1 Two elephants walking on a dirt path

The Ultimate Guide to Planning an African Safari

greg tsougas
by Greg Tsougas

July 02, 2024

8 minute read

The Best Times to Go on a Safari

When should you go on safari? This is a frequently asked question we hear that doesn't have a straightforward answer. It depends on what you want to see.

The wet and dry seasons are something to consider.

During the dry season, running from June to October, the climate becomes less humid, and animals gather at water sources. During the wet season, generally from November to April, catch sight of the migration of different animals and be surprised by the thick brush usually absent during the dry season.

This also varies by destination. For the deserts, like in our new Namibia & South Africa Epic Landscapes & Wildlife tour, June – October is the peak time to visit. In the plains, like on our The Plains of Africa tour, July – October is the best time to visit.

No matter what time of year you choose, morning safari drives are for early birds! Typically, safari tours begin early in the morning between 5:30 a.m. - 6:30 a.m., depending on the season.

Where to Go on an African Safari

Collette offers tours across six different African countries, all with their own distinctive cultural experiences, natural wonders, and unique opportunities for viewing wildlife. Most of these countries are located in the southeastern region of Africa.

Sunset over a scenic river in South Africa

South Africa

On our Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls & Botswana tour, travelers venture out in a 4x4 through Pilanesberg National Park in search of lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and Cape buffalos. Vast marshlands, craggy landscapes, and rare geological features, are unique elements of this safari. Did you know this national park is one of three alkaline ring complexes in the world?


Kenya, located in East Africa, has a variety of national parks and game reserves, including Shaba Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Masai Mara Game Reserve, and Amboseli National Park. The Masai Mara Game reserve offers an unsurpassed safari experience where you’ll have the opportunity to view lions, giraffes, zebras and elephants. Experience it on our The Plains of Africa or African Safari: Kenya & Tanzania tours.

Sand dunes in the Namib Desert


Travel through the remote and otherworldly Namib desert, home to some of the largest sand dunes on earth. Namibia is home to some of the world’s vibrant, picturesque deserts. Despite the dry and desert environment of the Namib Desert and Etosha National Park, wildlife thrives. On this new tour, travelers even see shipwrecks on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.


Home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is noted for its vast plains, diverse landscapes, and wildlife. Visit the Ngorongoro Crater and experience a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the densest animal populations in the world. This area is rich with wildebeests, zebra, and other gazelles. Our African Safari tour in Kenya and Tanzania also includes visits to the Serengeti, Lake Eyasi, and Tarangire National Park.


Our Wilderness of Southern Africa: Safari by Land & Water tour gives travelers the opportunity to visit the Chobe National Park in Botswana, featuring a private cruise on the Chobe River. Out on the water, travelers search for elephants, hippos, and aquatic birds before enjoying dinner on the boat. At Chobe National Park, you may even spot hyenas, zebras, leopards, and wild dogs.


Another excursion on our Wilderness of Southern Africa: Safari by Land & Water tour takes you to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Did you know that this national park is home to over 100 types of mammals and 400 bird species? Venture into the deep bushland for a chance to spot the Big 5 and more.

Types of Safaris

Guided game drives usually occur on 4X4s and allow for a more immersive viewing experience, but there are more ways to get close to nature. Collette tours offer myriad ways to view wildlife, including guided wildlife drives, safaris on foot, and water safaris.

Game Walks

Game walks offer a firsthand perspective of the terrain and creatures within it. On the Wilderness of Southern Africa: Safari by Land & Water tour, travelers can take a guided safari walk through Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. This is your chance to search for wildlife up close, including seeing some plants, insects, and reptiles you may not spot otherwise.

A safari boat watching an elephant wading in the water

Water Safaris

Going on a safari by boat offers a different perspective from the grassy plains of Africa and are great for bird lovers hoping to catch a glimpse of migratory birds along the banks of lakes and rivers. Our Wilderness of Southern Africa: Safari by Land & Water tour includes a 3-night cruise on a private safari boat, as well as smaller tender boat trips to offer multiple views, even from the water.

