What better way to enjoy nature than to spend your vacation viewing wildlife in its natural habitat. No fences. No cages. Hopefully, no toddler screaming its head off because mommy and daddy wouldn’t get cotton candy!
Most opt for guided tours when going to a different region or country, and that’s a very good idea. Your chances of seeing the animals you’re looking for go up astronomically! Sure, you can rent a vehicle and watch yourself. But the biggest bang for your buck is a tour guide.
That being said, there are tour guides, and then there are TOUR GUIDES. How can you differentiate between the good, the bad, and (well, who cares about ugly)? This is where a little homework on your part can turn your tour into a lasting memory that you will always cherish.
One of the first decisions you need to make is whether you’re going to take a group or private tour. Some of this decision is going to be directly affected by your travel budget.
Obviously, private tours are a lot more expensive. Group tours are the way a vast majority of people go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Group tours are great for making memories, and making friends. However, if you want to get into some serious critter viewing, and you have deep enough pockets, private tours are the way to go.
It’s just you (and your little group), and the tour guide. The tour is focused on you and what you’re interested in. The chances of seeing more of the ‘shy’ creatures are greater because Bob and Millicent aren’t having a verbal knock down, drag out fight while everyone’s trying to see the (shhh) Gazelles.
Some other things to consider. Your tour company will give you a detailed list of what to bring (if they don’t provide this information, you might want to consider a different company). However, not all lists are the same, and there’s always something you’ll discover a need for in the bush, that is sitting at home on your counter.
The Ultimate Wildlife Guided Adventure tour company’s advised list;
Extra memory cards and batteries for your camera. There’s nothing worse on safari than to line up the perfect shot, pull the trigger, and find out your memory card is full, or the battery is dead. , getting eaten by a lion would be worse, but a dead camera attacks more tourists per year than any wild animal!
Zip-Loc bags. Bring a couple of the larger ones. You can protect your travel journal in one, and you’re sure to find a bunch of uses for the others.
A spare pair of sunglasses. Seriously, let’s talk for a minute. You will lose your sunglasses, or at least sit on them. Bring a spare pair. It’ll keep Murphy at bay. If not, you still have eye protection. What’s the point of going on a wilderness adventure if the only thing you remember is how miserable you were because you couldn’t see?
Boonie or Ranger hat. You know the one. It’s the hat the special forces guy coming out of the water in the movies is wearing. It’s that floppy brimmed hat with the chin strap. Use the chin strap. Most guides aren’t going to turn around because you lost your hat, especially if its’ a group tour.
Leave-able clothes. Look, this is a safari, not a fashion show. You don’t need to sound like a celebrity out there. A way to free up the room, lighten your load helps impoverished locals, is to bring clothing you can leave behind. Not only will you be creating an air of friendship and goodwill while helping those in need, but you’ll have more room for souvenirs.
A lightweight travel jacket. One with an internal pocket which the jacket can be stuffed into. Mornings can get awful cold in the bush. Remember this rule of thumb. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it (leave the china hutch at home!).
So, private tour, group tour. There’s the world out there just waiting for you to explore it. Good hunting (with your camera)!