Planning your first safari trip can be both exciting and overwhelming. There is a lot of ground to cover, and some of the points that you need to consider are not immediately obvious. It’s always best to work with an experienced tour guide if you can afford one – in fact, that’s pretty much non-negotiable if it’s your first time.
But you shouldn’t count on your guide to sort out everything for you. There are some points you’ll need to address yourself. And the earlier you start planning and executing those, the more successful your trip will be.
This post is part of our family travel advice series
Double Check Your Budget
Safaris are expensive. Many people underestimate just how much they have to spend to have a good time. Make sure to have an adequate daily budget, and ideally, some additional money for unexpected expenses along the way. Pay attention to the cost of the trip itself. Sometimes you can save a bit of money by choosing an arrival date a couple of days earlier and getting a hotel until the trip starts.
Have a Tight Focus
You must decide exactly what you’re going to see and have a rough estimate of the duration of each part of your trip. There’s a lot to pack in, and no matter how excited you may be about seeing multiple countries, that’s often not possible with a short 1- or 2-week safari trip.
Don’t try to do everything at once, either. There will be lots of opportunities for fun activities, but they will each take a toll on your schedule. You won’t be able to go through all the events you have on your list in most cases. So, start prioritizing now and trim as much fat as possible. In some cases, this means dropping entire activities, including ones that you were looking forward to.
There’s always next time, though! If you’re not able to fit everything within the schedule of one safari trip, this is a good opportunity to start planning for your next one.
Have Some Flexibility in Your Schedule
While you should do your best to keep your schedule as punctual as possible, you should also leave some room for last-minute changes. This is especially true if you’re going on a more varied trip across multiple locations and even countries.
Various things can happen along the way that might delay you or even make certain parts of your trip impossible. If you’ve planned everything around a very tight schedule that can fall apart at the slightest misalignment, this will almost certainly lead to a bad time.
This is another area where working with an experienced tour guide can be worth the cost. They will be able to guide you through prioritizing the right parts of the trip and will inform you of opportunities for adding some flexibility to your schedule.
Book Your Guide as Early as Possible
Good tour guides are not only expensive, they’re also perpetually busy. You will be hard-pressed to book someone on short notice, especially if you have more specific requirements that limit the scope of your search. Make sure to start searching as early as you can and have a list of requirements.
Be prepared to negotiate a little, depending on what you’re going for. But don’t get too pushy. In the end, you’re requesting the services of a highly qualified professional with a relatively rare skillset. You must also understand that there is always a line of people waiting to get in touch with the same guide immediately after you, so most guides don’t really have any motivation to haggle too much.
Pack More Than You Think You’ll Need
Be careful about picking your equipment too. Your guide should have a lot of information about how to prepare, but as a beginner, you should ideally go a little overboard. Pick stuff that’s very easy to set up as well, and familiarize yourself with how everything works before you depart.
You don’t want to get stuck going through a manual for some piece of equipment on short notice, especially in an unfamiliar environment with potential danger.
This goes double for essentials like water and medicine. It’s always better to have more and end up not needing it than the other way around. You can’t rely on any emergency services, at least not with the response speed you’re used to when going on a trip like that.
If you play your cards right and prepare everything responsibly, this should be a challenging but still fun ordeal. As long as you’ve got the backing of someone experienced who knows the ins and outs of safari trips and can provide you with the right guidance, that’s all you need to get started. The rest comes down to your own diligence and willingness to push forward.
Looking for some family safari & wildlife inspiration? You may also want to check out:
- 5 Reasons you’ll want to visit Africa with your kids
- Fun family things to do in and around Nairobi – plenty to see at the gateway to Masi Mara
- Things to know before planning a trip to Tanzania