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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > July 2015 > BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SAFARIS

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SAFARIS

Scanning the savannah for lions, elephants and rhinos is the stuff of bucket-list dreams – if you’ve never been before, start reading up here (and it’s not just Africa, either)

How do I get started?

WHAT IS A SAFARI?

In modern parlance, a safari covers pretty much any trip that involves watching wildlife in its natural habitat. Most commonly associated with Africa’s big five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros), safaris now take in every possible encounter from tracking giant pandas in China, or tigers and hyenas in India, to polar bears in Canada. We’ve included a selection of our favourites over the following pages.

IS IT SAFE?

In a word, yes. No reputable safari operator will take a risk with your safety or an animal’s well-being. Your guide will be an expert in animal behaviour and will know the difference between, say, a mock and real elephant charge, and what to do if a situation starts to look a little dicey. On walking safaris, you’ll likely be with an armed guard.

DOES IT HAVE TO COST A FORTUNE?

Park lodges do tend to be expensive, but bear in mind the rate will normally include all food and game drives. Your contribution will also include your guide’s wage and the concession fee that must be paid to the park, which generally goes towards conservation, including anti-poaching efforts. Plus you get to stay in some of the world’s fnest accommodation, an experience that is likely to stay with you long after you’ve paid off your holiday. That said, savings can be made if you stay in guesthouses a little further away from wildlife parks, and take advice on-the-ground about local safari operators. When considering cost-cutting on 4x4 safaris, do check the number of other people along for the ride: a wildlife encounter is likely to be much less magical if you’re experiencing it over the heads of 10 other passengers.

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