It’s almost a new year which means it’s time to look at your goals and plan the coming years big adventures. Safaris are one of the most exciting trends in travel, particularly for travelers who want to escape into natural beauty, while also supporting the environment and local economies around the world. But even though they are becoming increasingly popular, safari experiences can still be intimidating to plan. Here are the top 6 things to consider when planning your safari from leading expert Gregory Fox founder of Mahlatini Travel.
Southern and Eastern Africa generally has two seasons, “dry” and “wet”. The dry season usually falls between June and October and is characterized by droughts, very little vegetation and large numbers of animals concentrated around any remaining water. For this reason, the game viewing during the dry season is at its best. The wet season, commonly called the ‘green season’, usually falls between November and May. The green season is when life in Africa blooms. The grass grows, the rivers fill and the animals bear their young. Some view this season as the most beautiful. The only drawbacks are that the animals disperse into the lush green foliage and game viewing becomes more difficult. You may also get the occasional afternoon rain shower, though this rarely affects your safari.
Price varies between countries, for example Botswana Tourism operate a “low volume high yield policy” making it comparatively expensive to visit but also making it appealing to those who prefer something unique and exclusive. The best value for money in the current economic climate is the Kruger Park in South Africa. Seasonality also effects price, the dry season (commonly referred to as the high season) can be twice as expensive as the green season. The green season can offer amazing value for money, especially in places such as Botswana where the Okavango Delta offers amazing water-based safaris and bird life.
Every persons vision of a safari is different. Some imagine the vast plains and large herds of animals in the Serengeti or the Masaai Mara whilst others imagine the ultra-luxury lodges in the Kruger Park. A safari in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) is generally more populated with more vehicles in the National Parks. More personal safaris can be found in Botswana and within areas of the Kruger Park. Water-based safaris are a less travelled option but prove a very rewarding experience. These safaris enable you to view the wildlife on the banks of the river from the comfort of a mekoro (traditional dug-out canoe) or a motorboat.
There are three main styles of safari accommodation: mobile camps, tented camps and lodges. Mobile camping, sometimes referred to as “classic camping” due to the similarity with the early African explorer, provides the most basic of the three accommodations, but due to its mobility often provides the best game viewing. Tented camps, mostly found in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Zambia, in contrast to the word “tented” generally provide the most luxurious of accommodations and are more like tented hotel suites. Lodges vary in size and quality, the most luxurious of the lodges are generally found in South Africa.
Generally clients visit two distinct areas on holiday, one for the adventure and wonder of a safari; the other for relaxing or visiting an area of interest such as Victoria Falls or Cape Town. Choosing somewhere to relax usually involves a sun lounger, white sand and on-site facilities such as a spa. The choice of idyllic Indian Ocean beach destination will often depend on the easiest logistics but will usually take you to Mauritius, Seychelles, Zanzibar, Kenya, Mozambique or South Africa.
Most safari lodges cater well for families with young children, but some offer a more tailored experience for the kids. These lodges provide unique educational childrens’ activities such as learning African bush skills and offer on-site babysitting services, whilst other lodges prohibit children of a certain age, usually under eight years. Many families choose to safari in South Africa in one of the malaria free national parks.
It is extremely important to speak with an expertly qualified safari consultant to get the best experience at the correct time of year within your budget. All the travel experts at Mahlatini Luxury Travel have either lived or travelled extensively throughout Africa and have first-hand experience of the camps and lodges within their portfolio.
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