You Have To Tour Southern African At Least Once In Your Lifetime!

Are you ready for an amazing South African adventure? A wildlife safari is a great way to explore the beauty of Southern Africa while getting up close and personal with some of its amazing wildlife. From wild animals such as elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, and more, to experiencing the local culture, a wildlife safari in Southern Africa will be an unforgettable experience. So if you are looking for an incredible journey, look no further.

I have, from a very young age,  spent the better part of my life in this part of the world exploring every opportunity I got. With this vast experience I have intimate knowledge of the region, so it is with this background I introduce you to an amazing part of the world which every traveller MUST experience at least once in a life time.

Mutanda falls north west zambiaMutanda Falls - North West Zambia

Whilst detailed posts will follow in my weekly updates, in this post I will share with you an overview of  the following.

- Choosing Your Safari Destination

- Researching Wildlife in Southern Africa

- Packing for Your Safari Trip

- Choosing Your Accommodation

- On Safari: A Typical Day

- Seeing the Big Five

- Other Wildlife to Look Out For

- Safety Tips on Safari

- Immersing Yourself in Local Culture


Choosing Your Safari Destination

Choosing the perfect safari destination in Southern Africa can be an exhilarating task. With so many incredible options to choose from, it's important to consider what you're looking to experience during your wildlife adventure.

One popular destination is Zambia, known for its stunning national parks and abundant wildlife. From the majestic Victoria Falls to the vast wilderness of South Luangwa National Park, Zambia offers a unique safari experience. Here, you can spot an array of animals, including elephants, lions, and rhinos, while exploring the beautiful landscapes.

Another top choice is Zimbabwe, home to the world-renowned Hwange National Park. This park is known for its large population of elephants, as well as other impressive wildlife such as giraffes, zebras, and cheetahs. Additionally, Zimbabwe is a gateway to the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, where you can witness the power and beauty of one of the world's largest waterfalls.

Victoria falls livingstone zambiaMosi Oa Tunya falls (Victoria falls) - Livingstone Zambia 

For a truly unique experience, consider exploring the Okavango Delta in Botswana. This stunning oasis is teeming with wildlife and offers a chance to see animals up close while navigating through the waterways on a traditional mokoro canoe.

Adding to these amazing countries is Namibia and South Africa. Each offering experiences uniquely different.

Whilst wildlife will be the ultimate highlight there are many incredible landscapes to take in. Africa is the entire world in one continent.

So if you're up for an adventurous overland trip, consider exploring multiple countries in Africa.

Researching Wildlife in Southern Africa

When planning your wildlife safari in Southern Africa, it's essential to do some research on the wildlife that inhabits the region. Southern Africa is known for its diverse range of wildlife, including the famous Big Five - elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos. But there is so much more to discover!

Start by learning about the different types of wildlife you can expect to encounter in each safari destination. From the iconic elephants of Chobe National Park in Botswana to the elusive leopards of Kruger National Park in South Africa, each region has its unique wildlife offerings. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the behaviours, habitats, and characteristics of the animals you're most interested in seeing.

Elephant safari botswanaElephants in the Chobe NP - Botswana

Consider the best time to visit each destination for optimal wildlife sightings. Different seasons bring different opportunities, such as the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti or the bird-watching season in the Okavango Delta. By researching the wildlife patterns and migration routes, you can plan your trip to coincide with the most thrilling experiences.

Additionally, if you're considering an overland Africa trip, research the routes and itineraries available. These trips offer a chance to explore multiple countries and witness a variety of wild species. Find reputable tour operators who prioritize responsible tourism and prioritize animal conservation.

Packing for Your Safari Trip

When it comes to packing for your safari trip in Southern Africa, there are a few essentials that you won't want to forget. First and foremost, make sure to pack comfortable and breathable clothing that will keep you cool during the day and warm during the cooler evenings. Opt for lightweight and neutral-coloured clothing to blend in with the natural surroundings and avoid attracting unwanted attention from insects. Don't forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the intense African sun.

In terms of footwear, sturdy and comfortable closed-toe shoes are a must, especially if you plan on going on walking safaris or bush walks. You'll also want to pack a good pair of binoculars to enhance your wildlife viewing experience.

