How to choose a safari

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July 19, 2018

How to choose the right safari for you

It’s a trip that dreams are made of. Gliding over the Ngorongoro Crater at sunrise, discovering the lost tribes of the Afar region in Ethiopia or walking with a Massai warrior through his homeland. By joining our tribe in curating your African safari adventure you’ll discover a face of Africa that most visitors will never meet.

Your ultimate African safari is much more than a holiday or a quick escape. This journey will be remembered, relived and thought of fondly for many years to come. Therefore it has to be perfect.

Though you’ve seen myriads of pictures and videos of African wildlife, it doesn’t come close to being physically enveloped by the bush. To see those animals with your own eyes, grazing, stalking with you perched on a private safari truck, breathing the unpolluted air of the bush and sipping on a gin and tonic is a feeling that no picture or video can truly capture.

Safaris in Africa aren’t cheap, so it’s important that you select your safari according to your tastes and preferences. Being unfamiliar with the lodges, locations and reserves complicates the decision and not many safari goers realize that there are a few distinctly different African safari experiences to be had. Before you book on a whim, make sure you answer these four questions to guarantee you the safari that you’ve been imagining.

Exotic locations make special occassions. Fine dining bush style.

Looking for the wow factor in Africa?

Have a real adventure, sleep out under the stars.

What is your budget?

As with any trip or event, it is important to decide on your budget first. This will determine the type of safari you’ll book in the end. While budget travel is a fun way of experiencing most countries, the African safari is slightly different. Since you’re travelling far to see the Big Five, it might be a good idea to save up and do it properly.

The four and five star safari camps are usually worth the splurge; as all activities, three to five course meals, wake-up calls and afternoon tea tend to be included in the price. These camps are situated all over the more remote southern African countries where the wildlife numbers are high and reserves are massive. Game drives can be tailored and there will be fewer guests on the vehicle and fewer vehicles in the reserve at one time. Special activities like night drives and bush dinners are also more plausible at four and five star camps.

Are you looking for a child friendly safari?

If you have never visited Africa, The Great Migration should be your first choice, unbelievable.

Early morning and sunsets are the best time to view game.

Are you taking your kids?

If you want your children to experience the African bush and its inhabitants with you, then it’s important that you find an appropriate safari for them before considering your own preferences. Not all safari camps allow children. Some camps have more than one lodge, welcoming the kids to the main lodge while excluding them from the more remote bush camps. Certain lodges have age restrictions.

If you want to do a remote, tented camp safari that welcomes children, you’ll be looking at a smaller amount of options. Some lodges are also better equipped for children, offering them a mini game ranger experience, participation packs and specially tailored activities. It’s also a good idea to look into child minding services should you want to indulge in a romantic sunset game drive or dinner.

What do you want to see?

This might seem like a trivial question, but it remains a very important one. Do you want to tick the Big Five off your list, watching lion stretch and a rhino prod through the bushes? Some reserves have higher populations of certain animals, so list your personal top five too.

Perhaps you’re more interested in the spectacular shows that plains game can put up. Then the renowned Great Migration in the Serengeti and Masai Mara is your answer. Here you’ll see thousands of wildebeest and zebra crossing the endless plains, stampeding as they go.

Perhaps you’d much rather enjoy a peaceful safari break and take a more specialized route like bird watching. If the little things in life fascinate you, then there are few things more satisfying than spotting a rare and beautiful African bird with your binoculars. You don’t want game vehicles chasing to the nearby lion sighting while you’re doing this, so you’d most probably visit the quieter areas where there are less predators.

Conservation safaris, your chance to help protect wildlife. Photo Credit: Joe Pietersen | NkombeRhino.org

Ask about our child friendly safari's. An amazing experience for the whole family.

Escape the crowds, go on a walking safari.

Do you mind big crowds?

Some travellers, while they don’t enjoy crowded places in general, make peace with the touristy crowds when they travel, because the attractions make up for it. Some even enjoy the bustle of a big group of people all speaking different languages. Others prefer the quiet areas, as crowds take away from their experience.

In which category do you fall? Generally, wildlife sightings are best enjoyed in the smallest possible group. So if you want a leopard killing all to yourself, then the higher-end, more remote camps are your best option. There are few things as beautiful as driving out before sunrise, watching the African wild wake up and breathing in the crisp air without another human being in sight. Just you, your loved ones and the African bush.

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Having started off in public relations for travel companies, Richard Mellor realized he preferred writing about foreign lands to promoting them to journalists-and swapped sides. London-based, he chiefly covers less-trodden parts of Britain and Europe.

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