african safari guide

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your African Safari

african safari guide

The intimate wildlife encounters of an African safari are truly once in a lifetime. A rare opportunity to discover some of our planet’s most beautiful creatures, and an experience that opens both the mind and heart of any traveller, an African safari is the ultimate holiday experience for adventurers.

Unlike many years ago when safari holidays first became popular, today’s African safari journey can be much tailored to your own comfort zone and there are many types of safari to suit families, honeymooners, and intrepid travellers alike.

The Governmental changes which have happened in Africa in the last ten years have also created a safe, stable and affordable environment for tourism, and with the tourist industry at its absolute finest since the safaris began for wealthy traders in the 13th century, there’s no better time to create your own African adventure. Here at Signature Safaris, we’ve created the ultimate African safari guide. Read on to discover your trip of a lifetime.

types of african safari

The feral beginnings of the African Safari date all the way back to the 13th Century when affluent tradesmen hunted the vast lands for wild game trophies to mark stature and success. Today, the hunt goes on but for a prize much less palpable, yet just as symbolic; today’s pursuit is for the intangible wins of life’s most rewarding experiences and irreplaceable photo opportunities. From the shimmering wetlands of Botswana or Malawi’s upland viewing point for elephants and leopards, to the flawless beaches of Mozambique, there’s a wild and beautifully untamed world just waiting to be captured.

Whether you are backpacking alone, travelling with a family, or looking for a romantic honeymoon safari, there are many different types of safaris and here are some once in a lifetime journeys we can help you create.

Overland or Mobile Safaris

This is what is known to many people as the traditional safari; the ultimate way of discovering Africa’s wildlife by the primitive pleasures of camping. Mobile safari trips are usually enjoyed in small groups and reminiscent of the excursions undertaken by 13th century hunters, there’s a real sense of going back in time.

Honeymoon Safaris

For honeymooners, there are many options available for a more romantic experience. A honeymoon safari package will often include high-end accommodation choices (often in a truly beautiful setting), the luxury of a remote location untarnished by holidaymakers, a gorgeous beach, and of course, some extra special holiday touches to make your stay an unforgettable one.

Beach Safaris

Some safari trekkers can find the African safari to be a rewarding but tiring experience, one that requires stamina and a lot of get-up-and-go. Completing your journey with a beach retreat on the coast of Malawi or the idyllic beaches of Seychelles can the perfect way of ending your holiday and great way of creating some romance for couples.

Family Safaris

Traditional safaris haven’t always been suitable for families with young children. But here at Signature Safaris, we don’t see any reason why children can’t experience the magic on the plains of wild, beautiful Africa. The ‘photographic’ safaris which were once designed for intrepid travellers have now changed to become much more mainstream and much more child-friendly.

Family safaris can offer a great choice of accommodation and will also include a wider range of activities to keep little ones as entertained and stimulated as the grown-ups.

Adventure and Activities

Do you have a special interest? Perhaps you’re interested in deep sea fishing or the ultimate rhino tracking experience? From wild bird watching and river cruising to a complete cultural experience meeting African tribes, there are many types of safari trips available today.

Birding Safaris

What many people don’t realise when they book their African safari, is the diverse birdlife in this wildlife-rich continent. As well as being home to the big game safaris, Africa is a fantastic place to spot some of the most interesting and rare species of birds. Botswana, Zambia and Namibia are all wonderfully abundant for the avid bird watcher.

where to go on african safari

Africa is the world’s second largest continent, and with over 11 million square miles of boundless desert, plush green plains, dramatic mountains and vibrant marshland, there’s a world of extraordinary nature just waiting to be discovered. Here we have listed some spectacular safari locations to give you a detailed guide on where to go.

Botswana Safaris

Known for its extreme aridity and parched landscapes, Botswana is over 300 miles from the nearest coastline. Its dry desert environment makes it a remarkable place for some of our planet’s most interesting flora and fauna.

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Why Travel to Botswana?

Undoubtedly, the country’s most striking feature is its beautiful, never-ending deserts. And over 40% of the country is untouched by civilisation and reserved for natural wildlife only – making Botswana a genuinely off-the-beaten-path destination. With a luminous wetland, diverse and interesting game paths, and a low population density, even the most jaded traveller will find solace in Botswana. Ideal for a mobile safari, thrilling 4×4 discoveries or for family holidays with a varied itinerary.

Wildlife in Botswana

Botswana is home to some of the most incredible mammals, including lions, leopards, buffalos, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, impalas, bushbucks, red Lechwes and more. The country is also a great place to spot the small and nocturnal Bushbaby.

Take a journey down the Okavango Delta and you could get up close and personal with the friendly hippos or the notoriously dangerous crocodiles.

