First African Safari: What to Expect

By Jessica Russo

Did you know that the word "safari" comes from the Arabic word "safar," meaning "journey?"

So, you're ready for your first journey through the African brush! You're out-of-your-mind excited, but you're also wondering what to expect.Here are some vacation ideas to help you unleash your wild side and make your first safari an experience of a lifetime.

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You're in for a wild ride.

Rugged terrain and grassy hills are no match for your experienced driver!

Your driver and spotters work hand-in-hand to present you with the best experience possible. When spotters see animals, they alert your driver. Then, your driver will do just about anything to get there as quickly as possible! Hold on and get ready for an adrenaline-pumping off-road experience.

Say cheese!

Of course you want photos of the animals, but make sure to take some of yourself.

Yes, elephants are cute, but no one needs 100 photos of them in the same positions. Make a pact with yourself: take some selfies. What's a cooler profile picture than a selfie with a giraffe on safari!? Help out your fellow safari-goers and take photos of each other. The memories will thank you years from now.

Every drive is different.

Don't say "I'll skip this one."

On safari, you'll feel excited, awe-struck, and, oh yeah, tired. What journey isn't tiring!? Although you may think a nap is needed, try your best to attend every drive during your time in the brush. It's not on every drive that you see a mom nursing her young or the hard-to-spot leopard (no pun intended) up-close!

Witness the beauty of motherhood.

Like mommy, like baby. You might spot young animals walking alongside their parents!

You'll catch yourself "oohing" and "awwing" at the adorable mini-mes walking alongside their mothers. What's cuter than a baby rhino trying to act tough, or a mother elephant wrapping her trunk around her little one? Now those are some cute photos.

You may not see everything.

But, don't worry! The magic of the wild will never disappoint.

So, you may not see one or two animals you were hoping to. Well, it wouldn't be a real safari if all viewing was guaranteed! Remember that these animals are *wild *and fiercely independent. So, you may not see buffalo or hippos, but you may see zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, and more. No matter who you "want to see most," you will never leave a safari feeling anything short of amazed.

Give your camera a break.

Look up, down, and all-around! Some things just can't be experienced through a lens.

Trust me, you will have more than enough photos of that cute zebra munching on grass. While, undoubtedly, everyone wants breathtaking safari photos, remember to take in the actual experience. This once-in-a-lifetime experience deserves your full attention! Be present.

Bring only the essentials.

Try not to over-pack, just this once.

Going on safari in the African brush may sound like you're "roughing it." Most African safari lodges, however, boast some of the most luxurious amenities in the world! Bring your bug spray, camera, hat, sunglasses, and sunblock. Stick it all in a small backpack and keep it strapped around you - remember what I said about a bumpy ride?

Raise that hand.

Don't be afraid to ask questions!

Safari drivers know the brush like the backs of their hands. You'll be amazed by how much they know about animal behavior and the terrain around them. Listen to your driver's instructions, but don't be afraid to ask "why" and "how." You'll be happy you did.

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