This is first of several blog posts where Gary shares his recent 9-day African Safari. He shares helpful tips; his adventures; and a little humor for all.
We were set to board the plane for South Africa and a fellow came up to us. “Hey, I noticed you guys are all dressed up like you’re going on safari. I’m going to Cape Town,” he said. “Do y’all know where I can book a safari? I want to see a lion and a tiger.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him he wasn’t going to see a tiger unless he took a detour to India.
We waited until almost everyone else was on the plane then started toward the gate behind some bow hunters also safari-bound. Right in front of us, they stopped and pulled one of the guys out of line because he had less than 30 days before his passport expired. There are a lot of little things a person should know before going on safari. The best thing to do is read a little bit beforehand. Check out travel tips from people who have been to your destination recently. Then check out a few books on the subject. Take the information from different sources.
No one blog post is going to cover it all. Try to get perspective from several people who have been there.
Once customs is cleared, the next thing to do is pick up luggage. If traveling with firearms, the guns may be transported ahead to the police office. Some airlines require a signature before the gun is released to the police. Find out in advance before leaving the baggage claim area. You won’t be able to go back and it might cost a bit in tip money.
Speaking of tip money, bring small bills. It is embarrassing to find oneself in the position of giving a small gratuity when there are only $100 bills in the wallet.
Speaking of wallets, bring a neck wallet to discourage pickpockets in close quarters.
We stayed our first nights in a rustic cabin without many of the amenities of the regular upscale lodges. After a day in the field, I was happy to have my travel towel with me. The Outgo towel folds up in a small rectangle and, having washed it at home, I trusted its cleanliness more than the towels that were used by the last 50 guests.
I also brought a Frontier water filter from Aquamira. It is easy to use anytime the water is less than trustworthy. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, either, it will fit in a shirt pocket.
On our first night in South Africa the temperature dropped down to 12 degrees Fahrenheit which can come as a surprise to a lot of first time safari travelers. July can be downright cold because it’s winter in Africa. Bring your long johns, but don’t expect much snow. And don’t expect snow tigers either.