How To Choose A Safari

Ian Gilmour on 26 August 2019
There are many factors to consider once you decide to head out on a luxury African safari. Research and planning is something we do regularly and it can be a real minefield of different options and so hopefully we can shed a little light here.

A Safari comes in many different shapes and sizes, and they are certainly not all created equal. We're going to focus on the more luxury type of safari, the sort of experience that will wow you from the moment you touch down on the private runway, until your last encounter with wildlife you’d never imagined you’d get close to.

If coincidentally you are in the process of deciding right now where you should go, when you should travel, and what you want your safari to look like, we hope is that this short guide will help you in making the best decision for your own luxury safari experience.

Safari Accommodation

Whether you want the luxury of a suite with its own private plunge pool, or the romance of sleeping under canvas in one of the many tented camps - you will be assured of a wonderful and unforgettable safari experience at many private lodges across Africa.

A private safari lodge gives you the opportunity to have up close viewing opportunities with an experienced and knowledgeable guide, wonderful accommodation, and all-inclusive rates. You might hear the phrase “tented camp” and think that this type of accommodation might be a step up from camping, but fear not. The tented camp can definitely be a luxury experience if you find the right one. Note that while both game-lodge safaris and tented-camp safaris have their own charms, we would generally recommend a tented-camp safari if you only have one or two nights. If you have a few days, go for a game lodge.

Safari Landscapes

When choosing a country for your luxury African safari, the most popular destinations right now are Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. There are definite differences in the various terrains. In Kenya and Tanzania, you’ll experience vast plains teeming with herds of animals. If you've heard of the big African skies, this is where you'll find them and we promise you'll be in awe, perfect for a balloon safari in fact. In South Africa, it is more a case of often seeking out animals in the bush. Before you think that’s not as exciting, it definitely has it’s thrills. Your vehicle driver/guide knows exactly where to find the animals and when they do, it adds to the thrill of discovering them.

Another thing to consider is whether your lodge is inside a private reserve or is part of a National Park. Private reserves offer a more exclusive experience because you are able to escape the crowds and experience the wilderness without encountering a lot of other vehicles. Only the game viewing vehicles belonging to the lodges situated in the reserve are allowed to drive on the land, and many times are restricted to 2-3 vehicles at any one wildlife sighting. Compare this to heading out to see the Great Migration in the Masai Mara (Kenya) and you might share your experience with 50 other vehicles at the same time. As you can imagine this can rather kill the authenticity.

Time of Year

The Great Migration is active in Tanzania’s Serengeti from November to July and in Kenya’s Masai Mara from August to October.

Botswana is a year-round destination though popular in September and October when rainfall is at its lowest in many areas and game viewing is best.

In South Africa, it is advisable to visit during the dry season, roughly between April and September, when permanent waterholes attract animals and the vegetation becomes thinned out and obviously easier to see the wildlife.

One thing to keep in mind - even Africa’s top luxury safari camps and lodges will have an off season or quieter period, ask what the price difference is between high and low season, often there’s very little and you might get a better deal on your luxury safari if you are able to book outside of peak season.

Every person has their own idea of what they want from their luxury safari, and it’s important that you share that vision with your travel agent so they can help guide you to the best experience for you!  With so much choice out there, we help you get rid of the overwhelm and send you off on this trip of a lifetime. Contact me if you’d like to chat more about your trip!