Safari in Africa
Undoubtedly one of Africa's biggest highlight!
Africa still features all the draws that brought travellers to its shores; exceptional wildlife, superb guiding and service, multiple activities and seclusion (in some of the parks anyway)! With so many countries and parks offering a fantastic safari experience, it can be quite an overwhelming choice, especially if it is your first safari. A lot of the choice will be dependent upon the dates, budget and experience you are looking for but if you are just exploring options initially, please see the below information for safaris in both East and Southern Africa to give you an idea of the variation.
Your first safari to Africa?
In Africa, the most renowned safari destinations are in East and Southern Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Each country offers a very different experience in terms of its landscape, animal species, guiding, activities and overall experience.
Kenya and Tanzania are great countries to head to if you want to combine some time on the beach with your safari. These countries are also home to the great wildebeest migration which is an incredible pilgrimage of around 2 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras. This is an amazing spectacle, especially as the predator interaction surrounding the wildebeest is so good. East African safaris are probably one of the most authentic as most of the camps are tented suites with basic but comfortable furnishings and ensuite bathrooms.
Zambia and Zimbabwe are more specialist destinations in terms of a safari experience. Of course, it is possible for people to go to these countries for a first time safari, but the guiding and activities are somewhat focused on more experienced travellers. For example, South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is the founding destination for a walking safari. Although a walking safari is exhilarating (as you are on foot and therefore much more vulnerable), the experience is more focused on the smaller features of a safari such as the footprints, the smells and the plants etc. For your first safari, a game drive is the best way to see the bigger game as you can speed through the park.
Botswana is a wonderful destination for a safari but it is one of the most expensive. For those looking for a ‘wow factor’ and don’t mind paying the price, then Botswana is a must-do destination for your first time safari. The most famed destination is the Okavango Delta and righly so – geologically formed by the depression between two lateral plate rifts, this ecosystem was formed millions of years ago and once allowed the floodwaters from the Angolan Highlands to flow to what was Africa’s largest internal lake, Lake Makgadikgadi (the pre-cursor to the now-present salt pans).
What safari activities do you want to do?
Game drives in 4x4 vehicles dominate the African safari and almost every safari camp offers them. That said, the details of the game drive can vary. For example, some camps have open-sided vehicles which means there are no windows, making it a very exciting experience, especially when you are close to animals! Other safari camps, especially those who are on a private safari travelling across the country to several destinations, will be in a closed vehicle. These are still 4x4 safari Landrovers, but they have doors and windows and the roof usually pops up so that you can stand up on the seat and look out and take photographs. Most safari vehicles have a maximum of 6 or 7 guests at one time, but some camps, especially more exclusive and photography-driven camps, limit the numbers to 4 per vehicle.
There are many parks that offer alternative safari activities, including boat safaris, walking safaris, night safaris, horse-back safaris, camel safaris, helicopter rides and fly camping. These activities are limited to specific destinations so if you are looking for a more varied or active safari, then let us know and we can suggest where to go.
Walking safaris – one of the ultimate ways to experience the bush, a walking safari allows you to “feel” the environment with all your senses. While it may not provide the big game experience of vehicle safaris, this is definitely a must try experience. For more information on walking safaris, please click here.
Boating safaris – for some reason, many game species are less skittish if you approach them by boat (elephant in particular) and, as such, this can be a very peaceful and interesting way to experience safari.
Vehicle safaris – far and away the most employed manner of going on a safari in Africa, the vehicles that we recommend are either closed sided 4x4 vehicles or open sided 4x4. These are a very good way of being able to cover plenty of ground and, with animals becoming more and more used to seeing vehicles, you can often get very close indeed!
How long do you want on safari?
Whilst there is no specific time you should spend on safari, the average is between 3 and 6 nights depending on how many destinations you are combining. If you are heading to one park in Africa, we strongly recommend you stay a minimum of 3 nights to give you enough time to embrace the camp, its surroundings, its guides and staff. If you want a longer safari, then combining camps and moving on every 3 or 4 nights is a great option, giving you a variety of landscapes, accommodation and service.
How much will an African safari cost?
This is a question we get asked on a regular basis. Because a safari is dependent on so many factors (time of year, destination, camp, size of your party etc.), there is, annoyingly, no set price of a safari. Basic tented camps will start from around USD $400 per person per night. These tented camps will more often than not have running water, ensuite bathrooms, flushing toilets and comfortable beds and furniture so by no means are they ‘basic’. If you are looking for something more luxurious, with amenities such as swimming pools, free standing bathtubs, private verandas, private plunge pools and stunning interior designs, then of course, the price goes up quite rapidly – expect to pay around the $700-$1,000 per person per night mark for these types of properties.
What is the format of an African safari?
If you have never been on an African safari before, the format of it can seem a little alien compared to other holidays you’ve been on. Whilst on safari, you are usually woken up at the crack of dawn with a cup of tea or coffee, and invited on a morning game drive to catch the animals at their most energetic. When you return back to camp around midday, lunch is served and are able to have a couple of hours to snooze in your tent, relax by the pool, or just sitting in the mess tent taking in the beauty of the savannah. Around mid-afternoon, you are invited to go on a second game drive or activity which will be a couple of hours, before heading back to camp in time for sundowners around the fire before dinner. Some camps and destinations offer full day game drives, with a picnic lunch brought out on the road with you.