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sautterm1 Jan 26th, 2019 08:40 AM

African Safari questions
Hi All,

My dream vacation is to visit Africa for a visual safari. I love the idea of lodging out in the wild, specifically elephants (Iíve had a love of them since my youth). I would appreciate any and all info about how tomrealize this dream. Some specific questions I have are:
How far in advance do I need to plan this type of vacation?
What time of year is best for viewing wildlife?
Best tour operators/guides?
Lodging? I donít need luxury, iím more Interested in experience?

I have no no idea how much this would cost so I canít provide a budget to help with answers.
Any and all information/experience would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


amyb Jan 26th, 2019 09:53 AM

Hi Kathie!

You're talking my favorite subject now. I'm pasting below what I've posted here before to get your started. There are a lot of questions you have to answer before anyone (us or a safari planner) can help you narrow things down. Africa is a BIG place, but you can figure things out easily enough. Count me among the many who is utterly addicted to sleeping in the bush, lying awake listening to lions, sitting for hours watching lion cubs play, leopards mate and elephants mud bathe.

I would highly recommend not going with a group. You can get a custom safari with your own itinerary on your own schedule and likely have your own vehicle and guide in many camps. I would consult a safari planner (not a generic travel agent) and let them know your wishlist for destinations, what you want to see, time of year, budget and total time on the ground. I’ve worked with several safari planners at this point and I’d recommend the Wild Source who just booked my last safari in Kenya which was my best yet. Bill there also books other countries too so he can help with a multi country itinerary. He is a wildlife biologist by trade so really knows where to book for great wildlife experiences. I also like Access2Tanzania for Tanzania and Treks2Rwanda for Rwanda if you’re interested in those, they are the same company and Karen there is great.

Most custom private itineraries include all services from when you land in Africa to when you leave, like any in-country or infra-country flights, transfers to/from airport, etc so there’s really nothing for you to worry about other than booking your flight from home to Africa.

Depending on when you want to go, you can book a few to several months ahead except if you're planning to be there at the highest of high seasons, like for the Great Migration in Kenya's Maasai Mara, it may be a bit too late now for this July-September (I'm booking now for October-November which is just after high season in Kenya). But if you're willing to go slightly off season or shoulder season, it'll be easier to find availability.

What you need to decide before you contact a safari planner:
1) Your budget (excluding international flights) -- know that this is all inclusive usually, but for the tips. I take very little spending money with me as it's just tipping local staff. Sticker shock usually hits until you realize this is ALL meals, ALL entertainment, ALL room and board for the entire trip.
2) Days on the ground available and time of year (excluding travel time to/from Africa) -- migrations, rainy seasons, high seasons, all factor into overall costs and when it's best to go to certain areas.
3) Your interests -- Big cats? Elephants? Reptiles? Gorillas? Birds? Beach time? Village visits? Some areas are better than others for certain wildlife.
4) Lodging types -- do you need soaker tubs and swimming pools? Do you want to stay in tents in the bush (with beds and full bathrooms)? Do you need electricity/wifi/ solid walls?

We can help you with the above if you want to kick around ideas!

Hope this helps get you focused!

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