Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Emma Hackwood0
5 Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Africa
Our Travel Consultant Alexandra Chambers took off on an adventure of a lifetime with On The Go Tours, following the ‘Falls to Jo Burg’ itinerary and making memories to last a lifetime. She shares why the experience completely exceeded her expectations, and 5 things to consider when planning a trip to Africa.
I was lucky enough to visit Africa this past month with On the Go Tours. Starting in Victoria Falls, the trip took us to Zimbabwe, through Botswana, and ended in Johannesburg, South Africa. Not only was it amazing to see such different terrain, we were also able to see the most amazing animals, including the ‘BIG 5’ (rhinos, lions, elephants, buffalo and leopards). Below I have pieced together my top 5 tips on making the most of your African adventure!
Most companies seem to market their overland or safari tours to either the camper looking to see Africa on a shoestring budget or to the high end luxury lodge traveler. While I personally opted to camp (and found it very comfortable), On The Go also provides their guests with a ‘happy medium’ budget accommodation option comprised of a lovely, clean room that won’t break the bank.
When you visit Victoria Falls you will have the opportunity to walk with lions! This is an optional extra but I highly recommend you budget for it (even if you’re not much of a cat person!) Included is a visit to a lion conservation park where you will learn an extensive amount of information covering everything from their cubs to their lion protection program!
When visiting Africa, you will have the option to visit Chobe National Park and Kruger National Park, both of which are amazing in very different ways!
Chobe National Park was very diverse, consisting of areas of open plains as well as dense woods. Of the many animals that call this park home, we saw a couple different prides of lions (with their young cubs) giraffes, hippos and more elephants than you can even imagine!
In contrast, Kruger National Park was closer to the arid climate that I had originally imagined when I pictured Africa and is also far more developed and commercialized. In Kruger, we were lucky enough to see a female leopard with her cubs! We also saw many rhinos, impala, and koodo, so again, no shortage of incredible sights. When visiting Kruger, I highly recommend upgrading to their open jeeps. The cost is roughly $85 to upgrade, but you will be in a much better vehicle for seeing the animals.
Soweto Tour & Apartheid Museum
When you arrive in Johannesburg, I highly recommend you join the Soweto day tour as it will afford you a very different view of the city. This tour gives extensive insight into South Africa’s history and you will even see Nelson Mandela’s home. If South African history interests you, visiting the Apartheid Museum is an absolute must!
A few things to consider when packing your bag for an African safari:
- Dark / Neutral Clothing
I own a lot of bright clothing and never even considered that I should be packing some dark outfits considering the heat in Africa! Dark, or even better, neutral clothing, is ideal in order to not scare off the animals!
- Travel Power Adapter
Many of the people in my group packed universal power adapters for their trip. They were able to use the European attachment in Zimbabwe and on the overland truck, but for the lodges in Botswana and South Africa, an adapter specific to South Africa was necessary. A couple of the locations had them available for rent, but the supply is limited so it is advised to come prepared with your own.
- Sweat Towel (Ex. Nike Dri Fit)
Instead of packing a bulky towel in your backpack, this will save space and they dry far quicker than conventional towels. This is particularly handy when you have to pack up and go in somewhat of a hurry the next morning. I used my hot yoga mat towel!
- Good Quality Camera / Binoculars
Although we were fortunate enough to see many animals up close, I would invest in a good camera and even binoculars for this trip. When it came to capturing the incredible sights, many tried to use the camera on their phone, however, it just couldn’t do the moment justice. And trust me, you don’t want to miss a moment! I actually brought a camera that I’ve loved in the past, but on this trip I found it made it look like we were actually farther away from the animals than we were. Make sure you’re happy with how your camera takes distant photos, as well as photos with motion.
- Less USD And More Pula/Rand
It is often suggested that you bring USD for this trip or most trips really. I would suggest bringing as much USD as you plan on spending in Victoria Falls. This is only necessary for any extra food you want, spending money and excursions.
However, once you arrive in Botswana you will want to convert your money into Pula, then Rand upon arriving in South Africa. If you bring only USD you will have to pay to the exchange again, losing money each time you convert! Not only expensive but a pain!
This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience and one which I am very happy to check off my bucket list. I have only just scratched the surface of this amazing destination and cannot wait to go back so I can explore the rest of this large and impressive continent! Not only is it more economical to do a trip like this than I imagined, but I saw far more than I ever thought possible in only twelve days.