The preparation and anticipation of a safari can be almost as exciting as the safari itself. Below are the main questions you should ask yourself when beginning to plan for a safari. We suggest you take some time to read through these questions and think about, or jot down, your responses to them. Then, once you have a better idea of your preferences, we can talk about how to match your interests and requirements to the destinations, accommodations, tours and activities that best suit your criteria.
When Is A Good Time Of Year To Go?
You will hear varying ideas about the timing of your trip, but keep in mind that people travel year round to Southern Africa and East Africa. Each season has its advantages, so if you have fixed dates for travel, chances are you will be able to have a great trip no matter where you are going. It is important to understand the seasonal trends and how they will affect your trip; but remember that weather is variable and so it is quite possible to go for days without rain during the peak of the rainy season, or have thundershowers in the middle of the dry season. The drier seasons are generally considered preferable for game viewing. Dry weather offers more reliable road conditions and in the winter months, milder daytime temperatures. Dry spells force game to congregate around the limited water sources, and sparser foliage makes the animals somewhat easier to find and see. While these are prime game viewing conditions, bear in mind that naturally, all accommodation enjoy their highest occupancy, and game reserves and parks endure more traffic, during these dry seasons. When considering smaller, more intimate, safari camps and lodges, it is necessary to book well in advance, particularly for travel from June through October.
What Kinds Of Activities Are Available? Safaris call for two sedentary skills well cultivated by most people: eating and sitting in a moving vehicle. If that sounds too passive, then consider incorporating a more unique safari activity, such as a walking safari.
What Is My Budget? This is one of the most important questions to consider when selecting a trip. While there are some travellers for whom cost considerations are not an issue, most of our guests want to work within a budget and have a specific price range in mind. This is an extremely important criteria in helping us select an appropriate safari for you. The adage, “you get what you pay for,” does hold true when planning a safari. There is a safari priced for just about everybody, but there are major differences in accommodation, services, transportation and food. It is important that you consider how much “roughing it” you are willing to do before you plan your safari. Whether you are part of an organised tour or are interested in a tailor-made tour. An experienced and qualified, specialty tour operator will be aware of the reputable and not-so-reputable safari companies, current prices as well as conditions in Africa that might impact on your trip.
What Is My Travel Style?
This is probably the least tangible of all the factors, but one of the most fun to determine. For example, are you the “cruise ship type” who only looks to un-pack once and be transported from one place to the next with little or no input as to what you see and do? Or are you more “hands on” and look to be more interactive when it comes to the planning of and participating in your safari?
The level of accommodation that you are expecting on safari is important to consider. Do you want pure luxury or 2-man dome tents or something in between? While this is very much a function of personal style, as well as budget, we prefer to design an itinerary with consistent levels of accommodation throughout. It is possible to combine different levels of accommodation on different parts of your trip; however we are adamant that you have the right expectations for each of the places you go. One of the most significant differences from one safari to another is in the degree of luxury, reflected of course in the price.
Who is travelling? The age range and makeup of your group should be taken into account. Some safari camps do not allow children under age 12. A family has a different requirement than a honeymoon couple. While some safaris and accommodation are child-friendly, keep in mind that a certain amount of quiet, concentration, patience, and immobility is required.
Small group scheduled safari or tailor-made safari? Most of our guests are well travelled and enjoy a combination of small group and independent travel. Group trips are generally no larger than 6 – 16 participants (depending on the itinerary), with minimum and maximum age limits and set departure dates. Tailor-made/custom travel is obviously much more flexible, allowing you to depart at any time, travel for as long as you wish, to the camps of your choice. While we call it tailor-made/custom travel there is always someone to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your safari camp or hotel, so even solo travellers can feel comfortable knowing that they will be well-looked after on the ground.
Road safari or fly-in safari? Travel by road or air is an important question to consider in selecting a trip. Sometimes both options are not available – so the decision is essentially made for you. Travel by air, while generally more expensive, is the most efficient means of transportation, transferring you between safari camps easily and with plenty of time to enjoy activities at both camps, which is why you are on safari after all! Generally the planes are small, so those with difficulties with small aircraft should plan their trips accordingly. Travel by road can be exhausting, covering considerable distances on dusty roads in safari vehicles and it is definitely time-consuming. Nevertheless, overland travel affords you the opportunity to see some of the countryside and local villages between destinations, perhaps giving you a more realistic glimpse into a day in the life of the people whose country you are visiting. For some travellers, this is the only way to go.
Guides and vehicles - We firmly believe that your safari guide is a critical component of the success of the overall safari experience. A great guide can make all the difference, and African Safaris Ltd endeavours to use the best guides available. East Africa is currently standardizing its guide requirements, while southern Africa has long been known for its lengthy and intensive guide training. In East Africa, you are likely to have the same guide throughout if travelling by road, which allows you to get to know him or her, and build upon each day's experiences. If you are flying or travelling in southern Africa, you will have guides from each camp who are thoroughly knowledgeable about the concessions or National Parks that they traverse on a daily basis. Safari guides each tend to have their own personal specialty or area of expertise so you can benefit from the diversity of knowledge that each of these guides will share with you. Vehicles in southern Africa are generally open 4WD land rovers or land cruisers, while most vehicles in East Africa are minivans with an opening roof hatch to allow you the best visibility this type of vehicle can offer. It is also possible to have a 4WD vehicle in East Africa, although this option is more expensive.