Is it safe to go on safari? Will I get eaten?
We’d say absolutely yes, it’s as safe as it is to go anywhere. You need to use your brain and understand that you are likely to be in a remote place with wild animals, but the staff will guide you and would not put you in danger.
How much does it cost to go on safari?
Normally quite a bit. We’d say spend as much as you can because a cheap safari is a tourist attraction, whereas on an expensive safari you experience the wild. If you don’t mind being bussed in, looking at an animal with a load of other tourists with their blaring radios, and then going on to the next attraction, then you can get some cheap deals for a couple of hundred dollars a day or less. For the top safari lodges, you can spend $2500 per day per person, not including transport. A good luxury safari in the region of $400-$700 per person per night depending on season and country.
Why is it expensive to go on safari?
Consider how many people it takes to look after the land, to protect the wildlife, to look after the guests. It is not unusual for a lodge to have 200 staff members. Then consider how the lodge provides the amazing food that it does, and how it keeps the rooms so smart and well-repaired: quite simply, it costs a lot to have your lunch flown in by plane. On top of this you have park and conservation fees which go to the government – between $50 and $150 per day. You can see how it adds up.
Will I get malaria?
Malaria is on the decline thanks to a huge drive to prevent the disease from spreading. There are only certain places where you’ll find malaria in Africa, and only at certain times of year. If you are altitude, if it’s the winter and it’s dry, or if you are in a remote place where there aren’t many humans for the mosquitoes to spread the malaria amongst, you are unlikely to encounter any malaria threat. If there is a threat of malaria, making sure you cover up when the mosquitoes bite (in the early evening) and sleep under a net will go a long way to protecting you, as will taking a malaria prophylaxis.
Will I see the “Big 5”?
The term “Big 5” refers to the hardest animals to shoot back in the hunting days of old, rather than the biggest animals.
The Big 5 are: Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino.
There is never any guarantee as to what you’ll see! Giving yourself time is the best bet to seeing lots of animals, and going in the dry season helps too. Some animals are incredibly hard to see, such as nocturnals like the pangolin, but talk to your tour operator about finding the right lodge which will give you the best chance of seeing what you want to see: wildlife experiences vary greatly from place to place.
When should I book my safari?
Good lodges start getting booked up a year in advance, so you’ll want to start thinking about things around about that time.
Do I have to wear beige on safari?
You don’t have to, but it’s a good idea to wear neutral colours because then you won’t scare the wildlife, you won’t attract the sun and you won’t attract tsetse flies (tsetses love black and blue and the sun loves dark colours too). Have a look at our packing advice.
Do I need jabs?
Yes you do – have a look at our safari health advice.
What’s the weather like?
Most of Southern Africa follows a dry/rainy seasonal pattern governed by the intertropical Convergence Zone, or the ‘doldrums’. During the dry seasons expect clear sunny days and cool evenings; during the rainy season expect daily rainfall and humidity but not usually constant drizzle. Exceptions are South Africa’s Cape Town area which is influenced by the Atlantic, and Botswana and Namibia which can push the ITCZ further north, resulting in droughts.
What is the ITCZ?
The ITCZ is a ring of thunderstorms and clouds circling the globe around the equator, following the sun’s zenith point. The ITCZ essentially sucks wind towards it, so it is the point at which the northeast and southeast trade winds converge, and is thundery and rainy as a result.
This band of cloud and rain moves above and below the equator, and the weather patterns change accordingly. Put simply, when the ITCZ passes overhead, it heralds the rainy season. When it moves on, it is dry once again.
What is animal-viewing etiquette?
We’re glad you asked, thousands don’t! Keep quiet, don’t stand up at sightings, turn off mobile phones, try not to ask incessant questions but do interact with your guide, share the prime photographic positions if you have many people in your vehicle, and don’t ask the driver to see everything – it’s not a checklist mission, it’s a chance to watch wildlife rather than see it once and move on.
What should I bring for the locals?
Speak to your operator about the lodges you are going to, and check www.packforapurpose.com. As a general rule, pens are always valuable.
Will I be able to charge my camera?
There will be electricity in most places you stay, and the more luxurious lodges also supply sockets to suit all types of plugs. But there may be restrictions on when the power is on etc, so we advise to take a power pack to see you through any periods when you can’t charge equipment.
Can I take children on safari?
Yes! Some lodges have age restrictions and some wildlife areas have age restrictions on activities, but children are very much welcome in many places. Be aware that it’s 12+ for walking safaris in most places, and 6+ for game drives. However if you take a private vehicle then you can have a child of any age on a game drive.
When is the best time to go on safari?
The dry season is a great time to go on safari because it’s easier to spot animals. You can’t go far wrong anywhere in ‘safari’ Africa if you head out in July – October. The rest of the year can be fabulous too, with much better prices… Have a look at our guide to when to go on safari.
Can I ride an elephant?
No! The Good Safari Guide is not a fan of mistreatment of animals and in particular we love elephants. Leave them to be elephants, not vehicles for amusement. On safari you can ride horses, camels, quad bikes, microlights and all manner of other flying, walking and driving vehicles, so let’s leave the ellies out of it!