Baraka Trails Adventure | Safari Advice

SAFARI ADVICE

Why Go On Safari?

Viewing Africa’s wildlife may have been piqued by a National Geographic documentary, magazine article, a visit to a zoo, or watching “The Lion King”.   Due diligence by the Baraka trail adventures turns endless choices into a successful safari.   One option is contacting us to arrange the itinerary to see and experience on a wildlife safari.

Baraka trails safari involves several wildlife game drives, staying in remote locations, and observing the behavior and survival skills of Nature’s inhabitants. Each day on safari is a series of spontaneous, unexpected, natural events.

      

One never knows which game animals or wondrous sights one will witness.   The encounters are: a bull elephant charging the 4 wheel drive (4WD) safari vehicle; thousands of wildebeests thundering away from predators; lions mating; a leopard family at play; baby elephants helping each other, unsuccessfully, climb out of a muddy watering hole; vervet monkeys stealing food and drink; hippos turning a pink hue in the noonday sun; and innumerable families of giraffes, baboons, lions, hyenas, leopards, monkeys, warthogs, zebras, wildebeests, elephants, cape buffaloes, hippos, mongooses, gazelles, vultures, and ostriches.   Every wild animal plays a specific role in the ecosystem of Africa. Some animals are predators, others are prey, and still others are scavengers. Most predators attack the vital organs and soft tissues, while others consume calcium rich bone or tough outer hides, leaving few animal remains to blemish the landscape.   Every safari is unique and exciting. The opportunity to view Africa’s wildlife and meet the indigenous people enriches one’s world. Knowledge acquired for Tanzania adventure ensures a rich appreciation of the safari experience.


When is the Best time of the year to go on a safari?

After the ‘Long’ (April thru mid-June) and ‘Short’ (November and December) rain months, unpaved roads (translation = dirt tracks) become muddy quagmires.   ‘Short rains’ do not last all day as the ‘long rains’ do.   After the rains end, the grasses grow to more than 3 feet. Safari guides admit it is more difficult to spot wild game among the tall grasses.  

Time of year is important in order to see the Great Migration in Serengeti. The large grazers (grass-eaters) and browsers (eat leaves, grass, bushes, and trees), and the predators (that hunt and kill them), consume the fields of new grasses following the annual long and short rains.   The annual Great Migration (almost 2 million wildebeests and zebras) runs from late May through the end of October.   The game mammals follow the lush new grasses and water sources in the Serengeti ecosystem in a clockwise direction

 

Late December through March is calving season for the mammals, another popular season to be on safari.   400,000 wildebeest’s herds alone are born during 3 weeks in February. The newborn herds are easy prey for the lions and many young are hunted and killed before the completion of their first migration.


Where camping equipment is carried, technically speaking budget camping fits in the tented camps category. The experience is however completely different, making it deserve to be regarded separately. Budget camping is for those who don't mind "roughing it". You get to stay in public campsites, inside bivouac tents, sleeping on mattresses laid on the tent floor, or in sleeping bags. Basic washroom facilities are available in the public campsites, and are shared by everyone at the campsite.

These are permanent facilities with solid walls made of brick and stone or other local walling materials. Most tourist lodges have many of the amenities you would find in a hotel, including a restaurant, a swimming pool, a bar, ensuite bathrooms and toilets, and gift shops among others. The rooms in the lodges may be housed in one main building, or in huts/chalets separated by small distances.

Not all lodges are created equal. As it is with hotels, there are different classes of lodges. Depending on who is doing the classification, you will often hear of budget lodges, mid-range lodges, high-end lodges, and luxury lodges, or lodge classification by stars (3 star, 4 star, etc.). The higher the classification of the lodge, the more likely it is to have better service, better facilities, and higher price.

As their name suggests, tented camps usually comprise of large walk-in tents or canvas structures with ensuite facilities including flush toilets and hot showers. But don't let the word "tent" deceive you; many such camps are actually luxurious properties offering the same - and in many cases even better - comfort levels as the lodges.

