What to Know Before Booking an African Safari

What to Know Before Booking an African Safari

Lions, birds, cheetahs, hippos, rhinos and leopards are just a few of the many animals you’ll have a chance to see on an African Safari.
When you hear ‘African safari’, what do you think of? Do you think of miles of grassland with the Big 5 in the background? Or do you think of a meet-and-greet experience with the locals, where you can get to experience a new culture?
Whatever image forms in your head when you hear 'African safari', one thing is for sure: it is everything listed above – and much more!
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, an African safari is the way to go.
When booking a safari, it pays to know the ins and outs of the booking process, so you can take full advantage of what could be in store for you.


The History of the African Safari

First off, “safari” actually means “journey” in Swahili. In the past, ‘safari’ meant hunting for game. But today, the word strikes up a different meaning, as ‘safari’ now refers to a travel experience where you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with African wildlife and nature.
African safaris involve seeing wildlife (particularly the Big Five), plus experiencing the African culture. As a matter of fact, most African safaris today have their own accommodations right on site where you can sleep overnight amongst the wildlife getting a full 24, 48, or 72-hour experience.


What You Need to Know about African Safaris

African safaris involve plenty of opportunities to experience the wildlife in Africa from a unique viewpoint.  From being able to see a ton of wildlife (including elephants, hippopotamus, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, various birds, leopards and, of course, lions), to being able to learn about the different tribes and cultures of Africa.
Africa’s ‘Big Five' include the buffalo, lion, elephant, leopard, and rhinoceros.  The term “big five” was coined by big game hunters (not safari tour operators), and it refers to the difficulty in hunting the large animals, mostly due to how ferocious the animal is when cornered and shot at.
Most visitors’ head out on safaris to see if they can catch a glimpse of the Big Five. The leopard is the toughest of the Big Five to see, as they are very skittish and are solitary wild animals. 
Animal sightings are not guaranteed, but the best time to catch them is right before the sun rises. Take the first safari tour offered in the morning (usually 5:30 am) to give yourself the best chance of spotting the Big Five.
The lion and the leopard are easiest to find right before the sun comes up because they are nocturnal animals – they roam and hunt during the night and escape the extreme daytime heat by seeking shade and resting during the day. It is important to keep ears and eyes open as safari guides rely on their passengers just as much as they do their own for spotting game.
African safari’s come in various packages and you can build your own. If you’re planning a couples trip, singles trip or a family trip, then you can look for a package that appeals to you – complete with accommodation, lunches, game drives and much more. Many African safaris offer standard game experiences and you can add-on depending on your needs.
At the end of the day, going on an African safari could well be one of the most exciting travel experiences you have.
Full of adventure, animal sighting, African culture and more – and it doesn’t have to be a challenge to arrange, either.
If you’re on the fence about your next vacation, take a good look at an African safari... it's an experience I guarantee you will remember for a lifetime.
Travel tip shared by Tammy Sutton-Brown