All you need to know for your first safari adventure

Known as the heartbeat of Africa, Zambia is one of the wildest regions on the continent, offering safari-goers (be it your first-time or umpteenth time) an unmatched safari experience. Upon making the brilliant decision to book your first-ever safari in Zambia, you may find yourself browsing the web to gather further knowledge about what to expect on your trip, the season you’re visiting, what to pack, and everything in between. This journal serves to be your guide filled with tips from a first-time safari-goer and all you need to prepare for your upcoming African adventure.

Ten tips from a first-time safari-goer

Travelling provides the opportunity to learn, experience and discover and in turn, create memories with a newfound appreciation for life as you know it. Compiled by a first-time safari-goer, below are ten tips to keep in your back pocket as you head on your first-ever safari adventure in Zambia.

Have an open mind: Africa is unlike any other place you’ve travelled to, and having an open mind is of utmost importance to ensure you get the most out of your trip.

Prepare to disconnect: Time + Tide‘s destinations are in some of the most remote parts of Africa, so connectivity is limited. Although some camps have Wi-Fi, I suggest taking the liberating and refreshing opportunity of a complete digital detox. It may feel strange at first, but as the days pass by, it gets easier.

Get to know your guide: You’ll spend many hours with your guide. Use this time to get to know them. They are passionate about sharing their stories and possess a wealth of knowledge about wildlife, culture, life in the bush, and so much more.

Never miss a game drive and gather as much knowledge as possible about as much as possible. There’s something so satisfying about learning a new bird species, being able to identify a tree you once knew nothing about or learning how to track a lion. 

Take part in safari activities: If you have enough time, add safari activities to your itinerary. A bush walk and sleep-out under the stars are wonderfully immersive ways to reconnect with nature.

Ask many questions: Not only to your guide but to the team in the camps too. Zambians welcome guests with open arms and genuine hearts and are always delighted to have a chat.

Know that you are safe: Heading into the bush for the first time may be daunting for some. The key here is to remain respectful of wildlife and the environment at all times and to trust the team on the ground to take care of you.

Acquaint yourself with the sounds of the bush: Wildlife has different ways of communicating, and taking the time to stop, listen and recall these sounds adds so much depth to your safari experience. Whether it’s the sounds of grunting hippos (they’ll make sure you hear them), baboons alarming others when a leopard is near or the thrilling roar of a lion in the distance, every sound is unique.

Learn a few words in the local language and use them when you can: You’ll be surprised by the smiles on the locals’ faces when saying ‘Zikomo’ instead of ‘Thank You’.

Expect to have your every expectation exceeded: Despite being in a remote part of the world, Time + Tide provides an unbelievably comfortable, safe and high-quality safari experience. The hospitality, diverse wildlife and landscapes, sunsets and sunrises, delicious food, and untouched wildness will leave your life forever changed.

What to pack

Comfort is key when packing for a safari and understanding the nature of your trip will ensure you have all you need for your trip. Below is a checklist of all items from clothing, toiletries and general bush-appropriate items that we suggest you consider bringing along.

Clothing + Accessories:

To blend in wear khaki, tan, brown and green colours, especially for a walking safari.

+ Shirts or t-shirts x 3
+ Lightweight, long-sleeved shirt (good for covering up in the African sun)
+ Shorts x 2
+ Lightweight, long trousers
+ Set of casual evening clothes x 2 (long pants recommended to prevent insect bites)
+ Medium-weight sweater + windbreaker (especially for cooler months, May to July)
+ Good pair of walking shoes (closed-toe, thick-soled)
+ Sandals or flip-flops (for wearing around camp)
+ Sun hat and sunglasses (no matter the season you’re visiting)
+ Undergarments + socks (sports bra recommended for women, roads can be bumpy)
+ Light scarf (multi-purpose – keeps off the sun, wind and dust)
+ Swimming suit if desired (some of our camps have pools)
+ Small day bag for bringing out on activities

All the camps offer a daily laundry service, so packing lots of clothing isn’t necessary.

Personal care: 

+ General toiletries
+ Anti-malarials (speak to your doctor about which option is best for you)
+ High-strength sunscreen
+ Moisturiser + lip salve (with SPF)
+ Insect repellent for mosquitos and tsetse flies
+ Any personal medications with original labels if prescribed
+ Simple personal first aid kit, including antihistamine cream + tablets
+ Glasses or contact lenses if needed – always bring a spare pair in case of damage
+ Feminine hygiene products if needed

General:

+ Binoculars (one pair per person is recommended)
+ A good book or your favourite magazine to read during downtime
+ Journal + pen to jot down your favourite memories and sightings
+ Crossword puzzles or sudoku
+ International plug adaptor
+ Torch or head-torch (one per person is a must, with spare batteries)
+ Luggage ID tags
+ Luggage locks (ensure they adhere to airline regulations)

Pre-departure information

For a comprehensive breakdown of all you need for your trip from documents to the weather of every season and what you can expect on a typical day on safari, click here.  

