Ten African Safari Tips That You Must Know Before You Go

1. Take the early morning drives on safari even though that often means getting up while it's still dark. You'll be very glad you did because your wildlife sightings will improve.

The animals are a lot more active in the early morning and late evening because it is cooler and the nocturnal species are either getting up or going to bed so your chances of spotting them are generally much better.

2. A safari is not only about the big game. Take enjoyment from the surroundings and all the wildlife you see because if you turn it into a "big five" tick list exercise you might be disappointed. There are a multitude of insects, birds and smaller creatures that can be just as interesting if you take the time to look and find out more.

3. A pair of good quality binoculars is absolutely indispensable on a safari so make sure you take your own with. Some safari companies do provide them but they might be a little worse for wear after a lot of use and it can be frustrating to have to pass them along to the next person when you actually still want to look at that lion stalking it's prey.

4. Wear insect repellent in the evenings to ward of those pesky mosquitoes and make sure you leave as little skin exposed as possible by wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirts and socks to cover the ankles. During the day they are a lot less active so you don't have to worry about them then.

5. Any good safari operator will have some form of medication available but you might consider taking some of your own with on a "just in case" basis: Anti malarial pills, anti-diarrhoea medicine, motion sickness medication if you suffer from this, mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

6. If you are taking photos using film, remember to bring at least two rolls for each day that you will be on safari and bring spare batteries for your camera because they will go flat at the worst times and you don't want to miss those once in a lifetime photo opportunities because of that. You should be able to recharge batteries in most safari areas. Electricity in Africa is 220 - 240V AC50HZ.

7. When it comes to lions, a lot of patience is called for because they spend most of their time during the day asleep. But if you watch them for awhile you might be rewarded by an impromptu hunt or the appearance of cubs from the undergrowth or a similar drama. Patience is the watchword here.

8. Night drives on safari are a great opportunity to see the nocturnal animals that you will never see during the day but remember that the powerful spotlight which illuminates the surrounding bush and the glowing eyes also attracts a lot of insects so you might think twice before volunteering to hold it.

9. Generally the dry season is a time when you will be much more successful at spotting game because the vegetation is sparse and the wildlife is forced to congregate in the areas where there is still surface water available.

10. It's not uncommon for safari vehicles to break down because most of the roads are dirt tracks and the cars take a pounding every day. Any company worth their salt should be carrying spares and the driver or guide should have some mechanical experience.

Bruce Whittaker shares many more excellent African safari tips, advice and recommendations at African Safari Journals.

Win a 3 day walking tour in the Kruger National Park in South Africa by entering this free safari holiday competition.

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