The safest safari in Africa: how to plan your African holiday for maximum enjoyment

Is it safe to travel to Africa?

Many travellers are keen wildlife enthusiasts and have added an African safari to their bucket list; yet one of the biggest concerns that is holding them back from planning that authentic safari experience is; "Is it safe to travel to Africa?" Our answer; a resounding yes!

If you are looking for the safest African safari tours, it can be highly beneficial to work with a trusted travel company with local knowledge. Our team at Wild Wonderful World lives in the African bush and most of us have spent our entire life in Africa. We’ve made it our mission to share the love we have for our home, Africa, with travellers from all over the world, curating safe safari experiences and memories that will last a lifetime!

We are here to guide you; from deciding where to go, to planning the activities most suited to your wishes. And if you so desire, we will travel side-by-side with you from the moment you step off the plane until you climb back on to return home. This blogpost aims to provide some insider-tips into how to ensure a safe trip to Africa.

safari guests on a game viewing vehicle at sunset
Guests on a privately guided safari to Phinda Private Game Reserve - the ultimate way to safari safely & in style © Matthew Poole

Preparations: Passports, Health & safety

travel vaccinations
Working with a travel agency like Wild Wonderful World will ensure you have all the information you need prior to travel.

As with any holiday, pre-trip planning is essential to ensure you have everything you need for travel, from valid passports, visas, required vaccinations etc! Some African countries require certain vaccinations for entry, e.g. Yellow Fever, so it is vital you check this information prior to travelling.

The Wild Wonderful World team have travelled the African continent extensively, and are connected with all national travel advisory groups and fully up-to-date with current regulations and local customs. That means you can leave on holiday with full confidence that you are fully prepared before arrival. As part of our service when travel planning with guests, we send detailed country information guides, packing guides and country entry requirements to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip.

For those who like to research, here are some helpful sites online that can help you gather this information;

Being well-prepared will leave you free to enjoy a carefree, happy holiday under the vast and beautiful African sky.

Know where to go (and where not to go)

Not all African countries are the same, and not all regions within those countries are equal either!  While most travellers visiting Africa are looking for the classic safari experience, Africa’s cities are vibrant and colourful and well-worth tagging on to an African safari! In terms of destination planning, as with any country in the world, there are some parts of Africa that are best avoided (for now) and some parts that are a must!

Addis Abeba Ethiopia
Addis Abeba, a stunning melting pot of cultures and steeped in rich history - if you know where to go...

If you are unsure which country to visit, we’ve listed our top safest African safari destinations here. Our entire team has travelled Africa extensively, and our founders even spent a year living in their 4x4 vehicle during their African overlanding journey.

Top tips for Africa traveling

While all African destinations are unique, here are some top tips to ensure your safety whilst on holiday anywhere Africa:

1. Be aware of your surroundings and know where you are going before you head out. Use reputable guided services where possible and if not, at least seek advice on where is safe to visit and where is best avoided.  Africa travel experts like Wild Wonderful World safaris also offer specialised services, like our 24/7 on-call travel advisors available for questions at any time during your travels.

travellers in rwanda in front of gorilla picture Singita Kataza House
Wild Wonderful World Director & Guide Jonty Bozas with our travellers in Rwanda © Wild Wonderful World

2. Do not leave valuables or cash on display and don’t wear expensive jewellery in an ostentatious way. Besides the safety aspect (best to avoid unwanted attention), it is also considerate to the local population whilst traveling in or through poorer regions.

3. Keep important documents such as passports and travel documents in your in-room safe provided at your lodge or hotel. It is advisable to have multiple physical and digital copies of all important travel documents. Special requirements may also apply to families traveling with children, as some countries require original birth certificates.

4.. Only use reputable taxi or transfer companies for road and air transfers. Through our personal network, we have several reputable partners in all major African destinations, whose experienced drivers and pilots will make sure you are safe and looked after during your travels. .

5. If you are worried about safety on safari, book a guided safari experience. In our opinion, having an experienced guide and tracker team makes all the difference to optimise your chances of seeing the Big Five up-close. Not only do they know how to keep you safe on safari but they will also be able to help you get the most out of your game-viewing adventures. Good safari guides and trackers are experts at finding wildlife and have a wealth of knowledge (not to mention hilarious campfire stories!) which will add immeasurable value to your experience.

6. If it is your first time travelling to Africa, you feel unsure about certain aspects, or you just wish to optimise your entire trip and activities, why not travel with a private safari guide? Our team has a combined 20+ years of active safari guiding experience, having lived and worked across Africa and in Africa’s top-safari industry. A private guide will travel with you wherever you go, ensuring that you can fully relax and enjoy your African holiday without having to worry about logistics and safety. Contact us to explore this unique add-on.

Safety on game drive

For most, an African safari (known locally as a ‘game drive’) is unlike any other holiday activity they’ve ever experienced. Other than the unique way in which the African safari is conducted from an open-top vehicle, the climate and wildlife are also unlike anywhere else in the world. These are our 5 quick-fire tips on how to stay safe whilst on safari:

  1. Your safari guide is experienced and knowledgeable - make sure to always obey his or her instructions.
  1. Going on a game drive in an open vehicle leaves you exposed to the elements. Make sure to take hats, sunscreen, and a warm top in winter, to prevent heat or sun stroke and ensure your comfort.
  1. In most game reserves, the wildlife has become habituated to the sound, sight and smell of the open game drive vehicles. While this allows us to watch them in their natural habitat and behaviour, it also means that you are much closer and more exposed to these wild animals. Remember that you are not at a zoo, so don't stand up or dangle arms or legs out of the vehicle, as this could frighten the animals and may result in them retreating or attacking.
  1. Watch out for low-hanging branches or those that are close to the sides of the vehicle. Trees in Africa tend to be thorny! Another good reason not to dangle those arms or legs over the sides of the vehicle, especially while driving.
  1. Never try to interfere – in any way – with the animals you encounter. This includes talking loudly, feeding the wildlife or trying to change their behaviour for a good photo. Trying to influence the animals’ natural behaviour is very dangerous and often-times, life-threatening.
Cheetah on safari gameviewer
Safari travellers on an open gameviewer watch a hunting cheetah from less than 3m away © Wild Wonderful World

For most travellers, travelling to Africa will mean moving outside of your comfort zone. However, if you are well-prepared and follow the advice of reputable, local guides, travel advisors and service providers, it may very well be the most enjoyable, comfortable, eye-opening and life-changing experience you’ll ever have. If you have any doubts or are unsure where to start, contact us for a free 30-minute discovery call to explore how we can help you create your dream African safari. If you thereafter choose to plan your safari with us, we will help you decide on your ideal safari destination (if you haven’t already), plan your custom itinerary, and answer any questions you may have, all the while ensuring your safety so that you can enjoy your African safari to the fullest.  

Written by Evelyn Poole & Michelle Pengilly

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