Going on your first safari in Zambia? Have you actually thought the details through? Reading this information could be the difference between a great experience and a bad one.
© View across the Zambezi.
A first-time safari should be everything you dreamed of, but not paying attention to the details could be costly for you. You don't want to ruin a great trip by overlooking important aspects. A safari is an adventure and unlike any other holiday, being prepared will make all the difference. Here are 5 common safari mistakes and what to do about them:
1) Lack of Research and Preparation
Compare safari itineraries from different operators and choose the one that suits you. If you don't like big groups, choose a smaller more personalised option.
Africa is a big place - moving between camps can be long, hot and dusty, fly-in if you want to save time. Examine details like how many guests there are per safari vehicle on game drives.
You get what you pay for, so don't cut back at the cost of comfort - you want to be able to sleep well, eat well and enjoy a nice hot shower, otherwise you will make yourself miserable.
Food on safari in the remote areas will be wholesome, but don't expect haute cuisine, although you will be amazed at what can be whipped up on the campfire.
Established lodges and camps rely on food being flown in or brought in overland on long car journeys. If you have specific dietary requirements you must inform Siyabona well in advance so that preparations can be made.
2) Going Unprepared
Don't over pack - the luggage limitations on safari are very small, choose light easy to wear clothing that can be rotated (not all camps have washing facilities). Khaki coloured clothing or neutral tones work best.
Make sure you pack for the season - it's the southern hemisphere, the middle months of the year in winter are the coolest in the evening and at night, you will need a wool hat, jumper and jacket.
As a general rule in malaria areas, cover exposed skin at dusk (especially wrists and ankles) and wear long sleeve cotton tops and trousers. The warm rainy summer season is the most active time for mosquitoes. Some camps provide malaria repellant, but always pack your own.
Don't forget good walking shoes, sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, eye drops for contact lens wearers to ease the dustiness, waterproof jacket if you are going in the rainy season, a torch, a camera and a kit to clean the dust off, and of course a good pair of binoculars.
Days will be much hotter than what you are used to unless you live in a hot climate. You will lose a lot of moisture and dehydrate very quickly.
Tea, coffee and alcohol may be refreshing but they don't help you retain moisture, so make sure you drink plenty of water - that way you will be alert, headache free and able to enjoy all the daily activities. Bottled water is supplied on safaris and at the lodges and camps.
4) Missing out on Activities
If you don't make the effort to join in with scheduled activities, you will miss out. Take an interest in everything that is going on.
Sunrise and sunset are prime game viewing times. Animals are at their most active early in the morning and in the late afternoon when the temperatures are lower.
Safari activities take place at sunrise and sunset, so if you want to make the most of your game viewing you need to participate - that means getting up at the crack of dawn in many cases.
You will get time to have a siesta after lunch to make up for your early start. Snacks and drinks are often served during the safari activity, so you won't go without.
5) Running out of Supplies
On safari in remote areas there are no shops:- Camps may stock a few basic items but you should pack any extras you might need and make a note of where you can stock up en-route.
Bring extra film or memory cards along for your camera.
Find out what facilities are available in camp - you may not be able to charge up batteries.