Top 10 Tips for Visiting Africa

Absolute Travel’s  “Safari Star,” Daniela Bonanno serves up her Top 10 list on travel to Africa:

Plenty of travel specialists have been to Africa, but how much do they really know about the complicated logistics?

For best results, work only with a legitimate Africa specialist who has traveled there numerous times recently. Things change fast: touring options and new luxury lodges open every day. If you use a travel agent, ask to schedule a conference call with the Africa specialist – your agent will learn something, too!

An ample travel budget is HUGELY important for those headed to Africa. Far from rough and tumble, the continent is one of the most luxurious destinations in the world. Expect the average cost of a trip to run $1,000+ per person per day.

Understand what it means to travel in Africa: Are you prepared to take small planes? To sit in a safari vehicle for 6 to 7 hours a day for game viewing? To change your lodge/hotel every 2-3 nights? To deal with no cell phone, BlackBerry, or television? Travelers must also be prepared to pack lightly: the maximum weight limit for luggage on charter flights in South Africa is 44 pounds and half that in Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia.

Be sure to set aside enough time to do all the things you’ve always dreamed of -- a proper trip to Africa requires at least 12-14 nights, and ideally 18.

Be prepared to experience multiple seasons on one trip. The best time to go to Cape Town is NOT the best time to go on safari or to the islands of the Indian Ocean. There are myriad, similar examples across the continent.

Stop talking to your friends about THEIR trips to Africa. Most likely, they visited only a couple of safari lodges and one hotel in Cape Town. Instead, discuss with your Africa travel specialist what sets certain destinations apart – expertise of the rangers, quality of the food, conservation efforts, et cetera – then make an informed decision based on your own interests and priorities. 

Take time to learn about the richness of your destination, as geography and culture vary enormously from region of Africa. Africa is a diverse continent, with many countries, cultures, and landscapes – your hosts will appreciate the effort you have made to familiarize yourself with the areas you will be visiting.

Why limit yourself to a safari when there is so much else to do in Africa? Consider including wine tasting, whale watching, self-drives along the Garden Route, beaches, gorilla tracking, fishing, Jewish Heritage tours, Township tours, golf, horseback riding...the options are endless.
Schedule down time. People don’t realize that safaris can be exhausting, with wake up calls every morning at 5:00am, and wining and dining late into the evening. A longer stay at one lodge instead of short stays at several lodges is recommended and it’s always nice to conclude a safari with time at one of Africa’s many beach destinations, like Mauritius or Mozambique’s Bazaruto archipelago. 

Pre-book spa treatments – your back will be sore!!! Guaranteed.