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There are a number of different experiences that can be had on safari to Africa and these are important to understand before trying to find the safari that fits you.
You have four basic questions to ask yourself:
What do we want to see?
How do we want to experience it?
What type of accommodation would we want?
How much do I want to spend?
What Do You Want to See? - Africa is a huge continent and has a tremendous variety of landscapes, vegetation, animals and birds plus a wonderful array of different people and cultures.
So the first thing is working out what type of thing you are looking to see, maybe watching the migration on the Serengeti Plains, trekking for gorillas in the jungles of Central Africa, doing game drives in an area that has a wonderful array of different species, walking in the bush and learning more about how the environment works or relaxing on one of Africa’s beautiful tropical beaches or islands, or maybe you are looking for a specific species of animal or group of animals, like primates, predators or birds these are just a few examples of what could be done. All of this has a bearing on where your safari should be.
How do you want to experience it? - For this question it is important to know a little about what options would be available so here is a brief idea of what type of activities are available but some are specific to certain areas and many overlap so you would have a range of different options within a certain area.
Game Drives - Bush walks - Bush Hikes - Canoeing - Night Drives - Balloon Safaris - Plane Safaris - Cultural Interactions with certain tribes - Backpacking - White Water Rafting - Helicopter Rides/transfers - Self Drive Safaris - Privately Guided Safaris - Specialist Photographic Safaris - Birding Safaris - Animal Tracking e.g Rhinos and Gorillas. Visiting historical sites - Houseboat trips - Fishing.
Privately Guided or not - When going on a safari having a private guide, knowledgeable in the area that you are travelling to, is a great enhancement to the safari experience and gives you the flexibility to plan your own day and to focus on the areas or animals that you enjoy without worrying about anyone else. The guiding element is of great importance in your safari and well worth spending the extra for this. Some people however prefer meeting new people at each camp and experiencing different bush knowledge that each guide has at the various camps.
If it is a first time safari, then you have the challenge that there is so much variety that it will be difficult to know what is best for you. All I can suggest is that for a first time safari have a look at some of the safari options we have designed already and see if anything there is something that might be of interest to you and then contact us and we can go through all the details with you and make sure we are getting you the right type of safari.
If you are planning your own safari my advice is don’t try and do too many destinations and for each destination spend a minimum of three nights. This will give you two full days in an area at least. Also bear in mind that transfers between camps can be long, we will advise the best way to do it, but try to focus your safari into countries and then areas of that country that are reasonably close to each other as you don’t want to spend a lot of your holiday time travelling between destinations and thereby missing out on time in the bush.
What type of accommodation would you want? - These are the basic types of camps that are available and these range from opulent luxury which are generally in private concession areas, down to a backpacking tent pitched in a sandy river bed and everything in between. Here are some basic categories of camps that will help in your planning.
Luxury Lodges - Luxury Lodges are generally constructed using bricks and have either thatch or metal roofs and would have a main central dining room and bar with a pool area, probably a spa/gym facility. The rooms in most cases would be separate buildings away from the main complex and typically have private views with their own balconies. They would be air conditioned and have bath, shower and toilet en-suite and sometimes this is duplicated outside the room for that private bath under the stars. The catering is of a very high standard and most diets will be catered for if notice is given of this.
Semi Permanent Camps - This style of camp is designed around the principal that the camp can be taken down and will in theory leave very little evidence of it ever being there. Most of these camps are on wooden platforms that are thatched and then with nice large walk in tents underneath that have en-suite facilities, for many of these you would battle to see the difference between this and a camp made with bricks and mortar and they are for the most part very comfortable and spacious.
Mobile Tented Camps - These are probably the best way to truly experience the African bush as you will feel so much more part of the environment as opposed to watching it from a grand stand, and of course your impact in the area so much less. These camps range in quality, but primarily it is based on the size of the tent ( most of these are walk in type tents ) and the facilities that are attached like your shower and toilet, and of course the quality of the bedding, catering and the number of staff in attendance.
Participatory Safari Camps - This type of camp requires you to get involved with some of the basic camp chores and even sometimes putting up the tents, it’s a great fun way to do the safari and is generally used when doing a backpacking safari, a canoe safari or an overland driving safari.
How much do you want to spend? -
Always a difficult question but this will definitely have a bearing on what type of camp you can go to and in some instances the areas that you can actually visit. To give you and idea, for your high end luxury lodges you would expect to pay between USD$1,500 and USD$2,000 per person per night. Semi permanent and Mobile would range from about USD$500 - USD$850 per person per night and then your more basic backpacking or participation type safari between USD$250 - USD$400 per person per night .
Also budget for your transfers between these camps and there are options of road transfers or scheduled flights or charter flights to do this and obviously the further apart the camps are the more expensive it gets.
Planning A Safari