7 things I wish I'd known before a safari

Safaris can make for an expensive trip so you want to get it right. Wanderlust editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes shares a few things she wished she'd known beforehand...

3 mins

1. A whole host of wildlife

Seeing the Big 5 is exciting but there is so much more to see. Watching a giraffe, a dung beetle or a secretary bird can be just as fascinating, especially with a good guide. You'll probably find yourself falling in live with something unlikely, whether baby warthogs, bat-eared foxes or one of the many types of antelope. 

2. Bring your ear plugs

Don’t expect a peaceful night’s sleep. The bush comes alive at night and you’ll find yourself enthralled by a chorus of lions, hyenas, antelopes and frogs. It can be disconcerting at fist but, after a couple of nights, you’ll find it as soothing as a lullaby.

3. Talking of sleep...

Do you need aircon and solid walls? Or would you prefer a rustic chalet of natural materials? Or a safari tent, big or small, for that 'Out of Africa' experience? There’s a wide range of options available so choose which suits you.

4. Pack well

Africa is sometimes described as a cold continent with a hot sun. Early mornings and night drives can be surprisingly chilly, especially in winter or at elevation. Take warm layers, hat and a scarf.

5. Khaki clothing is popular for a reason

To avoid shining out like a beacon to the animals, you need colours that blend in – do not wear white or anything bright. Neutral and earthy colours work best. Avoid black and blue too as these can attract tsetse flies.

6. Take socks!

To avoid malaria, avoid getting bitten in the first place. Wear a DEET-based repellent, and cover up. Save the sandals and shorts for the daytime; mosquitoes hunt at ankle-level at dusk so wear long trousers and socks in the evening.

7. Safaris are fattening

You will probably spend most of your time sitting in a vehicle; the rest of the time you’ll be chomping – most safaris offer plenty of excellent eating opportunities. Oh, and heading out into the bush for a jog is not encouraged either! One way to get some (gentle) exercise is to take a walking safari.

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