It’s one of the most famous, most adventurous-sounding ways of traveling the globe, bringing to mind images of hunting lions, sleeping in tents, and driving through the desert in a jeep. It’s a tantalizing image, but most of us have never actually done it. If you decide to take the leap this year and go on your own African safari, here are a few things to keep in mind for the optimal experience.
Know What Visas You Need
Touring large parts of Africa can get complicated. Since you’re traveling through many different countries, you may need different clearance to enter each one. This process has been simplified recently with the recent addition of the Univisa, which allows eligible visitors to travel on a single tourist visa throughout several African countries.
As an example of how this will simplify things, consider Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. The Falls are shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe, and before the Univisa, tourists needed to acquire two separate $50 visas to see the Falls from both sides. Thanks to the Univisa, however, you can now have the whole experience on just one visa.
Do some research ahead of time to make sure every stop on your safari is covered with the Univisa. You wouldn’t want to arrive in a country and find that you’d needed to secure a separate visa months ago!
Get the Right Shoes
You’ll be doing a lot of walking, but don’t pick up just any old comfortable pair of sneakers. Nic van Rensburg from Mozambique’s Lugenda Wilderness Reserve offers a priceless tip: Choose hard rubber soles. Soft rubber soles may provide greater comfort for running or mountain climbing, but in the bush, thorns can pierce right through, making it an extremely uncomfortable experience. Those thorns will have a tougher time getting through hard rubber, so you’ll be able to walk comfortably every day.
If you go out and buy new hard rubber shoes just for this vacation, spend at least a month wearing them in before you head off on safari. These small details can be easily forgotten or ignored, and that will make for some very unhappy feet in the end.
Think About Who You’re Bringing
No, bringing your kids along on safari isn’t crazy — but bringing your brother might be. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities or accommodations along the way, including lodges that keep kids entertained while their parents are out on longer sightseeing treks, since long walks in the hot sun can be a miserable place for children.
Going on safari with someone who doesn’t have the same “travel pattern” as you, however, can be terrible. By that we mean someone who rushes you on while you’re trying to get the right photo or someone who chatters incessantly wen you just want to sit and appreciate the natural beauty. Choose your travel companions carefully, since you’ll be stuck with them for hours on end!
Choosing an African safari is a great way to get close to the wilder side of nature. With a little prep and planning, it can be one of your greatest travel adventures yet.