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7 Tips for Planning a Spectacular Safari

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Orange sunset with silhouette of safari vehicle, trees and elephants


The perfect safari conjures images of remote regions that offer intriguing and breathtaking landscapes, where classic lodges and luxury tented camps sit, isolated from the busy world. Wildlife roams from the plains to the forests, and days start early, ending with captivating sunsets.

An African safari is the ultimate adventure, and as you consider your plans, here are some helpful planning tips to ease the logistics of your experience. Every traveler's needs are different, and working through these tips will help you design the best safari itinerary for you.

  1. 1. Explore the Many Ways to Experience Your Safari
  2. 2. Discover Safari Lodges and Luxury Tented Camps
  3. 3. Pick the Best Safari Destination for You
  4. 4. Connect with Your Safari Specialist
  5. 5. Finalize Your Itinerary
  6. 6. Start Packing and Preparing for your Safari Experience
  7. 7. Look Forward to Your Dream Safari
  8. Plan Your African Safari Trip with Experts

1. Explore the Many Ways to Experience Your Safari

Ranger guiding a walking safari, sighting cape buffalo herd

Walking Safari in Arusha National Park, Tanzania

A safari conjures thoughts of wide-open spaces, animals roaming freely or crouched beside a thriving waterhole, and understanding how best to explore can be overwhelming.

Overland experiences might stretch across several days and travel between camps, sites, or parks or include a short flight between regions. Game drives can be a day's excursion as you discover the diverse terrain from woodlands to open plains, while nighttime game drives give you an entirely different perspective of the wilderness and the wildlife that comes out after sunset. A walking safari immerses you in the finer details of tracking, and exploring on a boat safari can offer wildlife views both in and alongside the water.

Knowing what has captured your interest most is the beginning of designing your itinerary. Different destinations offer different opportunities to explore and enjoy, and knowing what is at the top of your list allows the rest of your planning to unfold.

Learn more: 10 Types of African Safaris: Different Ways to Experience a Safari

2. Discover Safari Lodges and Luxury Tented Camps

Luxurious guest tent in the Serengeti

Guest tent at Nanyukie Lodge​ in Serengeti, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Lemala

Options abound, and knowing what you would like to experience most will dictate your path. The next element to explore are the many options for safari properties: luxury lodges, boutique tented camps, or a grand mobile camp.

You have the option of embarking on an intimate adventure in the bush, with lodges and luxury tented camps with either a handful of rooms or a more extensive selection to cater to travelers' individual needs.

The properties you visit will most often exceed expectations by combining unforgettable views, exceptional services, and access to wildlife experiences you may have only dreamed of.

Each property can help you experience the landscape and wildlife in a unique way. From countless wildlife interactions to memorable sunsets, surprising luxuries in prime wildlife locations, to exclusive safari excursions, you can take full advantage of the remote sense of adventure. Custom-designed itineraries cater to your wishes and can guide you on which accommodations best capture your perfect African safari.

Learn more: 3 Types of Safari Accommodations and How to Choose

3. Pick the Best Safari Destination for You

Beach on the Island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania in Africa

Zanzibar, Tanzania

There are many factors to consider when deciding where to safari and looking at the big picture you have created for your African adventure certainly helps. Your interests in how you wish to experience your safari could impact your choice of destination.

Stand-alone safaris in one game reserve or park, for example, may steer you towards a South African safari, while an experience that encompasses water and land lodges or camps would bring Botswana’s Okavango Delta to mind. If traveling in an enclosed 4x4 vehicle with a pop-up roof is more your style in a variety of parks, then an East African safari in Tanzania or Kenya is definitely for you.

Extensions, such as visiting Victoria Falls or adding a beach getaway to your trip could also dictate where you safari. The Indian Ocean is home to a plethora of island paradises, so connecting Zanzibar with Kenya or Tanzania makes sense, while a Seychelles escape ties in well with a Southern African safari itinerary. City breaks, desert discoveries, or gorilla trekking, will also determine whether you safari in Southern or East Africa.

Your Zicasso safari specialist can help you wade through the many options, as the opportunities in Africa are truly endless.