Malawi Safaris

Known to the rest of the world has the “warm heart of Africa”, Malawi is a bona fide gateway to the continent’s heart and soul. This landlocked Southeast African country is home to the beautiful Lake Malawi and some beautiful national parks.

malawi safari

Why Travel to Malawi?

A nation of warm, smiling faces and rich, interesting culture makes Malawi a wonderful destination, not just for its wildlife but also for its people. A Malawi safari is an unforgettable experience for people from all walks of life, including families with young children.

Wildlife in Malawi

The Majete Wildlife Reserve provides a rugged backdrop for you to begin your safari, and with over 3,000 animals in the reserve, you won’t be short of photo opportunities. The 3,000 animals includes bushbucks, impalas, servals, antelopes, zebras, rhinos, leopards, over 300 elephants, 200 hippos, hyenas, sables, civets and buffalos.

Lake Malawi is also home to a huge number of fish species; Mcheni, Utaka, Chambo, Usipa, Matemba, Kampango, Mlamba and many more.

Mozambique Safaris

Famous for its beaches, Mozambique is the perfect honeymoon paradise. And with its stunning Quirimbas Archipelago and the Bazaruto Archipelago, the country of Mozambique is a harmonious combination of luxury, relaxation and wildlife.

mozambique

Why Travel to Mozambique?

For the ultimate holiday luxuries and picture-perfect backdrops, there really is no other African landscape quite like Mozambique’s. Offering world-class accommodation and white powdery beaches, Mozambique is a lover’s paradise; ideal for romantic breaks, honeymoons and milestone anniversaries.

What to Do in Mozambique

The Quirimbas Archipelago and its national park offer so many different areas to explore; enjoy activities such as fishing, diving and birding. Our Mozambique beach retreats make the ideal finale to safari trips in Tanzania, Botswana or Namibia. During your stay in Mozambique, there are also excursions available to the Elephant Reserve.

Namibia Safaris

Namibia is a land of contrasting nature, with two beautiful deserts to its name. The Namib and the Kalahari paint the profile of this country’s vast open landscapes. Arid and seemingly barren with space, the Namibia landscape is beautifully alien to most first time travellers. For a tented mobile safari or luxury flying safari, Namibia is ideal.

namibia safaris

Why Travel to Namibia?

From the surreal sights of the desert’s red sand dunes to the up close and personal encounters with zebras, elephants and giraffes, Namibia is worth a visit to safari nuts and rookies alike. It’s also the only country to translocate endangered wildlife back into the wild; Namibia’s dedication to wildlife preservation and protection is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Wildlife in Namibia

Namibia is a nurturing habitat for over 4,000 species and subspecies of vascular plants, over 600 species of birds, over 200 land mammals and this includes the spectacular desert-dwellers, Africa’s amazing elephants and rhinos.

Republic of The Congo Safaris

In western central Africa, the Republic of The Congo is not to be confused with Democratic Republic of Congo. With untarnished tropical forests, Republic of The Congo is a diverse habitat for endemic wildlife.

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Why Travel to Republic of The Congo?

With the intricately meandering tracks of the Congo rainforest, Republic of The Congo is an interestingly diverse part of Africa. Odzala-Kokoua National Park is one of the continent’s oldest parks, and remains to be one of the most pristine, untouched parts of Africa.

Republic of The Congo Wildlife

One of the biggest draws of Republic of Congo’s tropical rainforest is an old and notorious inhabitant, the formidable Gorilla. So spend a day tracking the western lowland beasts or discover the other 400 species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds, or 700 species of fish at the lush, green Congo Basin.

Seychelles

A deluxe safari and beach combo, the Seychelles is a dazzling and luxurious doorway to the Indian Ocean’s soothing blue waters and incredible wildlife. Meet the king of the beach at Aldabra, the old and wise Tortoise, and feel the powder-like bright white sands in between your toes as you stroll along Seychelles’ most desirable beaches.

seychelles africa

Why Travel to Seychelles?

Travel to Seychelles as a stand-alone romantic break (perfect for honeymooners) or end an exhilarating Safari trek in East or South Africa with a week of winding down at one of Seychelles’ lavish beaches.

What to Do in Seychelles

Not only is Seychelles a postcard paradise for beach lovers, but the Seychelles Archipelago accommodates the mind-blowing Aldabra, a raised coral atoll where almost 150,000 giant tortoises reside comfortably. Spend a day surveying for tortoises, go snorkelling in the clear blue waters, or venture out to the untouched and unpopulated islands of Praslin, Denis or Silhouette.

Tanzania Safaris

The Great Lakes, the awesome heights of Kilimanjaro, and palm fringed beaches; Tanzania caters for any kind of traveller from all walks of life.

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Why Travel to Tanzania?

Whether you want a luxury beach and spa break, or you want a seven night safari out in the remote wild west, Tanzania makes for a fulfilling and rewarding journey for couples, lone travellers or the ‘just married’.

