It was time for us to leave Duba Plains for our next destination, Zarafa Camp; our second Great Plains Conservation camp. We headed for the airstrip for a short ride over the delta. Zarafa is situated right on the water, which made the animal viewing very interesting.

Out of the airplane, we met our guide, Donald. After unloading, we were off to the camp. The camp managers Michael (British) and his wife Anica (South African) warmly greeted us with a cool drink and introductions. We knew we were going to have a great time here!

The layout of Zarafa Camp is similar to Duba Plains, in that the lodges are tents and the pathways are all sandy dirt. Our tent happened to be the farthest away, which gave us daily exercise! The tent was open on all four sides, making the interior cooler.

Mornings at Zarafa

Sometimes, we do not want to get up early for morning drives. We do take some mornings off to get more rest to help the back. Sleeping in sometimes is not easy with all the early noise of the birds and animals.

Breakfasts are served hot in the main area every day. We pre-order breakfast, so we can get an early start on game drives. Cool lunches are served communally, buffet style.

Game drives can happen to find surprising animal activity! All havoc can breakout from nowhere, at any time, anywhere! Animals can be expected to do the unexpected. Or, they can do nothing. We saw leopards and lions doing what they do best. Sleep!

Bloody Mary bar on Zarafa morning game drive
Our favorite part of the morning game drive is Bloody Mary’s with all the fixings!
A leopard in Zarafa taking a nap in the shade
A leopard in Zarafa taking an afternoon siesta!
Hippo sighting on Zarafa safari
Angry hippo warning!

Safari Tip: Before you go to bed, make sure everything is ready to go in the morning. Charge your camera and phone batteries. You will be pretty fuzzy in those early hours, even with coffee!

Clothing on Safari

No one tells you this when you sign up for an African safari, “You really need to buy yourself safari clothes!” You will be in open trucks with or without a top! The trucks have no heating or air conditioning.

There are a number of places to find safari gear, but I will suggest you use because they are guaranteed. I have never returned anything. We have purchased hats, shirts, slacks and accessories from them. The Tilley gear is still in great condition after twenty years. The khaki fabric is perfect for safari, as it is wrinkle, stain, dirt resistant and COOL. There is a reason to buy Tilley gear for safari, because it works!

I have seen people on safari in tank tops, short shorts and flip flops. This type of clothing is OK for the beach, but it can put you at risk of injury and insect harm. Khaki brown, green, gray or natural colors are used because it looks like the earth, rocks, trees or bushes to the animals. The worst two colors you could ever pick are red or blue. The animals can see you, and the flies love to bite anything that is blue!

Please, wear real boots or safari shoes to protect your feet. I wear an all-leather hiking shoe with tread on the bottoms. Safari hats are a necessity. I like mine because I can hide all my hair under it, and it will shield me from the sun, wind and rain.

Shirley using Lense On! to take pictures on Zarafa safari
Shirley in safari clothes.

Every camp has different methods of washing and drying clothes. The higher-end camps do have regular washing and drying machines. Remote areas have lesser equipment and a laundry line.

All camps will do your laundry, but not all camps will do your underwear. Be sure and pack some detergent to do personal laundry just in case!

Camps do lose your clothing sometimes. Put your name on all your shirts, pants, or anything else that might get lost. Put your name and address on your safari notebook! They try to keep everyone’s laundry separate, but loss does happen.

Afternoons at Zarafa Camp

After lunch, we always go back to our tent to rest or sleep. During the afternoons, I catch up on my writing, check the cameras and batteries, email and laundry.

All camps have limited electrical outlet conversions. It is a good idea to take your own electrical set ups. Some camps have internet or WiFi, but check to see if your camp has that feature. There is no WiFi in the truck. Charge your camera and phone batteries in your room.

After years of African safari photography, I can tell you from experience, do not take a computer on safari. There are weight and security issues you will not want to address. Take extra high capacity digital cards in a secure case.

After the afternoon rest, we are up at three o’clock pm and back down to the main area for ‘Tea Time’.

The afternoon game drives can be hit or miss. The animals in these particular areas are much like Noah’s Ark. There is every kind of animal here, but usually only two of them. The area is quite large and the animals are really spread out, with the photos opportunities sparse. There are plenty of lions, elephants and impalas.

The time of year we were there was the third week of March. It was quite hot during the day with highs of 96 degrees. The tents are not air-conditioned. Even the animals retreat to the shade of the trees and bushes. There was no rain, and the peat bogs were on fire with the production of methane gas.

Pride of Selinda lions playing on safari
We enjoyed watching the huge Selinda Pride play, chasing each other and rolling around. They are great entertainment!

Evenings at Zarafa Camp

The highlight of most evening game drives are the safari sundowners. It is a great relief to get out of the truck and walk close around. The guides take great care to make sure the area is clear of predators, so we will not be dinner!

Evening game drives are the best done in a boat at sunset! After driving all over hills, ruts, and water in a truck all morning, it is a wonderful relief to take a smooth and refreshing sunset cruise with cocktails!

Water lilies!
Zarafa boat cruise sunset
Zarafa sunset over the water, photo by Shirley R. Kleppe

After the evening game drives, we went back to our tent, showered and changed out of our safari clothes.

Later, we gathered around the fire pit for drinks and lively conversation with everyone to catch up on the day’s events. Sometimes, the camp will have a deck BBQ, which is always enjoyable.

Outdoor deck fire pit at Zarafa Camp.

The afternoon before you leave camp, start packing. Take inventory to make sure you have not lost anything.

My bags on safari consist of:
1. Huge, heavy-duty brown fabric duffel bag that holds all my clothes and extra camera equipment.
2. Black roll along bag that has the 300mm lens and camera equipment.
3. Shoulder camera bag with three camera bodies.
4. Huge tote bag with everything else!

When it is time to move on, take plenty of photos of your camp, the camp managers, and write down their names. Take some great photos of yourselves and your guide!

Steve, Shirley and Zarafa safari guide.

Thank you! We had a great time, Zarafa!

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