December 23

Beginner’s Guide to a Safari Holiday in Africa 2024

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December 23, 2023

Planning your first safari holiday in Africa is incredibly exciting as you build a puzzle of places you want to see and things to do, culminating in the perfect holiday! With so much to consider, we've compiled a quick guide for beginners with tips on where to go and stay, what to do, and how to combine all of these for the ultimate African safari holiday.

Game Drive at Silvan Safari

 A safari holiday in Africa is life-changing, Image Credit: Silvan Safari

Where to Go

Africa is a beautiful quilt of stunning scenery. From the tip of Africa all the way up to East Africa, each country offers unique landscapes, cultures, food, and experiences. Here are some of our favourite destinations to recommend to our guests for an African safari holiday.

Southern Africa

In South Africa, you can visit Kruger National Park for a Big 5 safari, while you might spot some aardvarks, pangolins, and meerkats at Tswalu Private Game Reserve. We also recommend our guests combine their safari with a beach holiday in Cape Town and a wine tour in the Cape Winelands.

Then there's Namibia, well known for Sossusvlei, the Namib Desert, Skeleton Coast, and Etosha National Park. The latter hosts 114 mammal and 340 bird species, including black rhino, black-faced impala, and four of the Big 5.

Just as wonderfully wild, Botswana boasts contrasting landscapes, from the lush waterways of the Okavango Delta to the expansive scrublands of the Kalahari. Stare in awe of the seemingly endless herds of elephants in Chobe, witness the zebra migration in the Kalahari, and see the glittering vastness of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. When it comes to wildlife, the Okavango Delta offers wonderful sightings of the Big 5, as well as hippos, crocodiles, and many more.

Don't underestimate what Zimbabwe has to offer, as it's a mecca for safaris and adrenaline-fueled activities! It's most famous for sharing access to Victoria Falls with Zambia. However, other than admiring this largest sheet of falling water in the world, our guests enjoy exploring Mana Pools National Park, home to lions, leopards, and endangered African wild dogs. Meanwhile, Hwange National Park treats you to sightings of large herds of elephants and an astonishing array of bird species.

Zambia's premiere game reserve is South Luangwa National Park. Guests also enjoy Kafue National Park, teeming with antelope and hippos. Zambia is a great destination if you want to see Victoria Falls and go on safari, especially in you're interested in walking safaris, as Zambia is the birthplace of this exciting activity. 

In East Africa

Moving up to East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania are primarily known for playing host to the thrilling Great Wildebeest Migration. But Kenya has more to offer than the Maasai Mara, which is rich in wildlife, as the country boasts scenery combining lakes, forests, and mountains.

In Tanzania, you can witness the Great Wildebeest Migration through the Serengeti, visit the world's largest intact volcanic caldera (Ngorongoro Crater), climb Kilimanjaro, and combine your safari with a beach holiday in Zanzibar.

Have we piqued your interest? Our Travel Experts have listed their top destinations for 2024.

Etosha National Park in Namibia is rich in wildlife. Image Credit: R.M. Nunes

Etosha National Park in Namibia is rich in wildlife and offers spectacular views, Image Credit: R.M. Nunes

What to Do

Every day is different on safari. Depending on where you stay, you can plan your days in advance or decide on the day what you feel like doing. Besides the standard morning and afternoon game drives, there are a few unusual ways to experience Africa from various perspectives.

  • See the world from a hot air balloon in Namibia, Botswana, and the Serengeti
  • Instead of a game drive, opt for bird watching and wildlife viewing from a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) in the Okavango Delta
  • Hop on a helicopter from the airport to your lodge, or just to see the landscapes and wildlife from a bird's-eye view
  • If you're not in the mood for other people, opt for a private safari where it's just you and your loved ones and you don't have to share staff or facilities 
  • Visit local communities and learn more about cultures, history, and the daily lives of locals across the continent
  • Experience all the sights, sounds, smells, and little nuances on walking safaris with trained guides
  • Gallop through the open plains and view wildlife on your horseback safari
  • Traverse through rainforests when you go gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Congo

There are so many experiences you can fill your African safari holiday with. For the ultimate Instagram-worthy holiday, these are the top experiences for an African safari connoisseur.

