[box type=”info”] When planning a safari, it is likely that you’ll already have a sense of why you wish to visit Africa. Your motivation could include wildlife, birds, apes, primates, fishing, walks, culture, history and beaches. One interest may dominate, you may wish to include a number of different interests, or you may even be looking for the ‘classic’ safari. Our goal through this FAQ is to help point you in the right direction when choosing your safari experience.[/box]
Q. When should I go?
A. Depending on country and what you wish to see, the ideal time to do a safari would be in the dryer months (winter months) of the year. This is because the dryer months offer better game viewing. Vegetation is more sparse and it’s easier to locate the animals. Rivers have dried up and all the animals, including predators, converge where the last remaining water is.
Q. How long should I go for?
A. The time spent on safari is often guided by your budget and the type of safari you choose. A horse-riding safari, for instance, will require a minimum of 7 nights, whilst a gorilla safari will require a minimum of 4 nights. On any safari, we recommend 3 nights would be the minimum amount of time spent in one venue. Many safari experiences are made up of time spent at more than one venue. Travel time to, and between, venues needs to be considered and factored in.
Q. How much should I budget?
A. Your budget won’t preclude you from visiting Africa, it will simply dictate how you experience the country of your choice. Your budget will determine the type of
accommodation, duration of stay, and mode of transportation, e.g. drive or fly. It may also dictate the types of experiences you are able to enjoy.
Q. Should I travel independently or with an organized tour?
A. It is possible to organize your own safari and take care of your own bookings – the web has made this much easier to do. However, when traveling as part of an organized tour or safari, it puts control in the hands of the operator and, assuming your brief to the operator is detailed and accurate, there should be less chance of your expectations not being met. All the logistics such as airport transfers, park fees, guided walks, private charters, lunch boxes, transport between venues, and so on have been taken care of from the moment you arrive until you depart. An operator, like us, has first-hand experience of how things work in Africa; where you can get money, how to get from A to B, best ways and times to travel, advantages and disadvantages of different venues, how to make the most of your time here, how best to structure your activities to take full advantage of what’s on offer, and so on.
Q. Who will I be traveling with?
A. This is up to you. Do you wish to travel alone, with your partner, your family, or a group of friends? Group dynamics are always very important when considering such a trip. Personalities and fitness levels, especially when doing gorilla trekking or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, can help pin down certain aspects of your trip (e.g. which gorilla family you choose to track or who you choose to climb with).
Particular interests also play a role. For instance, some people enjoy photography and are quite happy to sit for hours waiting for that perfect shot. In this case, a private vehicle would be highly recommended.
Q. Does my chosen destination only cater for media magnates & trust-fund babies, or are there budget options too?
A. Whist many lodges throughout Africa do cater for the “upper-end” of the market, there are definitely lodges which are more affordable to all. Generally, if you choose to visit a lodge in a remote part of a country, where road access is limited and air travel is essential, your safari will become more costly due to its remote location. Within South Africa, there are many fantastic and affordable lodges that offer a great game viewing experience (e.g. the Kruger and Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Parks, the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Also remember, the “green season” offers some fantastic deals which are not to be missed.
Q. Do I need a visa?
A. All international visitors to Africa will require a valid passport and depending on the country, an entry visa. Passports must be valid for six month after the date of travel, and have a minimum of three blank visa pages. (No endorsement pages.)
Q. Are there any health hazards?
A. As a traveller in Africa, one should always check beforehand what is required in each
country. These details can usually be found quite easily by visiting the respective country’s tourism website, or your local Travel Clinic. Some inoculations and immunisations are a requirement for entry into certain countries, whilst others may be highly recommended to ensure optimum health whilst away. Be sure to research these requirements well in advance as some vaccinations may come in a series and need to be administered over a period of time (e.g. Hepatitis).
Q. Should I stay in a national park or private reserve/concession?
A. Whilst I would always recommend a private game reserve or concession for a better game viewing experience overall (most private reserves offer night drives), national parks in many countries offer some phenomenal animal encounters (e.g. the North and South Luangwa Valley in Zambia).
Budget depending, a private reserve would be our first choice.
Q. What are the camps like?
A. Once again, this depends entirely on where you choose to go. No two lodges are built the same and each will offer a unique setting and location, whether on a river or lake, a
gorge, the edge of a mahogany forest, or savannah grassland. The lodges we choose will offer unforgettable views and great service.
Descriptions of each destination and lodge is included in the itinerary you receive when you book a safari with us.
Q. Are children welcome?
A. These days, children are welcome at almost all lodges. Certain lodges cater specifically for children, whilst others have age limits. When booking a safari, be sure to enquire whether the lodges accommodate children and, if so, what activities children can take part in whilst there.
Q. If the camps are so remote, how does one get there?
A. Air transfers (charters) are the easiest, quickest and most common form of transport into and out of remote destinations. Because of their remoteness, air transfers can push up the price of the overall journey. In some countries explicitly “private” charters are offered, whilst in others, such as Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia, you have the option of a seat rate on a group charter or a seat on a scheduled flight. This helps to keep the cost to a minimum. Driving can also be an option, but prepare yourself for a very long day on the road. We would not suggest a long road trip during the summer months as most 4×4 safari vehicles do not have aircon!
Q. How do I choose which camps to visit?
A. Find a country, and then camps, that suit your budget, expectations and holiday requirements. When booking a safari with us, we will suggest suitable camps taking these factors, and your particular interests, into account.
Q. What are mobile safaris?
A. Mobile safaris are exactly that – mobile. As one moves from area to area, or from region to region, so does the entire camp. Each day the camp is broken down, moved, and set up again at a new location prior to your arrival. The daily program runs exactly as it would in a fixed lodge, except that one sleeps and dines in tents.
[box type=”info”]NEW! XA African Safaris now offers mobile canoe safaris in Botswana’s Linyanti region.[/box]
Q. Do different lodges/areas provide different activities?
A. Absolutely yes! You need to make sure that the lodge you have chosen offers the activities you are interested in, such as walking safaris, night game drives, children’s activities, diving, photographic hides, hikes, etc.
Q. What are the conservation ethics and benefits of the chosen lodge and do they support the local community?
A. We are a firm supporter of lodges, camps and companies who adhere to the “Eco-tourism” ideology of responsible and low impact travel, from both the traveler and the operator. Eco-tourism must involve the local communities in a variety of aspects with regard their wildlife and its sustainability