Going on safari is the highlight of any trip to Africa – exploring the continent’s vast and spectacular wilderness areas on foot or by 4×4, spotting lions, elephant, rhino, leopard and giraffe makes you feel like you’re inside a nature documentary.
Where to go on an African safari
The most popular places in Africa for safaris include Kruger National Park in South Africa, Etosha National Park in Namibia, Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. Each park has something slightly different to offer in terms of landscapes and wildlife, but they are all epic. The hardest part of going on safari is choosing where to go!
You can visit all of these parks and more on our African overlanding tours and budget safari packages.
When to go on an African safari
We’ve compiled this concise guide to picking the best times of year to visit Africa’s most popular safari destinations.
What’s an African safari like?
You have a couple of different options for how to do a safari in one of Africa’s parks – you can go on a guided trip, where you’re in a 4×4 driven by a guide who will point out animals and explain their behavior as you drive along, or you can drive yourself (which is perfectly safe, as long as you stick to the roads, don’t drive too close to animals, and never get out of your car), or you can go on a walking safari, where you explore the bush on foot with an armed guide. And then in places like the Okavango Delta, you also have the option of doing wildlife spotting from canoes. For first time safari-goers, the best option is to go on guided game drives, so that you can learn about the animals you spot. People who’ve done a few safaris often prefer to drive themselves, so they can stop when they want to. Walking safaris are the ultimate bush experience – encountering wild animals on foot is both humbling and thrilling!
What to pack for an African safari
It’s best to pack clothes that blend into the environment – so khaki, olive green, brown and dark grey are all good colours to pick, rather than bright neon colours. Bring comfortable clothes and good hiking shoes, especially if you’re going to be doing a walking safari. If you have binoculars, bring them along! They will definitely enhance your safari experience. A lightweight hat is essential, especially if you’re going to be in an open-top game drive vehicle. Depending on the time of year you travel, you might need a fleece jacket – you may think of Africa as hot and sunny, but winter mornings and evenings on game drives are decidedly chilly!
How to behave on an African safari
Don’t forget that when you’re on safari, you’re in the wild, surrounded by wild animals, and there are a couple of rules you need to follow.
If you’re on a game drive, never leave the vehicle, and don’t stick your arms outside of the car. Always speak quietly, never shout or scream, and when you come across an animal, don’t ask the guide any questions – just observe quietly instead. Make sure your camera is on mute – the annoying beeps ruin the natural sounds of the bush.
Be patient and manage your expectations – don’t think you’ll see all the animals of the Big Five on your first game drive. Remember that these are wild animals in a huge area, not a zoo. Guides do their best to find you the wildlife you want to see, but there are no guarantees. Look at your safari as an amazing experience in the bush rather than a tick off list, and you’ll have a great time, no matter what you see!