Fly over mesmerising landscapes in Botswana 

When to Go

Africa is great year-round. However, when you should come to Africa will depend on what you want to experience. For example, to see the majesty of Victoria Falls in full force, the best time would be between March and April. However, if you want to swim in Devil's Pool, you need to go between November and December when the water is at its lowest.

Furthermore, the Great Wildebeest Migration is a circular journey, and since the wildebeest are on the move, it's important to know precisely where to be when to see them. If you book with Rhino Africa, your Travel Expert will guide you to ensure you get a front-row view.

Then, there are other general changes you can expect on safari throughout the year. For example, while May to October is the best time to view wildlife in Botswana, birdwatching is incredible from November to April.

We've created the ultimate travel calendar for Africa with top destinations for each month to give you an idea of the best times to visit our continent for what you're interested in doing and seeing.

Wildebeest crossing river during Great Migration

Witnessing the river crossings of the Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most thrilling experiences

Where to Stay

Tell us what you want, and we'll make it happen! While some of our guests prefer traditional tented camps, others look for an exclusive-use luxury lodge with its own butler, chef, game-viewing vehicle, and guide. It really depends on you!

Furthermore, there are many other things to consider when choosing where to rest your head. For example, how many people are you travelling with, how old are they, and what's the occasion?

Honeymooners will appreciate the sheer luxury and privacy of Londolozi's Granite Suites. On the other hand, if you're a family with younger kids, we'd recommend Khwai Leadwood. However, please note that some properties suitable for families do have age restrictions.

We have a list of superb properties to choose from that will make you feel like royalty on your safari. Our Travel Experts have visited these properties themselves to ensure it's of the best quality for you and give you their insider tips to make your stay memorable.

The Private Granite Suites at Londolozi is the ultimate romantic hideout in the bush

What to Pack

What you should pack will depend on your itinerary. But there are a few essentials you should always bring with you, such as sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, binoculars, a camera with extra memory cards, breathable trousers and shirts, one or two nice outfits, comfortable shoes, a warm jacket, and insect repellent.

There are also things we highly recommend you don't pack, such as brightly coloured clothing, army-printed clothing, heavy perfumes and deodorants.

Take a look at our dos and don'ts for what to bring with you.

Quick links:

Luxury safari flight between lodges in Kruger

Stay comfortable in breathable clothing, and never forget your sun hat

How to Budget

On an all-inclusive safari, the following will usually be included:

  • Accommodation
  • Meals, snacks, and selected beverages
  • Regional and domestic flights
  • Transfers
  • Standard game-viewing and cultural activities

However, some items are generally not included, like:

  • Spa treatments
  • Souvenirs
  • Gratuities
  • Additional experiences

If you have questions about what is included and excluded in your quote, reach out to your helpful Travel Expert.

Entspannung pur im Silvan Safari Ansellia Spa auf einer All-inclusive-Safari

Relax after your morning game drive and pamper yourself with a signature spa treatment

Where to Get Inspiration

Together with our Travel Experts, we've curated exciting safari tour itineraries to help spark your imagination. Some of these tour ideas are based in one country, while others combine key destinations across borders. 

We've also curated the perfect bush and beach tours (one of our favourite combos!), so browse through these options to get a few ideas and we can take it from there.

Let Rhino Africa Plan Your Luxury Safari

As the world's most awarded safari company, when you book with Rhino Africa, your safari is 100% customisable and tailored to your taste, preferences and bucket list items!

Our Travel Experts know Africa better than a leopard knows its own spots, so reach out to us and let us know what your dream safari entails, and let's start planning! 

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About the author 

Hanli Matthee

After her studies, Hanli decided to call Cape Town home and enjoys that every corner is Instagram-worthy, combining mountains, ocean and city. When she's not living it up in Cape Town's nature, she likes escaping to Central Drakensberg, where she's been going for her family vacations for over 20 years now. It's her happy place, where she feels enveloped by valleys and high-rising giants and secretly hopes she'd get lost here where no one will find her...

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