Whether you're planning an adventurous safari tour in Africa or the U.S., you probably have a lot of questions about how the tour and experience will play out. While some things are better left to the imagination, there are a few things you should know to better prepare yourself for the experience.
1. Know What You're Getting Into
Where are you booking your safari? Whether it's Africa or the U.S., it's important to know what you'll be up against.
What will the weather be like?
Will the safari involve animal encounters?
How long will the tour last?
Where will you go?
The answers to these questions will help you decide what to pack, including clothes and photography gear.
If you're still mulling over where to go, you should know that not all safaris are focused on big game encounters. In the U.S., some safari tours take you through the desert to explore ancient wonders.
"Our Mystery Valley tours give visitors a unique opportunity to explore the labyrinthian canyons that conceal a number of ruins and arches," says Monument Valley Safari, which runs safari tours in Monument Valley, Arizona.
2. Be Prepared
Going on a safari is unlike any other travel experience. It's important to be prepared, but being prepared doesn’t mean that you have to pack everything. Only bring the essentials.
When you're out on tour, there's a good chance that you'll be crammed in a Jeep with other people. If your goal is to bring a suitcase of photography gear, you may want to rethink your plan.
Things happen quickly on safari, which leaves little time for lens changes. Either stick to one lens, or bring two cameras to capture these fleeting moments. Don't expect to bring a big bag of gear on the Jeep – there won't be room.
3. Be Open-Minded and Flexible
Going on safari means spending a lot of time outdoors. Weather can change in the blink of an eye, especially in some regions of the world.
Wildlife and Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so you need to be prepared to be flexible and open-minded. If you can't take a particular tour or route one day, don't stress out. There are a lot of variables that will affect what you see and when.
If you're going on safari in Africa, you can expect a lot of things to be unexpected. Your driver may zip through bushes or a river to follow a herd of elephants. Go with the flow. The experience will be worth the chaos.
4. A Private Tour May be Worth It
If you can get friends and family to jump on board, it may be worth traveling with a bigger group. In many cases, you wind up with a private driver and a big Jeep to yourself. Tour companies may not necessarily fill the car up after they've sold 4-6 seats.
Some companies also give you the option of booking a private tour, or they may offer a group discount. Weigh the pros and cons to decide if a private tour is worth it.