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What to Expect on Your First Safari

For explorers seeking a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, few experience rival the exhilaration of a safari.

Travelers can dedicate a few days to a couple weeks to exploring exotic landscapes in search of the big five — lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and Cape buffaloes.

“A safari’s excitement appeals across generations,” says Rori Lubeck, marketing manager at DSA Vacations, which provides tailor-made safaris.

“We have a lot of multi-generational families that go; grandparents taking their grandchildren,” she says. “A lot of millennials are also going on safari. So it’s a well-rounded mix.”

As you build your dream trip, here are seven lessons to keep in mind before you grab your binoculars and jump in a Jeep:

Where you stay matters.

Consider your options carefully before booking your trip. Travelers should check their accommodations’ age rules since many lodges require visitors to be at least 8 years old.

“Also, national park might have more restrictions than a game reserve,” Lubeck says. “For example, a park might require that you stay on main or marked roads, whereas a private reserve resort might allow you to enjoy off-roading, night game drives and walking safaris.”

Sightings aren’t guaranteed.

Safari newbies often expect to see every animal during their trip, but there’s no way to be sure you’ll glimpse every majestic creature on your list during a quick trip.

“Everybody thinks two days on safari is enough to do (see every animal), but maybe it’s not,” Lubeck says.

Prioritize your top picks you’d like to see. An agency can arrange for you to visit a reserve or a national park that is known to have the particular animals that’s first on your list.

There’s no dress code.

No need to stock up on khaki clothing or belted bush jackets. Casual dress, such as jeans and a T-shirt, is fine. Don’t shy away from layers to keep you warm on cooler mornings. A hat and sunglasses are must-haves, and comfy, supportive footwear is also essential.

But, you don’t have pack everything.

“You don’t have to load your crew with extras, such as extreme weather wear. Pretty much all safari vehicles come equipped with blankets and most have raingear onboard. Some even have extra pairs of binoculars,” Lubeck says. “You should definitely bring your own sunscreen, though.”

Camera trumps a cellphone.

For most vacationers, a safari is a rare pleasure. You’ll get pictures to last a lifetime with something better than your smartphone.

“There’ll be times that animals will be off in the distance and you’ll want close-ups. So bring a good camera with a telescopic lens,” Lubeck recommends.

Follow your ranger’s lead.

On safari, your ranger is your best friend. You’ll get the best experience out of your excursion is you heed his or her advice. Listening to your ranger is key to a safe and fun safari experience.

“They’re trained to know when the animals are irritated. They’ll keep you safe and will give you any information you need as far as the habitat and animals,” Lubeck says.

Lubeck knows to follow rangers’ rules. While visiting game reserves, she has been sniffed by elephants that came up to the safari vehicle.

“(Rangers) tell you to stay calm, don’t move and keep your hands in the vehicle. As long as you’re listening to your ranger, you’re going to be fine,” she says.

Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway or an unparalleled family voyage, DSA Vacations can help. Since 2001, DSA Vacations has specialized in Southern and Eastern African vacations. Contact them at 3320 N. Campbell Ave., Suite 200, 1-800-203-6724 or

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DSA Vacations
3320 N. Campbell Ave.
Suite 200, Tucson, AZ 85719

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