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Going on an African safari

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Embarking on a safari adventure is a bucket list experience for many, and for good reason. The opportunity to see some of the world’s most incredible animals in their natural habitat is truly unforgettable! However, for those who are new to the world of safari, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. 

4 min read

As an avid lover of nature and wildlife, I had always dreamed of going on an African safari. And after months of research and planning, I finally made my dream a reality by embarking on a journey to the Serengeti for the Great Migration! It was an unforgettable experience that I would highly recommend to anyone considering a safari.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me take a step back and share the planning process I went through. 

Choosing a safari destination


A woman takes a photo of an elephant from the safety of her car, in Etosha National Park. Image by Eugene Relling.

First, I had to decide where to go on my maiden safari voyage. The options are endless, with stunning national parks and wildlife reserves all over Africa. It really depends on what you’re hoping to see, what time of year you’re going and what your budget is. 

Popular safari destinations

  1. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

  2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

  3. Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

  4. Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa

  5. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

  6. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

  7. Kruger National Park, South Africa

  8. Chobe National Park, Botswana

  9. Etosha National Park, Namibia

  10. Amboseli National Park, Kenya

I ultimately chose the Serengeti for the Great Migration, but I also considered other options like the Maasai Mara in Kenya, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania and the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Each of these locations offers unique wildlife viewing opportunities.

Once I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, I had to consider the time of year. This is important because different times of year offer different migration patterns, weather conditions and animal sightings. For example, the Great Migration in the Serengeti occurs from late May to early July, and from late October to early November. I chose to go in July, when the wildebeest were crossing the Mara River and there was a higher chance of seeing predators like lions and hyenas.

You can’t plan any trip without considering your budget and travel style. Do you want a luxury safari with all the bells and whistles, or do you prefer a more budget-friendly option? I chose a mid-range option that offered comfortable accommodations and knowledgeable guides, while still allowing me to stay within my budget. 

I also decided early on that I would prioritise having an excellent safari guide, even if it cost me a bit more, as I really believe the guides make all the difference on safari!

Deciding what to pack for a safari


A man reaches into a camera bag hanging on the side of a safari game vehicle. 

Next, I had to think about what to pack. This was a bit challenging, as I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed for a comfortable and safe experience, but I also didn’t want to overpack and have to lug around heavy bags. And don’t forget, sometimes you’ll be on small aeroplanes that only allow soft bags (no roller bags), so you need to consider how to really minimise your weight! 

I did some research and found that safari outfits are typically light and neutral in colour to blend in with the environment. This helps to decrease the chance that animals with colour vision will see us. I also made sure to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and a good camera.

An excellent safari guide? It’s a no-brainer!

The importance of a good safari guide cannot be overstated. A guide with extensive knowledge of the area, wildlife and local culture can greatly enhance your experience and make it even more memorable. I made sure to find a guide who was experienced, knowledgeable, and had great reviews. It was worth the extra effort to ensure that I had a great guide who would help me make the most of my time in the African bush.

Finally, safety and security are always a concern when travelling, and Africa is no exception. I did my research and made sure to choose a reputable tour company that had strong safety and security measures in place. Travelling all the way across the world, I wanted to be sure I was in safe hands. I also made sure to follow all recommended travel precautions, such as getting vaccinated and having comprehensive travel insurance.

Have fun planning your African safari


A man leans sideways to take a photo of an elephant in the distance, while on safari in the South African bush.

Overall, planning an African safari for the first time can seem daunting, but with proper research and preparation, it can be an unforgettable and life-changing experience! It certainly was for me. From the stunning scenery and incredible wildlife encounters, to the cultural immersion and personal growth opportunities, a safari is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

So no matter where you choose to go for your first safari experience, make sure to plan your trip with care and consideration. Then sit back (in your game vehicle), relax and let the magic of the African bush unfold before you!

Learn more about how to plan for your first African safari using our comprehensive guide, found here. 

Find out more about Bushwise wildlife courses!


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