Visiting Africa, for wildlife viewing can be both an exciting and challenging experience. Fortunately, there are some important tips that can help you thaw into an up-close wildlife viewing experience. Here are our seven tips for first-time visitors to Africa:
1. Think about the time of the day
Choosing the right time of the day allows you to understand the movements and behaviors of wild animals. Most mammals and birds, for example, are mostly active at dawn and dusk, when there is some light but the temperature has dropped. Reptiles, on the other hand, tend to be more visible during the middle of the day when the sun is too hot.
2. Locate Waterholes
Finding water holes, especially during the dry season, can be a good spot to watch most wild animals, especially predators hunting large herbivores as they drink water at dawn or dusk. Rhinos can also be seen in the late afternoon and early evening. They typically drink from dark until around 10 p.m.
3. Understand the Animals’ Natural Habitat.
Most wild animals prefer specific areas where they can hide and be comfortable. Such areas may include trees, termite mounds, ground reeds, grassland, and so on. Having an understanding of different species’ specific sheltering habits increases your chances of spotting them.
4. Make Sure you Go on a Guided Tour.
Going on a guided tour gives you the opportunity to not only interact with your guide but also learn some of his few tricks for spotting wild animals. Such tactics may include watching for telltale signs of what animals you are looking for. Tour guides can also help you have an understanding of the different species of wild animals in terms of their color, body patterns, size, shape, and of course their social habits and movements.
5. Keep an eye on the weather
Having a clear understanding of the weather patterns of the destinations you want to visit helps you make the right decision. For example, choosing the dry season over the wet season helps you avoid floods, mudslides, and downpours that limit your navigation during the game drive. The dry season also makes it easy for you to not only spot wild animals on the grasses that tend to be more sparse and easy to see through but also find them on water sources where they congregate.
6. Keep an eye for Animals’ tracks and signs.
Animals’ tracks and signs such as droppings, nests, and scrapes make it easy to find and spot them. Elephants and larger predators, for instance, leave visible droppings and footprints making them easy to track while the most difficult ones such as the wild cats and dogs tend to leave their footprint marks on sand or dirt roads where they begin their hunting.
7. Finally, Remember to Pack Appropriate Items
The most important items that you should never forget to carry are a good pair of binoculars as well as a guidebook. Binoculars are essential for spotting wild animals from a mile away while a guidebook helps you to understand the attributes of the animals you’ll be spotting on your game drive.
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