Planning a first time safari is exciting but can seem daunting. The best way to start planning your first time safari in Africa is to talk to one of our Travel Experts. Our Travel Experts are all African natives or have travelled the continent extensively and are here to help guide you in your choices with genuine, unbiased advice for your first time safari holiday. To make a start in planning your first safari in Africa, here are some questions you may have been asking yourself…

Where is the best place to go for a first time safari?

If it is your first time going on an African safari, you may want to pick a destination which is going to give you the best game viewing possible for your time there. You may want to see the Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. One of the best places to go in search of the Big 5 and plenty of other mammals and birds is South Africa’s Kruger National Park and surrounding private reserves. Here the animals are familiar with the safari vehicles, and know them not to be a threat, which often means very up-close sightings – what you want for a first time experience! It is important to remember game viewings are never a guarantee as the animals are wild and free to roam. The advantage of a Mahlatini safari is that you can rely on your guide’s specialist knowledge and tracking skills to locate the animals you wish to see and in private reserves where there are limited vehicles permitted in one place.

First time safari trip ideas:

Kruger Safari and Mauritius Holiday

Classic Cape Town, Kruger and Mauritius Holiday

Classic Cape Town, Winelands and Kruger Explorer

first time safari game drive

Rhino sighting on game drive

Best time of year to go on a first time safari?

There is no absolute best time to go on a safari and what month you travel often determines which country and region you visit. This is something your Travel Expert will be able to advise you on. If it is your first time on safari and you wish to see the biggest variety of wildlife possible, it is best to travel during the ‘dry season’ months from June to October which is in most safari destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa. In the dry season the grass is lower and the animals tend to congregate around water sources making them easier to spot. Dry season is generally the ‘high season’ in Africa for this reason. For a breakdown of where to go on safari and when, check out our Africa safari calendar.

first time safari game drive

Game drive in South Africa

Where to stay on safari?

The three main styles of safari accommodation are mobile camps, tented camps and lodges. Mobile camping shares similarities with the early African explorer style. Although mobile camping would be the most basic in terms of amenities, it often provides the best game viewing as you’re able to move around and follow the wildlife as they move. This is an extremely popular option if you want to base your safari around the Wildebeest Migration. Tented camps, mostly found in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Zambia, tend to be the most luxurious accommodation choice and have a hotel suite feel. Lodges can vary in size and quality, with the most luxurious generally found in South Africa in the private game reserves. Where you stay is usually determined by three things; personal preference, the time of year you travel, and budget. Our experienced Travel Experts will be able to provide you with a choice of options which would best suit your individual requirements.

Our favourite accommodation in South Africa (perfect for a first time safari):

Do you need shots/vaccinations for an African safari?

Whether you need vaccinations or malaria medication for your safari will be determined by the destination you choose to visit. The best idea is to talk to one of our Travel Experts as well as to your GP, who will be able to best advise you on the necessary medications for the destination you decide to visit on your first safari. If you are worried about malaria, there are malaria free safari destinations in Africa. It’s worth noting that if you are going on your first safari and want to spot the Big 5, the only country in Africa offering a Big 5 safari experience without malaria is South Africa.

How much does an African safari cost?

There is no set price for a safari, as your choices can have a big effect on the overall cost. One night on safari can range anywhere from $500 – $2,000 per person, excluding travel costs. The cost of an African safari differs depending on the following: the time of year you choose to go, where you choose to go, and the occasion you are travelling for e.g. honeymoon. For our Travel Expert to put together a bespoke itinerary for you, having a budget to work within is absolutely vital because of the wide range of choices on offer. If you are looking for guidance on starting prices don’t be afraid to speak to one of our Travel Experts who will be able to guide you on what prices you should expect for various times of the year, types of accommodation and regions.

first time safari

Giraffe sighting on game drive

Are there lots of bugs and insects on safari?

In most safari lodges the area is sprayed and with air-conditioning and fans so it is rare to encounter insects and bugs. That said, you may encounter some (more so in tented accommodation) but again it is very rare and shouldn’t put you off the experience. If this is still a concern for you, be sure to question your Travel Expert who will be able to recommend the most suitable time of year, destination, and accommodation type to minimise insect risk.

Why should you choose Mahlatini for your first time African safari holiday?

Mahlatini have nearly 20 years experience organising luxury holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean. We are very proud of the amazing feedback we receive and we are confident that we will continue to impress our clients with our knowledge and service. When you book with Mahlatini we don’t want to provide you with just a holiday – we offer a highly personalised service to ensure your first time safari is a wholly unique and unforgettable experience.

Nothing can compare to your very first safari in Africa. You can trust our insightful team of Travel Experts to design a first time safari that will be so memorable that you will want to return again as a more experienced safari goer the following year.

Get in touch today to start planning your first time safari.