A first time African safari can be exciting and daunting all at once, but fear not, because Africa Expert, Rachel is here to help. From the food and the accommodation to the wildlife, here are five things to expect from a safari in Africa.
Going on safari is an experience unlike any other. Everything around you is new and foreign- something that is incredibly thrilling yet can also be slightly overwhelming for the first timer. Before I went on safari, I had my own ideas of what I thought life would be like, and I was way off! I am here to give you a peak into what safari life is really like; calming whatever nerves you may have and getting you excited for your upcoming vacation.
Safari can be for anyone
Before I went to Africa, I thought that safari was only for outdoorsy, exceptionally adventurous people. Although everyone that goes on safari does share the common bond of wanting to explore the world, safari can be for anyone. There are lodges that are extremely remote and provide you with a “back to the bush” feel with canvas walls, no Wi-Fi or air conditioning. However, there are some lodges that are nicer than my entire house, fully equipped with an indoor/outdoor shower, private plunge pool, beautiful tub and air conditioning. Your safari experience can be customized to be however you want it, you just have to let us know what that means to you!
These are wild animals
Before my first time to Africa, I had only seen people interacting with animals in real life that lived in sanctuaries (A.K.A. animals that were accustomed to humans). So, when I first encountered an elephant trumpeting and flapping her ears at me, I was a little shocked! Out in the bush, animals are truly wild, and they are to be treated as so. Don’t go in expecting to pet an elephant’s trunk or hold monkeys in your hand; the African safari is meant to show people what animals are like in their true, natural and wild state, and there is something really beautiful about that. However, because of this, there are rules in camp and when on game drives that should always be obeyed (no standing, shouting, walking alone through camp at night, etc.). The guides at the lodges we send our guests to will always put your safety as the #1 concern and know exactly how to act around every animal in any situation.
The animals won’t wander into your tent (besides maybe the baboons!)
I knew before going on safari that animals paraded throughout camp quite often. However, I was confused as to why the animals didn’t walk right into your room or trample down your tent. The simple answer is this: they don’t want to. Wild animals don’t just randomly do something; they are usually cautious and methodical. However, be forewarned: in some areas, the baboons and monkeys have learned how to open sliding doors. Make sure you lock your doors unless you want some curious (albeit cute) visitors stealing all the snacks from your rooms (or your medications). Lodges who have these cheeky baboons will always let you know about it and remind you to keep your doors locked.
the food is superb
I had no idea what the food would be like before I went on safari and, let me tell you, I was very impressed! Safaris are known for having exceptional food (and always keeping you well fed!). Some of my favorite dishes have been a beef tartar in Zambia that melted in my mouth like butter, a fresh caprese salad in South Africa with cherry tomatoes and burrata, and a juicy, perfectly cooked cut of impala in Botswana.
Dining style varies from lodge to lodge but whether it be buffet, set menu, communal or private dining, all the food is sure to be fantastic. Three-course meals for dinner are the norm, with every course being just as amazing as the last. Food is something that most lodges take very seriously and put a lot of thought into. Most African lodges are extremely remote and have to plan out what they are going to make weeks before, so they can get the food shipped in fresh just in time for the guests’ arrival. Sometimes it takes several hours for someone to drive fresh produce out to the camps–that’s dedication! If you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or have any other dietary requirement do not worry, lodges really take pride in customizing their food to fit every guest’s needs or preferences. Safari life is perfect for the foodie!
You will make friends from all over the world
If there is one thing about safari, it’s that it attracts people from all over the world. The love of wildlife, conservation, untouched wilderness and adventure is something that truly has no borders. Safari is such a special experience not only because of the pristine wildlife and amazing lodges, but also the personal connections you make along the way with the people you meet. I have made friends with other travelers from all over the world and countless staff members as well, all of different ages and backgrounds. I have sat at a one dinner table with people from Botswana, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, Germany and England, while laughing, eating and sharing different stories and perspectives. Maybe it is just the extrovert in me, but meeting so many people from such a variety of backgrounds and hearing about what has brought them to that exact moment in their life is something I really love about safari. I can’t wait to return.