What to Expect on an African Safari

What to Expect on an African Safari

Embarking on an African safari is a dream for many nature enthusiasts, offering an opportunity to witness the incredible wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes of this vibrant continent. From the moment you arrive to your first night in town, getting around, engaging in thrilling activities, finding the perfect accommodations, and experiencing the magical sundowners and bush dinners, this guide will walk you through what to expect on your unforgettable safari adventure.


As you touch down in Africa, a sense of anticipation fills the air. You'll first need to go through immigration and customs procedures, ensuring a smooth entry into the country. Depending on which country you are arriving in, visas can be obtained online before entering. After passing through customs and collecting any baggage, you will be greeted by your tour operator you will take you to your first destination.

First Night in the Town

Depending on the time of your arrival, you may be spending a night in town before heading out into the bush. This is an excellent opportunity to relax, acclimate to the local culture, and immerse yourself in the African way of life. Enjoy a delicious dinner, explore local markets, and perhaps even witness traditional performances or live music that showcases the rich heritage of the region.

For safaris that explore the Serengeti, you will typically spending your first night in Arusha, Tanzania.  Arusha is a vibrant city located in the northern part of Tanzania, East Africa. It serves as the gateway to some of the most iconic destinations in the region, including the Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

A spectacular view of Arusha from the Gran Melia Rooftop - a premiere accommodation option in the city.

Nestled at the foothills of Mount Meru, Arusha is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. It offers a unique blend of urban conveniences and a close connection to nature, making it a popular base for travelers embarking on safari adventures.

The city itself is bustling with energy, featuring bustling markets, colorful local shops, and a rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the vibrant Maasai markets, where they can find traditional crafts, jewelry, and artifacts. Arusha is also home to museums and cultural centers that provide insights into Tanzania's history and traditions.

From Arusha, travelers can embark on thrilling safari experiences, witnessing the "Great Migration" of wildebeests in the Serengeti or going on game drives in the Tarangire National Park, famous for its large elephant herds. Additionally, Arusha serves as a starting point for those aiming to conquer the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

Getting Around

When it comes to getting around during your safari, you'll have two main options: driving or flying.


Game drives are the backbone of any safari experience, and they typically involve driving through national parks, game reserves, or private concessions. Skilled safari guides will navigate the rugged terrain in open vehicles, providing you with the best opportunities to spot Africa's iconic wildlife up close.

Safari vehicles are equipped with a roof that can be popped up, providing access to awe-inspiring views.


For those seeking to maximize their time in the wilderness, internal flights offer a convenient and efficient means of travel between different safari destinations. With breathtaking aerial views, you can quickly reach remote areas, minimizing travel time and maximizing your wildlife encounters.

If you would like to learn more on internal flights while on a safari, check out our post internal flights for safaris in Tanzania.


A safari is not just about spotting animals; it's about engaging in a variety of thrilling activities that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Game Drives

Game drives are exhilarating adventures that take place in various wildlife-rich regions, such as national parks, game reserves, and private concessions. Led by experienced guides, game drives offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with Africa's magnificent wildlife.

During a game drive, visitors traverse diverse landscapes, including open savannahs, dense forests, and winding riverbanks, in specially designed vehicles. These vehicles provide excellent visibility and are equipped with features such as elevated seating and open sides, allowing for unobstructed views and the perfect vantage point to observe and photograph animals.

A female lion getting ready to hunt is an incredible sight to capture when on a safari.

The heart-pounding anticipation builds as you venture into the wilderness, with each moment holding the promise of incredible wildlife sightings. From majestic elephants roaming the plains to graceful giraffes browsing on treetops, from prides of lions lazing in the sun to elusive leopards resting in the trees, the possibilities are endless.  To learn more about animals you may see on your safari, check out our post on the wildlife on safaris.

Guides use their extensive knowledge of animal behavior and tracking skills to locate and interpret wildlife movements, ensuring that you have the best chances of encountering a diverse range of species. They provide informative commentary, sharing fascinating insights about the animals, their habitats, and the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

Night Game Drives

For a unique and thrilling experience, night game drives allow you to explore the African wilderness after dark. Equipped with spotlights, you'll venture out in search of elusive nocturnal creatures. Keep your eyes peeled for the mesmerizing eyes of a leopard glowing in the darkness or the secretive movements of a hyena on the prowl.

Balloon Safari

Rise above the savannah and embark on a breathtaking balloon safari. As the sun begins to ascend, you'll float gently over the expansive landscapes, taking in panoramic views and witnessing wildlife from an entirely different perspective. This serene and surreal experience is sure to leave you in awe of Africa's natural beauty.

Many safari-goers fondly remember the balloon safari as the pinnacle of their trip.

Maasai Boma

Immerse yourself in the vibrant Maasai culture by visiting a traditional Maasai boma, a village inhabited by this iconic tribe. Engage with Maasai warriors, learn about their traditions, participate in traditional dances, and even witness the mesmerizing jumping competition. It's a unique opportunity to gain insights into the rich cultural heritage of East Africa.

A Maasai Boma is a fantastic way to experince the Maasai culture.


A range of accommodations awaits you on your safari, catering to various preferences and budgets. From luxurious lodges to tented camps, each offering its unique charm and comfort, you'll find a perfect haven amidst the wilderness.

For a more detailed overview of where you can stay during your safari, check out our post on the places you can stay on a safari.

Safari lodges frequently feature landscape-facing pools as part of their amenities.

Sundowners and Bush Dinners

Immerse yourself in the enchanting tradition of sundowners and bush dinners on your African safari, where the setting sun paints the sky in vibrant hues and you indulge in refreshing drinks while surrounded by the awe-inspiring wilderness. As the day transitions into a star-studded night, gather around a crackling bonfire and savor a culinary feast that showcases the diverse flavors of Africa. With each sip and every bite, you'll be captivated by the sensory symphony of nature and the shared camaraderie, creating cherished memories that celebrate the beauty and tranquility of the safari experience.

Few experiences on your safari can match the romantic ambiance of a bush dinner beneath the starry sky.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on an unforgettable safari adventure in Africa promises to captivate your senses and leave an indelible mark on your soul. From the warm welcome upon arrival and vibrant nights in local towns, to thrilling game drives, breathtaking balloon safaris, and immersive cultural experiences, every step of the way reveals the raw beauty and majestic wildlife of the continent. Whether driving through rugged terrains or soaring above in scenic flights, each moment brings you closer to the untamed wonders of Africa. Amidst the wilderness, a range of accommodations awaits, offering comfort and charm, while sundowners and bush dinners envelop you in the sensory symphony of nature. An African safari adventure is an awakening of the spirit, a connection to primal wonders, and an opportunity to create cherished memories that celebrate the beauty and tranquility of the safari experience.  To learn more about booking a safari with CloudSafaris, check out our post booking with CloudSafaris.