For many, an African safari holiday is the dream of a lifetime; something that’s been on the must-do list for years…
But often, that dream doesn’t come true until after retirement.
The good news though, is that African safaris are suitable for almost any age group, and more and more people are taking safaris later in life. Multigenerational safaris are also becoming increasingly popular, with grandparents, children, and grandkids travelling together on a family safari.
Of course, as you pack your bag for your adventure, you’ll just want to keep in mind that there are a few precautions that you can take to make your safari experience as smooth as possible.
To help you get the most out of your African safari, here are seven things to keep in mind before you head out.
Booking a doctor’s appointment before you travel to another continent is always a good idea, no matter what your age.
Before you head out, inform your doctor of your plans, and schedule a checkup to make sure you’re healthy enough to travel. He or she will also be able to talk with you about any conditions that you may have, which may require special precautions while you’re away. For instance, if you have a heart condition, you may want to avoid strenuous exercise while on your journey, or avoid extreme altitudes. Jet lag and motion sickness are two additional conditions that some people encounter when travelling.
For specific health advice based on country or region, take a look at the following 3 websites:
1. National Travel Health Network Centre (NaTHNaC)
Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor before you go; they may be able to prescribe medication, or offer information for your peace of mind when you travel.
When you book an appointment with your doctor, be sure to ask about recommended vaccinations.
You’ll want to make sure you’re up-to-date with important inoculations. While many may assume that these injections are for children, keep in mind that these diseases are more common in other countries. You should also ask your doctor about tetanus since many cases of tetanus occur in people over 65.
You may also consider additional vaccinations, which will vary depending on the country that you’re planning to visit. Hepatitis, typhoid, polio, and yellow fever are a few vaccines that your doctor may discuss with you, although sometimes these injections are not recommended for people who are over a certain age or who may have a chronic illness.
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.
If you’re on any medication, you’ll want to bring enough to last you the entire journey.
Planning to obtain your medication while overseas is not recommended, since there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to refill your prescriptions while you’re on your trip. Still, you may also want to bring along a copy of your prescription, just in case your medication happens to get lost.
Finally, don’t forget to bring a fully stocked first aid kit, which should include some general, over the counter medication like Imodium, paracetamol, cold capsules, and allergy tablets. In addition to medication, other helpful supplies to bring along include eye drops, foot powder, lip balm, sunscreen, blister pads, first aid ointment, and spare glasses or contact lenses.
Make sure you understand the season and average temperatures of the locations that you’re plan to travel to. Last month I looked at the Best Places to Go on Safari: A Month-By-Month Travel Guide, which is worth a look if you still aren’t sure where to go. There’s also a fantastic map of the average temperature and rainfall in Africa which you can consult before you travel.
This is important as often the temperatures can catch you off guard if you’re not prepared.
If you are travelling during the summer, you should be avoid staying out in the elements for too long, and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day. Always prepare for the weather, and bring along a wide brimmed hat and cool, breathable clothes.
Also keep in mind that temperatures can fluctuate considerably throughout a 24-hour period, and even if it will be hot, it’s wise to bring along a sweater, a windbreaker, and warm nightclothes since the temperature can drop once the sun goes down.
Remember to understand the implications of the season that you’re travelling in, so you will know what you can expect. For example, you may not want to travel during the wet season to some areas, since this can make it harder to spot game.
Even if you are fit physically, it’s important to choose your itinerary wisely.
Avoid rushing around, as this is exhausting and unrewarding. Regardless of age. This will give you a chance to enjoy yourself and take in the surroundings so that you get the full experience on offer.
Opting for a guided safari may well be the best type of holiday you’re after; there’s no need to navigate, you’ll get extra knowledge from your guide, and it will allow you to sit back and enjoy your amazing surroundings.
You could also choose a self-drive safari; design your own itinerary, set your own agenda and drive your own vehicle.
Recently I looked at which of these is better, Self-Drive Vs Guided Safari Tours, depending on what you want to get out of your holiday. You can also take a look at the video above, filmed by our Safari Drive team when they went on a perfectly-planned safari in Namibia.
We are all for camping on safari, there’s nothing better than sleeping out in the bush, with the stars above you, unzipping your roof tent in the morning, and having African savannah on your doorstep.
However, like mentioned in point 5 above, we advise to strike a balance between camping and lodging, so you can be served upon, relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself while you’re there. Staying in lodges or luxury tented accommodation will also let you use the excellent activities on offer, including guided game drives.
I had a look at all the luxury accommodation options last month, so take a look at my guide if you’re unsure.
Finally, injury prevention should be taken seriously. Simple bumps and scrapes can turn into serious infections if they’re not treated properly.
Other safety measures include always wearing your seatbelt and avoiding driving at night. In addition, you should be sure to purchase additional travel health insurance. Many common health care plans, including Medicaid don’t cover services in other countries so be sure to talk with your insurance provider about additional coverage options that you may need.
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!
Remember, an African safari is the dream of a lifetime for many, and should be an incredible, and wonderful experience. Be sure to choose accommodation and an itinerary that will allow you to relax and truly enjoy your time in Africa.
Are you thinking about taking an African safari? Contact Safari Drive for a friendly chat about safari destinations and potential routes that you can take. Our safari experts love Africa, and many of our team members have been there multiple times. We’d love to put our experience to work in helping you to choose a safari that’s everything you’re hoping it will be.