First African Safari: How to Go on a Safari

If you are planning your first African safari, there are a few things that you need to know. You should start by reading some books about Africa’s geography and climate in order to get an idea of what type of experience is possible for you on this trip. It can be hard to figure out which game reserve would be the best fit for your interests and budget before even leaving home so it may help if you knew more about conservation efforts in Kenya or Tanzania.

The “safest place to go on safari in africa” is a question that seems to come up often. The safest place to go on safari is the park.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Steve Scott.

Man is a hunter by nature.

Regardless of where you think we originated from as a species, both prehistoric and posthistoric man hunted as if his existence depended on it…because it did. To live, hunter-gatherers were essential. A guy could feed himself if he learned to hunt. A man’s prestige and riches would rise if he became a proficient hunter, and he could find a spouse, raise a family, and spread the species. As a hunter, failure meant death…or vegetarianism.

Many men failed as hunters because the job was so difficult. Though Man is an apex predator, pursuing wooly mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, and gigantic sloths with stone axes, flint-tipped spears, and the rare atlatl required ingenuity, skill, and a lot of daring. Thankfully, hunting is no longer a life-or-death situation, since Man’s enormous intellect and powerful equipment have more than compensated for his physical limitations.

Modern weaponry are much more complex and effective, and game is far more plentiful nowadays. The conservation movement was founded thanks to visionary leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, as well as billions of dollars in funding from hunters. As a consequence, wildlife throughout North America is flourishing. Despite the fact that there are more hunting chances in the United States now than ever before, some daring hunters go outside our borders to a continent where the flora is a little wilder and much of the wildlife has a terrible habit of turning the hunter into the prey. Of course, I’m speaking to Africa.

Getting a Glimpse of the Dark Continent

Though local Africans have a valid point, European colonial explorers “opened” the continent from the 17th century forward. Many a gentleman hunter, soldier of fortune, and anybody who likes wearing khaki found Africa and its bounty of animals to be a fascination. With the “white gold” of the elephant tusk, fortunes could be gained in a season, and rhino horn was in great demand in Asian and Middle Eastern markets then, as it is now. Africa’s enormous herds of pachyderms were driven to the brink of extinction due to a lack of regulation, much alone enforcement, of conservation imperatives. Though European colonial administrations had a mixed record when it came to “managing” the territories they governed, the ultimate formulation and implementation of game regulations relieved strain on African wildlife and set the way for the golden period of African safari.

T.R., Hemingway, The Duke, and other authors

Theodore Roosevelt hunting posing with dead water buffalo.

On the right, TR and his son Kermit pose with a cape buffalo, which TR captured on a 1909 safari and converted into a series of pieces for Scribner’s Magazine.

Though commercial hunting enterprises were already gaining traction, Theodore Roosevelt’s 1909 grand safari introduced African safari and items such as the pith hat to the public’s attention. T.R., the hefty, myopic ex-president, and his son Kermit faced thirteen months of traveling and hunting the Dark Continent, eventually amassing the biggest collection of natural history specimens ever given to the Smithsonian Institute, thanks to Andrew Carnegie and his own writing contracts. Insects, birds, and non-game animals were among the 23,151 specimens in the collection. There were also a handful of lions, elephants, and rhinoceros, as well as a variety of other large game animals. Roosevelt introduced the world to safari via a series of stories in Scribner’s Magazine and the ultimate collection that became the book African Game Trails, and the wealthy and famous arrived in droves.

 

Roosevelt Hemingway writing in the outdoors in tents.

On safari, you can do more than just hunt. In the coziness of the open air workplace, two prolific authors, Roosevelt and Hemingway, ply their trade.

Ernest Hemingway’s African safaris, inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s escapades, were both fruitful and almost disastrous. The famous book The Green Hills of Africa, as well as the short pieces “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” were inspired by his hunting escapades. On both journeys, Hemingway took hazardous game, but it was not the game that almost killed him. Hemingway survived not one, but two aircraft accidents on his second safari, further cementing his reputation as a brave explorer and the manliest of novelists.

When actor William Holden founded the Mt. Kenya Safari Club in 1959, he sustained the safari mystique with the Hollywood crowd and other notables of the day. The glitterati, including crowned heads, luminaries of the day, and A-list actresses in fitting bush coats, made “The Club” their preferred hangout throughout the 1960s and beyond. Some of the most famous alpha men of the time, including Sir Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sean Connery, and John Wayne, made it their home.

