So you're considering an African safari? That's the first step and from here it only gets more exciting! Nothing beats a quick personal chat with the professionals, it really helps you to get the ball rolling and is the beginning of the journey. So tap into a lifetime of knowledge, on the ground advice and expert delivery to create your trip of a lifetime to Africa. Or if you've got 5 minutes, relax and read the following for inspiration on the planning process.
So where does one start?
We like to work with you to understand where you would like to go and the types of things you’d like to do. Our role is to understand your dreams, taste and style and match those to our first hand knowledge, experiences and places that we know about in Africa. Safari options are many, ranging from the plush to the rough, covering all of southern and eastern Africa’s diverse habitats. Equally important for us is understanding your exact requirements in terms of budget, level of comfort and preferred style of travel and modes of transport.
Where should you go?
Great question and the answer really depends on the types of things you wish to do and see. We currently specialise in three broad geographic regions in Africa:
1. Southern Africa
2. East Africa
3. Indian Ocean Islands (often called the Vanilla Islands)
There is something for everyone in Southern Africa, from the wildest and most remote safari regions to the cosmopolitan culture and beauty of Cape Town. Expect wonderful hospitality in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.
Excellent Game Viewing
Like East Africa, Southern Africa offers an outstanding and rewarding game-viewing experience for everyone, whether you are on a shoestring or have deeper pockets.
Game drives are conducted in open 4x4 safari vehicles, as opposed to the mini-van or closed in 4x4s, more commonly used in East Africa's National Parks, (there are exceptions in East Africa with smaller camps, game reserves and private reserves using open vehicles which we love). The open sided vehicles allow unparalleled visibility of the wilderness you traverse and its wildlife.
The safari guides in Southern Africa are some of the best and certainly the most highly trained and respected professionals. These guides will help you leave behind your preconceptions and your fears of the unknown and look beyond the big five to really understand the African landscape and its smallest inhabitants.
Array of Accommodation
No matter the mode of travel, a secure and comfortable bed is essential for a sense of well being on safari. The ideal options in Southern Africa are private camps and lodges and small intimate eco-lodges that accommodate 8 – 20 guests at a time and are located in remote locations allowing you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in Africa’s hypnotic wilderness. For budget-conscious travellers, there are larger hotels and lodges around many national park boundaries so you can still enjoy superb wildlife experiences. Explore the destinations section of our website where we have detailed countries, regions and some of our favourite accommodation. There are more options than we can detail, so let us know what you’re looking for and we will suggest what would suit you best.
Diversity of Safari experiences
Southern Africa offers the largest array of safari activities. You can experience the traditional 4x4 safari game drives day and night throughout the region and in the open sided vehicles as mentioned already (this can vary according to rules and regulations for night driving in national parks). Perhaps our favourite is the walking safari, made famous by the likes of Robin Pope and Norman Carr in Zambia’s South Luangwa. Although more widely available, the best is still on offer in South Luangwa. You can also experience microlight safari flights in South Luangwa and mountain bike safaris should you stay at Tafika, an owner run gem. Botswana offers a unique delta experience in dugout canoes called mokoro's and is fast becoming famous for its horseriding safaris and elephant back safaris. Finally, the water based safari activities hosted in the Lower Zambezi are certainly worth trying – canoe safaris, sundowner cruises and fishing to name a few, our favourites are owner run camps. Witness the thrill of Victoria Falls on foot, helicopter, microlight flight or for the more adventurous, white water rafting, bungee jumping and gorge swinging. Another highlight is Zimbabwe's Hwange National park and Mana Pools along. Namibia is also an outstanding destination best seen by self drive, guided or a fly in safari all of which can be tailored to suit your preferences, style and budget.
More than the safari experience
Southern Africa is a region of vast proportions and exciting diversity beyond the safari experience. South Africa offers cosmopolitan cities, culinary delights and endless deserts, mountains and coastlines. Mozambique is rich in history, coastal beauty and hidden wildlife secrets. Victoria Falls is perhaps the adventure capital of the region and accessible in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Namibia offers beautiful landscapes to explore from grasslands, desert scrub and dunes to a vibrant marine world. Seasoned travellers will love the myriad of remote locations and first timers will find superb safari and first class cities, oceans and islands with endless attractions.
