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Top 5 tips for getting the most out of your safari

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Whether you’re visiting Kruger Park in South Africa, Masai Mara in Kenya, or Chobe National Park in Botswana, Africa is undoubtedly full of the best opportunities to see beautiful, rare – often endangered – animals in the wild.

No matter where you choose to travel, there are some things you can do to ensure you have the best safari possible.

1. Get up early 

Animals are at their most active in the cool, peaceful few hours before dawn. Arriving in Kruger Park, South Africa at 5.30am, our tour group ran straight into a pride of lions walking along the cool tarmac of the road, circumvented an angry bull elephant causing havoc on the same road (at the same time getting an amazing view), and spent fifteen minutes completely alone with a beautiful leopard that seemed remarkably comfortable to have us watching her morning ablutions. This was all within the first hour of the safari – the day became far less eventful as the animals hid in the shade and napped.

2. Familiarise yourself with the rules of the park

Most national parks allow you to drive your own car through the park; first, check your car can cope with the often rough terrain, and second, check your car is insured for self-drive safaris.

3. Check your insurance

Check you are insured for self-drive safaris. Or any safari at all, for that matter. Read the fine print of your insurance policy, or just quickly give your provider a call and ask. If you weren’t insured for safaris at first, it’s easy to upgrade your policy over the phone.

4. Pack according to the needs of the site

Make sure to check on the park website for the services they provide and then pack accordingly. If there are no designated restaurants and you want to make the most of the day, you need to carry some snacks. And take note of where the public toilets are: you need to plan your route to come into contact with the loos every few hours.

5. Consider a tour guide

You could also consider hiring a tour guide to escort you around the park. Usually, guides are in contact with each other, and those that have been on night duty will be aware of the whereabouts of many of the rarer animals. They know the park inside out and come ready to wow you with amazingly interesting animal facts along the way.

Regardless of whether you plan to organise your own safari or have a guide accompany you, think ahead. Check travel guides, ask around, and check the Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice in the country you’re visiting. It’ll make sure your safari is fun-filled and stress-free. And you might just ensure you can see the Big 5 in one day.

South Africa is one of The National Student's Top Destinations 2018. Find out more here. 

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