Is an African safari tour on your bucket list? Safaris provide an authentic African experience: observing and photographing wildlife, hiking, sightseeing, learning local traditions and exploring villages and terrain.
You’ll be able to choose a trip that suits your age, interests and abilities, such as an overland safari trip camping with a group, or a custom, individual safari with a guide.
November and December are two of the best months to take an African safari — you’ll avoid the heat and humidity, you’ll see animal migrations and, if you travel to South Africa, you’ll be able to birdwatch.
Thirty million tourists visit Africa each year, many going on safari. In Kenya alone, visitors grew to more than two million in 2018 from 1.4 million in 2017, according to the World Tourism Organization. The World Tourism Organization also predicts that Africa could more than double the number of tourist arrivals from 50 million in 2010 to 134 million in 2030.
The allure of a trip to Africa for safari is a major trend but beware: a few of the best African countries for safari also have increased risk for travelers. Here’s what to expect on safari in these three suggested locations and how stay safe during your trip to Africa.
According to TripSavvy.com, the best time to enjoy Zambia’s wildlife on an African safari tour is the end of the dry season which is September through mid-November. You’ll see elephants, buffalo, impala and zebra in the Lower Zambezi Valley.
In November, lucky visitors may witness wildebeest gathering in Liuwa Plain National Park. Calving season runs December to March and tens of thousands of baby wildebeest take their first steps. If you’re a birder, Botswana’s Okavango Delta fills up in November with migrating birds starting their breeding season (which lasts until March).
Love landscapes? Kenya offers savannas, deserts, highlands, seasides, a 17,000-foot mountain and a 50-foot rift splitting open the terrain. On Kenya’s beaches, you’ll be able to snorkel, swim and watch humpback whales on their migratory route.
The best time to go on safari in Kenya is between October and December, which is considered off season with cheaper rates on accommodations and tours. Click here for a handy rainfall and temperature chart of Kenya to help you choose the timing of your trip.
If you’d like to spend the holidays in the bush, consider Tanzania with its dry weather, rolling hills and expansive plains. This East African country offers a diversity of wildlife — the Ngorangoro Crater is home to Tanzania’s largest rhinoceros population — and two national parks: Serengeti and Tarangire.
Tanzania bird migrations (wattle-eyes, bee-eaters, pygmy falcons and flamingos) from Europe to East Africa occur between October and April, making it the best time to take an African safari for birdwatchers.
Travel and Safety Tips
The U.S. Department of State offers travel advisories for each African country. Zambia has no warnings, but Kenya and Tanzania each have a Level 2 Travel Advisory (Exercise Increased Caution). This may mean an increased risk of crime, terrorism and kidnapping in Kenya (as of April 9, 2019) and violent crime, terrorism and lack of police resources in Tanzania (as of September 27, 2019).
Although the country may be classified as a Level 2, Global Rescue recommends researching each region, which may be a Level 3 or Level 4 to make appropriate risk related decisions with your travel plans. For example, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government advises against all but essential travel within 60km (37 miles) of the Kenya-Somali border, but this advisory doesn’t include Kenya’s safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies.
Getting ready to take an African safari? Global Rescue experts recommend:
- Consulting with a travel medicine professional about necessary precautions: vaccines, malaria pills and other medications.
- Making sure your passports and visas are in order.
- Only consuming food that has been sufficiently cooked and avoiding uncooked produce that has been washed with tap water.
- Keeping your wealth (cash, jewelry, cameras) hidden.
- Listening to your guide and following park rules and regulations.
- Respecting the wildlife.
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