Other essential items to consider include a good quality camera to capture those unforgettable moments, insect repellent, a reusable water bottle, and a first aid kit. It's also a good idea to bring a backpack or day bag to carry your essentials while out on safari.

Remember, packing light is key, as you may need to carry your luggage between different safari camps or lodges. Keep in mind that laundry facilities are often available at most accommodations, so you won't need to overpack.

Choosing Your Accommodation

Choosing the right accommodation is an important aspect of planning your wildlife safari in Southern Africa. The type of accommodation you choose can greatly enhance your overall experience and allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning natural surroundings. Luckily, Southern Africa offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveller’s preferences.

For those seeking a luxurious and indulgent experience, there are many  high-end safari lodges and luxury tented camps available. These accommodations offer spacious and comfortable rooms, gourmet dining options, and exclusive amenities. Staying in one of these lodges allows you to relax in style after a day of exciting wildlife sightings.

Luxury wildlife lodge victoria falls zambiaZebras wondering through Avani resort in Livingstone, Zambia

On the other hand, if you prefer a more authentic and rustic experience, you can opt for a traditional bush camp or a basic tented camp. These accommodations offer a closer connection to nature and a more intimate safari experience. Falling asleep to the sounds of the wild and waking up to breathtaking views is an incredible way to fully immerse yourself in the wild life experience.

For budget-conscious travellers, there are also affordable safari lodges and camps available. These accommodations offer comfortable rooms or tents, communal dining areas, and shared facilities. Staying in a budget-friendly lodge doesn't mean sacrificing on the wildlife experience – you can still enjoy thrilling game drives and encounter a variety of wild animals.

On Safari: A Typical Day

Every day on safari in Southern Africa is filled with excitement and wonder. The typical day starts early, before sunrise, to make the most of the cool morning temperatures and the animals' increased activity. You'll wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and the distant roar of lions. After a quick cup of coffee or tea, it's time to head out on a thrilling game drive.

Your expert guide will navigate the rugged terrain, taking you deep into the heart of the wilderness. As you drive through the national parks or private reserves, keep your eyes peeled for the incredible wildlife that calls this place home. From herds of elephants gracefully passing by to the graceful movements of giraffes browsing on the treetops, each moment is a chance to witness the beauty of nature up close.

After a few hours of exploring, you'll stop for a hearty breakfast in the bush. Picture yourself savouring a delicious meal surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wild. Energized and ready for more, the game drive continues, as your guide expertly tracks animals and shares fascinating insights about their behaviour and habitats.

In the late morning, as the day starts to warm up, you'll return to your accommodation for some relaxation and a chance to take in the stunning surroundings. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and perhaps take a dip in the pool to cool off. During this downtime, you can also indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment or simply relax and soak up the tranquillity of the African bush.

In the afternoon, as the temperatures cool down, it's time for another game drive. This is when predators like lions and leopards are often most active, and your chances of encountering them are high. As the sun sets and casts a golden glow over the landscape, you'll stop for sundowners – a time-honoured safari tradition. Sip on a refreshing drink while watching the vibrant colours of the sky and reflecting on the incredible experiences of the day.

As darkness falls, the night drive begins, offering a completely different perspective of the African wilderness. Equipped with spotlights, your guide will take you on a thrilling adventure in search of nocturnal creatures like hyenas, genets, and maybe even a rare sighting of a leopard. The night drive is filled with mystery and anticipation, as you never know what surprises await in the darkness.

Seeing the Big Five

When embarking on a wildlife safari in Southern Africa, one of the most thrilling experiences is getting the chance to see the Big Five. The term "Big Five" refers to five iconic African animals that were traditionally considered the most difficult and dangerous to hunt on foot: elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos. However, nowadays, the focus is on observing and conserving these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

lion in the chobe national park botswanaLion - Chobe NP Botswana

Seeing the Big Five in person is a truly awe-inspiring experience. Imagine coming face to face with a towering elephant, witnessing the regal grace of a lioness on the hunt, or spotting a leopard skilfully manoeuvring through the treetops. Each encounter is a unique and unforgettable moment that will stay with you long after your safari ends.

