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07-08-2019 04:13 PM
We have a trip planned for a safari in South Africa, at the Kapama Game Reserve. We are going in January 2020. Has anyone been on a safari in Africa? I have a general idea of what to bring, but I was wondering if anyone has been on one, and if anyone has any helpful hints or suggestions. I am sure there are things I have not thought of.
07-08-2019 05:05 PM
I have at the one you're going to. January is mid summer in So. Africa. I go during their short spring season(Sept/Oct). The "bush" is just blooming so it's better to "see" the animals.
Kampana has early morning & night safaris. Go on both! The lioness are very active at night as it's "hunting" time.
Safari's usually last approximately 3 1/2 hours. DO NOT drink liquids prior to going. There are no bathrooms for "females."
Breakfast is after the morning safari.
Dinner is after the evening safari
Wear a wide brim hat
Bring a rain jacket
Wear a heavy jacket/coat - Freezing cold early morning & evening in the bush.
Halfway through the safari, the "guides" will serve tea & liquor. Again, no bathrooms in the "bush" for females.
Personally, I feel Kapama is the best for So African safaris. It is a "private" game reserve owned by a single man who's name escape me. His home is right in the reserve. If you're lucky, the guide will drive pass there on the way back to your cottage. There are many routes to see the animals. Some jeeps go n routes w/few animals. They will radio the other jeeps & take their route if many animals are out & about on their route.
Kampana grounds......the animals walk around freely. When I was there last, a wayward lion decided to "hunt" there. 99% of the time, it's the lioness that do the hunting. They have better sense.
Don't worry, Kampana has plenty of guards w/rifles who ride around looking for male lions who get too close to the grounds.
07-08-2019 05:44 PM
I've been on several safaris in Africa and echo everything @Mz iMac has said.
I consider a nice large bush a great female bathroom! ha! I got pretty good at squatting behind large rocks and bushes. The trick for me was to ensure that I had done enough leg exercises before arriving in Africa, as squatting while trying to keep your balance, keep your clothes out of the way, and hold onto toilet paper can sometimes be a challenge!
When we took potty breaks, the guys would go one way and the gals went the opposite direction. Can't remember the exact words, but the guys were told in so many words to go in one direction to water the flowers, but I can't remember what the guides said that indicated what the gals were going to do. LOL!!
Although the guides usually have some toilet paper on hand, I bring a whole roll from home, take out the cardboard inner tube, smash down the roll so it was flat, and keep it in a plastic bag, with extra smaller bags for the used toilet paper and other debris. The guides usually have a larger plastic bag for you to throw your used paper into so you aren't carrying it in your backpack.
The safaris can be long and bumpy while in jeeps, but you are invigorated when you see wild life and take photos. At the end of each day, I was so tired I never had a problem sleeping. Most safaris are early morning and late afternoon/early evening, with time to rest/nap during the heat of the day.
@JudyL loves going on safaris in Africa and has another one coming up next summer, so hopefully she will chime in with her passion about Africa!
07-08-2019 07:53 PM - edited 07-09-2019 09:39 PM
I went to Sabi Sabi Game Reserve privately owned by a German couple. They too live on the grounds. This reserve is in the same vicinity a bit south of Kapama.
Went at the end of October. Weather a little warm and humid during the day, no rain during our 5 day stay. January will be warm.
Stayed in thatched huts, but they had everything we needed. Bathrooms with toilets, nice tubs and showers. Sitting area. No TV. No AC, but not necessary. It cooled off in the evening. Huts and everything beautifully maintained and clean. Huts cleaned, bedsheets and towels changed everyday.
Camp run by generator, so lights out at 10 pm. They gave flashlights to go to the bathroom after 10.
Lions and other animals routinely walked through the camp at night, so doors of the huts were locked from the outside at 10 just to make sure no one could sneak out. There was a phone in the hut available if help was needed.
This Reserve also has lodges, more hotel like facilities elsewhere, but we chose the more natural camp atmosphere. It also had a small gift shop carrying necessities, snacks, safari hats and clothing, and African made jewelry and other things. A small swimming pool, nice large deck for watching the monkeys play. Other activities if one wanted to partake, but I didn't. After a long flight, jet lag, getting up very early every morning, we were exhausted.
