For many travellers, the word “Africa” is synonymous with “safari”. Many people book a trip to one of Africa’s many beautiful countries in order to enjoy the open plains that are home to vibrant wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
If long days spent discovering nature under the African sun appeal to you, then there are a few thoughts to consider when deciding the best safari holidays to book now. Here are six top tips to help you choose the perfect destination, lodge, and experience.
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Check The Reputation Of The Company
There are many reasons to research the reputation of the company that will be responsible for your safari experience.
Firstly, ethical and sustainable tourism is especially important in the safari industry. Most lodges prioritize conservation, and it’s this principle of conservation that adds to their positive reputation. Many lodges are responsible for wildlife conservation in their area, as well as natural sustainability. For the sake of future safari experiences, it’s important to support companies that focus on responsible tourism.
The second major reason to check the reputation of the company is that it will have a direct effect on your experience. In the same way that you would check the reviews on the home of an apartment, so too is it important to make sure that the company has positive reviews under its belt.
Be Sure Of The Quality Of The Accommodation
One of the best parts about a safari holiday is the diverse accommodation choices on offer. You can be sure to find accommodation that suits your budget and preferences.
The main types of accommodation options include:
- Lodges – these consist of a permanent structure that can either be self-catering or all-inclusive. Although smaller than a hotel, they typically include ensuite bathrooms, swimming pools, and common areas.
- Tented safari camps – these comfortable tents are large enough to walk around and are furnished with proper beds and include bathrooms with toilets that flush.
- Mobile tented camps – these furnished tents are transported and set up in remote locations in the reserve. These can vary in levels of luxury, but in the majority of cases, there is no running water, thereby offering a more rugged and authentic experience.
- Private houses – there are private houses located on reserves that open their homes to guests. These homes have en-suite bathrooms, and living areas and are normally incredibly comfortable.
Each accommodation option has its pros and cons, but all promise a memorable experience by serving as a home base in the bush. With this being said, make sure that you check the quality of the camp, lodge, or private house before making a reservation.
At the end of the day, you’ll want your accommodation to prioritize your safety and comfort.
While we’re talking about safety and comfort, don’t forget to consider travel insurance for your trip.
Knowledge Of Your Guide/Leader
When booking your safari, you’ll have the option of booking a self-drive experience or a guided one. While any experience in the African bush is bound to be unforgettable, if you want an especially remarkable holiday, then take the time to do some research on your guide or leader.
Safari guides undergo extensive training that includes in-depth knowledge of wildlife and natural surroundings, first aid, and tracking. Often, your guide will lead you through the bush on a walking safari, or drive your vehicle to various sights. You can also expect them to share golden nuggets of information along the way.
If you book a guided experience, then you’ll be spending a lot of time under the supervision of your guide. Each guide has their own personality, sense of humor and area of passion. It’s not a bad idea to get to know the guides beforehand to help you make your decision.
Handy tip: It is customary to tip your guide at the end of your experience. Each safari company will have guidelines on what is expected for gratuity. We were provided this for our trek in Nepal as well and it’s invaluable for budgeting.
Size Of The Group
Your safari holiday will largely depend on the size of your group. Private safari experiences are renowned for being a more intimate and specialized experience. On the other side of the coin, private tours can be more expensive.
This is just one way that the size of your group can affect your safari holiday. Another way that the size of your group will influence your experience is on the guided game drives. Lodges normally have a maximum number of guests permitted on each vehicle for safety reasons, and this can limit the options available if you’re on a budget.
Assessing the size of your group is an important factor to consider as it will affect both your budget and your experience.
Time Of Year
Another important factor to consider before booking your safari holiday is the time of the year that you plan to visit.
Safari in Africa is typically split up into two main seasons – summer and winter. As a general rule of thumb, the dry season promises better animal sightings as the bush is less dense and it is more difficult for animals to hide. During the wet season, the bush is thicker and it is more challenging to view the wildlife.
Another reason that the time of year is important is based on animal migration patterns. For example, the Great Migration in Africa refers to the mass movement from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains to Kenya’s Maasai Mara which happens between May and December each year. This migration route will affect the animals that are seen, and where you should be to see them.
Which Animals/Birds You Want To See
While the whole of Africa teems with wildlife, different areas of the continent boast special sightings of various animals and birds. If you have any specific interest in a particular species, then it’s worth researching where best to see these animals. Very like Africa, we opted to go to the Kinabatangan River specifically to see Asian pygmy elephants – so be careful selecting what you’d like to try and see – it will seriously affect where you should go!
In addition to the famed Big Five, Africa is also home to countless other species of wildlife and birds. For example, South Africa is also known for the African leopard, endangered rhino, buffalo, and wild dogs. Botswana is known for the Cape buffalo, Kenya is loved for lion sightings, Tanzania promises a high chance of leopard sightings, and zebra are a favorite sighting in Zimbabwe.
You’re in for a treat regardless of which destination you choose to visit. However, it’s always smart to do a bit of research in order to avoid disappointment.
Final Thoughts On The Best Safari Holidays
Very little comes close to the amazing freedom, wonder, and intimacy that makes up a safari holiday in Africa. While each destination promises a special experience, the following tips will help you curate the perfect getaway.
All that’s left to do is make your final decision, book your tour, and pack your khaki gear. Don’t forget to charge your camera batteries, because you’re sure to see a sighting that you want to share with loved ones back home.
More Travel Tips from ASocialNomad
- Tips for Socialising Abroad
- How Travel Has Changed
- Tips to Make World Travel More Fun
- Choosing the Right Technology for your Travel
- How to Find the Best Safari Holidays
- Tips on Travel Research
- Drinking Tap Water While Traveling
- How to Get Proof of Onward Travel
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