While the Big Five may be the main attraction, it's important to remember that Southern Africa is also home to a wealth of other incredible wildlife. From the playful antics of meerkats to the graceful movements of giraffes and the vibrant colours of tropical birds, the diversity of species is astounding.

Other Wildlife to Look Out For

As you embark on your wildlife safari in Southern Africa, keep an eye out for the incredible diversity of wildlife that goes beyond the iconic Big Five. While the Big Five may steal the spotlight, there are numerous other fascinating creatures waiting to be discovered.

One animal to look out for is the cheetah, known for its incredible speed and agility. Spotting a cheetah in action, whether it's chasing its prey or simply basking in the sun, is a truly thrilling experience.

Don't forget about the beautiful zebras, with their distinct black and white stripes. These unique creatures can be seen grazing peacefully on the grasslands, creating a stunning visual contrast against the African landscape.

Hippo in the Moremi NP BotswanaHippo - Moremi NP Botswana

Another fascinating animal to keep an eye out for is the hippopotamus. Despite their large size, hippos are surprisingly agile in water and can often be found submerged in rivers or lakes. Seeing a hippo emerge from the water, with its gaping mouth and impressive tusks, is a sight to behold.

And let's not forget about the vibrant birdlife that Southern Africa has to offer. From the striking African fish eagle with its piercing call to the colourful lilac-breasted roller, the bird species in this region are a photographer's dream.

Safety Tips on Safari

Safety is of utmost importance when embarking on a wildlife safari in Southern Africa. While it is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience, it's crucial to be aware of potential risks and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Always follow the guidance of your safari guide or ranger. They are highly trained professionals who have extensive knowledge of the wildlife and the area. Listen to their instructions and guidelines to avoid any dangerous situations.
  2. Stay inside your vehicle during game drives. While it may be tempting to get closer to the animals, it's important to remember that they are wild and can be unpredictable. Stay inside the designated areas and always keep a safe distance.
  3. Respect the wildlife and their natural habitat. Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises that may startle the animals. Do not attempt to feed or touch any wildlife, as this can be dangerous and disruptive to their natural behaviour.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep an eye out for any signs of wildlife, including tracks or calls. Stay vigilant and alert, especially during walks or hikes.
  5. Protect yourself from insects and sun exposure. Apply insect repellent regularly and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to minimize the risk of mosquito bites. Don't forget to use sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from the strong African sun.
  6. Stay hydrated and carry enough water with you. It's important to drink plenty of water, especially in hot and dry environments. Remember to refill your water bottle whenever possible.
  7. Pack a basic first aid kit with essential medical supplies. While safari lodges and camps usually have medical facilities, it's always wise to have some basic supplies on hand, including band-aids, antiseptic cream, and any necessary medications.

Immersing Yourself in Local Culture

As you embark on your wildlife safari in Southern Africa, take some time to immerse yourself in the vibrant and diverse local cultures. Southern Africa is a melting pot of rich traditions, fascinating history, and warm hospitality. Interacting with the locals and experiencing their way of life will add a whole new dimension to your safari adventure.

One of the best ways to engage with the local culture is by visiting traditional villages and communities. Here, you can learn about their customs, rituals, and traditional crafts. Take part in traditional dances and music performances, and sample local cuisine for a truly authentic experience. Cultural tours are available in many of the destinations.

traditional dancing zambiaA warm traditional welcome at the Avani resort - Livingstone Zambia

Don't forget to explore the local markets and bustling towns, where you can interact with vendors and artisans. From vibrant fabrics and intricate beadwork to handmade crafts and unique souvenirs, the markets offer a glimpse into the local artistry and craftsmanship.

Additionally, consider taking part in community-based tourism initiatives and support local conservation efforts. Many lodges and tour operators collaborate with local communities to provide employment opportunities and sustainable income. By participating in these initiatives, you can contribute to the preservation of the environment and the empowerment of local communities.

I hope this blog post has inspired you to embark on your own adventure and experience the thrill of encountering the diverse wildlife in their natural habitat. Don't miss out on future blog posts filled with valuable information for anyone planning an African safari. Join our mailing list to stay up to date and get exclusive content delivered right to your inbox.

If you have any questions please write to me.


-Duncan Udawatta-