Every year trillions of people turn to Google for answers. And, at the end of the year, the search giant looks back at those many question and compiles their ‘Year in Search’. The result is a snapshot of global events together with topics such as America’s most Googled travel questions of 2015. A good read for ‘What to do in Albuquerque’ - but not much use if you’re travelling to Africa.
So we've created a list of our own. And, after much research and a healthy dose of first-hand experience, we bring you the answers to the top 10 safari travel questions of 2015.
> Where is the Best Place to See the Big 5?
Most safari first-timers want to tick off the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). While nothing in the wild is guaranteed, there are reserves that deliver consistently good sightings of all the big players. In South Africa our top choice is a private Kruger reserve such as the Sabi Sands. And for East Africa? Include Ngorongoro Crater in your safari plans.
> How Much Does it Cost to Go on Safari?
An African safari doesn’t come cheap. However, when you look at that price tag remember that it not only includes accommodation but also twice-daily game drives, a ridiculous amount of tasty food, sundowner stops out in the African bush and the tracking skills of your highly trained guide. As an example, here's what $500 a day buys you in Africa’s top reserves.
> What should I Wear on Safari?
If you’re taking charter flights then check the luggage restrictions. It’s usually 15 kg per person, so pack light! Comfortable, loose fitting clothing is best and think in layers as those early morning starts can be chilly. Other essentials include a wide-brim hat, sun glasses with polarised lenses and a good pair of walking shoes. For more tips, take a look at our guide to packing for an East African safari.
> Will I Have Internet Access At the Lodges?
In South Africa the chances are good, whereas in Moremi (Botswana) and the Okavango Delta the signal is non-existent or patchy at best. But that’s part of the magic of being on safari, you’re out in the wilds of Africa far removed from the constant buzz of email notifications. And if the mere thought of being offline makes your palms sweat, then ask a safari expert to recommend lodges where you can stay connected.
> What to Do in Cape Town?
How much time do you have? One of the world's favourite cities, Cape Town offers an incredible range of things to do. Popular activities include a trip to the top of Table Mountain, wandering around the V&A Waterfront, picnics at Kirstenbosch Gardens, and a tour of Cape Peninsula stopping at the Boulder’s Beach penguins and cliffs at Cape Point. Then there’s lunch in the Cape Winelands, the quaint harbour village of Kalk Bay, and topping up your tan on the famous white sands of Camps Bay beach or local favourite Llandudno.
> When is Whale Watching Season in South Africa?
The well-named Whale Coast lies around a 2-hour drive from Cape Town. Southern Right whales arrive in these waters in about July and stay until November, with numbers reaching their peak in September - the month of the Hermanus Whale Festival. During season you can also see whales off Cape Town’s Atlantic coastline, but it’s nothing like the famous Hermanus cliffs where a well-placed bench gives you a front-row seat to a spectacular show of breaching and splashing.
> Is it Safe to Travel in South Africa?
South Africa does have a high crime rate, but don't let that stop you visiting this incredible country. Most incidences occur outside of tourist areas but if you are visiting Cape Town or Johannesburg just take the same safety precautions that you would in any big city. And, should you want to see the street art in Woodstock or visit the Soweto Township then go with a local guide.
As for South Africa’s game reserves, as long as you listen to your guide and don’t jump up at a lion sighting, your biggest danger is probably mosquitos. Which brings us to the next question …
> What Vaccines Do I Need?
Check with your doctor or a travel clinic. Some vaccines (or boosters) you might need include tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and meningitis. If you’re travelling to Kenya, Tanzania or Zambia they all fall within the yellow fever belt so you may need a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Don’t leave this jab until the last minute as it could make you feel fluey for a few days.
The most widespread issue is malaria (those mosquitos I mentioned earlier), so ask your doctor about malaria prophylactics and pack insect repellent along with long pants for the evenings. Or stick to malaria-free reserves such as the Eastern Cape and Madikwe Game Reserve (both in South Africa).
> When is the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya?
The migration is always on the move with more than a million wildebeest chasing the rains around the Serenegti (Tanzania) and Masai Mara (Kenya) eco-system. The most dramatic part of their journey is crossing the Mara River. While difficult to pinpoint the time exactly (as it depends on the rains) you’ve got an excellent chance of seeing a river crossing if you travel to the Masai Mara between late August and late September. Read more about the best places to see the wildebeest migration.
> How Long Should a Safari Be?
If you’re only going to one reserve, then you need at least three nights. That gives you two full days of game viewing with most lodges offering two safari activities per day. If you’re hopping between reserves, then two nights at each might be sufficient. Take our Luxury Botswana Safari, for example, which covers Botswana’s five top game viewing areas, two nights at each, and inter-camp air transfers cutting down on your travel time.
Also on our travel specials pages we’ve got some great deals where you only pay for two nights but get to stay for three.