When it comes to a vacation ‘bucket list,’ a once in a lifetime safari trip comes up trumps a lot of the time. Encountering the African wildlife first-hand is not an opportunity many of us will get to experience in our lifetimes. That’s what makes it such a popular vacation destination. Sure, there are pale imitations of the real thing. You can find countless national parks all over the world offering these exotic creatures. But it’s not authentic. They’re not in their natural habitat.
There’s only one way to experience a genuine safari experience, and that’s to visit Africa. The real beauty of the safari is that it suits just about anybody. No matter what you’re looking for in your vacation. Whether you’re traveling alone or with your family – you’ll find your needs catered for. Tour guides are on hand to talk you through the process and keep you safe. All you have to worry about is sitting back and appreciating nature in its purest form.
In the last few decades, the African governments have made a point of increasing its exposure. Indomitable travelers are the continent’s bread and butter. The poorest areas rely on tourists to feed their economy. By planning a safari drive this year, you’re not just embarking on an unforgettable journey. You’re also contributing to the wealth of other people.
What does ‘safari’ mean?
The Swahili word safari literally translates to ‘journey,’ and that’s exactly what it is. A journey of the mind, body and soul. A spiritual journey. It’s an escape from the world we’ve created, and a reminder of where we come from. Whether you believe in spirituality or not, there is no denying the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of a safari.
The most traditional form of Safari comes in a very primitive form. It involves camping with a small group of people and being out in the open, amongst the African wildlife. Though you’ll usually be accompanied by a tour expert for your own safety, it’s not recommended for families with children. If you’re looking for a tour more catered to your needs, they are available.
The modern safari has evolved. It’s less about being surrounded by nature and more observing it from afar. You’ll see, smell and touch everything in the same way, but you’ll do so from the safety of your tour vehicle. This is still a breathtaking experience. The joy of seeing a pride of lions showing their most basic instincts is a cause for celebration whoever you are.
Where to go?
All over Africa there are different safari camps. That’s an entire continent almost dedicated to preserving the wildlife in their areas. Of course, that means that, depending on where you go, you’re going to find different animals. Dry deserts are going to attract the most exotic mammals. From elephants, gazelle and zebras to tropical birds. There’s something to be seen around every corner. Malawi, in particular, is considered the ‘heart of Africa.’ There you’ll find a country willing to invite you in with open arms. Friendly faces, diverse culture, and incredible wildlife.
Compare this to a trip to somewhere like the Congo. This is surrounded by tropical rainforests and, as such, houses many different kinds of wildlife. Here, you’re more likely to find imposing gorillas, tropical fish, and yet more exotic birds.
If you don’t fancy trawling through the desert for a long period of time, you could try the white beaches of the Seychelles. Opening up onto the stunning Indian Ocean, it has more of a typical vacation feel. It’s an island paradise for anyone that loves exploring or relaxing. If you’re stuck in a stalemate with your partner over where to visit, this could be the answer for you. The option of sitting under the sun’s red-hot rays and sipping tropical cocktails is always there. But for your inner adventurer, there’s also a whole new world of wildlife to be found underwater. With an abundance of giant tortoises to be witnessed, you’ll never be stuck for options. Scuba diving is also a popular activity for visitors to the Seychelles. Discovering the populations of underwater creatures amongst the crystal blue ocean is one of the better ways to spend your day.
When to go?
Most safari destinations are suitable for visiting all year round. However, there are a couple of times of year that may suit you better depending on what you want to see. For example, the first half of the calendar year is a spectacular time for birdwatching. All the unique birds are out in full force.
Otherwise, spring is often the choice of many when holidaying in Africa. The warm climate is accompanied by a cool air that encourages all of the amazing animals to appear. If, as mentioned above, you plan on visiting Malawi, you should take care. The wet season runs from December through until March. The conditions can make it impossible to get out onto the African plains, so you may miss out.
Remember, there are many common diseases in Africa that you must watch out for. Malaria, for example, is rampant. Make sure you are fully immunized well in advance of your vacation.
Be wary of crime. Unfortunately, some locals see foreigners as potential victims. Never keep an abundance of cash on your person. Most shops will accept cards and traveler’s cheques, so use them wherever you can. Be extra vigilant and stay away from less-populated areas.
In conclusion, work out what you want from your safari getaway. This will largely depend on whether you’re traveling alone, with friends, or with family. Depending on what you want to see, different regions of Africa will offer you different wildlife. There are also different cultures to be experienced, and a range of luxury accommodation. However, don’t let any reservations you have put you off this fantastic trip. There are few memories that last longer than those you make on safari. It’s a journey of self-discovery, and one that will stay with you forever.