7 Critical Steps Travellers Often Overlook When Planning a Visit to Africa

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When it comes to must-see destinations around the world, Africa often ranks near the top of the list…

And it’s no wonder why! Africa is an amazing continent, with so much to see and do. A journey to this beautiful land can be exceptionally rewarding.

To help you get the most out of your experience though, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. An African safari holiday isn’t like taking just another short holiday; it’s a completely unique experience.

Here are seven critical steps you should consider when planning your trip. Make sure you don’t forget about these important, but often-overlooked to-dos…

1. Seeing a Doctor

Before you hop on the plane and fly off to a new continent, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first. There are some important travel vaccinations that you should consider before traveling to certain places in Africa and your doctor can recommend various precautions and help you decide what immunizations you should have before heading out.

Some of the most common ones include a vaccination for yellow fever (when traveling to East Africa), or Hepatitis A, B or typhoid.

You should speak with your doctor in advance since some vaccinations take several weeks to provide complete protection. If you’re on any prescription medication, you’ll also want to make sure you bring along enough to last you for the duration of your trip.

Can’t get an appointment with the GP? MASTA (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad) can assist you in finding your nearest private travel health clinic. There’s no real difference between doing this or going to the doctor, although if you’re heading somewhere particularly unusual they may be able to offer destination-specific precautions that your doctor won’t. This decision is really up to you.

2. Getting Insurance

Travel insurance is often overlooked since many believe their insurance already offers coverage for them while they are away. However, this isn’t usually the case. In most cases, you’ll need a specific travel insurance policy to cover you in case of medical issues, cancelled flights, or other unexpected emergencies.

Purchasing an adequate travel insurance policy for both ourselves and in the case of dependents, those we are travelling with, can be the most important purchase we make when travelling away from home, per this article on moneysupermarket.com. So don’t skip it!

Since you’re spending a significant amount of money on this journey, you want to ensure that you are protected. The good news is that travel insurance is relatively inexpensive for those who are under 70 years old, and you can often obtain a policy through your standard home insurance provider, or online through a dedicated travel insurance company.

3. Planning Ahead

While there is some wonder to being spontaneous, this isn’t the case when the trip of a lifetime is at stake! It’s important to do your research, decide what you want to see, and determine what you hope to get out of your trip. This will help you to decide which location you should visit, the type of safari you should go on, and what time of year you should go.

It’s also vitally important to plan ahead since popular locations fill up early during certain times of the year. For example, the wildebeest migration and river crossing at the Mara River is a popular event and it’s important to book your accommodation and safaris early to ensure there will be space.

When planning your African safari, it’s also important to plan for the unexpected and remember that animals are unpredictable, and often operate according to their own schedule.

4. Creating a Realistic Itinerary

Travel can be tiring, and getting from country to country can be especially gruelling. You don’t want your entire trip to be a haze of exhaustion. Instead of trying to fit five countries into a 10-day holiday, it may be better to instead focus on one or two locations.

I recommend creating an itinerary that will allow you plenty of time to experience each region, allowing you time to fully appreciate everything that area has to offer. You will enjoy your trip much more if you have at least a few days to unwind after arriving instead of having to immediately repack and jet off to the next location.

5. Doing Research

You will get so much more out of the journey if you do plenty of upfront research. Consider the different habits of the animals you wish to see, and study up on the local culture and food in the area that you’ll be going to. Immerse yourself in your research and then open your mind to the experience that is about to envelop you.

Remember, Africa is an amazing continent that’s full of varied countries. It is impossible to take Africa as a whole. Instead consider each country you are planning to visit and conduct your research accordingly.

6. Choosing a Reputable Safari Company

When selecting a holiday package, be sure to choose a reputable safari company.

When you’re researching prospective safari providers do homework on them first. Ask them for references or conduct a quick online search and see what other customers are saying about them. Finally, beware of scams. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

7. Leaving Enough Time to Compile the Proper Paperwork

When it comes to traveling abroad, keep in mind that there are a number of different steps involved with getting permission to travel. While many countries in Africa only require a passport to enter, some, such as Kenya or Tanzania, also require a visa.

It is recommended that you are aware of what is required of you, and if necessary, apply for your visa before you travel. Before you go it is important that you have all of your paperwork in order and the required documents with you, as well as copies if your official documents. You should also make sure you have three clear pages in your passport, or else you may not be allowed in.

Are You Ready?

Planning your holiday can be an exciting and enjoyable time, so don’t forget to have fun while you prepare for your amazing trip.

An African journey is something that many dream of, and naturally, you’ll want to take steps ahead of time that will help you to make the most of your spectacular trip. If you have friends or family members who have been on an African safari or journey before, you could also ask them for tips and advice. After all, there is nothing quite like firsthand information.

Planning an African safari? Get a consultation with Safari Drive and speak to our team – we’d love to help you plan your adventure of a lifetime!

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Photos by and David Berkowitz and William Warby

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