FX Excursions

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Tips for Women Planning First-Time Safari from Expert African Safari Goer

by Aoife O’Riordan

Mar 14, 2024

© Unforgettable Travel

Daily

Don’t let the overwhelming preparations of your first-time safari in Africa detract from the many wonders awaiting you. While it’s important to embark on a safari trip in Africa well-prepared, it doesn’t have to be confusing.

Gemma

© Unforgettable Travel

Gemma D’Souza, Africa specialist, Unforgettable Travel, is a seasoned traveler, particularly when it comes to safaris in Africa. With roots in India, Scotland and Kenya, D’Souza dedicates her life to promoting sustainable African tourism and supporting Hope Centre and other similar female-support organizations. D’Souza offers a wealth of knowledge for first-time female safari goers that could prove valuable come time for your trip.

 

Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

Types of Clothing

According to D’Souza, “Regardless of the warm temperatures, the key for safari packing is layers. The early mornings and late evenings can be a little cooler, so pack layers you are able to take off when it starts to heat up. In general, linen is a good light-weight material for clothing. While it isn’t mandatory, try to wear neutral colors for your safaris. Beige and khaki green are ideal colors. Avoid neon or bright colors although of course, this is fine for other destinations like cities or Zanzibar. If you can, avoid dark blue and black colors too as there is research believed that tsetse flies are attracted towards [sic] these colors.”

D’Souza also recommends women bring laundry detergent. Safari camps include laundry service (“with an incredible turnaround of a few hours,” D’Souza noted), but these camps do not wash women’s underwear due to cultural reasons. “And while it may not seem like a super-active activity, bring a sports bra for safari. Game drives can be pretty bumpy, so comfort is key.”

jaguar

© Unforgettable Travel

Prepping for a Game Drive the Night/Morning Before

D’Souza reminds travelers a game drive day begins early, usually before 6 a.m., with a wake-up call and fresh cup of coffee or tea brought to guests’ rooms. D’Souza explained, “As the days start early, it is advisable to get your bag and gear together the night before a game drive, to ensure you have all your gear, clothing, etc. ready to go for the next morning. In many safari camps, you will be given blankets or ponchos for the morning game drives while the temperature is still cool, so you won’t need to pack your heavy clothing in your bag.”

How to Dress for Meals/Everyday Clothing

Safaris are often very casual, so there’s no need to pack any fancy or dressy clothes for the evenings. If you’d like to “dress up” a little bit, D’Souza suggests long, linen trousers and a nicer linen shirt or top. “Though temperatures are high, long sleeves are always a good idea to prevent mosquito bites, so I recommend a long sleeve in a lightweight, breathable material. For Zanzibar specifically, it is important to keep in mind that most of the island is predominantly Muslim, so clothing should be respectful when walking around the capital [Stone Town]. It’s always handy to carry a light-weight shawl to cover shoulders and knees, if needed. Women may want to add one casual dress to their suitcase, but there are no restrictions on color or style.”

rhinos

© Unforgettable Travel

Safety Tips

Using a reputable tour operator for booking a safari is essential. Reputable operators include all safety precautions such as private transfers, meet-and-greets at airstrips/airports, and assistance with visa and immigration processes. It’s also important to carry printed documents of travel insurance and your operator-provided itinerary. D’Souza also recommends putting emergency contacts on your travel documents.

Last-Minute Advice

For one, take USB chargers, adaptors and socket plugs. Safari vehicles often have USB chargers, but it’s safe to bring one or a few just in case. If you’re a big reader, bring a few books, as most safari camps have a collection of books to read and/or do a book swap.

D’Souza emphasizes trying a safari or game drive without using your phone or camera, letting you enjoy it in real life rather than behind a screen. She also recommends packing make-up or face wipes, as days on a safari are a bit dusty. Bringing a light-weight neck scarf to pull up around your face if it’s extra dusty also can’t hurt.

How to Support Hope Centre and Other Female Organizations While Traveling

“Increasing numbers of safari camps are involved in successful programs to make and donate reusable sanitary pads to young village girls in rural areas who would otherwise be absent from school each month during menstruation,” D’Souza said. “Often, travelers are able to purchase handmade goods made by women during their trip. For instance, Mulberry Mongoose is a jewelry brand in Zambia where the jewelry is made from snares found by anti-poaching rangers. The team is also all female and local, creating jobs and a fantastic community project. They are based in the South Luangwa so guests can visit and meet the team, and see most of the jewelry in the safari lodges across Zambia.”

 

 

 

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