Embarking on a wildlife safari is a coveted experience that can send your excitement levels through the roof days before you actually step out in the wild. Amid all that thrill of anticipating an adventure, it is important to prepare well for your outing. The right kind of preparation or the lack of it can make or break your safari experience. Here are a few pro tips to help you prepare for your maiden safari to make it a memorable one:
Figure Out the Best Time to Go
Most national parks in India are open nine months a year, closing down only during the monsoon when the tracks in the jungle become un-navigable. In this nine-month window too, the odds of spotting the exotic wildlife such as tigers, elephants, sloth bears is higher during certain months than others. The location of the national park is a decisive factor here. For instance, if you are planning a trip to Jim Corbett National Park, which is situated in the hills, the chances of spotting these animals are higher during the summer months, between March and June. On the other hand, in case of Ranthambore National Park or Bandhavgarh National Park, situated in hotter regions of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, months of February, March and October-December is ideal for a fruitful jaunt.
Pre-book Your Trip
The period when the big animals step out of their retreats to visit watering holes, catch preys and roam about is also the peak season that draws hoards of wildlife enthusiasts, so it always advisable to make prior bookings for your stay as well as the safari ride to make sure you are not left in the lurch on arriving at your destination.
Again this depends on the region you are travelling to as well as the season. In any case, it is a good idea to pack a light jacket to beat the early morning chill, a raincoat, loose clothes preferably in cotton to keep you comfortable through the day, a hat or a cap, sunscreen, sunglasses, and comfortable closed footwear, preferably walking shoes. Always choose clothes and wearables in neutral hues like beige, green or khaki over flashy colours that may attract unwarranted attention. Similarly, wearing flashy jewellery or strong fragrances is not recommended on a safari.
Invest in Gadgets Wisely
If you are embarking on a safari with a view to enrich your photo bank, a DSLR and a good lens are must-have because your smartphone camera won’t make the cut here. However, you don’t need to rush to make that kind of investment ahead of your first visit. Consider borrowing it from a friend. You could also rent it from a local vendor or online portals such as indiamart, cameraonrent, and rentwala. If you just want to soak up the experience of being out there in the wild, invest in a good pair of binoculars to spot animals in the distance. These, of course, you can buy right away.
Keep Some Cash Handy
A wildlife safari is all about going back to nature, which means you’ll need to mindfully break away from certain habits that have become a part of our contemporary lifestyles. One such thing is ditching card swipes and digital transactions for paying with actual cash. Make sure you keep enough cash handy to see you through your safari sojourn because the likelihood of being able to pay for water and other such necessities through digital wallets inside a national park is slim.
Get an Extra SIM Card
Cellphone connectivity and a natural setting don’t quite go hand in hand. For those who have a compulsive itch to click and upload at all times, getting an extra SIM card in imperative. Call up your hotel/resort to find out about the connectivity options in the area before settling on a service provider.
Pack in Advance and Be Well Rested
Safaris usually begin early in the morning, so you’ll need to start off your day well before the crack of dawn even. Make sure you pack everything you want to bring with you a day before, and get a good night’s sleep so that you have the energy to make the most of the long day of explorations ahead.
Follow the Rules
You expected to maintain certain decorum and follow a code of conduct during your ride such as not eating or littering around, not making any loud noises or screaming at animals to attract their attention, not getting off the vehicle to touch or get near the animals. Flouting these rules is no act of bravado and can cost you and your fellow travellers dearly. Remember, you are entering their habitat, gotta play by their rules.
Want to go? Read our recommendation for Best Places for Spotting a Tiger in India.