Go Ahead staffers Cara and Ashley recently returned from our Tanzania Wildlife Safari tour with tons of pictures and plenty of tips. Here are their top 10 need-to-know facts before you go!
It’s always a good idea to pack plenty of layers when traveling to keep comfortable in any situation. Make sure to bring a light jacket or long-sleeved shirt for mornings, since they can be a bit chilly. Remember that while on a safari, unlike on more traditional European tours, there’s no opportunity to pull over and shop for warmer wear once you’re surrounded by lions!
Avoid black or blue clothing, because these are the favorite colors of the tsetse fly. Their attraction to these hues is so specific that black and blue striped cloth is actually hung to attract and trap the insects, protecting humans and wildlife from these pesky insects. That said, bug spray is still a definite must.
Make friends with the locals. Be mindful that harmless lizards and geckos may be hanging out in the room to say hello. On your balcony you might find a few hyraxes or monkeys. It was hard to resist inviting them in, but definitely avoid doing so. They’ll scoop up your food and any goods they desire and run off into the trees.
While on our game drives, we realized the importance of a pen and paper to keep notes, track animals and write down experiences. Other travelers on our tour brought colored safari guides and checklists to help identify all the species you encounter. It’s especially helpful for classifying birds. We could barely keep count of the number of species we saw!
Invest in or borrow a good pair of binoculars. You won’t believe how close you’ll get to wildlife, but looking through a quality lens can reveal incredible sites beyond your field of vision, bringing you up close to the details of a bird’s feather or the wary eyes of cheetah hiding in the bush.
In the same spirit as binoculars, a camera with a good zoom lens will help you properly document the exciting animal interactions you’ll encounter.
As soon as we arrived, our guide greeted us with “karibu!” which means “welcome” in Swahili, the Bantu language most common in East Africa. Some other useful phrases we picked up? “Asante sana” or “thank you” and “jambo,“ a general greeting for “hello.”
Pack light. We each brought a soft-sided duffle and a backpack as our main luggage, which is a must for traveling on safari vehicles because they are smaller and have less room than standard coach buses. We also brought smaller bags to have with us during our games drives, packed full of essentials like bug spray, sunscreen, a light jacket, cameras, granola and extra water.
Make sure you bring small denominations of USD to tip local guides and purchase goods where credit cards aren’t accepted. There won’t be many ATMs, so talk to your guide about the best places to take out Tanzanian shillings if necessary.
Most of all, get ready for an experience that is awesome in the truest sense of the word—you’ll never be able to comprehend the amazing things you’re about to see until you actually get there.
Have you ever been to Tanzania or on a wildlife safari? Share your tips in the comments below!