A lifelong dream for many is visiting the famous African savanna grasslands. With its stunning sceneries, warm tropical weather, impressive wildlife diversity, and other natural spectacles, a trip to this incredible ecosystem is sure to provide memorable encounters with nature.
If you’re planning to witness its majesty, remember that, unlike in most other tourist spots you may have visited, you need to devote extra caution and properly to avoid any mishaps. After all, you’re the visitor of animals in their stellar natural domain.
Don’t fret, as we got you covered! Here are the tips for traveling to the stellar savanna grasslands of Africa that will help you get that unique, unmatched Safari experience.
1. Decide when to go.
If you’re aiming for wildlife viewing, you need to visit Africa during the winter dry season from May to October. During these months, the shrubs and trees are leafless, making it easier to see animals. Since there is also limited food and water during this period, more animals tend to go out to hunt, graze, or drink at waterholes, significantly aiding game spotting.
However, if you’d like to see the renowned “Great Migration,” participated by nearly two million animals, including 1.5 million wildebeest, and hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, the ideal time to visit is from June to September. You can still make a trip from December to February, the continent’s summertime, but expect that game viewing may be more as vegetation is lush, covering your view of these animals.
2. Choose between general tours or specialist game drives.
There are two ways you can explore the African savanna grasslands. First, you can join general tours. These tours are pretty basic, which entails being in a large group of travelers, having a tour guide, and visiting specific stops to witness as many animals as possible. Often, the whole trip is pretty structured and timed, which means the vehicle may need to move over to the next spot on the list, though you’re still relishing a specific view. Meanwhile, specialist game drives are done in smaller groups. It provides a more personal, unparalleled experience, perfect if you want to track or have an obsession with one particular animal.
3. Wearing a Safari-style outfit isn’t always necessary.
Don’t be surprised if you see your co-travelers wearing newly-bought expensive clothing with varying shades of greens and khaki, safari hats, and trousers. Such an outfit, however, reflects the common misconception when traveling to Africa – that wearing like is a must. That stems down to the idea that sporting safari-style clothing makes it harder for animals to the wearer.
Truth to be told, animals don’t see colors people do. The khaki and green shades may not bear the same concealing effect we think of, as they may appear widely different to their sight. What’s certain is that all you need are layers of comfortable clothing, lightweight shorts or trousers, comfy shoes, any hat enough to protect you from the sun, but not typically Safari-inspired ones, which often come at hefty prices.
Still, there’s no stopping you from wearing Safari-style clothing, as it can add up to the experience. We can assure you, though, that you can enjoy the African savanna grasslands no matter the color.
4. Prepare your camera equipment.
There’s no doubt that the African savanna grassland is a photographer’s haven. If you like to capture once-in-a-lifetime shots of animals in their natural behavior and habitat or the awe-inspiring sceneries around, don’t miss out on bringing your best camera equipment. That way, you can take sharp, high-quality photos or zoom in on animals located even if they’re several meters away. If you don’t have the passion, don’t fret! A simple smartphone is enough to take good-quality photos that you can post on your social media pages and share your experience. Otherwise, you can simply sit back, veer away from clicking the shutter endlessly and just spend your time savoring the experience.
5. Expect to wake up early.
Most animals in Africa are active during the morning and evening. During the midday, the temperature is too high and they tend to just lay in the shade than move under scorching heat from the sun. To see most of the animals, you need to wake up even before dawn cracks, sip up a coffee or tea, and go. If you miss out, don’t worry as there are also evening game drives during the evening, usually starting at 4:30 pm, giving you another chance to see the biome’s impressive wildlife.
6. Use a guide.
Guides spent years in training and learning about the natural landscape and wildlife. They have acquired all the knowledge and expertise, which they can impart to you to get the absolute most of your visit. Aside from keeping you safe from wild animals, the best thing you can get is knowing more about the basics up to the intricacies of the African savanna grasslands, which can be easy to miss once you’re on the safari.
7. Ask questions.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your guide will even be happier to answer any queries you have, from simple questions like “what is that animal over there” to more complicated ones such as the animal’s diet, behavior, life span, or mating habits. You’ll be surprised how knowledgeable they are and every bit of information will surely enhance the experience. Not only your eyes are filled with awe, but also your mind.
8. Don’t aim for the “Big Five” alone.
Witnessing Africa’s Big Five, – lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants, and rhinos – is every nature lover and travelers’ dream. Be mindful, however, that the savanna grasslands are home to thousands of other species of animals! Though they’re less famous, there are far more creatures out there, like hippos, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, or wildebeest, that are as stunning. Make sure to try to spot them, too, and appreciate their beauty.
9. Be patient.
“Patience is a virtue” is an old adage but is something that you need to remember as you visit the African savanna grasslands. Vehicles in national parks and game reserves only have access to specific areas and tracks. That means the animals you’ll be seeing are ones who fortunately pass on that route. Animals are wild, live their own lives, and are pretty unpredictable. Adding the wide expanse, successful sighting of an elephant or a lion may often range from a few minutes or several hours. What’s important is being patient, as the experience once you finally see the animals, is very rewarding.
10. Be respectful and caring of the animals.
Being able to see the beautiful surroundings and see the impressive animals of Africa is a privilege, not all may be able to experience. Once you’re there, prove that you have the right to be there more than others by showing care and respect to nature and the wildlife.
Don’t try to yell and persuade animals to come to you. Some animals may look harmless, but they are still wild animals and can behave differently. You’ll not only put yourself in peril but place these animals in a precarious situation as well.
Of course, never ever litter. Anything that you might leave, no matter how small it is, can be harmful and pollute the pristine environment and wildlife. Though there are other factors such as poaching and habitat destruction, pollution is also a culprit in the decreasing population of many animals in Africa. Do your part in protecting them and ensuring they get to thrive in the next generations.