Big game hunting safari with an African Buffalo

If you’ve ever wanted to experience the sheer exhilaration of tracking and hunting a wild animal, a hunting safari is one to add to the bucket list. Hunting safaris are available throughout the African continent, but regulation on what can be hunted differ in each region.  A hunting safari is certainly not a cheap choice, but there are a range of options available so you can tailor it to suit your needs, preferences and wallet size.

Start by identifying  the type of game you would like to hunt, how much time you have to spare and the amount you are willing to spend.  If you want to visit a particular region then you choices may be limited by local policy on hunting. It is advisable to book your African hunting safari via a reputable agent and most agents advise clients to get their planning and booking underway up to 18 months in advance.  This is partly due to the limited hunting season, which differs in each African region, and partly due to the quotas on hunting certain species which have been put in place by African governments.

A fully packaged hunting safari works out the cheapest, with companies including meals, accommodation and all hunting fees in the price. First-timers tend to opt for a Plains Game Safari, which focuses on non-dangerous game such as kudu, zebra or springbok, and is a good introduction to the sport.  If you have prior hunting experience or are simply seeking more of a thrill, you should consider a Dangerous Game Safari. These are centred around fast and furious animals such as leopards, lions and hippos and are a real adrenaline rush. Other options include a Collectors Safari, which allows the chance to hunt rare species, and a Wingshooting Safari, which focuses on birds.

Hunters can expect an early start. A typical day will begin with a 5.30am wake-up call, followed by a quick breakfast and then on to the hunting vehicle. Hunters are assigned a Professional Hunter (PH), who acts as their guide and mentor throughout.  You will usually set off in a 4×4 to drive into the bush before switching to a foot hunt to adhere to the Fair Chase Hunting code. Refreshments will be provided by your PH throughout the day, and hunts can end at lunchtime or may continue on into the afternoon.

Take the time before you go to get up to speed on the lingo. The ‘stalk’ involves spending hours in an area known to be home to your ‘trophy’ , which is safari speak for the species you’re hunting.  Your PH will guide you through the ‘shooting position’, set up ‘shooting sticks’ (which are rifle rest to ensure a good aim) and talk you through when to take your shot. Once caught, you can pose for photos with your kill before it is taken back to the lodge.  It is passed on to a professional skinner who will skin it and prepare it for the taxidermist, who will get it ready for display.

Of course, a kill can’t be guaranteed, but many companies boast a high kill rate for those who take part. A hunting safari will generally last for at least a week, so there is a decent chance that you will have something to show for your efforts. Whether you catch something or not, you’re bound to make some lifelong memories.


Top Hunting Safari Destinations

Southern Africa:

South Africa is one of the primary regions for hunting because it has the largest number of species permissible to hunt.  The hunting season is year round and the most popular provinces are the malaria-free Eastern Cape and the Limpopo.

Namibia and South Africa are the only regions where hunting of all of the Big Five is permitted.  Namibia’s main season runs from February to November and much of the action takes place around The Caprivi Strip in the North.

The Okavango Delta and the Kalahari region are Botswana’s main hunting areas. Botswana’s season runs from April to September, with some bird (or ‘wing’) hunting available year round.

East Africa:

Four of the five big game animals can be hunted in Tanzania (elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard). The key hunting areas are well spread out across the Masai Land in the north, the Selous in the south, and the central and western regions.

West Africa:

Thanks to a more stable political climate, Benin in West Africa is one of the safest destinations on the continent. Lion hunting is permitted here and the main hunting area is in the north of the country, around the Burkina Faso border.

Central Africa:

The Central African Republic offers the chance to hunt Africa’s largest antelope – the Lord Derby Eland. The hunting areas are again spread out, through the central, eastern and northern parts of the country.


Hunting Safari Tips

– Ensure your chosen hunting outfitter has provided you with all of the necessary paperwork.  This differs per country, but generally you will require a hunting license, a hunting permit and a weapon and ammunitions permit.

–  Watch out for hidden fees which might not be included in your package, such as trophy fees which must be paid on every animal you killed or wounded.

– Clothing is important and the classic green, khaki and neutral shades commonly associated with safari wear are more than just a fashion choice. Check what shades are recommended depending on the territory you will be covering.

-Dressing for the climate is crucial. African winters can be hot during the day but they can also be wet, and mornings and nights will definitely be cold. Pack layers and stick to long sleeves and legs to protect from the cold and the sun. Decent footwear is also a must.

– You will need to be reasonably fit for a safari break, as the days are long and you may end up covering a lot of land on foot.


Hunting Safari Resources

Kowas Hunting Safaris offer affordable hunting packages in Namibia

Cruise Safaris offer hunting in South Africa

JT Safari offer hunting trips across Africa

Adventure Unlimited are speciaists in sporting travel and a great resource for those planning a hunting safari

Africa Hunting is an online hunting community that provides tips and advice on African hunts.