going.
Accept the fact that you are going to be bitten by all manner of insects and come prepared – think repellents and bite creams, I suggest long pyjamas which you can tuck into bed socks to avoid getting bitten at night, a onesie might be the best option! Many of the camps are made up of glamping style tents so no matter what you do, bugs are probably going to get in. Don’t forget to organise anti-malaria pills and other vaccinations before travelling.
Seeing as I mentioned the tents, it’s worth considering who your Safari buddy is. Luckily, I went with my sister who I am pretty close to, so the limited privacy didn’t bother us too much. Take note – the shower and bathroom facilities are often just cubbies inside the tent with glass doors and no ceilings!
Another thing you will have to accept is that you will probably have a funny tummy at some point on the trip – I am vegan and only drank bottled water but still had a dodgy tummy at the end of our trip. Stock up with anti-diarrhoea tablets and remember to keep yourself hydrated. Make your own rehydration drink with bottled water, a little salt and a little sugar.
On a Safari it’s all about the animals and shooting amazing photos to take home and make your friends jealous! Invest in a telephoto lens for your camera to avoid disappointing photographs. Although some animals do come really close to the vehicle some, such as leopards, you may only see from far away and up high in trees. I only bought my telephoto lens the day before we left for Safari and I am so glad I did. I got some fantastic photographs of the wildlife that I will treasure forever. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:
About the Author
Micaela combines her love for all things digital and all things creative with a career in digital marketing alongside running her uk lifestyle blog Stylish London Living. Micaela has been blogging since 2012 and loves sharing new experiences, products and her passions with her readers.