Meals were a big deal. 5 Star. Served on an open deck with a thatched roof. A beautiful experience. No enclosures to protect us from animals, but we were told they won't come if the lights are on. We didn't see guards, but expected some were around watching for strays. Despite it being a camp like atmosphere, it was first class all the way.
Wore very casual summer clothing, Bermuda shorts, pedal pushers, sneakers, took a sweater along for early morning and evening drives.
Once on the Range Rover, there were no bathroom breaks. Not permitted to leave the Rover. Too many animals not to mention scorpions. That may be the reason meals are served after the drives. No one had to go, but I suppose the driver had plans for an emergency. We were told not to drink anything before going out, but I had to have coffee.
Drives were very early morning and after dark at night. They were 3-4 hours each....very long, but we saw lots of animals. Only once did we have a scary encounter with a male elephant who wouldn't let us drive through. We had to turn around.
The ride is very bumpy, so be prepared to be jostled. At night, it's a bit eerie at times in an open Range Rover with only headlights on. The driver would shine a large spotlight on the animals. When safe, he stopped so we could take pictures. He told us to be quiet...not to talk at all.
All of us have seen some African animals in zoos and circuses, but to see them up close in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience.
Have a good time.
Surprisingly, we weren't bothered by bugs at that time, late Spring, October, on our drives or during meals. But, in January, probably so.
Flashlights were not permitted on the Range Rover during the drives. We were told to sit still and be quiet. We could take photos when the Ranger stopped and flashed a light on the animals. Other than that it was impossible to get a decent picture because of the darkness and bumpy ride.
No walking around outside the camp at night or during the day. Dinner is served after night drives. It was around 9:30-10 pm when everyone finished. Lights out at 10:00, so everyone returned to their huts.
This camp is located in the bush. Animals could walk in at any time during the day and do at night. We know because we saw lion and other prints in the morning.
Safety precautions very strict at Sabi Sabi...don't know about other camps.
07-09-2019 11:09 AM
@Mz iMac Thanks to you and the others for responding. We are going in January because that is the best time of year to get away from our business, though it may not be the best time to see the animals. I am excited about the trip. Not too excited that I may have to pee in the bushes if I have to go. I have not had to do that in years. Ugh. But I will take your advice and limit my liquids and hopefully make it through. I am assuming that the guides speak English. Can you understand them clearly? Do they provice bug spray or should I bring my own?
07-09-2019 12:05 PM
@PUPPY LIPS One of the nice things about the time of year you are going is that it will be greener. I have always gone in June or July.
There are pros and cons depending upon the time of year when going on a safari. The winter months mean everything is greener, but it might be harder to see some of the animals (no problem with elephants, giraffes, etc.).
Going in the summer months means the grass is not as tall and you see more of the lower-lying animals. However, animals like lions can hide better in the yellowing grass.
All guides that I have had speak excellent English. Not hard to understand at all.
As to bug spray, I've been on jeeps that have a can of dung on the back tailgate, which attracts the mosquitoes. No problems. But bring your own for when you are sitting out at night and in your tent.
07-09-2019 02:09 PM - edited 07-09-2019 03:02 PM
@PUPPY LIPS wrote:
I am assuming that the guides speak English. Can you understand them clearly?
English is the first language in So. Africa. So yes. You will understand them clearly. They all speak "proper" English not "American English." Everyone is taught English from the fist day of school. Accents are slight. Depending on what their tribal language is.
All road signs & even retailers signs are in English.
White So Africans speak Afrikaans to each other.
Black So Africans speak their own language to each other.
Do they provice bug spray or should I bring my own?
BRING YOUR OWN. Will be your BFF.
Kapama provides bug spray in each cottage but that is to be used for spraying the rooms.
The crawly bugs & flying insects are HUGE!!!!!!! Dragonfly size mosquitos.
DO NOT WEAR SANDLES on safari. 2 females did in our group. For some strange reason they did not heed the warning(s). They both ended up w/feet the size of watermelons. Feet bitten all over by some So African bush cootie crawler. Wear SOCKS.
