When it comes down to it, what you get on a safari often depends on what you pay. But that isn’t the only choice as there are several options to consider when booking with a tour company and deciding if they’re right for you.
Here are six aspects to consider when planning an African safari:
1. What kind of experience you want
Do you like camping or are you looking for a little more luxury? Knowing what type of experience you want will help determine what safari to select. On safari with my mom, we upgraded from sleeping on the floor to having cots in the tent. Our before and after accommodation was quite luxurious as well, but we paid more for it. Depending whether you want basic camping, mid-range or luxury accommodation in a lodge changes the prices of the safari as well as your experience.
2. Private or public experience
My mom and I had a private safari as it was low season and few other travelers were in the Serengeti to share the vehicle. This meant we had the land cruiser and guides to ourselves. If there had been other travelers we could have saved several hundred dollars each but on the other side, it allowed us to stay and watch animals as long as we pleased. You can decide if you want a public or private experience, but again, it’s how much you want to spend.
3. How many days to go for
We settled for five days on safari. I’m an animal and nature lover and this was my mom’s first safari so we thought it was sufficient time to really explore and enjoy the parks. We spent time between the Serengeti as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area which kept every day new and different. Consider what your interests are and if you’ll get bored quickly or really want to experience all the park has to offer.
4. How much you want to spend
Of course money plays a big part in deciding which safari experience to go with. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that paying a little bit more often makes the difference between a good experience and a great one. Make sure to read reviews on the companies you’re interested in and research their website fully to understand what services they offer. The company I went with was kind enough to add in a beautiful fruit bowl and a bottle of wine for my mom as she was celebrating her birthday while in the Serengeti at no extra charge. These little gestures made the difference.
5. Responsible travel
Does the company your traveling with pay its employees fair wages? Are they respectful of the animals and park regulations? Do they consider environmental impact in their business plan? These are a few questions to consider when looking at the variety of safari companies.
6. What the company offers
Don’t forget to take a look at what the company you’re hoping to book with offers. Do they do walking safaris, night safaris or hot air balloon rides? Also consider how long the company has been in business. Sometimes companies are ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ so consider the time they’ve spent in the industry. Another aspect to consider is if they arrange flights, airport pickup and drop off as well as that they can speak your language. Our guide spoke 6 different languages: Swahili, a local Tanzanian dialect, English, French, Spanish and German.
There’s a lot to consider when going on safari but hopefully these tips will make it a little bit easier.