Of all the incredible travel experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have, going on safari in Tanzania was without a doubt the most magical. I’ll never forget the way I felt the first time I saw an elephant in the wild, or the adrenaline rush I felt when a lion brushed past our jeep and looked me straight in the eye. The things you might see on safari are wilder than your wildest dreams. It’s surreal, it’s mesmerising and the best part is; it’s real.
The things I saw on safari in The Serengeti will remain permanently etched in my mind, but before embarking on that trip I truly had no idea what to expect. I’m collaborating with East African safari experts DK Grand Safaris to share 11 incredible things you might see on a safari. Whether you simply dream of going on safari one day or you’re preparing for an upcoming trip, consider this your checklist of dream safari sightings.
1. The Big 5
It would be impossible to go on safari without hearing people say ‘The Big 5’. These are the top 5 animals that everyone hopes to tick off their list on any safari. The Big 5 in East Africa includes lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and cape buffalo. As the rhinoceros is now endangered, this is regarded as the hardest animal to spot from The Big 5.
2. A Kill
Going on safari gives real perspective on the term ‘survival of the fittest’. If you can’t outrun or outsmart your predator, you’re dead. Anyone that gets to witness a stalk or a kill on safari is incredibly lucky, but it’s not sight that everyone wants to see. Every guide has eagle eyes and will spot any potential stalk far before you, and keep you a safe distance from the scene. Grab your binoculars and stay incredibly still so not to disturb the action.
3. The Great Migration
Dubbed ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth’, the great migration is an annual occurrence where over a million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras and thousands of gazelles graze their way from The Serengeti of Tanzania to The Masai Mara of Kenya. It’s nothing but instinct that drives the animals towards the fertile soil of the Mara to feed. I got to see The Great Migration during my time in Tanzania and to see the sheer scale of animals in transit is a phenomenal sight.
DK Grand Safari’s Top Tip: No matter what month you travel, you will witness the great migration at one of its many stages. However, from late July to Mid August, wildebeest river crossings are pretty much guaranteed.
4. A Mother Giving Birth
A mother giving birth is one of the most rare and special sights you can see on safari. Your guide would be sure to keep you at a very safe distance, as mothers would be in an incredibly protective and territorial state of mind.
DK Grand Safari’s Top Tip: The best time to see birthing would be between January and February in The Serengeti, when thousands of wildebeest are born each day. Ironically, these months are also the best time to see a kill as well. The hunting of young wildebeest by large cats is part of nature, and during the few weeks of calving season, you’re sure to see some magnificent kills, especially from the agile cheetahs.
5. Pride of Lions basking on a rock
This sight is one of the most endearing things you might see on safari and fortunately; it’s quite a common one. I remember seeing pride of about three lionesses and 6 lion cubs, all sprawling across a collection of rock boulders. The lionesses were lazing in the sun and the cubs were playing. It was the real-life Lion King moment everyone hopes to see on safari.
6. A post-kill feed
It’s not one for the faint hearted, but a post-kill feed is all part of the great circle of life. Animals come from far and wide to take a piece of the kill, so you can expect to see a quite a crowd developing around the kill. The post-kill feed I witnessed in The Serengeti was hard to watch, as it was a baby-giraffe being eaten by hyenas. The guide told us the baby giraffe had probably been separated from its mother and was an easy target for the preying hyenas. It broke my heart at the time, but it was still an incredible thing to see on safari.
7. A mother with her young
Of all the incredible things you might see on safari, fortunately this one is quite common. Any safari animal with her young is an adorable and heart-warming sight, but I thought that seeing baby elephants was particularly special. It’s important that the mothers don’t feel threatened by the safari jeeps, so the drivers will be sure to keep a safe distance from mothers and their young.
8. A herd of elephants
Seeing just one elephant is spectacular, but seeing a whole herd of them is breathtaking. During my time in Tanzania I stayed at The Four Seasons Serengeti, which is built overlooking an elephant’s watering hole. Every morning over breakfast we would see a herd of 10-12 elephants at the watering hole including baby elephants and the matriarch of the group. It was such a special thing to watch.
9. Two animals mating
For most, mating rituals are only ever seen on a David Attenborough documentary. But imagine witnessing this in real life? The annual rut (mating season) in East Africa takes place between May and July following the rainy season when animals have can feed on lush, healthy greens.
10. Gorilla Trekking
There aren’t many other wildlife encounters that can match being face to face with wild mountain gorillas; Africa’s larges apes. Sadly, they’re on the brink of extinction and are only found in Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo. The only way to get to these beautiful creatures is by trekking in their humid rainforest habitats on an organised gorilla-trekking safari. You’ll need to be fairly fit and in good health, as gorillas can pick up human diseases. Choose from a 30-minute stroll or a full day adventure.
11. A Bird’s Eye View Safari from a hot air balloon
Possibly the most spectacular way to see wildlife on safari is by gliding over everything in a hot air balloon. I got to embark on a sunrise safari hot air balloon ride in The Serengeti and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We glided over planes, rivers and trees and got to look down on the animals without disturbing them. Book your hot air balloon ride during the great migration and you might be lucky enough to fly over thousands of running wildebeests.
Writing this post made me feel incredibly nostalgic, and strangely even a bit emotional as I remembered all of the once-in-a-lifetime moments from my safari trip. No two days are ever the same on safari, and venturing into the unknown wondering what you might discover that day is the ultimate adventure.
What to Pack on a Safari
If you’re heading off on your own safari adventure, make sure all of these essential items make it into your suitcase.
- Khaki and natural-coloured clothing
- Long sleeve jackets for those cool early mornings
- Durable trainers or walking shoes
- A hat
- A sports bra for ladies
- Loose fitting, long trousers for the evenings
- A camera
- A long range or telephoto lens
- Suncream (ideally with bug repellent)
- Mosquito repellent with 50% deet
- A portable charger for your phone and camera (you’ll be using them a lot and may not have access to any plugs)
- A waterproof bag to protect electronics from water and dust
About DK Grand Safaris
DK Grand Safaris is a unique five star-rated safari outfitter offering high-end professional safaris and tours at affordable prices. Customised safari packages include private, family and holiday vacation packages as well as honeymoon adventures in East Africa. Their travel experts are on hand to help customise a bucket list safari trip like no other.
What did you think of my ‘things you might see on safari’ post? Are you dreaming of your first safari, or like me, dying to go back and experience another?
If you’ve felt inspired by this post, please leave me a comment in the box below x
Disclaimer: This things you might see on safari post has been sponsored by DK Grand Safaris. All views are my own.
Here are a few extra shots from my incredible Safari in The Serengeti, Tanzania