Having visited three out of these four wildlife parks, I thought I’d add my own experiences so safari enthusiasts know what to expect when considering these parks.
Tourists generally have a misconception about wildlife parks. They expect to see lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos and giraffes, but generally end up being disappointed.
Lions dwell in different areas than elephants, where there are rhinos, it’s unlikely to encounter a giraffes. Neither will you see these animals up close and personal. The best a tourist can expect is to see them at a distance with binoculars. Seeing them less than a few feet away, might be the last thing they see.
Tour guides know this. Not only do they know where various species of animals can be found, they know how close they can approach them without endangering their passengers.
For instance, as a tourist you can’t just enter the Kruger National Park in South Africa, visitors must be accompanied by a park tour guide at all times and adhere to strict rules.
Tourists must stay in a covered or open jeep. When entering the park privately, cars will become part of a convoy, led by a guide.
Wandering around on foot is not an option.
When spending the night in the park, tourists must stay in their hut after curfew. Sitting on the porch, or hopping over to the neighbors is not allowed.
Those interested in the nightlife of the park, can accompany the guide on a night time excursion in a specially designed bus. Even though these vehicles are safe, these excursions are not for the faint of heart. The growl of animals can be heard and eyes glow in the dark.
An excursion I passed on, but which many tourist find fascinating, is the spider tour. This tour starts after midnight, during which the guide points out various spider species. Some small, some as large as dinner plates. Some plain brown or black, others showing off fluorescent colors.
When to go on safari is equally important. Winter (June to August) or spring (September to November) are generally the best times. In the height of summer, temperatures can climb as high as 50 degrees C (122 degrees F).
In addition, there’s migrating season to consider. Every year, over a million wildebeest travel from Tanzania to Kenya and when they go on a stampede, you want to stay well out of their way.
Going on safari can be wonderful, but hold on number of dangers. Not only are you venturing among wild animals, every year people get injured or die because they are careless. people end up in hospital, not because of obvious dangers such as lion and elephant attacks, but because of snake or spider bites; sun stroke or heat exhaustion; or neglecting to take their malaria pills in time.
Don’t confuse what you see on TV with reality.