Many people wonder what to expect when they take an African safari vacation. A typical day on safari is unlike any other, filled with adventure, wonder and an immersive connection to nature. While time on safari generally follows a pattern, no two days are the same – you never know what you might see, what stories your guide might share or what delicious meals could await you. One thing is certain – from the moment you wake up to the sounds of the African bush to the moment your head rests on the pillow in your luxurious tent, you will be building memories that will last a lifetime.
Your days on safari will begin before sunrise, when you wake up to the sound of birds chirping and perhaps see the faintest hint of dawn in the sky. You may be escorted to the main area of camp (depending on how dark it is outside) where you will meet your guide and have a light snack with a cup of coffee or tea. You will then set out on a game drive or other safari activity such as a bush walk in search of wildlife while the sun begins to rise.
Early mornings and evenings are the best time to spot wildlife, especially predators such as lions and leopards, as they are still active from the night before or readying themselves for the evening hunt. You will also have a chance to see a variety of other species such as plains game, hyenas, jackals and more, depending on the area you are visiting. Be sure to talk with your Journey Specialist about any special species interests you have, as different parks and game reserves host a different variety of animals based on the local ecosystem and migratory patterns.
After a few hours of game viewing, you will return to camp for a hearty breakfast or early lunch. As you eat, you will likely excitedly recount the morning’s sightings or listen to others’ stories about the animals seen that morning.
After the late morning meal, you will have free time to relax at camp. You can take a nap, read a book, or explore and enjoy other amenities on offer. Some camps have swimming pools where you can cool off and watch wildlife from a distance. Some properties also offer full-service spas, workout facilities, libraries and more.
In the late afternoon, you will meet in the main area for tea before you set out on another game drive. This involves coffee, tea or a cool drink along with sweet and/or savory snacks to tide you over until dinner. After the heat of the day, late afternoon is a great time to see elephants, giraffes and other plains game as they come out to graze. As the sun begins to set, predators become active once again, increasing your chances of seeing big cats, or with luck (and strategy on which park or reserve you’ve chosen) perhaps wild dog, caracal or serval.
As the sun descends toward the horizon, your guide will likely find a scenic spot for sundowners. Sundowners are drinks and snacks served al fresco as the sun sets over the African savanna – a pause to appreciate the breathtaking beauty and wonder of the African bush. After sundowners, you will head back to camp to be escorted to your room where you can freshen up for dinner, or, depending on the rules of the park or reserve you are visiting, you may set out on a night drive in search of nocturnal species such as big cats, genets and civets. Night drives are a unique experience, as you can see a whole different side of the African bush.
When you do return to camp, you’ll be treated to a delicious dinner. Usually a three-course meal, dinners typically feature a variety of local and international dishes. If you have any special dietary requirements, inform us in advance and the camps and lodges will incorporate them into your meal preparation. After dinner, you can enjoy a nightcap and some time by the campfire or perhaps a bit of stargazing. Then it’s off to bed with the lullaby of the African bush to send you off to sleep.
If you’re ready to experience the magic of an African safari, contact one of our Journey Specialists to start planning.
Photos courtesy AAC President Kent Redding, AAC Journey Specialists Angie Voigt and Sara Stark, AAC Marketing Director Beth McCabe and AAC Livingstone Club members Steven C. and Rafael G.