What to Pack for an African Safari

It can be daunting to prepare for a trip to a far-flung destination. There may be an urge to overpack with worries that you can’t find what you need while you’re away from home. Between clothing, the essentials, and some bonus extras, we’ve got you covered with this packing guide.

What to Wear on an African Safari

There are two basic rules when it comes to packing for an African safari: Light, earth tones and layers!

Layers: If you’re venturing out to the safari first thing in the morning, be sure to wear a few.

Light, comfortable, earth toned clothing: Choose tops and bottoms that mesh with the environment. Another perk? These colors don’t absorb heat as much as darker colors and will help keep you cool.

Want more tips? We have an entire blog dedicated to helping you pack.

Daily Essentials

Your hotel will be well equipped with the amenities you need, but what will you need to bring along with you each day? Here are our tips.

Water. It’s going heat up as the day goes on. Be sure to stay hydrated!

The Right Shoes. If you’re on a walking safari and trekking different kinds of terrain, you will want a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes. Comfortable sneakers will be perfect for game drives, and will also work during downtime in your camp, lodge, or hotel. Make sure that you take time to break in any new shoes ahead of your trip.

Health and Wellness Items

The precautions we take to stay healthy at home are essential during travel. Make sure you pack these necessities.

Prescription medications. If you take prescription medication, make sure to bring enough for your entire tour plus a few additional days in the original prescription containers. Medication should be packed in your carry-on bag, just in case your luggage is delayed. You could also bring extra medication in a separate bag in case any gets misplaced.

Sun Protection. For warm, sunny weather, pack sunscreen, a hat or a bandana/scarf to protect your neck from sunburn.

Helpful Extras

What extras should you consider to take up some of that precious room in your luggage? These are some items that are absolutely worth their weight and space!

Camera. You’re going to want to take pictures on this trip of a lifetime. If you bring some photography equipment with more oomph than your phone, make sure to pack the chargers, batteries, and memory cards you may need.

Backpack. Between the day-to-day items you'll need to carry with you and the souvenirs you'll pick up along the way, it's helpful to have a day bag in addition to your luggage.

Binoculars. Binoculars can definitely aid your viewing experience on tour. Since we don’t interrupt wildlife in their natural habitat, you may be seeing them from a distance. Getting a closer view from afar helps make your safari experience richer.

Books & Bathing Suits. There can be considerable down time between safaris and other excursions on your tour. Take advantage of your free time and your hotel’s amenities and relax. Our suggestion? Curl up with a good book and relax by the pool.

A male and female lion walking on a dirt road followed by two safari vehicles

Are African Safaris Safe?

When you go guided with the experts, African safaris are safe. With over thirty years of experience leading safaris in Africa, Collette travelers can rest assured that their safari will be expertly planned and expertly led. Your Tour Manager is a true local expert. They live and breathe the culture and destination. And they’re highly rated professionals we’ve handpicked to show you the way. With Collette, find peace of mind and support every step of the way on your safari excursions.

Tips for a Memorable Safari Experience

Safari trips are moving, memorable journeys. Interacting with and meeting like-minded individuals with a thirst for natural beauty on these tours is truly a big part of what makes them special. Whether traveling solo or with some friends, you’re about to share the trip of a lifetime with your group. And there are some tips that can make the experience even richer.

Safari Expectations

It pays to be patient while you’re on safari. Collette partners with experts like ABTA and ANIMONDIAL to audit every tour so that you can feel confident that all animal-related experiences align with our high standards. That means that animals are free to roam, and behave naturally, so finding wildlife can take time.

Big 5 sightings are not guaranteed, but if you have some faith and are ready to patiently soak in the experience, you just might find what you're looking for.

How to Book Your First African Safari

Ready to get started? Browse our website for a list of tours and other information to help you find the safari of your dreams.

Ready to book? Call us, or see your travel professional and ask for Collette.

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