Masai mara landscape by Ninara

How to do your Safari right - choosing your travel style

“Safari” is a broad term used to describe a wide variety of travel options to see the unique wildlife of Africa. With choices from the very basic to plain luxurious it is often difficult to see the wood for the trees. We asked some of our experienced travel team for their opinion to give you a pros and cons guide to choosing your safari. For convenience we’ve split them into two broad categories: Safari and Overlanding. Safari’s refer to going specifically to and staying in the reserves. Overlanding, in addition to all the parks, will have you travelling literally ‘overland’ between destinations for example Cape Town to Mombasa.

Christine OlsonLandrover vs. Elephant - Christine Olson

Section 1: Safaris

Referring to “Safari” here we are talking about visits to the wild places of Africa. Visiting the big game parks and reserves like Kruger, Chobe, the Serengeti and Masi Mara.

Budget Camping Safaris:

Filip LachowskiSeronera camp in serengeti - Filip Lachowski

If you are travelling on a shoestring, have the wildlife as your main focus, want to get up close to nature and are happy to sacrifice some creature comforts then this could be the option for you.

Pros:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Often small groups and great guides with indepth knowledge which means a more intimate experience
  • There will be wild animals around the camp at night

Cons:

  • Basic camping on a mattress, two to a tent
  • Participation with camp chores
  • Shared ablutions
  • Sleeping bags required or hired
  • There are optional activities that cost extra
  • There will be wild animals around the camp at night

Small Group or Exclusive Safaris:

alchen_xAt kati kati camp in the central serengeti - alchen_x

Small group and Exclusive Safaris are a little more social with mixed age groups and all the personalised attention you need.

Pros:

  • Smaller numbers mean its more exclusive
  • 4x4’s used wherever possible and flights for longer distances
  • Good quality guides ensure a more personal experience
  • No participation or minimal participation with camp chores
  • All equipment provided
  • Mostly ensuite ablutions
  • Wild animals around the camp at night

Cons:

  • Mixed age groups aren’t for everyone
  • Often not as social as large tours
  • Its still camping
  • There will be wild animals around the camp at night·

Lodge Safaris:

If you want to get into the wild but would rather take your creature comforts with you so that you can really focus on the game then this is the option for you.

Harvey BarrisonLodge at the Kirawira Tented Camp - Harvey Barrison

Pros:

  • More upmarket, comfortable with private rooms and ablutions
  • Smaller groups, excellent guides and more personal attention
  • Often private game reserves
  • Price is inclusive with no local payments or hidden costs
  • More restaurant type meals

Cons:

  • A little less wild
  • Fewer open fire experiences
  • No roughing it in a tent

Forty Plus Safaris:

If you prefer a more mature group, free of children with more like-minded folks then this is the choice for you.

John Hickey-FryLion safari - John Hickey-Fry

Pros:

  • Lodge-style accommodation
  • Private and en suite rooms
  • More relaxed pace
  • Excellent guides and more individual care
  • No participation

Cons:

  • Fixed itinerary

Section 2: Overlanding

Tim CopelandOkavango delta - Tim Copeland

Camping Overlands:

Overland camping is all about roughing it, having the experience of a life-time, meeting new friends as part of a group. Its a more DIY approach with long stretches of open road then this may be the option for you.

Pros:

  • A younger crowd, big groups with mixed nationalities
  • Budget conscious and like minded
  • Simple wholesome meals
  • Loads of participation around making and breaking camp, chores, dish washing etc

Cons:

  • Need your own sleeping bag
  • Tour leader not specialist guide
  • Basic menu with no frills, cooked on an open fire by camp cook
  • additional costs excluded from tour cost eg; Local payments and optional activities. Need to budget for that
  • Travelling great distance down dusty bumpy roads, in a non air conditioned vehicle

William WarbyElephant crossing - William Warby

Accommodated Overlands:

These overland tours keep the long roads, the participatory feel and the larger groups but give you an oasis in the form of comfort at lodge style accommodation at the end of some of your days. It’s a real mix that gives you a taste of both worlds.

Bernard DupontLetaba Camp, Fruger National Park - Bernard Dupont

Pros:

  • Smaller groups but still 12-18 people
  • Lodge style accommodation (mostly)
  • camping style meals
  • Some daily chores

Cons:

  • Some Daily chores and helping out around meals and the occasional camping
  • Travelling great distance down dusty bumpy roads, in a non air conditioned vehicle
  • Basic menu for meal
  • Can be a mix of camping and accommodated clients on one trip –some may see this as negative.

Exclusive Overlands:

Walter Ngoma Safari Lodge - Walter

Exclusive overland tours combine the long open roads with a level of comfort not afforded by camping and accommodated overland tours. Here everything is taken care of and you need only soak up the atmosphere of the African wilds.

Pros:

  • Smaller more intimate groups
  • Private en suite rooms
  • Good quality guides
  • Older clientele (not 20 somethings)
  • Everything taken care of
  • some participation around the camp

Cons:

  • Travelling great distance down dusty bumpy roads, in a non air conditioned vehicle
  • Combination of camping and accomodations

Family Overlands:

Going on a family adventure is great but travelling with children requires some extra attention to detail. If you have kids but don't want to miss out on the adventure and would rather travel with like-minded people then this is definately the right choice for you.

Pros:

  • Travelling with children as young as 6
  • Daily chores like setting up and taking down tents and doing dishes etc. are a great way to keep the kids busy
  • Shorter travel days for children which means an easier pace for everyone
  • basic menu offering wholesome food
  • Travel with other families is a bonus for children

Cons:

  • Travelling great distance down dusty bumpy roads, in a non air conditioned vehicle
  • usually budget camping in two man dome tents
  • leaving your tent at night to use the ablutions

Caroline Granycome
Elephant family - Caroline Granycome


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