Top Tips for a Smooth African Adventure
Updated: Feb 2, 2018
We've been publishing a new travel tip every Tuesday for the last few weeks, and will continue to do so, but we realise some of you will be leaving on your trips sooner than others. So for those of you who just can't wait you can find all the tips together right here:
1) Photographs of your adventure are great to take home but Africa is a “big sky” destination and seeing it through the viewfinder of your camera can diminish the experience. take some time to enjoy it without a lens.
2) There are many animal experiences available in southern Africa but before you commit to one ask the question “does this benefit or exploit this individual animal?”
3) There is no such thing as a “tame” wild (ie non-domesticated species) and safety should be your priority at all times.
4) When planning a trip by road there are other factors to consider when calculating travel time which your GPS/Google don’t account for. Road quality can vary wildly, the type of vehicle being used, the season of travel, roads through farmland are often gated and locked. Always get expert advice or you could spend way more time on the road than you anticipated.
5) You won't be surprised to hear that
there's a lot of dust and sand in Africa so keep an eye on your camera lens and sensor. Dust builds up very quickly which will affect the quality of your pictures and can damage your equipment. Try to avoid changing lenses in vehicles and other dust traps, there's nothing worse than having the perfect picture ruined by a sheen of dirt.
6) Avoid travelling at night as this is when wildlife will often gather on the roads and leads to accidents. If you do have to drive after dark there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk. Drive slower and use full beams/spot/fog lights if you've got them (and there's no other traffic to dazzle) as this will help pick up the telltale eye shine earlier than headlights alone. It's not uncommon for animals to hit the windscreen of a vehicle because they can only see the headlights and attempt to jump over them. Driving with the interior lights on (again, only if it won't impair other road users) can help reduce this risk.
7) Those early morning game drives are there for a reason. It’s tempting to stay in bed but heading out game viewing after a lay in usually ends in disappointment.
8) Self guided game viewing is a good way to save money but if you don’t know the area, and don’t have several days to get to know it, the safari guides are generally much more likely to get quality sightings for you than you are on your own.
9) If you’re an experienced game viewer and don’t want to stop every time someone sees a steenbok or spur fowl it’s always worth checking the cost of a private game drive. If there are 4 or more in your group the per person cost is often the same or less than the group drive.
10) Check the likely temperatures. The winter can vary between the high 20°C’s in the middle of the day and just below 0°C before sunrise. Even in the summer early morning game drives can be cold to start with so layers of clothing are the key to making sure they're enjoyable.
11) Overall crime is relatively low in Namibia and Botswana but opportunistic theft from vehicles can be a problem. Don’t leave bags unattended in vehicles in towns and ensure that doors and canopies are locked when driving.
12) Humans aren't the only potential thieves in Africa. The monkeys and baboons are always on the look out for an easy meal. Campsites and picnic areas are popular for a spot of primate highway robbery and they're not just after your nuts and banana's. We've found to our cost they will happily take your brie and Doritos if you turn your back for long enough! Keep all your food in sealed boxes and if these guys are about don't expect it to stay on the table for long if unattended.
13) Most public car parking areas have "car guards" who can usually be identified by their high vis jackets and often have a baton or similar. On arrival they will often approach you to ask if they can look after your car, which can be intimidating the first few times, if you decide to take them up on their offer it will cost you around 20p but the amount is up to you.
We hope find these hints and tips useful and if you have any of your own don't keep them to yourself, let us know in the comments section.