There are two types of tented camps: permanent, and mobile. Permanent tented camps are in many ways similar to the lodges, more so because of their permanence and the facilities/amenities available to you. They however tend to be smaller and more exclusive than the lodges, often having fewer than 10 accommodation tents. Which is why you shouldn't be surprised if a safari using tented camps costs more than one using lodges of similar standard.

The concept of mobile camps is more common in Tanzania than in Kenya. Such camps are erected in private and exclusive campsites, a few moments before you arrive. They are mobile in the sense that their actual location varies from time to time, depending on weather patterns and the concentration of wild animals at particular times and places.

The more luxurious mobile camps consist of huge walk-in accommodation tents with king sized beds and ensuite washroom facilities. This setup requires a support crew for transporting the equipment, preparing the hot bathing water, and also preparing the meals. Obviously, such an arrangement is suitable for the luxury traveller who is also seeking the rustic and more authentic safari experience of the early explorers.

At Baraka Trail Adventures we recommend wearing earth tone color clothes when on safari.   One does not have to purchase a new safari wardrobe. The Masai people wear bright colored cloth, especially the color red, from neck to feet. The Baraka Trails safari guides explain the animals, especially the lions, are color-blind, so they cannot see the bright colors. Avoid the colors of black and dark blue which attract biting and disease-carrying tsetse flies. Also avoid white colored clothing - they will turn streaky brown from the ever-present dust.  

The only clothing purchased is a 21 pocket safari vest (sometimes called a photographer’s vest). The vest has a hidden zipper pocket to carry cash; pockets with Velcro fasteners; pockets within pockets; D rings to attach straps to the vest; mesh pockets; etc. The safari vest organizes what is carried and leaves the hands free for the camera.  

Natural fiber clothing, like breathable cotton, is most comfortable in tropical Africa. Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants from dusk to dawn when biting insects appear.  

In the higher altitudes, a sweatshirt or windbreaker is good for the chilly early mornings and cool evenings, though the daytime temperatures can be very warm.

 

Surprisingly, a bandana is genuinely useful against the DUST that permeates the hair and skin on game drives. The bandana covers the nose, mouth, throat, ears and lower half of the face. It effectively functions as a dust mask, but covers a much larger area.

 

One day laundry service is available in most lodges and camps for additional fees.

  • Camera memory cards – 10 Gigs of videos and photographs.
  • Batteries - Camera and other electronic products.
  • Large ziplock bags to keep electronics free of moisture and dust, and other uses.
  • Travel power converters – Africa uses European style electrical outlets.
  • Flashlight – small, to illuminate the pathway back and forth to the dining hall, and to provide room light in the middle of the night.
  • Anti-bacterial Wipes and Hand Sanitizer - clean, running water not always available.
  • Maximum strength Deet insect repellent - Can of Doom aerosol bug killer (very effective) is provided in each tent/room.
  • Prescription anti-malaria medication – Carry this and other prescribed medications with you while in travel.
  • Over the counter aspirin, pain relievers, band-aids, vitamins, aloe vera gel for sunburn, anti-itch bug bite lotion, toiletries, first aid kit, etc.
  • Wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, lip balm, suntan lotion – Brutal African sun.
  • Pillow - Cushion the back from bone-jarring unpaved roads.
  • Eye protection and lens cleaner for glasses and camera lenses – Blowing DUST, DUST, DUST everywhere.
  • Bandana – to protect ears (or ear plugs), nose, throat, face from DUST.
  • Hard candies/Throat lozenges - Lubricate the throat from dust caused dryness.
  • School supplies – are in short supply.   Donate to an orphanage or local school.

Note: Bought a head lamp to read and write in my journal nightly - Never used the lamp. Early morning game drives begin at 6:30.

   

While the 4WD is on the move, there is a lot of bouncing (Africa massage) motion because of the poor road conditions.   Ask the driver/guide to momentarily stop in order to take photographs/videos.

Bring extra memory cards, flash drives (if a laptop is used to store photos/videos), and lots of BATTERIES – no convenience stores in the bush.