Africa: 10 Tips to Plan and Support Conservation & Communities while on Safari
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
African safaris are legendary for being a transformational family travel experience, one that provides unforgettable exposure to the great outdoors and wildlife. Few travelers realize, however, that the decision to book an African safari has likely never been more meaningful or important.
The word safari means “journey” in Swahili, and they play an important role in Africa’s economic empowerment, conservation, and sustainability.
While there has been a steady stream of news this past year highlighting how nature has recovered amid the global tourism shutdown from our global pandemic, there is a less cheerful side to this story. When tourists disappear, so too do tourism dollars that fund vital conservation efforts, not to mention the entire ecosystem of local jobs associated with the tourism industry.
Safaris are Outdoor and innately involve Social Distanced Activities
Safaris are also socially distanced by nature, with predominantly outdoor activities, which makes them an especially appealing option at a time when personal distancing is preferable for many travelers.
Certainly, it can be a little intimidating or overwhelming to plan an African safari, especially during this era of COVID-19. But it does not have to be so daunting. Here are 10 tips to help you plan an African Safari that is not only safe and unforgettable, but also meaningfully supportive of local communities and conservation efforts.
1. Use a Travel Advisor to Help Plan Your Safari
Whether you want to travel in the next few months or next year, we recommend using a Travel Advisor, particular during this era of Covid-19. Our team of destination specialists can offer you insight during itinerary planning and pre-departure preparations, such as new travel and safety rules and regulations that you may overlook or be unaware of. We get updates from our partners on the ground and from various safari lodges, and can answer your questions or direct you to the best resources to stay informed.
Global Family Travels' Specialized Travel Advisors will help you navigate logistics and the added COVID-19 safety protocols in your safari destination, which is still frequently changing. Once on the ground, you can have peace of mind knowing that our team is watching over your trip at every step should rules or schedules change.
Photo Credit: @glenncarstenspeters on Unsplash
These days, flight schedules change frequently and entry requirements for destinations vary, which is also why it’s so important to work with an advisor should you choose to travel.
2. Create a Plan and Pick your Safari Destination
You’d like to take a safari, but aren't quite ready to book yet? No problem. Follow step 1 and start planning with your advisor. Based on many factors, your travel advisor can help you decide what time of year you’d like to travel, which lodges to stay in, and for how long you’d like to visit.
Southern Africa has a warmer climate, making countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe great all-year-round destinations. Eastern Africa, with countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, have more distinct dry and wet seasons but is also a tropical climate. June through October are the driest months, and the wettest months are March and April.
For example, late summer in Tanzania is shoulder season. You can witness the Great Migration in the Northern Serengeti, marvel at the wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater, or enjoy the tropical forests at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the beaches of Zanzibar!
3. Consider the age of your Safari Travelers
If you are considering an African safari experience for your family, we advise traveling with children from the age of 6 and older. While most parents would like to share the many wildlife experiences with their children, we recommend participating in a safari when they can fully appreciate experiencing a safari game drive or a bushwalk. Most safari camps and lodges welcome children, however, some have minimum age restrictions. For safety reasons, this varies by destination, safari lodge, safari vehicle, and game viewing activity. Special arrangements usually can be made for special activities geared for children from the ages of 3 to 7 years old.
4. Go Slow and Keep it Simple
A safari is not an experience you want to rush, therefore, we suggest traveling slower and spending more time at each stop on your itinerary.
Focus on one country. More time at each place in that country will allow for fewer interactions with other travelers and give your family time to become more immersed in the local culture and connected to the people and places you are visiting.
Plan on at least two weeks to explore while on safari. Just getting to some African countries can be a long journey. You will want to give your body time to adjust and allow yourself to experience the destination and this may mean taking long road trips from your arrival city to your game reserve.
The ideal time to go on an African safari really depends on what wildlife you want to see. Most adventurers plan around school vacations, winter holidays, spring break, and summer break, all of which are great times for a safari.
Photo Credit: @davidclode on Unsplash
5. Consider family member's abilities and interests when planning a Safari
You know your family best. There are various safari experiences and game viewing experiences to choose from, therefore, to have the most suitable safari for all involved, be sure to consider your family member’s interests and physical abilities for planning activities. Be sure to communicate all of this with your travel advisor / safari planner so they can help plan a comprehensive experience for all!
Consider early morning, late afternoon, early evening, and off-road game drives with a safari guide
Consider bush walk with a safari guide
Consider self-drive in a private reserve or national park
Beyond the thrill of seeing magnificent wildlife in their natural habitat, there are also opportunities to unwind and relax around your lodge or tented camp. Depending on the country you visit and the lodge or tented camp, there are various activities, such as hiking, cycling, kayaking, rafting, horseback riding, and swimming, which your family can participate in to help make your safari a truly family-bonding experience!
6. Look for cultural opportunities to engage with and support the local community!
Look for safari itineraries that allow your family to have a safari experience that does more good and less harm to the local community. This includes itineraries that focus on small private group outings that balance wildlife game viewing with socially-distanced cultural immersion experiences in destinations like Kruger National Park, Hwange National Park, Victoria Falls, Serengeti, and Masai Mara.
Cultural experiences might include visiting a boma or homestead in a village near a national park, or taking cooking or language lessons from local residents. Visitors can also serve on conservation projects that help sustain wildlife and biodiversity.
We work with our partners to ensure that scheduled activities are appropriate in light of COVID-19 and include up to the minute health and safety protocols.