What to expect on your first African safari holiday

South Africa - Waterberg - Jembisa - first safari holiday.jpg

Touching down on African soil again during a recent visit reminded me of how excited I was the very first time I travelled on safari in this most wonderful of continents. This visit, like every other, did not disappoint and all of those wonderful memories and feelings came flooding back as if I was reliving that very first time all over again.

The sheer splendour and beauty of Africa are guaranteed to ensure that what you will experience will never be surpassed. The plane pulling into park on the hot tarmac is one of the most exciting feelings describable. 

So you have arrived in Africa…now what?

This occasion was no different to the others, regardless of where in Africa I have travelled to…you are always met and greeted at the runway, airstrip or airport arrivals hall by a lodge representative or guide, with a warm and friendly smile.

Your luggage is then loaded into the vehicle and your drivers will make their way through the wilderness. Watch out for various wildlife species that may be spotted en route before having even checked in, or alternatively simply marvel at the breath-taking surroundings as you make your way…Welcome to Africa!

It is common that on arrival, you are met by the lodge or camp manager and invited to take a seat to enjoy a cool drink while discussing formalities and signing an indemnity form. Rest assured that this is quite normal at each and every safari property in Africa so don’t be put off. You may also be asked for your passports so that copies can be made, or information noted.

After a briefing about the order of each day and what takes place at what time, you will be shown to your beautiful room or tent, where you are welcome to settle in and un-pack, and get comfortable in your new home – or at least for the next couple of days.

This is where a bath with a view, private plunge pool or outdoor shower really adds to the quality of your African experience and just makes you that much more excited for the quiet moments that you will spend relaxing…

  • Africa - South Africa - Malaria Free Family Safaris - Madikwe game drive med.jpg

Generally, guests will gather in the afternoon for a gorgeous high tea spread, and the afternoon safari will depart shortly thereafter. With cooler boxes packed, an introduction to your fellow passengers (typically, no more than 6 people per vehicle depending on where you are staying) and the revving of the Land cruiser, you set off into the afternoon under the guidance of your ranger and tracker, and the safari adventure begins!

You may spend anywhere from 3 to 4 hours out on a drive depending on what is seen, returning after dark, which allows a chance to see some nocturnal wildlife too. It is also common for your ranger to pick a spectacular spot during the drive, in order to watch the sun go down and enjoy a drink, canape and a chat while you stretch your legs in a remote location.

A leopard and its kill up a tree, a herd of elephant playing at a waterhole, a family of lion sleeping…a tortoise trying to find shelter…or birds exchanging warning cries – there is so much to be seen and even more to be learnt from your ranger and tracker during your drive.

With your adrenaline charged and feeling totally relaxed from the unusual volume of fresh air, you return to camp to be greeted by a roaring fire, and a sumptuous dinner spread. Did I mention that eating is a big part of being on safari?

  • South Africa - More - Boma - first safari.jpg

Dinners are either taken at one central table where all guests eat together, or for special occasions or romantic occasions, private dining can also be arranged. Then retire to bed with all of the sounds of Africa around you, from chirping crickets to the call of opportunistic hyena…it’s absolutely magic in every sense of the word and there is nothing quite like it.

At sunrise, you can expect to be woken with a gentle ‘hello’ at your room entrance, and a warm drink before heading off on your drive – the earlier you get out the better as the animals tend to be more active when it is cooler and before the sun has risen.

There is nothing like witnessing frost melting from under giant spider webs, the optimistic melody of birdsong and the wilderness waking up… After a few hours, you will return to camp for another impressive spread and delicious hot breakfast.

Some camps will offer the chance of a walking safari after breakfast where you can explore the surrounds on foot, and engage all of the senses – such a contrast to being on the vehicle and highly recommended.

Or this is the time when you might retreat to your room to rest, because why not, you are on holiday after all! Another full day of wildlife sightings awaits and soon you will be called for lunch.

Background image courtesy of Lelapa Lodge

Headline image courtesy of Jembisa Lodge

Game drive image courtesy More

Dining image courtesy of Boma Lodge


Get in touch with us today to learn more about Africa vacations and holidays.

Email: info@explorationscompany.com

Or call us on: (UK) +44 (0)1367 850566, (USA) 1-855-216-5040

Posted by: Catherine Fouche

Posted on: 25th November 2016

Read more: Posts about Africa