Monday, October 21, 2013

How to prepare for a safari

Preparing for a safari

It’s not every day you get to go to a real wildlife safari in Africa. With all the excitement for the trip, it’s easy to overlook some necessary preparations. Here are some essential items that should be on your checklist for what’s sure to be an amazing, rewarding experience. 

For your safari trip to be as enjoyable as possible it is essential to pack the right things to go with you. Space is probably going to be limited so you need to pay extra attention to bring the right gear and nothing that you do not really need.

Travel documents

Make sure you have a valid passport, an absolute necessity for any time you travel outside the country. Check the expiration date on your passport and make sure it will still be valid for at least six months after you return from your trip. If you do not have a passport, fill out the application in as far advance as possible, at least three months, to make sure you get your passport in time for travel. You will need to pay additional fees to have your passport expedited.

Also check the visa requirements for the country you are traveling to. Some countries, like Rwanda, do not require a visa at all, just a passport. Other countries, like Zambia and Kenya, require a visa but it is issued upon your arrival to that country, at which time you must pay for it. The one you need to be most concerned about it the type of visa you must obtain in advance, as, for example, required by Egypt.

Health and safety precautions

In order to enjoy your trip to the fullest extent possible, you must be in good health. One of the worst things that can happen on a vacation is getting sick and not being able to do or see all the things you want in the limited time you have. First, check the vaccination requirements for the countries you are visiting. You may need a vaccination for diseases like yellow fever and malaria, and some countries may require you to present a certificate of vaccination before allowing you to gain entry.

If you take medications, go to your doctor prior to your trip to make sure all your prescriptions are filled ahead of time and that you will have enough for the duration of the trip. It might be a good idea to bring some bottled water or cleansing tablets in case you’re going to an area where the water is not recommended for drinking. Pack some insect repellant, too. You don’t want to worry about getting stung while trying to enjoy the safari.

Make sure that you have a travel insurance in place and that it covers the planned activities and the required geographical area.


Africa is generally a hot place, so bring lots of light, comfortable, breathable clothing. Go for bland colors, like brown and tan, especially for the safari because you don’t want to stand out too much and attract unwanted attention from dangerous animals. You want to blend in as much as possible. Do not, however, wear camouflage. You could get in trouble for it because, in some places, such colors are allowed to be worn only by officials in many places.

Although you should pack as light as possible, make sure you have both shorts and long pants for your trip, as well as short and long-sleeved shirts. Temperatures can drop in the evenings, so pack a sweater or jacket. Opt for clothes that you can layer to adjust to the temperature. It might be wise to bring a couple of dressy outfits in case you’ll be going out in the cities at night.

Bring good walking shoes and boots. This is especially important if you’re going on a walking safari. Depending where you are, African terrain can be quite treacherous, so definitely invest in some sturdy footwear for your trip. Boots that cover your ankles are ideal because it will protect your feet from scratches as well as ground creatures like snakes.

Of course, don’t forget the essentials like socks and underwear!

Sun protection

The African sun can get uncomfortably hot, so prepare accordingly. Pack lots of sunscreen, as well as hats and sunglasses to protect your face from the sun’s rays. Bring lip balm or chapstick with SPF protection. Make sure you have enough light-colored cotton shirts to wear on the hottest days.


Bring a good camera and extra batteries and film. You want to be ready to capture all those special moments that will give you a lifetime of memories. A trip to the African safari is a unique experience that you’ll want to be able to relive through your photos and the stories they tell.


Binoculars are a very crucial item to bring along. In case you want to take photographs (who doesn’t) or video remember to bring enough memory. Also remember that the availability of electricity for charging may be limited. Another crucial piece of gear are a pair of good sunglasses to protect your eyes and to make you more comfortable. Also bring a comfortable back bag to hold your gear.