When I was a child, my grandparents won a safari in Africa (Kenya to be precise) by participating in a draw in the local newspaper. They came back delighted. I remember their black and white photos. They told me that they had seen giraffes, lions, elephants… I must have been about ten years old, and since the idea of going on a safari in Africa has been running around in my head.
I still don’t know when this trip will be, but I’m starting to take a serious interest in its organization: which countries is the most interesting, how to go about it logistically, which tour to follow, etc… I patiently record my information in a small notebook that I decided to share with you today. The objective: to help you prepare your own trip. This article will be updated as I progress.
Choosing your destination is not the only thing to do when you decide to go on a safari in Africa. There is an organization to be set up. To get a clearer picture, read the rest of this article: I have grouped the five main points that need to be addressed before leaving.
If you are used to travelling, you know that passports and visa applications must be processed on time. Check with the French government website to find out what formalities need to be completed depending on the destination you choose for your safari. Some countries allow you to make a visa when you arrive, while others will need to be processed beforehand. In any case, please be aware that your passport must be valid for six months after the expected date of arrival in the country, otherwise the local authorities may refuse you access to the country (it would be a pity, after all).
In short, nothing very new for those who are used to travel, but a reminder that I prefer to do to avoid unpleasant surprises if you are not used to flying all year round 🙂
Let us note all the same a small specificity of Africa: some vaccines are mandatory to be able to go to the territory (and even if they are not, it is frankly very advisable to do them, to avoid catching a mess on the spot).
Life in Africa is really different from everything you are used to: heat, humidity, new and potentially dangerous fauna and flora, radically different eating habits… Your body will be put to a severe test in Africa. I strongly encourage you to do a complete medical check-up before going on safari, to make sure that your body can take the hit without any particular difficulty.
In any case, you will most probably have to make vaccinations before leaving (yellow fever, at least): entry to several African countries is conditional on possession of a vaccination certificate (the information is on the website of the French diplomacy, on the file of the countries concerned, under the heading “health” and “entry/stay”).
Among the important points is the issue of malaria. I would rather not tell you anything about whether or not to take malaria treatment because it is heavy and has consequences for the body. Only your doctor will be able to advise you, so I don’t venture into this field.
Don’t really neglect the medical aspect when preparing your African safari. We tend to think that it only happens to others, but yet no one is safe. Last March, I had a friend who contracted violent malaria while on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. We were really afraid for his life and we fear for the after-effects he will have.
In short, everyone is obviously free to do as they please, but on a strictly personal level I know that I will take the anti-malarial treatment, even if it is a little heavy and has side effects.
For a long time I wrote on this blog that it was not necessary to take out insurance for your trips. That I had been leaving myself without insurance for years that everything had gone well so far, and that 99% of the travellers I met were not insured either without anything serious ever happening to anyone.
Except that recently, as I said in the paragraph above, a friend frightened himself (and us) by falling seriously ill in Tanzania. In addition to the medical side, he found himself with an astronomical amount to pay (we are talking about a 6-digit amount for an emergency repatriation, with a medical plane, etc.). If he had insurance, things would have been different.
They say that only fools don’t change their minds, so here’s mine now: when you go to a risk area (and whatever the type of risk, medical or otherwise), I really invite you to take out insurance. You will avoid an additional burden on your loved ones in the event of a major health problem: they will at least not have to worry about the financial responsibility for your care.
As far as the choice of insurer is concerned, I do not recommend anything at the moment because I do not know where to turn. I am still in the process of comparing, and since everything is written in incomprehensible jargon and the subject is as daunting as possible, it may take me some time to decide. On your side, if your African safari is planned soon, it is probably best to talk to your usual insurer (the one who takes care of your car or your accommodation for example), and to discuss the options with him.
Finally, the last advice I give you when you prepare your safari in Africa is to keep up to date with the news of the country you plan to visit. For example, I mention Zimbabwe in this article. While doing some quick research, I realize that the country is in political turmoil at the moment, linked to presidential elections and a faltering economy.