Gary Cooper and Clark Gable hunting long guns.

The Mt. Kenya Safari Club included actors Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.

With generals, knights, and the Duke promoting the safari lifestyle, it’s no surprise that the less wealthy and renowned started to hunt Africa as well.

The Rest of Us Can Go on Safari

Today, Africa is still the Mecca of big game hunting, with more plains and hazardous game species than anywhere else on the planet. While a full-bag Big Five (Africa’s five most dangerous game species: elephant, rhinoceros, lion, leopard, and cape buffalo) safari in Tanzania may cost upwards of $200,000, there are lots of economical big game safaris in the mid-$5000 range, including flights. Or, to put it another way, a seven-day African safari with many species for the price of a decently priced Rocky Mountain elk hunt. Just think about it! In the end, an African safari is a viable option for almost any guy who is both employed and eager to travel.

I’m a bad example.

I was a fool when I booked my first African safari over 20 years ago. Maybe not an idiot, but my lack of understanding of what I was getting myself into was hilarious. I was working out hard every day for a seven-day plains game hunt in South Africa, hoping to improve my strength and stamina in case I came across a raging lion in the wild. My theory had a flaw: there are very few free-ranging lions in South Africa, and if I had run across one, no amount of speed or power would have protected my delicate skin.

 

Based on the idea that you are more likely to do something beyond of your comfort zone (like go on an African safari) if you have a broad understanding of the process and can be pretty assured you will not be attacked by a lion, here are a few pointers to help you have a successful first safari.

Safari’s How-To Guide

A strong strategy for a safari, like any successful enterprise, will go a long way toward ensuring its success. The safari operation with which the safari is performed is the single most important component in deciding the result of the safari excursion. In other words, the hunter’s first and most crucial choice is to hire a professional hunter, or PH.

1. Deciding On A Professional Hunter: 

The safari’s jack-of-all-trades is the professional hunter. He performs the roles of host, guide, tracker, outfitter, bartender, and sometimes chef, mechanic, or counselor. In a nutshell, the PH is the guy in charge of everything related to the hunt.

However, with so many options, how does one find the proper professional hunter? By just doing study.

When looking for a PH/operator in a new region, it’s similar to looking for a doctor or dentist: ask around for advice, phone references to see what type of experience others have had, and make a selection based on the responses.

Attending local or national hunting and safari exhibits allows you to connect with professional hunters firsthand. A strong handshake and a face-to-face talk may often reveal a lot about a guy, including whether or not this PH is the ideal fit for the hunter. In January and February each year, some of the larger hunting conferences, such as those of the Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, and Safari Club International, allow opportunities to meet a large number of African operators (usually in Reno, NV).

Outdoor journals and safari-oriented outdoor television shows are also valuable sources of information about African hunting chances. Safari DVDs are also a great method to learn about different African outfitters and the day-to-day operations of the African hunt.

2. What Kind of Hunting Do You Want to Do? 

Beginning with plains game is typically a smart approach for first-time African safari hunters. The majority of plains game species are not members of the Big 5 or Dangerous 7. (includes the Big 5, plus crocodile and hippopotamus). Plains game comprises antelope and other species, which range in size and price from a tiny antelope like the dik-dik (really) that weighs around 6 pounds to the 2200 pound Lord Derby Eland. Consider warthogs and impala, which have trophy fees average approximately $350, compared to the bongo of Central Africa, which sell for $30,000 or more on a monthly basis.

White tale deer running in forest.

The impala, Africa’s “whitetail deer,” is a common prey species found in most southern and eastern African nations.

 

As a result, most hunters choose to begin with the more common (and less costly) species.

3. Safari Fees

Though hunting in Africa is a cost-effective activity, the customer must be able to spend for it. The price of hunting in Africa is divided into two categories: day rates and trophy fees.

The expense of staying in camp on a daily basis is referred to as the daily fee. The daily costs include meals and housing, daily laundry service, PH, tracker(s), and skinner services, transportation (in country), and adult drinks (usually). In a nutshell, everything that makes your hunting experience a success.

Springbok stand in forest.

The springbok is a magnificent and plentiful plains game animal found in dry parts of southern Africa. It is also the national rugby team of South Africa’s mascot.

