First time on safari?
Don't worry, we're here to guide you. Like many people, an African safari may top your bucket list, prompted perhaps by a life-long love of wildlife or watching films like Out of Africa, but the sheer abundance of choices can be overwhelming. That's why we've cherry picked some of our favorite itineraries to give you a thrilling taste of this beautiful part of the world, with plenty of great game viewing and phenomenal guides who will bring the bush to life. Below, our Africa experts also share a few essential tips to ensure your trip is everything it should be.
For your peace of mind, our experts have slept in the beds, paddled the canoes, hiked, driven and flown all over Africa (it's a tough job but somebody's got to do it) so when they recommend a property or activity you know they've experienced it first hand. Whether you're traveling alone, with your partner, with family or friends, they'll customize an African adventure you'll treasure forever, and leave you wanting to return again and again.
Can I plan my own safari?
Great review sites like TripAdvisor have eliminated the guess work traditionally involved in finding the best camps and lodges. International and regional flights are also easy enough to book online. However, do bear in mind that navigating the often complex business of getting from place to place while in Africa may prove challenging—booking in-country bush flights needs a bit of insider knowledge. Ending up on one side of the Masai Mara when your camp is half a days’ drive away won’t make you popular with your traveling companions!
Whether you work with a specialist for all or part of your trip, here are a few important questions to ask:
Has your specialist been to Africa? How well do they really know the countries and activities you’re considering?
Do they offer the style and quality of safari you want?
Would you enjoy working with them? (A look at the ‘about' page should offer some clues.)
How long has the operator been in business and how do they make money?
Does the company offer you financial protection?
Does it support responsible tourism?
What do previous guests have to say about their experiences?
Will you have 24/7 support while you’re on safari?
How to choose your safari tour operator
If the DIY route isn't for you then a tour operator is the way to go. Here are our top tips for choosing the right travel company for you:
Get recommendations: Word of mouth referral is the most powerful way to source the best
Be open-minded about where to go: Any country done well will be amazing but some require bigger budgets than others
Speak to past guests: Get the warts and all lowdown from anyone who’s done a similar style of safari, whether it’s a family, riding, mobile, etc.
Travel to Africa
Once we've designed your itinerary, we'll advise you about which flights you need. If you have a travel agent you trust and have used before, great. If not, we'll introduce you to a flight consultant experienced with Africa travel who'll book flights on your behalf. Minimise stress and maximize value using these tips:
Know that most carriers issue flight schedules 11 months in advance
Price-shop across airlines and vendors
If you depart from the U.S. and stop in the UK or Europe, consider splitting the journey into two distinct legs
Have flight miles? Use them!
Send us your flight itinerary before you book
The most efficient mode of transport in Africa, given the vast distances, is flying. Your safari is likely to include several light aircraft flights to save you hours of driving. Often these flights will be with other travelers, although we can arrange direct private charter flights if you prefer. Either way, these airborne taxis provide a great way to soak up the spectacular landscapes. The light aircraft, flown by expert bush pilots, adhere to the highest international standards and have a long track record of safety.
You're spoiled for choice when it comes to the many ways you can see Africa on land, water and by air. If your idea of a good time is fine dining and chandeliers in the bush, we have you covered. If you're overwhelmed by the daily grind and long to pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere, we have that too. There are mobile safaris, riding safaris, walking safaris, canoe safaris, primate safaris, family safaris, even super-posh flying safaris. There's something for everyone.
The 'Big 5'
The 'Big 5' was originally an expression coined by African hunters to refer to the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Today, we use it to describe some of Africa's most impressive wildlife, most notably, lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo. Africa is also home to a 'Little 5' which comprises the elephant shrew, buffalo weaver bird, rhino beetle, leopard tortoise and antlion.
Seasons and weather
There's no getting away from the fact that Africa is huge. Cut roughly in half by the Equator, its seasons are opposing in the norther and southern hemispheres. Suffice to say, the climate varies enormously. The wet season in Kenya is dry in Botswana, while summer on South Africa’s southern coast is glorious—but may bring cyclones in Madagascar. In short, it's complicated. But the most important thing to know is that you can have an incredible safari year-round in Africa when you work with the right company.
Naturally, what you pack depends on your itinerary. However, there are a few safari essentials that will help you have a memorable, safe and enjoyable experience.
Health and vaccinations
Rest assured, we’ll give you all of the health and vaccination information you need for the countries you’ll be visiting well in advance of your trip. That includes info about basic vaccinations and malaria precautions, the two key defenses against are:
Bite avoidance: Cover up between dusk and dawn, wear long-sleeved shirts and pale-colored pants, and use mosquito nets at night. Apply a good quality insect repellent (containing 25-35% DEET or suitable alternative) as recommended to any exposed skin.
Malaria prophylaxis: Malarone should be taken for one day prior to exposure and for one week after you leave the malarial area. We always recommend you consult your physician or travel clinic for more information.
You'll need to discuss your vaccination requirements with your doctor. Be sure to plan well ahead as you may not be able to have all of your vaccinations at once, and you’ll need to have completed your course at least two weeks before you depart. And if you don't want to worry about vaccinations or malaria tablets, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The great news is that we’ll arrange a fantastic, malaria-free safari that will blow your socks off.
Travel insurance isn’t sexy but it does give you peace of mind, which is why we always suggest you secure comprehensive cancellation coverage. That way you’re protected not only in cases of theft, but also in the event that, heaven forbid, someone falls ill. Just ask us to help you find a policy that meets your needs and budget so you can relax and enjoy your trip.