How to choose an African Safari?
For most people, the main draw card in Africa is it’s wildlife and a once in a lifetime safari experience. However this can be completely overwhelming as the continent is vast, diverse, complicated and it has over 800 different species of mammals roaming the continent. The experience however will probably be one of the most memorable trips of your lifetime!
Here are some tips from Richard Pace of Southern Sky Adventures of what to ask when starting to plan and choose an African Safari.
- Are you most interested in the animals of Africa and seeing the Big 5?
- Do you need the relaxation of a much needed vacation?
- Are you looking for quality family time?
- Are you looking for romance and privacy for your honeymoon?
- Are you a photographer looking to get that winning shot?
These choices will help determine the time you plan to spend, the destination and the focus of your trip.
- Are you travelling to Africa with children or seniors?
- Are you a couple on honeymoon?
- Are you travelling on business and extending your trip alone?
- Are you a group of friends looking for a new adventure?
For example: If you are travelling with children, health concerns may be high on the list. It’s good to know that South Africa only requires malaria meds and in some areas no malaria meds at all. This can offer you peace of mind when thinking about travel in Africa and choosing where to go on safari.
- Are you interested in seeing particular African animals?
- Do you know about and have an interest in anything special above the Big 5? (Do you know what the Big 5 animals are?)
- Are you a birder with a special interest in rare species?
- Are gourmet meals and fine wine of interest to you during your African safari?
- Is a spa facility high on your list of priorities?
- Do you have any activities in mind? Would you like to do a guided walk or a boat trip to see the wildlife or is a guided drive more than enough for you to experience a safari?
Where do you want to go on Safari?
This is a tough question but important question due to the vast differences in countries, regions and of course distances.
- The distance from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa is about the same distance as New York to Los Angeles.
- A good rule of thumb is to consider either East Africa or Southern Africa unless you are travelling for more than 2 weeks. The distinctions between Southern and East Africa can be discussed in more detail with your tour operator.
When do you want to go on Safari in Africa?
One of the most important things to remember is that the majority of safari destinations are in the Southern Hemisphere so the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.
- Winter in the USA will most likely mean summer at your safari destination.
- In general peak game viewing is said to be during the Sub-Saharan winter months of May -September although excellent game viewing can be enjoyed all year round.
- Temperatures will start to rise in most areas from October – March.
- Despite a great deal of conversation about weather – most of Southern and East Africa is quite temperate and can be compared to Southern California.
- Humidity is much lower than in the Eastern half of the USA and a winter day is more like April in the American South.
How long do you plan to be on safari?
Whilst most of us wish and dream of extended vacations, for most travellers this is an unrealistic expectation.
- If you have a two week trip you shouldn’t try to do more than 2 countries else you will spend too much time in airports and travelling than actually on safari.
- A minimum of 3 days should be considered to get a true feel of Africa.
The other major factor in deciding on your African Safari is to determine your approximate budget up front. Make sure you have an idea of your financial status as you start your planning.
- There are thousands of safari options at wildly different prices and the accommodation varies from 5 star luxury lodges to bush camp tented safaris.
- If you are travelling alone, with a small group or a big group can change the financial options drastically, and of course there are also volunteering options within the conservation field.
As with any major vacation, do some research. Ask different tour operators, talk to people who have gone on safari, go online – there are thousands of pages dedicated to African travel, watch TV series and read books and ASK – ask lots of questions, ask things that may seem silly but may be important to you or ASK RICHARD!
Richard has more than 12 years of personal travel in Africa, in addition to guiding and planning trips and itineraries for his clients. He has seen and experienced most of Southern and East Africa and is continuously staying up to date and researching the latest news, lodges, accommodation and travel logistics. If you need advice or a chat….. just ASK RICHARD!
Southern Sky Adventures
Specializing in guided and self-drive trips through Southern and East Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands
721 Woodward Way, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327 USA
404.300.9630 office – 770.324.0068 cell