Traveling to a new country is always special, let alone when it is a cross-continental journey on which you will experience vastly different cultures, traditions, and languages from your own. Going to the great and diverse continent of Africa is always magical. There is so much to see and do there that a lifetime would hardly be enough.
One of the most interesting things to do there and the reason why most tourists opt to go to one of the African countries are of course safaris. And there is no better place to experience everything a safari has to offer than in Kenya.
Before you book a ticket to Kenya and start exploring who offers the best safari service there, there is a whole list of important things you should know. You have to be familiar with the country itself and have the knowledge of this activity that will prepare you for all the things you may experience. This country is known for its rich habitat, with more than 25,000 different animal species. Kenya is home to some of the most remarkable animals in the world. Read more about wildlife in this East African country and find out which animals you can see during a safari tour. In this article, we will tell you exactly what things you should know before going on a Kenyan safari.
1. About Kenya
Officially known as the Republic of Kenya, it is a country in Eastern Africa that spans across 580,367 square kilometers. This makes it the 48th largest country in the world by total area. It is the 29th most populous country on the planet with a total of more than 47.6 million people. The capital and the largest city is Nairobi, a very famous city around the world, while the oldest city, a popular cultural and historical center, and the former capital is called Mombasa. In sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is the third-largest economy, right behind Nigeria and South Africa. The national language within its borders is Swahili, with English being the second official language. More than 85% of the population is Christian, and around 11% are Muslim.
You should also know a few things about the animals too before you actually spot them in the wild for the first time. Some knowledge about them will allow you to enjoy the experience more. The country has one of the most diverse ecosystems of wild animals where you will surely see elephants, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, leopards, and cheetahs roaming around in their natural habitat. Wildebeests and African buffalos are a common sight as well, as are gazelles and impalas.
2. About Safaris
There are certain rules about Safaris that have to be followed no matter when or where you go. First of all, make sure that your Visa is secured well before it is time to leave, that is if you need one. Many African countries require one before you arrive, and although you get one in Kenya after you arrive, it is better to be safe than sorry. Travel insurance is a must when going on something potentially dangerous as a safari. You need to be insured anyway, let alone when surrounded by wild animals, rough terrain, scorching heat, and humidity!
3. As Questions
Although once the safari starts you will barely have time to think thanks to the beauty of the environment, it is quite useful to ask questions and talk with the guides. They will not always engage in conversation first and you may miss a chance to find out about something first hand if you stay silent. The guides know all there is about the animals as well as the nature that surrounds them, so use the opportunity to learn as much as possible. However, do not yell across the vehicle or you might scare away the animals.
4. A DSLR is a Must
There is no point in experiencing something as majestic as a Kenyan safari if you do not bring along the means of capturing the fascinating animals in all their glory. A high-quality DSLR camera with a great zoom lens is an absolute necessity while exploring the natural habitats of elephants, lions, giraffes, buffalos, rhinos, leopards, zebras, hippos, and all the other beautiful animals. It is a moment of a lifetime as most people only manage to go on a safari once. Therefore, try to take as many and as good pictures as you can. You and your family and friends will appreciate it for years to come as you reminisce back to the great times. If you can, it is smart to have a second, backup camera just in case your main one runs out of battery or starts acting up. A smartphone will do, especially if all of the members of your party have their own. Photograph every animal you see and do not take too many photos of one animal, or you will run out of space pretty quickly. Lastly, ask others to take snaps of you, both with the environment and with the animals!
5. Tonic Water
Since tonic water contains quinine, an anti-malarial ingredient, you will be offered plenty of such drinks along the way. Similarly, they will be present on every menu. Apart from their medicinal properties, they are refreshing enough to give you a boost and cool you off, making them great sundowners. If you are a fan of gin and tonic specials, you will love your stay in Eastern Africa.
6. Beware of Toilets
Here we do not mean hygiene, but small animals like frogs or tiny snakes that could very well be waiting in the bowl. Insects larger than you are accustomed to could be sharing the bathroom with you along the way, so do not get spooked if you encounter something like this. Speaking of, antiseptic solution and a pair of tweezers go a long way since you might need to take care of a tick or two.
7. Book a Night Drive too
If possible, try to book a night safari drive. They are not as intense, long, nor detailed as the usual daily drives, but they have a lot of things to offer. The pics will not be that good but you will be doing it for the experience and a few spooks! Take it all in and enjoy the moment with your loved ones.
8. Be Ready to Wait
There are a lot of things to consider when an average safari is in question. People tend to be somewhat late in Africa, so the events are late too. Therefore, make sure you and your party are always on time to prevent further waiting. Similarly, while driving through the jungles and open wilderness, there will be many stops to take it all in. All this is normal and you will get used to it quickly.
9. The Right Clothes
Comfortable shoes that will not make you hot, a pair of cargo shorts with extra pockets, and either a jacket or a vest with zippered pockets are traditional and proven necessities clothes-wise. It is smart to pack everything you need for the 12-hour drive, so you will need a lot of room. A camping backpack is a no-brainer. Similarly, do not being new clothes or too much of it, but bring an extra bag to your trip for souvenirs!
10. Hakuna Matata
It really means “No Worries” and although Swahili people do not say it that much in their everyday speech, you could hear it!