Many people ask us “what’s it like to be on a safari?” How do I know if it’s something I’d enjoy?
Africa is quite unlike any other place on earth – the stillness, the songs, the smell of the bush and the myriad colours. There is nothing to compare with the thundering footsteps of thousands of migrating wildebeest. Or the thrill of a night drive following the chase of a hungry lion – getting so close you can see the hair on its back rise.
So let’s look at a typical day on safari…
The pattern of the day
The pattern of a day on safari may be quite different than your norm. On safari you rise with the sun and get out on an early morning drive, usually in an open 4×4 game vehicle. Drives take place at these time because that’s when game is most likely to be active, on the hunt before the heat of the day sets in. Your experienced ranger gives you a deeper understanding of the wildlife and the natural cycles of the bush. Words cannot describe the thrill of tracking a leopard on the hunt or observing a breeding herd of elephants at a waterhole.
At some camps, you may be able to take part in a morning bush walk instead of a game drive. Again mornings are best for walking because its cooler then and you can walk in comfort. Similarly you may take a game drive but opt to do a shorter 45-60 minute walk for part of the time. Bush breakfasts are a speciality at some lodges.
Some camps are able to offer other forms of safari activity such as horse-riding safaris, safaris by mountain bike or other specialist activities like mekoro trips in Botswana or canoe safaris in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Relaxing in the middle of the day
After the early start you then have a relaxing time in the middle of the day. If you want you can continue to be active, perhaps taking a short nature walk with your ranger. Alternatively you can enjoy a spot of more relaxed game-viewing from your deck, take a dip in the pool or enjoy a good book in the lounge.
Some larger lodges have a small spa or treatment room or even a mobile spa so that you can enjoy a relaxing massage on the deck of your chalet before your bed and book beckon for a nice little siesta.
Some lodges still offer you breakfast/brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner so that you feel you need to loosen your belt a notch by the end of the trip. Others have opted for a more sensible approach of having a late breakfast/brunch, then a gap before a more substantial late lunch/high tea all rolled into one in the mid afternoon…
Typically the evening safari drive departs after afternoon tea so that you have a couple of hours of light before breaking for sundowners in the bush. Afterwards the evening holds a sense of anticipation as the rare and elusive nocturnal species begin to hunt.
You return to camp in the early evening. There’s usually time to freshen up before dinner but many people like to head to the campfire for a drink and to soak up the atmosphere of the bush.
Dinner is often enjoyed in a open boma (reeded enclosure) under a starlit sky, or even in the bush around an open fire, which is an evocative highlight for many of our clients.
Remember safari lodges in prime game-viewing areas with lots of predator activity may not be able to offer a wide range of activities but the quality of game-viewing more than makes up for it.
A few camps offer the opportunity to sleep out under the stars. This may be on your deck with a roll-away bed (if it is sufficiently raised) or it could be a special sleep-out treehouse deck set away from the camp. This is very special, though not for everyone. You spend a night under a mosquito net out in the open. You take a picnic supper with you and you walk or drive to the sleep-out where you are left to your own devices with a radio link to the camp. There are usually rudimentary ablution facilities but this is a rustic romantic experience. This is usually an extra cost as your room back at the camp is kept for you.