 

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    Destinations

    Zambia

    Zambia is Africa's best kept secret, with its vast landscapes, thriving wildlife and welcoming culture. Trace the steps of early explorers while experiencing immersive safaris in the South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi. Two of Zambia's most spectacular National Parks with diverse activities and renowned guiding with deep roots in early conservation for generations.

    Destinations

    Madagascar

    Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, is celebrated for its unique biodiversity and vibrant culture. Home to species and ecosystems found nowhere else on Earth, it offers a vivid exploration of nature's rarities. Discover the unexplored on land and sea.

    Zambia

    South Luangwa

    Just a one hour flight from Lusaka, the South Luangwa is known for its big cat sightings and often referred to as the Valley of the Leopard. It is in the South Luangwa that the legendary Norman Carr pioneered the walking safari and conservation-based tourism in Africa. Zambia's outstanding reputation of guiding is ever prevalent in our team with some of our guides having trained with Norman himself.  Our guides offer guests a raw, authentic safari experience and don't let the finer details in these vast spaces pass you by. 

    Zambia

    Lower Zambezi

    Nestled between the imposing mountain escarpment to the north and the mighty Zambezi River to the south, the Lower Zambezi Valley has a variety of activities that few, if any, other destinations can offer. It has been described by guests as their "happy place" because of its beautiful scenery, peaceful riverside woodlands and abundant wildlife. The Lower Zambezi is just a short 30 minute flight from Lusaka and offers guests the thrill of tiger-fishing to peaceful wildlife sightings on the banks of the river while canoeing or boating. Our guides strive to make each guest feel like they are part of the landscape and not a mere spectator.

    Madagascar

    Nosy Komba

    Just off the northwest coast of Madagascar, a short boat ride from Nosy Be, Nosy Komba is an island celebrated for its lush volcanic landscapes and vibrant culture. Often referred to as the 'forest gem of the Indian Ocean', it provides a spectacular backdrop for Time + Tide Tsara Komba. The lodge blends luxury with nature, offering guests direct access to both the pristine forests and the azure waters of the surrounding archipelago. Known for sustainable luxury and immersive experiences, our guides are expertly trained to reveal the secrets of Nosy Komba’s rich biodiversity and local traditions. 

    "The uniqueness of being in a camp with only four safari tents is the ultimate feeling of luxury.  Luwi overlooks a wide open grassland that on my first morning we watched a high speed chase - a pack of Wilddogs on a hunt.  It was exhilarating to watch and sent our heart rates through the sky adding a lot of chatter and laughter once the pack had passed by."
    Jessica, Guest Time + Tide Luwi
    "The authenticity and remoteness of the seasonal camps will be a special experience that I will long to return to.  There really is no place on earth that you can really escape like you can at the seasonal camps.  Falling asleep at Kakuli to the distant lion roars and waking to the call of the fish eagle - really what a magical walking safari!"
    Lara, Guest Time + Tide Kakuli
    This is the most magical place you're ever likely to experience. Nestled under a grove of imposing Albida trees, it is clearly favoured by the many elephant who graze on the Albida pods. Their presence adds an incredibly special energy to the camp. 
    Charles, Guest at Time + Tide Chongwe Camp
    The lodge is stunning and all the staff are utterly wonderful. The views from the lodge are outstanding, lovely Liuwa wilderness. My bedroom was incredibly comfortable, very stylish, hitting a difficult combination of minimalist yet luxury. Incredibly comfortable bed and many relaxing areas to rest. 
    Mandy, Guest at Time + Tide King Lewanika
    Our family had the most joyful time at Chongwe, really everything was perfect and every detail taken care of. The team ensured we had the best time at every activity (even tiger fishing!). We felt privileged to spend a few days here and look forward to returning.
    Richard, Guest at Time + Tide Chongwe
    "Thank you for embracing the unique culture of Barotseland through storytelling, song, dance, drums and the marimba - this is a jewel in the necklace of the African Parks managed conservation areas we are visiting across Africa - much appreciated."
    Kingsley Holgate, Guest at Time + Tide King Lewanika
    Chinzombo is a stunning lodge in a beautiful location of the South Luangwa. The rooms are luxurious and spacious, with a deck and plunge pool overlooking the Luangwa River. There is always an abundance of wildlife around the rooms, we had a banded mongoose, bushbuck, elephants and hippo's - just to name a few.
    Michael, Guest at Time + Tide Chinzombo