Vast plains, volcanic mountain ranges and highly celebrated game parks sustain millions of hoofed animals and the predators that feed on them not to mention the endangered mountain gorilla! This region is ideal for all travellers wanting to explore Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the spice islands of Zanzibar. East Africa will bring to life your childhood dreams of "Out of Africa".
Excellent Game Viewing
It is the ancient drama of mother nature unfolding before your eyes that draw travellers back to East Africa time and time again. No matter which game reserve or national park you visit, you are likely to see a vast array of wildlife in larger numbers than almost anywhere else on the planet.
Of course there is the greatest wildlife show on earth in Kenya (Masai Mara) and Tanzania (Serengeti)– the Wildebeest migration. Here you will great herds of wildlife migrating and big cats waiting will take your breath away!
We recommend you then experience one of the lesser-travelled and more remote regions to get away from the crowds. The Selous in Tanzania offers dependable rains and a network of waterways that sustain an impressive density of game in an untrammeled wilderness. In Kenya’s Tsavo and Amboseli, you’ll see bull elephants vie for dominance and Masai tribesmen tend to their cattle under the backdrop of Mt Kilimanjaro. Another area of Kenya not to be missed is the northern districts of Meru. Laikipia and Samburu.
Off the beaten track in Tanzania will take you to Katavi, Mahale and Ruaha.
A trek through dense rainforest in East African can yield a great reward for those who venture – a magical encounter with the world’s last mountain gorillas. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a tougher trek than that of Rwanda’s Parc de Volcans.
Many of East Africa's National Parks and safari highlights are accessible by both road and air, making it an easy region to navigate. The northern Tanzania safari circuit is easily explored with your own private guide and driver. For those who prefer travel by air, an efficient network of local scheduled flights links the different regions. If joining a small group, road safaris can be excellent value for those on a budget.
The extraordinary diversity of East Africa's landscape is not to be missed! From the snow-capped majesty of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, to the fantastic Ngorongoro Crater and savannah plains of the Masai Mara and Serengeti, this corner of the continent boasts some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. It is the Africa of your imagination, and has been a classic safari destination for decades, not only for the wildlife but also because of her sweeping, rugged, powerful beauty.
Where else in the world can you travel for miles without seeing any effects of human habituation? When you do meet the locals in East Africa particularly, expect your heart to warm with the generosity of their broad smiles, handshakes and hospitality. There are many different groups and tribes across the continent of Africa with varying cultural niches. And its Kenya’s Masai that captivate the heart of many. The Masai once dominated the plains of East Africa as famous herders and warriors and remain today largely nomadic, pastoral people. They have maintained a resistance to cultural change and still roam the plains (a fraction of their former range) with their cattle and sheep as they have done for thousands of years. Masai are most famous for their striking traditional dress of red, chequered blankets and intricate beaded jewellery. Say ‘jambo’ (hello) when you encounter a Masai and it will elicit a ready smile and wave and catalyse a memorable heart warming conversation.
INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS
Breathtakingly beautiful, this cluster of Islands can offer barefoot Robinson Crusoe adventure through to uber cool and opulent luxury.
Most people visit the Indian Ocean islands for its sandy beaches and blue lagoons that you’ll find on the Seychelles, Mauritius, Mozambique and the coastal isles off East Africa. The beaches feel endless and the waters are calm, so don’t come for the surfing (although there are a few secret locations for waves). It is the ultimate paradise experience, especially for a romantic finale to your African safari. Just picture yourself lazing on sunkissed beaches and swimming in sparkling turquoise seas.
The culture varies significantly. If you’re after a genuine African experience, you will be drawn to Mozambique’s archipelagoes of island and remote stretches of mainland coastline or the spice islands of Zanzibar. Amalgams of native peoples, colonising influences and migrant forces, which have come together to flavor these islands with colorful languages, cuisines and customs.
