It is difficult to get across to people what to expect from Africa, let alone the deep life changing experience that is about to befall the first time safari client. Do you have too many unanswered questions and feeling slightly bewildered? Let's start right here.
For us here at Tailormade Africa arranging someone's first time safari is the most exciting and rewarding part of our job. Indeed, our directors frequently talk about how envious they are of that "first time" feeling. The awe of seeing your first Zebra, Giraffe, Elephant, Lion or Leopard is something that you just can't quite be prepared for. It is simply exhilarating and if you are reading this as a newbie to the safari world you should be delirious with excitement at what awaits you.
Truth be told, your first safari can hardly ever fail to deliver a decent experience and you do not yet have the knowledge or a barometer to know the difference between an average safari or a safari experience at the very top of its game. You will not yet understand how important the quality of guiding is to making your safari go from good to extraordinary and this is partly because you will just be super excited to see everything that you will see. However, we know how to give it all to you on your first safari and there are several countries that we believe are best for this particular category of safari travel. Tanzania is probably the best first time destination as you pretty much get most of an African safari, the variety of species, the mixtures of habitats and ecosystems and a decent infusion of authentic local culture. All these elements put together are fundamental in getting the most out of Africa, that will give you the injection of the safari bug that leaves you yearning for more and more. Indeed we have clients that return annually without fail.
Having said that, a first safari can rarely fail to deliver in reality. Making sure the logistics, national park choices and choosing the right kind of safari accommodation to match your travel personality is absolutely vital and is not something you can do on your own as you would with any other type of holiday travel. Africa works to her own beat and time and can be frustrating for the un-initiated, nor is it possible for you to sift through the thousands and thousands of camp and lodge choices based on imagery and trip advisor, so rather don't try, as you'll most probably end up with a really poor overall experience of Africa and a safari. Plan your trip with one of our team members at Tailormade Africa, you get our experience and knowledge absolutely free, costing you no more to plan and book with ourselves than going direct so please do get in touch.
The best thing to do at this point is to get in touch with us, preferably by phone, to allow us to get to know you a little better and advise on the kind of first safari that would give you that trip of a lifetime experience.
First Time Safari FAQs
How do I start planning my first safari?
Planning a first time safari can be quite daunting and be overwhelming at the same time. This can seriously taint the experience in itself. The first step to any travelling is the planning phase and this should be a time of excitement and not frustration, leaving you exhausted and with a feeling of dispair. Besides having to choose the country to go on safari in, you have to choose which is the best camps and lodges to suit your needs and that can be reached easily from the main centres. This alone can lead to many headaches. Then we haven't even started on the logistics which if not done right can be a nightmare. Wouldn't it be nice to know who your driver is and what mode of transport is best suited to your itinerary?
What are the best first time safari destinations in Africa?
You would expect most safari destinations to be suitable to the first time safari traveller, but in reality this is not the case. Some countries are suited to the safari traveller who has been around the block and is looking for something different. But a country like Tanzania is well suited to the first timer, as it has a huge and diverse number of wildlife species, so you get a great overall wildlife experience. Tanzania is also great for the whole family. South Africa is also great for a more diverse experience which will include great wildlife, some awesome activities in the world famous Cape Town and surrounding winelands and you can also get to relax on the miles of white sandy coastline!
How much does a safari in Africa generally cost?
There are a number of factors that influence the price of a safari. To start with is it a budget, mid-range, luxury or super-luxury (private safari). Then it depends on the selection of activities, the country you safari in, the number of people on the safari, how you want to travel and also when you want to visit (season). This may all once again sound overwhelming, but we are here to advise and help stretch your budget as much as we can to maximise your overall experience. In general, you are looking at a starting point of around US$5,000 per person to well in excess of US$12,000 per person for a 6 night/7 day safari, excluding flights, tips, travel insurance, visas and required vaccinations.
What wildlife can I expect to see on my first safari?
Africa is rich in wildlife and this is ultimately what we try and do for the first time safari traveller. We want you to have as many great wildlife encounters as possible. Many first timers want to see the Big 5 of Africa and this is very possible. The Great Wildebeest Migration is another favourite, although some prefer to leave this for a second safari. A walking safari is also a wonderful way to experience the smaller things in Africa and is a great educational experience, setting you up well for future safaris. Birdlife is also an integral part of any safari and you can bet your socks you'll get to have some amazing experiences here too.
How do I know which tour operator to go with?
A number of operators post a few images on Instagram and Facebook and talk in general about how wonderful a country is and what it offers, but let's face it, anyone can do that. The only way to really know if you're choosing a great and trusted operator is to browse their independent reviews and maybe even chat with previous customers if you can. The second part is having a chat with the prospective tour operator and ask your questions. You will soon get a feeling if they know what they're talking about and also if you feel comfortable with them assisting you.
Is it wise planning my own first time safari?
As mentioned in our first question here, it will cause more headaches and disappointment than anything else. Most times travellers plan and book their own holidays and vacations to save a bit of money. Every tour operator that has good relations with on the ground partners in the different countries across Africa relies on a percentage paid directly from the lodges and logistics operators. So you will pay the same amount should you wish to plan and book the safari yourself. In fact, we many times get operator discounts and other perks you may not get as an individual, which could very well save you some money and also highten your actual experience.
When is the best time to go on safari?
This is dependent on the country you travel to, but we recommend the drier months, as well as the shoulder season (which costs a bit less) but the experience tends to be great as there are less travellers and places are not overcrowded. Between east and southern Africa there is almost year-round travel opportunities for a first time safari-goer.
What should I pack for my first safari?
We generally tell our travellers to have a great safari experience they should pack comfortable clothing with neutral colours like khaki, green or beige, a hat, comfortable walking or hiking shoes, sunscreen and binoculars, oh and most importantly don't forget your sense of adventure. Other items that we recommend are a camera (with extra batteries), small first aid kit, insect repellent, basic toiletries and some warmer clothing for the evenings. Finally, don't forget your travel documents, including passport, travel itinerary, travel and medical insurance, vaccination certificates and in today's Covid world your latest PCR test (48 to 72 hours - required). We have a more comprehensive list for all our guests when they book and is included in your pre-departure pack.