When planning your vacation to explore the African Safari, it’s wise to do a little homework before embarking your journey. Many people may feel overwhelmed at first and don’t know what is the right African Safari Guide for them. After all, it’s a YOLO and EXPENSIVE experience. That’s why it totally makes sense to want to spend some time to choose the right African Safari Guide. In this post, I’m going to highlight some important points to make your planning process easier. 🙂
First let me explain a bit what our Safari looks like. We did a ten days long safari, eight nights, 2 countries, Kenya and Tanzania, and 5 different National Parks. Is it long? That really depends on how much you like to see wildlife and definitely your budget.
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The Right African Safari Guide – When is the best time to go?
The best time to visit Kruger and most wildlife parks is from May to September. This is the Dry season and animals congregate around waterholes and rivers. This is, in fact, the low season for tourism. South African school holidays should be avoided. The main holidays are in December. It is winter, so the mornings and nights are cold. May and September are wonderful because it is less cold and, especially in September, the wildlife viewing is excellent.
Given said that, let’s review what are the important things I think you should take in account in order to tailor the Safari to your budget and expectations. A Safari is usually an expensive adventure, so the more you know, the better prepare you will be before landing somewhere in Africa.
The Right African Safari Guide – Group Safari or Private Safari?
A private Safari is usually more expensive, although I would expect a big difference in cost, during our research we find out that you will end up paying between 200-400 € more per person if you go on a private one.
But if you decide to go for a Group Safari, good to know the following:
- Group safaris have fixed dates, you depart on a certain day and finish whenever the group finish, so flexibility is limited.
- Usually you get a window seat, but in a group safari you may not, to know this check the group size.
- There may be some differences into places you would like to see or different animal interests, that’s something you should think about before, and always try to come to an agreement with the group.
- Group Safaris are a good option for volunteers or solo travelers.
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On the other hand, if you choose a Private Safari, like we did, you’ll be happy to know:
- Most of the companies create a tailored experience, that means you get too chose where to go, and what to see. So before you go, do a bit of research. In our case we had two main goals, to spot the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinocero) and the Great Migration. Some others really want to see Lions hunting or bird spotting… that’s up to you.
- Ask everything you wanna know about to your driver. Seriously drivers are like an encyclopedia, they have been doing these trips for ages and you’ll be surprised about the valuable information they will explain to you.
- Take the most out of your car, you’ll be driving for long hours and it could be quite hot during mid day times. So make sure you bring everything you need, water, hat, sun glasses, mosquito repellent, binoculars, camera and different lenses, batteries… but remember, since the car is all yours, don’t pack it full, you would love to have every corner available to capture that Lion hunting, or that baby Elephant next to her mother.
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The Right African Safari Guide – Lodge, Tented Camp or Public Campsite?
These three different accommodations are where you will spend your nights, so before choosing one or another, let’s review what are the differences and then you choose accordingly.
These are permanent buildings, made of brick and stone. You’ll have your own bathroom and all other amenities you can find in any hotel. Lodges are also different in range, you will see budget, mid-range, high-range, and luxury. But of course, those facilities come with a price, usually high, and definitely the highest over a Tented camp or a Public campsite.
- Tented Camps
As the name suggests, these are large tents, usually with a self-contained toilet/bathroom. Also, these can be permanent or mobile, it really depends on the location. And don’t let the ‘Tent’ word disappoint you, some Tented camps can be even more luxurious than a Lodge. But in order for you to have a clear overview, Tented camps are usually in the mid range of prices.
- Public Campsite
As well known as budget camping. Yes, this is just a tent as you know, and you’ll be sleeping on mattresses on the floor and sleeping bags. In the campsites, you’ll have the basic facilities like washroom, showers, kitchen and eating area, all those are shared. Once again, I don’t want to disappoint you, in the end, I really enjoy our Safari sleeping in a small tent surrounded by Hyenas and other animals in the kingdom. What’s more, these are the cheapest option of all.
As an example, you can preview a collection of 360 images below.
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The Right African Safari Guide – Jeep or Van?
Well, there are places where you have no choice, like in Serengeti National Park. But if you do have to choose, keep in mind, Jeeps are usually more comfortable. They are also a bit better when driving off road terrains or the soil it’s wet.
Vans, on the other hand, are cheaper. And in our case, it did an amazing job through Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Besides that, both vehicles, even though they are 4WD, can get stuck in cotton soil. If it happens to you, just enjoy the moment. Some other drivers will help you to get out, that’s why it’s called adventure, isn’t it?
The Right African Safari Guide – Last But Not Least
Check with your tour agency if you have UNLIMITED mileage included in your price. Why is this important? In our case, we really wanted to see the Great Migration, however, you don’t know where the Wildebeest will be until a few days before, so even though you can plan your stay at different places, we did not want to over pay for a Lodge, and public campsites are limited. That kinda forced us to drive longer a couple of days, which it was never an issue with our driver or agency.
You may also want to go a bit further looking for that gorgeous Rhino, and I can assure you, you won’t like if your driver says, he or she can’t go further due to limited mileage.
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The Right African Safari Guide – How Much Does Safari Cost?
That’s a difficult question to answer, but to be a bit more precise, somewhere between 250€ to 1000€ a day per person. It really depends on the type of accommodation you choose.
But no matter what, always bring a smile with you. Safari experience is unique to every person I know who has done one. Wildlife isn’t there posing for us, so be ready, and enjoy.
Watch the V-log and see what an African Safari is really like!
About the Traveler
Javi is a Software Engineer, born in Spain, moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands seeking for an adventure. Curiosity triggered traveling, traveling triggered photography passion, photography triggered this ambition to share the world with others. And that’s what keep him traveling for more and more.
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