Safari was one of the most magical experiences of our travels. In fact, we could probably say that Safari was one of the most magical experiences of our life! But when it comes to picking a safari guide, with so many choices to choose from, it can often be quite overwhelming.
Whether you’re travelling Africa or just looking for a trip of a lifetime then safari is a must. Luckily there are many safari guides available meaning you can tailor the perfect trip. We have put together a guide with tips to help you best plan your trip. Go and live your childhood Lion King dreams!
DO YOUR RESEARCH WHEN PICKING A SAFARI GUIDE OPERATOR
During our time in Lushoto, we heard a number of travellers retell the highlights of their safari stories. We also heard some of the lowlights and there was a common theme. The safari guide and operator. There were tales of uneducated, uninterested guides and those who would divert the animals to take tours to shopping stands. Or worse still, chase the animals. So, we wanted to make sure we avoided this.
With there being over 2,000 safari guide tour operators based in Arusha (one of the main safari hubs) it can be overwhelming trying to find the right guide. Before we travelled, we also looked online for potential operators. However, we were inundated with high-end package holidays which did not fit our budget or values. This is when we came to think our dream was no more.
After listening to stories being exchanged over the campfire, we were recommended an operator which really resonated with us; Mega Adventures. We heard glowing reviews; the guide was tentative, knowledgeable and would often drift away from the crowds to give more of a private experience. This also ensures you are not chasing animals or disrupting them in their natural environment. Furthermore, they had a number of packages available and would tailor to budget and luxury requirements.
So, we made an inquiry with Mo and explained we would pop by the office when we arrived in Moshi, a few days later.
FIND A SAFARI GUIDE WHO WILL TAILOR TO YOUR NEEDS
What we loved about Mega Adventure, was that Mo completely tailored to our needs. We went with a brief – what we wanted to see, how many days, number of people – and our budget. With his expertise, he put together an itinerary for us.
As we only had three days he ensured we would have minimal time travelling and maximum time in the park. We also would visit two parks (Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater), have an overnight camping experience and a walking safari. And to top it off it all came in around £450 per person! What more could we have asked for?
For future safari’s we will be looking further into selecting a provider who also supports conservation projects. As we strive to work towards sustainable travel, we want to ensure the businesses we support also share similar values and work in conserving our environment and wildlife.
WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN BOOKING SAFARI:
- What animals do you want to see?
- Does the provider support conservation projects? Are they ethical – check reviews and ensure they do not chase animals etc.?
- How many days do you want to go
- How many parks do you want to visit? Remember sometimes it’s better to have a smaller amount of parks to reduce travelling and increase park time
- Do you want to camp? Basic or luxury?
- Do you want a walking safari? – we would recommend yes yes yes
- What is your budget?
MAKE SURE A BUSHWALK IS IN YOUR ITINERARY
We loved our first day which involved a game drive, it was magical and being in Tarangire we saw an abundance of animals. We didn’t think it could get much better until we started our bushwalk! This was an overwhelming and completely different experience because animals recognise you like humans and not just moving objects (jeeps).
A bush walk is essentially a walking safari, where you can walk in the national park, freely among the animals. Crazy right! It lasts only a few hours and isn’t a particularly strenuous walk, so everybody can join in. All you require is nerves of steel! Just kidding, you will have a guide who is one of the park rangers with you.
The ranger will guide your walk, and you will slowly and quietly make your way through the park alongside the animals. Like anything in nature, you can’t be sure what to expect and what you will see. You could even come across a leopard or lioness and her cubs – so the ranger carries a gun in case of any danger. However, it is worth noting, he has never used it in all of his time ranging.
As we pursued our walk, we came across a number of zebra and giraffe, who all saw us before we saw them and would keep a good distance. We then had one of the most incredible experiences where we came across a herd of elephants. Elephants can’t see too well, so we were able to walk in the opposite direction of the wind and come close to them. This will always be one of those pinch-me moments and a memory that will last a lifetime.
CAMP INSIDE THE NATIONAL PARK WHEN POSSIBLE
Camping in the park allows you to enjoy the park for an hour after all of the other cars have left from the day. You can watch the sunset and admire the animals walking to their resting spot for the evening. Make sure to pack a bottle of wine/beer/bubbles for a sundowner and watch the glory of an African sunset. This truly is the golden hour at it’s finest.
Once the sun sets, the darkness brings a new mystery to the park. We enjoyed a feast (in a caged area!) and a campfire before retiring to bed in our tents for the evening, ready for an early start. Despite being in our tents, it was then a reminder that we were inside a national park, in roaming area of the lions, hyenas, cheetahs and who knows what else! All very exciting and scary at the same time.
DRESS ACCORDINGLY – BUSH COLOURS AT THE READY
Not only do you reduce the chance of animals seeing you, but you also look the part. And if you’re as imaginative (sad) as us, can feel like David Attenborough / Jane Goodall for the day. Avoid wearing white, otherwise, animals will see you. Try wearing nude, camel, beige and khaki colours. And ensure you have the relevant accessories – classic safari hat, binoculars.
If you’re starting the from Moshi we would highly recommend the memorial market to buy your gear. The memorial market is second-hand clothing market available every day and has an abundance of second-hand clothes which we believe have been sent from western charities.
Not only are you supporting the local community, but buying second-hand helps our environment, working towards sustainable travel. You can buy everything you need, including walking boots, at a fraction of the price. With a quick wash; you gear will be as good as new!
It also gets chilly in the evenings, so make sure you pack some warmer clothes (jumper, trousers, woolly socks). A head torch will also be useful if you are camping in the evening when it gets dark. And of course make sure to pack suncream, sunglasses and insect repellant for your daytime game drives – the mud flies are a b*tch and give a nasty bite!
BE PREPARED FOR LONG DAYS AND VERY EARLY STARTS
As most of the animals sleep through the day, the best time to see some – particularly the big cats – is at dawn. You are also at a better chance of seeing hyenas and leopards. Also during this time of day, if you are lucky, you may be able to watch a hunt which tends to happen ahead of breakfast.
Be prepared for an early start, you will need to set 4:45 AM alarm clock to be ready ahead of sunrise and park opening times of 6 AM.
But most importantly, enjoy yourself! This is your time to live your childhood Lion King dreams. We would love to hear about your experience and whether you have any other tips to help plan the perfect safari.