Planning a Safari

Choosing an African safari holiday can be daunting, even if you are an experienced traveler.

Which country should we visit? When is the best time to travel? How adventurous do we need to be? The questions are endless……

If you have not been on safari in Africa before, then we would urge you to read this page thoroughly. If you would prefer to talk through everything on the phone, we would love to hear from you on +44 (0) 1787 888590 and one of our specialists will be able to answer your questions and get you started. Alternatively, you can Contact Us via email.

The first and most important step is developing a reasonable idea of what kind of holiday you are looking for. We specialise in individually tailoring your holiday, starting with a completely ‘blank canvas’ and building an itinerary to suit your interests, requirements and budget. This gives you amazing flexibility, but does mean that we need your input from the start.

Basic Logistical Requirements

To begin with, key logistical information we will always ask you about will be:

1) when you wish to travel

2) how many of you are travelling (ages can be relevant)

3) how long you wish to travel for

If you have set dates of travel, then your destination options may be dictated by these dates, taking into account local seasons and game viewing conditions. However, if you are flexible on when you can travel, you can focus to begin with on what you wish to do and where you wish to visit, and we can then advise the best times to travel.

Detailed information on the seasons throughout Africa can be found in our general ‘When To Travel & Safari Seasons’ page, or through each individual country section.

Where to Visit

You may well already have a good idea on which country (or countries) you would like to visit. If you are not sure where you should visit, then there are several key things to consider which may help you decide. The time of year you are travelling could be a crucial factor, as could budget or specific interests. Our specialists are widely traveled across safari Africa and do not specialise in just one country or region. They can therefore talk you through what each country has to offer, and the differences between them. South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania do tend to be popular choices for ‘first safaris’ for various good reasons, but all the countries we feature can be viewed in depth via our Destinations page.

Holiday Priorities

When it comes to your holiday, you do not need to come to us with a specific plan, but having an idea of your holiday priorities is important.

For many of our customers their overwhelming priority is the safari experience and they choose to spend all their time in Africa exploring wilderness regions and wildlife sanctuaries. Our knowledge and expertise allows them to enjoy very diverse itineraries (sometimes combining more than one country) and we can cater for very varied interests. We usually don’t recommend ‘rushing’ on safari, so it is easy to fill two or three weeks on safari.

However, we also have customers who wish to prioritise relaxation, good food and sunshine ahead of an intensive safari experience. Beach holidays are widely available along the east coast of Africa and within the Indian Ocean Islands, often booked in combination with a wildlife safari, whilst  there are many other ways to bring diversity and relaxation to your trip. Self-drive exploration in South Africa and Namibia, cultural experiences, specialist activities (anything from rail journeys and botany to scuba diving and whale-watching) and sight-seeing in iconic destinations such as Victoria Falls or Cape Town can all be included as required.

You will need to consider how busy or relaxed you wish your holiday to be, how much safari you wish to include and which ‘non-safari’ activities appeal to you (if any). If your principal reason for travelling to Africa is to see the wildlife, then we would recommend a minimum of a week on safari.

You may also wish to consider whether you have any specific priorities in terms of safari activities or wildlife viewing (such as wanting to see the big cats, witnessing the famous ‘wildebeest migration’ or being keen to include some walking or horse riding). Detailed information on the different activities and experiences available across Africa can be found in our ‘Special Interest’ section.

Accommodation Requirements

Whether you spend three days or three weeks on safari, you will need to consider what level and style of safari accommodation you would prefer. Comfort levels vary from adventurous mobile tented camps to sophisticated luxury lodges, and whilst we would always encourage you to get as ‘close to nature’ as you feel comfortable with, everyone needs to enjoy their safari and sleep well at night! Please visit our ‘Accommodation on Safari’ section for detailed descriptions on all styles of safari accommodation.

In addition to thinking about comfort levels, you may also wish to consider what style of safari property would suit you. Camps and lodges vary greatly in terms of overall quality, size, exclusivity, management style, atmosphere and ethos. Do you generally prefer smaller and more intimate places to stay? How exclusive do you wish to be when game viewing, and how social do you wish to be at meal times? How important are aspects such as guiding, food and service? We appreciate that every safari camp or lodge is different, and that every customer has personal requirements and expectations, and our specialists will be able to guide you to the properties that will suit you best.

Budgeting for a Safari

Africa is generally expensive and whilst you may not know exactly how much you are prepared to spend, it is crucial that you have a rough idea of what is, or isn’t, possible. A very approximate price range for 10 – 14 days on safari, not including international flights, is between UK£5,000/US$6500 per person and UK£15,000/US$19,500 per person. Shorter safari holidays or ‘non-safari’ holidays can cost less. We appreciate budgets can change, just as interests and requirements develop, but in order to give relevant advice and make appropriate suggestions, we definitely need to have a rough idea of what you are happy to spend.

Whilst a tailor-made African safari is an expensive holiday, we would strongly argue that you do tend to get what you pay for (provided you get good advice when planning your trip). It is also worth mentioning that safari holidays are usually ‘fully inclusive’, with all meals, activities, house drinks, laundry, park fees and local transfers included, and there is usually very little ‘local expenditure’ required.

General

When considering the above factors, and your safari options in general, you may also wish to bear in mind the following:

  • The tourism industry in Africa is very developed and standards are high. You will probably be pleasantly surprised by the general quality of hosting, guiding, food and service that can be enjoyed in the middle of the African bush.
  • Value for money is a key component of any holiday, but we would advise you not to try and visit Africa ‘on the cheap’. Even if you spend more money than you would normally consider for a holiday, provided you get good advice it should be one of the best holidays you will ever take, with money extremely well spent.
  • Where five star accommodation is preferred, it can usually be provided (but not always with an international standard of ‘sophistication’). However, where more traditional tented camps are used, we often find guests feel more comfortable than they expected to, especially once they get used to it. It is crucial that you feel comfortable and secure on safari, but you may surprise yourself in terms of how adventurous you can be. Once you leave your ‘home comforts’ behind and spend a few nights in the wilderness, it becomes quite normal to sit around the camp fire in the evening, sleep under canvas, use a traditional ‘bucket’ shower and perhaps even wear the same ‘dusty’ safari trousers two or three days in a row! Many of us actually revel in the chance to get ‘back to nature’ and the more authentic safari camps offer a better chance to do this than ‘luxury lodges’. Our specialists can discuss different options with you in detail, but in general we would advise you to prioritise the overall safari experience ahead of pure comfort.
Summary

We genuinely tailor-make all our holidays for our customers, calling on a very wide range of safari products. It is therefore possible to build the perfect holiday for you based around your interests and requirements. You do not need to choose from a catalogue, or choose from a very limited number of safari options. You can travel for any duration of time, spend as long as you like on safari, be as active or adventurous as you choose, specify particular species you are keen on seeing, vary your accommodation options and combine a wildlife safari with a variety of other activities or attractions. If you are able to communicate your key interests and expectations to us, we can work with you to create your perfect safari experience.

What Next?

There is a vast amount of detailed information on this site from learning all about going on safari to exploring different countries, regions and safari properties. If you are planning a Family Safari or Honeymoon, those particular pages will be helpful. Ultimately though we would strongly advise you to contact us as early in the planning process as possible. No amount of web research can match speaking to our specialists, and it is fine to start the conversation with us even if you ‘don’t really know where to start’ (in fact it is arguably crucial to speak to us under those circumstances).

Please call us on +44 (0) 1787 888590 (during UK working hours) or email us via our Contact Us page. Our policy is always to listen to your requirements and offer expert advice accordingly, before moving on to make suggestions if you would like us to.