Wildlife in Tanzania

The Serengeti is the homeland of the legendary Great Migration; it’s here that you can catch some of the world’s rarest, most stunning creatures. Get sight of the fast moving herds of wildebeest or beautiful zebras for the perfect photo opportunity and witness one of earth’s most incredible acts of nature. Containing around 20% of Africa’s large mammal population within its 14 national parks and conservations areas, the wildlife in Tanzania is simply unequalled.

Other animals in Tanzania include hippos, waterbucks, crocodiles, flamingos, ducks and an array of birdlife.

Zambia Safaris

Unspoiled by the footsteps of tourism, Zambia remains a secreted and exclusive gem for the luckiest travellers. With a choice of luxury camps and dynamic itineraries, Zambia is a great choice for adventurers and decadence seekers alike.

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Why Travel to Zambia?

The world-recognised Victoria Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world and it spans the border to Zambia’s neighbour, Zimbabwe. The dramatically beautiful waterfall alone is reason enough to visit Zambia, but let us not forget the country’s many other treasures; the Zambezi, Kafue and Luangwa rivers, Lake Tanganyika and its tropical shores, and the pristine national parks such as South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue.

Wildlife in Zambia

Zambia is an excellent safari destination, with animals such as elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffalos, wildebeests, lions and leopards. It is also home to some of our planet’s rarest animals – the White Rhino, the Black Rhino and one of our planet’s most amazing cats, the endangered Cheetah.

when to go on safari in africa

Botswana is an all-year-round destination, making it ideal for travel during any season. But to catch the first sign of blossom and some truly exceptional wildlife, visit Botswana from February to April. Or for birdwatching activities, the prime time to go is from December to May.

Your Botswana safari holiday can also be combined with a trip to neighbouring Mozambique; from May to November (the country’s winter season) you can expect slightly cooler temperatures. But if you are combining both Botswana and Mozambique for your safari holiday, avoid the months of January and February as this is cyclone season in the Bazaruto Archipelago.

For Malawi visitors, it’s important to note that the rainy season runs from December to March. April to July is prime time to travel as you can take advantage of the hot days and blissfully cool evenings.

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Namibia has a typically extreme desert climate, with weather at both ends of the scale. As expected, droughts can be quite common and the days are typically hot to very hot, with cooler nights. Rain is expected between October to May, and in some extremes, snow will cover some of the desert’s highest dunes.

There are two main seasons for safari travel in Republic of The Congo. The wet season (March-May and September-November) is a great time to catch sightings of elephants in the Lango Bai and superb for birdlife. And the dry season (December-February and June-August) is prime time to watch gorillas wander the rainforests.

The Great Migration happens in late August or early September, making this a fine time to travel to Tanzania. Anytime between June to October (the dry season) is best for visiting the northern national parks, and the chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains can be spotted absolutely any time of year.

In Zambia, October is a great time for game viewing, with many camps closing between the months of November and April. May and June are fantastic months for witnessing the full bloom of Kague and Luangwa’s flora wildlife.

For the luxury Seychelles beach experience, visit any time of year as all the Seychelles islands are blessed with all-year-round tropical climate.

need to know safari essentials

Planning your African safari holiday can be extremely exciting. At the same time, we know just how time-consuming it can be. Here at Signature Safaris, we promise our customers quality beyond imagination and we can help you plan your trip seamlessly.

Please read on to find some essential information for planning your safari adventure with us.

Health and Safety on Safari

Africa is an exhilarating continent, crammed full of the most extraordinary land mammals, birds and sealife. Its climate is magnificent in its extremes and the varying landscapes, from its tropical rainforests and wetland to the plush green plains or desiccated desertland, are divinely alien to first time visitors. But its beauty is not without its risks and dangers.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Diseases & Illness

Diseases such as Malaria and Yellow Fever are a common problem so travellers should take heed and visit the NHS for the necessary injections, some of which can be provided free of charge. Remember to use insect repellents to avoid allergic reactions or even disease transmission from Africa’s creepy crawlies.

  • Personal Belongings

When travelling through the urban areas of any African country, take extra care to safeguard belongings and always make copies of your travel documents. Do not carry large amounts of cash – most resort areas with hotels and shops will accept credit cards or traveller’s cheques.

  • Safety of Safari – game viewing is safe whether you are in a vehicle or on foot. But the exact movements of animals in the wild, is impossible to predict for any tour guide. Always take extra care and if you are travelling with children, keeping an eye on them at all times. Always listen to your guide’s advice and guidelines to ensure maximum safety on safari.

Planning and Resources

An African safari is a once in a lifetime opportunity; it’s something that you will remember and treasure for the rest of your life. But it’s important to plan your trip in advance and do all the necessary research before you travel.

Please feel free to use the Resource Area on the Signature Safaris website, to help you plan and research your trip.

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