Are you going on an African Safari? Well my friend, if you are looking for some Southern African Safari Information, carry on reading!
Here we cover African Safari Information topics ranging from planning a safari to what vehicles are suitable to use on an African Safari.
We cover what accommodation you can expect to find as well as what to pack for your self drive safari.
Last but not least we discuss the wonderful role of food on a Southern African Safari.
Destination: Begin at the beginning. Decide on your African Safari Destination. Once you know where you are going the rest will fall into place
Route: How are you going to get there? Are you pressed for Time?Need to take the shortest route? Or do you want to take the back roads? Maybe you want to avoid the highways. Sometimes we try to travel only on gravel roads. What places of interest are there on the way to your ultimate destination? Alone or with a group? If you are traveling alone you might not want to go to far off the beaten track in case you run into trouble and might require help. However, if you are traveling in a group with two or more vehicles, it does provide you with backup in case of trouble.
Accommodation: Are you going to camp or stay in self catering chalets or perhaps even in a luxury hotel with full board? This is important because this will to a great extent determine what provisions you need to take along.
Food: If you are camping or staying in self catering accommodation you will probably have to take most of your food with you. On the other hand, depending on where you are going, you could buy some or all of your food along the way or at your ultimate destination. A good idea is to work out a menu for the whole trip. This makes it easy to buy what you need or else you might end up taking stuff you do not need, or even take to much, which means you have to cart it all back again.
Checklist: Always make a checklist to ensure you pack everything you need to take along. Divide it into categories such as food, camping equipment and personal stuff.
Bottom line, the more African Safari Information you can accumulate, the easier your African Safari is going to be!
Sedan's: You can go most place in Southern Africa with a sedan. It is usually indicated on the maps or your destination's brochure whether you would for example need a 4X4. Also bear in mind that except for the Western Cape, Southern Africa has a summer rainfall. This means that many places that are inaccessible in summer without anything but a 4X4 might now be possible with an All Wheel Drive SUV or 4X2. However, check the road conditions before you attempt the trip.
SUV's: These vehicles are becoming very popular nowadays. Most are either permanent 4 wheel drive or All Wheel Drive with higher ground clearance than an ordinary sedan. With their luxury levels they make great holiday vehicles and off course, you can go that bit further off the beaten track!
4X2's: Usually Double Cab or Single Cab bakkies (Pick Up's). A lot of them also come standard with a rear Diff Lock which together with their high ground clearance and ruggedness, makes them an excellent choice to travel the back roads in Southern Africa. They are usually also excellent towing vehicles.
4X4's: The real thing if you want to visit wilderness destinations. If the road or track says 4 X 4 vehicles only, pay heed. The warning won't be for nothing.
Campers: This I believe is the ideal choice for the overseas tourist visiting Southern Africa. They are also available in 4X4 versions if you really want go off road.
Hotels: There are a wide variety of hotels throughout Southern Africa ranging from small family owned private hotels to super luxury hotel chains.
Lodges: African Safari Lodges have become very popular in recent years providing luxury accommodation in game reserves and other exotic destinations.
Chalets: Usually self catering, chalets are a good option, especially for families. It certainly is a lot easier on the budget too!
Backpackers: There are a number of backpackers establishments throughout Southern Africa.
Caravans, on road and off road: If you enjoy caravaning, a whole new world opens up for you. This is especially true in South Africa where there are a large number of caravan parks ranging from basic to luxurious resorts offering any creature comfort you can think of. The important decision to make is the choice between either an on road or an off road caravan. Your destination and route will determine your choice.
Off Road Trailers: These you can take anywhere and set up a comfortable camp that will cater for all your needs.
Tents and Roof Top Tents: Tents are a cheap option for those who like camping but cannot afford caravans. Also, with a tent in the back of the car you are not limited as much to where you can go as the caravanner is. Roof top tents are also a popular choice to explore bundu destinations. You do not have the hassle of towing anything on what sometimes are very difficult roads and off road tracks. Only problem is you have to break camp every time you want to drive anywhere. This then sometimes makes ordinary tents a better option if you are going to be staying in one place for a number of days.
Campers again: Campers are an excellent choice for tourists wanting to explore Southern Africa on their own. The good road network throughout the region makes it a pleasure to explore. Your cost of accommodation is limited to caravan parks. Also a lot easier than having to tow a caravan but with the same level of luxury. You can even rent 4X4 campers for those wilderness destinations!
The questions we need to ask are:
Are we doing the luxury safari? Staying in hotels or lodges might only require you to take your clothes and personal belongings along.
Or are we roughing it? Camping requires you to take everything along that you feel you will need which might even include the kitchen sink!
The all important Checklist: Do not forget to make a checklist, especially if you are camping. It is not a nice feeling after setting up camp, having lit the fire and then sitting back wanting to open a bottle of wine only to find out you have forgotten the bottle opener!
Another tip, always update your checklist after a safari with the lessons learned. This will in time become your most important source of African safari Information.
Catering for everybody's tastes: It is a simple matter to satisfy your own needs but the moment you start catering for other people in the group it can become a daunting task. Do you decide on a set menu for the trip or do you allow more freedom? Some people have very specific tastes and preferences.
Also remember that some people cannot eat all foods due to medical reasons. For example, a visit to Mozambique you would think it is given that your staple diet will be seafood. Unfortunately a lot of people are allergic to seafood.
The same mistake could be made on any Bushveld Safari in Southern Africa. Generally, we subsist on Braaivleis,(Barbecued meat but trust me, a braai is a lot better with kudu steaks, skilpadjies, pofadders, sosaties and a lot of other local tidbits to tasty for words)
Biltong, sunshine and lots of beer! (It gets hot here!) Jokes aside, not all people have carnivorous inclinations but prefer to be vegetarians or vegan.
Recipes: In my opinion it certainly helps to decide on your recipes and menu beforehand. It makes it so much easier to pack the right ingredients and also not to pack unnecessary food. This way you can also determine what to buy along the way.
Importance of Water: Either buy or take fresh water along if you have a trustworthy source. In some areas you risk your life to drink the local water. Rather be safe than sorry.
Cross border meat: You cannot take meat across all borders in Southern Africa so make sure of the cross border requirements before you embark on your safari. If you do take meat along it certainly helps to vacuum pack it according to your menu. This way you only need to open/unfreeze what you need for a particular meal.
Alcohol: Each country has limits as to what will be allowed across the border. Once again, make sure before you go. Alcohol is usually freely available so it shouldn't be an issue to buy locally what you need. South Africa is of course blessed with wonderful vineyards, so come and enjoy the wines!
Bottom line? Second to your all important checklist, your menus are your next most important source of African Safari Information! They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Believe me, in the wilderness this is twice as important and not because you want to reach his heart! (Unless you are a lady with a plan, of course!) No, one of the reasons for discontent on a safari is food. So, think carefully about this one...