Other than crocodiles adding some thrill to the water hazards on certain golf courses, most African wildlife is confined to fenced reserves and parks. Large game, like zebra or lions, do not roam around in towns and cities. In these areas, you might be lucky enough to see smaller animals like a troop of monkeys or baboons on the side of the road, and the birdlife is plentiful everywhere.
Africa does have the highest density of wild animals on earth, but we do not “ride them to work” or “keep them as pets”. Animals tend to avoid human settlement and the best place to see the mighty animals of Africa is in private wildlife reserves.
There are a lot of people without employment or opportunity, which is why “giving back” is such a big part of what we do. We focus on wildlife conservation and human empowerment. For instance, in Rwanda, the guides are reformed poachers who now protect the Gorillas. Much of the proceeds go towards building local schools and hospitals. The community and wildlife both benefit immeasurably by your being there.
Wildlife, in general, prefer to avoid the company of humans, so they are more likely to run than to attack. The only reason vehicles can get close to animals is that the noise, shape and scent masks the fact that there are humans inside. So, stay in your vehicle, listen to your guide and you will be perfectly safe. As for smaller critters, more people get bitten by spiders and snakes in their homes than in the African bush.
These animals were originally dubbed the Big Five as they were considered the most dangerous to hunt, not because they were the most interesting to watch. Have you heard of The Little Five, The Ugly Five, or The Elusive Five? How about the fascinating giraffe, the thousands of bird species and the sea mammals? Some of the most sought-after wildlife sightings are a glimpse of rare and endangered species like the pangolin or an aardvark cub at play.
The migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra across the plains of Kenya and Serengeti is remarkable but it is just one part of what makes up the kaleidoscope of nature in East Africa. A host of other animals are resident year-round, including all the major predators. There are also gorgeous landscapes and magnificent sunsets, the Maasai culture and incredible activities, like hot air ballooning. There is so much more to see.
The Great Migration is a natural, continuous, clockwise movement of wildebeest and zebra between Tanzania and Kenya. While the same pattern occurs every year, we can never guarantee the exact location and timing. Many of the influencing factors are out of our control, such as seasonal rains, grazing and temperature. And with climate change, those factors are changing all the time. We will do our best to position you so that you are in the right place at the right time.
Of course, you have the option of “roughing it” if you would enjoy camping out in the wilderness with just a tent and a range, but you also have the option of staying in ultra luxurious accommodation with gourmet meals and every comfort catered to.
There is a popular misconception that you’re going to be running around like Indiana Jones on safari, when the only really strenuous activity you will experience on safari is trying to avoid over-eating: There is an early breakfast before the first sunrise outing; after which there is second breakfast; then a long laid-back lunch; a decadent afternoon tea; an evening “surprise-and-delight” stop somewhere out in the bush that could be anything from G&Ts and grilled sausages around a fire pit to a lavish fondue setup; all complete with a three-course dinner. This happens every day. There are two game drives per day – both recommended and included but also optional if you prefer to do something else like enjoy a lie-in or a private in-suite spa treatment. Safari vehicles leave camp pre-dawn at 05h00 and return by 09h00. They then leave again at 16h00 to return after sunset. You can do as much or as little with the hours in between as you choose. Each lodge and region offer unique activities, such as walking safaris and cultural visits.
No one will ever call them “cheap” but what differentiates a safari from other holidays is that the price per person – starting at USD600 a night – includes everything: Literally. All meals, drinks (usually something along the lines of sundowners while watching a pride of lions), game drives and other activities, along with airport transfers and park entry fees. Hidden charges rarely sneak up. Considering that the true worth is the wilderness experience you get nowhere else; a safari offers great value.
For the youngsters, we have cherry-picked a collection of safari lodges specialising in family travel that cater for kids of all ages in malaria-free areas. These lodges have dedicated kids-on-safari programmes. There really is something for everyone.
It is by no means mandatory to wear the ubiquitous safari gear. Most guests have perfectly adequate gear in their existing wardrobe. But, it can be fun to dress up for your holiday and we can provide you with a shopping list if you are interested.
If you own a long lens, please do not leave it at home, but it is not essential. Many guests photograph animals within meters of the safari vehicle through 300m lens. Some of the best shots are event taken on a phone camera. With the growing interest in photography, many lodges offer rental gear and dedicated photo labs.
Africans are foodies at heart. With such a diverse and culturally-rich continent, we are bound to have an array of flavours and food combinations that are uniquely ours, as well as cuisine from all over the globe. Whether your taste buds fancy familiar food, or something more modern or exotic, we have it all. On safari you will get some of the best food in the world, even in remote locations. We also cater for most dietary requirements.
The continent of Africa comprises of 54 countries and covers 30mil km². It is vast. The USA, China, India, Europe and Japan would all fit comfortably into the same area. With that scale comes a breathtaking diversity of cultures, climates and wildlife.
Africa is a vast continent with diverse landscapes and terrains. Savannahs, rainforests, mountains, beaches and deserts accommodate every guest’s travel wishes.
Contrary to popular belief, the continent of Africa also has all four seasons. We even get snow in some places. Summers can be hot, especially in the desert regions, but not dissimilar to the extremes of America or Australia. It is best to be prepared for a range of temperatures. We recommend taking reasonable sun precautions during the day and packing a sweater or two as the evenings get cool. The rain seasons vary from country to country and is most often in short burst, providing a welcome relief from the heat and a photographer’s dream in visual display.
Part of what makes Africa so beautiful is that it is wild and raw. Untouched. Its shores bear no footprints and its land knows no bounds. Yet that does not make it dangerous, just worthy of respect and awareness. We encourage you to be wary and wise but don’t be afraid. The remote locations of national parks and game reserves make them some of the safest places in the world.
Five to eight days on-the-ground is ideal for an African safari, which is good news for time-conscious travellers. If you’ve got a full workweek off, bookend by weekend, you can have a fantastic experience. Intra-Africa connections are getting better and better and you can always come back to explore other regions.
We are seeing more and more air routes which are connecting regions of East and Southern Africa internally and internationally. In Southern Africa you could visit three countries quite easily in one itinerary. The distance between East and Southern Africa is just a 4-hour flight. In country, you can get around by road, boat, train or plane. Accessible charter flights connect all the other dots.
In reality, some African countries have more mobile phones than people, and 80% of Africans have access to a mobile phone. You can get a local SIM on arrival at most major airports and many hotels and restaurants offer free wifi. Most lodges have mobiles services and many offer limited wifi (connecting at what we like to call “bush speed”). For those that prefer, there are lodges that offer a complete digital detox in truly remove locations.
All risks can be reduces with proper planning. Contact your doctor or travel clinic for travel advice in advance. In some part of East and Southern Africa, you may need malaria prophylactics and / or a yellow fever certificate. Unless stipulated, tap water is safe to drink and bottled water is widely available.
As safari experts, we have been doing this for over 17 years. We know all the top guides and naturalists and have long-standing relationships with camp lodge owners. We have up-to-date, first-hand information on where you can stay to get the best value. We follow booking trends that could yield huge savings, keep an eye out for deals you never would have heard about otherwise: such as unadvertised fourth-night-free specials or honeymoon value-adds. Most importantly, we can help you select the right safari for you. From “roughing-it-in-the-wild” to ultra luxurious resort style accommodation, your personal Luxury Travel Manager is just a phone call away throughout your planning and travel. We do not charge booking fees, and you are likely to get even better rates from us than if you booked directly with the lodge.