While you won't see tigers or bears, you will see lions.
Spotting big game in Africa is a great travel adventure, surrounded by wide-open landscapes, dangerous animals and the continent‘s raw beauty and intriguing history. You will be in sheer excitement once you spot your first lion or elephant. However, no matter where you go in sub-Saharan Africa, there are rules and regulations you must follow when in the bush. So if you want to make this an enjoyable and memorable experience, you will need to follow them assertively and don't worry too much if you don't get to see the big five.
Remember, just because you have paid for a safari doesn't mean the animals are getting a cut of the profit, and they are wild animals. Let us assure you, most rangers will watch you get eaten before they kill one of their beloved animals.
So, first things first. Here are some basic rules.
From Botswana to Kenya, South Africa to Uganda, all rules vary. But they are aimed at keeping you safe, keeping the animals safe and keeping the tourist dollars flowing.
Being in the wild will bring you in contact with all sorts of nasty infections: malaria, sleeping sickness and dysentery are just a few of the diseases you can pick up. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date, and follow these precautions against insect bites:
Do yourself a favour before even considering travelling to Africa, buy a good camera and make sure it is charged before you venture out. If it is a battery operated camera then carry some extra batteries.
Africa is a photographer's dream - there's a reason why National Geographic has made an industry out of bringing you images from its sun-drenched plains, treacherous rivers and unforgiving jungles.
Safaris can be some of your most memorable experiences. Lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffes. You don't want to get substandard snaps or miss that shot because your battery has died.
But in saying that, don't let your whole trip be seen through the viewfinder of your new Canon.
We know that you want to see them all, but disappointment is a word some people come away with when they get back from a safari.
If you want to see every animal within an hour, it's much cheaper to buy a ticket to the zoo.
Good game parks don't have fences, they are sweeping plains where animals roam free. If you decide to go to East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania) there are no fences. Man and beast live side by side.
But this doesn't mean seeing a lion, elephant, hyena, leopard and cheetah is always possible.
Here are some ways you can increase your chances:
Guides will always have suggestions where to look for the animals. Lions love the shade and leopards love the trees, so don't expect them to just walk into the middle of the road.
Africa is a living environment, you are just a guest - the myths about a wide playground full of animals are all true.
And always remember safari doesn't mean animal-spotting, it literally means journey - so take in your surroundings. The environment is just as important as the creatures that fill it.
One of the true great experiences of being on a safari is sleeping under the stars. Most tourists go straight to the luxury lodges, the outdated hotels - but they miss out on the real experience.
Pitching a tent with an organized company is amazing for those who want to feel the African ground.
Falling asleep to the bark of a lion, the footsteps of a nearby hyena or the grunt of a hippo can be awe-inspiring.
But don't be fooled, along with the joys there are dangers.
Your guides will run you through each little rule.
And you might think these rules are a little bit over-the-top, just wait until you see the footprints around your tent the next morning. You'll understand why they are in place.
Watch out for one of Africa's biggest pests – the baboon.
These fellows will be at most tourist places in Africa – they know travellers bring food and aren't usually up for a fight.
Baboons and their other monkey buddies are crafty and usually smarter than us, so if you want to see your new camera plus a sandwich disappear, then just leave them out. They will be stolen.
And the last thing you want to do is get into a fight against the animals - baboons have giant teeth and will leave quite the scar. Better to just let them have it, but assert yourself so they don't try it again.
If you can't find animals in Kenya, you will never see them. Try the legendary Masai Mara, Tsavo National Park, Amboseli National Park and Nakuru. Each place is unique and will provide you with an unforgettable experience.
Tanzania is where you can see the incredible Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater for plentiful animals and breath-taking surroundings. For the more hearty souls, get down to Ruaha National Park.
Botswana is one of the last great wildernesses of Southern Africa. Moremi National Park, Chobe National Park and Savuti National Park make up the Okavango Delta region. Step into this wetland paradise.
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