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You’ve always been curious about this great continent, but you’re a little scared about safety and you’re not quite sure what to expect – and it’s such a long way from home. But then you hear it’s the trip of a lifetime and there’s nothing quite like stepping foot into a kingdom ruled mostly by animals.
For all those with a thirst for Africa, but a slight fright too, this is what you might expect (but what you’ll actually get).
Expectation: It’s basically a massive zoo
Reality: Never compare a visit to the zoo with a trip to Africa. But if you are enlightened by seeing zoo animals, then you’ll definitely want to see wild ones in their natural habitat. Africa boasts a rich range of wildlife across its many deserts, savannahs, forests and valleys and is also home to the largest remaining populations of lion, elephant, rhinoceros, cheetah, hyena and leopard, amongst many others. Every day, huge migratory herds seek out the best grazing grounds and multiple species forge a route across an endless terrain. Come dusk, riverbanks are flush with wildlife, and every year in The Serengeti, in Tanzania, there exists the largest wildlife migration on Earth. It’s certainly no zoo.
Expectation: I’ve seen loads of wildlife, I don’t need to see Africa
Reality: There is nothing quite like full-frontal wildlife directly in-your-face, and the notion that you are visitors in a kingdom governed entirely by animals. Nowhere else on earth do wild animals run the roost more so than here. You also won’t get as close of an encounter with the continent’s inhabitants than in Africa. This is where you can come within metres of a giraffe, observe lazing lions and (quite literally) follow in the footsteps of the world’s largest land animal, the elephant. No words can really encapsulate what you get out of an African journey but the experiences are incomparable to anywhere else on earth.
Expectation: I’ve read about poachers and crime is huge in Africa
Reality: Every country, even little old NZ, can be dangerous. Cape Town is dubbed the most beautiful city in the world so don’t you want to see it? As long as you pack your common sense (like you would with visiting any other city) you can enjoy everything without a hitch. Stick to the common areas as you would anywhere.
Unfortunately, there is an ongoing poaching problem in Africa, but organisations are in place to continue a prevention process – and there is no direct risk to anyone who chooses a safari.
Expectation: Wild animals are unpredictable and I wouldn’t feel safe
Reality: Many people have concerns about their safety on a safari, and rightly so, because all animals can be unpredictable. However, your experienced safari guide is trained to read every situation accurately and would never take an unnecessary risk which could put guests in danger. Respect the animals’ space and your experience of a lifetime needn’t be marred by fear; follow guides rules and you won’t encourage the wildlife to misbehave in return. Statistically, your journey to and from the airport is more dangerous than a game drive. That’s not to say you should avoid the airport – you need that runway to get to Africa.
Expectation: It’s too far from home
Reality: Flights can get you there in as little as 24 hours, just like Europe. And home comforts include buffet meals, swimming pools and sun loungers, plenty of G&Ts (it’s an urban myth that they deter mosquitoes, but hey, go with it) and snacks at sunset under a mystical African sky – dreamy. And let’s be honest, these are probably far superior to your real home comforts!
Expectation: It’s ALL a sun drenched savannah paradise
Reality: Yup, it’s a beaut alright, but don’t expect Africa to resemble New Zealand with a few more plains and roaming gazelle. At times there are no smooth roads and it’s all rough terrain – prepare for the occasional bumpy ride! As long as you’re aware that this isn’t a two week package holiday in the Costa del Sol, (hello, you’re in the bush) then you’ll be right.
Expectation: I’ll come home with a plethora of African souvenirs
Reality: Yes, if you head to Cape Town or Johannesburg, the shopping is at its prime and you’ll benefit from a cheap currency. But while in the bush, you’ll find it’s not about the shopping, or WiFi for that matter. Try and spend up large in the local curio shops, they’ll love you for it!
Expectation: The food won’t wow my taste buds
Reality: You’ll eat fresh seafood and wild game from world-renowned restaurants. Try the fresh prawns and lobster in Cape Town for a slice of the price anywhere else in the world. Wash it down with award-winning wines from the nearby Winelands. And in Zanzibar you’ll be wow-ed by the exotic spices.
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