Planning your African safari is very exciting but can be overwhelming – there is a lot to consider and possibly a lot of money being spent. It’s important to make sure you are setting off on an adventure of a lifetime before you jet off.
At South Luangwa Safaris we create safari getaways for people all year round, answering many questions and tailoring itineraries to suit our client preferences. Here are 3 things to consider when booking your African safari.
What’s on your African safari bucket list?
Is it an experience or an animal? Watching wild dogs roam the plains of the savanna, or seeing rhino in their natural habitat, maybe you have always dreamt of walking alongside nature’s greatest creatures, elephants.
Once you have decided which experience/animal tops your bucket list you can delve further and discover where you can see that animal or live that experience.
Answering these questions will help your search:
– Where is the best place to see the animal?
– When is the best time of year to see the animal?
– When is the best time of year to have the experience that most interests you?
If you do not have a safari bucket list, we suggest doing some digging to uncover what experiences are out there and what animals you can see where. Through research, you may discover things you had not yet thought of or maybe even heard of.
Do you have a specific budget?
There is a common misconception that an African safari holiday is exclusive and therefore very expensive. Of course, an African safari can be exclusive and very expensive, with some lodges charging more than $1200 per person per night, but that is not industry standard. There are many lodges which charge as little as $70 per person per night. You can even camp at some lodges, reducing the cost significantly.
This is why it is important to establish your budget, are you looking for luxury in the middle of the bush? Basic accommodation outside the national park? Or, something in-between? Whatever national park you wish to visit there will be budget to luxury accommodation options available.
Aside from the accommodation, national parks charge different amounts for their entry fees. This is a fee which each person must pay each day to enter the national park. The Serengeti, for example, costs $60 per day compared to South Luangwa national park which costs $25 per day. National park fees should be taken into account, particularly if you are a family or travelling on a budget.
When can you travel?
Timing is very important when planning an African safari. You may wish to white water on the Zambezi River or witness one of Africa’s greatest natural spectacles, animal migration. If you visit in the wrong season you may miss the opportunity to experience the top thing on your bucket list.
If you want to go on safari but are finding it too expensive, look to the rainy season or “emerald/green season” as it’s known in the trade. In Southern Africa, the “emerald season” runs from November through to April. This is a fantastic time to go on safari not just because rates are cheaper but parks are less crowded, providing a more exclusive and magical experience. Bird watching is best during the wet season and this is the best time to see lots of baby animals.
How do you like to travel?
There are two main tour categories: tailored and scheduled. Both types offer packages with varying inclusions such as meals, accommodation, activities and transfers. The major difference between the two categories is the level of freedom you have to choose which activities you do, where you stay, and your overall itinerary.
A tailored tour gives you the freedom to customise an existing itinerary. You find a tour on a website but find certain aspects aren’t to your preference. You are then able to modify the tour; maybe opting for a different lodge or spending an extra day at a certain destination. By opting for a tailored tour you can create the perfect trip for your group.
Scheduled tours depart on set, non-negotiable dates. They tend to cover a number of attractions and are designed for medium to large groups travelling in a bus or suitably sized vehicle with a driver and guide. Scheduled tours are the most cost effective way to see as many destinations as possible, however, they are not customizable.
*Bonus tip – research your tour operator
You’ve discovered where you want to go and decided what you want to do. Now you’re ready to book your trip, right? Wrong. At this stage, it is important to find a tour operator who knows the destination. It is also important to distinguish whether or not the operator has any affiliation with specific lodges to ensure you get unbiased advice.
Now you should be feeling invigorated and ready to enquire, getting one step closer to the holiday of a lifetime.