Guide on How to Pick and Book an African Safari

It’s important to put some thought into your safari – the planning is a part of the expedition. Africa offers a diversity of attractions and highlights that must be visited at the right time to ensure an experience of a life-time. When to travel Africa is essential to a great experience! This depends on your specific needs and requirements. Interests range from Africa’s spectacular wildlife to the wide variety of birds that occur in Africa at different times of the year.

When to travel Africa really depends on the type of animals you wish to see or the activity you would like to partake in. Certain reserves have good game viewing all year round but others will have particularly good elephant sightings or other migratory animals at different times of the year.

Generally all the year long is possible to undertake an African safari, though the dry seasons are most likely to guarantee  better road conditions in the parks, as the grass is dry and vegetation sparse making game viewing easier. It is also the time when animals are on the move looking for food and water. In Kenya and Tanzania, you have the memorable opportunity of witnessing the magnificent migration of over two million wildebeests and zebra. Temperatures in winter are mild but can become considerably cooler in the evening, so pack multiple layers of clothing to ensure you stay comfortable on afternoon game drives and walks. It goes without saying that the standard safari gear must include a broad brim hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Research a little and make sure your ground operator is willing to make your safari special. Some are rather sadly only bothered about money and each client is a number only, others offer excellent personalized services. Beware of such companies as your safari experience is more important.

This step by step overview guide encompasses a few important guidelines designed primarily to assist and guide you in your quest for that fantastic safari getaway.

Following is an outline of some important steps for booking and confirming your african safari:

– Where to go?

– Budget

– Safari package search

– Booking the safari

Step 1: Where to go? Destination

If you have never been on an African safari before, you may be at a loss as to where to go. If you have been already, you might want to plan on going somewhere different. Not because you didn’t enjoy where you went, but because there are so many beautiful things to see in Africa.

Africa is one of a few destinations in the world that gives visitors a veritable spectacle of wildlife that co-exists harmoniously with its human neighbours. This has been as a result of continued support and encouraging the communities to know the importance of self sustaining tourism that does not degrade the environment while at the same time reducing conflict between local communities and wildlife.

From snow covered mountains and beautiful waterfalls, to sandy deserts and aquatic reefs, Africa has got it all. Not to mention all the wildlife; Gorilla trekkers, bird watchers and bush adventure enthusiasts will all be equally delighted. If you love beautiful landscapes and communities rich in culture, you’ll find that, too.

There are quite a few safari destinations to choose from; East africa, Central africa & South africa.

East and Central Africa

Many consider eastern Africa and central Africa to be the best destination for African safaris, this region is loaded with many game parks which include a large variety and population of animals, from the wildebeest migration in Kenya (middle of the year) and Tanzania (early in the year) to the gorillas of Uganda.

East Africa’s landscape includes the spectacular and majestic Mount Kilimanjaro and the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the largest of its type in the world, which is home to thousands of animals such as Zebra, wildebeest, black rhino, prides of lion including the black-maned males, leopard, cheetah, hyena, elephants, warthog, impala, buffalo, hartebeest, eland and other members of the antelope family.

South Africa

Southern Africa also offers a magnificent scenario for a great safari. South Africa offers an outstanding and rewarding game-viewing experience. Tours here are normally conducted in open 4×4 safari vehicles, giving you greater visibility than a mini-van (commonly used in eastern and central African safaris).

Namibia is a good place if you are looking for elephant, rhino, lion and giraffe.

All the large mammals can also be found in Botswana; elephant, buffalo, red lechwe, lion and cheetah are plentiful.

Not forgetting Zimbabwe, this beautiful country offers Victoria Falls, rolling hills, rock art, and game parks that are home to large herds of elephant and buffalo, sable and roan antelope.

Zambia is also a definite favorite African safari destination. Zambia has many well managed camps in wilderness areas known for concentration and diversity of game, bird life and game fishing. These can be found in the national parks of South Luangwa and Kafue National Park.

A great way to wrap up your African safari is to visit the Indian Ocean islands and beaches, which include Mombasa, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, and the Seychelles Islands. These waters hold hundreds of species of fish, making them a haven for anglers. You can also enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving among the colorful fish, gorgeous flora and fauna, countless coral reefs and marine life.

Step 2: Budget

Whether you are interested in a mobile-tented camping safari, an overland safari, or a luxury fly-in safari, your budget is very important since it determines the safari category, luxury or budget. Both categories offer the thrill, excitement and anticipation of searching, seeing animals & bird life in their natural habitat roaming freely through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. It’s good to disclose YOUR BUDGET PER DAY PER PERSON, excluding international airfare to Africa, as it will make it easier for safari consultants to supply you with an accurate quote and itinerary.

Most safari packages rates start from USD 400 per person for a basic camping 3 day Masai mara package, however for group bookings the cost drops by 10% & 20% depending on the size of the group.

Step 3: Package Of Interest

Planning a tour to Africa can be time consuming and exciting, often requiring several trip proposals to get it “just right”. Therefore, requesting a few suggested itineraries, free of charge, from different companies during the safari planning process is important. This step goes hand in hand with your budget since prices vary depending on destination, accommodation type, safari duration, transport type, season (time of the year) and services included.

Most accommodation is normally based on:

HB” means Half Board, Hotel rates will be inclusive of Daily Breakfast and Lunch or Dinner

BB” means Bed and Breakfast the rates quoted on the Website is inclusive of daily Buffet Breakfast.

FB“means Full Board the rates that will be quoted to you will be inclusive of Daily Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Step 4: Booking the safari

After searching the web and found a suitable package that fits your dreams & budget finally it’s time to book your dream safari.

For those ready to  book an African Safari;

If you book your safari from late July through to the end of September then it is necessary to book well in advance. This time of year is madness.

Any other time of year its ok to leave the actual booking of the safari until a few weeks before your departure. If it is low season, March to end of June, then the safaris [accommodation and to a less extent transport] are at bargain basement rates.

Most safari company websites offer many ready-made safaris and itineraries on offer, and if you don’t find what you are looking for, they’ll put it together for you. Contact them on email, or complete the reservation form available from the website directory, then press or click on the “Reservation” Button at the bottom of the page. After you fill out all of the needed information; press the “Submit Reservation” button.

Don’t forget to supply a detailed description of your requirements as it will make it easier for safari consultants to supply you with an accurate quote and itinerary.

When ready to pay for a safari, it’s important to know what’s included and what’s not included in the package price

There are 2 different methods of paying for your safari package, credit card transaction or wire trasfer.

Please note that payments by credit card are subject to required authorization and at times incur processing fee.

You will be rquired to pay a deposit, so that provisional bookings can be made for the arrangements described in your itinerary. In the event that any accommodations or activities are unavailable, you will be advised of the alternatives and make the appropriate amendments to your itinerary. In certain cases supplemental, non-refundable deposits may be required to secure your reservation prior to final payment. This policy generally applies for camps/lodges that are in extremely high demand, for travel during some holiday seasons or, for “exclusive use” reservations. You will be advised of any such requirements as soon as provisional reservations have been made. When all the arrangements are in place, you will receive a pre-departure package, including important information to assist you in preparing for your safari.

Final payment is due 30 – 60 days prior to your scheduled departure.

Important Tips

Book as early as three months in advance.

Discuss pertinent health issues with your doctor (in good time) prior to embarking on your African safari.

For hotel bookings, book through travel agents since, all reservations are made through most travel agents, are lower , as   they have negotiated  favorable rates.

When booking request for a detailed safari itinerary.

Only use reputable tours and safari companies.