Learn more: How to Choose Your Safari Destination: Top 5 FAQs Answered

4. Connect with Your Safari Specialist

Male and female lion lying near safari jeep in Maasai Mara, Kenya

Maasia Mara, Kenya

The right safari is all about your preferences and needs, from relaxation to luxury, activity to excitement. Once you have some ideas about your dream trip, talk to a specialist and continue brainstorming to focus on what elements will make your ultimate travel experience come to life.

Expert advice from an experienced travel specialist with local knowledge can inform not only where you should go but also the excursions, inclusions, and accommodations you may wish to have according to how you want to experience your African safari.

WIth concierge-style planning service, a dedicated advocate for your travel plans from start to finish, and assistance on the ground as you adventure across game reserves and national parks, a safari specialist plans for every last detail so that you can trust you will enjoy a unique lifetime experience.

Learn more: 5 Reasons to Plan Your Safari with a Travel Specialist

5. Finalize Your Itinerary

Early morning mokoro boat safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

How you want to explore, the accommodations you have dreamed of, and the country you choose will all come together with the guidance of your safari specialist to create your perfect routing with the best inclusions.

Discover more of Africa by adding a beach or city stay before or after your safari for a more extended trip. Creating your itinerary around any time constraints, desired experiences, or nearby places you wish to visit will take expert destination knowledge, and your safari specialist will work alongside you until every last detail is perfect.

Learn more: How to Plan an African Safari: Frequently Asked Questions

6. Start Packing and Preparing for your Safari Experience

Senior couple dressed in grey and beiges while on safari in africa

What to bring and how to prepare often gets the most questions, beginning with clothing. It is essential to be comfortable, and as a safari experience is a low-key adventure, good walking shoes, comfortable clothing, and a good sun hat are really all that is required.

A standard rule of what to wear on a safari or game drive is to avoid bright and bold colors, forget any camouflage and focus on khakis, browns, and beiges to blend in with the natural surroundings. Layering is a great idea to stay comfortable as the temperatures shift from cool early mornings to a warmer start to the day as the sun comes up. Long pants that comfortably convert to shorts and light long-sleeve shirts work perfectly.

Consider taking along a scarf and gloves for chilly starts and ends to your day. Forget the hiking boots and oversized jackets to safari with ease, knowing that what you have is more than enough. Blankets and ponchos are provided on your game drives, and other than a good sunscreen and stylish sunglasses, you are set to go out into the bush and explore. When you are in the vehicle, the animals see you as one unit, so blend in with muted tones.

Learn more: What to Bring on an African Safari: 12 Tips to Consider as You Prepare and Pack

7. Look Forward to Your Dream Safari

Game drive through Ngorongoro, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

From the moment you step foot on or into your safari vehicle, your game-viewing experience begins. Most game drives take place before sunrise and just before sunset, with breaks in the drive at prime or remote spots, usually with captivating views, for coffee in the mornings and a sundowner as the day comes to a close. Savor the opportunity to stand on a hill with a beverage of choice in hand and thank Mother Nature for this incredible opportunity.

At each animal sighting, you will have your guide's full attention and can ask questions and take in his explanations and stories while keeping an eye on the magnificent creature in front of you. Comfort is key, and small touches like blankets and sometimes personal binoculars add to the intimate experience of being on safari. Anticipation and excitement, with undertones of pure relaxation, set the mood.

Which magnificent animal will be the first you encounter today, what miracles of nature will you witness, and how many memories will you capture with your camera, your memory maker? It is truly the pure joy of being out in the African savannah, the rocky outcrops inviting you in, the waterholes taking reservations for all who thirst, perhaps the elusive leopard covering its prey, barely visible under a tree thrilling.

Learn more: What to Expect From a Day on Safari

Plan Your African Safari Trip with Experts

Sundowners in South Luanga National Park, Zambia

Sundowners in South Luanga National Park, Zambia

An African safari is an experience of a lifetime as an immersive adventure into the splendor of the untamed landscape and curious wildlife accentuated by luxurious accommodations and fascinating seclusion.

You have plenty of unique travel possibilities and can find inspiration for other customizable trip options that can make your dream trip a reality. You can also find tips on the best safari destinations with Zicasso’s African Safari Travel Guide or find more insight into how you can travel with our Senior Travel Guide.

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