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Africa is my favorite continent. I arrived for the first time in 2010 and it was love at first sight.
Many of us have dreamed of going on a safari trip in Africa since we were little and seeing the majesty of the planet up close through the large mammals of the continent. But how can you organize your first trip to Africa? Here are my tips, based on my experience after visiting more than a dozen sub-Saharan countries, to maximize your next trip to Africa.
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Choose the right destination
You can see large mammals in many countries, but not all of them have the right infrastructure to make your first trip go smoothly.
Although there are countries like Botswana and Namibia with excellent tourist infrastructure, the flight options to get there are usually expensive.
However, there are three options that are cheaper: Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. These are the three countries that I recommend you consider on your first trip, South Africa being the one with much cheaper alternatives to organize your safaris.
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Flights to Africa are usually expensive, but if you take advantage of the offers, you can get them to destinations like Arusha, in Tanzania; Nairobi, in Kenya, or Johannesburg, in South Africa, from $500-$600 roundtrip departing from New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Houston. The money you save on flights is a budget that you will have to spend on your activities and safaris.
I recommend you start organizing your trip through the most famous national parks.
If you go to Kenya, the Masai Mara; to South Africa, the Kruger National Park; and to Tanzania, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Searching these national parks will allow you to see the different hotel and lodging options.
It is important that you stay within or very close to the parks so that you can maximize your time. Remember that sunrise and sunset are the best times to get the most desired sightings.
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Tours and safaris
Although there are many ways in which you can organize your safaris, my first recommendation is that you choose the hotel or lodging that you want and that you can coordinate your safaris with them. In general, it is an option that will allow you to save money since there are alliances between tour operators and hostels.
Health and vaccines
There is a lot of misinformation and unfounded fears about travel to Africa. A gigantic continent with very diverse regions.
Before traveling, you should consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to check whether you need any vaccines or preventive medications.
Traveling with children?
It is a question that many parents ask me. To my surprise, in my safari trips around Africa, children are the ones I have seen enjoying them the most. If you have little ones who love nature and animals, this will probably be the trip that hey will cherish forever.
These recommendations will help you shape that trip to Africa that you have dreamed of. If you still haven’t decided on a country, I recommend starting with South Africa. A country that has everything and a trip that you can organize on your own without much difficulty.
Do not forget to end your trip in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, where after seeing the great mammals of the north, you will be able to conclude your trip among penguins, vineyards and the magic of the city that makes everyone fall in love.
It’s time to organize your trip to Africa!
Wilson “Wil” Santiago Burgos is the founder of Mochileando.com, one of the largest travel platforms in Puerto Rico and the Latin American market in the U.S.