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The African Safari 101 Guide

Rohan Vasa, Writer

Singita Lebombo - Safari

A safari is one of the most luxurious trips you will ever take in your life. Period. The irony, though, of an African safari is that it’s a vacation that doesn’t sound like a vacation at all. You wake up at the crack of dawn; actually, a little earlier as you’ve to be on the safari truck by 6 AM. You’ll sleep in a tent, albeit a luxurious one, that you’ll pay more money for than any five-star hotel in the heart of the holiday season.

For the foodies and shoppers, there are no restaurants to explore, no shops to drop $10 grand on a bag, or baubles of jewelry to buy. You have absolutely no control over your environment as you place your life literally in the hands of the people you’ve just met. But yet, you will be forever changed, even with the hardest of hearts. Probably why a number of those guys on Wall Street actually own the top safari lodges, because you can’t help but get perspective in the wilderness. What school you get into, what job you get, what house you buy– well, that’s all fine and all. But it’s gravy. Because in the bush of Africa, you get a glimpse of where you really stand in the whole spectrum of the world. So, there’s no argument. One of the top trips that anyone who considers themselves a world traveler can take is the lifetime trip on an African safari.

Image courtesy of Singita

Considerations For First Safari

Going on your first African safari will be an experience like you’ve never had before. This journey will take you into the heart of wilderness, and the cradle of civilization in Africa. Each game drive will become a treasure hunt as you marvel at all the creatures that call this home. This adventure will not only bring you closer to nature but also give you a new appreciation for all the creatures and environments. But, there are some important things to consider as you plan out your first African safari. The most important being – location, location, location.

South Africa

South Africa is the ideal place for first-time safari goers. You can fly directly into one of its major cities. Either before or after your safari you can easily tack on extra days to hit the beaches or to experience the food scene in places like Cape Town. The region is also home to some of the country’s top lodges and vineyards so coming here gives you a really well-rounded vacation.


Botswana is easy to get to from South Africa and could be another nice add-on. It has a vast untouched landscape and an abundance of wildlife. It is home to the Chobe National Park which is known for its elephant herds. In addition, there is the Okavango Delta, the major water source in the area, and where there’s water there are animals.

Kenya and Tanzania

This region is the heart of Africa. It is authentic and rugged yet has a quiet luxury. There’s no doubt about it this place is special. Here, you have Kilimanjaro, which is one of the most beautiful mountains in the country. There is also the Serengeti, which is known for being home to the Big Five (elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards, and rhinos). However, the Serengeti is regulated so there is less flexibility to go off-roading. To do that you’ll need a private concession or a lodge with its own private land.

Rwanda and Uganda

This trip is for those who have already been to Africa before and know what to expect. People come to this region to see the majestic mountain gorillas. You’ll get the opportunity to trek the mountains and come face-to-face with these gentle giants. However, these rainforests are also home to hundreds of other animals and species.

Image courtesy of Singita

Our Favorite Lodges

  1. Anything Singita in SA, Tanzania, and Kenya
  2. andBeyond
  3. Belmond – Botswana
  4. One&Only Rwanda
Image courtesy of Singita

A Day in the Life of an African Safari

When it comes to the structure of your safari there is some room for flexibility. Of course, the details will differ depending on what region you’re in. In general, though, this is what you can expect.

In the early morning from around 6-8 AM, you’ll go on the first game drive of the day. You’ll quickly learn that there is more than just the Big Five and that you’ll see all kinds of wildlife. It’s by seeing the smallest insects to the largest elephants that you realize the power of nature.

Break for breakfast in the bush amongst the wildlife.

After eating you’ll drive out again until early lunch. You’ll enjoy a light meal and then get some downtime for a siesta. If you’re staying in a lodge you can hit the pool, visit the spa, and just hang out. During the middle of the day the animals are usually sleeping in the heat so take advantage and relax.

In the late afternoon/early evening, you can choose to go out on another game drive or do a different outdoor activity like visiting nearby villages and local sites.

Then you’ll come back and have Dinner. Some safari companies will create the most incredible dinners under the African stars outdoors for you.

If it’s your super special you can do a night safari because that’s when the animals are out in full force too. Some animals are nocturnal and you can only see them at night.

Image courtesy of Singita

Things you need to pack


Be sure to bring lightweight and breathable clothes including both pants and long-sleeved shirts for the evenings and as protection from the bugs. Bring a good pair of hiking boots, a swimsuit, a sun hat, and a rain jacket too.


A good daypack is a must when you’re going out on game drives every day. You can put your necessary accessories in them like your water bottle, binoculars, camera, sunglasses, and jacket.

Personal Items

Be sure to bring enough bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and medicine. Other good things to have for when you get some downtime are journals, books, and downloaded music or podcasts.

We Make Your African Safari Dreams Happen

You can book the perfect African safari with Galavante. It’s not our first time around the continent and we can help plan and book the ideal trip for you.

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