Flora and Fauna
Islands of the Indian Ocean offer a surprising array of indigenous species of flora and fauna, from the countless coral reefs and marine life to the remarkable coco de mer, found only in the Seychelles. Far from being a series of beach resorts, these islands can lead the interested traveler and SCUBA enthusiast on a fascinating aquatic safari!
When should you go?
Another great question and one that is difficult to answer easily because there are so many variables. Every season in every country has its advantages, so if you have fixed dates for travel, chances are we will be able to ensure you experience a great trip no matter what!
Shoulder season in the safari regions is May and June, beautiful weather-wise and green vegetation after the rains. July to October is high season so the prices go up and so does the temperature gauge. October is hot and dry, often the best time for game viewing because it's the end of the dry season and wildlife congregates to waterholes. Can be very hot though in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The rainy season is characterised by thunderstorms during the afternoon and runs from November through to April in the safari regions. However, the southern Cape and coastline of South Africa is experiencing summer at that time and is a wonderful place to visit.
This area can also be cold and rainy during their winter from June through August. Often high season rates for the safari regions go into effect in July so it is sometimes possible to save a bit of money by traveling prior to that, in the shoulder season. May and June can be delightful months to travel. December sees massive local tourism, (e.g., summer school vacation combined with heavy holiday traffic) so expect holiday surcharges, crowded beaches and limited availability throughout. Due to the smaller size of safari camps and lodges in southern Africa, it is necessary to book well in advance, particularly for travel from June through September.
EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA
The long rains are traditionally from early April through to late May, and the short rains from late November through December. We have been on safari many times during the long rains and had no rain at all!!. It is often less expensive to travel during these rainy seasons. Dry seasons offer excellent visibility and more reliable road conditions, and game tends to congregate around the limited water sources, making the animals easier to find. July, August and September are generally extremely busy in East Africa, offering comfortable temperatures in addition to being a popular time for travel worldwide, so be sure to book well in advance. December sees increased local tourism, so expect holiday surcharges and limited availability. In the Masai Mara and Serengeti, the movements of the migrating wildebeest contribute to the desirability of certain areas at certain times, and this might influence your itinerary, selections or costs.
INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS
Generally the weather is similar to that of southern Africa, with the summer rains lasting from November through April, with occasional cyclones during that time. The dry season from May to October is ideal.
What is your budget?
It's not the easiest question to ask or answer, however it's crucial to consider when planning your safari holiday. For us luxury is about the experience rather than a price tag and the old saying "quality rather than quantity" absolutely holds true when planning a holiday to Africa.
The safari component of your holiday is likely to be the most costly. Safari camps are generally all-inclusive, which means the cost of the accommodation, meals, drinks, guides, game activities, and park entry fees are included. Staying at a city hotel or a beach resort is often less expensive than a safari camp because you pay for meals, tours and other activities separately as you wish. So the longer you stay on safari the more the overall cost of your holiday will be. The less travelling you do will in turn mean more of your budget can be spent on a quality safari rather than sitting on a plane or in a car travelling from A-B. Combining a safari with a few days at the beach for instance, can make a trip more affordable.
Safaris vary hugely in price and quality of experience - the accommodation, service, transportation and food. So it’s worth considering how much roughing it you’re willing to do or how much luxury you will enjoy and the style of African holiday you’re looking for.
Small group guided tours are very affordable and perfect for solo travellers. Tailor made safaris are best for 2 or more travellers just so you don’t have to pay a single supplement (not all camps and lodges charge a supplement if you are a solo traveler, but many do so worth bearing in mind).
As we work directly with you and our camps offering you discounted rates, fares and with no need to pay commissions we feel that we can offer more and more of our guests high quality safaris cheaper than booking direct rather than three star safaris at five star prices.
Also keep in mind it’s best to separate out your budget – international airfares and land arrangements. We offer special airfares with our favourite airlines and quote these separately to land arrangements. That way you don’t have to book international airfares through us if you would prefer to go direct or use frequent flyer points and air miles.
We understand the time and expense in getting to Africa is significant, so we do our best to ensure our itineraries are absolutely first class, great value for money and truly unforgettable. It may be your only opportunity to go on safari!