It's ok to wear sandles around the resort IF YOU STAY ON THE SIDEWALKS/CEMENT WALKWAYS. Just don't step on the grass & dirt if wearing sandles.
Bring your own flashlight(s). I believe someone already mentioned this. When it gets dark in the bush, you will not be able to see your hand in front of your face. Safari resorts turns all exterior lights off around 9-10:00p. Kapama has laterns lined up in the grass along the walkways.
@Foxxee"All of us have seen some African animals in zoos and circuses, but to see them up close in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience."
The elephants in zoos & circuses must be stunted. The ones in the bush are about the size of dinosaurs!!!! I am 5'7 & I only came up to its kneecaps. If you're lucky, you will see elephant herds knock down tress w/theeir heads that are in their way.
*****Bring your own flashlights. You will need them.*****
07-11-2019 11:17 PM
@PUPPY LIPS ahhhh Africa - where my heart sings and my soul feels most at home. Love it. Have been on a safari that went to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Then on another trip spent 2 weeks in Zimbabwe with a family and on another trip spent a week in JoBurg. Next summer will be heading to Kenya and Tanzania.
The safari I took was in late May into mid-June; the trip to Zimbabwe I went late July into mid August; and then the trip to JoBurg was over the Christmas holiday. I prefer going in June/July/August as that is their winter and its not too hot. I don't do well in hot weather.
Can't really add much to what everyone else has said. Before each drive the drivers do go over safety precautions - please listen to them and heed what they say. The animals do come into camp. At one camp, I had an elephant decide to stay and eat a while on some tree right on the other side of the cabin wall from my bed. I never laid so still in my life but it was exhilarating also and I loved it. To see the animals in the wild in their natural habitat and on their terms is like nothing I have ever experienced. It changed my life.
Don't know what kind of camera you have but on each drive, I took a small backpack to carry an extra camera battery and I could also put my light jacket/sweater in it as the morning temps got warmer. Also took a wide brimmed hat as I'm pretty fair skinned. The bugs didn't bother me at all at the time of year I went. One time in the evening our driver did do the can with the elephant dung in it to get rid of the bugs but they weren't a problem so think that was more cautionary than necessary.
We did have armed guides that would walk us back to our rooms at night and shut and lock the door to the tent cabin. We had those really loud bull horns that you see at baseball games to use if there was an emergency and we needed help. Those things would wake the dead so I'm sure if I had had to use it, I would have been heard! LOL
Drives do start very early in the morning and late afternoon into the evening. I agree with the poster who said no sandals! Please wear closed shoes and socks. I wore a pair of low boot type shoes and that was perfect. Will wear them again next year.
I found all of our guides wonderful, kind, patient people. They all were very knowledgeable about the area, animals, and animal behavior. They know their stuff and I trusted them completely. They don't want to harm the animals or the environment so if they weren't nervous at an animal sighting, I wasn't. But I did take their safety warnings seriously - i.e, no getting out of the jeep unless they say its ok, keeping voices low, no reaching out to the animals - you'd be surprised what people think they can do with a wild animal - etc.
Most important thing - have fun! Enjoy, be flexible re sightings, animals don't always cooperate the way we would want them too. And remember to sit back, enjoy the drives whether you see lots of animals or not, and let the magic and beauty of Africa seep into your bones. You'll never regret it.
07-12-2019 02:02 PM
@JudyL @Mz iMac Thank you both for your detailed responses. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about going, but now I am excited. Knowing what to expect and being prepared is the best thing we can do. I will be sure to read and re-read what you have posted as the time approaches. Thank you again for sharing your experiences!
07-12-2019 02:12 PM
@PUPPY LIPS I meant to add something re clothes and forgot - no bright clothing, no white clothing, and no black or navy either as those 2 colors attract flies and bugs. So no white t-shirts, pants, etc. We had one woman in our group who was going out on a guided bush walk and showed up in a white shirt and tan pants. The guide made her go back and change. So light colored shirts and pants. I bought 3 tan shirts and 3 pair of tan pants and thats all I wore for 3 weeks - I did do laundry - HAHA - but thats all I wore.
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