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Heading out on an African safari is an incredible experience, and especially for the wildlife enthusiast, getting up close and personal with some of the most majestic creatures on this planet is unlike anything else.

If you haven’t already added a safari trip to your bucket list, now is the time to do so! However, there are a few things you should know before you set off.

Here are five things they don’t tell you about your first safari.

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Your First African Safari

There are So Many Options

You might think there are only a handful of different options when it comes to a safari, but actually, there many, from classic safaris which track the big 5, to gorilla safaris in Africa where you trek deep into the jungle.

Firstly, there are dozens of different countries you can visit for your safari trip, such as South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, and Kenya. However, that’s not all.

There are also plenty of different ways to experience a safari. You can go traditional on the back of a 4×4 with a guide, you can go on a self-drive safari, or you can take to the skies in a hot air balloon.

Before you book your first safari, do your research, and decide on the type of experience you’d like.

It’s Not Just About the Animals

Kilimanjaro RF

One of the biggest pulls of an African safari is obviously the wildlife. However, it’s not just about the wildlife you’ll see when you’re there.

For example, if you head to Tanzania, you could combine your safari experience with climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, as I did back in October 2010.

This is the highest mountain in Africa and truly a sight to behold. However, you’re going to want to make sure you’re fully prepared before attempting to climb Mount Kili, as she can be a cruel mistress if you’ve never climbed before.

Consider what else you can add to your safari trip, such as beach trips to Zanzibar, or visiting wine country in South Africa.

Seeing African Wildlife Truly Jaw-Dropping

Desert Elephants RF

While people that have already been on safari may tell you that it’s incredible to see the animals up close, nothing quite prepares you for what it’s really like.

Watching a lion stalk its prey across the plains or seeing an elephant take to the watering hole is genuinely spectacular. Hearing hyenas howling from outside your tent as you sleep is a mix of incredible and terrifying.

This isn’t like visiting a zoo, as you’ll be with the animals in their natural habitat. Expect the unexpected when you head out on your first safari.

Your Guide Will Be Invaluable

African Man RF

Most of the guides on safari trips are locals with a whole wealth of knowledge, so make the most out of it!

Ask questions, get involved, and ask if there are any hidden gems you should know about.

It’s thought there are an estimated 3,000 tribes in Africa alone, all with their own unique cultures and traditions.

If you want to really soak up all the country you’re visiting has to offer, then you’ll want to buddy up with your guide.

You’ll Want to Go Back

Most safari experiences are a week or two, which may sound like a long time but you’ll barely even scratch the surface when you’re there.

This is the type of vacation that you’ll want to keep going back to, time and time again.

These are just five things they don’t tell you about your first safari, which you’ll most likely experience when you’re there. Have I missed anything off the list? Let me know in the comments!


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. Thank you so much for your nice blog about African Safari.

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

  2. What you say is so true! Although my safari was several years ago I still go to sleep remembering the quiet, the landscapes, the sunsets and the animals. I hear the lions purring, I see the monkey stealing food off the buffet to feed her baby, and I remember every minute of it.

    • I remember mine so vividly too! So glad you had a spectacular experience – hopefully you’ll be able to return at some stage :)

  3. I added a safari trip on my bucket list a long time ago, Meg. Trouble is I didn’t get to it yet, lol!

    • Maybe 2019 is your year :D

  4. I haven’t been to Africa yet but I am looking forward to finally doing so soon! Just reading your post made me realize how enjoyable it will as an experience. And that there’s just so much more to it than just watching animals. I actually have been scouring for guides for a trip to Kenya. It’s been really helpful getting useful information about the country and just planning my trip around what I have found. This safari guide on Kenya that I recently read was full of tidbits and tips about Kenya like when to go and where to go. Was planning your first safari trip experience like this too?

    • Hi Ana, thanks for reaching out, I’m so glad the post was helpful for you. How exciting that you’re shortly heading to Kenya! You’ll have an absolutely amazing time, I loved Kenya, and I’m sure you will too :)

      Yes, I took a similar approach to planning my safari, reading up on as much as I possibly could. So you’re definitely on the right track.

      Have an amazing time! … and thanks for reading :)

  5. A safari is absolutely something I gotta do! ?

    • 100%! 2019 is your year :D!

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