The costs for each animal collected are known as trophy fees. Trophy prices are determined by supply and demand. In the dry areas of Namibia and South Africa, common springbok are plentiful, and trophy fees are minimal. Alternatively, despite the fact that kudu may be found in large quantities across southern Africa, their elusive nature and remarkable and gorgeous long spiral horns place this animal at the top of most hunters’ safari wish lists. As a result, kudu trophy fees are greater than those for most other plains game species.

Side view of kudu in forest.

The kudu is constantly in great demand by safari hunters because to its elegant movements and long, spiral horns.

With hundreds of species accessible via most hunting outfitters, a hunter may practically shoot himself out of business if he or she does not have some form of financial control. It’s a good idea to settle on a core list of species to pursue before the search, plus a handful of “maybes” in case an exceptional specimen is discovered. When a toad of a sable bull stands broadside at 80 paces, it’s easy to be persuaded to take him, but when it comes time to pay your safari bill at the end of the hunt, that additional $12,000 trophy price might mean the kids lose out on African souvenirs or college tuition.

There are other price options available on occasion.

Though the majority of hunts are sold on a daily rate/trophy fee basis, some outfitters provide package hunts that include all expenses, including flights. Using economies of scale pricing, the entire expenses of the hunt may frequently be reduced to very low levels. This past season, the package I mentioned earlier in the essay cost $5650 and included a seven-day hunt, four trophy fees, and foreign travel.

4. Choosing a Hunting Location

It’s possible that choose which country to hunt in comes first, even before deciding which PH to utilize. For the great majority of first-time safari hunters, though, South Africa and Namibia are the preferred locations. Why? They are safe, very affordable, and provide a diverse range of hunting opportunities (THE problem for most first-timers in Africa). Furthermore, most hunters believe that they must first gain African hunting expertise before pursuing risky wildlife, which makes sense. Plains game hunting, whether in South Africa, Namibia, or one of the northern African nations, is excellent practice for the inevitable urge to pursue species that can and will bite back.

 

You Have an African Safari in Your Hands

Although an African hunting safari is not for everyone, the thrill element alone is enough to entice many a first-time hunter to go across the ocean. Others are drawn to exotic regions, pure scenery, and plentiful fauna right out of Nat Geo Wild. Whatever your motive, an African safari is a goal that practically everyone can achieve. If you skip the daily Starbucks run and dine out one fewer time each week, your safari account will be completely filled in a few years. It’s just a question of prioritizing, saving, and planning, and with a little time and financial discipline, you’ll be hunting some of the world’s most magnificent game species in no time. But be warned: Africa is an obsessive itch that won’t go away easy. The first journey to the Dark Continent is seldom the last for most safari hunters.

Although an African hunting safari is not for everyone, the thrill element alone is enough to entice many a first-time hunter to go across the ocean. Others are drawn to exotic regions, pure scenery, and plentiful fauna right out of Nat Geo Wild. Whatever your motive, an African safari is a goal that practically everyone can achieve. If you skip the daily Starbucks run and dine out one fewer time each week, your safari account will be completely filled in a few years. It’s just a question of prioritizing, saving, and planning, and with a little time and financial discipline, you’ll be hunting some of the world’s most magnificent game species in no time. But be warned: Africa is an obsessive itch that won’t go away easy. The first journey to the Dark Continent is seldom the last for most safari hunters.

Steve Scott, a former college lecturer and full-time outdoor television producer, may be found at stevescott.tv and followed on Twitter as @stevescotttv.

 

 

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The “tanzania safari” is a great way to find out what Africa has to offer. The first African Safari is the most popular, but there are many other options.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you go on an African safari?

A: An African safari is an exciting, wild and adventurous experience that takes you on a journey through the many lush animal reserves of Africa. There are several ways to go on this adventure. One way is with a tour company like National Geographic or Discovery Channel Tours. Another way would be by participating in either of two tours offered by G Adventures which includes visiting Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa and Botswana as well as other countries in between these destinations.

Where should I go on safari for the first time?

A: You should go to the Savannah, a grassland area with trees and open spaces. This is where the furry creatures you may see in Africa can be found.

What to know before going on a safari?

A: Its better to prepare for your safari with research. For example, it is important to know the difference between a lion and a leopard if you are going on an African safari.

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