How to Plan Your First Safari
To get the food, shelter and safari experience you want, you need to research your trip. Here’s a thorough list of the details you should consider.
A safari vacation in Africa is probably the most organized vacation you’ll ever take. While it is possible to simply fly to a few places — Arusha, Tanzania, or Maun, Botswana — and rent a car to take off into the countryside, few people want to risk being alone on unmarked dirt roads patrolled by hyenas, cheetahs and lions.
No, you use professionals to help you choose an itinerary and arrange transportation. Your travel company will have a driver waiting for you, and from the time you land, you’re in the hands of people who will feed and shelter you and take you amazingly close to fearsome beasts. To get the food, shelter and safari experience you want, you need to research your trip.
Plan on at least two weeks. That should allow for at least three different camps in different areas, for three nights each. Generally, you get an early morning game drive and a late afternoon game drive each day, so two full days in each camp almost guarantees that you’ll see a lot.
For example we went on safaris in January and February in Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It was the wet season in some places, but it wasn’t particularly rainy. Although the vegetation was lush, we saw elephants, hippos, giraffes and baboons beyond counting. In the drier Serengeti, Kalahari and Sabi Sands, we saw a lifetime’s worth of cheetahs, leopards and lions. We also got to see the Serengeti’s great migration of wildebeests and zebras.
An engineer friend who lived and worked in Malawi until recently says that the best thing you can have on a safari is a generous parent to pay for it. Daily costs per person range from $200 to well over $1,000, and typically include travel, including airplanes, between different camps. It would not include airfare from the United States. Tips are suggested and expected at each camp. A couple should figure on up to $50 per day total for guides, drivers and food service. Tips should be in the local currency and are given upon departure.
The Travel Company
Traveling is one of those things that can never get tiring. You get to visit new places and experience new cultures, which is something that won’t be possible if you’re just staying in the same place. There are numerous benefits to traveling. You just need to make sure that you’re choosing the right travel agency. There are a couple of considerations you should be looking out for when searching for a travel agency and we’re going to highlight some of them.
The Big Five — lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and Cape buffalo — were the most challenging game animals for hunters on foot in another era. They’re still worthy targets for your camera, but so are zebras, giraffes, exotic antelopes and almost countless kinds of birds. All of these are in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana. Gorillas are in Rwanda and Uganda.
Lodges, from hostels to luxury hotels, are found near some game-rich areas like the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania and Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa. In the Kalahari Desert and the Serengeti you’ll find tented camps, which are clusters of individual cabin like tents and one or two large tents for the dining room and staff operations.
The individual tents usually have real beds and attached private bathrooms with heated showers and flush toilets. There are also mobile camps, which move to follow game, especially the migration in the Serengeti. All your meals will be at the camp. Most camps supply the usual toiletries as well as sunscreen and insect repellent.
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