9 Things to Expect on a Serengeti Safari
So you’re planning your dream vacation to Tanzania, but you have no idea what to expect while on safari? You are likely considering Serengeti National Park, Tanzania’s largest park and one of Africa’s most popular areas to see the big 5. This article shares 9 things you can expect on a Serengeti Safari.
9 Things to Expect on a Serengeti Safari
You will spend a lot of time inside the truck!
It’s not that I expected to do a ton of walking in the Tanzanian bush; realistically I knew that I would be in the safari truck viewing the landscapes and animals. Take the picture you have in your head and multiply it. You will be in the truck from sun up ‘til sun down, so wear comfy clothes and pack your day bag accordingly!
Bumpy roads and dust
It’s no surprise that roadways in Tanzania are not great; some areas have come a long way in 2 years but the National Parks are unpaved and incredibly bumpy. As you fly down the roads, you will stir up a cloud of dust and jar your bones a little bit with continual bumps. Sorry for the tall folks reading this…because you will likely hit your head. At just 5’5, I somehow bashed my head on the truck more times than I care to admit. Pack some baby wipes for the dust (you will thank me later).
Teste flies are well known around the Serengeti National Park for their irritatingly aggressive attraction to dark colours and their painful bites. They are also linked to “sleeping disease”, a transmittable and incurable infection which slowly incapacitates those infected.
Unfortunately normal insect repellant sprays do not work on these flies, so keep this in mind when packing. Avoid dark colours and dress in layers so you can cover up your skin if need be. I wore sandals and the majority of my bites were on my feet and ankles so I would recommend wearing shoes if you are concerned about the flies. For me the bites were more itchy than painful, and healed in about a week (though I have read that for others, they were far worse).
Sun and heat
Depending on the hour of day and direction of driving, you could be in the direct sunlight for hours on end (another reason to dress in layers). Pack sunglasses, a sun hat and sunblock and be sure to stay hydrated (we brought rehydration salts and I always use my Platypus water bottle). I’ve also been trying out tinted sunscreen instead of makeup and it is a huge win for me.
Bathrooms may be a few hours away
Since you will be crushing waters to stay cool and hydrated, you might be wondering what is the toilet situation?! There are tons of bathrooms around the national parks, but depending on where exactly you are when nature calls, the next one could be hours away. The key is to communicate with your driver and plan ahead around the toilets like you are 80 years old. I packed with me a toilet roll, baby wipes and hand sanitizer though most bathrooms seemed to have soap and toilet paper.
The traffic situation in the national parks is sort of a reality vs expectation thing. No one shows the hoards of safari cars parked around a sleeping leopard or the traffic jams that occur as trucks try to squeeze in closer to see the hunting lion. I mean, it’s totally worth it to lay eyes on the big five, but it is an interesting reality check to see the “behind the scenes” no one shows on Instagram.
You will take more photos than you expect
You will take SO many photos. Bring your charger, as most of the trucks have electrical ports and chances are you will need it. Also, remember your guide has seen the animals a million times so they become desensitized to how amazing it is to see African wildlife for the first time. If they start to move the truck while you are taking photos, just tell them you still want to take a picture; they can’t read your mind.
You will need to remind yourself to put the camera down
You might be so focused on taking the perfect zoomed in photo of a sleeping lion, or a selfie with an elephant that you forget to just be in the moment. Remind yourself to relax and enjoy the moment in real time!
You will be amazed
Prepare yourself to feel a sense of child-like wonder and joy. There is something truly magical when you see your favourite animal in the wild — for me it was seeing this male lion up close!
I hope you have a magical safari and be sure to check out my other resources on Serengeti National Park and Tanzania to plan your best trip (the links are below).
If you’re not sure where to start, I always recommend Lonely Planet as a useful planning tool or you can feel free to reach out to me with questions.
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